A possible shift in the Russian position on Novorussia

The Saker

A possible shift in the Russian position on Novorussia

Something interesting is happening in Russia.  The recent murder of Givi is attracting A LOT of attention from the main media outlets, much more than any of the other murders of Novorussian commanders.  Furthermore, a majority of the key people invited to express their opinion generally seem to agree on a number of conclusions:

  1. Poroshenko is pretty much gone and finished.
  2. The Ukronazis have all but officially declared Minsk-2 dead.
  3. The Urkonazis have all but officially declared that they are at war with Russia
  4. The Urkonazis don’t want any negotiated solution
  5. The Urkonazis have now decided that an military attack on Novorussia is the only solution

Interestingly, the actual amount of Ukronazi artillery shelling has actually gone down, very significantly, during the last 48 hours, and yet by all reports the Novorussians remain in a state of pre-war.  If the purpose of the murder of “Givi” was to demoralize the Novorussians then it achieved the exact opposite effect: the Novorussians are seething with anger.

[Sidebar: this time around those who criticized me for writing that the murder of “Motorola” is the symptom of a major Novorussian problem and that such a murder could not have happened without local accomplices are keeping a low profile this time around.  This is not due so much to some sense of guilt for being so blind, but to the fact that in Russia and Novorussia the issue of local accomplices is now openly mentioned.  Good – better late than never.  If a recognition that the Novorussian security and counter-intelligence services are in acute need of FSB help can save even a single live, say the one of Zakharchenio (who is now openly threatened by the Ukronazis as being the “next one”), then such a painful admission is well worth making]

Interestingly, the Novorussians also seem supremely confident.  This is rather surprising considering that the Ukronazi forces vastly outnumber them (from 2:1 up to 4:1 depending on how you count).  In interviews Novorussian commanders and frontline combatants all say that while the Ukronazis did use the past months to reequip and retrain, this will not be enough to make a difference.

Members of the Russian Duma have publicly declared that they are fed up with Kiev and that if the Ukronazis attack the Voentorg and Northern Wind spigot will be fully opened.  At least one source reported that a large number of Cossacks had already crossed the border and were deployed inside the DNR/LNR.

Finally, one more theory being regularly mentioned is that the reason why Trump is not telling the Ukronazis to cool it and step back (assuming that this is why Trump tells them, which remains to be proven) is that he wants to them attack and fail and then blame them for rejecting the Minsk-2 Agreement.  This is an interesting theory.  For one, I am not so sure that the Americans did not tell the Ukies to cool it – after all the shelling has dramatically decreased.  This might also be a case of projecting the logic of the Kiev junta on the Americans.  It is well known that Poroshenko loves to send the Nazis death squads (known as the “Dobrobat” or volunteer battalions) to the front lines to have the Russians kill them instead of having to do it himself.  According to this theory, this is a win-win strategy for Poroshenko: he sends the “Dobrobats” to the frontline – either they win and the credit goes to him or they lose (so far, that is what they have been doing) and he gets his most dangerous political foes killed by the Novorussians.  That makes them into martyrs of the “heavenly hundred”, Glory to the Ukraine, Glory to the heroes, etc. etc. and Poroshenko can mobilize around that.  Maybe.  Seems a plausible theory to me.

What is sure is that the opposition to Poroshenko (Liashko, Tymoshenko, Semenchenko, etc.) has gone completely mental and that they are pushing for an escalation be it by declaring a state of war in the Ukraine or by backing further Ukronazi attacks against Novorussians.  As for the murder of Givi, it was welcomed by the entire Ukrainian political scene which rejoiced at the murder and even organized opinion polls to see whom the people wanted murdered next.  The only exception to this was, believe it or not, Nadezhda Savchenko (yes, yes, the “Ukrainian Joan of Arc” and “hope of the Ukrainian nation”) who accused Poroshenko of trying to unleash a massacre in the Donbass.  The Urkonazis are outraged and the Russians are dumbfounded by Savchenko’s political 180.  As for the Novorussians, they position is hyper-pragmatic: “she is a murderer and we despise her, but we will work with her if she wants to work towards peace or even towards exchanges of prisoners”.

Yesterday I was listening to a Ukronazi politicians saying that the Russian media is preparing the Russian people for a Russian intervention in the Donbass.  Well, I would not quite formulate it as he has, but I generally agree with his feeling.  While it is not “the Kremlin” who is directing anybody, the general mood in Russia seems to be one of profound disgust, irritation and frustration with the junta in Kiev.  And while I categorically exclude any large scale overt military intervention in the Donbass, I also see that the theory of a Russian peace-enforcement operation is openly floated in Moscow and often discussed.  This, however, would require one of two things to happen first:

  1. a Ukrainian attack on Russian, as opposed to Novorussian, forces somewhere
  2. a UNSC Resolution authorizing such a peace enforcement operation

With Trump in the White House, there is at least a theoretical possibility that the UNSC might authorize such an operation, especially is that then places upon Russia the burden of re-building Novorussia.  That, in fact, is something which neither Putin, nor most Russians, want.  They are afraid of being tricked into taking Ukrainian territory under Russian control only to find out, as international law clearly mandates, that any occupying force is responsible for the administration of the territory under its control.  The Russians feel that they are not the ones who created this bloody mess and that they therefore ought not to be the ones paying to fix it.  They also know that the comparatively small Russian economy simply cannot shoulder such a financial burden.

There is a distinct possibility that 2017 will see a fundamental and crucial transformation of the war in the Ukraine.  For one thing, whether the final Ukronazi attack every materializes or not, if it does it will be the last “hurray” of a decaying and dying Ukraine.  Whether with or without direct Russian assistance, I predict that the Ukronazis will be comprehensively defeated.  Once the military component is removed, by one way or another, the central question will become “who pays for the mess”, with both the USA and Russia pointing their fingers are Europe in general and at Germany especially.  If the final Urkonazis attack never materializes, then the regime will most probably implode internally at which point all key players will have so step in and agree on plan to rebuilt at least the very basic part of the Ukrainian society.  Europe will have no choice but to accept yet another huge wave of refugees.

As for the Russians, it appears that their position is now as follows: the only option the regime in Kiev is to abide by the Minsk-2 Agreement.  That, of course, would mean a “soft suicide” for the Urkonazi regime.  If not, then a “hard suicide”,  including a possible limited Russian intervention or the recognition of the independence of the DNR/LNR by Moscow becomes a distinct possibility.  Either way, the Russian/Novorussian patience appears to have reached its limit.

 

Goodbye Palestine (But Watch for the Blowback)

Goodbye Palestine (But Watch for the Blowback)

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | 02.02.2017 | OPINION

Goodbye Palestine (But Watch for the Blowback)

Donald Trump won’t be formally forbidding entry of Palestinians to his New Great America, because he doesn’t recognise Palestine and never will. But he has designed a way of preventing their travel and that of countless others by introduction of ‘extreme vetting,’ which will help to deny Palestine the legitimacy that the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly agreed upon five years ago.

The New York Times reported on January 25 that «the first of the two [of Trump’s] draft orders… calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria [which] include organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization».

It was ironic that also on January 25 the Times of Israel noted that former Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger would go to prison for fraud, breach of trust and tax offenses. His crimes resulted in a sentence of three years in prison and a fine of over a million dollars, and most people think he got off lightly, given the scale of his deception and grubby hypocrisy.

The irony is that the day before the Chief Rabbi was awarded his just punishment, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (himself under investigation for alleged swindling), announced that the state of Israel would continue to commit fraud, pledge itself to breach of trust and offend against international law and moral principles.

His decision to build 2,500 more homes for Israelis on Palestinian land was denounced as illegal by governments around the world (with a predictable exception), and the UN declared that such ‘unilateral actions’ were an obstacle to peace. The European Union criticised the announcement by saying that it «weakens rather than strengthens the prospects for a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process, and makes the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote» — which is exactly the intention of the government of Israel.

The EU also recorded that «settlements are illegal under international law and continued settlement expansion also calls into question Israel’s commitment towards reaching a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians», which highlighted the fact that Israel has no intention of ever attempting to reach a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and is resolved to destroy them as a nation.

On 24 January the Israeli newspaper Haaretz observed with admirable objectivity that «Netanyahu has tried to destroy every possibility of achieving a two-state solution… With Trump behind him and a silent opposition, the prime minister is leading Israel to a binational state, which will be either not Jewish or not democratic».

No matter the crescendo of condemnation caused by Israel’s scornful rejection of so many humanitarian principles laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is no doubt that existing illegal settlements will be expanded and more will be built. Israel can afford, politically and financially, to defy the world because it is supported to the ultimate degree by Trump Washington. The President and the entire Congress are solidly on the side of the Zionist state, and with this firmly in mind Netanyahu arrogantly declared that «we came out with one stroke now and there will be more».

The government of the United States was conspicuously absent from those that condemned Israel for its contemptuous dismissal of December’s UN Security Council Resolution, which described settlement building as a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law, and when asked if Trump supported Israel’s flouting of international law, his press secretary, the truculent Sean Spicer, said that «Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States. He wants to grow closer with Israel».

This was consistent with Trump’s tweet of December 28, just after the Council vote, to assure Netanyahu that «We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!»

January 20 is now receding to the tunes of erratic displays and decisions, and Trump has not been backward in reiterating his support for Israel.

His patronage became apparent on Inauguration Day, when, as the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported, the mayor of the Israeli settlement of Efrat was the first illegal settler ever to be a guest at a presidential installation. His invitation was not unexpected, however, because Trump has had a deep and personal association with Israeli settlements for a long time. In 2003, for example, he donated $10,000 to ‘Beit El, an affluent settlement of around 7,000 people just north of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.’ The gift was made in honour of David Friedman, Trump’s nomination to be ambassador to Israel.

In August 2015 The Times of Israel wrote that «Trump is not an unfamiliar face in Jewish circles. He has served as a grand marshal at New York’s annual Salute to Israel Parade. After Hurricane Katrina, he was among a group of celebrities who decorated Jewish federation tzedakah boxes to be auctioned off to support hurricane disaster relief. In February, he was honored with an award at the annual gala for the Algemeiner, a right-wing Jewish news organization». And it goes further than that.

As recorded by Slate, «In 1995, a company called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Trump was its chairman and, beginning in 2000, its CEO. The company lost money every year of its existence and went bankrupt in 2004. Its total 1995–2004 losses: $647 million. When it went bankrupt, bondholders had to settle for less than what they were owed. Employees lost their jobs and contractors went unpaid».

Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer was David Friedman.

Donald Trump and his attorney David Friedman, following an appearance in US Bankruptcy Court on February 25, 2010, in Camden, New Jersey. (Bradley C Bower/Bloomberg News, via Getty Images/JTA)

The UK’s Telegraph reported on January 29 that Friedman had led an American support group that raised funds for the Beit El settlement. Of even more significance, ‘the family of Trump’s powerful son-in-law Jared Kushner have also donated thousands to Beit El.’

It’s good to keep things in the family, but it is apparent that Palestinian families do not figure in the Trump list of priorities any more than the world’s refugees pluck any chord of sympathy in his flinty heart. He is determined to isolate the people of Palestine and will use whatever means at his disposal to do so. His casual malevolence is becoming the emblem of Brand Trump, and it does not matter who suffers as a result of his bizarre posturing on the world stage. His support for the equally malevolent and vindictive Netanyahu will result in obliteration of the Palestinian people – and will create even more resentment and terrorism. It’s called Blowback, and in the end, America and Americans will suffer.

US Public Discourse Slipping Further from Reality

Posted on January 23, 2017

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Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) is the latest example of a member of Congress who seems to be slipping further and further from reality. Rogers has introduced a bill entitled “The American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017”–which sounds good until you get to the fine print.

The bill is aimed at eliminating US membership in the United Nations, which Rogers sees as a threat to US sovereignty. It also would end US support for UN agencies such as UNESCO and the World Health Organization, and would even have the UN headquarters kicked out of New York.

Personally, I am not a big fan of the UN. It has been used often as a political tool to support US foreign policy objectives, for instance in 2011 when it authorized a no-fly zone over Libya–and so for this reason I have some doubts as to whether Rogers’ bill will pass. But this is neither here nor there. Where things get really crazy is when you look at the congressman’s reasoning behind the bill.

According to RT, Rogers’ bill, officially HR 193, was motivated by the UN Security Council resolution adopted last month criticizing Israeli settlements. I have already discussed HR 11, a bill introduced specifically in response to that Security Council resolution and which was approved by a vote 342-80, and HR 193 seems to have been similarly motivated. Or at least partly, at any rate–for the RT report makes note of the fact that the Alabama congressman introduced an earlier version of the bill back in 2015.

“Why should the American taxpayer bankroll an international organization that works against America’s interests around the world?” Rogers is said to have asked at that time. “The time is now to restore and protect American sovereignty and get out of the United Nations.”

A little more from the RT report:

Later, in June 2015, Rogers had introduced his document – then named HR 1205, but essentially the same USExit idea he’s proposing now.

“The UN continues to prove it’s an inefficient bureaucracy and a complete waste of American tax dollars.” Rogers went on to name treaties and actions he believes “attack our rights as US citizens.” These included gun provisions, the imposition of international regulations on American fossil fuels – but more importantly, the UN attack on Israel, by voting to grant Palestine the non-member state ‘permanent observer’ status.

“Anyone who is not a friend to our ally Israel is not a friend to the United States.”

So in Rogers’ delusional thinking, it is the UN, and not Israel or its US Lobby, which threatens the sovereignty of the United States.

American funding to the UN comes to approximately $8 billion per year, that’s in mandatory payments as well as voluntary contributions. This makes up about 22 percent of the UN’s overall budget.

By contrast, US funding of Israel presently comes to about $3.8 billion per year (in direct aid). Presumably, if Rogers’ bill passes, the $4.2 billion difference will then be available to pass along to Israel. I’m not saying that’s what will happen, but worth keeping in mind is that in September of last year, Obama signed a $38 billion aid package to the Jewish state, and Obama wasn’t even on good terms with the Israeli leadership. Imagine what largess may flow under a Trump administration.

As I said before, the US is often able to pressure other nations and thereby use the UN as a political tool to advance its own foreign policy objectives, so from that standpoint one might argue that the $8 billion per year was an investment which brought back a return.

By contrast, if the money goes to Israel, the opposite will be the case: for it is Israel which uses the US as a political tool, not the other way around.

If we continue to be ruled by people like Rogers, our national sovereignty will eventually disappear. We will become a nation governed in total by a foreign power.

‘Israel’ Plays its Trump Card

21-01-2017 | 13:20

Local Editor

Right-wingers in occupied al-Quds are ecstatic; Palestinian leaders are apoplectic. Welcome to a new era of the Arab-‘Israeli’ conflict.

 

‘Israel' Plays its Trump Card


On the issue of Trump’s presidency and the ‘Israeli’ benefit, Neri Zilber wrote for the Foreign Policy:

“We are entering a new era,” Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed last month, the day after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning illegal ‘Israeli’ settlement construction in the West Bank and east occupied al-Quds/Jerusalem.

“Just as President-elect [Donald] Trump said … it will happen much sooner than you think. In the new era there is a much higher price for those who try to harm ‘Israel,’ and that price will be exacted not only by the US, but by ‘Israel’ as well.”

The Zionist government, as Netanyahu made clear, views the new US administration as a ‘shield’ against the rest of the world, and “anti-‘Israel'” measures like the Security Council resolution the Obama administration allowed to pass last month.

The US President called brokering ‘Israeli’-Palestinian peace the “ultimate deal.” Yet the only diplomatic activity taking place right now is focused not on any positive steps toward a two-state solution, but managing the impending rise of Trump.

The Netanyahu government’s optimism appears to be well-founded. In the immediate aftermath of the US election, Trump invited the ‘Israeli’ premier to the White House “at the first opportunity,” adding for good measure that the two leaders have known each other for years.

Trump’s choice for ambassador to the occupied territories, David Friedman, is a long-standing supporter of West Bank illegal settlements, even heading the US fundraising arm for one prominent settlement. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, is also known for his pro-‘Israel’ activism, with his family’s foundation donating to various West Bank illegal settlements.

Coming on the heels of the UN Security Council resolution and former Secretary of State John Kerry’s subsequent speech excoriating ‘Israel’ for its illegal settlement project, Trump tweeted that things will be “very different” when he officially takes office, imploring the Zionist entity to “Stay Strong.”

‘Israeli’ Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon made the threat first articulated by Netanyahu more explicit. “Perceptions,” he told ‘Israel’ Army Radio late last month, “are important” for the other Security Council members. Recent comments by both the British prime minister and Australian foreign minister, blasting Kerry’s speech and the Security Council resolution, respectively, proved Danon’s point. If foreign leaders want good relations with the new US administration, the path runs through ‘Israel.’

While the first test of the Trump administration’s intentions will come with respect to al-Quds, ‘Israeli’ intelligence assessments peg the adjoining West Bank as the most unstable arena over the coming year.

This “new era” of Trump, peremptorily embraced by Netanyahu and belatedly feared by Abbas, will without doubt put one central article of faith so common among both ‘Israelis’ and Palestinians to the test: that world affairs, whether in Washington or other major capitals, always inevitably revolves around them.

Source: Foreign Policy, Edited by website team

 

British radio station interviews the Saker

January 19, 2017

The Obama Presidency–Where did it all Go Wrong?

The video above, with its news accounts dating back to the election of 2008, is kind of amazing to watch. What high hopes people had!

It was widely assumed that the first black American president would have empathy with the working class, that rule by wealthy oligarchs would be more or less curtailed, or that at least, if nothing else, the wars would come to an end. A new America of equality and freedom, of “hope and change,” seemed at hand.

But it didn’t work out that way. “Hope” diminished, and the only “change” that came about was change for the worse.

Earlier this week Obama pardoned whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. Yet his administration also prosecuted whistle-blowers, a good many of them. Some say the number in fact is higher than under all previous presidents combined. But at least Manning got a pardon. And oh yes, lest we forget, a couple of days before Christmas, Obama abstained on a vote at the UN Security Council criticizing Israel for its illegal settlements. So yes–pardoning Manning and abstaining on the UN vote–these are a couple of “good things” the president managed to accomplish.

But it seems we had to wait until his final month in office to see them.

Moreover, there aren’t that many other “good things” over the past eight years we can point to. In fact, you could just about count them on one hand. By contrast, if we wanted to list all the “bad things” Obama did it would probably be quite lengthy.

For instance, the president never prosecuted a single member of the Bush administration for war crimes. Was it because he planned to commit war crimes himself? We don’t know. The only explanation we ever got was the platitude, “We need to look forward, not back”–which of course creates a culture of impunity for war criminals.

The celebrating crowds in that video above were obviously certain that Obama was going to end America’s wars abroad. But instead of ending the wars, he expanded them–most notably into Libya and Syria. The war in Libya was justified on the grounds that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was a “brutal dictator” who had to be removed because he was “killing his own people”–this accusation, of course, made against a national leader whose country had achieved the highest living standard and the lowest infant mortality rate in Africa, and which offered free health care and free education through college to all its citizens.

Yes. A man like that surely had to be removed.

The war in Syria was also a “bad thing,” although the word “bad” is not in any way a sufficient adjective in this case, and I’m not sure there are any adjectives in the English language broad and deep enough to describe the national nightmare Obama inflicted upon the Syrian people.

As in the case with Gaddafi, the war in Syria also was justified on the grounds that Bashar Assad was a “brutal dictator,” but added into the mix were claims that the Syrian effort was a necessary component of the “war on terror.” The Zionist media and the neocon think tanks told us that Assad was a “magnet” for terrorists, and what did Obama do? He shrugged his shoulders and went along with it. Moreover, the phony war on terror was just that–phony. And while Obama pretended to be fighting terrorism, he was in reality supporting terrorists who were trying to overthrow the secular government in Syria–a government which had protected Christians and all other minorities.

Of course, the Zionist media and the neocon think tanks told us that the terrorists America was supporting were actually “moderate rebels,” not terrorists per se. Hardly anyone believed this other than the most willfully naive, but again Obama shrugged his shoulders and went along with it. Why? Well, the neocons as well as the Likud government in Israel were adamant they wanted a regime change in Syria, apparently regardless of the cost in terms of blood and treasure (blood of the Syrian people and treasure of the US), and Obama seemed pleased to give it to them.

In fact, about the only thing that headed off a full scale US carpet bombing of Damascus was the intervention of Vladimir Putin, who worked out a deal wherein Syria would agree to destroy its chemical weapons under the supervision of a UN-affiliated agency. This took place in 2013, and it could probably be counted as another one of the “good things” Obama accomplished. After Putin proposed the deal, and the Syrian government agreed to it, Obama shrugged his shoulders and went along with it, even though it opened him up to howls of abuse from the Zionist media and the neocon think tanks, who accused him of failing to enforce a mythological “red line” that was not supposed to have been crossed.

By arranging the deal he did, Putin gave Obama a way out, the excuse the president needed to avoid launching a full-scale war in Syria. Obama returned the favor by launching a full-scale cold war against Russia. This is not surprising, however. In addition to shrugging his shoulders and going along with a lot of what the neocons were calling for in the Middle East, Obama also had neocons within his own administration causing him problems elsewhere. One of these was Victoria Nuland, who played an integral role in overthrowing the legitimately elected government in Ukraine and who has seemed intent on provoking a conflict with Russia.

On the domestic front, the Obama years also gave us the Affordable Care Act, which has come to be known as “Obamacare,” but the law seems to have been designed more with the objective of keeping private health insurance providers in business than with administering health care to Americans. A single-payer, or “universal health care” system would have provided health care to all, but it would have substantially put the health insurance industry out of business, so instead of doing that, Obama chose instead to walk a tightrope essentially–in which he tried to draft a law that would be acceptable to both sides (i.e. the insurance industry as well as health care advocates), apparently in the process forgetting the old adage that “you can’t please everyone.” The result was “Obamacare.”

The median income of African-Americans has traditionally been among the lowest of all ethnic groups, and quite naturally it was thought the plight of poor and working-class Americans would begin to improve with the coming to office of the first black president. But today wealth disparity is greater than it has ever been at least since the 1920s. Not only did Obama fail to improve the living standards of America’s poorest citizens, but his Justice Department never made prosecuting Wall Street criminals a high priority. Perhaps there’s a reason for that, though. Turns out the biggest donors in his 2008 campaign were financial industry PACs.

To Obama’s credit, the nation did see a raise in the minimum wage shortly after he took office in 2009. In July of that year, the rate went up from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour. There has been no minimum wage increase since then.

At the $7.25 per hour rate, a full-time minimum wage employee makes $15,080 per year. To put that into perspective, the federal poverty threshold for a family of four is $24,300.

Whether you believe Obama is to blame for the way things turned out depends on how much of a say you think the president of the United States has in running the country. Is the president the “chief executive,” as it were, or does he take orders from above?

It’s hard to give a definitive answer to that, though my own personal view is that had Obama forged a different course–let’s say, for instance, he had raised the minimum wage to a genuine “living wage” level. And let’s say also he had ended the wars, told AIPAC to take a hike, called for a cut-off of funding to Israel unless it stopped building settlements–and suppose as well he had made peace with Russia and dismantled NATO. What do you think would have happened? My guess is Obama would not have remained in office until the end of his term. The Zionist mainstream media would have manufactured fake news story after fake news story accusing  him of this or that crime or misdeed until he was either impeached or assassinated.

That’s just a theory, of course. We’ll never really know for sure.

But in the reality in which we currently find ourselves, it is a scenario not at all hard to imagine.

And so the Obama years come to an end. Some people are sad to see him go. Others are breathing a sigh of relief. Some are optimistic at what the Trump presidency may bring, others filled with doubt and uncertainty; some who feel Obama was the worst president ever; still others who feel the worst is yet to come.

One thing we might keep in mind, though, is that while time may often shatter things, it also holds the potential to rectify them.

Inner and Outer Ugliness: Congress Proves Once Again it is Occupied Territory

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By Richard Edmondson

In the photo above we see US Congressman Ed Royce of California discussing HR 11, a resolution he introduced condemning the UN Security Council for its recent action on Israeli settlements. You’ll also notice, to Royce’s right, Florida  Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen brushing her hair with a pink hairbrush.

The scene is from a debate in Congress which took place on January 5, 2017. Royce and a number of other congressional representatives (342 of them in all) became hot and bothered over the UN’s pointing out (correctly of course) that the settlements are illegal. The photo is a screen shot I took from a C-Span video.  It’s a long video, more than eight hours, but if you advance it to about the 5:19:52 mark, you can watch the entire House debate on HR 11, which not surprisingly includes a lot of groveling to Israel (hat tip to Greg Bacon).

Just to refresh your memory, the Security Council, by a vote of 14-0 with 1 abstention, passed a resolution on December 23 “condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.” Voting in favor were Russia, China, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Uruguay, France, Angola, Egypt, Japan, UK, Ukraine; the lone abstention was by the US.

The Security Council action was welcomed by a good many people the world over, although Benjamin Netanyahu threw a temper tantrum, claiming to have “absolute” proof the Obama administration had been secretly behind it. Other critics accused the US of a “betrayal” of its longtime “ally,” and an enormous amount of controversy erupted over the issue in the waning days of 2016 and carrying over into the new year.

Of course, anytime a dispute emerges between the US and Israel, members of Congress can always be counted upon to side with the latter rather than with their own nation–and this time was no exception.

“Today we put Congress on record objecting to the recent UN Security Council resolution that hurt our ally, that hurt Israel, and I believe that puts an enduring peace further out of reach,” fretted Royce.

Let me call once again your attention to the image of Ros-Lehtinen brushing her hair, for throughout a good portion of Royce’s speech, the Florida congresswoman–apparently unaware she was on camera–seemed preoccupied with primping and applying makeup to herself, this presumably in an effort to make herself look “beautiful.”

In the first frame of the montage below we see her with the pink hairbrush, followed by a shot of her rummaging in her purse. In the third frame she pulls out what appears to be lipstick or eyeliner (I’m not an expert on women’s makeup), and lastly applying it with her right hand while still holding the container with her left hand.

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In the following three frames we see a now cosmetically-adorned Ros-Lehtinen giving her speech before Congress and the C-Span cameras:

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“Our closest friend and ally, the democratic, Jewish state of Israel, has been under constant attack by the United Nations,” she claimed.

The Security Council resolution that occasioned Ros-Lehtinen’s diatribe specifically is entitled UNSC Resolution 2334. I put up a post about it on December 24 that contains its full text. The measure expresses “grave concern” that settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.” It also:

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

For Ros-Lehtinen, however, UNSC Resolution 2334 was nothing more than an execrable attempt to “delegitimize” Israel–and all the more reason why swift passage by Congress of HR 11 was needed to repudiate it!

This resolution, Mr. speaker, will not undo the damage that has been done at the Security Council, but it sends an important  message to the world that the United States Congress resoundingly, and in a strong bipartisan manner, disapproves of the vote taken on resolution 2334, and it sends a warning to the nations that will gather in Paris next week to discuss the peace process that there will be repercussions if there is a move to introduce a parameters resolution before the 20th and in an effort to further isolate Israel. Our closest friend and ally, the democratic, Jewish state of Israel,  has been under constant attack by the United Nations. Abu Mazen and the Palestinians have pushed a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state, to undermine the peace process, to achieve unilateral statehood recognition.

For some reason–I’m not quite sure why–the sight of Ros-Lehtinen primping and then fulminating at the podium brought to mind a picture I once saw of an economically-impoverished elderly woman kissing a bird.

beauty

I first came across this image several years ago in a poem posted by Nahida the exiled Palestinian, whose website, Poetry for Palestine, can be found here. Her poem is entitled “Beauty.”  It is not a lengthy poem at all. In fact, it contains a mere five very short, but very powerful, lines:

Sometimes, beauty is mistakenly understood;
Assuming that
If someone is beautiful, they are always good,
When truth is
When someone is good, they are always beautiful.

The woman whose picture accompanies the poem is beautiful in a way that Ros-Lehtinen is not. In addition to berating the Security Council, the Florida congresswoman also attacked the UN Human Rights Council.

“We’ve seen it at  the Human Rights Council where Israel is constantly demonized  and falsely accused of human rights violations while the real abusers of human rights go unpunished because that body has utterly failed to uphold its mandate,” she insisted. “This is a body that allows the worst abusers of human rights–like Cuba, Venezuela, and China–to actually sit in judgement of human rights worldwide. What a pathetic joke!”

It’s interesting that Ros-Lehtinen would single out Cuba, Venezuela, and China as being among “the worst abusers of human rights,” while saying nothing–zip–zero–about Saudi Arabia, a country that executes people by beheading and which currently holds the chair of the Human Rights Council.

 photo syrianchildren.jpg“Yet the only thing they can agree on is to attack Israel,” the congresswoman blubbered on, “the only democracy in the Middle East and the only place in the region where human rights are protected.”

Exceptions were taken to other UN deliberative bodies  as well.

“We’ve seen this scheme to delegtimize Israel at the General Assembly where in its closing legislative session, the General Assembly passed twenty–twenty–anti-Israel resolutions and only four combined for the entire world!” Ros-Lehtinen bellowed.

“These institutions have no credibility, and now we have the unfortunate circumstance of the White House deciding to abstain from this anti-Israel, one-sided resolution at the Security Council,” she added. “Our ally was abandoned, and credibility and momentum were given to the Palestinians’ schemes to delegitimize the Jewish state, to undermine the peace process, and while the damage has been done, Mr. Speaker, by this act of cowardice at the Security Council, we will have an opportunity to reverse that damage.”

What exactly she meant by “we will have an opportunity to reverse that damage” is unclear. Possibly the Trump administration has some plan to introduce a new measure at the UN. In any event, Ros-Lehtinen clearly seems to be a person of both inner and outer ugliness–though of course she is not the only member of Congress with such attributes. Perhaps the most groveling speech of all those given in Congress on January 5 was that delivered by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“The cornerstone of our special relationship with Israel has always been right here in Congress, this institution,” said Ryan. “The heart of our democracy has stood by the Jewish state through thick and thin. We were there for her when rockets rained down on Tel Aviv; we were there for her by passing historic legislation to combat the boycott divestment and sanctions movement; and we’ve been there for her by ensuring Israel has the tools to defend herself against those who seek her destruction.”

“I am stunned! I am stunned!” the House speaker continued, “at what happened last month! This government, our government, abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most! Do not be fooled. This UN Security Council resolution was not about settlements, and it certainly was not about peace. It was about one thing and one thing only. Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state. These types of one-sided efforts are designed to isolate and delegitimize Israel. They do not advance peace, they make it more elusive.”

If Ryan was the supreme groveler in the debate, Royce would probably have to rank a close second. One thing which seemed terribly to incense the California congressman about the Security Council resolution is that it doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to steal East Jerusalem.

“This dangerous resolution effectively states that the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, are in the words of the resolution ‘occupied territory.’ Why would we not veto that?” asked Royce.

“It also lends legitimacy to efforts by the Palestinian authority to put pressure on Israel through the UN rather than to go through the process of engaging in direct negotiations, and it puts wind in the sails of the shameful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” he added.

gzmrg4Royce also claimed that Israel, not Occupied Palestine, is suffering “bullying and harassment.” That may sound like the statement of someone living in a parallel universe, but it is a view shared by New York Congressman Eliot Engel, one of HR 11’s original cosponsors.

“Throughout its entire history the state of Israel has never gotten a fair shake from the United Nations,” insisted Engel. “Year after year after year member states manipulate the UN to bully our ally Israel, to pile on one-sided resolutions placing all the blame for the ongoing conflict on Israel.”

Even those representatives who spoke in opposition to HR 11, did so while expressing their support for Israel at the same time. One such member was Rep. David Price, a Democrat from North Carolina.

“The fact is, H Res 11 runs a real risk of undermining the US Congress as a proactive force working toward a two-state solution,” Price lamented. ” And in this period of great geopolitical turmoil and uncertainty, we must reaffirm those fundamental aspects of our foreign policy, including our strong and unwavering support for Israel, while also demonstrating to the world that we are committed to a diplomacy that defends human rights and promotes Israeli and Palestinian states  that live side-by-side in peace and security, a formulation that has characterized our country’s diplomacy for decades.”

Another who voted against HR 11 was Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois who is also married to Robert Creamer, the Democrat Party operative who was seen in a Project Veritas video discussing plans to have protestors show up at Trump rallies during the campaign. Schakowsky feels that a little bit of criticism of Israel is allowable at times, and furthermore she holds to this belief as a “proud Jew,” as she stated to her colleagues.

 photo thousandeyes_zps2c4c47c1.jpg“I stand here as a proud Jew and someone who throughout my entire life has been an advocate for the state of Israel, and I am standing here to oppose our H Res 11,” said the Illinois congresswoman. “And as a member of congress I have been committed to maintaining America’s unwavering support for Israel, which has lasted from the very first moments of  Israel’s existence. The US-Israel bond is unbreakable, despite the fact that the United States administrations have not always agreed with the particular policies of an Israeli government.”

Yes, to be sure, our own government and Israel’s have not always seen eye-to-eye, but funny how that never seems to stop the billions in US tax dollars flowing into the Jewish state’s coffers each year. Schakowsky went on:

Presidents from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush have each vetoed, and sometimes voted for, a UN resolution contrary to the wishes of Israel’s government at the time, and only the Obama administration, until two weeks ago, never, ever cast a vote against what Israel wanted. But opposition to the building of settlements on land belonging to Palestinians before the 1967 war was, with the exception of the land, of course, that’s going to be swapped, agreed to by both parties, has been the official US policy for many decades, contrary, again, to the assertions of H Res 11.  It has also been the policy of the United States to recognize that the only long term solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the violence, the loss of life, is to create two states, one for the Palestinians and one for Israel.

 photo statehood2.jpg

Exactly how a contiguous Palestinian state is going to be created in a West Bank splotched and dotted with all those settlements, is something Schakowsky left unaddressed. But having voiced a few mild criticisms of Israel, the congresswoman apparently felt an overwhelming need for balance–and so she tossed out a few criticisms of the Palestinians for good measure.

“A two-state solution is the only way Israel can continue as both a democratic and a Jewish state living in peace and security that has eluded her from the very beginning,” she said. “The building of settlements is an obstacle to achieving that goal–and of course settlements aren’t the only obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. The US resolution reiterates the Palestinian Authority security forces must continue to counter terrorism and condemn all of the provocations.”

 photo terrorreigns2.jpg

Provocations? It’s an interesting word when referring to a people who have been resisting land theft and occupation for more years than most of us have been alive. It also gives rise to a question: How is it possible to carry out “provocations” against a country or governmental entity that technically speaking is in all likelihood guilty of the crime of genocide? Of course it’s unlikely you’ll get an honest answer to that question from Schakowsky or any other member of Congress.

At any rate, HR 11–a resolution which not only impugns the Security Council but even criticizes the United States–passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342-80, with 4 abstentions. You can go here to see  the roll call on the vote.

It was Jeffrey Blankfort who first coined the old saying about Washington being Israel’s “most important occupied territory.” I think it was sometime back in the late eighties or the nineties when Jeffrey made that comment, and if anything, over the years, it has become more profoundly true than ever.

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