Bully-Boy Minister’s Christmas Message to UK Universities….

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Adopt anti-Semitism definition that’s ‘too vague to be useful’, or I’ll axe your funding!
Gavin Williamson ef951

Gavin Williamson is Education Secretary in the screwball government of Boris Johnson. And he has just threatened universities that they could have their funding cut if they don’t adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism before Christmas.

Williamson wrote to vice-chancellors last week saying he was “frankly disappointed” that there were still “too many disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism on campus and a lack of willingness by too many universities to confront this”, and that the number of universities adopting the definition “remains shamefully low”.

“These providers are letting down all their staff and students, and, shamefully, their Jewish students in particular,” he said.

He insists that adopting the IHRA definition “is morally the right thing to do” – and he underlines morally! “You should have no doubt: this government has zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism. If I have not seen the overwhelming majority of institutions adopting the definition by Christmas then I will act.”

“The repugnant belief that anti-Semitism is somehow a less serious, or more acceptable, form of racism has taken insidious hold in some parts of British society, and I am quite clear that universities must play their part in rooting out this attitude and demonstrating that anti-Semitism is abhorrent.”

The OfS said they will explore with the Department for Education what practical steps should be taken to ensure the IHRA definition’s wider adoption. But Universities UK were more cautious: “We recommend universities do all they can to tackle anti-Semitism, including considering the IHRA definition, whilst also recognising their duty to promote freedom of speech within the law.” And that last bit is what Williamson ought to have considered before stupidly going off the deep end.

Individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions

Williamson’s first problem is his ignorance. He’s completely at odds with the opinion of top legal experts who were asked for their views by Free Speech on IsraelIndependent Jewish VoicesJews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. In a nutshell, those in public life cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression which applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or anyone else.

There is a further obligation to allow all concerned in public debate “to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”.

Read Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Williamson, which says that everyone has the right to freedom of expression including “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

Also, check Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says the same sort of thing, subject of course to the usual limitations required by law and respect for the rights of others.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee recommended that before accepting the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, two caveats should be included:

  • It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.
  • It is not anti-Semitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.

The Government, in its eagerness to appease the Zionist lobby, dropped the caveats saying they weren’t necessary.

Eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC also criticised the definition. Firstly, it wasn’t a legally binding so didn’t have the force of a statutory one. And it couldn’t be considered a legal definition of anti-Semitism as it lacked clarity. Therefore any conduct contrary to the IHRA definition couldn’t necessarily be ruled illegal.

Secondly, the language was far too vague to be useful as a tool.  In Tomlinson’s view the Government’s decision to adopt the IHRA Definition was simply a freestanding statement of policy, a mere suggestion. No public body is under an obligation to adopt or use it, or, given the unsatisfactory nature of the definition, should be criticised for refusing.

He warned that if a public authority did decide to adopt the definition then it must interpret it in a way that’s consistent with its statutory obligations. In particular, it cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

A further obligation put on public authorities is “to create a favourable environment for participation in public debates for all concerned, allowing them to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if they are contrary to those defended by the authorities or by a large part of public opinion”.

So, in Tomlinson’s opinion the IHRA Definition doesn’t mean that calling Israel an apartheid state that practises settler colonialism, or advocating boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against Israel, can properly be characterized as anti-Semitic. Furthermore, a public authority seeking to apply the IHRA Definition to prohibit or punish such activities “would be acting unlawfully.”

Government’s ‘naive stance’

Retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley, also offered advice criticising the IHRA working definition for lack of legal force. “At the same time, it is not neutral: it may well influence policy both domestically and internationally.”

He added that the right of free expression, now part of our domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act, “places both negative and positive obligations on the state which may be put at risk if the IHRA definition is unthinkingly followed”. Moreover the 1986 Education Act established an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions “which cannot be cut back by governmental policies”.

Sedley was of the view that the IHRA definition is open to manipulation and “what is needed now is a principled retreat on the part of government from a stance which it has naively adopted in disregard of the sane advice given to it by the Home Affairs Select Committee.”

Williamson’s second problem is his prejudice. He’s a fanatical Israel worshipper and far from neutral in the hype surrounding anti-Semitism in the UK. In January 2018 when he was defence secretary he addressed an audience of over 250 Conservative Friends of Israel and supporters, including 50 parliamentarians, telling them that “Britain will always be Israel’s friend” and praising Israel as a “beacon of light and hope, in a region where there is so much hatred and hurt”. He added: “We shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it is to keep that light bright and burning”.

Recalling his visit to Israel as a teenager, he said: “What I found was a liberal, free, exciting country that was so at ease with itself, a country that absorbed and welcomed so many people. That made an enormous impression upon me”.

Williamson condemned the “completely unreasonable…sheer simple hatred” channelled towards Israel and asked: “If we are not there to stand up for a country, whose views and ideals are so close, or are simply our own, what are we as a nation? What are we in politics, if we cannot accept and celebrate the wonderful blooming of democracy that is Israel?”

Achingly funny. And highlighting the UK’s role in the creation of Israel, he said: “Britain and Israel have an amazing relationship. We would like to think that we were very much at the birth of the nation, and very much helped it in terms of its delivery and coming into the world”.

He said that Britain and Israel have “a strong and firm relationship of working together. It’s a relationship of partners….  It’s a partnership of equals. A partnership of friends”.

So hopelessly brainwashed.

Then, in April 2018 at a similar meeting to celebrate the regime’s 70th anniversary Williamson waxed lyrical describing Israel as a “light unto the nations” and adding that not only do Israel and Britain face shared security threats, “our relationship is underpinned by a shared sense of values: justice, compassion, tolerance”. He emphasised that Israel is a “liberal, free and exciting country” and that the UK-Israel relationship is the “cornerstone of so much of what we do in the Middle East”.

Breaching the Ministerial Code?

But Gavin Williamson is not the only Government minister to threaten our universities in this crude manner. A year ago Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick vowed to take action against universities and “parts of local government” who, he said, had become “corrupted” by anti-Semitism. He directed his attack on the universities who receive public money but “choose not to accept our IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and use it when considering matters such as disciplinary procedures”.

Writing in the Sunday Express, he added: “I will use my position as Secretary of State to write to all universities and local authorities to insist that they adopt the IHRA definition at the earliest opportunity.

“I expect them to confirm to me when they do so. Failure to act in this regard is unacceptable and I will be picking up the phone to Vice Chancellors and local government leaders to press for action, if none is forthcoming.”

According to Wikipedia Jenrick’s wife was born in Israel and their children are brought up in the Jewish faith. He told the Board of Deputies he would not tolerate local authority approved BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns against those profiteering from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. “Local authorities should not be wasting time and taxpayer’s money by dabbling in foreign policy or pursuing anti-Israel political obsessions, but instead focusing on delivering first class local public services.” The same could be said of his colleague Williamson’s pro-Israel obsession – and his own – when they should be getting on with governing Britain, but of course they are exempt from their own rules.

Both Jenrick and Williamson appear to fall foul of the Ministerial Code. The first two paragraphs are enough to banish them to outer darkness, one would have thought.

1.1 Ministers of the Crown are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety.

1.2 Ministers should be professional in all their dealings and treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect. Working relationships…. should be proper and appropriate. Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the   Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated.

Elsewhere the Code decrees that “ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests” and they are expected to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life. The Principle of Integrity states that holders of public office “must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence their work”.

That suggests to me they ought to be slung out on their ear and never allowed near the levers of power again. But nobody in government is principled enough or has the balls to do it.

What do you think?

Israeli Security Forces Kill Palestinians with Impunity

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Since stealing 78% of Occupied Palestine in 1948, the rest in 1967, Israeli soldiers and police have systematically killed and terrorized defenseless Palestinians with impunity.

The Jewish state gets away with murder and much more because the world community fails to hold it accountable.

Notably the US and other Western countries turn a blind eye to its high crimes of war, against humanity, and daily apartheid persecution of a long-suffering people – illegally blockaded Gazans harmed most since 2007.

Law Professor Francis Boyle earlier accused Israel of “heinous war crimes inflicted every day…against the Palestinian people,” including “willful killing” and state terror.

The late Law Professor Michael Mandel called illegal Israeli settlements “war crimes,” citing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Geneva Conventions, along with other international and Canadian law.

On October 1, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel highlighted the disturbing reality for long-suffering Palestinians under apartheid occupation, saying the following:

“Israel’s perception of Palestinian citizens as (the Jewish state’s) ‘enemy’ continues to grant blanket impunity to police for killings.

The 10 commandments and hundreds of others fundamentalist Jews believe were given to their people by the almighty apply only to others of the faith, no one else — including No 6: Thou shalt not kill.

In October 2000, Israeli police killed 13 Palestinians who were nonviolently protesting for rights denied them.

All but one were Israeli citizens, the other a Gaza resident.

The killings Israel calls the “October 2000 events” followed Likud-leader Ariel Sharon’s provocative, heavily guarded, visit to the Haram al-Sharif, Islam’s third holiest site – sparking the Second Intifada.

The horrific five-year toll included:

• 4,166 Palestinian deaths, including 886 children and 271 women;

• 554 extrajudicial assassinations, including 253 peaceful bystanders;

• 3,530 Palestinians disabled or maimed;

• 8,600 imprisoned, including 288 children and 115 women;

• 576 students killed, including 199 university-level ones and 32 teachers;

• another 4,713 students injured and 1,389 detained;

• 2,329,659 dunums of confiscated Palestinian land;

• another 73,613 dunums of razed land plus 1,355,290 uprooted trees; and

• 7,761 demolished homes and another 93,842 damaged.

All of the above are unpunished high crimes of war and against humanity — an apartheid Israel speciality.

Established to investigate what happened in October 2000, Israel’s Or Commission found no justification for the killings that sparked all of the above.

Nothing warranted lethal and related violence against nonthreatening Palestinians.

To this day, no Israeli police officer or anyone more senior was held accountable for cold-blooded murder.

At the time, “(a)bout 660 Palestinian citizens of Israel were arrested in connection with these events, and hundreds, including scores of minors, were indicted and detained without bond until the end of trial,” Adalah explained.

In September 2005, Israeli police formally declined to hold officers in its ranks accountable for butchery.

In January 2007, Israel’s attorney general closed the case.

“Adalah has continued to demand justice and accountability for the Palestinians killed and for their families, including the punishment of those responsible,” it said, adding: 

“Adalah has also continued to confront the Israeli police and Mahash for their brutality and unaccountability towards Palestinian citizens of Israel, while calling for adherence to the Or Commission’s recommendations.”

For over 72 years and events preceding them, Israeli security forces have terrorized, brutalized and massacred defenseless Palestinians for crime of being Arabs in a Jewish state — their mark of Cain.

Are You Feeling Safer? ‘War of the Worlds’ Pits U.S. and Israel Against Everyone Else

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Trump Netanyahu Abraham Accords ee19e

The media being focused on an upcoming election, coronavirus, fires on the West Coast and burgeoning BLM and Antifa unrest, it is perhaps no surprise that some stories are not exactly making it through to the evening news. Last week an important vote in the United Nations General Assembly went heavily against the United States. It was regarding a non-binding resolution that sought to suspend all economic sanctions worldwide while the coronavirus cases continue to increase. It called for “intensified international cooperation and solidarity to contain, mitigate and overcome the pandemic and its consequences.” It was a humanitarian gesture to help overwhelmed governments and health care systems cope with the pandemic by having a free hand to import food and medicines.

The final tally was 169 to 2, with only Israel and the United States voting against. Both governments apparently viewed the U.N. resolution as problematical because they fully support the unilateral economic warfare that they have been waging to bring about regime change in countries like Iran, Syria and Venezuela. Sanctions imposed on those countries are designed to punish the people more than the governments in the expectation that there will be an uprising to bring about regime change. This, of course, has never actually happened as a consequence of sanctions and all that is really delivered is suffering. When they cast their ballots, some delegates at the U.N. might even have been recalling former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s claim that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions had been “worth it.”

Clearly, a huge majority of the world’s governments, to include the closest U.S. allies, no longer buy the American big lie when it claims to be the leader of the free world, a promoter of liberal democracy and a force for good.  The vote prompted one observer, John Whitbeck, a former international lawyer based in Paris, to comment how “On almost every significant issue facing mankind and the planet, it is Israel and the United States against mankind and the planet.”

The United Nations was not the only venue where the U.S. was able to demonstrate what kind of nation it has become. Estimates of how many civilians have been killed directly or indirectly as a consequence of the so-called Global War on Terror initiated by George W. Bush are in the millions, with roughly 4 million being frequently cited. Nearly all of the dead have been Muslims. Now there is a new estimate of the number of civilians that have fled their homes as a result of the worldwide conflict initiated by Washington and its dwindling number of allies since 2001. The estimate comes from Brown University’s “Costs of War Project,” which has issued a report Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States Post-9/11 Wars that seeks to quantify those who have “fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001.”

The project tracks the number of refugees, asylum seekers applying for refugee status, and internally displaced people or persons (IDPs) in the countries that America and its allies have most targeted since 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. All are predominantly Muslim countries with the sole exception of the Philippines, which has a large Muslim minority.

The estimate suggests that between 37 and 59 million civilians have become displaced, with an extremely sharp increase occurring in the past year when the total was calculated to be 21 million. The largest number of those displaced were from Iraq, where fighting against Islamic State has been intermittent, estimated at 9.2 million. Syria, which has seen fighting between the government and various foreign supported insurgencies, had the second-highest number of displacements at 7.1 million. Afghanistan, which has seen a resurgent Taliban, was third having an estimated 5.3 million people displaced.

The authors of the report observe that even the lower figure of 37 million is “almost as large as the population of Canada” and “more than those displaced by any other war or disaster since at least the start of the 20th century with the sole exception of World War II.” And it is also important to note what is not included in the study. The report has excluded sub-Saharan Africa as well as several Arab nations generally considered to be U.S. allies. These constitute “the millions more who have been displaced by other post-9/11 conflicts where U.S. forces have been involved in ‘counterterror’ activities in more limited yet significant ways, including in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.”

Yemen should be added to that list given U.S. military materiel assistance that has enabled the Saudi Arabian bombing attacks on that country, also producing a wave of refugees. There are also reports that the White House is becoming concerned over the situation in Yemen as pressure is growing to initiate an international investigation of the Saudi war crimes in that civilian infrastructure targets to include hospitals and schools are being deliberately targeted.

And even the United States Congress has begun to notice that something bad is taking place as there is growing concern that both the Saudi and U.S. governments might be charged with war crimes over the civilian deaths. Reports are now suggesting that as early as 2016, when Barack Obama was still president, the State Department’s legal office concluded that “top American officials could be charged with war crimes for approving bomb sales to the Saudis and their partners” that have killed more than 125,000 including at least 13,400 targeted civilians.

That conclusion preceded the steps undertaken by the Donald Trump White House to make arms sales to the Saudis and their allies in the United Arab Emirates central to his foreign policy, a program that has become an integral part of the promotion of the “Deal of the Century” Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Given that, current senior State Department officials have repressed the assessment made in 2016 and have also “gone to great lengths” to conceal the legal office finding. A State Department inspector general investigation earlier this year considered the Department’s failure to address the legal risks of selling offensive weapons to the Saudis, but the details were hidden by placing them in a classified part of the public report released in August, heavily redacted so that even Congressmen with high level access could not see them.

Democrats in Congress, which had previously blocked some arms sales in the conflict, are looking into the Saudi connection because it can do damage to Trump, but it would be far better if they were to look at what the United States and Israel have been up to more generally speaking. The U.S. benefits from the fact that even though international judges and tribunals are increasingly embracing the concept of holding Americans accountable for war crimes since the start of the GWOT, U.S. refusal to cooperate has been daunting. Last March, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague authorized its chief prosecutor to open an investigation into U.S. crimes in Afghanistan the White House reacted by imposing sanctions on the chief prosecutor and his staff lawyer. And Washington has also warned that any tribunal going after Israel will face the wrath of the United States.

Nevertheless, when you are on the losing side on a vote in a respected international body by 169 to 2 someone in Washington should at least be smart enough to discern that something is very, very wrong. But I wouldn’t count on anyone named Trump or Biden to work that out.

Israel and the UAE Hope to Turn Yemen’s Remote Islands into an Intel Gathering Hub

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

Often a flashpoint for tensions between international rivals and a major chokepoint for much of the world’s maritime transit, the waters surrounding Yemen have become a much-vaunted prize for regional intelligence services.

SOCOTRA, YEMEN — In the wake of the recent normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in August, it is becoming increasingly clear that Tel Aviv is set to take on an increasingly active role in the war on Yemen, a war that the UAE – together with Saudi Arabia – launched over six years ago.

Yemen’s strategic islands, particularly the sparsely populated archipelago containing Socotra located at the mouth of Gulf Aden in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is of particular importance. Often a flashpoint for tensions between Iran and the United States, Yemen and the Saudi Coalition, and a major chokepoint for much of the world’s maritime transit, the waters surrounding Yemen, particularly the island of Socotra, have become a much-vaunted prize for regional intelligence and security apparatus. Now, both the UAE and Israel are working to establish military and intelligence centers on Socotra, which lays some 240 kilometers east of the coast of Somalia and 380 kilometers south of the Arabian Peninsula.

According to one Yemeni source, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have already completed logistical operations to establish intelligence-gathering bases and new military facilities on the island. A presence on Socotra will not only allow the new alliance to establish a foothold against Yemen’s Houthi-led opposition, but will allow it to conduct surveillance on Oman, Iran, Pakistan, and China, who, in recent years, has established a presence on the nearby horn of Africa.

Last week, an Emirati ship arrived on Socotra laden with personnel from the UAE and Israel and transporting weapons and communication equipment according to a local source on the island. Even before the UAE-Israel normalization deal was announced, the two countries were sending delegations to Perim Island, known as Mayyun in Arabic, a volcanic island in the Strait of Mandeb at the south entrance to the Red Sea.

In Socotra, locals report that the same Emirati-Israeli team arrived on an Emirati aircraft various times throughout the year to examine locations in the Momi district on the east of the island and the Qatnan locality on its western coast.

Issa Salem Bin Yaqoot al-Soctari, the head of indigenous tribes on the island, said in a statement recently that the UAE has brought Israel to Socotra and that both sides have already started building new bases there. With much consternation, al-Soctari complained of the UAE’s “policy of repression, starvation, and intimidation” against the island’s residents. Mirroring Israel’s policy in Palestine, al-Soctrai also accused Emirati forces of intentionally changing the Island’s demographics by housing foreigners on the island en masse.

Israel has few friends in Yemen

Israel is far from a welcome presence in Yemen and local support for the Palestinian cause is nearly universal. Large demonstrations have already taken place in Abyan, Taiz, and Shabwah against the normalization of ties with Israel and against any Israeli presence in Yemen.

In early September, a meeting of high-ranking officials was held, headed by the prime minister of the National Salvation Government in Houthi-controlled Sana’a, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, in which a council affirmed support for the “preparation of lawsuits” to be filed with international courts against the presence of foreign “occupiers.”

All of Yemen’s political parties, including local tribes allied with the Saudi-led Coalition, staunchly reject the presence of Israel in Socotra. or any place in Yemen for that matter, yet of all Yemen’s myriad political forces, the Houthis are likely the most willing to take preemptive action against Israeli ambitions in the country. Sources in Ansar Allah, the political wing of the Houthis, reported that plans are already being made to use ballistic missiles and drones to destroy any intelligence-gathering and military facilities belonging to both Israel and UAE.

Officials in Yemen’s easternmost province of al-Mahrah told MintPress that the security cooperation between UAE and Israel is being actively supported by Saudi Arabia and aims to help the Saudi-led coalition carry out its long-held goal of tightening control over the province by gathering intelligence on the ground. Intelligence gathering operations on Socotra would also cast neighboring Oman under UAE and Israeli radars. Oman enjoys long borders and solid relations with Yemen, and much to the dismay of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it also enjoys cordial relations with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, a relationship that the Coalition is eager to undermine.

Socotra has been a prize for the UAE, and indeed for Israel, for years. The Emirati-backed separatist militant group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), has already effectively captured Socotra and established a secret relationship with Israel following talks with officials in Tel Aviv sponsored by the UAE. In fact, the UAE has had its grip on the island archipelago since 2018 and has already built military bases, installed communications networks, and used its considerable oil wealth to purchase thousands of hectares of private land from locals.

The Chinese connection

The establishment of a strong central intelligence-gathering facility on the Yemeni islands not only has local and regional implications but, supported by the United States, represents a bold bid for Israel’s geopolitical and strategic dominance in the region and could pay off for the U.S.-Israeli axis along with its newly minted Gulf Arab allies.

Israeli and UAE radars on Socotra, located at the mouth of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, could not only examine sea and air traffic in the region but also could help Israel, a strong ally to India, monitor Pakistan, a country which Israel views with animus and one that is strongly opposed to normalization. Both the UAE and Israel – and more importantly the United States – could also keep a close eye on the Gwadar Port of Pakistan. The Gwadar Port is still under development. A jewel in China’s  Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) crown, once complete, the port is slated to compete directly with Dubai and would allow China to export goods should the United States decide to block China from access to the straits of Malacca.

Yemenis are concerned that the presence of Israel on Socotra not only could pose a security risk but could also undermine China’s efforts to develop Yemen’s economy under the Belt and Road Initiative. Both Yemen and China support the inclusion of Yemen into the BRI. Chinese officials have stated that they stand ready to participate in the economic reconstruction of Yemen and officials in Sana`a are working hard to join the BRI as they hope it will present an opportunity to reconstruct the infrastructure that has been destroyed by six years of Saudi-Colation bombing.

How a Senate Inquiry Revealed the Israeli Surveillance Industry’s Role in Orchestrating Russiagate

By Raul Diego

Source

A Senate investigation reveals that a consortium of Israeli hacking and surveillance firms coordinated and facilitated meetings between Trump campaign operatives and Russia during the 2016 campaign, but they don’t really want to talk about it.

Alleged Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election is headline news, once again, as a Ukrainian lawmaker is charged by the Trump administration “in a sweeping plot to sow distrust in the American political process,” reports the Associated Press. Microsoft also made claims that it detected “hacking attempts targeting U.S. political campaigns, parties and consultants” by agents from Russia, China, and Iran. In a September 10 blog post, Microsoft’s Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President of Customer Security & Trust, listed three groups from each region that Microsoft “observed” carrying out their cyber operations.

Rarely in the news, however, is the role played by Israeli cybersecurity startups in the creation of the Russiagate narrative itself. Incubated within the Israeli military apparatus and benefiting from an uninterrupted stream of billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars, these “private Mossads” have been present behind the scenes throughout the numerous Russia-related scandals fomented by the mainstream press to sow partisan discord among the American electorate and line the pockets of network executives.

Evidence of their activities has been exposed – though not pursued – in the latest volume of a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which shows how then-candidate Donald Trump personally embarked on a parallel campaign on behalf of Israel to block a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Originally submitted by Egypt, UNSCR 2334 strips Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders of any “legal validity” in the eyes of the international community and brands them a “flagrant violation under international law.” Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had refused all of the advances made by Trump’s operatives to use its veto power against the measure, and Trump himself would prevail upon Egyptian President al-Sisi – whom Trump calls his “favorite dictator” – to withdraw the declaration. Together with Israeli pressure, UNSCR 2334 seemed destined to languish in obscurity as Egypt acquiesced and delayed the vote to “permit them to conduct an additional meeting of the Arab League’s foreign ministers to work on the resolution’s wording.”

The Senate’s inquiries uncovered a consistent thread of IDF-linked cybersecurity firms and intelligence assets coordinating and facilitating meetings between the coterie of Russian characters that make up the Russiagate universe and the Trump campaign, including protagonists like Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who released Hilary Clinton’s infamous emails to Wikileaks via a cell phone registered in Israel.

George Birnbaum, a former chief of staff to Benjamin Netanyahu and GOP operative, told the committee how Trump aide Rick Gates had inquired about using “Israeli technology” to collect dirt on opponent Hillary Clinton at a March 2016 meeting, explaining to the senators what would be so attractive about Israeli companies, specifically:

“These guys came out of the military intelligence army unit, and it’s like coming out with a triple Ph.D. from MIT. The amount of knowledge these guys have in terms of cybersecurity, cyber-intelligence… [is] just so beyond what you could get [with] a normal education that it’s just unique … there are hundreds and hundreds of Israeli start-up companies that the founders are guys who came out of this unit.”

The unit Birnbaum is referring to is the IDF’s Unit 8200, where these “hundreds and hundreds” of tech startups are born right in the bowels of the Israeli national security state and propagate throughout the world and the United States, in particular.

Described as “private Mossads” for hire, many of the Israeli hacking and surveillance firms that moved behind the scenes, brokering meetings between Trump’s people and Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska during the height of the so-called Russian “collusion,” were working through a “key middle man” with close ties to then-Trump National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who was himself also working in an advisory capacity with the “consortium of cyber-spy companies run by former Israeli intelligence officers” known as the NSO Group, that is comprised of several of the Israeli startups summoned before the committee for voluntary, closed-door testimony.

While the American public was fed one Russophobic scandal after another, and Robert Mueller held court in the press for two years straight, no one – especially Mueller – was paying attention to this perverse network of Israeli surveillance companies who operated the virtual scaffold upon which the Russiagate narrative was being constructed and whose fellow Unit 8200 graduates in other subsectors of the cybersecurity industry are deeply ensconced in highly questionable activities surrounding the coming 2020 election.

The NSO Group

The NSO Group gained notoriety when it was identified as the developer of Pegasus, the iPhone spyware that was found installed on slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s phone in the days leading up to his gruesome death. NSO’s cell phone tracking technology has been associated with other ghastly events, such as the scandal involving Pegasus in Mexico, where a team of international investigators looking into the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa was targeted by the spyware, as well as Mexican journalists and their families.

One of the NSO companies questioned by the Senate committee in relation to Russian interference, Psy-Group, is currently under investigation in California, where it was caught red-handed actually trying to rig a local election for a paying customer. Another, Circles, was founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer and is “known for covertly intercepting phone calls, text messages, and tracking locations of unaware citizens,” according to a report by Forensic News. In 2018, Haaretz published an expose on the company disclosing the extent to which Circles and the Israeli espionage industry is helping “world dictators hunt dissidents and gays,” among other nefarious opportunities available in the “global commerce” of surveillance technologies.

FILE PHOTO: A man reads at a stand of the NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli technology firm known for its Pegasus spyware enabling the remote surveillance of smartphones, at the annual European Police Congress in Berlin, Germany, February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

The middle man the Senate investigation identified is Walter Soriano; singled out for his association with several Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska and Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought Trump’s West Palm Beach mansion in 2008. The Senate report accuses Soriano and Israeli cybersecurity companies of coordinating “between the Trump Campaign and Russia,” but fails to pursue the matter beyond that.

The UN resolution denouncing Israeli settlements would pass on December 23, 2016, after four temporary Security Council members, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, and Venezuela reportedly took matters into their own hands and moved the vote forward. UNSCR 2334 became official as a result of a historic breach of established pro-Israel policy by the United States, which abstained from the vote. Widely reported as Obama’s “parting shot” to Netanyahu and the incoming administration, the passing of the resolution went against Obama’s own record of using U.S.’ veto power to banish similar proposals.

President-elect Donald Trump would take office in a matter of weeks and the Mueller investigation kicked off the barrage of Russophobic content peddled over the digital airwaves night after night. Stories like Maria Butina’s were plastered all over the media to buttress the Russiagate narrative.

The legend of Maria Butina

Butina’s former lover, Paul Erickson joked about being a CIA asset and had built a phony reputation as a man of staunch moral Christian values. Erickson worked for several Republican campaigns dating back to the late ‘80s, including a stint as national policy director for Pat Buchanan’s ’92 White House run. He first achieved international notoriety as Mobutu Sese Seko’s lawyer, reportedly accepting a $30,000 lobbying contract to obtain a U.S. visa for the African despot, which was ultimately denied.

It was Erickson’s long-standing ties to the NRA and the organization’s former president David Keene, which set the stage for the Maria Butina story as a Russian infiltrator looking for “access to U.S. political organizations.” Erickson had worked with Keene as a registered foreign agent since the 1990s and formed part of the NRA’s efforts to forge closer ties to Israel since at least 2011.

Prosecutors would paint Butina as a seductress, ensnaring Erickson in a “duplicitous relationship,” but it was the cunning GOP operative who first spotted Butina during a 2013 trip to Moscow with Keene. Butina and Erickson would meet again in Israel one year later where they would begin their ‘love affair’ during which he would become “integral to Butina’s activities,” assisting the Russian gun enthusiast “in developing relationships with individuals and organizations involved in U.S. politics,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In this photo taken on Sunday, April 22, 2012, Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist, poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun rights movement that was already dead. Fellow gun enthusiasts and arms industry officials describe the strange trajectory of her Russian gun lobby project, which U.S. prosecutors say was a cover for a Russian influence campaign. Accused of working as a foreign agent, Butina faces a hearing Monday, Sept. 10 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)

con-artist by most accounts, Erickson is described by a Republican legislator as “the single biggest phony I’ve ever met in South Dakota politics.” South Dakota was where Yale-educated Erickson came up in the political arena and where he’s left a long trail of burned business associates and friends. In 2019, Erickson pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering, admitting he had bilked 78 people of $2.3 Million over 22 years and was sentenced this past July to seven years in federal prison.

The NRA has been forging ties to the Israeli security state for years now. In 2013, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, joined a delegation of 30 in Jerusalem for a 10-day tour of Israel’s police institutions. The honorary NRA member stated on that occasion, that Israel could “serve as a model for American security.” The legend of Maria Butina, itself, was seeded in Israel that same year when an “obscure” Israeli gun-rights group posted on Facebook that she had announced to have signed a cooperation agreement with the NRA and “neighboring countries” to promote gun rights at a meeting with its members.

Butina would meet with Erickson and Keene two weeks later in Moscow, along with Alexander Torshin, former deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and lifetime NRA member. Torshin, who has been targeted by U.S. sanctions, traveled with Butina to the United States to “discuss U.S.-Russian economic relations” in April 2015. The pair met with several senior American officials, like Federal Reserve vice chairman and former Israel central bank chief, Stanley Fischer; the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, Nathan Sheets and others in a meeting “moderated” by AIG CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg. The details of the high-level meeting, two months before Donald Trump made his announcement to run for president, have never been made public.

Who Buys This Phony ‘Anti-Semitism’ Smear Language?

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

If you support the genuine inheritors of the Holy Land you’re ‘pro-Semitic’.
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Semites are a language group not a religious group. They spoke (and still do) Semitic languages, especially the Canaanite and later Aramaic dialects of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. 

The Western world today is seething with accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’, a threatening term with nasty connotations. Before 1879 nobody had heard of ‘anti-Semitism’ although hard feelings towards Jews as a religious group had existed for many centuries. One thinks immediately of the atrocities of the first Crusades (1096), the massacre at York in 1190, and the expulsion of Jews from England by Edward I in 1290 (only to be allowed back in 1657 by Oliver Cromwell). But discrimination against Jews existed long before, in various countries and for various reasons.

Then along came a German agitator and journalist, Wilhelm Marr, who coined the expression ‘anti-Semitism’ knowing full well that it embraced all Semitic peoples including Hebrews, Arabs and Christians of the Holy Land. It wasn’t long before it was twisted to become a metaphor for hostility only toward Jews based on a belief that they sought national and even world power. More recently Holocaust denial and criticism of the state of Israel’s vile behaviour have been considered anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism too is claimed to be anti-Semitic because it singles out Jewish national aspirations as illegitimate and a racist endeavour. Which of course they are, as Israel’s recently enacted nation state laws prove.

Indeed, some hardcore Israel flag wavers regard any pro-Palestinian, pro-Syrian or pro-Lebanese sentiments to be anti-Semitic even though those peoples are constantly victims of Israeli military aggression.

A catch-all smear weapon

The hijacking of the term anti-Semitism and its fraudulent conversion into a propaganda tool for defending the Zionist Project has enabled brazen attacks on our rights to free speech and attempts to shut down peaceful debate on Israel’s crimes. The word anti-Semitism, as now used, is a distortion of language and a deliberate misnomer larded with fear and trembling for those touched by it. This prompted Miko Peled, the Israeli general’s son, to warn a Labour Party conference that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn… the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument…”

And so they did. Jeremy Corbyn, a genuine anti-racist, critic of Israel and champion of Palestinian rights, was soon gone. He was the only British leader who might have reduced Israel’s sinister influence on UK policy. But his Labour Party, like the cowards they are, surrendered to Israel lobby pressure and helped bring him down. Israel’s pimps at Westminster and in local parties across the country were able to chalk up a famous victory.

They even managed to force the Party to adopt the discredited International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and incorporate it into the Party’s code of conduct. The new leader is their obedient stooge. He has publicly bent the knee, tugged the forelock.

 Who has the claim?

However, it has been shown that most Jews today are not descended from the ancient Israelites at all. For example, research by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published by the Oxford University Press in 2012 on behalf of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution, found the Khazarian Hypothesis to be scientifically correct, meaning that most Jews are Khazars and confirming what some scholars had been saying. The Khazarians converted to Talmudic Judaism in the 8th Century and were never in ancient Israel.

No doubt these finding will be challenged by Zionist adherents till the end of time. But DNA research suggests that no more than 2 per cent of Jews in present-day Israel are actually Israelites. So, even if you believe the myth that God gave the land to the Israelites, He certainly didn’t give it to Netanyahu, Lieberman and the other East European thugs who infiltrated the Holy Land and now run the apartheid regime. It seems the Palestinians (Muslim and Christian) have more Israelite blood. They are the true Semites.

As for Zionists’ preposterous claim to exclusive sovereignty over Jerusalem, the city was at least 2000 years old and an established fortification when King David captured it. Jerusalem dates back some 5000 years and the name is likely derived from Uru-Shalem, meaning “founded by Shalem”, the Canaanite God of Dusk.

In its ‘City of David’ form Jerusalem lasted less than 80 years. In 928BC the Kingdom divided into Israel and Judah with Jerusalem the capital of Judah, and in 597BC the Babylonians conquered it. Ten years later in a second siege the city was largely destroyed including Solomon’s temple. The Jews recaptured it in 164BC but finally lost it to the Roman Empire in 63BC. A Christian (Crusader) kingdom of Jerusalem existed from 1099 to 1291 but held the city for only 101 of those years. Before the present-day shambles, cooked up by Balfour and stoked by the US, the Jews had controlled Jerusalem for around 500 years, say historians – small beer compared to the 1,277 years it was subsequently ruled by Muslims and the 2000 years, or thereabouts, it originally belonged to the Canaanites.

Counter-measure

Since the three main Semitic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all have historical claims to Jerusalem and a presence there, and masses of non-Semitic believers around the world also wish to visit the holy places, the best solution seems to be the one recommended by United Nations General Assembly resolutions 181 and 194: that Jerusalem is made a corpus separatum, an open city administered by an international regime or the UN itself. Why this hasn’t been implemented isn’t clear. We’ve seen the abominable discrimination inflicted on Palestinian Muslims and Christians by Israel since seizing control of Jerusalem.

The other side could play word games too – and with more honesty. Anti-Semitism has been fashioned by the Zionists into a catch-all smear weapon. What if pro-Palestinian groups and the BDS movement declared themselves (in correct parlance) to be ‘pro-Semitic’, i.e. supportive of all those with genuine ancestral links to the ancient Holy Land and entitled to live there in freedom?

They could coin a new expression just like Marr and establish it through usage.

“This is How Armed Gangs Operate” Israel Admits its Troops Planted IEDs in a Palestinian Town

Israel Palestinians

By Alan Macleod

Source

The IDF admitted that they put the explosives on the commonly used road, doing it to “create a deterrence,” because “riots have regularly occurred” in the area.

A seven-year-old Palestinian boy was walking with his mother just outside the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum a few miles to west of the city of Nablus. Seeing a strange orange and black package held down with some rocks, the boy approached, thinking it was a toy. His mother quickly stopped him, summoning a relative to investigate. Foolishly, the man shook the package and it exploded, injuring his face and hands.

Along the popular path they found another device, this time photographing it and throwing stones at it until it too exploded.

That device was housed in a metal box used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to store grenades, Israeli outlet Haaretz reports. That evening, after the images had caused outrage on social media, Israeli military units came and neutralized a third IED they had left on the path.

IDF sources freely admitted that they put the explosives on the commonly used road, doing it to “create a deterrence,” because “riots have regularly occurred” in the area. Kafr Qaddum is known as a hotbed of protest against the Israeli occupation, suggesting this was done in response to their activism. Warning signs, written in Hebrew only, were found close to the IEDs. “People live there, and children wander around,” said the injured man, “it’s lucky nothing worse happened.”

“Even in a place where revenge operations by soldiers have already become routine, soldiers planting improvised explosive devices is exceptional, and it’s pure luck that it didn’t cause far worse injuries,” Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said.

This is how armed gangs operate, not a regular army. But the action reflects the spirit of the army’s commanders and the government, both of which send the message that Palestinian lives and limbs are fair game.”

“When this story came to me I did not believe it was true. But it is,” said Haaretz’s Hagar Shezaf, who covered the story. Yet despite the fact that she obtained confessions from IDF sources, she entertained the idea that the whole thing was a Palestinian false flag operation.

Needless to say, placing explosive devices in civilian areas is a serious war crime. However, compared to the weeks-long bombing campaign against Gaza it is currently undertaking, planting some IEDs is perhaps a minor incident. Western media have shown little interest in covering the campaign, reflexively taking the Israeli side when doing so. Indeed, Canadian broadcaster CBC issued a public apology for using the word “Palestine” on air during an interview.

The humanitarian fallout from the bombing is likely worse than the bombing itself. The only power plant in Gaza has been forced out of action, and Israel is limiting the area to only three to four hours of electricity per day by restricting fuel imports. Oxfam warns that the conditions are likely to spark a COVID-19 epidemic that authorities will not be able to handle. Gaza has only 97 intensive care hospital beds, and people’s access to clean water has shrunk from 80 to 20 liters per day. “People are forced to choose between hygiene and food,” explained Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s country director for Israel and Palestine.

Malnutrition has also reached the point of crisis, with one third of Palestine (and over two-thirds of Gazans) food insecure, according to the World Food Program, who found that nearly eight percent of Palestinian children under the age of five showed moderate to severe signs of stunted growth.

The United States holds a huge amount of influence in the region. However, both political parties appear steadfast in their support for Israeli actions. Trump has emboldened Netanyahu to announce the annexation of much of the fertile Jordan Valley, while the Democratic ticket seems eager to outdo the president. “I pledge to you the Biden-Harris administration will sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security, including the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation pioneered during the Obama-Biden administration and the guarantee that Israel will always maintain its qualitative military edge,” Harris said at a fundraiser on Wednesday.

On the subject of the IEDs, Haaretz was concerned enough to print an editorial. “This phenomenon must be shut down and those responsible punished. The IDF must make sure there are no more such devices in the area, and that there are no other locations where orange boxes await curious children or their parents,” they wrote. Whether the IDF heed their words remains to be seen.

The Collaborator’s Reward: the UAE, from Syria to Israel

By Tim Anderson

Source

Mohamad Bin Zayed Bashar Assad 9062b

What do Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the UAE’s Mohamad Bin Zayed (MBZ) all have in common? They dreamed that their collaboration with the imperial power would allow them the freedom to pursue their own ambitions.

Very wrong. Once Noriega was employed by the CIA to betray compatriot nationalists and to be used as a tool against independent Cuba and Nicaragua, imperialism owned him. Once Saddam was armed (including with poison gas) by NATO countries to attack Revolutionary Iran and slaughter dissident Iraqis, imperialism owned him. And once MBZ collaborated with Mossad against the Palestinian resistance and armed terrorist groups against Syria, imperialism owned him.

After Noriega sought to play a more independent role in Central America the US, under Bush the First, invaded Panama killing thousands (see ‘The Panama Deception’), just to kidnap Noriega and jail him on drug trafficking charges. Saddam was not allowed to pursue his own interests in Kuwait. Instead his ambitions were used as a pretext to starve and then destroy Iraq. Saddam himself was eventually lynched, under US military occupation. MBZ, for his supposed crime of resuming relations with Syria in 2018, was forced to recognise Israel, thus becoming the new disgrace of the Arab and Muslim world. Once a collaborator is owned he is owned.

The UAE gained nothing by openly recognising the zionist regime. There was no political or economic benefit. The UAE was already collaborating deeply with Israel, as evidenced by the open access enjoyed by the Mossad team which murdered Palestinian militant Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in February 2010 (Lewis, Borger and McCarthy 2010), and later kidnapped Australian-Israeli whistle-blower Ben Zygier, after he had provided Dubai authorities with “names and pictures and accurate details” of the team, supposedly in exchange for UAE protection. However Israel kidnapped Zygier in the UAE and he later died from ‘suicide’ in an Israeli jail (Rudoran 2013).

There was no independent motive behind the disgraceful UAE move, other than fear and obedience. The Trump regime pressured and threatened MBZ into recognising Israel, just to help with its 2020 election campaign.

How do we know this? Two months before the UAE officially recognised Israel, Trump envoy James Jeffrey threatened the UAE regime for its renewed relations with Syria, which went against Trump’s subsequent ‘Caesar Act’ (MEMO 2020), a piece of legislation primarily aimed at imposing discipline on third party ‘allies’ which sought to normalise relations with Damascus.

Washington’s ‘Caesar’ law (part of an omnibus NDAA Act) pretends to authorise the US President to impose fines and confiscate the assets of those, anywhere in the world, who “support or engage in a significant transaction” with the Syrian government (SJAC 2020). It aimed at Persian Gulf allies, principally the UAE, and perhaps some Europeans who were considering renewed relations with Damascus (Anderson 2020)

As it happened, in late December 2018, the UAE resumed relations with the Syrian Government and resumed investment in the besieged country. This was despite the anti-Syrian role of the UAE in the early days of the conflict and, in particular, their backing of ISIS terrorism. That role was acknowledged by senior US officials in late 2014.

Head of the US Army General Martin Dempsey in September 2014 admitted that “major Arab allies” of the US funded ISIS (Rothman 2014). The following month US Vice President Joe Biden specified that US allies “Turkey, Qatar and the UAE had extended “billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” to all manner of fanatical Islamist fighters, including ISIS, in efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad (Maskanian 2014). Biden later offered a hollow apology to the UAE for his remarks (Al Jazeera 2014). A sanitised Atlantic Council version of this history was that the UAE had backed “armed opposition groups – such as the Free Syrian Army” (Santucci 2020).

In any case, with Washington’s regime change war lost – certainly after the expanded role of Russia in Syria from September 2015 onwards – the UAE began to change tack. In November 2015 UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash expressed cautious support for Russia’s role and in April 2018 he characterised the conflict as one between the Syrian Government and Islamic extremism. On 27 December the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus (Ramani 2020). Bahrain followed suit the next day. The MBZ regime claims to have provided over $530 million “to alleviate the suffering” of Syria since 2012 (Santucci 2020), though how much of this went into armed Islamist groups is unclear.

But there certainly have been some UAE-funded construction projects in Syria in recent times. No doubt wealthy UAE investors saw some opportunities in post-war reconstruction. The Emirates hosted a Syrian trade delegation in January 2019 and in August 2019 some private Emirati companies participated in the Damascus International Trade Fair (Cafiero 2020).

But in early 2020 the Trump regime passed its Caesar law, aimed at reining in its wandering ‘allies’. In June envoy James Jeffrey pointed his finger at the UAE, saying: “the UAE knows that we absolutely refuse that countries take such steps [in Syria] … we have clearly stressed that we consider this a bad idea … anyone who engages in economic activities … may be targeted by these sanctions” (MEMO 2020).

That could mean big trouble for the UAE. The Obama regime (through the US Treasury’s ‘Office of Foreign Assets Control’) had already ‘fined’ European banks more than 12 billion dollars for their business with Iran and Cuba, in breach of Washington’s unilateral coercive measures (Anderson 2019: 42).

Two months later in August the UAE’s open recognition of Israel presented the semblance of some sort of change in the region. An Atlantic Council paper hoped that might be to derail the UAE’s ‘normalization policy with Syria’ (Santucci 2020). That indeed was one part of the project: tighten the siege on the independent region: from Palestine through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to Iran. In the process 80% of the besieged Syrian population was living in poverty, and on the brink of starvation (Cafiero 2020). This was a determined if failing strategy, set in place by Bush the Second and carried through faithfully by Obama and Trump, despite the latter’s pragmatic misgivings.

The other part of the project was to strong-arm the little petro-monarchy into boosting the Trump election campaign. The UAE’s recognition of Israel did nothing to help MBZ, but was well received in Tel Aviv (though it did not change the constellation of Resistance forces) and was skilfully presented in the USA as some sort of concession to Palestine. Yet Trump’s flimsy pretext (a ‘freeze’ on further annexations) was quickly discredited. Israeli Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said that a ‘freeze’ was in place before the UAE deal (Khalil 2020). Netanyahu maintained that further annexations were still ‘on the table’ (Al Jazeera 2020). Indeed he had announced such ‘freezes’ before (Ravid 2009).

In any case, Trump was clearly no advocate for Palestinian or Arab rights. He had broken with previous US regimes by giving his blessing to Tel Aviv’s annexation of both East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, disregarding international law (BBC 2019). Disgraced in the region, the UAE was simply acting as Washington’s puppet. That is the collaborator’s reward.

———

References

Al Jazeera (2014) ‘Biden ‘apologises’ to UAE for ISIL remarks’, 6 October, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/uae-says-amazed-joe-biden-syria-remarks-20141058153239733.html

Al Jazeera (2020) ‘Netanyahu says West Bank annexation plans still ‘on the table’’, 13 August, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/netanyahu-west-bank-annexation-plans-table-200813183431066.html

Anderson, Tim (2019) Axis of Resistance: towards an independent Middle East, Clarity Press, Atlanta GA

Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘Trump’s ‘Caesar’ Style Siege on Syria, A Sign of Impending Regional Failure’, American Herald Tribune, 12 June, online: https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/4218-trump-caesar-style-siege.html

BBC (2019) ‘Golan Heights: Trump signs order recognising occupied area as Israeli’, 25 March, online: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47697717

Cafiero, Giorgio (2020) ‘The Caesar Act and the United Arab Emirates’, TRT World, 29 June, online: https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/the-caesar-act-and-the-united-arab-emirates-37702

Khalil, Zein (2020) ‘Annexation frozen before UAE deal: Israeli minister’, 16 August, online: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/annexation-frozen-before-uae-deal-israeli-minister/1943528

Lewis, Paul; Julian Borger and Rory McCarthy (2010) ‘Dubai murder: fake identities, disguised faces and a clinical assassination’, The Guardian, 16 February, online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/16/dubai-murder-fake-identities-hamas

Maskanian, Bahram (2014) ‘Vice President Joe Biden stated that US key allies in the Middle East were behind nurturing ISIS’, YouTube, 2 December, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25aDP7io30U

MEMO (2020) ‘US threatens UAE with Caesar Act, due to support for Assad regime’, 19 June, online: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200619-us-threatens-uae-with-caesar-act-due-to-support-for-assad-regime/

Ramani, Samuel (2020) ‘Foreign policy and commercial interests drive closer UAE-Syria ties’, Middle East Institute, 21 January online: https://www.mei.edu/publications/foreign-policy-and-commercial-interests-drive-closer-uae-syria-ties

Ravid, Barak (2009) ‘Netanyahu Declares 10-month Settlement Freeze ‘To Restart Peace Talks’’, Haaretz, 25 November, online: https://www.haaretz.com/1.5122924

Rothman, Noah (2014) ‘Dempsey: I know of Arab allies who fund ISIS’, YouTube, 16 September, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA39iVSo7XE

Rudoran, Jodi (2013) ‘Israel’s Prisoner X Is Linked to Dubai Assassination in a New Report’, New York Times, 14 February, online: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/world/middleeast/israels-prisoner-x-linked-to-dubai-assassination-in-new-report.html

Santucci, Emily (2020) ‘The Caesar Act might alter the UAE’s normalization policy with Syria’ Atlantic Council, online: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-caesar-act-might-alter-the-uaes-normalization-policy-with-syria/

SJAC (2020) ‘The Caesar Act: Impacts and Implementation’, Syria Justice and Accountability Centre’, 20 February, online: https://syriaaccountability.org/updates/2020/02/20/the-caesar-act-impacts-and-implementation/

Wolf, Albert B. (2020) ‘The UAE-Israel Agreement Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be’, Foreign Policy, 15 August, online: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/15/the-uae-israel-agreement-isnt-all-its-cracked-up-to-be/

How the UK Government Provides Cover for Israel’s Crimes

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

 

Boris and Bibi 5eb6a

MP Alister Jack has finally replied to my question asking where he and the UK government stand on the threat by Israel to annex more Palestinian territory known as the West Bank. It seems the Government has urged them not to do it.

I doubt if his letter reproduced here, is his own work. It is sprinkled with the humbug and deceit repeated for decades by Tory and Labour governments and was likely penned at least 20 years ago by a Foreign Office scribbler vaccinated with an Israeli embassy gramophone needle. It is still used as a reply template by MPs and ministers who dare not speak their own minds or are plain clueless.

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As usual, Her Majesty’s Government wants “a safe and secure Israel” but only “a viable and sovereign Palestinian state”. What a deplorable statement. Viable means workable in the most meagre sense. And when it comes to safety and security why can’t Mr. Jack be evenhanded? His words (if they are indeed his) express clear racial prejudice favouring the wellbeing and prosperity of one people at the expense of another which, I’d have thought, deserves a sharp rap on the knuckles.

He says there can be no changes to the status quo without a negotiated agreement between the parties. Mr Jack is surely aware that the status quo is itself illegal and breaches umpteen UN resolutions. And why does he feel the Palestinians must ‘negotiate’ their freedom? Picture the scene with the invader holding a gun to the head of the victim whose land the invader has occupied under brutal military control and in defiance of international law for 70+ years. Why is Mr Jack joining his colleagues in calling for more lopsided negotiations instead of pushing for law and justice?

‘Nothing shall be done to prejudice the rights of non-Jewish communities….’ Sorry, forget that.

So many experts are saying that a negotiated two-state solution is impossible. Does anyone seriously think the Israelis will voluntarily give up their ill-gotten territorial gains which are crucial to their Greater Israel dream? The only peaceable way to change their mind is through the persuasive power of BDS and other sanctions. For that reason BDS is under relentless Zionist attack and is fiercely opposed by the servile UK Government. The reason why the West endlessly woffles about ‘negotiations’ is their cowardly failure ever since 1948 to confront Israel’s greedy ambition for expansion and domination. That inconvenient bit in Britain’s 1917 pledge to Rothschild and the Zionist Federation about “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” is best forgotten. It’s so much easier for the UK Government to say and do nothing while their Zionist ‘friends’ surreptitiously complete their programme of creeping annexation. And never mind the 70+ years of grief this has caused innocent Palestinians.

Mr Jack refers to Boris Johnson’s article in Yedioth Ahronoth which appeared on the very day Netanyahu was supposed to be carrying out his crazed threat. “Annexation would represent a violation of international law…. I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead,” he wrote. “If it does, the UK will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties.” But Israel has repeatedly violated international law and repeatedly been rewarded, so why should it care what the UK thinks about boundary changes? They have been changing all the time. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem (including the Old City) in 1967 was a flagrant breach of international law, and what did the UK or anyone else do about it? “I want to see an outcome that delivers justice for both Israelis and Palestinians,” says Johnson absurdly. He has no interest in justice otherwise he’d be leading the charge for implementing international law and UN resolutions which have already ruled on the issue.

As for Israel’s annexation misfire, it looks like world hostility gave Netanyahu cold feet and he and Trump cast around in desperation for a face-saver. They found it the United Arab Emirates’ ‘MBZ’ with whom they cobbled a deal for full diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE provided Israel suspended annexation, and this is touted as a triumph. No-one of course insisted on actually abandoning annexation and you can bet the piecemeal ethnic cleansing, destruction of Palestinian homes and confiscation of their lands will continue unabated.

Mr. Jack then says he’s proud that the UK supports UNRWA and is providing £34.5 million funding this year.  If the Palestinians were allowed their universal right to freedom of movement and self-determination in their homeland there’d be no need to keep throwing our tax money at agencies like UNRWA. It’s scandalous that money for our own schools and hospitals has been diverted to subsidise Israel’s long-running programme of thieving, collective punishment, dispossession and the trashing of the Palestinian economy.

Mr Jack goes on to say: “The UK’s position on Israeli settlements is clear.” Well no, it isn’t. They are illegal and even constitute a war crime yet the UK Government doesn’t mind if companies or individuals profiteer from using and endorsing those squats to the detriment of the Palestinians. And he seems to agree with his government’s opposition to the UN’s business and human rights database. Back in March 2016, UN Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 mandated the High Commissioner’s Office to produce a database of all businesses engaged in activities related to Israel’s settlement enterprise and having implications for the rights of the Palestinian people. Fair enough, you might think. But a year ago 103 local, regional and international organizations felt it necessary to call on the High Commissioner to release the Database expressing deep concern that the document and names of the companies facilitating the settlement programme had been withheld from circulation for 3 years due to political pressure. In the meantime the Israeli government had escalated the construction of new squats and broadcast its intention to formally annex parts of the West Bank in further violation of international law.

“The Database will bring an important degree of transparency on the activities of businesses which contravene rules and principles of international humanitarian and human rights law as a result of their operations in or with illegal Israeli settlements,” they said.

Amnesty International commented: “Naming the businesses which profit in the context of this illegal situation sends a clear message from the international community that settlements must never be normalized. These companies are profiting from and contributing to systematic violations against Palestinians.”

And Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights said: “The UK Government abstained on the vote of this Human Rights Council resolution in March 2016…. It was the only state to declare that the database was ‘inappropriate’ and that ‘it would not co-operate in the process’ of its implementation.” LPHR felt that the reasons given for the Government’s position “did not individually or cumulatively amount to an adequate basis for justifiably opposing the UN Database”. One such reason was that the UK Government thought the Human Rights Council should focus on states rather than private companies. LPHR says this contradicts the UK’s earlier agreement, along with the rest of the international community, that companies as well as states have vital responsibilities in protecting and advancing respect for human rights.

I won’t trouble Mr Jack for an explanation for all this. It’s enough that voters and campaigners are aware of the skullduggery.

Lebanon: The Paradise from Hell

By Jeremy Salt

Source

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In the old days there was no more charming city in the eastern Mediterranean than Beirut.  Set on a maritime plain with the mountains rising dramatically behind it, the scenery was magnificent, the culture charming, the people hospitable and the city rich in history.

Unfortunately, however, Lebanon’s prime geographical position sucked the country and its capital  into the vortex of regional and international politics from the 19th century onwards.  Sectarianism and the inability of the people to put the interests of their country ahead of their faith dragged it further down.  There was no more potent weapon in the armory of scheming outside powers than this massive fault line running through Lebanese society.

Seizing Syria after the First World War, Britain and France chopped it up. Britain gave Palestine – southern Syria – to the Zionists. France kept the rest.   In 1918 it occupied Beirut, with the support of the Maronite Christians and against the opposition of the Muslims.   Moving across the mountains, it occupied Damascus after defeating a Syrian national force at Khan Maysalun, in the anti-Lebanon mountains about 25 kilometers from Damascus, in July 1920.

In October 1920 France separated Mt Lebanon and the maritime plain from the Syrian hinterland to create the republic of Grand Liban.  Its strategic object was to cut a large segment of Syria’s Christians, the Maronites, off from the Syrian hinterland (which it then proceeded to divide even further along sectarian lines).  Historically aligned culturally with France and the ‘west,’ the Maronites were hostile to what they saw as a Sunni Muslim-inflected Arab nationalism.  In what they perceived as their own interests, they could be counted on to further French interests in the Near East.

Their sympathy for zionism reached the point in May, 1946, when the Maronite Patriarch, Antoine Arida, signed a ‘treaty’ with the Jewish Agency in which he acknowledged all core zionist claims, including the allegedly historical link with Palestine, the ‘right’ to open immigration “and independence” in a Jewish state.  This ‘treaty’ was no more than the patriarch’s personal initiative, but it did represent broad Maronite identification with Zionism as an equally vulnerable minority presence in the Middle East.

As established under French supervision, the 1926 constitution describes Lebanon as “Arab in its identity and affiliation.”  Elections to the Chamber of Deputies were to be held on a “national non-confessional basis” but at the same time – more than somewhat contradictorily – there was to be equal representation of Muslims and Christians in Parliament and proportional representation of the confessional groups within the two broader Muslim and Christian communities.  The president was to be elected on the basis of two-thirds majority support in the Chamber.

In 1943 with Vichy France defeated in Syria and with Lebanon looking ahead to the end of the mandate, its Muslim (Sunni and Shia) and Christian leaders met to discuss what next.  President Bishara al Khuri and Prime Minister Riad al Sulh fashioned the ‘national pact’ which has underpinned Lebanon’s ‘confessional democracy’ ever since. Broadly, Lebanon would remain  only “affiliated” to the Arab world (rather than part of it)  in return for a Christian pledge not to seek support from the ‘west.’

In its executive and parliamentary makeup, the president of the republic would always be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies a Shia Muslim, the deputy Prime Minister and deputy speaker of the Chamber a Greek Orthodox and the army chief of staff a Druze. Parliament would be elected on the basis of a 6-5 Christian-Muslim majority, this sectarian allocation of power applying across all state institutions.

Even by the 1930s it was doubtful that Lebanon had a Christian majority.  It is for this reason that a census had not been held since. The Maronites would certainly not want to be confronted with the statistical proof of their shrunken minority status.   On the available evidence now a census would show that the population is about 60 per cent Muslim, about evenly divided between Sunni and Shia.  Of the 36 per cent of the Christian population, the Maronites account for perhaps 21 per cent.  Talk of ‘Christian Lebanon’ is obviously misleading when the buk of the population is Muslim.  Not only that, there is no consolidated Christian view, politically or religiously.  Each confessional group has its own liturgies and political interests.  The Maronites also have a long history of fighting savagely among themselves.

No Lebanese wanting to live in a proper democracy could possibly support the ‘confessional’ formula but with some modifications it has prevailed to the present day. It is the seedbed of all Lebanon’s problems. It has engendered corruption, endless feudal bargaining between the zaims – the sectarian political leaders –  and it has kept Lebanon permanently open to meddling from outside.

Under British pressure the French finally withdrew from Lebanon in 1946.  Lebanon’s first civil war had been fought in 1860s and the second was soon to come.  In 1958 President Camille Chamoun abrogated the national pact by calling for western intervention to suppress the rising tide of support in Lebanon for Egypt’s President Gamal abd al Nasir. US marines landed on Beirut’s beaches from the Sixth Fleet but on this occasion the zaims managed to settle their differences themselves.

The third civil war followed in 1975 and lasted until 1989.  Altthough sectarian affiliations would decide who died and who lived, the trigger for this conflict was the Palestine question.  Driven out of their country in 1948, Palestinians flooded into Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, whose rickety social and political fabric could not withstand the pressure of this extra burden and finally collapsed.

Outside intervention in 1976 by Syria (at the request of the Arab League) and interference by the US and Israel turned Lebanon yet again into the epicentre of a regional and international power struggle.  Tens of thousands of Lebanese died, with Israel’s invasion of 1982 alone ending the lives of about 20,000 people.

Succeeding in driving out the PLO, the Israeli invasion was the catalyst for the rise of a far more dangerous enemy, Hizbullah.  By 2000 it had driven Israel out of southern Lebanon by standing firm in the war of 2006, so that zionist ground forces were unable  to capture villages even a few kilometres from the armistice line,  it again imposed humiliation on the enemy.   Since then many of Israel’s senior political and military figures have warned that in the next round they will destroy Lebanon entirely, driving it back to the Stone Age or the Middle Ages,  as they say.   This is their ‘Dahiyya strategy,’ named after their widespread aerial destruction in 2006 of a largely Shia southern Beirut suburb of that name.

Spying for Israel

There is a chilling parallel between the port explosion and an event not nearly so destructive in damage and loss of life but the equivalent in its impact on Lebanon’s Lebanese social and political structure. This of course is the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February, 2005.   Because of his sometimes difficult relationship with the Syrian government, it was Syria that was immediately blamed by Hariri’s son Saad, by Maronite Christian political factions and by ‘western’ governments.  Syria was driven into a corner and forced to withdraw its remaining troops from Lebanon. They were few in number and stationed well away from the capital but the government in Damascus was humiliated internationally.

Four ‘pro-Syrian’ Lebanese army generals were arrested on August 30, 2005, and held in custody by the government for four years without being charged before being handed over to the UN-appointed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which immediately released them for lack of evidence.  The tribunal was established in 2009 on the basis of an agreement between the UN and the government of Lebanon but was never ratified by Lebanon’s Chamber of Deputies

In 2010 Hariri’s son, Saad, Prime Minister since November, 2009, admitted that he was wrong in accusing Syria: the charge had been “politically motivated” and the tribunal misled by false testimony against the four generals.  Without apologizing or explaining how it came to be deceived, the tribunal proceeded in 2011 to lay charges of conspiracy to murder against four men linked with Hizbullah, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hasan Sabra.

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*(Mustafa Amine Badreddine) 

Badreddine was a cousin of Imad Mughniyah, a senior Hizbullah figure assassinated by Israel in Damascus in 2008.   Badreddine himself was killed by an explosion near Damascus airport in 2016 but by that time another name had been added to the Special Tribunal’s list of accused, Hassan Habib Merhi, charged in 2012.  These suspects are all being tried in absentia.  Hasan Nasrallah says the charges are a politically motivated fabrication and that wherever they are, the men will never be handed over by Hizbullah.

The first important point to be made about the Special Tribunal is that it never canvassed the range of possible suspects.  Against their record of extreme violence in Lebanon, the US and Israel would have to be high on the list of suspects but they were not  even considered.  The tribunal went straight for Syria and when that collapsed it went straight for Hizbullah.

On October 27, 2010, three of its agents went to Dr Iman Charara’s obstetrics clinic in Dahiyya, apparently with her prior approval but not with Hizbullah’s.  Given the destruction of Dahiyya by Israel in 2006, this was understandable: Hizbullah had to be watchful about who was coming and going in the suburb.  At the clinic the agents demanded the phone numbers and addresses of 17 patients dating back to 2003.  They would all be the female relatives of Hizbullah members, but whoever they were, Dr Charara would have been violating doctor-patient confidentiality by surrendering this personal information.

Inside the clinic women waiting for their consultation physically attacked the three agents, calling them Israelis and Americans and seizing a computer, notebooks, a cell phone and other material, all later returned. (According to one account, largely based on the sight of a large hand, some of the women were actually men.)

The Special Tribunal made other extreme demands. It demanded and was apparently given access to the data base of all students at private universities from 2003-2006 but was blocked when it sought the fingerprints and passport details of all Lebanese along with all telephone and DNA records.

The second important point to be made about the tribunal is that its evidence is circumstantial and heavily based on totally compromised mobile phone calls.  By the time of Hariri’s assassination, Israel had long since penetrated Lebanon’s two main telecommunications providers, with agents inside providing it with data that allowed it not just to monitor phone calls but to fabricate them.

In 2010, 50 employes of the Alfa state telecommunications company were arrested and charged with spying for Israel. They included two senior technical figures, Charbel Qazzi and Tariq Raba’a.  In his confession Qazzi said he had first been contacted by Mossad in the 1990s.  He had access to all passwords needed to enter mobile network computer systems remotely or online. These he had handed to Israel.

Raba’a was recruited by Mossad in 2001. He gave Israel full details of Lebanon’s mobile network plus the names of all Alfa employes.  Israel’s infiltration included the tampering with BTS (base transceiver station) towers either physically or remotely and the use of a firewall manufactured by Israeli companies allowing Israel to install backdoors and give it access for remote logins.

A retired general who had spied for Israel from 1994-2009 provided Israel with Lebanese sim cards. In 2009 Hizbullah and Lebanese security exposed three Hizbullah members who had been spying for Israel.  Their phones has been installed with a software program allowing a second line to be linked to their phones and a third person to access all their data.  This ‘twinning’ on one sim card turned on when the phone was on and off when the phone was turned off.

Israel’s infiltration of the Lebanese telecommunications sector was so extensive that none of the calls allegedly connecting suspects to Hariri’s assassation can be regarded as authentic without the absolutely incontrovertible proof that the tribunal is unlikely to have.  According to Hasan Nasrallah, Israel had gained complete control over Lebanon’s telecommunications network.

In August 2010, not long after the arrest of the Alfa spies,  Nasrallah made an announcement he said he did not want to make because it would reveal how extensively Hizbullah had penetrated Israel’s electronic communications and drone surveillance.  He said that for three months before his assassination (February 14, 2005), an Israeli drone had been shadowing Hariri, from his home in Beirut to the government offices, and from his home in the city to his home in the mountains. It had followed him along the corniche road on the day of his assassination.

According to Nasrallah, an Israeli AWACS plane was overhead and an Israeli agent on the ground when Hariri’s convoy was destroyed and the former Prime Minister and 21 others killed and hundreds injured.  This evidence of possible Israeli involvement in the assassination was handed to the Special Tribunal by HIzbullah but apparently taken no further.

‘Hizbullah, Hizbullah, Hizbullah ..’

The trail to the destruction of Beirut’s port began in Batumi, Georgia, in September, 2013 when a Russian-owned ship, the MV Rhosus, set off for Mozambique loaded with 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. The boat was owned by Igor Grechuskin, a ‘businessman’ in his early 40s, now living in Cyprus and last seen when photographed straddling a gleaming motorbike.

photoshopped images of a missile Beirut 47500

The Rhosus made it to Tuzla in Turkey and then Volos in Greece for refuelling.  After the crew could not be paid because the owner had run out of money the boat headed to Beirut to pick up additional cargo that could be sold in Aqaba. However, the excavators and roadmaking machinery stacked on deck were so heavy that the doors to the cargo hold buckled.   In addition, there was no money to pay port fees and the Russian and Ukrainian crew had filed legal complaints over conditions and non-payment of salary. The ship also had a leak in the hull when it reached Beirut.  The crew had been regularly pumping water out to keep it afoat.

Judged unsafe to sail and in breach of port and maritime regulations the Rhosus was allowed to go no further.   By November 2014 the ammonium nitrate had been unloaded and stored in hangar 12.  The crew was confined to the boat for 11 months before being released.  Abandoned by its owner, the Rhosus sank close to the port’s breakwater in February, 2018.

There have been several spectacular explosions of ammonium nitrate in the 20th century. In 1921, at Oppau in Germany, a 4500-tonne mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded, killing 500-600 people. In 1947, fire on board a French freighter in the port of Texas City, Galveston Bay, ignited 2300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the explosion killing nearly 600 people.

The Beirut port explosion was one of the biggest in history outside the detonation of a nuclear bomb.  The immediate port district was levelled, with the shock wave surging into the fashionable Gemmayzeh district and destroying or damaging apartment blocks and shops, restaurants and the clubs that were the centre of night life. The damage included the silos adjacent to the port where 80 per cent of Lebanon’s grain supplies were stored, leaving it with only enough to last a few weeks.

Negligence was obviously involved.  The port customs authorities were aware of the danger and had made six requests between 2014-2017 for the ammonium nitrate to be be shifted but nothing was done.

The political finger-pointing started immediately.  The Maronite Patriarch, Bechara Boutros al Rai, seized the opportunity to berate Hizbullah. Baha Hariri, one of Rafiq Hariri’s sons, claimed that “everyone in the city knows” that Hizbullah controlled the port.  It was said to be storing arms and ammunitions which somehow triggered off the devastation on August 4. In fact, Hizbullah does not control the port and had no weaponry or ammunition stockpiled there.

In his reaction to the bombing, Nasrallah referred to Lebanese and Arab media commentators whose position had been decided in advance.  In their view “the cause of the explosion in hangar number so-and-so at the port of Beirut was a Hizbullah missile warehouse that exploded and caused this unprecedented terror and cataclysm. Or, they said, it was stockpiles of HIzbullah ammunition, explosives or weapons. The bottom line is that it must have belonged to Hizbullah, whether it was missiles, ammunition, or explosives … and even when the authorities announced that it was not missiles, weapons, ammunition, explosives or anything like that but (ammonium) nitrate used as a fertilizer or an explosive, these people said that this nitrate belonged to Hizbullah, that it was Hizbullah that brought it, that it was Hizbullah that stored it for six years and again, Hizbullah, Hizbullah, Hizbullah …”

Fury swept the streets in the aftermath of the explosion. Demonstrators broke into government ministries in various parts of the city, cabinet ministers and members of parliament resigned until the government of Prime Minister Hasan Diab finally fell, Diab saying that corruption was systemic and larger than the state.

The ‘west’ had already plunged into the crisis.   President Macron immediately flew to Beirut, offering aid.  Speaking like a French High Commissioner during the 1930s, he took it upon himself to call for a new political order and demand that Hizbullah stop serving the interests of another government. The US called for ‘peaceful’ regime change.  At the same time, both Trump and Defence Secretary Mark Esper raised the possibility that the explosion had been the result of a deliberate attack.

President Michel Aoun called for some clear answers within a few days but like the Hariri assassination, clear answers to what exactly happened at the port of Beirut on August 4 may never be forthcoming.

Apparently (or clearly) photoshopped images of a missile about to strike the port soon filled the social media.  Other material was more persuasive, with one video showing men walking along the street and pointing at something in the sky seconds before the shock wave hit them.  Another clip shows a group of young women stopping to look up at the sky after apparently hearing something.  Nasser Yassin, a professor at the American University of Beirut, described hearing a sound like a jet aircraft or a missile flying overhead a few seconds before the explosion … “we’re like 35 or 40 kilometers from Beirut, overlooking Beirut, and we heard this very clear.”

The general context is not complete without referring to the pending decision of the Special Tribunal. Due on August 7 it will be issued on the morning of August 18.  Furthermore, in the week before the explosion tension had also been rising on the Israel-Lebanon 1949 armistice line, with Hizbullah denying an Israeli claim that it had launched an attack in the occupied Shaba’a farm zone following the killing of a Hizbullah fighter in Syria.

The ‘floating bomb’

The clear answer as to who benefits from the Beirut port explosion and the instability which has followed is Israel. Israel has periodically devastated Lebanon, killing tens of thousands of people.  Its aircraft and drones routinely violate Lebanese air space, frequently launching missiles into Syria from Lebanon. It has run rings of spies in Lebanon for decades and has the entire country under surveillance from satellites, from human intelligence and from spying devices seeded from north to south.  It badly wants Hızbullah destroyed and its political and military figues have repeatedly threatened Lebanon with an attack that will dwarf the destruction wrought in 2006.   The port explosion has broken the government and put Hizbullah under extreme pressure domestically and from the outside.

A further consideration is that Beirut was always seen in Israel as a rival financial and business centre to Tel Aviv in the eastern Mediterranean.  Decades of instability created by civil war, Israel’s repeated attacks and interference in its political and financial affairs by outside governments have wrecked the position the city held in the 1960s as a financial hub for the entire Middle East.  Economic crisis – partly brought on by ‘western’ sanctions directed against Hizbullah – followed by the explosion in the port leave behind only the shards of this reputation.

Could Israel have arranged the destruction of the port? Given its long experience of causing chaos across the Middle East, the answer is obviously ‘yes.’  The ammonium nitrate was a floating bomb taken to Beirut and stored in a warehouse for six years.  It only needed someone to light the fuse. Compared to the intricacy of other Israeli operations, this would surely be a comparatively simple matter.

So Israel could have done it, but would it have done it? Certainly, on the basis of its merciless destruction of Lebanon in the past, not to speak of its frequent devastation of Gaza, it would not have been impeded by moral considerations. Was it in any way responsible, or was the explosion wholly the outcome of utterly criminal negligence? An inquiry, international or Lebanese, may never be able to satisfactorily answer these questions.

Lebanon remains trapped in the mire of 1943.  It is not a change of government that is needed but a change of the system and a change in the mentality of the Lebanese people so that they uniformly put their country ahead of sectarian loyalties.  The old system needs to be torn up by the roots.  Otherwise this blood-soaked cycle is never going to end.  Lebanon will remain forever exposed to sectarian division stoked by regional and global powers in their own interests.

This cycle of disasters has been going on in Lebanon since the 19th century.  It is part of ‘the game of nations’ as described by CIA agent Miles Copeland in his 1969 book of the same name, a ‘game’ in which the kings, presidents, prime ministers, army chiefs, entire countries and ordinary citizens across the Middle East are ultimately no more than expendable pawns on the board.

Don’t be Hoodwinked by Trump’s UAE-Israel “Peace Deal”

By Medea Bejamin & Ariel Gold

Source

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel, facilitated by the U.S., serves to prop up three repressive leaders — Trump, Netanyahu, and bin Zayed — and will cause further harm to Palestinians. It is both a shame and a sham.

UGE breakthrough today,” crowed Donald Trump on Twitter as he announced the new peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The deal makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state and the third Arab nation, after Egypt and Jordan, to have diplomatic ties with Israel. But the new Israel-UAE partnership should fool no one. Though it will supposedly stave off Israeli annexation of the West Bank and encourage tourism and trade between both countries, in reality, it is nothing more than a scheme to give an Arab stamp of approval to Israel’s status quo of land theft, home demolitions, arbitrary extrajudicial killings, apartheid laws, and other abuses of Palestinian rights.

The deal should be seen in the context of over three years of Trump administration policies that have tightened Israel’s grip on the Palestinians: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and creating a so-called peace plan with no Palestinian participation or input. While no U.S. administration has successfully brokered a resolution to Israel’s now 53-year-long occupation, the Trump years have been especially detrimental to the Palestinian cause. Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter that with this deal, “Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation.” Indeed, with Donald Trump at the helm and son-in-law Jared Kushner as the primary strategist, even concessions for Palestinians have been done away with. To add insult to injury, while the deal had been couched in terms of a commitment by Israel to suspend annexation of Palestinian territories, in his Israeli press conference announcing the deal, Netanyahu said annexation was “still on the table” and that it was something he is “committed to.”

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Among the most brutal aspects of this period for Palestinians have been the loss of support for their cause in neighboring Arab states. The Arab political party in Israel, Balad, said that by signing this pact, “the UAE has officially joined Israel against Palestine, and placed itself in the camp of the enemies of the Palestinian people.”

The UAE has previously held a position consistent with public opinion in Gulf and Middle East countries that the acceptance of formal diplomatic relations with Israel should only take place in exchange for a just peace and in accordance with international law. Back in June, Emirati ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba penned an an op-ed in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, the Israeli equivalent to U.S.A Today, appealing directly in Hebrew for Israel not to annex the West Bank. However, by working out an agreement with Trump and Netanyahu to normalize relations, the country has now made itself Israel’s partner in cementing de facto annexation and ongoing apartheid.

The UAE’s change from supporting Palestinian dignity and freedom to supporting Israel’s never-ending occupation is a calculated move by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, a shrewd Middle East dictator who uses his country’s military and financial resources to thwart moves towards democracy and respect for human rights under the guise of fighting Islamic terrorism. His support for Israel cements his relationship with the Trump administration. Trump has already gone out of his way to push billions of dollars in arms sales to the UAE, despite opposition from Congress because of high number of civilian casualties associated with the use of those weapons in Yemen.

Secretary Pompeo has also defended the UAE from credible reports that U.S. weapons sold to the UAE have been transferred in Yemen to groups linked to Al Qaeda, hardline Salafi militias and Yemeni separatists. The UAE was also stung by revelations of secret prisons it had been operating in Yemen where prisoners were subjected to horrific forms of torture, including “the grill,” where victims were “tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire.” In Libya, the UAE has been criticized for violating a 2011 UN Security Council arms embargo by supplying combat equipment to the LAAF, the armed group commanded by General Khalifa Haftar with a well-established record of human right abuses. So this deal with Israel gives the UAE a much-needed veneer of respectability.

But it is impossible to understand the impetus for this deal without putting it in the context of the ongoing hostilities between all three countries and Iran. Following the old adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” in recent years Israel has been negotiating with various Gulf states, including the UAE, to push back against Iran’s growing influence in the region. As the communique announcing the Israeli-UAE deal asserted, the U.S., Israel and the UAE “share a similar outlook regarding threats in the region.” This dovetails with Trump’s anti-Iran obsession, which includes withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and his “maximum pressure” campaign designed to force Iran back to the negotiating table to make a “better deal.” In announcing the UAE-Israeli pact, Trump declared with ridiculous bravado that if he wins the elections, he’ll have a new deal with Iran within 30 days. Anyone who believes this must be almost as delusional as Trump.

The fact that this agreement between two Middle East countries was first announced thousands of miles away in Washington DC shows how it is more about shoring up Trump’s slumping electoral campaign and improving Netanyahu’s battered image in Israel than bringing peace to the Middle East. It also shows that Netanyahu and bin Zayed have a stake in seeing Trump win a second term in the White House. Instead of pointing out the hollowness of the pact, Joe Biden’s response was unfortunately to congratulate Israel and the UAE and try to take credit for the deal. “I personally spent time with leaders of both Israel and the U.A.E. during our administration, building the case for cooperation and broader engagement,” he said. “I am gratified by today’s announcement.”

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel, facilitated by the U.S., serves to prop up three repressive leaders — Trump, Netanyahu, and bin Zayed — and will cause further harm to Palestinians. It is both a shame and a sham.

With an Eye on Balkanization, Israel throws Support Behind Separatist Militants in Southern Yemen

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

ADEN, YEMEN — As the war in Yemen nears its sixth year, the situation in the war-torn nation is escalating as Israel enters the fray, throwing its support behind the Emirati-backed separatist militant group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC). The STC has already effectively captured Aden and more recently seized Socotra Island. Israel’s entrance into the already convoluted and crowded theater is likely to open the door for further escalation, particularly in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Amid the ever-growing normalization of relations between Tel Aviv and wealthy Gulf Aab states, the Emirati-backed STC, now the de facto authorities in the south of the country, have already established a secret relationship with Israel encouraged by the United Arabic Emirates (UAE) according to informed sources in Aden. Despite strong opposition from leaders inside the STC and from Southern Yemen’s public, the UAE-backed group receives various forms of support from Israel, including weapons and training facilitated by the UAE following secret talks between STC officials and Tel Aviv sponsored by the UAE.

Prior to that, the Deputy Head of the STC Hani bin Breik announced that the group has a willingness to establish relations with Israel, saying “the peace with Israel is “coveted and aspiring” for them. However, he claimed that any relationship with Israel should be within the framework of the Arab peace initiative made by the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, but he stressed their willingness to establish relations with any country that helps them to “restore their state.”

The development comes after the Warsaw Conference held in February 2019 that ostensibly focused on security in the Middle East. There, Khaled al-Yamani, Yemen’s former foreign minister, executed a very public warming of relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In its wake, U.S. peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who also served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and advisor on Israel, remarked that the friendly incident could be the first step in establishing cooperation between Yemen and Israel.

In a related development, Israel’s most widely-read newspaper, Israel Today, claimed that Tel Aviv has been conducting secret meetings with the Emirati-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), reporting that the STC are “secret friends” to Israel. In fact, that positive attitude towards Israel has been confirmed by the Deputy Head of the STC himself in a video posted on YouTube.

Superficially, Tel Aviv’s support aims to help the STC against the local forces that oppose them, but the fact is that Israel is trying to establish a foothold on the Yemeni Islands in the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait. The Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab are vital interests to Tel Aviv. For their part, the STC needs not only to tighten its control over Yemen’s southern districts and pursue its long-time goal of declaring secession from the north of the country, but they need a gateway to the United States and to the world. Like many Gulf Arab states, the STC has long believed the road to American validation runs through Israel.

STC Yemen Israel HQ

However, southern political leaders who spoke to MintPress realize that relations with Israel will not bring about “an independent state” and that that relationship will be an obstacle in getting public support. Moreover, southerners consider the Palestinian cause to be the cause for all, a situation that STC will not succeed in changing. They say that the Palestine issue is one that concerns Muslims as a whole, something that any local force could never hope to change.

Houthi resistance

Of all Yemen’s myriad political forces, tribes, and military powers, the Ansar Allah-led military, is best prepared, and likely the most willing, to take retaliatory action against both the STC and Israel. Ansar Allah, the political wing of Yemen’s Houthis, are committed to the territorial integrity of Yemen and announced that that they would not hesitate to “deal a stinging blow” to Israel in the case that Tel Aviv decides to involve itself in Yemen.

A high-ranking official quoted the words of Ansar Allah leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi when he threatened Israel in November 2011.” Our people will not hesitate to declare jihad (holy war) against the Israeli enemy, and to launch the most severe strikes against sensitive targets in the occupied territories if the enemy engages in any folly against our people.” In 1956, 1967, and 1973 war with Israel, Yemen successfully closed off the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and prevented Israeli ships from crossing through it.

The National Salvation Government in Houthi-controlled Sana’a accused the United Arab Emirates of providing cover for Israel’s efforts in southern Yemen. “The Israeli enemy sees Yemen as a threat to it,” said Information Minister Dhaifalla Al-Shami, “especially in its strategic location, so it has worked to find a foothold in Yemen through the UAE’s role.” Recently, UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, said in an article for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that his country “pushed for initiatives that would have granted Israel privileges.”

Given the fact that the fragmentation of the Middle East is consistent with Israel’s strategy in Yemen, the STC’s, and by extension the UAE’s, relationship with Israel not only violates the Yemeni religious and national constants held firm by nearly all Yemenis, but it is also a threat to the prospect of a unified Yemen. Yemeni political forces, including Ansar Allah, see Israel’s efforts to back the emergence of a break-away separation state in the south as a dangerous game.

In fact, unconfirmed reports allege that Israel participated in the war against Yemen on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition as a part of a series of covert interventions involving mercenary forces, the reported launching of dozens of airstrikes in the country and even the dropping of a neutron bomb on Nuqm Mountain in the middle of the capital city of Sana’a in May of 2015. But any Israeli presence in the south will lead to an inevitable clash with Israel, according to decision-makers in Yemen.

The Hopelessness Discourse: How Palestinian Pessimism Could Spark a Much-Needed Rebellion

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

Palestine’s biggest challenge is not the failure of the people to register as a factor in the liberation of their own land, but their quisling leadership’s inability to appreciate the immense potential of harnessing the energies of Palestinians everywhere to stage a focused and strategic, anti-colonial, liberation campaign.

In a recent TV discussion, a respected pro-Palestine journalist declared that if any positive change or transformation ever occurs in the tragic Palestinian saga, it would not happen now, but that it would take a whole new generation to bring about such a paradigm shift.

As innocuous as the declaration may have seemed, it troubled me greatly.

I have heard this line over and over again, often reiterated by well-intentioned intellectuals, whose experiences in researching and writing on the so-called ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ may have driven some of them to pessimism, if not despair.

The ‘hopelessness discourse’ is, perhaps, understandable if one is to examine the off-putting, tangible reality on the ground: the ever-entrenched Israeli occupation, the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the shameful Arab normalization with Israel, the deafening silence of the international community and the futility of the quisling Palestinian leadership.

Subscribing to this logic is not only self-defeating but ahistorical as well. Throughout history, every great achievement that brought about freedom and a measure of justice to any nation was realized despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

Indeed, who would have thought that the Algerian people were capable of defeating French colonialism when their tools of liberation were so rudimentary as compared with the awesome powers of the French military and its allies?

The same notion applies to many other modern historic experiences, from Vietnam to South Africa and from India to Cuba.

However, the ‘hopelessness discourse’ is not as innocent as it may seem. It is propelled by the persisting failure to appreciate the centrality of the Palestinian people – or any other people, for that matter – in their own history. Additionally, it assumes that the Palestinian people are, frankly, ineffectual.

Interestingly, when many nations were still grappling with the concept of national identity, the Palestinian people had already developed a refined sense of modern collective identity and national consciousness. General mass strikes and civil disobedience challenging British imperialism and Zionist settlements in Palestine began nearly a century ago, culminating in the six-month-long general strike of 1936.

Since then, popular resistance, which is linked to a defined sense of national identity, has been a staple in Palestinian history. It was a prominent feature of the First Intifada, the popular uprising of 1987.

The fact that the Palestinian homeland was lost, despite the heightened consciousness of the Palestinian masses at the time, is hardly indicative of the Palestinian people’s ability to affect political outcomes.

Time and again, Palestinians have rebelled and, with each rebellion, they forced all parties, including Israel and the United States, to reconsider and overhaul their strategies altogether.

A case in point was the First Intifada.

When, on December 8, 1987, thousands took to the streets of the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, the Gaza Strip’s most crowded and poorest camp, the timing and the location of their uprising was most fitting, rational and necessary. Earlier that day, an Israeli truck had run over a convoy of cars carrying Palestinian laborers, killing four young men. For Jabaliya, as with the rest of Palestine, it was the last straw.

Responding to the chants and pleas of the Jabaliya mourners, Gaza was, within days, the breeding ground for a real revolution that was self-propelled and unwavering. The chants of Palestinians in the Strip were answered in the West Bank, and echoed just as loudly in Palestinian towns, including those located in Israel.

PALESTINIAN UPRISING 1987

The contagious energy was emblematic of children and young adults wanting to reclaim the identities of their ancestors, which had been horribly disfigured and divided among regions, countries and refugee camps.

The Intifada – literally meaning the “shake off” – sent a powerful message to Israel that the Palestinian people are alive, and are still capable of upsetting all of Israel’s colonial endeavors. The Intifada also confronted the failure of the Palestinian and Arab leaderships, as they persisted in their factional and self-seeking politics.

In fact, the Madrid Talks in 1991 between Palestinians and Israelis were meant as an Israeli- American political compromise, aimed at ending the Intifada in exchange for acknowledging the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian people.

The Oslo Accords, signed by Yasser Arafat and Israel in 1993, squandered the gains of the Intifada and, ultimately, replaced the more democratically representative PLO with the corrupt Palestinian Authority.

But even then, the Palestinian people kept coming back, reclaiming, in their own way, their importance and centrality in the struggle. Gaza’s Great March of Return is but one of many such people-driven initiatives.

Palestine’s biggest challenge in the movement is not the failure of the people to register as a factor in the liberation of their own land, but their quisling leadership’s inability to appreciate the immense potential of harnessing the energies of Palestinians everywhere to stage a focused and strategic, anti-colonial, liberation campaign.

This lack of vision dates back to the late 1970s, when the Palestinian leadership labored to engage politically with Washington and other Western capitals, culminating in the pervading sense that, without US political validation, Palestinians would always remain marginal and irrelevant.

The Palestinian leadership’s calculations at the time proved disastrous. After decades of catering to Washington’s expectations and diktats, the Palestinian leadership, ultimately, returned empty-handed, as the current Donald Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’ has finally proven.

I have recently spoken with two young Palestinian female activists: one is based in besieged Gaza and the other in the city of Seattle. Their forward-thinking discourse is, itself, a testament that the pessimism of some intellectuals does not define the thinking of this young Palestinian generation, and there would be no need to dismiss the collective efforts of this budding generation in anticipation of the rise of a ‘better’ one.

Malak Shalabi, a Seattle-based law student, does not convey a message of despair, but that of action. “It’s really important for every Palestinian and every human rights activist to champion the Palestinian cause regardless of where they are, and it is important especially now, ” she told me.

“There are currently waves of social movements here in the United States, around civil rights for Black people and other issues that are (becoming) pressing topics – equality and justice – in the mainstream. As Palestinians, it’s important that we (take the Palestinian cause) to the mainstream as well,” she added.

“There is a lot of work happening among Palestinian activists here in the United States, on the ground, at a social, economic, and political level, to make sure that the link between Black Lives Matter and Palestine happens,” she added.

On her part, Wafaa Aludaini in Gaza spoke about her organization’s – 16th October Group – relentless efforts to engage communities all over the world, to play their part in exposing Israeli war crimes in Gaza and ending the protracted siege on the impoverished Strip.

“Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists outside are important because they make our voices heard outside Palestine, as mainstream media does not report (the truth of) what is taking place here,” she told me.

For these efforts to succeed, “we all need to be united,” she asserted, referring to the Palestinian people at home and in the diaspora, and the entire pro-Palestinian solidarity movement everywhere, as well.

The words of Malak and Wafaa are validated by the growing solidarity with Palestine in the BLM movement, as well as with numerous other justice movements the world over.

On June 28, the UK chapter of the BLM tweeted that it “proudly” stands in solidarity with Palestinians and rejects Israel’s plans to annex large areas of the West Bank.

BLM went further, criticizing British politics for being “gagged of the right to critique Zionism and Israel’s settler-colonial pursuits”.

Repeating the claim that a whole new generation needs to replace the current one for any change to occur in Palestine is an insult – although, at times, unintended – to generations of Palestinians, whose struggle and sacrifices are present in every aspect of Palestinian lives.

Simply because the odds stacked against Palestinian freedom seem too great at the moment, does not justify the discounting of an entire nation, which has lived through many wars, protracted sieges and untold hardship. Moreover, the next generation is but a mere evolution of the consciousness of the current one. They cannot be delinked or analyzed separately.

In his “Prison Notebooks”, anti-fascist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci, coined the term “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”

While logical analysis of a situation may lead the intellect to despair, the potential for social and political revolutions and transformations must keep us all motivated to keep the struggle going, no matter the odds.

“But The Jews Also Suffered An Injustice”

By Rima Najjar

Source

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Question: Have there been other examples in history where victims of gross injustice, like that perpetrated against Palestinians by colonizing European Jews, are asked to acknowledge and embrace the poisonous and false claims of their oppressors?

Of course, there have been. Those with the military or political power to oppress have historically imposed their “narratives” on their victims and written their history books accordingly. When liberation came, when the oppression was lifted, the colonial downtrodden and dispossessed were able to reclaim their geographic territory and their history. The oppressors were forced to reevaluate their racist/supremacist self-education.

I am not saying, by any means, “and they all lived happily ever after,” because they haven’t, as we observe in continuing struggles today, many years after liberation technically occurred, especially in settler-colonial countries. To use Angela Davis’ words, freedom is a constant struggle. But “progress,” albeit in fits and starts, is still evident in many, if not all (Kashmir!), of these causes.

The case of Palestine has many similarities with other settler-colonial cases. These are often pointed out in discussion. Our case, however, has been stubbornly resistant to “progress,” even in a century in which “progressive causes” are largely self-evident — except for Palestine.

The reason for the cognitive dissonance embedded in the expression “progressives except for Palestine” lies in the Jewish identity of those who orchestrated the implementation of Zionism on Palestinians. By that I mean Jewish history in Europe continues to pose a challenge to Palestinian liberation.

There was/is something about Palestinian liberation that plays havoc with the minds of Jews on the Left in the “diaspora,” not to mention in the minds and hearts of Israeli Jews. Now that Peter Beinart has opened the door for some revision — not of that history, but of the mindset that balances Palestinian human rights against Jewish interests and reluctantly (or in anguish) finds room for Palestinians in a “Jewish tent” — the key to acceptance of the Palestinian cause as a “progressive cause” appears to lie in the hands of Jews, especially young American Jews, who are growing up rejecting their parents’ beliefs that Jews worldwide are “a people” with a right to self-determination outside their countries of origin.

But it’s still “complicated.”

In pleading our cause, it appears, we have the burden of convincing our oppressors that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain by recognizing our humanity and by sorting out what many have described as their pathology. What’s more, we must, it seems, also be credentialed as their allies in the struggle to end antisemitism — an antisemitism we in Palestine have had nothing to do with, and in which they themselves are complicit!

Israel celebrates its so-called “independence,” as the US does; both are settler-colonial states; both perpetrated genocide/ethnic cleansing and displaced native inhabitants — a criminal project that’s ongoing in Israel. But when people say about “the Middle East” that “it’s complicated,” they are referring to the Israeli phenomenon of successfully selling the status of colonizing Zionist Jews as indigenous. Therein lies the “complication.”

What it is, really, is a hoax. Deception has always been Israel’s first option for the attainment of its Zionist goals. And through deception, Israel has turned the internationally recognized Palestinian right of return into a “redemption fantasy of return across the Green Line,” and the Biblical fantasy of Jewish redemption, i.e., “God redeeming the people of Israel from their exiles,” into a reality.

If reconciliation in conflict means restoring the right relationship between adversaries, our biggest challenge as Palestinians is to persuade all those otherwise rational Jews and non-Jews who understand, on the one hand, that the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 was a terrible injustice to the Palestinians, and on the other, fully accept the legitimacy of Israel, that they are wrong.

When you ask such people for an explanation, the answer invariably begins with: “But the Jews also suffered an injustice.” This is exactly what Israeli historian Avi Shlaim says.

To that I say, give us Palestinians a break!

On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

The truth is that Israel rarely behaves as an ‘Occupying Power’, but as a sovereign in a country where racial discrimination and apartheid are not only tolerated or acceptable but are, in fact, ‘legal’ as well.

Wednesday, July 1, was meant to be the day on which the Israeli government officially annexed 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and the Jordan Valley. This date, however, came and went and annexation was never actualized.

“I don’t know if there will be a declaration of sovereignty today,” said Israeli Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, with reference to the self-imposed deadline declared earlier by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. An alternative date was not immediately announced.

But does it really matter?

Whether Israel’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian land takes place with massive media fanfare and a declaration of sovereignty, or whether it happens incrementally over the course of the coming days, weeks, and months, Israel has, in reality, already annexed the West Bank – not just 30% of it but, in fact, the whole area.

It is critical that we understand such terms as ‘annexation’, ‘illegal’, ‘military occupation’, and so on, in their proper contexts.

For example, international law deems that all of Israel’s Jewish settlements, constructed anywhere on Palestinian land occupied during the 1967 war, are illegal.

Interestingly, Israel, too, uses the term ‘illegal’ with reference to settlements, but only to ‘outposts’ that have been erected in the occupied territories without the permission of the Israeli government.

In other words, while in the Israeli lexicon the vast majority of all settlement activities in occupied Palestine are ‘legal’, the rest can only be legalized through official channels. Indeed, many of today’s ‘legal’ 132 settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, housing over half a million Israeli Jewish settlers, began as ‘illegal outposts’.

Though this logic may satisfy the need of the Israeli government to ensure its relentless colonial project in Palestine follows a centralized blueprint, none of this matters in international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions states that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”, adding that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Israel has violated its commitment to international law as an ‘Occupying Power’ on numerous occasions, rendering its very ‘occupation’ of Palestine, itself, a violation of how military occupations are conducted – which are meant to be temporary, anyway.

Military occupation is different from annexation. The former is a temporary transition, at the end of which the ‘Occupying Power’ is expected, in fact, demanded, to relinquish its military hold on the occupied territory after a fixed length of time. Annexation, on the other hand, is a stark violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations. It is tantamount to a war crime, for the occupier is strictly prohibited from proclaiming unilateral sovereignty over occupied land.

The international uproar generated by Netanyahu’s plan to annex a third of the West Bank is fully understandable. But the bigger issue at stake is that, in practice, Israel’s violations of the terms of occupation have granted it a de facto annexation of the whole of the West Bank.

So when the European Union, for example, demands that Israel abandons its annexation plans, it is merely asking Israel to re-embrace the status quo ante, that of de facto annexation. Both abhorring scenarios should be rejected.

Israel began utilizing the occupied territories as if they are contiguous and permanent parts of so-called Israel proper, immediately following the June 1967 war. Within a few years, it erected illegal settlements, now thriving cities, eventually moving hundreds of thousands of its own citizens to populate the newly acquired areas.

This exploitation became more sophisticated with time, as Palestinians were subjected to slow, but irreversible, ethnic cleansing. As Palestinian homes were destroyed, farms confiscated, and entire regions depopulated, Jewish settlers moved in to take their place. The post-1967 scenario was a repeat of the post-1948 history, which led to the establishment of the State of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine.

Moshe Dayan, who served as Israel’s Defense Minister during the 1967 war, explained the Israeli logic best in a historical address at Israel’s Technion University in March 1969. “We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here,” he said.

“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there, either … There is no one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population,” he added.

The same colonial approach was applied to East Jerusalem and the West Bank after the war. While East Jerusalem was formally annexed in 1980, the West Bank was annexed in practice, but not through a clear legal Israeli proclamation. Why? In one word: demographics.

When Israel first occupied East Jerusalem, it went on a population transfer frenzy: moving its own population to the Palestinian city, strategically expanding the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to include as many Jews and as few Palestinians as possible, slowly reducing the Palestinian population of Al Quds through numerous tactics, including the revocation of residency and outright ethnic cleansing.

And, thus, Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, which once constituted the absolute majority, has now been reduced to a dwindling minority.

The same process was initiated in parts of the West Bank, but due to the relatively large size of the area and population, it was not possible to follow a similar annexation stratagem without jeopardizing Israel’s drive to maintain Jewish majority.

Dividing the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C as a result of the disastrous Oslo accords, has given Israel a lifeline, for this allowed it to increase settlement activities in Area C – nearly 60% of the West Bank – without stressing too much about demographic imbalances. Area C, where the current annexation plan is set to take place, is ideal for Israeli colonialism, for it includes Palestine’s most arable, resource-rich, and sparsely populated lands.

It matters little whether the annexation will have a set date or will take place progressively through Israel’s declarations of sovereignty over smaller chunks of the West Bank in the future. The fact is, annexation is not a new Israeli political agenda dictated by political circumstances in Tel Aviv and Washington. Rather, annexation has been the ultimate Israeli colonial objective from the very onset.

Let us not get entangled in Israel’s bizarre definitions. The truth is that Israel rarely behaves as an ‘Occupying Power’, but as a sovereign in a country where racial discrimination and apartheid are not only tolerated or acceptable but are, in fact, ‘legal’ as well.

Iran Prepares Retaliation for Israeli Acts of Sabotage

By Elijah J. Magnier

Source

Iranian Syrian meeting in Damascus 0a629

Iran has postponed the announcement of those it has concluded were responsible for the sabotage at the Natanz nuclear centrifuge facility and probably other sites. However, high ranking personnel in Tehran say that “investigations have concluded and the latest explosions may well have been related; indications are that Israel, plus another Middle Eastern country, are involved. Iran is studying its suitable and inevitable retaliation”.

According to the source, “this has been confirmed beyond any doubt as an act of sabotage. The explosion at Natanz was destructive but security forces managed to thwart further attacks before the planned actions could succeed. We have carried out several arrests”.

The spokesperson of Iran’s parliamentary national security committee Abul’FazlAmoudi said Iran was investigating all possible scenarios related to the Natanz explosion. Security and intelligence officers are looking carefully into the matter and will release the results of the investigation in due course.

“More advanced centrifuges with maximum performance will be built. The Islamic Republic will retaliate against those responsible, wherever they are in the Middle East so that they learn not to repeat similar attacks in the future. The nuclear deal with the US and Europe proved useless because the Americans revoked it and the Europeans did nothing to honor their commitment “for fear of Washington’s retaliation”. The West can no longer be considered a viable partner. Iran has decided a strategic way forward, looking East rather than West”, said the source.

The facts: in recent weeks, several explosions occurred in different locations in Iran. An explosion took place at a medical center north of Tehran causing 19 deaths and 14 wounded. Iran arrested those involved in the explosion that killed mainly medical personnel. A power plant in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz’s al-Zirqan district caught fire last Saturday following an explosion. A chlorine gas leak occurred at a unit of the Karoom petrochemicals plant near the port of Bandar Imam Khomeini in the Persian Gulf injuring dozens. Also, an explosion occurred east of Tehran near the Parchin military and weapons development base caused by a leak in gas storage, as initially reported. “Not all explosions are related to the saboteurs”, said the source.

“We shall not remain silent, because the Rule of Engagement has been violated. That gives Iran the right to retaliation with similar or greater strikes. The sabotage actions were carried out by the Israelis with US approval and the help of a Gulf country. This is a direct threat to Iran’s national security—but we are not in a hurry to retaliate immediately. All options are on the table and we certainly don’t want to support (US President Donald) Trump by giving him the pretext for any retaliation he could benefit from, or by diverting attention from his multiple domestic crises”, said the source.

Iran is present in more than one country and one Middle Eastern platform. It has many options for retaliation against those Tehran considers responsible for one, or for several, acts of sabotage. Iran believes these actions were intended to divert attention from the Natanz explosion that was the main target. Iran will take the case to the International Atomic Energy Agency that has access to Natanz in order to prove that it was an act of sabotage against an officially recognized nuclear site.

According to the high-ranking official, the Iranian-Syrian meeting in Damascus between Major General Mohammad Bagheri and his counterpart General Ali Ayyoub and the agreement signed to strengthen the Syrian air defense system is also a message to Israel for its action in Natanz.

According to officials in Iran, Israel – whose responsibility for the Natanz sabotage Avigdor Lieberman has already avowed – has “directly overseen the attack to slow down Iran’s unchanged path towards peaceful nuclear capability. Moreover, Israel – according to officials – wants Iran to end its support to its allies in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. These unlawful sabotage acts are not new to Iran. Therefore, the road towards nuclear capability will not cease, and support for Iranian allies will obviously increase.”

Israel seems to be trying hard to drag the US into a war situation with Iran because it can’t accept Iran’s growing strength in the Middle East, notwithstanding endless attempts to block Iran’s development during 40 years of sanctions. Israel carried out multiple assassinations against Iranian scientists and high-ranking figures to no avail. Iran has indeed been forced to rely upon itself, build a chain of powerful allies, and find ways to grow independently from the support of the Western countries due to their unfriendly attitude and disregard for signed agreements.

 

Israel is trying to stimulate the many Gulf countries who are anxious to run into Israel’s arms and establish overt relationships with Israel. These Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, want Israeli support “to break Iran’s back”. That is nothing new; the Israeli-Saudi relationship dates back to the 80s. Bahrein, Qatar, and the Emirates all have established relations with Israel. However, Israel and Saudi Arabia cannot predict the Iranian reaction. Retaliation will come from the Axis of the Resistance. And it will come in an unexpected way.

Zionist Political Violence: Patterns and Motives

By Dr. Zuhai Sabbagh

Source

This attempt to tackle the issue of Zionist political violence will not constitute a quantitative and historical research, but will seek to explore the patterns and to analyze the motives behind the violent political practices carried out by the Zionist movement in Palestine over a period of more than a hundred years.

Before embarking upon this complex task, there is a need to shed some light on the phenomenon of general violence and its diverse patterns. This will be done by giving some internationally accepted definitions of violence in general and political violence in particular.

Definition of Violence

In addition to the complex socio-political nature of the phenomenon of violence, and the large ideological charge it carries in its fold, we find many different definitions. Therefore, there is no single comprehensive definition that researchers and writers can adopt, because the class biases of those who developed these definitions dominate their social consciousness, therefore their thinking affect the concepts and definitions they produce.

However, I will present some definitions, adopted by international bodies, and others employed by some writers, which can give us somewhat clear definitions and a relative scientific credibility.

An internationally acceptable definition of violence is that of the World Health Organization. In one of its World Reports, the WHO defined violence as:

“… The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”[1]

Moreover, political violence is some kind of collective violence that could be perpetrated by groups, as well as, by states and thus be called state violence. Consequently, it includes “…economic violence … such as attacks carried out with the purpose of disrupting economic activity, denying access to essential services, or creating economic division and fragmentation…”[2]

American philosopher Hanna Arendt, distinguished between violence and power by arguing that “… Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate. Its justification loses in plausibility the farther its intended end recedes into the future…”[3]

Arendt found that violence and racism are interconnected and interrelated. She asserted that “…Violence in interracial struggle is always murderous, but it is not “irrational”; it is the logical and rational consequence of racism, by which I do not mean some rather vague prejudices on either side, but an explicit ideological system…”[4]

Hannah Arendt pointed out the differences between the two phenomena by asserting that,

… Power is indeed of the essence of all government, but violence is not. Violence is by nature instrumental; like all means, it always stands in need of guidance and justification through the end it pursues. And what needs justification by something else cannot be the essence of anything… Power needs no justification, being inherent in the very existence of political communities; what it does need is legitimacy.[5]

Political violence, in its various forms and to varying degrees, is used in settler colonial states as a tool to: plunder the rights and wealth of indigenous peoples, to neutralize their resistance to the settlement colonial project, to strengthen the process of ethnic segregation within the settlement colony, to sabotage the conditions of class conflict, and to divide the ranks of the vulnerable elements within the settler colonial working class.

Although the phenomenon of political violence can be seen as a hallmark of the Zionist movement and its practical applications in Arab Palestine, some Zionists, writers and politicians, have developed ideological concepts that give Zionism some exceptions, such as the slogans of “purity of arms”, “self-defense”, “self-restraint” and “hatred of violence”. By formulating these slogans, they sought to paint a different picture of the practices of the Zionist movement. The following is an analysis of the concept of “purity of arms” which have developed by Zionist settlers in the 1930s.

The Myth of the Purity of Arms

The concept of “purity of arms” is one of the symbols of Zionist military culture, which was developed during the British colonial period 1919-1948. The Israeli military wanted this concept to mean that the weapons used by the Zionist soldier will not be used against the innocent and therefore will remain pure.

According to Zionist writer Anita Shapira, it was during the 1936 Palestinian revolution in Palestine, that Zionist settler colonialists promoted,

“… [s]elf-image of Jews as a people who hate violence, as opposed to the image of Arabs as a bloodthirsty people… In exchange for the bloodthirsty image of the son of the desert, the moral image of a Jew who does not harm the innocent has been developed …”[6]

The ideological, political and psychological aspects of the use of political violence were developed by the Zionist movement and were used as a successful tool in recruiting settlers and making them a monolithic bloc. This act transcended the class conflict within the settler community and justified the looting, violence and terrorism that were employed against the Palestinian indigenous population.

Patterns of Zionist Political Violence

Zionist author Ian Lustick attributes to Zionist violence defensive motives and other social and ideological motives. He elaborated his ideas by stating that,

… the fight of Jews and their revenge against the Palestinian villages and Bedouin tribes, were motivated not only by self defense, but also by the desire to prove individual self-worth through the use of successful violence. This strives for the collective crystallization of an inspiring example of physical prowess and Jewish heroism in Palestine. It also provides Diaspora Jews with legitimacy which is another dimension of Zionist ideology.[7]

Zionist writer Anita Shapira elaborated that the ideology of so-called “restraint” and “self-defense” of the Zionist military has been adapted to offensive tactics and aggressive practices, and it was expressed in this most obvious position: “We will not harm innocent people, and our weapons will remain clean.” But we will strike gangs** and their bases in the villages …”[8]  She continued by stating that “… more than once, and by necessity, innocent people have also been harmed…”  Here we will present patterns of Zionist military operations that Shapira wants to include under the classification of “compulsive form” to give it exceptional status and show it as if it occurred without prior planning but inadvertently and accidentally.[9]

The Myth of Self-Defense

Razan al-Najjar, the 21 year old Gaza medic killed by an Israeli sniper on June 1, treating an injured man, undated photo from Palestine Live on twitter.

This self-image developed by the Zionist settlers of their soldiers appears to be inconsistent with the military practices that have taken place on the ground. In 1936-1939, Zionist military organizations Hagana, Etsel and Lehi carried out series of military operations against Palestinian civilian communities, causing many Palestinian civilian casualties. The operations varied and included: indiscriminate shooting of civilians passing by, shooting at: house residents, bus and train passengers. In addition, grenades were thrown at civilian gatherings, inside cafes, restaurants and cinemas. There was frequent use of temporary explosives, mines, car bombs and barrel bombs that were placed inside Palestinian city neighborhoods.[10]

It is worth mentioning here that the Zionist military organizations were the first to blow up cars in Palestine, and the first to use barrel bombs filled with booby-trapped explosives, which was a distinctive Zionist innovation. These barrels were known as “Jewish barrel bomb technique”[11]. They were used in the occupation of the city of Haifa, and during the ethnic cleansing of the city in 1948. The “barrels” were stuffed with explosives. They were rolled from the top of the Carmel Mountains to the lower Arab neighborhoods. They were electronically built so as to explode the moment they collided with the houses of Palestinian civilians.[12] Moreover, barrel bombs were also used by Zionist terrorists against Palestinian civilians in the cities of Jaffa and Jerusalem.[13]

These operations can only be described as terroristic, because the victims were always innocent Palestinian civilians and they bore Zionist political objectives. In order to better understand such Zionist practices, we need to shed some light on the phenomenon of terrorism, which was used as a functional tool for achieving political objectives.

According to George Lopez, an expert on the issue of terrorism,

Terrorism is a form of political violence… Terrorism is not violence without thinking. It reflects a detailed strategy that uses extreme violence to make people feel vulnerable and can be hurt many times … In the long run, the terrorists seek to employ this fear to serve real political objectives.[14]

In response to claims by the Zionist writers that Zionists were forced to use violence and force because of violent operations carried out by the Palestinians against Zionist settlers, American writer Norman Finkelstein showed that Zionism “did not use … [v]iolence in spite of it. The use of force was not circumstantial. The use of force was integral in the goal of transforming Palestine, which has an overwhelming Arab majority, into a Jewish state.”[15]

In his analysis of the myth of “the purity of arms”, Israeli academic and researcher Dan Yahav pointed out that,

Terrorism has coincided with Jewish settlement since the beginning of agricultural and urban settlement in Israel at the end of the 19th century, when security problems for individuals and property emerged. Many violent acts and accompanying reprisals have been carried out against the backdrop of numerous territorial disputes…[16]

Moreover, Zionist violence and terror did not start with the ethnic cleansing campaign in 1948-1949, but preceded that in a number of years. For example, at the beginning of the 1936 general strike in Palestine, three members of the Hagna military organization threw two grenades inside an Arab café located in the Rumema neighborhood of Arab Jerusalem. Three Palestinians were killed and six others were wounded in the blast. In November 1940, three ships carrying 3,642 illegal Jewish settlers sailed to the port of Haifa. Their mission was organized with the approval of the Gestapo. Being illegal, they were arrested by the British mandate authorities, who prevented their entry into Palestine and decided to deport them to Mauritius. The British authorities transferred a number of illegal immigrants to a French ship called Patria. The leadership of both the Jewish Agency and the Hagana, decided to sabotage Patria to prevent it from sailing to Mauritius. On November 25, 1940 a mine was smuggled in and planted into Patriato be later detonated. The blast created a large hole and water began to enter the ship. As a result, the ship tilted on its side, throwing to the sea water a large number of Jewish illegal immigrants and drowning 267 of them.[17]

Yahav’s book is full of many examples of terroristic practices that were perpetrated by the Zionist military organizations. Therefore, “The purity of arms”, “self-defense”, “hatred of violence” and “restraint” were ideological symbols and legends that were developed by Zionist settlers from the military, political leaders and writers. The aim behind their development was to conceal the truth, to conceal the atrocities and war crimes that were committed against the indigenous Palestinian population, and to show some sort of a fake morality of Zionist colonialist settlement.

In addition, Zionist practices included violence against property and psychological violence. Actually, the employment of violence is an ongoing process and constitutes an integral part of the development of Political Zionism.

If compared with other settler colonial projects that have evolved in the Third World, certain features give the Zionist settlement project a special form and specificity. The Zionist colonial project aimed at replacing the indigenous people of Palestine with settler colonial immigrants. This replacement was carried out by ethnic cleansing through the use of pure violence, aggression, terrorism and massacres, of which 110 massacres[18] were committed in 1948-1949. Therefore, we can call the Zionist project a colonial settlement that sought to colonize by replacement.

Israeli Violent Society

There are many testimonies of scholars and writers in the world who confirm the violent and aggressive nature of Israeli settler colonial society. But few Israeli intellectuals recognize this, or are willing to admit it. However, there are exceptions. In an interview with the evening economic Israeli newspaper Globes, former Israeli Minister of Education, Shulamit Aloni, described Israeli society in the following terms.

We are an uncivilized society. Violence and cruelty here are appalling. Is pride in violence not present in the military? How many people have come out of the army, since the first intifada, and were completely insane? All of this is caused by the occupation, which is rooted here in a beautiful place. Occupation is corrupt because it allows the theft of their land and allows them to be abused and looted. The 14-year-old boy comes out with a knife that he knows is allowed, he knows very well what is happening, and he also wants to defend himself. They are watching the strongest, most ethical and their practices. If in the past they were cursing, they are now beating. If in the past they were beating, they are now stabbing. We are people who scream all the time, and that is part of the violence. They didn’t teach us to speak quietly, to listen. We became violent by shouting, talking and acting as well.[19]

It is worth mentioning that Israeli prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has been accompanied since 1967 with settler colonies that were established illegally inside the Palestinian territories. Thus Zionist rule inside these territories encompasses all the features of settler colonialism, and military occupation is one feature that was used as a tool to implement the Zionist settler colonial project.

As a precondition to the practice of Zionist political violence, Zionist leaders employed zoological language in the description of Palestinian indigenous peoples. The use of zoological language was the environment into which two psycho-sociological processes, that of substitution and dehumanization, evolved prior to the practice of political violence.

(e) Racism and Zoology

Over the years, terms, expressions and titles have been developed and used only by Jewish Israelis when they speak or write about Arab Palestinians. These terms are used in the media (written, visual and audio), in public spaces, by military personnel, politicians, intellectuals and even by children. I will present some of these titles here and then analyze the motive behind their use in Israeli and Zionist discourse.

There are special terms that are used in Israel to describe Palestinian demonstrations such as “assafsoof”- mobs, “shelhoov yetsareem” – alerting instincts, “hamon moussat”- an incited gathering, and “heshtoliloot”- meaning insane behavior. In addition, when the Israeli army attacks a Palestinian position, they use the term “tihoor kenay mihableem”- clearing nests of saboteurs, as if Palestinian fighters were nothing but harmful insects that should be sprayed with chemical pesticides. All these titles are circulated in various Israeli media.[20]

The use of these racial slurs is not limited to the Zionist period of settler colonialism. Other racial slurs were also used during the period of Jewish non-Zionist settler colonialism. In his essay “The Truth from the Land of Israel”, spiritual Zionist writer Ahad Ha’am mentioned in 1891 that “We are accustomed abroad to look at Arabs as wild barbarian animals who live in the desert and as a people who are similar to donkeys…”[21]

Zionist leaders frequently used racial slurs. The Zionist right-wing theorist, Vladimir Jabotinsky, described the Palestinians as “a group of half-savages.”[22] Tivankin, one of the leaders of the left-wing Zionist party Ahdoot Havoda, described Palestinian demonstrations as “masses of savages”, “Arab thieves”, and “an instigated mob”[23], while the Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion told a meeting of his party Mapai in 1931, “They also have the right to human beings, but they are savages,”[24] and a number of Zionist intellectuals, such as the writer Abba Ahimeir and the national poet Ori Tsvi Greenberg, did not see the Arabs as human beings, but regarded them rather as “desert savages” and “herds of Arab wolves.”[25]

During the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin called the Palestinian Arabs “animals on two legs”[26], while former northern commander General Yanush Ben-Gal described Palestinians, in the Galilee region in northern Palestine, as “cancer in the body of the state.”[27] The former commander of the Israeli army, general Rafael Eitan, described the Palestinians as “drug-sedated cockroaches in a bottle”[28], and one of the settler leaders in the West Bank, lawyer Elyakim Ha’etsni, described the Palestinians as “rats”[29]. General Ehud Barak described the Palestinians as “crocodiles”[30], while Rabbi Ovadia Yusuf, rabbi of the Eastern Jews and spiritual leader of the Shas party, described the Palestinians as “snakes”[31] which symbolized evil.

The frequent use of racial slurs for the Palestinian Arabs that come from the world of animals and insects does not stop with these leaders, but is employed by some Israeli intellectuals, like writers in literature and children’s stories and researchers. For example, Israeli writer Or Paz, who wrote a novel entitled “Ants”, described Palestinians as “people” composed of ants, that are damaging the upper storey of a couple of Israelis who are meant to symbolize the Israeli people.[32] Israeli university lecturer Benny Morris described Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as “wild animals” and “barbarians”. He recommended that something like a cage has to be built for them. He also depicted the Arab world as a “barbarian world”. [33]

In 1985, Israeli researcher Adir Cohen studied and analyzed 1,700 Israeli children’s books written by a group of Israeli children’s book writers. In many of these children stories, Adir Cohen found that the authors have depicted the Palestinian Arabs with racial slurs that included “poisonous snakes, foxes, wolfs, donkeys, frogs, and predators.”[34]

At least two right-wing ex-ministers, have openly used racial slurs against Palestinian Arabs. In 2013, the then deputy defense minister MK Eli Ben Dahan, depicted the Palestinian Arabs by saying: “To me, they are like animals, they aren’t human”[35]. And in 2014, the then Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, called Palestinian Arabs “little snakes”.[36]

The phenomenon of using racial slurs to depict the indigenous populations is not limited to the Israeli settler colonizers, but has also appeared among other European settler colonizers. Frantz Fanon has pointed out that French settler colonizers in Algeria have also used similar racial slurs in depicting the indigenous Algerian Arabs.

…In fact, the terms the settler uses when he mentions the native are zoological terms. He speaks of the yellow man’s reptilian motions, of the stink of the native quarter, of breeding swarms, of foulness, of spawn, of gesticulations. When the settler seeks to describe the native fully in exact terms he constantly refers to the bestiary…[37]

The use of zoological racial slurs is psychological self-deception used by the settlers to ease their “collective conscience”. They implement this self-deception through replacement and dehumanization.

The Process of Replacement

In order to carry out all settler heinous crimes, the settler colonialist uses violence and terror because he faces continuous national resistance from the indigenous population. He cannot convince the indigenous population to voluntarily give up their lands, resources, freedom and homeland.

Instead of normally having guilt feelings and uneasy conscience, the settler colonialist possesses the very opposite, a deep seated hatred. In order to understand this abnormal behavior, we need some sort of socio-psychological analysis.

British psychologist R.D. Laing confirms that “[w]e attribute to them exactly what we do against them, because we see ourselves within them, but we don’t know that. We think they’re others, but they’re actually us.”[38]

Therefore, negative and despicable traits such as cruelty, racial hatred, looting and theft, which, as Laing asserts, are attributed to the colonized victim.

In his analysis of this psychological phenomenon, Israeli psychiatrist Yiftah Sokhinbar[39] affirmed that every human being has a “natural sense of justice towards his or her likes.” But aggression also produces a sense of guilt. Guilt also leads to self-hatred among some persecutors.[40]

Sokhinbar confirms that the persecutor “develops, before meeting with the persecuted, an aggressive view. He sees himself as an aggressor, and he regards the world as an aggressor. His aggressiveness increases the fear within him, and puts him in a closed circle. An appropriate ideology evolves around it.”[41] Moreover, “… For the majority of persecutors, self-hatred and guilt are eliminated by dropping them on the victim, which exacerbates the persecutor’s aggressiveness.”[42]

The presence of these colonial imperative features was confirmed by Tunisian psychiatrist Albert Memmi, who indicated that any colonial settler with a true human conscience is totally unfit to be a good settler.[43]

But, in order for the settler to hate them, his hatred needs to be adequately justified. The settler justifies his racist hatred and gives it some kind of fake legitimacy in his eyes, by assuming racial superiority towards the indigenous peoples. In his view, they become degenerates, dirty, and have animal features. Therefore, they are not worthy of the ownership of the land, wealth, homeland and freedom, and they do not deserve human treatment, but only contempt and hatred.

The settlers use animal racial slurs to dehumanize the indigenous people in order to become, in their view, subhuman, mere animals that one should not harbor any guilt feelings towards them. The process of dehumanizing the indigenous population serves the settler psychologically. When the indigenous people are transformed into animals, especially harmful and predatory animals, the settler can despise and hate them and consequently can easily direct his aggression towards them.

The Process of Dehumanization

The process of developing stereotyped ideas must be preceded by a psychological process that can be called a process of dehumanization.

This process frequently takes place in confrontational relations, especially in relations of exploitation and hegemony. In order to be able to direct our aggression towards another being, we must depreciate his value beforehand, thus making aggression against him look legitimate and justified…[44]

In his introduction to Albert Memmi’s book “The Colonizer and the Colonized”, Jean Paul Sartre pointed out the following observation.

… No one can treat a human being like a dog without first considering him a human being. The inability to abhor the humanity of the persecuted becomes the alienation of the persecutor… Since he denies humanity in others, he regards it — everywhere — as his enemy. In order to manage this, the colonizer must take extreme cruelty and adopt the immunity of the stone. In short, he must, also, depreciate his own humanity.[45]

Concluding Remarks

  • Zoological racial slurs are used to dehumanize the Palestinian indigenous population by giving fake legitimacy to the looting of their homeland, and to the deprivation of freedom and wealth thus allowing the launching of colonial aggression against them under various pretexts.
  • Zionist colonial consciousness produces a colonial ideology that prepares the settler and provides him with a psycho-intellectual readiness to attack the Palestinian indigenous population.
  • Deep-seated hatred and racist ideology are aimed at legitimizing looting, subjugation, colonial settlement and apartheid. Political violence and colonial oppression are employed as two tools in the achievement of the stages of the Zionist settler colonial project.
  • Zionist violence, aggression and terrorism against the Palestinian indigenous population constitute structural phenomena related to the Zionist colonial structure.
  • Finally, the Zionist state is not violent because it is a “Jewish state”, it is neither violent because its violence is “in self-defence”, nor is it violent because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Zionist state is not violent for “security reasons” or “in reaction to Palestinian Arab violence.” The Zionist state is violent because of its political, ideological, socio-economic structures. All colonial states have historically been violent, aggressive, terroristic and their violence has been structural, persistent, not partial, or accidental, or exceptional.

The US “Soft War” on Iran and Its Allies Turns Against Washington

By Elijah J. Magnier

Source

The US administration under Barack Obama drafted “Caesar’s Law” in 2016 to subdue Syria but kept it in the drawer. President Donald Trump and his administration dusted it off and are now implementing “Caesar’s Law”. In fact, Trump’s policy is manna to Iran: the US administration is playing straight into the hands of Tehran. Iran is reaping huge benefits, including more robust allies and resistant strongholds as a result of the US’s flawed Middle Eastern policies. Motivated by the threat of the implementation of “Caesar’ Law”, Iran has prepared a series of steps to sell its oil and finance its allies, bypassing depletion of its foreign currency reserves.

Iranian companies found in Syria a paradise for strategic investment and offered the needed alternative to a Syrian economy crippled by sanctions and nine years of war. Iran considers Syria a fertile ground to expand its commerce and business like never before. It has also found a way to support the Syrian currency and to avoid digging into its reserves of foreign currencies, skirting US sanctions in both Syria and Iran, while aiding the rest of its allies.

Iran supplied Syria with precision missiles and other anti-air missiles notwithstanding the hundreds of Israeli air attacks which managed to destroy large quantities of these Iranian advanced missiles but without removing the threat to Israel.

Moreover, following the announcement of the implementation of “Caesar’s Law”, Iran sent a large business delegation to Syria to schedule the supply of first necessities and goods in a time of sanctions. Iran has great expertise in this business and, after living for 40 years under sanctions, is in an excellent position to advise President Assad.

Russia also announced – via its vice Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov – that his country rejects the illegal sanctions on Syria, and that Russia will provide President Assad with whatever his country needs.

Idem in Syria: Iran proved its capability to break the fuel siege on Syria by sending several oil tankers to its ally in the Levant. Iran is ready to be paid in Syrian Lira rather than US currency for its oil. By doing this, Iran can pay its tens of thousands of allied persons spread across Syria with local currency, marginalising the US dollar.

The US and Israel, who worked throughout the years of war in Syria to remove Iran, were in fact the impetus for Iran’s presence (and that of Russia) in the Levant in the first place. The US is now imposing “Caesar’s Law”, which will help Iran cement its presence in the Levant and Mesopotamia. It is planning to build a railway between Tehran and Damascus (and possibly Beirut): this axis will be able to transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil and tons of merchandise. The only way for the US to reduce the collateral damage is to finally accept that all of its “maximum pressure” and harshest sanctions on Iran and its allies have little chance of working. In the meantime, it is Iran that is moving ahead with a robust ring of allies, and the US and Israel which are left with Middle Eastern allies who are both inefficient and insignificant.

The US “Caesar’s Law” Sanctions Regime against Syria. How It Will Affect Lebanon: Israel Will be Targeted

By Elijah J. Magnier

Source

The enactment of “Caesar’s Law” – the new US sanctions designed to “pursue individuals, groups, companies, and countries that deal with the Damascus government” – is apparently directed against Syria but in reality aims to subdue Lebanon and its population to accommodate Israel’s conditions. Lebanon’s “Axis of the Resistance” member, Hezbollah, has an open conflict with Israel.  Israel has a list of imposing demands: close off the flow of weapons via the Lebanese borders with Syria, disarm Hezbollah, impose its own terms on land and maritime borders, and push Lebanon to join other Middle Eastern countries in signing a peace deal- with Israel. But Hezbollah naturally has other plans- to enforce a new Rule of Engagement and take the attack initiative rather than opt for the defence response. This is similar to the Gaza deterrence policy of Hamas, another member of the “Axis of the Resistance”, that has been to hit targets in Israel if (and when) economic sanctions are imposed. 

As Israel fears, a forthcoming Middle East war would certainly have multiple united fronts, involving the “Axis of the Resistance” members all together simultaneously. It is not surprising that members of the “Axis of the Resistance” (including Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq) synchronise and rehearse; they have been working on the intensive coordination of war scenarios for over a year. It cannot be ruled out that Israel, noticing the reaction of the “Axis of the Resistance” to the imminent sanctions, will ask the US to agree to stand down, to avoid all-out war. The “Axis of the Resistance” has prepared several scenarios, all on track for implementation, and, without exception, all are very painful for Israel.

The “Axis of the Resistance” understands the motivation behind the US’s “Caesar Act” approach and will have to respond to Israel first since it is the major influence on US decisions in the Levant. There is no lack of options and some of the obvious responses would be to mimic Hamas and hit Israel, as follows:

The first scenario: Lebanon claims the return of the Shebaa Farms and the seven Lebanese villages (Terbikha, Saliha, Malkiyah, Nabi Yusha, Kades, Hunin and IbliQamh) occupied by Israel. Therefore, any Hezbollah attack against the Israeli forces in these villages, by crossing the Israeli boundary fence or bombing objectives in these Lebanese villages, would be considered a legitimate act recognised by the Lebanese government.

The ball is in the US court and there is little doubt that this US administration will make sure many Lebanese politicians, Christians and Muslims, are on its list of terrorists before October 2020, to embarrass any future administration and prevent it from lifting the sanctions easily. Of course, because the US is not acting according to its own chosen agenda and national interests, its understanding of what should or should not be done is defective, or at best limited.

At a certain point, when Hezbollah’s reaction becomes obvious, Israel may consider “inspiring” Washington to cease its pressure on Lebanon, as it did with Gaza, so as to avoid suffering the consequences.

But Israel could also think War is an option because its actions may not have been thoroughly thought out! Israel has killed Hezbollah leaders, Iranian scientists, Hamas commanders, Iraqi commanders: and in consequence the “Axis of the Resistance” became stronger. Learning from History has never been a strong point, neither for Israel nor for the USA.

Washington may not want to push Hezbollah to react and will have to rely on its allies in Lebanon. Therefore, through the International Monetary Fund, may supply Lebanon with a couple of billions of dollars per year so the option of war against Israel and the commercial and energy supply form Iran may be disregarded by the Lebanese government.

All possibilities are on the table. As far as the Gulf is concerned, its recognition and support for Israel makes no difference and changes nothing in the “probabilities of war” equation, because in every single Israeli war against Hezbollah, the Gulf countries were the first to stand behind Israel and yet their support did not tip the outcome in Israel’s favour. There is little doubt that the months that lie ahead before the end of 2020 will be critical for the Middle East.

Syria: Will the Great Middle Eastern War Begin in the Levant?

By Elijah J. Magnier

Source

Hezbollah Syria Israel Iran e205f

The world is in turmoil. 2020 has already brought major multiple crises, with the Iranian-American clash in Iraq which followed the US assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani, and the COVID-19 health pandemic and economic disaster that struck all continents and stole the lives of over 400 thousand people around the world, costing tens of millions of jobs. None of this, however, prevented America from imposing even more sanctions on Iran, Syria and Venezuela. Iran – already under maximum sanctions since 1979 – sent five tankers to Venezuela to break the embargo on components and spare parts much needed to process the low octane Venezuelan oil. In parallel with America’s implosion due to domestic protests caused by deep-rooted racism and injustice, in the Middle East other fronts are taking shape in the shadows, to prevent war or to trigger a wider military confrontation.

A likely front is the Levant, where preparations are being made to confront Israel and end its continued violations of Syria’s sovereignty and bombardment of hundreds of targets in Syria throughout the years of the war. This particular issue may bring the Middle East into an all-out war; one mistake could turn fatal and drag the region into an all-out clash in which Syria will not be alone.

It is well known that Israel possesses enormous firepower and strong armed forces for land, sea, and air combat, and is better equipped than any other army in the Middle East. It is also known that Israel’s main enemy and nightmare, the Lebanese Hezbollah, possesses sophisticated weapons, armed drones, and land attack long-range all-weather subsonic cruise missiles. Hezbollah also has long-range strategic anti-ship missiles, anti-tank laser-guided missiles, anti-air low and medium altitude missiles, and precision missiles. These are pointed at precise targets over all the Palestinian geography controlled by Israel, including ports, airports, military barracks, infrastructure, ships, oil-rigs and flying helicopters or jets at medium altitude. Thousands of Hezbollah’s Special Operation Forces, al-Ridwan, never lost a battle since their first engagement in Syria.

Israel has never ceased acquiring the most modern military hardware but it has failed to develop its fighting spirit. It has no newly acquired military experience on the battlefield, because the last battle it fought dates back to 2006, which was considered the second war on Lebanon (after the first invasion of 1982) which resulted in failure on many levels. Meanwhile Israel’s enemy, Hezbollah, developed and strengthened its fighting spirit following its participation for many continuous years in a very wide geographical military theatre estimated to be almost 12 times bigger than Lebanon and 60 times wider than the area of combat in which it confronted Israel in the south of Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

Hezbollah fought alongside classic (Syrian, Russian, and Iraqi) armies, gaining battlefield experience against armed groups trained and armed by the CIA and other jihadists affiliated with Al Qaeda and ISIS and possessing highly developed combat skills (combined with classical and guerrilla skills) and high spiritual motivation, far more motivated than the Israeli soldiers. These jihadists fought against the American army throughout its occupation of Iraq and Syria and completed their journey fighting against the Iraqi and Syrian armies and against various organizations, which gave them significant combat experience, an aspiration for martyrdom and advanced guerrilla fighting tactics.

However, their defeat by Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies dashed Israel’s hopes, as expressed by the defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, who said that he preferred “the presence of ISIS on Israel’s borders, not Iran and its allies.” Israel attacked Syrian planes, artillery and intelligence capabilities in support of the jihadists, especially in the Quneitra areas where the Khaled bin Walid army that pledged allegiance to ISIS was deployed, and in areas favorable to al-Nusra – al-Qaeda in Daraa and other southern regions.

However, Israel was not satisfied with these attacks. Israeli jets went on to strike Syria in depth in Damascus, Homs, Hama, Al-Qaim, the desert of the Badia, and any area where there are military warehouses and missiles that Iran supplied to Syria in order to support the Syrian army and rearm it with precision missiles.

Israel was able to hit and destroy a large number of these stores. This prompted Iran to change its armament storage policy for the Syrian army. Syria has built strategic warehouses in the mountains and underground in silos, waiting for the appropriate moment to impose a balance of deterrence – in response to hundreds of Israeli raids – a moment that has not yet come. The Syrian priority is still liberation of its still occupied territories, mainly in Afrin, Idlib and surroundings, without excluding the US-occupied oil and gas fields in the north-east of Syria. 

In Idlib and its countryside, the Turkish army has established large military bases. Groups of the Hayat Tahrir Sham (formerly al-Nusra) and Ansar al-Din (al-Qaeda and the remains of ISIS) still exist in and around the established Turkish military bases (i.e. Idlib and its countryside).

However, Iran no longer wants to accept Israeli strikes on its warehouses without any response. Iranian advisers (a few hundred) are not free to respond to these attacks because the decision is in the hands of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad and his allies are aware that any Iranian response from Syria would most likely drag the US into the battle to support its ally Israel and have an impact in the forthcoming US elections in favor of President Trump. Trump, who suffers from countless problems in managing his foreign and domestic affairs, is far from assured of regaining his seat in the White House for another four-year term.

Hence, Iran has decided – according to private sources – to evacuate the sites of the gatherings of its advisers, not for withdrawal or for redeployment but to find bases within the Syrian Army barracks. Hezbollah has taken over the vacated Iranian buildings. Russia has been informed of the change so that the information would reach Israel, which is coordinating with Moscow and its base in Syria (Hmeimim military airport base, north-western Syria) every time Tel Aviv sends its planes to Syria to hit certain targets. It was agreed between Israel and Russia that Moscow and Hmeimim would be informed of the details of any strike hours before it occurred to avoid accidents, especially after Russia accused Israel of deliberately taking cover behind its planes to mislead the Syrian air defenses, downing the Ilyushin-20 and killing 15 Russian officers in September 2018. Russia, in turn, informs the Syrian army and its allies of coming Israeli strikes. Moscow refuses to be involved in the Iran-Syria-Israel conflict. Russia has strategic interests with all belligerents and is not a party to the “axis of resistance”.

Russia has informed Israeli leaders of this move by Iranian advisers and their presence among the Syrian army units. Russia warned Israel not to strike the Syrian army under any circumstance and informed them that the Iranian bases have been handed over to Hezbollah. 

It seems obvious that Hezbollah wants to relieve Syria and Iran from the responsibility for a response. Israel is aware that any attack against Hezbollah’s men in Lebanon or Syria would lead to a direct response along the Lebanese borders and inside Palestine. This means that Israel must think carefully before bombing any Hezbollah objective because retaliation will certainly follow, preventing a US-Israeli response against Syria. Hezbollah is offering a new “Rule of Engagement” in Syria which cripples or limit Israel’s freedom to violate Syria’s sovereignty.

Before any airstrike aimed at specific targets in Syria, Israel’s drones make sure these locations are free of Iranian advisers and that the Russian warning reaches those concerned to evacuate human personnel and reduce casualties. Israel follows the same practice when it attacks Hezbollah cars or trucks, warning drivers and passengers in advance. Israel fires a missile, and on the last occasion two missiles, in front of the car or truck so passengers understand to leave it and take a distance to allow Israel a safe-bombing. In this case, Hezbollah’s deterrent response may or may not be required or painful because only material losses are involved.

Israeli minister Naftali Bennett has stated that “Israel would hit one truck and let five other trucks pass”. Israel is looking to avoid further embarrassment from Hezbollah deterrence as happened when Israel tried to send suicide drones into the suburbs of Beirut last year. Hence, it is likely that Israeli strikes on Syria will decrease in number, or Israel will rely on its intelligence information before hitting any Hezbollah target to make sure it is free of any human presence to avoid losses and consequent further humiliation like that imposed on the Israeli army in the past months on the Lebanese-Palestinian border.

Israel is walking through a strategic minefield. The danger for Israel lies in any potential error that might kill Hezbollah members in Syria. Such an outcome would lead to an escalation that may take the Middle Eastern region into a larger and more comprehensive war. The timing will not be to the advantage of Israel and its ally Donald Trump. His presidency is already mired in foreign crises with Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and also domestically due to Corona pandemic mismanagement plus the consequences of recent riots and racial unrest after the killing of a black American by the police- and in addition the losses of American jobs in numbers exceeding fifty million.

Hezbollah’s new rules of engagement, its advanced armaments and outstanding military experience amount to a significant deterrent. Nevertheless, wars can start by mistake. Will Israel make such a fatal mistake?

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