How israel (apartheid state) lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism

How Israel lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism

On Saturday, RT aired the second part of a conversation between host Chris Hedges, journalist Max Blumenthal and me about the censored Al Jazeera film The Lobby – USA.

In part two – which you can watch above – we focus on how the film shows Israel lobby groups fabricating accusations of anti-Semitism on US college campuses in order to incite official crackdowns against Palestine solidarity activism.

I tell Hedges that “a lot of these fake anti-Semitism allegations are about trying to lay a factual basis to make federal civil rights complaints or lawsuits that can then be used to force university administrations to muzzle students and teachers.”

The Emergency Committee for Israel, an anti-Palestinian activist group, is also seen in the Al Jazeera film organizing a fake pro-Israel protest at the national conference of Students for Justice in Palestine, using paid fellows who are required to attend.

One of the participants describes it as “a chance to shout at Arabs.”

Blumenthal calls the astroturfed protest an indication of how the Israel lobby is “completely morally bankrupt” and “desperate” for the appearance that it has grassroots support.

Afraid of the base

We also discuss how the base of the Democratic Party – particularly supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders – is continuing to embrace the struggle for Palestinian rights.

“Something to watch is the role of Beto O’Rourke,” Blumenthal states. “He’s someone who the pro-Israel lobby has worked on for years and they will push him to drive a wedge in Bernie’s base, as the anti-Bernie progressive.”

Blumenthal adds that Israel supporters and centrist elites in the Democratic Party are “afraid not of Bernie per se but of his base.”

O’Rourke is seen as a rising star and possible presidential contender after he narrowly failed to defeat Senator Ted Cruz of Texas last November.

But while striking many progressive notes, O’Rourke has toed a staunchly pro-Israel line.

Part one of our conversation with Chris Hedges about The Lobby – USA was broadcast the previous week:

Censored and leaked

The Lobby–USA is an explosive undercover documentary produced by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit.

It exposes how US lobby groups – including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Israel on Campus Coalition – work closely with the Israeli government to spy on, smear and sabotage American citizens who speak out for Palestinian rights.

But the four-part film never aired on Al Jazeera. After Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds the news network, the documentary was censored.

Starting in August 2018, The Electronic Intifada and Blumenthal’s Grayzone Project began leaking excerpts from the film.

In November, The Electronic Intifada, along with the French publication Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, released the entire leaked film online.

You can watch in full episodes one and two, and three and four of The Lobby–USA – the film the Israel lobby did not want you to see.

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The United States Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

The United States Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

by Juan Cole /

John M. Cropper / CC BY-NC 2.0

The United States fell six places to a ranking of only 22 in Transparency International’s list of countries by corruption. Under Donald Trump, America is not in the top 20 for fair dealing.

But as I have argued before, the United States is the most corrupt country in the world and should be ranked 194, not 22. What follows is a much-revised version of my popular list.

 

Obviously, the U.S. Departments of Justice and the Treasury would not give corporations impunity for obtaining contracts by bribery, and it is this sort of scrupulousness that the Transparency International list is rewarding. And Americans don’t have to bribe government officials, as is true in many countries (though, to be fair to the government officials, they typically demand bribes because their governments don’t pay them a living wage).

But in all sorts of ways, U.S. corruption is off the charts, and because the U.S. is still the No. 1 economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product, massive corruption here has a global impact.

Here are the top signs that the U.S. is the most corrupt country in the world:

1. The U.S. is so corrupt that our ruling Republican Party would even deny human-made climate change and adopt pro-carbon policies inexorably destined to wreck the planet earth, all to ensure a few extra years of profits for dirty coal companies and oil giants like ExxonMobil.

Americans are now finally waking up from the 30 years of mesmerized unreality into which Big Carbon and its willing henchmen in the U.S. government had cast them. But nothing of any significance is being done by the federal government on the climate emergency, and the real leaders are states like California. Americans do not realize how peculiar their climate dementia is. No government in Europe openly denies human-made climate change through the burning of fossil fuels and the lodging of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, however lackadaisical some of them are about addressing the problem.

The Chinese Communist Party is more realistic than the U.S. government, and is making a full-court press to move to green energy. Germany, the fourth-largest economy, has announced the end of coal. Britain gets a third of its electricity from wind, and coal provides only 2 percent of British electricity—an achievement of less than a decade.

Only the dodo birds of the sneakily misnamed Australian Liberal Party are still vehemently pro-coal and shrilly denying the plain science of greenhouse gases.

2. Our government is so corrupt that the Environmental Protection Agency has not only ceased protecting the environment, it has become a cheerleader for polluting industries, gutting any regulation that might stand in the way of making a little extra money at the expense of, like, killing people. Its current head is a former coal industry lobbyist! The EPA has decided to back coal plants and to remove the annoyance of government regulations interfering with their spewing mercury into the air. Mercury is a nerve poison, and it concentrates at the top of the food chain (i.e., in us). The Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland” was driven crazy by using his hands to put mercury on the brim of felt hats so as to straighten them. Continual exposure to mercury damages your neural system.

3. The U.S. government is so corrupt that it is winking at the murder by Saudi authorities of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, almost certainly at the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And the grounds which the president of the United States gave for his insouciance at the deployment of a bone saw on the hapless scribbler were that he did not want to endanger Saudi arms purchases from and investments in the United States. This response is the very definition of corruption. Saudi Arabia is bribing the U.S. government to ignore a vicious murder of a high-profile journalist whose children are American citizens and who wrote for the Washington paper of record. You can tell all this is corrupt by just imagining what the response would be in Washington if Iran were discovered carving up a dissident in a consulate with a bone saw.

4. The U.S. is so corrupt (audience: “How corrupt is it?”) that the Senate has allowed a bill to come to the floor, introduced by Marco “Benedict Arnold” Rubio, that approves of individual states excluding vendors and contractors who boycott Israel. Although Rubio, Gary Peters, Ron Wyden and other backers of the bill maintain that it does not affect freedom of speech, it actually guts freedom of speech. We university lecturers who speak on other campuses are considered contractors, and people will be prevented from giving talks at the University of Texas, for example, by such laws. The law is unconstitutional and will be struck down if the U.S. judiciary still has a modicum of integrity. But the law was passed in order to uphold the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank and the sentencing of Palestinians to being stateless and helpless and without rights. And it was worked up in the shadows in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs (i.e., of propaganda), with the backing of pro-squatter fanatics such as sleazy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has been accused of making his pile, in part, by bribing members of the Chinese Communist Party to let him open a lucrative casino in Macau. The senators have brought this bill to the floor, despite its being a poison pill for the U.S. Constitution, because they are in the back pocket of the Israel lobbies, which help fund their political campaigns. (I hasten to add that most American Jews do not approve of these shenanigans.)

In other words, the senators are acting this way because they are being bribed by a sliver of corrupt American businesspeople, who in turn are virulent partisans of a foreign state, or by U.S. evangelicals, who have an irrational hope that the final solution of the Palestinian problem will provoke the return of Christ. The important thing is that U.S. electoral politics is an elaborate system of bribery, for which even the Constitution itself is not sacrosanct.

5. A sure sign of corruption is an electoral outcome like that of 2016. An addled nonentity like Donald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes and predatory behavior in his casinos and other businesses, and then was permitted to buy the presidency with his own money. He was given billions of dollars in free campaign time every evening on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other channels that should have been more even-handed, because they were in search of advertising dollars and Trump was a good draw. Then, too, the way the Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open, unlimited secret buying of elections is the height of corruption. The permitting of massive black money in our elections was taken advantage of by the Russian Federation, which, having hopelessly corrupted its own presidential elections, managed to further corrupt the American ones as well. Once ensconced in power, Trump Inc. has taken advantage of the power of White House to engage in a wide range of corrupt practices, including an attempt to sell visas to wealthy Chinese and the promotion of the Trump brand as part of diplomacy.

6. The rich are well-placed to bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. The Koch brothers and other megarich troglodytes explicitly told Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in 2017 that if the Republican Party, controlling all three branches of government, could not lower taxes on its main sponsors, there would be no billionaire backing of the party in the 2018 midterms. This threat of an electoral firing squad made the hundreds of bribe-takers in Congress sit up and take notice, and they duly gave away to the billionaire class $1.5 trillion in government services (that’s what federal taxes are, folks—services, such as roads, schools, health inspections, implementation of anti-pollution laws), things that everyone benefits from and that won’t be there any more. To the extent that the government will try to continue to provide those slashed services despite assessing no taxes on the people with the money to pay for them, it will run up an enormous budget deficit and weaken the dollar, which is a form of inflation in the imported-goods sector. Inflation hits the poor the worst. As it stands, 3 American billionaires are worth as much as the poorest 150 million Americans. That kind of wealth inequality hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since the age of the robber barons in the 19th century. Both eras are marked by extreme corruption.

7. One sign of American corruption is the rapidity with which American society has become more unequal since the 1980s Reagan destruction of the progressive income tax. The wealthier the top 1 percent is, the more politicians it can buy to gather up even more of the country’s wealth. In my lifetime, the top 1 percent has gone from holding 25 percent of the privately held wealth under President Eisenhower to over 38 percent today. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right that we need to much increase the top marginal tax rate, and we need to tax unearned income as well.

8. The U.S. military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next 12 major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale. I’ve seen with my own eyes how officers in the military get out and then form companies to sell things to their former colleagues still on the inside. Precisely because it is a cesspool of large-scale corruption, Trump’s budget will throw over $100 billion extra taxpayer dollars at it.

9. The U.S. has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jails and penitentiaries. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system.  It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars. This troubling trend is made all the more troubling by the move to give extra-long sentences for minor crimes, to deny parole and to imprison people for life for, for example, three small thefts.

10. Asset forfeiture in the “drug war” is corrupting police departments and the judiciary. Although some state legislatures are dialing this corrupt practice back, it is widespread and a danger to the Constitution.

So don’t tell the Global South how corrupt it is for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Juan Cole / Informed Comment
Juan Cole
Contributor
Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan and the proprietor of the Informed Comment e-zine. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in…
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro flashes victory signs, declaring he will prevail amid a “coup,” during a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday. (Ariana Cubillos / AP)

On Friday, The New York Times continued its long, predictable tradition of backing U.S. coups in Latin America by publishing an editorial praising Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This will be the 10th such coup the paper has backed since the creation of the CIA over 70 years ago.

A survey of The New York Times archives shows the Times editorial board has supported 10 out of 12 American-backed coups in Latin America, with two editorials—those involving the 1983 Grenada invasion and the 2009 Honduras coup—ranging from ambiguous to reluctant opposition. The survey can be viewed here.

Covert involvement of the United States, by the CIA or other intelligence services, isn’t mentioned in any of the Times’ editorials on any of the coups. Absent an open, undeniable U.S. military invasion (as in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada), things seem to happen in Latin American countries entirely on their own, with outside forces rarely, if ever, mentioned in the Times. Obviously, there are limits to what is “provable” in the immediate aftermath of such events (covert intervention is, by definition, covert), but the idea that the U.S. or other imperial actors could have stirred the pot, funded a junta or run weapons in any of the conflicts under the table is never entertained.

More often than not, what one is left with, reading Times editorials on these coups, are racist, paternalistic “cycle of violence” cliches. <i>Sigh, it’s just the way of things Over There.</i> When reading these quotes, keep in mind the CIA supplied and funded the groups that ultimately killed these leaders:

  • Brazil 1964: “They have, throughout their history, suffered from a lack of first class rulers.”
  • Chile 1973: “No Chilean party or faction can escape some responsibility for the disaster, but a heavy share must be assigned to the unfortunate Dr. Allende himself.”
  • Argentina 1976: “It was typical of the cynicism with which many Argentines view their country’s politics that most people in Buenos Aires seemed more interested in a soccer telecast Tuesday night than in the ouster of President Isabel Martinez de Perlin by the armed forces. The script was familiar for this long‐anticipated coup.”

See, it didn’t matter! It’s worth pointing out the military junta put in power by the CIA-contrived coup killed 10,000 to 30,000 Argentines from 1976 to 1983.

There’s a familiar script: The CIA and its U.S. corporate partners come in, wage economic warfare, fund and arm the opposition, then the target of this operation is blamed. This, of course, isn’t to say there isn’t merit to some of the objections being raised by The New York Times—whether it be Chile in 1973 or Venezuela in 2019. But that’s not really the point. The reason the CIA and U.S. military and its corporate partisans historically target governments in Latin America is because those governments are hostile to U.S. capital and strategic interests, not because they are undemocratic. So while the points the Times makes about illiberalism may sometimes be true, they’re mostly a non sequitur when analyzing the reality of what’s unfolding.

Did Allende, as the Times alleged in 1973 when backing his violent overthrow, “persist in pushing a program of pervasive socialism” without a “popular mandate”? Did, as the Times alleged, Allende “pursue this goal by dubious means, including attempts to bypass both Congress and the courts”? Possibly. But Allende’s supposed authoritarianism isn’t why the CIA sought his ouster. It wasn’t his means of pursuing redistributive policies that offended the CIA and U.S. corporate partners; it was the redistributive policies themselves.

Hand-wringing over the anti-democratic nature of how Allende carried out his agenda without noting that it was the agenda itself—not the means by which it was carried out—that animated his opponents is butting into a conversation no one in power is really having. Why, historically, has The New York Times taken for granted the liberal pretexts for U.S. involvement, rather than analyzing whether there were possibly other, more cynical forces at work?

The answer is that rank ideology is baked into the premise. The idea that the U.S. is motivated by human rights and democracy is taken for granted by The New York Times editorial board and has been since its inception. This does all the heavy lifting without most people—even liberals vaguely skeptical of American motives in Latin America—noticing that a sleight of hand has taken place. “In recent decades,” a 2017 Times editorial scolding Russia asserted, “American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy, sometimes with extraordinary results.” Oh, well, good then.

What should be a conversation about American military and its covert apparatus unduly meddling in other countries quickly becomes a referendum on the moral properties of those countries. Theoretically a good conversation to have (and one certainly ongoing among people and institutions in these countries), but absent a discussion of the merits of the initial axiom—that U.S. talking heads and the Washington national security apparatus have a birthright to determine which regimes are good and bad—it serves little practical purpose stateside beyond posturing. And often, as a practical matter, it works to cement the broader narrative justifying the meddling itself.

Do the U.S. and its allies have a moral or ethical right to determine the political future of Venezuela? This question is breezed past, and we move on to the question of how this self-evident authority is best exercised. This is the scope of debate in The New York Times—and among virtually all U.S. media outlets. To ante up in the poker game of Serious People Discussing Foreign Policy Seriously, one is obligated to register an Official Condemnation of the Official Bad Regime. This is so everyone knows you accept the core premises of U.S. regime change but oppose it on pragmatic or legalistic grounds. It’s a tedious, extortive exercise designed to shift the conversation away from the United States’ history of arbitrary and violent overthrows and into an exchange about how best to oppose the Official Bad Regime in question. U.S. liberals are to keep a real-time report card on these Official Bad Regimes, and if these regimes—due to an ill-defined rubric of un-democraticness and human rights—fall below a score of say, “60,” they become illegitimate and unworthy of defense as such.

While obviously not in Latin America, it’s also worth noting that the Times cheerled the CIA-sponsored coup against Iran’s President, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953. Its editorial, written two days after his ouster, engaged in the Times’ patented combination of victim-blaming and “oh dear” bloviating:

  • “The now-deposed Premier Mossadegh was flirting with Russia. He had won his phony plebiscite to dissolve the Majlis, or lower House of Parliament, with the aid of the Tudeh Communists.”
  • “Mossadegh is out, a prisoner awaiting trial. It is a credit to the Shah, to whom he was so disloyal, and to Premier Zahedi, that this rabid, self-seeking nationalist would have been protected at a time when his life would not have been worth the wager of a plugged nickel.”
  • “The Shah … deserves praise in this crisis. … He was always true to the parliamentary institutions of his country, he was a moderating influence in the wild fanaticism exhibited by the nationalists under Mossadegh, and he was socially progressive.”

Again, no mention of CIA involvement (which the agency now openly acknowledges), which the Times wouldn’t necessarily have had any way of knowing at the time. (This is part of the point of covert operations.) Mossadegh is summarily demonized, and it’s not until decades later the public learns of the extent of U.S. involvement. The Times even gets in an orientalist description of Iranians, implying why a strong Shah is necessary:

<blockquote>[The average Iranian] has nothing to lose. He is a man of infinite patience, of great charm and gentleness, but he is also—as we have been seeing—a volatile character, highly emotional, and violent when sufficiently aroused. </blockquote>

Needless to say, there are major difference between these cases: Mossadegh, Allende, Chavez and Maduro all lived in radically different times and championed different policies, with varying degrees of liberalism and corruption. But the one thing they all had in common is that the U.S. government, and a compliant U.S. media, decided they “needed to go” and did everything to achieve this end. The fundamental arrogance of this assumption, one would think, is what ought to be discussed in the U.S. media—as typified by the Times’ editorial board—but time and again, this assumption is either taken for granted or hand-waved away, and we all move on to how and when we can best overthrow the Bad Regime.

For those earnestly concerned about Maduro’s efforts to undermine the democratic institutions of Venezuela (he’s been accused of jailing opponents, stacking the courts and holding Potemkin elections), it’s worth pointing out that even when the liberal democratic properties of Venezuela were at their height in 2002 (they were internationally sanctioned and overseen by the Carter Center for years, and no serious observer considers Hugo Chavez’s rule illegitimate), the CIA still greenlit a military coup against Chavez, and the New York Times still profusely praised the act. As it wrote at the time:

<blockquote>With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona. </blockquote>

Chavez would soon be restored to power after millions took to the streets to protest his removal from office, but the question remains: If The New York Times was willing to ignore the undisputed will of the Venezuelan people in 2002, what makes anyone think the newspaper is earnestly concerned about it in 2019? Again, the thing that’s being objected to by the White House, the State Department and their U.S. imperial apparatchiks is the redistributive policies and opposition to the United States’ will, not the means by which they do so. Perhaps the Times and other U.S. media—living in the heart of, and presumably having influence over, this empire—could try centering this reality rather than, for the millionth time, adjudicating the moral properties of the countries subject to its violent, illegitimate whims

israel’s Story: Lies from Top to Bottom

Israel’s Story: Lies from Top to Bottom

By Philip Giraldi,

A study by a Toronto-based consulting and research company has revealed that over the past fifty years mainstream reporting about Israel has been distorted to portray the Jewish state in positive terms while ignoring the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The media study, based on a computer analysis of 50 years of data, found that major U.S. newspapers have provided consistently skewed, pro-Israel reporting on Israel-Palestine. The slanting in news coverage included subtle manipulations like using word associations favorable to Israel and derogatory to Palestinians as well as persistent publication of stories praising Israel while also avoiding reporting anything supportive of the dispossessed Arab point of view

The researchers from 416Labs were able to evaluate headlines and articles derived from five major U.S. newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal during the time period 1967 to 2017. June 1967 was selected as the starting point to include coverage of the Six Day War and its aftermath, when Israel attacked Jordan, Egypt and Syria to begin its military occupation of Palestinian territory on the West Bank and Gaza.

No one should be surprised by media bias in favor of Israel given the dominance of Jewish owners and editors in the major media, but the study just might have gone one step farther and noted, as did Congressman Paul Findley in his book They Dare to Speak Out back in 1985, that much of the bias stems from the overseas correspondents covering the Middle East for the U.S. and European media also being overwhelmingly Jewish. And a review of the Israel-philia might have gone back even further in time to the foundation of the state in 1948 to find similar favorable coverage.

Shaping the favorable perception of Israel has also involved the efforts of Zionist-dominated Hollywood movies and television to portray Jewish heroism while also at the same time ignoring the Zionist terrorism directed against both the indigenous Palestinian population and the British Mandate authorities prior to Israel’s statehood. The movie Exodus shaped many Americans’ perceptions of what had occurred in the Middle East, while the steady stream of films related to the so-called holocaust, which ignore the many problems with that standard narrative, perpetuate Jewish suffering and victimhood.

In truth, no one should believe any country’s creation narrative, which, since the time of Virgil’s Aeneid, has been intended to present an idealized portrait that is largely fact-free. Nationalists will inevitably distort the tale to reflect their own vision of what their homeland represents and how it came to be, but Israel’s story is unusual in that it is packed with lies from start to finish. Even before the creation of a Jewish state, Zionists encouraged Jewish emigration from Europe to the then Turkish-controlled Palestine. They coined the expression “a land without people for people without a land,” a flat out lie as Palestine was fully inhabited by Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arabs plus a small Jewish minority. This expression has been more recently replaced with another one, i.e. how Israel “made the desert bloom,” as if the land were not being cultivated before large numbers of Jews arrived, making it another lie. And it is, by the way, an expression favored by Zionist presidential aspirant Kamala Harris, a prime example of “progressive except for Israel.”

Israel was founded as a product of terrorism, some would say the “first modern” style terrorism, to include bombings of non-military targets and random massacres of civilians. In a notorious attack on the village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, more than two hundred Palestinians may have been slaughtered by Jewish terrorists affiliated with the Irgun and Lehi groups. The exact count of the victims is unknown because a subsequent Zionist clean-up team systematically destroyed many of the bodies.

Given the turmoil in Palestine and the agitation by British Jews, the U.K. was eager to cut its losses, and Harry Truman, a U.S. president who benefited from Jewish financial and political support in his reelection bid, was equally willing to support the creation of a Jewish state as a quid pro quo. Even though Jews were a distinct minority in the new Israel-Palestine, they obtained nearly half of the land in spite of the United Nations mandate that the rights of the indigenous population should not be compromised by the new arrivals.

But the new arrivals from Europe and America disagreed with that even-handed approach. They assassinated the U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte, who had himself saved many Jews in Nazi occupied Europe, and started to attack their Arab neighbors, intentionally driving 700,000 from their homes and killing many in the process. By that act of terror and a subsequent war fought against its neighbors, Israel obtained more land before the green line was eventually established as part of a 1949 Armistice Agreement managed by the U.N. to divide Israel from the West Bank and Gaza, which were under the jurisdiction of Jordan and Egypt respectively.

And then there came the miraculous Six Day War of June 1967, regarding which glowing media accounts described how Israel was attacked by Jordan, Syria and Egypt simultaneously but fought back hard and won a decisive victory, occupying in the process the parts of Jerusalem it did not already control as well as the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza. The only problem with that story is that Israel started the war, attacking and destroying the Arab air forces without a declaration of war while their planes were on the ground. Denied air cover, the Arab ground forces could not win.

Israel also included in its Six Day War triumph the attempted sinking of the American intelligence gathering ship the U.S.S. Liberty, which was in international waters when it was attacked on June 8th. Thirty-four crewmen were killed and 171 wounded in the only attack on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time that was never fully investigated by the Pentagon due to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s unwillingness to offend American Jews. The Israelis and their apologists have claimed the attack was a case of either “fog of war” or “a mistake,” both of which were completely self-serving lies exposed by compelling National Security Agency collected evidence that has surfaced recently. And, by the way, the Israelis continue to receive military assistance from Washington in spite of the killing of American servicemembers, $3.8 billion per annum guaranteed for the next ten years plus special appropriations as needed.

Even when the Israelis are clearly telling lies, much of the media and chattering class has been willing to forgive them their trespasses no matter what they do or say. The whopper level lies about Israel are that it is a democracy and America’s best friend and ally. It is neither. It has more than 50 laws that discriminate against Arabs, is now self-defined as a “Jewish state,” and it has recently legalized banning non-Jews from residential areas and towns. It also occupies Palestinian territories where the original inhabitants have no rights but martial law. And the Jewish state has never been an American ally in practical terms as it is under no obligation to support Washington under any circumstances even though a U.S. Air Force general has declared that his troops are prepared to die for Israel.

Some other recent lies include the propagation of a narrative that the Palestinians do not exist as a people, that Palestine has never been a country and therefore should never become one, and that there is no peace in the Middle East because the Arabs have never accepted the generous offers made by the Israelis to settle problems with the Palestinians, who are, by the way, solely responsible for their unfortunate situation since the expanding Israeli settlements on their land are no obstacle to peace. All lies.

And another big lie concerns how Israel spies on the United States. Israel is the number one “friendly” country when it comes to stealing American secrets, both commercial and military. When Jonathan Pollard stole more U.S. classified information than any spy in history, Israel’s friends rushed to explain that it was all a mistake, that Pollard was just a one-off oddball. And the Israel government agreed to return what he had stolen but did not do so and instead used it to barter with America’s then enemy the Soviet Union in a deal to permit Jews to emigrate.

Another espionage related development which produced a whole battery of Israeli lies and evasions relates to 9/11, where Mossad almost certainly had at a minimum inside knowledge regarding what was about to occur through their illegal massive spying program inside the United States. Remember the cheering Israeli movers in New Jersey as the twin towers went down? Or the hundreds of “art students” selling their work all across the U.S., which was both a scam and part of an espionage network?

More recent lies include repeated assertions that the Iranians have a secret nuclear program, which will produce a bomb in “six months,” something Benjamin Netanyahu has been promising since 1993. And those wily Persians are also developing ballistic missiles that can be used to attack Europe and America, a particularly dangerous lie as it has been picked up and repeated ad nauseam by the buffoonish triumvirate in Washington consisting of Bolton, Pompeo and Pence, which passes for the deep thinking in U.S. foreign policy these days. That allegation could easily lead to United States involvement in a war fought for Israel that it might reasonably avoid as it is not threatened by Iran and has no vital interests supportive of going to war against it.

But the greatest lie of all is the current claim that anti-Semitism is surging all around the world, requiring still more protection of and deference to diaspora Jews as well as to the state of Israel. It is based on a fundamental lie, that criticism of Israel is ipso facto anti-Semitic and ignores the fact that the pushback is based overwhelmingly on how Israel and Netanyahu behave. Israel, whatever its pretensions, is a country and Judaism is a religion. It is in fact particularly dangerous, and damaging to the religion, to combine the two deliberately as is being done by Netanyahu and the many American Jews who are serial apologists for Israel.

Indeed, Israel and its partisans are now using lies to change the way the public views the issue of anti-Semitism and are willing to do so by legislating to enforce how people think, to include the use of legal sanctions consisting of fines and imprisonment to silence critics. If legislation currently in congress is ever implemented fully, it will be the death of freedom of speech in the U.S. That such nonsense has gained currency at all is due to the Israeli corruption of both America’s government and its news media, which is not a lie, but the absolute truth that you won’t find discussed anywhere in your newspaper or on television reporting.

This trend to criminalize criticism of Israel has led Jewish groups and some governments to work together to promulgate “hate crime” statutes and other legal barriers to protect the Israeli wrongdoing. But Israel is not and should not be protected against criticism. It is a country that behaves very badly, and, one might add, dangerously, not only to its neighbors but also to the world as it has the potential in its hands to escalate its involvement in Syria to initiate a nuclear conflagration between the U.S. and Russia. Israel’s lies should be recognized for what they are and it should be boycotted and sanctioned until it comes to its senses or, if it does not, it should be completely shunned.

This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

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 www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research

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

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.

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