AIPAC Is a Global Menace

AIPAC Is a Global Menace

by Stephen Lendman

AIPAC is the most prominent US Israeli lobby organization, supporting its apartheid rule, ignoring its high crimes, operating illegally as an unregistered foreign agent – promoting a sinister agenda.

Criticizing how it operates and the Israel is a sure-fire career-ender for US congressional members. The same goes for major media journalists.

AIPAC is a lying machine, pro-Israel propaganda its speciality, including in its so-called “Briefing Book,” a work of fiction, mythology about Israel, concealing its dark side.

Stating its policy agenda, AIPAC lied claiming “(t)he United States and Israel face unprecedented challenges in the Middle East” – invented ones only. 

Real ones don’t exist. The region is threatened by the US/Israeli hegemonic agenda, both countries nuclear armed and dangerous, seeking to achieve its aims by brute force.

Key AIPAC objectives include preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons it abhors and wants eliminated entirely, wanting pro-Western fascist tyranny replacing the Islamic Republic’s sovereign independence, opposing Palestinian self-determination, and assuring strong US support for its policies, among other aims.

It lied calling Israel “a paragon of peace and democracy.” Its agenda is polar opposite, waging undeclared war on Palestinians and neighboring Syria, its belligerence threatening the region.

Its hostility toward Hamas, Palestine’s legitimate government, Palestinian resistance groups, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Iran is unrelenting. 

It’s fundamentally opposed to democratic rights, equality for all, freedom of expression, and rights for women. AIPAC falsely claimed otherwise.

It lied claiming “Israel constantly struggled to survive” throughout its existence, “fac(ing) hostile neighbors with numerically superior armed forces and contended with the constant threat of terrorism.”

The Jewish state began developing nuclear weapons in the 1950s, maintaining arsenals of these WMDS, along with  banned chemical and biological weapons. It faced no threats since the October 1973 Yom Kippur war.

“Israel shares America’s commitment (against) democracy, liberty and civil rights,” not the other way around as AIPAC falsely claimed.

Its entire Briefing Book was an exercise in deception, burnishing its dubious credentials as a propaganda machine.

“Israel is a world leader” in high crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide, a “leader” in regional aggression along with the US and NATO, a “leader” in wrong over right.

It’s polar opposite “a force for good in the world,” a notion it abhors. Its actions explain what AIPAC conceals, turning truth on its head, claiming “Israel has one of the most sophisticated humanitarian assistance programs in the world.” 

Its agenda features state terror, apartheid ruthlessness, settlement expansions on stolen land, mass imprisonments, looting of Palestinian resources, endless war on its people, along with regional wars against targeted countries.

It serves privileged Jews exclusively, exploiting others, Arab citizens worst of all – the same way ordinary people are exploited in America and other Western countries.

AIPAC wants even greater US funding than already, nearly all of it for its killing machine, none for peace, equity and justice, nothing for all its citizens equitably.

Republicans and undemocratic Dems hand Israel around $10 million a day, swindled from US taxpayers, more millions and other benefits on request, an endless wealth transfer, supporting apartheid rule and militarism maintaining it.

The Netanyahu regime supports ISIS and other regional terrorists, aiding White Helmets jihadists connected to them – complicit with the US, NATO, the Saudis and other despotic Arab regimes.

The US/Israeli special relationship is one of the world’s most sinister and destructive anywhere.

AIPAC lied claiming both countries “developed deep strategic ties to confront common threats and ensure the Jewish state’s security” – at a time neither country faces strategic or any other foreign threats.

They and their partnered countries support terrorism. They’re not “combating” it. Nor is Israel “a beacon of (regional) stability.” Indeed it’s an “ally upon which America can consistently depend” in its endless war on humanity AIPAC won’t ever address.

Like Israel and Trump regime hardliners, AIPAC pushes the Big Lie about Iran, falsely calling the country “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

It’s NOT “Israel’s and America’s greatest long-term threat in the Middle East” or anywhere else. It IS the region’s leading proponent of world peace and stability.

Its sovereign independence, the above reason, Iran’s support for Palestinian rights, and opposition to America’s destructive imperial agenda, are the reasons behind US hostility toward Iran – the Trump regime even more hostile than its predecessors.

No Iranian drive for nuclear weapons exist, no violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, no sponsorship of terrorism it’s involved in combatting, no fomenting of regional instability, no international illicit behavior, no contempt for human and civil rights the way the US and Israel operate.

US major media consistently fail to explain all of the above or tell readers and viewers that Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries, what the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners do repeatedly.

AIPAC’s entire Briefing Book was an exercise in pro-Israel propaganda, a litany of Big Lies.

The organization supports endless wars, pushing the US to attack sovereign regional states standing in the way of Israel’s aim for regional hegemony.

Along with the Pentagon, NATO, and IDF, AIPAC threatens world peace, stability, and humanity’s survival.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

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AIPAC Takes Newly Elected Congress Members, CNN’s Setmayer on Propaganda Trips to israel (apartheid state)

Source

By Alison Weir | Information Clearing House | January 3, 2019

Newly elected Congressional Reps David Trone, Dan Crenshaw, Elaine Goodman Luria, Tim Burchett, Denver Riggleman, and Susie Lee on a December 2018 AIPAC trip to Israel. AIPAC’s educational arm spends about $10,000 a piece on these trips. By using a nonprofit entity, the Israel lobby gets around a U.S. law intended to prohibit Congressional junkets funded by lobbying groups.

The Israel lobby has been busy taking a wide variety of government officials and opinion makers on fully expense paid trips to Israel this month. The trips cost in the range of $10,000 per person.

Six newly elected House members are on a 5-day visit to Israel, a delegation of northern California “progressive leaders” are on a week-long trip, media commentator Tara Setmayer has just returned from such a trip, and a delegation of southern California progressive leaders returned from their trip earlier this month.

The House participants include liberals and conservatives, Jewish representatives and Christian fundamentalists, Trump supporters and Trump opponents: Tim Burchett (R-TN), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Susie Lee (D-NV), Elaine Goodman Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA) and David Trone (D-MD).

The California participants are County Supervisors John Gioia and Joe Simian, California Democratic Party Executive Committee Member Andrea Beth Damsky, and unknown others. The delegations are named “Northern Pacific Progressive Leaders” and “Southern Pacific Progressive Leaders,” but no one will divulge the rosters.

The AIPAC loophole

The trips are organized and funded by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the nonprofit arm of the powerful Israel lobbying group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). AIEF was founded in 1989 “to advance the purposes of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

AIPAC is widely believed to be the most powerful organization in the US lobbying Congress on behalf of a foreign country. An outgrowth of the 1939 organization “American Zionist Emergency Council,” AIPAC’s annual convention is attended by ambitious politicians from across the political spectrum (see this example; for more on AZEC, read my book on the history of the Israel lobby).

The goal of AIPAC – and of its trips – is to promote American support for Israel despite Israel’s violations of human rights, international law, U.S. law, and discrimination against Christians and others.

In particular, AIPAC is working to keep the over $10 million per day of American tax money going to Israel. While most Americans feel Israel already gets too much money, Congress is about to pass legislation that will increase the gift even further. This will be the largest military aid package in US history; it works out to about $23,000 for each Jewish Israeli family of four, or $7,230 per minute.

While an individual has recently been charged with acting as a foreign agent over her activities with Russia and the NRA, the Israel lobby has worked to influence U.S. policies on behalf of a foreign country for many years, with very few legal consequences. Even when top AIPAC officials were found to have handed over classified documents, the case was dropped (a Pentagon analyst was jailed for 12 years).

The trips to Israel used to be organized by AIPAC itself until Congress enacted legislation in 2007 intended to stop lobbying organizations from taking government officials on fully paid tours. However, the legislation contains a loophole (some call it the “AIPAC loophole“) that allows nonprofit groups to organize such trips, and AIEF officially took over the tours.

An $85 million operation, AIEF takes a wide array of American officials and opinion makers on the all the expense paid trips. It pays for their international flights, hotel accommodations, tourist excursions, meals, drinks, etc. In the past decade it has reportedly spent $12.9 million on bipartisan Congressional trips to Israel.

While some of the more savvy participants may be skeptical of an advocacy organization claiming to give them an unbiased, “educational” look at the region, they seem willing to go along. The Israel lobby is widely known to make or break careers.

Carefully Tailored Trips

The trips by AIEF and similar organizations are carefully tailored for each group. There are trips for military veterans, business leaders of all races and ethnicities, educators, athletes, students, individuals of every sexual and religious persuasion, and politicians at every level of office, from local to national.

The pro-Israel groups treat participants to a lavish tour replete with visits to historic sites, exciting night life, beaches, religious sites, official offices, border areas; whatever will appeal to the group members. LGBTQ advocates meet with gays, fundamentalist Christians are taken on carefully guided trips to Christian sites, military veterans meet with Israeli soldiers.

The meetings even include a few hand-picked “Palestinian representatives” and Druze Israelis, allowing the tours to be pitched as “educational” trips where participants allegedly see “all sides.” They are given inaccurate histories of the region and filtered information about the current situation. Not surprisingly, participants come back spouting the Israeli talking points they’ve been fed. (See some schedules and itineraries here.)

Whether or not they are taken in by the tour, it is likely that politicians understand the political calculus of allying with one of the most powerful lobbies in the U.S.

Most politicians and many others are acutely aware that this is a group that has the money and power to further their careers – or to impede them. As these extravagant trips exemplify, AIPAC and related groups possess hundreds of millions of dollars to devote to cultivating Congressional representatives and others.

Pro-Israel billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, and Paul Singer donate massive quantities of money to promote Israel in the US. They and others fund numerous projects to inculcate pro-Israel beliefs in Americans. These trips are one of the ways they do it.

The new Congressional representatives and Setmayer have occasionally been tweeting about the trips. Below are a few examples:

Walking on a road where Jesus actually walked. Just incredible. #AIEF pic.twitter.com/2bDR72udOo

— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) December 12, 2018

 

We were invited to survey the Israeli border areas including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Then they took us to a military base to inspect the terror tunnels. Our return trip took us over Jerusalem, where we saw the security wall between the West Bank and Israel. #VA05 pic.twitter.com/DkZaOXejWr

— Denver Riggleman (@Denver4VA) December 12, 2018

 

One of the most intense experiences of my life was standing inside a bombed out former Syrian Army HQ, now on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, just 150 yards from the Syrian border.That happened today. pic.twitter.com/9oSRW5VLqZ

— Tara Setmayer (@TaraSetmayer) December 7, 2018

 

CNN’s Setmayer & Marc Lamont Hill

Setmayer has also published a podcast about the trip that mentions her Jewish ancestry and repeats a number of Israel’s nonfactual talking points. In the podcast she shows little awareness of the situation in Gaza or the history of the region, despite – or perhaps because of – her “educational trip.”

Given that CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, a tenured professor, was just fired by CNN for a UN speech in which he supported full Palestinian rights, it is perhaps not surprising that Setmayer sings Israel’s praises.

Numerous other pro-Israel groups also take Americans on guided tours to Israel, including the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange (a 2012 trip brought university presidents), Passages Israel, (backed by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer), the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of Northern California (JPAC)Birthright Israel, which targets Jewish students, and the American-Israel Friendship League, which has been operating since 1971 and largely targets young people. (Last year AIFL gave a special award to potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. A fundraising video featured former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, Elie Wiesel, and others.)

Meanwhile, U.S. media regularly provide Israeli-centric reporting to Americans. For example, almost no news organizations have told Americans about the current legislation before Congress to give Israel a minimum of $38 billion over the next 10 years, currently being held up by Republican Senator Rand Paul.

Alternative trip to the region

Perhaps for the first time ever, a Congressional representative is openly challenging AIPAC over these trips. Newly elected Democrat Rashida Tlaib has announced that she will be organizing an alternative trip to the region.

A Palestinian American citizen of Detroit, Tlaib explained: “I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue. It’s one-sided. … [They] have these lavish trips to Israel, but they don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.”

While most Americans desire fairness and would likely believe it reasonable for their representatives to either go on no lobby-funded trips, or go on trips by both sides, it is unclear how many politicians will be willing to do so. As Republican Congressman Paul Findley recorded in 1985, and many politicians from both parties have learned since, defying the Israel lobby can be political suicide.

But as increasing numbers of Americans learn the facts on Israel-Palestine, a few politicians now are taking on the Israel lobby, and winning. One of them, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), has already announced that she will not be joining the annual AIPAC trip for freshman Congressional reps.

Videos about Israel lobby trips

The videos below give a feel for these pro-Israel funded trips:

Passages is backed by hedge fund billionaire and Israel advocate Paul Singer. (More information about Singer is here.)

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

Who Runs Our World? AIPAC, the lobby for israel (apartheid state), completely controls both houses of the US Congress

Who Runs Our World?

Netanyahu addresses US Congress
By Richard Hugus | January 4, 2019

Our world is run by oligarchs, the holders of vast wealth from monopolies in banking, resource extraction, manufacturing, and technology. Oligarchs have such power that most of the world doesn’t even know of their influence over our lives. Their overall agenda is global power — a world government, run by them — to be achieved through planned steps of social engineering. The oligarchs remain in the background and have heads of state and entire governments acting in their service. Presidents and prime ministers are their puppets. Bureaucrats and politicians are their factotums.

Who are politicians? Politicians are people who work for the powerful while pretending to represent the people who voted for them. This double-dealing involves a lot of lying, so successful politicians must be good at it. It’s not an easy job to make the insane agenda of the powerful seem reasonable. Politicians can’t reveal this agenda because it almost always goes against the interests of their constituents, so they become adept at sophistry, mystification, and the appearance of authority. For example, wars for Israel have been part of the agenda of the powerful for years. Since 2001, wars for Israel have been sold as “the war on terror” and lots of lies had to be made up as to why the war on terror was a real thing. The visible faces promoting the war on terror were neoconservatives in the US, almost all of whom were advocates for Israel, or Zionists. Zionists are not the only members of the oligarchy, but they seem to be its lead actors.

With this perspective we may judge all kinds of world events, such as the many false flag terror attacks which have been perpetrated in one country after another to bring about political objectives. False flag attacks range from Operation Gladio to demonize leftists, 9-11 to demonize Arabs and Muslims, and the shooting down of the MH-17 airliner to demonize Russia. Under an atmosphere of terror, with citizens clamoring for revenge, all kinds of political goals can be achieved.

Propaganda is also vital. Control of information through a likewise controlled media has facilitated mass brainwashing. To control the narrative, whistle blowers and truth tellers must be isolated and destroyed, preferably in the open, so as to warn others away. This is what is happening with Julian Assange.

The attack on Gilad Atzmon is an other example. Atzmon has been a major critic of the role of Jewish political power in our world — not just in Palestine, but all over the western world. When he says “we are all Palestinians” he is making the observation that Europe and North America are being Israelified. For example, some police in the US go for training in Israel, where they learn to view the US public, particularly African Americans, the way the Israeli military views Palestinians — as enemies to be shot in the streets and abusively treated. In the US, people are not allowed to question or discuss Jewish power, when it is evident that AIPAC, the lobby for Israel, completely controls both houses of the US Congress. We recall the members of Congress giving Benjamin Netanyahu 29 standing ovations during his denunciation of Iran in 2011. In Britain, mass insanity has taken hold, at least in the media, in the demonization of Russia via the Skripal affair and Luke Harding’s MI6 journalism in The Guardian. This is taking place solely because of Russia’s thwarting of Israel in its attempt to destroy Syria. For the neocons, the agenda is always war — the stick to bring recalcitrant states in line with the New World Order. This behavior is so dangerous that it would be crazy if we did not speak about who is doing this, and why.

In December 2018 Atzmon was banned from playing a jazz gig in Islington, north of London, because a powerful entity — the Zionist Herut Likud UK — initiated a character assassination and attack on his livelihood through Richard Watts, leader of the Islington Town Council. The Council created the lie that in banning Atzmon it was protecting the citizens of Islington from “antisemitism.” In fact, it is only protecting organized Zionists — supporters of the racist state of Israel — from one of their most effective critics.

Two paid staff for the Council — Ian Adams and Martin Bevis — were assigned to carry out the bureaucratic part of the job. They defended the assassination in the name of political correctness. They responded to Atzmon’s appeal of the Council ruling by citing almost entirely Zionist and Israeli sources to back up the claim that Atzmon is an “antisemite.” These sources include the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Haaretz, the Times of Israel, and The Forward. When Atzmon countered these sources with a list of well-known academics who have supported his work — Richard Falk, John Mearschimer, Ramzy Baroud, Paul Craig Roberts, Cynthia McKinney, James Petras, Francis Boyle, among others — Ian Adams responded by saying, “I have found that the majority of them would appear to have also been subject to significant controversy or allegations of being anti-Semitic themselves.” To Adams, representing a town in Britain, the only valid authorities are in the media run out of Israel, with its blatant record of discrimination and genocide against Palestinians, which all those media support.

Power likes to cover up its crude manipulations with a veneer of reason and legality. Islington based its original decision on Atzmon’s banning on a clause in the town’s books having to do with events at the Islington Assembly Hall. The clause states:

“You must not, in connection with any Live Event, use, provide or display any material, whether written or spoken, or allow behaviour that constitutes direct or indirect discrimination or harassment, victimisation of, villification of, any person or group of persons on grounds of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or age.”

In their letters, Adams and Bevis provide no response to the fact that Atzmon was to appear at the December 21, 2018 event as a saxophone player with a jazz group called The Blockheads. There was no logical way to assume that his saxophone playing would discriminate against, harass, victimize, or vilify anyone at this event. The banning was therefore not backed up by law; it was illegal in itself, as it discriminated against Atzmon.

The only thing one can say about the bureaucrats’ defense of Islington’s decision is that they and the town officials, and indeed much of Britain’s political class, seem to be unaware that Zionism is the water in which their boat is floating. When the entire mainstream narrative is dictated by Jewish identity politics, of course all criticism of those politics must be heresy. Britain was once a sovereign nation, not a colony of Israel — much like the US. Much like Canada, Germany, France, and so on. These countries were not invaded by tanks and infantry; they were invaded by dogma. Political dogma, political “correctness,” and the totalitarian policing of our thoughts and words, are the things which Gilad Atzmon has pointed to in western culture and held up for us to examine. Zionists have made criticism of Israel “antisemitic” by definition. There is no way to win the argument. The word no longer has any meaning. This is aside from the fact that ‘semitic’ refers to a language group which includes Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew and that the majority of the settlers claiming rights to the Holy Land did not come from areas, like Palestine, where semitic languages were spoken.

Atzmon has asked the most basic questions: Israel defines itself as “the Jewish state” — what then is the Jewish state? What are Jewish identity politics? And why are we not allowed open discussion and debate on these questions? This is the reason for the attempt to denounce him. The bureaucrats and politicians of Islington say they’re fighting bigotry, but because they are part of a system which bigotry built, they’re actually speaking on behalf of it. Once again, the oligarchs have put through a dirty scheme under cover of benevolence and human rights.

Fired School Employee Sues Over israel (apartheid state) Loyalty Oath

Fired School Employee Sues Over Israel Loyalty Oath

A Texas school employee has sued her school district because it fired her after she refused to sign a loyalty oath to Israel, as Marjorie Cohn reports.

By Marjorie Cohn
Truthout

In a return to the bad old days of McCarthyism, Bahia Amawi, a U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent, lost her Texas elementary school job after refusing to pledge in writing that she would not participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Earlier this month, Amawi sued the school district that fired her.

The BDS movement against Israel has become a hot button issue in the closing month of 2018. A bipartisan group of senators tried to attach the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to the unanimous spending bill that Trump almost signed to avoid the current government shutdown. Meanwhile, Donorbox, a US software company, blocked the BDS fundraising account at the behest of a pro-Israel group.

“The language of the affirmation Amawi was told she must sign reads like Orwellian – or McCarthyite – self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder upon reading,” Glenn Greenwald wrote at The Intercept.

Amwai: Knows firsthand oppression. (DemocracyNow/YouTube)

On Dec. 12, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit on Amawi’s behalf in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas against Pflugerville Independent School District, alleging that Texas’ law requiring the oath violates the First Amendment. Amawi’s complaint says the law constitutes an impermissible attempt “to impose an ideological litmus test or compel speech related to government contractors’ political beliefs, associations, and expressions.”

Amawi had contracted with the school district for nine years to work with students with autism and developmental disabilities in Austin. This fall, for the first time, Amawi was required to sign an oath that she would not boycott Israel. When she refused to sign it, she was fired.

“The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment, of the Palestinian people,” Amawi explained. “Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know firsthand the oppression and the struggle that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”

BDS

The BDS movement was launched by representatives of Palestinian civil society in 2005, calling upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era … [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This call specified that “these non-violent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

Even though it is a nonviolent movement, Israel sees BDS as a threat to its hegemony over the Palestinians. Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territories, maintaining effective control over Gaza’s land, airspace, seaport, electricity, water, telecommunications and population registry. Israel deprives Gazans of food, medicine, fuel and basic services, and continues to build illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Vikomerson: No progress without pressure on Israel. (Twitter)

“There will not be progress toward a just peace without pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian rights,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Bringing about that pressure, through a global grassroots mobilization, is exactly what BDS is about.”

After Amawi’s firing, The New York Times editorial board wrote,

“It’s not just Israel’s adversaries who find the [BDS] movement appealing. Many devoted supporters of Israel, including many American Jews, oppose the occupation of the West Bank and refuse to buy products of the settlements in occupied territories. Their right to protest in this way must be vigorously defended.”

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of BDS, said in an email to The New York Times, “Having lost many battles for hearts and minds at the grass-roots level, Israel has adopted since 2014 a new strategy to criminalize support for BDS from the top” in order to “shield Israel from accountability.”

Barghouti called Shurat HaDin, the group behind the Donorbox action blocking the BDS account, a “repressive organization with clear connections to the far-right Israeli government” that is “engaging in McCarthyite … tactics … in a desperate attempt to undermine our ability to challenge Israel’s regime of apartheid and oppression.”

Twenty-six U.S. states have anti-BDS laws and 13 others are pending. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would have to be reintroduced when the new Congress convenes in January, was supported by Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) opposed the bill.

Boycotts’ 1st Amendment Protection

The law that triggered Amawi’s firing prohibits the State of Texas from entering into government contracts with companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel. It defines “boycott Israel” to include “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory.”

Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of speech, assembly and association. They have long been used to oppose injustice and urge political change. The Supreme Court has held that “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.” The high court ruled that advocating and supporting boycotts “to bring about political, social, and economic change” – like boycotts of Israel – are indisputably protected by the First Amendment.

The National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in a legal memorandum challenging anti-BDS legislation in New York that such laws “harken back to the McCarthy era when the state sought to deny the right to earn a livelihood to those who express controversial political views.” The memo says, “The courts long ago found such McCarthy-era legislation to be at war with the First Amendment,” as they “unconstitutionally target core political speech activities and infringe on the freedom to express political beliefs.”

Barghouti: McCarthyite tactics.  (YouTube/BBC)

Even staff members at the right-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL) opposed anti-BDS laws and admitted they are unconstitutional. Although the leadership officially favors outlawing BDS, ADL staff wrote in an internal 2016 memo that anti-BDS laws divert “community resources to an ineffective, unworkable, and unconstitutional endeavor.”

Greenwald cited the grave danger anti-BDS laws pose to freedom of speech, tweeting, “The proliferation of these laws – where US citizens are barred from work or contracts unless they vow not to boycott Israel – is the single greatest free speech threat in the US.”

Demonstrating the incongruity of allowing Amawi to boycott any entity but Israel, Greenwald noted, “In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the US, or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.”

The US government remains Israel’s lap dog on the world stage. On December 5 the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. The United States opposed the resolution.

Meanwhile, the BDS movement continues to achieve victories. After more than 24,000 people complained to HSBC, the banking giant pulled out its investments in Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Elbit sells military equipment, including drones, aircraft, artillery and weapon control systems to the Israeli army, US Air Force and British Royal Air Force. It also provides surveillance equipment to the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

On the legal front, the ACLU has mounted successful court challenges to anti-BDS laws in Kansas and Arizona and has filed litigation in Arkansas and Texas.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and an advisory board member of Veterans for Peace. Her latest book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, was recently published in an updated second edition.

A Question Every American Must Confront: Apartheid israel or US Democracy?

Source

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | December 26, 2018

Bahia Amawi, a primary school teacher in Texas who was fired for refusing to sign an anti-BDS oath. (Photo: via Social Media)

Bahia Amawai is a US citizen and Texas-based language specialist who helps autistic and speech-impaired children overcome their impairment.

Despite the essential and noble nature of her work, she was fired by the Pflugerville Independent School District, which serves the Austin area.

Every year, Amawai signs an annual contract that allows her to carry on with her tasks uninterrupted. This year however, something changed.

Shockingly, the school district has decided to add a clause to the contract that requires teachers and other employees to pledge not to boycott Israel “during the term of their contract”.

The “oath” is now part of Section 2270.001 of the Texas Government Code, and it is stated in the contract with obvious elaboration so as those wishing to work or keep their jobs with the Texan government find no loophole to avoid its penalties:

“‘Boycott Israel’ means refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territory ..”

The fact that Texas considers unacceptable even the boycott of businesses operating in the illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied West Bank puts it at odds with international law, and, subsequently with the vast majority of the international community.

But don’t rush to judgment yet, condemning Texas for being the infamous and stereotypical “wild west”, as portrayed even in the United States’ own media. Indeed, Texas is but a small facet in a massive American government campaign aimed at stifling freedom of speech as enshrined in its country’s own constitution.

Twenty-five US states have already passed anti-boycott of Israel legislation, or have issued executive orders targeting the boycott support networks, while other states are in the process of following suit.

At a federal government level, the Congressional Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which is being received with enthusiasm among US legislators, vows to find and imprison those who boycott Israel.

While there is strong civil society opposition to such obvious violations of the basic tenets of freedom of speech, the pro-Israel campaigners are unhinged.

Texas – which has passed and enacted laws criminalizing support for the boycott of Israel, as championed by the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) – continues to lead the way for other states.

In the Texan town of Dickinson, which was devastated by hurricane Harvey last year, hurricane victims were asked to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel in exchange for life-saving humanitarian aid.

It must have been a complete shock for displaced residents of the town to learn that the meager supplies they were about to receive hinged on their support of the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But this is the sad state of democracy in the US at the moment, where the interests of a relatively small, distant country are made the centerpiece of US government policies, at home or abroad.

Israel’s wealthy supporters are working hand in hand with Israel’s influential lobby groups in Washington DC, but also at state, and even city levels to make the boycott of Israel punishable by law.

Many US politicians are answering the unreasonable lobby call of criminalizing political dissent throughout the country. While in reality many of them could care less or even truly understand the nature of the debate concerning BDS, they are willing to go the extra mile (as in violating the sanctity of their own democratic system) to win lobby favors or to, at least avoid their wrath.

The anti-BDS campaign started in the US in earnest a few years ago, and, unlike BDS’ own tactics, it avoided grassroots efforts, focusing instead on quickly creating an official body of legal work that places boycotters of Israel in the dock.

Although the hastily composed legal language has been bravely challenged, and, at times, reversed altogether by civil society lawyers and organizations, the Israeli strategy has managed to place BDS supporters on the defensive.

That limited success can be accredited to powerful friends of Israel who have generously and forcefully responded to Tel Aviv’s war drums.

Las Vegas gambling mogul, Sheldon Adelson, took the helm of leadership. He moved into action, establishing the “Maccabee Task Force”, which raised millions of dollars to fight against what Israeli officials define as an existential threat to Israel and the delegitimization of the country as a “Jewish state.”

A major strategy that the Israeli camp has advanced in the discussion is the misleading notion that BDS calls for the boycott of Jews, as opposed to the boycott of Israel as a state that violates international law and numerous United Nations resolutions.

A country that practices racism as a matter of course, defends racial segregation and builds Apartheid walls deserves nothing but a complete boycott. That is the minimal degree of moral, political and legal accountability considering that the US, as other countries are obligated to honor and respect international law in that regard.

The US, however, encouraged by the lack of accountability, continues to behave in the same manner as countries that Washington relentlessly attacks for their undemocratic behavior and violation of human rights.

If such bizarre happenings – firing teachers and conditioning aid on taking a political stance – took place in China, for example, Washington would have led an international campaign condemning Beijing’s intransigence and violation of human rights.

Many Americans are yet to fathom how the United States’ submission to Israel’s political will is affecting their everyday life. But with more and more such legal restrictions, even ordinary Americans will soon find themselves fighting for basic political rights that, like Bahia Amawai, they have always taken for granted.

Sure, Israel may have succeeded in coercing some people not to openly vow support of BDS, but it will eventually lose this battle as well.

Muffling the voices of civil society rarely works over long periods of time, and the anti-BDS campaign, now penetrating the very heart of US government, is bound to eventually resurrect a nationwide conversation.

Is protecting Israeli Apartheid more important to Americans than preserving the fundamental nature of their own democracy?

That is a question that every American, regardless how they feel about a supposedly distant Middle Eastern conflict, must answer, and urgently so.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Trump Admits His Mideast Policy Guided by israeli (apartheid state) , not American, Interests

Trump Admits His Mideast Policy Guided by Israeli, not American, Interests

Trump has now publicly admitted that – when it comes to U.S. military involvement and covert intervention in the Middle East – he is putting Israel, not America, first.

WASHINGTON — In a recent interview with the Washington Post, U.S. President Donald Trump publicly stated that his administration’s Middle East policy – including the illegal U.S. military occupation of nearly a third of Syria, the administration’s adoption of aggressive Iranian sanctions, and Trump’s response to murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi —  is not driven by his country’s interest in oil but instead to benefit the interests of the state of Israel.Trump made the comment when asked by Post reporter Josh Dawsey about whether or not he supports tougher sanctions against the Saudi government for allegedly being responsible for the death of Khashoggi in early October. Trump responded by stating that he would “listen” to those calling for increased sanctions and then adding that the Middle East is a “dangerous, rough part of the world.” Trump continued, stating that Saudi Arabia has been a “great ally,” adding that “without them, Israel would be in a lot more trouble. We need to have a counterbalance to Iran.”

Trump’s statements here seem to support the claims made in recent reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was responsible for Trump’s decision to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) during the fall-out from Khashoggi’s death, which several governments and U.S. intelligence have claimed was planned in advance with MBS’ approval. Netanyahu told the White House that MBS was a “strategic ally” and should be supported regardless of his alleged involvement in the death of the former Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

However, as Trump continued to discuss the region, he revealed that Israel is not just the reason for his continued support for the Saudi government despite the fallout from Khashoggi’s death but also the reason why the U.S. continues to be so heavily involved in the region. He stated:

It’s very important to have Saudi Arabia as an ally, if we’re going to stay in that part of the world. Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world? One reason to is Israel. Oil is becoming less and less of a reason because we’re producing more oil now than we’ve ever produced. So, you know, all of a sudden it gets to a point where you don’t have to stay there.”

In this statement, Trump makes the case that the U.S. national interest in Middle Eastern affairs is weakening, as oil – traditionally cited for the U.S.’ long history of intervention throughout the region – is no longer a major factor in guiding his administration’s policy in this geostrategic area of the world. As Trump notes, the U.S. is currently producing a record amount of oil domestically and is likely to continue its rapid increase until production is estimated to peak in 2025.

 

Israel driving the U.S. bus

Instead, Trump states that the driving reason for the U.S. continuing intervention in the region is the state of Israel. Though Trump’s actions since he came into office have been markedly pro-Israel, this statement is the first public admission that his administration’s Middle East policy – such as the continuing military occupation of Syria, its aggressive stance towards Iran, and preservation of ties with Saudi Arabia at all costs, among others – is guided by the interests not of the United States but a foreign nation. Given that Trump was elected in large part due to his promise to put “America First,” his claim that the U.S.’ entire Middle East policy is guided by the national interests of another country is telling.

Yet, for those that have closely followed the actions of the Trump administration in the Middle East, it has been clear for some time that most, if not all, of the administration’s policies have been carried out with Israel in mind.

For instance, the U.S.’ continued occupation of Syria is of great benefit to Israel, as Israel — which helped plan and execute the now winding-down Syrian conflict — had hoped to use the resulting instability in Syria to push for the country’s partition. Israel’s push for the partition of Syria is aimed at a broader, regional plan that would see Israel expand well beyond that territory in order to more widely exert its influence and become the region’s “superpower.”

This ambition is described in the Yinon Plan, a strategy intended to ensure Israel’s regional superiority in the Middle East that chiefly involves reconfiguring the entire Arab world into smaller and weaker sectarian states. This has manifested in Israel’s support for the partition of Iraq as well as Syria, particularly its support for the establishment of a separatist Kurdish state within these two nations. Currently, the U.S. is occupying the area for this potential future state and supports the Kurdish separatist militia group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Though some reports released on Wednesday have now claimed that the U.S. troops in Syria will soon be withdrawn due to the end of Washington’s bombing campaign against ISIS, the Trump administration shifted its Syria policy away from combating ISIS to containing Iran — a move promoted first by the Israeli government, which has long used alleged “Iranian influence” to justify hundreds of unilateral airstrikes within Syrian territory.

If U.S. troops do leave northeastern Syria, the U.S. military occupation of northeastern Syria may end, but the administration’s policy on containing Iran in Syria through other means would still be operational.

Indeed, NBC News reported in October that the administration was developing a “new” Syria policy that would forgo a U.S. military presence in the country and would instead “emphasize political and diplomatic efforts to force Iran out of Syria by squeezing it financially,” and would “withhold reconstruction aid from areas where Iranian and Russian forces are present” in addition to imposing “sanctions on Russian and Iranian companies working on reconstruction in Syria.”

In addition, the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and its unilateral reimposition of sanctions on Iran were also carried out with Israel’s interests in mind, given that the move was pushed by both Netanyahu and Trump’s most influential donor, Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is also the owner of Israel’s largest newspaper and Netanyahu’s largest financier.

Past reports have shown that Adelson’s influence also pushed Trump to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to replace former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, a pro-Israel Iran hawk with a well-known penchant for war.

After his recent statements, Trump has now publicly admitted that – when it comes to U.S. military involvement and covert intervention in the Middle East – he is putting Israel, not America, first. This should serve as a stark warning to all Americans, particularly given that just last year a top U.S. commander stated that U.S. troops were “ready to die” to defend Israel for whatever reason, and that the deployment of U.S. troops to Israel would be made not by the American military but by the Israel Defense Forces.

Top Photo | US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embrace at the Israel museum in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Blocking Nord Stream 2: To Fight “Russian Dictatorship,” US Dictates to Europe. US wants Europe to buy expensive U.S. LNG

Source

(Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Rarely is irony and hypocrisy so thoroughly combined as it was when the US House of Representatives passed resolution 1035 – “Expressing opposition to the completion of Nord Stream II” (.pdf).

Bloomberg in its article, “U.S. House Passes Resolution Opposing Russian Gas Pipeline,” would report:

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a largely symbolic resolution expressing opposition to Gazprom PJSC’s $11 billion Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, on concerns that the project will boost the Kremlin’s control over Europe’s energy supplies.

Bloomberg would also report (emphasis added):

While the resolution is non-binding, it highlights growing Congressional opposition to the Russian project. The Trump administration is reviewing potential sanctions against the European companies involved. The pipeline, which would send Russian gas to Germany, has financing agreements with Engie SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, among others.

By passing this resolution, the United States presumes to dictate to all of Europe who they can and cannot do business with.

And while the resolution itself is “non-binding,” the resolution itself admits it:

…supports the imposition of sanctions with respect to Nord Stream II under section 232 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (22 U.S.C. 9526).

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline circumvents Ukraine through which Russia had previously shipped natural gas to the rest of Europe. The Russian Federation, and before that, the Soviet Union had for decades reliably supplied Europe with natural gas through Ukraine.

It was not until an openly US-backed putsch swept the elected government of Ukraine from power in 2014 and transformed Ukrainian foreign policy into being openly hostile toward Moscow, that gas flow was jeopardized, prompting Russia to pursue alternatives – including Nord Stream 2.

US Dictates to Europe to Save it from a “Russian Dictatorship?”

Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline is not a unilateral project – it includes partners from Germany such as Uniper SE and Wintershall, as well as Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transportation company, Gasunie.

The pipeline has also been approved by the elected German government itself.

German public media, Deutsche Welle (DW), in an article titled, “Germany approves Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline,” would report:

Germany has given a green light to the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency said Tuesday. 

The decision means all legal hurdles to building a 31-kilometer (20 mile) section of the pipeline in Germany’s exclusive economic zone have been cleared. In January, authorities approved construction of a gas pipeline segment in German territorial waters.

In what is essentially a bilateral deal between Germany and Russia, the US – from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – “expresses opposition” to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and is preparing to target companies involved to prevent the pipeline’s completion and use.

It is the ultimate irony and the pinnacle of hypocrisy that the US claims in its own resolution that Russia seeks to “control” European energy markets while the US House resolution itself is an open demonstration of Washington’s desire to control European energy policy.

Where Europe buys its energy would presumably be Europe’s – not Washington’s – business. It is unlikely that Washington would respond well to Europe attempting to pressure the United States into drastically changing its energy policy for whatever reason – particularly through coercive economic sanctions.

“Diversifying” Means Buying Anglo-American Petrochemicals 

The US resolution mentions the Southern Gas Corridor as part of US “policy to support European energy security through diversification of supplies.”

That pipeline connects gas taken mostly from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan which is jointly owned by British Petroleum and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), but also Turkish and Russian interests as well.

What the US resolution does not mention – likely recognizing just how transparent US motivations would be if it did – is the other option the US is promoting EU energy diversification with.

In Politico’s 2014 article, “US pushes for EU energy diversification,” this other option would be spelled out. The article would admit (emphasis added):

In a joint statement issued this morning, the US and EU said that both sides underlined the importance of co-operation on smart grids, energy storage, nuclear fusion, hydrogen and fuel cells, energy efficiency, nuclear and unconventional hydrocarbons (shale gas).

By 2018, Forbes would report in its article, “The U.S. Is Still The Global Natural Gas King,” that:

In 2017, the U.S. produced an average of 71.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas. That’s a 1.0% increase from 2016 production, but not quite good enough to beat the 2015 record of 71.6 Bcf/d. 

Forbes would put the numbers in perspective, reporting:

…natural gas production for the entire Middle East was 63.8 Bcf/d. Russia, in second place among countries, saw its natural gas production surge by 8.2%, but at 61.5 Bcf/d that was still well behind the U.S.

But two fundamental problems impede US energy dominance in Europe.

First, Russia has more proven natural gas reserves than the US. Forbes itself would admit that US domination of gas production would only last a few more years.

Second, transporting gas across the Atlantic Ocean as liquid natural gas (LNG) is more expensive than through existing pipelines delivering Russian gas to Europe.

These are not conclusions drawn by Gazprom executives or the Kremlin, but rather America’s own corporate-funded policymakers.

A 2014 Brookings Institution report titled, “Why Russian Natural Gas Will Dominate European Markets,” would admit:

LNG is more expensive, and it will take many years to get other competitive supplies, for instance from the Caspian region, into the market.

If the US cannot possibly compete in free and fair markets, why is Washington so confident it can still “support European energy security through diversification of supplies?” 

US Uses Coercion/Conflict to Compensate for Inability to Compete 

To compensate for America’s inability to compete through free and fair markets, Washington has resorted to a number of more dubious measures.

The 2014 violent overthrow of the Ukrainian government and the subsequently hostile regime Washington is backing in Kiev is one part of this equation.

Provocations including the more recent Kerch Strait incident help maintain political pressure on Moscow and attempt to ratchet up tensions between Moscow and its European energy partners.

Moving NATO up to Russia’s borders through such provocations helps produce and maintain wider tensions and instability amid Russian-European ties.

Passing resolutions opposing Russian pipelines and threatening economic sanctions against companies based in supposedly “allied” states is another measure.

The now 2-year-long “Russiagate” disinformation campaign, vilifying Russia is yet another.

Articles and editorials across the Western media are piggybacking on the “Russiagate” narrative and resulting Russophobia to sell America’s rationale for undermining European sovereignty by dictating who European nations can and cannot do business with.

US State Department-funded and directed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in its September 2018 article, “Pipeline From Hell? Nord Stream 2 And Why It’s So Contentious,” is one such example.

The article claims:

Nord Stream 2 has been sharply criticized by several countries, both within the EU and abroad. Opponents of the project fear the pipeline will increase the bloc’s substantial dependence on Russian gas and argue that it runs counter to international sanctions imposed on Russia following its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

The article eventually admits nations “sharply criticizing” Nord Stream 2 “both within the EU and abroad,” are actually the United States and its US-NATO proxies in Poland, the Baltic states, and of course Ukraine.

The article admits:

Germany, Italy, and others still appear to be happy to make deals with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, but countries from the former Eastern Bloc, such as Poland, have become especially wary of Moscow’s growing influence.

It also admits:

Latvia and Estonia have echoed Polish and Lithuanian concerns. All three Baltic states and Poland have signed a joint letter that calls Nord Stream 2 “an instrument of Russian state policy,” which “should be seen in the broader context of today’s Russian information and cyber-hostilities and military aggression.”

While the article – and many others like it – suggest Nord Stream 2 is an “instrument of Russian state policy” and represents a threat to Europe’s independence, US opposition to the pipeline and Russian energy supplies to Europe in general have manifested itself in the form of political meddling, economic coercion, and even violent coups and conflict as seen in Ukraine from 2014 onward.

At the end of the day, if “Germany, Italy and others are happy to make deals” with Russia, why would the US – self-appointed arbiter of global freedom and democracy – presume to have a say otherwise?

How do deep economic ties between Europe and Russia pose a problem to regional or global peace when the alternative – as the US clearly demonstrates – is not only a growing political, economic, and even military confrontation with Russia – but also the economic coercion and threatening of America’s own European allies?

Little adds up regarding America’s narrative regarding Nord Stream 2. What is clear through objective observation is Washington’s desire to eliminate a competitor at all costs – and to do so not through actual competition, but through coercion and the threat of increasingly dangerous conflict specifically because it cannot compete economically.

Since the US admittedly cannot compete economically, its success or failure will depend entirely on its ability to wield its wide arsenal of “soft power” weaponry – coercion, subversion, sanctions, and conflict by proxy. How far the US will go to ensure success is a matter only time can tell.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.  

 

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