America Has Become a Nation of Incompetents

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George Bush remains the ultimate symbol of ascendant stupidity

A once-proud nation which was the envy of the world now suffers from a kind of omni-present dementia

Having grown up during the second half of the 20th century, I don’t recognize my country today. I experienced life in a competent country, and now I experience life in an incompetent country.

Everything is incompetent. The police are incompetent. They shoot children, grandmothers, cripples, and claim that they feared for their life.

Washington’s foreign police is incompetent. Washington has alienated the world with its insane illegal attacks on other countries. Today the United States and Israel are the two most distrusted countries on earth and the two countries regarded as the greatest threat to peace.

The military/security complex is incompetent. The national security state is so incompetent that it was unable to block the most humiliating attack in history against a superpower that proved to be entirely helpless as a few people armed with box cutters and an inability to fly an airplane destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon itself. The military industries have produced at gigantic cost the F-35 that is no match for the Russian fighters or even for the F-15s and F-16s it is supposed to replace.

The media is incompetent. I can’t think of an accurate story that has been reported in the 21st century. There must be one, but it doesn’t come to mind.

The universities are incompetent. Instead of hiring professors to teach the students, the universities hire administrators to regulate them. Instead of professors, there are presidents, vice presidents, chancellors, vice chancellors, provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, associate deans, assistant deans. Instead of subject matter there is speech regulation and sensitivity training. Universities spend up to 75% of their budgets on administrators, many of whom have outsized incomes.

The public schools have been made incompetent by standardized national testing. The purpose of education today is to pass some test. School accreditation and teachers’ pay depend not on developing the creativity or independent thinking of those students capable of it, but on herding them through memory work for a standardized test.

One could go on endlessly.

Instead, I will relate a story of everyday incompetences that have prevented me from writing this week and for a few more days yet.

Recently, while away from my home, a heavy equipment operator working on a nearby construction site managed to drive under power lines with the fork lift raised. Instead of breaking the wire, it snapped the pole in half that conveyed electric power to my house. The power company came out, or, as I suspect, an outsourced contractor, who reestablished power to my home but did not check that the neutral wire was still attached.

Consequently for a week or so my house experienced round the clock surges of high voltage that blew out the surge protection, breaker box, and every appliance in the house. Expecting my return, the house was inspected, and the discovery was that there was no power. Back came the power company and discovered that high voltage was feeding into the house and had destroyed everything plugged in.

So. Here we have a moron operating heavy equipment who does not understand that he cannot drive under power lines with the lift raised. We have a power company or its outsourced contractor who does not understand that power cannot be reconnected without making certain that the neutral wire is still connected.

So every appliance is fried. Glass everywhere from blown out light bulbs. We are talking thousands of dollars.

This is America today. And the incompetents ruling incompetents want war with Iran, Korea, Russia, China. Considering the extraordinary level of incompetence throughout the United States, I guarantee you that we will not win these wars.

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Pandering to israel Has Got to Stop

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Most Americans have no idea of just how powerful Israeli and Jewish interests are. Two recent stories out of Kansas and Texas illustrate exactly how supporters of Israel in the United States are ready, willing and able to subvert the existing constitutional and legal protections that uphold the right to fair and impartial treatment for all American citizens.

The friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to do business in any capacity with federal, state or even local governments. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved.

Maryland became the most recent state to jump on the Israel bandwagon last week. Currently twenty-two state legislatures have passed various laws confronting boycotts of Israel because of its human rights abuses, in many cases initiating economic penalties on those organizations and individuals or denying state funds to colleges and universities that allow boycott advocates to operate freely on campus.

When governor of South Carolina, current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, an ardent supporter of Israel, signed the first state law attacking those who support boycotting or sanctioning the Israeli government, the country’s state institutions and its businesses. Haley, who is supposed to be defending American interests, has also stated her priority focus will be opposing “the UN’s…bias against our close ally Israel.”

Both the recent cases in Kansas and Texas involve state mandates regarding Israel. Both states are, one might note, part of the Bible belt. The anti-boycott legislation was sponsored by powerful Christian Zionist constituencies and passed through the respective legislatures with little debate. In Kansas, Esther Koontz, a Mennonite curriculum coach was fired by the State Department of Education as a teacher trainer because she would not certify in writing that she does not boycott Israel. Koontz’s church had passed a resolution in July seeking peace in the Middle East which specifically opposed purchasing products associated with Israel’s “military occupation” of Palestine. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Koontz is contesting the Kansas government position.

In Dickinson, Texas, in a case which actually made national news, if only briefly, the city is requiring anyone who applies for disaster relief to sign a document that reads “Verification not to Boycott Israel: By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.” Dickinson was half destroyed by hurricane Harvey last month and urgently needs assistance, but, in the opinion of Texas lawmakers and local officials, deference to Israel comes first. The ACLU is also contesting the Texas legislation.

The Texas law was signed earlier this year and took effect on September 1st. In January 2016, Governor Greg Abbott met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged Texas to push through the legislation. Abbott responded, and, when signing the bill, commented that “any anti-Israel policy is an ‘anti-Texas policy.’” Abbot is reportedly also considering Israeli endorsed legislation that would ban all business dealings on the part of Texas companies with Iran.

One particular pending piece of federal legislation that is also currently making its way through the Senate would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC. The legislation, which would almost certainly be overturned as unconstitutional if it ever does in fact become law, is particularly dangerous and goes well beyond any previous pro-Israeli legislation as it essentially denies free of expression when the subject is Israel.

The movement that is being particularly targeted by the bills at both the state level and also within the federal government is referred to by its acronym as BDS, which is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It is a non-violent reaction to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land on the West Bank and the continued building of Jewish-only settlements. BDS has been targeted both by the Israeli government and by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The AIPAC website under its lobbying agenda includes the promotion of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act as a top priority.

The Israeli government and its American supporters particularly fear BDS because it has become quite popular, particularly on university campuses, where administrative steps have frequently been taken to suppress it. The denial of free speech on campus when it relates to Israel has sometimes been referred to as the “Palestinian exception.” Nevertheless, the message continues to resonate, due both to its non- violence its and human rights appeal. It challenges Israel’s arbitrary military rule over three million Palestinians on the West Bank who have onerous restrictions placed on nearly every aspect of their daily lives. And its underlying message is that Israel is a rogue state engaging in actions that are widely considered to be both illegal and immoral, which the Israeli government rightly sees as potentially delegitimizing.

It is disheartening to realize that a clear majority of state legislators and congressmen thinks it is perfectly acceptable to deny all Americans the right to free political expression in order to defend an internationally acknowledged illegal occupation being carried out by a foreign country. Those co-sponsoring the bills include Democrats, Republicans, progressives and conservatives. Deference to Israeli interests is bi-partisan and crosses ideological lines. Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim, writing at The Intercept, observe that “…the very mention of the word ‘Israel’ causes most members of both parties to quickly snap into line in a show of unanimity that would make the regime of North Korea blush with envy.”

Would that the anti BDS activity were the only examples of pro-Israeli legislation, but there is, unfortunately more. Another bill that might actually have been written by AIPAC is called Senate 722, Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. The bill mandates that “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Director of National Intelligence shall jointly develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.”

Senate bill 722 combined with recent de-certification of Iran by the White House is a formula for war and a gift to Israel. And there’s more. A bill has surfaced in the House of Representatives that will require the United States to “consult” with Israel regarding any prospective arms sales to Arab countries in the Middle East. In other words, Israel will have a say, backed up undoubtedly by Congress and the media, over what the United States does in terms of its weapons sales abroad. The sponsors of the bill, want “closer scrutiny of future military arms sales” to maintain the “qualitative military edge” that Israel currently enjoys.

And there’s still more. The most recent trade bill with Europe, signed by President Barack Obama, includes language requiring the European blocking of “politically motivated” efforts to boycott Israel as a factor in bilateral trade agreements, so U.S. business interests will become subordinated to how foreign governments regard Israel. How does all this play out in practice? A Jewish group in New Jersey is seeking to blacklist with the state pension investment fund a Danish bank that has refused to provide loans to two Israeli defense contractors. The bank has argued that it has turned down loans to many companies in many countries for sound business reasons, but that common sense argument apparently is unacceptable to the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.

And there’s bill HR 672 Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017, which was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on June 14th. Yes, “unanimously.” The bill requires the State Department to monitor what European nations and their police forces are doing about anti-Semitism and encourages them to adopt “a uniform definition of anti-Semitism.” That means that criticism of Israel must be considered anti-Semitism and will therefore be a hate crime and prosecutable, a status that is already de facto true in Britain and France. If the Europeans don’t play ball, there is the possibility of still more repercussions in trade negotiations. The bill was co-sponsored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida and Nita Lowey of New York, both of whom are Jewish.

There is also a Senate companion bill on offer in the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017. The bill will make the Anti-Semitism Envoy a full American Ambassador and will empower him or her with a full staff and a budget permitting meddling worldwide. There is also a Special Advisor for Holocaust Issues. There are no comparable positions at the State Department specifically monitoring anti-Christian or Muslim activity or for dealing with historic events like the Armenian genocide.

Anyone who thinks that the government in the United States at all levels does not consistently and almost obsessively defer to Israeli and Jewish interests has been asleep. The requirement to sign a document relating to one views of any foreign government to obtain a job or disaster relief is an abomination. Protecting Israel and going on a worldwide search for anti-Semitism or Holocaust deniers are not the responsibility of the American government and they are not what state legislators and congressmen are supposed to be doing to serve the public interest.

Israel is sometimes referred to as the “51st State,” but that is hardly true as it contributes nothing to the United States, collects billions of dollars a year from the U.S. Treasury and is totally unaccountable in terms of the actual damage it does to American interests. The American people are being hoodwinked by their own elected leaders and laws are being passed to make it impossible for them to even complain. Well, enough is enough. It is past time to shut the door on the Israeli influence machine and take back what remains of truly responsive and representational government.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

‘A legal shield for the Palestine movement in the U.S.’ #BDS

‘A legal shield for the Palestine movement in the U.S.’

By Amjad  Iraqi

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of a Kansas public school teacher who, as a condition for taking her job, was required under a new state law to declare that she would not engage in boycotts of Israel. The law is just one in a growing list of measures in recent years aiming to counter the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States.

Political boycotts in the U.S. are meant to be stringently protected under the First Amendment. “The state should not be telling people what causes they can or can’t support,” Esther Koontz, the Kansas teacher, said about her lawsuit.

That’s not necessarily the reality these days, however. “It’s clear that when it comes to talking about Palestine, there’s a suspension of the notion that the government has no authority to interfere in that right,” says Dima Khalidi, founder and director of Palestine Legal.

Established in 2012 in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Palestine Legal has been one of the key players holding the frontline against efforts to suppress BDS activity and speech about Palestine across the U.S., from state legislatures to university campuses. Khalidi and her staff responded to 650 such incidents between 2014 and 2016.

Just last month, Palestine Legal responded to false legal threats sent to activists and professors by a group called “Outlaw BDS New York,” which accused them of violating an anti-BDS law that never actually passed the New York State legislature. Along with its legal work, the organization also tracks anti-BDS laws in all 50 states (21 have already enacted such laws) and at the federal level.

I spoke with Khalidi last month about Palestine Legal’s work and to hear her perspective on the various threats to – and signs of hope for – Palestine activism in the U.S., including BDS. The following was edited for length.

Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi (Courtesy photo)

Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi (Photo courtesy of Palestine Legal)

How and why was Palestine Legal created? What compelled the need for its existence?

“The idea started with conversations among lawyers and activists who were thinking about what we could do legally on Palestine in the U.S. This was in the context of largely unsuccessful attempts – including by CCR, where I interned and co-counselled – to seek accountability for Israel’s violations of international law through domestic and international legal mechanisms.

“This was also happening in the context of a rise in Palestine activism after the 2008-2009 Gaza war – a mobilization that we hadn’t seen in decades. And at the same time, there was an escalation in the backlash against that movement: 11 students at the University of California, Irvine were being criminally prosecuted for protesting a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., and the Olympia Food Co-op was being sued for passing a resolution to boycott Israeli goods.

“What I kept hearing from people was the need for help: that talking about Palestinian rights, and challenging Israel’s actions and narrative, opened people up to a huge amount of risk, attacks, and harassment – much of it legal in nature, or with legal implications.

“So with the support of a handful of people – including the instrumental vision of the legendary human rights lawyer Michael Ratner, who passed away last year – I established Palestine Legal. Our work is meant to provide a legal shield for the Palestine movement, to protect and expand the space to advocate on this issue. As an organization dedicated to movement lawyering, we don’t consider ourselves part of the movement per se, but as supporting the movement’s efforts to challenge the status quo, whatever their tactics.”

That can be a tricky distinction to make – being part of a movement versus supporting a movement.

“It is a tricky balance. Movement lawyering requires us to recognize that it’s not the lawyers that lead or dictate the movement, even if we personally disagree with their tactics or know they’ll land people into trouble. All our staff are deeply political people with their own activist and personal histories, but we try to step back from that role and focus instead on responding to the legal needs of activists on the ground.”

File photo of a pro-BDS protest outside Target in Chicago. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

File photo of a pro-BDS protest outside Target in Chicago. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Does Palestine Legal only deal with the right to boycott, or does it also address the substantive content or arguments of the BDS movement itself?

“We always go back to why people are motivated to speak out and engage in BDS, which are central to why we have the right to do it. Boycotts are a means for people who don’t necessarily have access to power to take collective action in order to influence change – as was done with the civil rights boycotts, boycotts of apartheid South Africa, and boycotts for farm workers’ rights. The U.S. Supreme Court itself recognized this as a legitimate activity protected by the First Amendment in 1982.

“In this case, the goal of boycotts is to achieve justice, freedom, and equality for Palestinians, who have been continuously dispossessed of their land, livelihoods, dignity, and agency for over seven decades. Those opposed to Palestinian rights try to claim otherwise; so it’s imperative to the legal argument that we return to the key issues that describe the Palestinian experience.”

This isn’t the first time in U.S. history that the right to boycott, or free speech in general, has been suppressed. Why is there still a “Palestine exception” to these rights today? What lessons do you take from the past when dealing with your cases?

“When we talk about the Palestine exception, it’s not to say that it’s the only exception. You can look at the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War, when people were forced to sign loyalty oaths and were subjected to witch hunts and blacklists. The response to that McCarthyist era was an eventual strengthening of First Amendment jurisprudence, which now provides better legal protections against ‘compelled speech,’ for example. This is also true of the Civil Rights era, when states tried to issue new laws to stop certain kinds of protests, and to use existing laws to indict people for boycotting – hence the Supreme Court ruling that recognized political boycotts as a right.

“Still, it’s clear that when it comes to talking about Palestine, there’s a suspension of the notion that the government has no authority to interfere in that right. We see all kinds of bogus justifications for strangling Palestine advocacy: it’s anti-Semitism, it’s support for terrorism, it’s propaganda, it’s discriminatory. Our position is to step in and say there’s no exception here. Talking about Palestine is exactly what the First Amendment is supposed to protect: it’s a dissenting view from what the vast majority of our politicians and officials espouse, and it is speech that the government most wants to censor, so it must be vigilantly protected.

“Another part of the reason why Palestine feels different is that the attacks pervade all aspects of our lives today. The backlash can be online (look at outfits like Canary Mission, which profile and harass people); from employers (look at Steven Salaita, fired for tweeting critically about Israel’s war on Gaza); from donors; from institutions (look at the students censored or punished at Fordham University, University of California-Berkeley, or at the Missouri History Museum). This is because there are influential domestic groups and individuals that are doing everything in their power to shield Israel from scrutiny on every forum, and to ensure that the U.S. continues to unconditionally support Israel.”

The head of a major Israel advocacy group was quoted in 2016 saying to BDS activists: “While you were doing your campus antics, the grown-ups were in the state legislature passing laws that make your cause improbable.” What do you take from that? Why is more of the anti-BDS backlash today coming in the form of legislation?

“That quote says a lot about the political dynamics in the U.S. On the one hand, you have an intersectional grassroots movement that’s driven by students and youth. On the other hand, you have a well-resourced and well-connected constituency that’s deeply entrenched in state and public institutions. The way that Israel lobby groups are successful in pushing such blatantly unconstitutional laws, and the way university heads face (and often succumb to) pressure from advocacy groups, alumni, donors, and state officials, further illustrates this top-down approach.

“There’s a growing and visible alliance between Zionist groups in the U.S., the right-wing Israeli government, and far right groups in the US. They believe that they can dictate the discourse on Israel-Palestine, and get around the First Amendment problem, by pandering to Islamophobic sentiment; by conflating nonviolent resistance with terrorism; and by undermining the motivation and rights of the entire Palestine movement. Even many in the Democratic Party and self-described “progressives” blindly support these agendas.

“At the same time, we’re seeing groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) offering different paths. There’s an enormous pushback to the more established right-wing Jewish organizations – and that’s exciting. But at the moment, those organizations still have the ability to drive the narrative from above. We have a long way to go; but in the long run, it’ll become untenable to ignore a powerful and growing grassroots movement.”

In Israel we have an anti-boycott civil law and now another law to deny entry to foreigners who partake in BDS. The right wing seems to think that legislation is an effective way to achieve its goals.

“Indeed. Dissent becomes the exception the more authoritarian the regime is, and we see signs of this in both the U.S. and Israel as forms of protest are being punished. It’s also telling that the language in Israeli laws is showing up in anti-BDS legislation in the U.S., such as the phrase ‘Israeli-controlled territory’ to refer to West Bank settlements. It just goes to show that we’re dealing with the same forces – and ultimately, that translates into advocating for those same things domestically. How can you be for equality in the U.S. when you defend Israel’s discriminatory laws and apartheid policies? It doesn’t add up.”

Anti-Semitism is routinely charged against Palestine activism. How do you address those accusations?

“We’ve had success with this legally on some levels. One of the tactics advanced by pro-Israel groups is to codify a redefinition of anti-Semitism which encompasses the ‘three D’s’: delegitimization, demonization, and double standards toward Israel. You can imagine that any and all criticism of Israel can basically fall into those three categories. But when these things go to court or even government agencies, a clear distinction is made between discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin, versus criticism of states and state actions.

“For example, the U.S. Education Department received complaints under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, claiming that universities are tolerating hostile anti-Semitic activities by allowing groups and events that criticize Israel. The Education Department dismissed the complaints and said that this is political speech, and that just because it might be offensive to some, it doesn’t mean that it’s harassment or discrimination.

“Moreover, the vast majority of Palestine advocates are unequivocal about their opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. When we put these matters in the context not only of free expression, but also that the Palestine movement opposes all forms of oppression – that’s when we’re able to make the most impact.”

File photo of a pro-Palestine rally in downtown Boston. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

File photo of a pro-Palestine rally in downtown Boston. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Do all the attacks feel coordinated or concerted?

“Undoubtedly. We see the same two dozen Israel advocacy groups engaging in the same tactics around the country, accusing activists of being threatening, violent, and anti-Semitic for engaging in Palestine activism.

“But it’s also clear that not all those groups agree on tactics. Some, like David Horowitz and Canary Mission, who publicly name and blacklist Palestinian rights advocates as ‘Jew-haters’ and ‘terrorist-supporters,’ are seen as going beyond the pale even among Zionist groups that actively engage in suppression in other ways. There are also disagreements about pursuing anti-BDS legislation, and about imposing the new definition of anti-Semitism mentioned earlier.

“But ultimately, the more ‘extreme’ tactics serve the same purpose as the others: they want to make it so costly to engage in Palestine advocacy that people just become exhausted, give up, and stay silent. I don’t think these tactics are going to work: more and more people are seeing that they can be successfully challenged, more people are learning about the horrors of Israel’s occupation and apartheid, and more people are refusing to stay silent about those policies and the U.S.’s role in enabling them.”

The ACLU recently came out in defense of the right to boycott Israel. How do you reach out to audiences that aren’t your conventional supporters, including those in the American mainstream?

“Palestine is still a lightning rod and there’s still a reluctance to come out on this issue. That said, the more egregious the measures against Palestine advocacy, and the more they attack our fundamental freedoms, the more we see the likes of ACLU being compelled to speak up – even though they still claim neutrality on the underlying political and human rights issues. We’ve worked in several states with ACLU chapters and other groups that typically wouldn’t be willing to step up publicly on these matters, and we’re now seeing them do so because of what’s at stake.

“Steven Salaita’s case is an example of this: when he was fired for tweeting about the 2014 Gaza war, it sent shock waves across academia. Thousands of professors around the U.S. pledged to boycott the university, and a dozen departments voted no confidence in the chancellor. That’s when you see more people being willing to step into the fray, saying that this is dangerous beyond just the matter of Palestine advocacy — that this threatens all our basic rights to dissent and to debate the most important issues of our time.”

What are your thoughts on the future of your work, and on Palestine advocacy in the U.S. in general? What new strategies are you considering?

“We feel like we’ve been on the defensive and putting out a lot of fires over the last five years, which also seem to be coming faster and faster. There’s no doubt that we’ll continue to help those who are under attack; but we’re also thinking about more proactive ways to tackle some of these issues.

“Our lawsuit with CCR against Fordham University – which refused to grant club status to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) because some considered their views too “polarizing”– is an example. The attack on SJP aims to make Palestine activism so radioactive that universities won’t even allow such student groups to form – so it’s crucial that we prevent this from happening. We have a long way to go in enshrining a new narrative that views Palestine advocates as forces for freedom and justice, and their advocacy as protected political expression – but we’re on our way.

“Regarding legislation, our role is to explain to activists and the public what these laws do and don’t do. This is important because one of the main purposes of the legislation is to make people believe that Palestine advocacy is prohibited or criminalized – and that really isn’t the case with most of these laws. So it’s critical to make sure that activists aren’t scared off from their work, but instead feel empowered to confront its challenges.

“There’s also no question that grassroots mobilization has been successful in impacting the political arena, though we hear less about it. Look at the failure of legislative initiatives in states like Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland, and Montana. These victories are because of groups like the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, American Muslims for Palestine, JVP, church groups, and the US Palestinian Community Network. Anti-BDS measures have ultimately strengthened the networks of Palestine advocates across the country, and these coalitions outlast the lifespan of a bill. We believe that the power of these grassroots movements is what will effect change – and that’s what Palestine Legal aims to bolster.”

War Culture – Gun Culture: They’re Related

By Lawrence Davidson

If you go to the Wikipedia page that gives a timeline of U.S. foreign military operations between 1775 and 2010, you are likely to come away in shock. It seems that ever since the founding of the country, the United States has been at war. It is as if Americans just could not (and still cannot) sit still, but had to (and still have to) force themselves on others through military action. Often this is aimed at controlling foreign resources, thus forcing upon others the consequences of their own capitalist avarice. At other times the violence is spurred on by an ideology that confuses U.S. interests with civilization and freedom. Only very rarely is Washington out there on the side of the angels. Regardless, the bottom line seems to be that peace has never been a deeply ingrained cultural value for the citizens of the United States. As pertains to foreign policy, America’s national culture is a war culture.

It is against this historical backdrop that the recent Ken Burns eighteen-hour-long documentary on the Vietnam War comes off as superficial. There is a subtle suggestion that while those American leaders who initiated and escalated the war were certainly deceptive, murderously stubborn and even self-deluded, they were so in what they considered to be a good cause. They wanted to stop the spread of Communism at a time when the Cold War defined almost all of foreign policy, and if that meant denying the Vietnamese the right of national unification, so be it. The Burns documentary is a visual demonstration of the fact that such a strategy could not work. Nonetheless, American leaders, both civilian and military, could not let go.

What the Burns documentary does not tell us – and it is this that makes the work superficial – is that none of this was new. Almost all preceding American violence abroad had been rationalized by the same or related set of excuses that kept the Vietnam slaughter going: the revolutionary War was about “liberty,” the genocidal wars against the Native Americans were about spreading “civilization,” the wars against Mexico and Spain were about spreading “freedom,” and once capitalism became officially synonymous with freedom, the dozens of bloody incursions into Central and South America also became about our “right” to carry on “free enterprise.”

As time went by, when Washington wasn’t spreading “freedom,” it was defending it. And so it goes, round and round.
Understanding the history of this ghastly process, one is likely to lose all faith in such rationales. However, it seems obvious that a large number of Americans, including most of their leaders, know very little of the history of American wars (as against knowing a lot of idealized pseudo-history). That is why Ken Burns and his associates can show us the awfulness of the Vietnam war to little avail. The average viewer will have no accurate historical context to understand it, and thus it becomes just an isolated tragedy. While it all might have gone fatally wrong, the American leaders were assumed to be well intentioned.

Describing the Vietnam War in terms of intentions is simply insufficient. In the case of war the hard-and-fast consequences of one’s actions are more important than one’s intentions. The United States killed roughly 2 million Vietnamese civilians for ideological reasons that its own leaders, and most of its citizens, never questioned.

Most of its citizens, but not all. There was, of course, a widespread and multifaceted anti-war movement. The anti-war protesters were, in truth, the real heroes, the real patriots of the moment. Along with the accumulating body bags, it was the anti-war movement that brought an end to the slaughter. However, once more Burns’s documentary comes off as superficial. Burns leaves the viewer with the impression that the only truly legitimate anti-war protesters were veterans and those associated with veterans. But those were only a small part of a much larger whole. Yet the millions of other Americans who protested the war are essentially slandered by by Burns. The documentary presents them as mostly Communist fellow travelers. We also see various representatives of that non-veteran part of the movement apologize for their positions. There is the implication that the movement had bad tactics. Here is an example: one of the points that the Burns documentary makes is how distasteful was the labeling of returning soldiers as “baby killers.” Actually this did not happen very often, but when it did, one might judge the charge as impolitic – but not inaccurate. You can’t kill 2 million civilians without killing a lot of babies. If we understand war in terms of the death of babies, then there might be fewer wars.

U.S. leaders also sent 58,000 of their own citizens to die in Vietnam. Why did these citizens go? After all, this was not like World War II. North Vietnam had not attacked the United States (the Bay of Tonkin incident was misrepresented to Congress). The Vietcong were not Nazis. But you need an accurate take on history to recognize these facts, and that was, as usual, missing. And so, believing their politicians, the generals, and most of their civic leaders, many draftees and volunteers went to die or be maimed under false pretenses.The inevitable post-war disillusionment was seen by subsequent U.S. leaders as a form of mental illness, and they labeled it “the Vietnam Syndrome.” The “syndrome” was as short-lived as popular memory. In March of 2003 George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses and U.S. forces proceeded to kill half a million civilians.

In the end, American behavior in Vietnam was not just tragically flawed – it was criminal. But it was also historically consistent – an expression of a long-standing and deep-seated war culture, a culture that still defines the American worldview and has become the very linchpin of its domestic economy. That is why the wars, large and small, never stop.
Gun Culture to Complement the War Culture

America’s propensity to violence in other lands is but one side of a two-sided coin. Callous disregard for civilian lives abroad is matched by a willful promotion of violence at home. That willful promotion is the product of a right-wing ideological orientation (stemming from a misreading of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) that demands a nearly open-ended right of all Americans to own an almost unlimited number and types of firearms.The result is gun regulation laws that are embarrassingly ineffective.

Again, the consequences of this position are much more profound than any claim that its supporters’ intentions are to defend citizens rights to own guns. Since 1968 about as many Americans have been killed in-country by gun violence (1.53 million) as have died in all of America’s wars put together (1.20 million). The numbers are too close to be dismissed as coincidence. Both reflect a culture of exceptionalism that grants at once the United States government, and its citizens, extensive rights to act in disregard of the safety and security of others.
You would think Americans would recognize an obvious contradiction here. You cannot maintain a safe population and, at the same time, allow citizens the right to own and, largely at their own discretion, use firearms. Nonetheless, some Americans imagine that they have squared this circle by claiming that their guns are for “self-defense” and therefore do make for a safer society. This is just like the U.S. government’s constant exposition that all its violence is committed in the name of civilization and freedom. In both cases we have a dangerous delusion. Ubiquitous gun ownership makes us unsafe, just as does the endless waging of war.

The inability to see straight is not the sort of failing that can be restricted to one dimension. If you can’t grasp reality due to ideological blinkers or historical ignorance, you are going to end up in trouble both at home and abroad – not just one place, but both. And, the more weaponized you are, both as a state and as a citizen, the greater the potential for disaster. In the end the United States cannot stop killing civilians abroad unless it finds the wisdom to stop killing its own citizens at home – and vice versa. That is the U.S. conundrum, whether America’s 320 million citizens realize it or not.

Lawrence Davidson is a retired professor of history from West Chester University in West Chester PA. His academic research focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He taught courses in Middle East history, the history of science and modern European intellectual history. http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

Has the Jewish Lobby Destroyed Americans’ First Amendment Rights?

NOVANEWS

Has the Israel Lobby Destroyed Americans’ First Amendment Rights?

The Israel Lobby has shown its power over Americans’ perceptions and ability to exercise free speech via its influence in media, entertainment and ability to block university tenure appointments, such as those of Norman Finkelstein and Steven Salaita. Indeed, the power of the Israel Lobby is today so widely recognized and feared that editors, producers, and tenure committees anticipate the lobby’s objections in advance and avoid writers, subjects, and professors judged unacceptable to the lobby.

The latest example is The American Conservative’s firing of former CIA case officer Philip Giraldi.  Giraldi wrote an article for the Unz Review about Israel’s influence over American foreign policy in the Middle East.  The article didn’t say anything that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz hadn’t said already. The editor of The American Conservative, where Giraldi had been a contributor for a decade and a half, was terrified that the magazine was associated with a critic of Israel and quickly terminated the relationship. Such abject cowardice as the editor of The American Conservative showed is a true measure of the power of the Israel Lobby.

Many seasoned experts believe that without the influence of the Israel Lobby, particularly as exerted by the Jewish Neoconservatives, the United States would not have been at war in the Middle East and North Africa for the last 16 years. These wars have done nothing for the US but harm, and they have cost taxpayers trillions of dollars and caused extensive death and destruction in seven countries and a massive refugee flow into Europe.

For a superpower such as the United States not to be in control of its own foreign policy is a serious matter. Giraldi is correct and patriotic to raise this concern. Giraldi makes sensible recommendations for correcting Washington’s lack of control over its own policy. But instead of analysis and debate the result is Giraldi’s punishment by an editor of a conservative publication anticipating the Israel Lobby’s wishes.

Americans should think about the fact that Israel is the only country on earth that it is impermissible to criticize. Anyone who criticizes Israeli policy, especially toward the Palestinians, or remarks on Israel’s influence, is branded an “anti-Semite.” Even mild critics who are trying to steer Israel away from making mistakes, such as former President Jimmy Carter, are branded “anti-Semites.”  

The Israel Lobby’s purpose in labeling a critic an “anti-Semite” is to discredit the criticism as an expression of dislike or hatred of Jews. In other words, the criticism is presented as merely an expression of the person’s aversion to Jewishness. A persistent critic is likely to be charged with trying to incite a new holocaust.  

It is possible to criticize the policy of Germany, France, Spain, UK, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, China, Iran, the US, indeed, every other country without being called anti-German, Anti-French, Anti-British, Anti-American, etc., although US policy in the Middle East is so closely aligned with Israel’s that the Israel Lobby regards critics of US Middle East policy as hostile to Israel. Despite the failures of US policy, it is getting more and more difficult to criticize it without the risk of being branded “unpatriotic,” and possibly even a “Muslim sympathizer” and “anti-Semite.”

Screengrab: Trump speaks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Source: The American Conservative)

The power of the Israel Lobby is seen in many places. For example, the US Congress demands that RT, a news service, register as a Russian agent, but AIPAC, before whom every year the US Congress pays its homage and submission, does not have to register as an Israeli agent.

The many anomalies in the Israel Lobby’s power pass unremarked. For example, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) defines criticism of Israeli policies as defamation and brands critics “anti-Semites.” In other words, the ADL itself is set up in the business of defamation or name-calling. The incongruity of an organization created to oppose defamation engaging in defamation as its sole purpose passes unremarked.

Israel is very proud of its power over the United States. Israeli political leaders have a history of bragging about their power over America. But if an American complains about it, he is a Jew-hater. The only safe way for an American to call attention to the power Israel has over the US is to brag about it. It is OK to acknowledge Israel’s power if you put it in a good light, but not if you complain about it.

So, let me put it this way: Israel’s unique ability to discredit all criticism of its policies as a mere expression of anti-Jewish sentiment is the greatest public relations success in the history of PR. The stupidity of the goy is easily overcome by the more capable Jew. Hats off to Israel for outwitting the dumbshit Americans and taking over their foreign policy. Perhaps Israel should take over US domestic policy as well. Or have they already? It has been 30 years since the Federal Reserve has had a non-Jewish Chairman, and for the past three years Stanley Fischer, the former chairman of the Central Bank of Israel, has been Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Since the Clinton regime, the Treasury Secretaries have been predominately Jewish. We can say that their financial talent makes them natural candidates for these positions, but it is disingenuous to deny the influence of this small minority in American life. This influence becomes a problem when it is used to silence free speech.?

Here is Giraldi:


How I Got Fired

October 03, 2017 “The Unz Review” – 

Two weeks ago, I wrote for Unz.com an article entitled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” It sought to make several points concerning the consequences of Jewish political power vis-à-vis some aspects of U.S. foreign policy. It noted that some individual American Jews and organizations with close ties to Israel, whom I named and identified, are greatly disproportionately represented in the government, media, foundations, think tanks and lobbying that is part and parcel of the deliberations that lead to formulation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Inevitably, those policies are skewed to represent Israeli interests and do serious damage to genuine American equities in the region. This tilt should not necessarily surprise anyone who has been paying attention and was noted by Nathan Glazer, among others, as long ago as 1976.

The end result of Israel centric policymaking in Washington is to produce negotiators like Dennis Ross, who consistently supported Israeli positions in peace talks, so much so that he was referred to as “Israel’s lawyer.” It also can result in wars, which is of particular concern given the current level of hostility being generated by these same individuals and organizations relating to Iran. This group of Israel advocates is as responsible as any other body in the United States for the deaths of thousands of Americans and literally millions of mostly Muslim foreigners in unnecessary wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has also turned the U.S. into an active accomplice in the brutal suppression of the Palestinians. That they have never expressed any remorse or regret and the fact that the deaths and suffering don’t seem to matter to them are clear indictments of the sheer inhumanity of the positions they embrace.

The claims that America’s Middle Eastern wars have been fought for Israel are not an anti-Semitic delusion. Some observers, including former high government official Philip Zelikow, believe that Iraq was attacked by the U.S. in 2003 to protect Israel. On April 3rd, just as the war was starting, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz headlined “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.” It then went on to describe how “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in [Washington]: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another.”

And the deference to a Jewish proprietary interest in Middle Eastern policy produces U.S. Ambassadors to Israel who are more comfortable explaining Israeli positions than in supporting American interests. David Friedman, the current Ambassador, spoke last week defending illegal Israeli settlements, which are contrary to official U.S. policy, arguing that they represented only 2% of the West Bank. He did not mention that the land controlled by Israel, to include a security zone, actually represents 60% of the total area.

My suggestion for countering the overrepresentation of a special interest in policy formulation was to avoid putting Jewish government officials in that position by, insofar as possible, not giving them assignments relating to policy in the Middle East. As I noted in my article, that was, in fact, the norm regarding Ambassadors and senior foreign service assignments to Israel prior to 1995, when Bill Clinton broke precedent by appointing Australian citizen Martin Indyk to the position. I think, on balance, it is eminently sensible to avoid putting people in jobs where they will likely have conflicts of interest.

Another solution that I suggested for American Jews who are strongly attached to Israel and find themselves in a position that considers policy for that country and its neighbors would be to recuse themselves from the deliberations, just as a judge who finds himself personally involved in a judicial proceeding might withdraw. It would seem to me that, depending on the official’s actual relationship with Israel, it would be a clear conflict of interest to do otherwise.

The argument that such an individual could protect American interests while also having a high level of concern for a foreign nation with contrary interests is at best questionable. As George Washington observed in his farewell address, “…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification…”

My article proved to be quite popular, particularly after former CIA officer Valerie Plame tweeted her approval of it and was viciously and repeatedly attacked, resulting in a string of abject apologies on her part. As a reasonably well-known public figure, Plame attracted a torrent of negative press, in which I, as the author of the piece being tweeted, was also identified and excoriated. In every corner of the mainstream media I was called “a well-known anti-Semite,” “a long time anti-Israel fanatic,” and, ironically, “a somewhat obscure character.”

The widespread criticism actually proved to be excellent in terms of generating real interest in my article. Many people apparently wanted to read it even though some of the attacks against me and Plame deliberately did not provide a link to it to discourage such activity. As of this writing, it has been opened and viewed 130,000 times and commented on 1,250 times. Most of the comments were favorable. Some of my older pieces, including The Dancing Israelis and Why I Still Dislike Israel have also found a new and significant readership as a result of the furor.

One of the implications of my original article was that Jewish advocacy groups in the United States are disproportionately powerful, capable of using easy access to the media and to compliant politicians to shape policies that are driven by tribal considerations and not necessarily by the interests of most of the American people. Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, in their groundbreaking book “The Israel Lobby”, observed how the billions of dollars given to Israel annually “cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds… {and] is due largely to the activities of the Israel lobby—a loose coalition of individuals and organizations who openly work to push U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.”

Those same powerful interests are systematically protected from criticism or reprisal by constantly renewed claims of historic and seemingly perpetual victimhood. But within the Jewish community and media, that same Jewish power is frequently exalted. It manifests itself in boasting about the many Jews who have obtained high office or who have achieved notoriety in the professions and in business. In a recent speech, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz put it this way, “People say Jews are too powerful, too strong, too rich, we control the media, we’ve too much this, too much that and we often apologetically deny our strength and our power. Don’t do that! We have earned the right to influence public debate, we have earned the right to be heard, we have contributed disproportionately to success of this country.” He has also discussed punishing critics of Israel, “Anyone that does [that] has to be treated with economic consequences. We have to hit them in the pocketbook. Don’t ever, ever be embarrassed about using Jewish power. Jewish power, whether it be intellectual, academic, economic, political– in the interest of justice is the right thing to do.”

My article, in fact, began with an explanation of that one aspect of Jewish power, its ability to promote Israeli interests freely and even openly while simultaneously silencing critics. I described how any individual or “any organization that aspires to be heard on foreign policy knows that to touch the live wire of Israel and American Jews guarantees a quick trip to obscurity. Jewish groups and deep pocket individual donors not only control the politicians, they own and run the media and entertainment industries, meaning that no one will hear about or from the offending party ever again.”

With that in mind, I should have expected that there would be a move made to “silence” me. It came three days after my article appeared. The Editor of The American Conservative (TAC) magazine and website, where I have been a regular and highly rated contributor for nearly 15 years, called me and abruptly announced that even though my article had appeared on another site, it had been deemed unacceptable and TAC would have to sever its relationship with me. I called him a coward and he replied that he was not.

I do not know exactly who on the TAC board decided to go after me. Several board members who are good friends apparently were not even informed about what was going on when firing me was under consideration. I do not know whether someone coming from outside the board applied pressure in any way, but there is certainly a long history of friends of Israel being able to remove individuals who have offended against the established narrative, recently exemplified by the hounding of now-ex-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who had the temerity to state that “the Jewish lobby intimidates lots of people” in Washington. As Gilad Atzmon has observed one of the most notable features of Jewish power is the ability to stifle any discussion of Jewish power by gentiles.

But the defenestration by TAC, which I will survive, also contains a certain irony. The magazine was co-founded in 2002 by Pat Buchanan and the article by him that effectively launched the publication in the following year was something called “Whose War?” Buchanan’s initial paragraphs tell the tale:

“The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: ‘Can you assure American viewers … that we’re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?’ Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group. People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so. Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign. When these ‘Buchananites toss around neoconservative—and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen—it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is ‘Jewish conservative.’ Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a ‘key tenet of neoconservatism.’ He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush ‘sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible.’ (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)”

Pat is right on the money. He was pretty much describing the same group that I have written about and raising the same concern, i.e. that the process had led to an unnecessary war and will lead to more unless it is stopped by exposing and marginalizing those behind it. Pat was, like me, called an anti-Semite and even worse for his candor. And guess what? The group that started the war that has since been deemed the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history is still around and they are singing the same old song.

And TAC has not always been so sensitive to certain apparently unacceptable viewpoints, even in my case. I write frequently about Israel because I believe it and its supporters to be a malign influence on the United States and a threat to national security. In June 2008, I wrote a piece called “The Spy Who Loves Us” about Israeli espionage against the U.S. It was featured on the cover of the magazine and it included a comment about the tribal instincts of some American Jews: “In 1996, ten years after the agreement that concluded the [Jonathan] Pollard [Israeli spying] affair, the Pentagon’s Defense Investigative Service warned defense contractors that Israel had ‘espionage intentions and capabilities’ here and was aggressively trying to steal military and intelligence secrets. It also cited a security threat posed by individuals who have ‘strong ethnic ties’ to Israel, stating that ‘Placing Israeli nationals in key industries is a technique utilized with great success.’”

Three days later, another shoe dropped. I was supposed to speak at a panel discussion critical of Saudi Arabia on October 2nd. The organizer, the Frontiers of Freedom foundation, emailed me to say my services would no longer be required because “the conference will not be a success if we get sidetracked into debating, discussing, or defending the substance of your writings on Israel.”

Last Saturday morning, Facebook blocked access to my article for a time because it “contained a banned word.” I can safely assume that such blockages will continue and that invitations to speak at anti-war or foreign policy events will be in short supply from now on as fearful organizers avoid any possible confrontation with Israel’s many friends.

Would I do something different if I were to write my article again today? Yes. I would have made clearer that I was not writing about all or most American Jews, many of whom are active in the peace movement and, like my good friend Jeff Blankfort and Glenn Greenwald, even figure among the leading critics of Israel. My target was the individuals and Jewish “establishment” groups I specifically named, that I consider to be the activists for war. And I refer to them as “Jews” rather than neoconservatives or Zionists as some of them don’t identify by those political labels while to blame developments on Zios or neocons is a bit of an evasion in any event. Writing “neoconservatives” suggests some kind of fringe or marginal group, but we are actually talking about nearly all major Jewish organizations and many community leaders.

Many, possibly even most, Jewish organizations in the United States openly state that they represent the interests of the state of Israel. The crowd stoking fears of Iran is largely Jewish and is, without exception, responsive to the frequently expressed desires of the self-defined Jewish state to have the United States initiate hostilities. This often means supporting the false claim that Tehran poses a serious threat against the U.S. as a pretext for armed conflict. Shouldn’t that “Jewish” reality be on the table for consideration when one is discussing the issue of war versus peace in America?

When all is said and done the punishment that has been meted out to me and Valerie Plame proves my point. The friends of Israel rule by coercion, intimidation and through fear. If we suffer through a catastrophic war with Iran fought to placate Benjamin Netanyahu many people might begin to ask “Why?” But identifying the real cause would involve criticism of what some American Jews have been doing, which is not only fraught with consequences, but is something that also will possibly become illegal thanks to Congressional attempts to criminalize such activity. We Americans will stand by mutely as we begin to wonder what has happened to our country. And some who are more perceptive will even begin to ask why a tiny client state has been allowed to manipulate and bring ruin on the world’s only super power. Unfortunately, at that point, it will be too late to do anything about it

 

Israel’s Chorus Sings Again

Less than total loyalty to Israel is un-American

By Philip Giraldi

August 15, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Congress is on a one-month summer recess. You would think that given the recent turmoil over the bill to eliminate Obamacare and the upcoming debate over tax policy the nation’s legislators would be back in their home districts talking to the voters. Some are, but many are not. “More than fifty” Congressmen are off on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel to demonstrate that “there is no stronger bond with any ally we have.” Yes indeed, a congress which cannot pass legislation to benefit the American people finds that it has only one voice when it comes to our troublesome little client state that also doubles as the leading recipient of U.S. tax dollars in the world.

How do they do it? They do it by relentless courting of the congress critters and media talking heads, all of whom know how to repay a favor. Some readers might be asking how Congress (spouses included) can accept these free trips from a foreign government? The current trip is estimated to be costing $10,000 per person. Well, the answer is that they can’t do it directly, which would be illegal, so the clever rascals at the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have created an “charitable” foundation that pays the bills. It’s called the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). AIEF is a tax exempt 501(c)3 foundation that had income of more than $80 million in 2015. As it is tax exempt that means that its activities are, in effect, being subsidized by the U.S. Treasury so the congressmen are being “charitably educated” while they are also being wined and dined and propagandized in part on the taxpayers’ dime. A couple of the congress critters hardly hit the ground before they were singing the praises of their hosts, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy crooning “We have shared values! Shared security interests! No stronger bond!” And plenty of feel-good all around as Israel is “The Only Democracy in the Middle East!”

Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who has had his head up the Israeli derriere for decades, was also quick on the uptake, enthusing how support for Israel is completely bipartisan, “We are not here as Democrats and Republicans, we are here as Americans who support Israel’s security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people.” And as if it is not enough to go around bragging how one is subordinating U.S. sovereignty to that of Israel, the gnomes are hard at work back at home preparing to pass into law the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which will criminalize for many Americans their First Amendment right to criticize Israel, and a completely bipartisan bit of new legislation being pushed by the Israeli government that will take away aid currently given to the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to provide subsidies to help support the families of those individuals being held prisoner by the Israelis. As most aid actually goes towards training Palestinian security forces that are intended to prevent terror attacks against Israelis, the bill is as wrong-headed as can be, but it just goes to show how far Congress will go to punish Arabs on behalf of Israel.

And finally there has been a series of Israel-centric attacks on leading members of the Trump Administration. A month ago, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism for 2016. The report, as always, describes threats of violence in the Middle East from an Israeli perspective, but it was honest enough to also include two sentences that state that

“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians…and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive. The PA has [also] taken significant steps…to not create or disseminate content that incites violence.”

B’nai B’rith immediately blasted the report for “parroting the false Palestinian narrative” and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) demanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson resign because the report was “bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel hating, error ridden.” ZOA went on to praise the co-chairman of the Republican Israel Caucus, Congressman Peter Roskam for demanding that the State Department correct the “numerous mischaracterizations” in the report.

Tillerson has long been a target of the American-Jewish media because of the perception that oil company executives are traditionally not friendly to Israel. There have also been claims that he is “less hard” on Iran than the Israel Lobby would like. But what Tillerson is really experiencing is the hard truth regarding Israel: that its Lobby and friends in congress are both unrelenting and unforgiving. Even when they get 90% of the pie they are furious over someone else getting 10%.

Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has also been under siege for the past several weeks and his “loyalty” to Israel is now under the microscope. McMaster made the mistake of firing three National Security Council officials that were brought in by his predecessor Michael Flynn. The three – Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Rich Higgins, and Derek Harvey – are all regarded by the Israel Lobby as passionately pro-Israel and virulently anti-Iran. It was therefore inevitable that McMaster would take some heat, but the “speed and intensity” of the attacks has surprised even The Atlantic, which failed to note in its thorough examination of the development that while much of the anger flows from extreme right-wing sources there is also considerable pressure coming directly from friends of Israel.

It is interesting to note just how and by whom the argument against McMaster is being framed. Caroline Glick, an American-born Israeli journalist who might reasonably be described as extreme right wing, has led the charge in a posting that described McMaster as “deeply hostile to Israel.” She cites anonymous sources to claim that he refers to Israel as an occupying power and also has the audacity to claim that there once existed a place called Palestine. Oh, and he apparently also supports the nuclear agreement with Iran, as does Tillerson.

McMaster’s other crimes consist of allegedly altering the agenda of Donald Trump’s recent trip to Israel in ways that are somewhat arcane but which no doubt contributed to Glick’s sense of grievance. What is most interesting, however, is the unstated premise supporting Glick’s point of view, which is that the United States national security team should be subject to approval by Israel. Her view is not dissimilar to what lies behind the attacks on Tillerson and the real irony is that neither Tillerson nor McMaster has actually demonstrated any genuine animosity towards Israel, so the whole process is part of a perverse mindset that inevitably sees nearly everything as a threat.

We Americans are way beyond the point where we might simply demand that Israel and its partisans butt out of our politics. Israel-firsters are literally deeply embedded everywhere in the media, in politics at all levels, in academia, and in the professions. They are well funded and highly disciplined to respond to any threats to their hegemony. Their policy is to never give an inch on anything relating to Israel and their relentless grinding is characteristic of how they behave. The Israel Lobby controls Congress and can literally get any bill it wants through the legislature. And it also has its hooks in the White House, though the unpredictable Trump obviously makes many American Zionists nervous because it is rightly believed that once the president takes a position on anything he cannot be trusted either to understand what he has committed to or to stick with it subsequently.

So what is to be done? To match the passion of the Israel Lobby we Americans have to become passionate ourselves. Do what they do but in reverse. Write letters to congressmen and newspapers opposing the junkets to Israel. When a congress critter has a town hall, show up and complain about our involvement in the Middle East. Keep mentioning the pocket book issues, i.e. how Israel costs the taxpayer $9 million a day. Explain how its behavior puts our diplomats and soldiers overseas in danger. The reality is that Israel is built on a lot of lies promoted by people who frequently cite the holocaust every time they turn around but who have no actual regard for humanity outside their own tribe. The hypocrisy must stop if the United States is to survive as a nation. Pandering to Israel and engaging in constant wars to directly or indirectly defend it, be they against Iran or in Syria, will wear our country down and erode our freedoms. We are already on a slippery slope and it is past time to put our own interests first.

This article was first published by Unz Review 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Three More Senators Sign on as Co-Sponsors of Israel Anti-Boycott Act

Three more US senators have added their names as co-sponsors of S.720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, a bill that would make it a felony for Americans to support a boycott of Israel. The latest three senators to add their names are: Steve Daines of Montana, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama. All three are Republicans.

According to the ACLU, should the bill be signed into law violators could be punished by hefty fines and up to 20 years in prison.The addition of Daines, Flake, and Shelby brings the total number of co-sponsors to 48. Had Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York not withdrawn as a co-sponsor, the number would now stand at 49. However, as I noted in my most recent post on this issue, Gillibrand withdrew her name after taking heat from her constituents.

You can go here to see the total list of senators who have signed on as co-sponsors. The bill was originally introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) on March 23, 2017.

So far, the House version of the same bill has picked up 249 co-sponsors. That’s 31 more votes than it needs to pass. Unless a miracle happens, the bill is pretty much a done deal in the House. You can go here to see the list of representatives who are willing to trash the First Amendment to the US Constitution in order to please Israel and its lobby.

Be that as it may, I would encourage people to look over both lists, and if your senator or representative happens to be among the co-sponsors, to give him or her a call. The fact that Gillibrand withdrew her support shows that complaints from constituents on this issue can make a difference.

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