The misuse for political purposes of the concept of anti-semitism

Abuse of the term ‘antisemitism’

https://www.cpl.law.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.law.cam.ac.uk/files/styles/carousel/public/sedley_dwl_2016_carousel.jpg?itok=VLfIiLWw

Sir Stephen Sedley (born 1939), is a British lawyer. He worked as a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales 1999-2011 and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Oxford. He became a QC in 1983, was appointed a High Court judge in 1992,and in 1999 was appointed to the Court of Appeal as a Lord Justice of Appeal. He was a Judge ad hoc of the European Court of Human Rights and a Member ad hoc of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
His father was Bill Sedley (1910–1985), of a Jewish immigrant family, who operated a legal advice service in the East End of London in the 1930s. Bill Sedley founded the firm of lawyers of Seifert and Sedley in the 1940s with Sigmund Seifert and was a lifelong Communist.

Stephen Sedley slams IHRA (mis)definition

Speech given by distinguished retired Appeal Court Judge Sir Stephen Sedley on 27 March at a meeting in the House of Lords

Free Speech on Israel
March 27, 2017

The purpose of this meeting is to draw attention to a growing concern about the misuse for political purposes of the concept of anti-semitism. The misuse in question is the conflation of criticism of Israel with hostility to Jews. Its political purpose is to prohibit or inhibit discourse or action inimical to the state of Israel.

There are two distinct backstories to the catch-all meaning of antisemitism with which this meeting is immediately concerned.

One is the longstanding, and largely successful, endeavour to segregate antisemitism from racism. It has for a good many years been part of Zionist discourse to contend that racism is one thing – based on concepts of genetic inferiority – and antisemitism another, based on historical and theological as well as genetic factors. This is not the place to pursue the argument, save perhaps to note that anti-semites do not as a rule worry about whether their targets are observant, orthodox or secular Jews: their spleen is directed at members of a race.

The other backstory is the Zionist claim to represent all the world’s Jews – a claim welcomed by Islamic extremists. Nothing suits Islamic fundamentalism better than the idea that all Jews are equally implicated in the excesses of Zionism. The claim depoliticises Zionism and legitimises jihadist anti-semitism.1

Against this already dangerous backdrop, we are now looking at the no doubt well-intentioned but naïve adoption by our executive government of a protean definition of antisemitism which is open to manipulation and capture by the background interests I have mentioned. In this regard I would go rather further than Hugh Tomlinson does in his careful and well-reasoned Opinion. The governing proposition that antisemitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews” carries the clear implication that it may equally be expressed in other, unspecified, ways.

As Hugh Tomlinson says, this passage is vague and confusing; but I am not sure that the critique should stop there. It seems to me that its open-ended formulation has a thought-out purpose: to bring within the pale of antisemitism perceptions of Jews – possibly but not necessarily of all Jews – which fall short of hatred. While this may legitimately cover familiar antisemitic slanders about greed, clannishness and so forth, it is also capable of embracing perceptions of Zionism which are the subject of legitimate debate and disagreement.

Is there a single entity capable of being characterised as “the Jewish people”? Am I obliged to regard myself as bound by ethnicity to people like Benjamin Netanyahu?

That this is part of the intended reach is now becoming evident. One of the adopted examples is “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour.” This passage bristles with controversial assumptions. Is there a single entity capable of being characterised as “the Jewish people”? Am I obliged to regard myself as bound by ethnicity to people like Benjamin Netanyahu? Then, assuming that there is such an ethnic entity, from where does it derive a collective right to self-determination capable of defeating the right to self-determination of other peoples, above all the Palestinian people? There have been many Jews – my father was one – who long before 1947 opposed the Zionist project on the ground that Jewish exceptionalism was exactly what antisemitism needed.

Lastly, accepting as one must that the state of Israel, whatever has been argued in the past about its right to exist, is a geopolitical ‘fact on the ground’, why are people, including many Jews, not entitled, without being branded antisemitic, to regard it in its present form as both a colonialist and an apartheid state? The demand that criticism, to be legitimate, must be ‘similar to that levelled against any other country’ assumes that there are other countries which behave like Israel. There may well be, but how can this properly be a precondition of any criticism?

I will not travel over the consequential legal ground that Hugh Tomlinson so ably traverses. It is sufficient to emphasise these points:

The adoption by government of the IHRA’s “working definition” does not clothe it with any legal force. At the same time, it is not neutral: it may well influence policy both domestically and internationally.

No policy, however, can be adopted or used in defiance of the law. The Convention 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. And s. 43 of the 1986 Education Act, while passed to deal with very different kinds of controversy, vouchsafes an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions which cannot be cut back by governmental policies.

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.

1 For my part I am critical of the ECtHR’s judgment in CICAD v Switzerland, because it failed to recognise that the offending article, with its assertion that “when Israel is exposed … it is Judaism that is exposed at the same time” was a classic attempt to taint all Jews with Israel’s violations of human rights. Its author in my view had been rightly accused of antisemitism.

Defeating the Islamic State group: A war mired in contradictions for the USA

Defeating the Islamic State group: A war mired in contradictions

 

Yemeni army soldiers display flags of the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia group, at a position recaptured from the group near the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar

By James M. Dorsey

US President Donald J. Trump’s vow to defeat what he terms radical Islamic terrorism forces the United States to manoeuvre the Middle East’s and North Africa’s murky world of ever shifting alliances and labyrinths of power struggles within power struggles.

The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member, anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance over what constitutes terrorism to diverging political priorities to varying degrees of willingness to tacitly employ jihadists to pursue geopolitical goals. The pitfalls are most evident in Yemen and Syria and involve two long-standing US allies, NATO member Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson travels to Turkey this week as US and Russian troops create separate buffers in Syria to prevent a Turkish assault on the northern town of Manbij. Manbij, located 40 kilometres from the Turkish border, is controlled by Kurdish forces, viewed by the US as a key ground force in the fight with the Islamic State.

Until a series of devastating IS suicide bombings in Turkish cities, Turkish forces appeared to concentrate on weakening the Kurds rather than the jihadists in Syria. Stepped-up Turkish action against IS has not weakened Turkey’s resolve to prevent Kurds from emerging as one of the victors in the Syrian conflict.

Turkey’s Kurdish problem

At the heart of US-Turkish differences over the Kurds is the age-old-adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s liberation fighter. The US has a long history of empathy towards Kurdish cultural and national rights and enabled the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-waiting in northern Iraq. The differences also go to an equally large elephant in the room: the question of whether Syria, Yemen and Iraq will survive as nation states in a post-war era.

That may be the real issue at the core of US-Turkish differences. Many Turks hark back in their suspicion that foreign powers are bent on breaking up the Turkish state to the 1920 Treaty of Sevre that called for a referendum in which Kurds would determine their future.

Visionary Mustafa Kemal Ataturk carved modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. He mandated a unified Turkish identity that superseded identities of a nation whose population was to a large degree made up of refugees from far flung parts of the former empire and ethnic and religious minorities.

Turkey charges that Syrian Kurdish fighters are aligned with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish Kurdish group that has been fighting for Kurdish rights for more than three decades and has been designated terrorist by Turkey, the United States and Europe.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Abkar met in the southern Turkish city of Antalya in advance of Mr Tillerson’s visit to lower tensions that threaten planned efforts to capture Raqqa, the IS capital.

In many ways, the pitfalls are similar in Yemen, where Mr Trump has stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating intervention that this month entered its third year and has increased attacks on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), viewed as one of Al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliates.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qaeda problem

It took Al-Qaeda attacks inside the kingdom in 2003-04 and jihadist operations since then, as well as growing international suggestions of an ideological affinity between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism and jihadism, for the kingdom to view Islamic militants on par with Iran, which Saudis see as an existential threat.

Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia, despite a litany of denials, has seen militant Islamists as useful tools in its proxy wars with Iran in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Sunni ultra-conservatives are frequently at the forefront of Saudi-led efforts to dislodge the Yemeni Houthis from their strongholds.

… Saudi Arabia, despite a litany of denials, has seen militant Islamists as useful tools in its proxy wars with Iran in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen has in fact given AQAP a new lease on life. Prior to the war, AQAP had been driven to near irrelevance by the rise of IS and security crackdowns. In a report in February, the International Crisis Group (ICG) concluded that AQAP was “stronger than it has ever been”.

The group “appears ever more embedded in the fabric of opposition to the Houthi/Saleh alliance… that is fighting the internationally-recognised, Saudi-backed interim government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi”, the report said. It was referring to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are aligned with former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

AQAP’s resurgence is as much a result of Saudi Arabia’s single-minded focus on the Iranian threat posed in the kingdom’s perception by the Houthis as it is potentially related to a murky web of indirect or tacit relationships with the group.

De-prioritising the fight against jihadists

“In prosecuting the war, the Saudi-led coalition has relegated confronting AQAP and IS to a second-tier priority… Saudi-led coalition statements that fighting the group is a top priority and announcements of military victories against AQAP in the south are belied by events,” the ICG said.

The kingdom’s willingness to cooperate with Islamists such as Yemen’s Islah party, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, and unclear attitude towards AQAP has sparked strains within the anti-Houthi coalition, particularly with the staunchly anti-Islamist United Arab Emirates (UAE).

AQAP has been able to rearm itself through the indirect acquisition of weapons from the Saudi-led coalition as well as raids on Yemeni military camps. AQAP is believed to have received advance notice and to have coordinated with the Saudis its withdrawal from the crucial port of Mukalla before an assault by UAE and Yemeni forces, according to the ICG.

The United States and some of its key allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, may be able to paper over differences that allow for short-term advances against IS. But in the longer term it could be the failure to address those differences head on that will create new breeding grounds for militancy.

Saudi Arabia was conspicuously low key when in January a US Navy Seal died in a raid on AQAP in which the US military seized information that this month prompted the Trump administration and Britain to ban carry-on electronics aboard US and London-bound flights from select airports in North Africa and the Middle East, including two in Saudi Arabia.

Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s leading English-language newspaper, this week quoted Saudi officials as saying that AQAP, widely believed to be well advanced in its ability to target aircraft with explosives smuggled on board, had lost its capability to operate overseas.

The officials said that Saudi Arabia, which has cozied up to the Trump administration and endorsed the president’s ban on travel to the US from six Muslim majority countries, was concerned about IS and Shia militants rather than AQAP. “They [AQAP] don’t have the power to export their activities,” Arab News quoted Abdullah Al-Shehri, a senior Saudi Interior Ministry official, as saying.

The ministry’s spokesman, Mansour al-Turki, noted that “Al-Qaeda actually has not been involved in any real kind of terrorism-related incident in Saudi Arabia for three years. Most of the incidents came from Daesh (the Arab acronym for IS) or militant groups related to Shias in the Eastern Province.”

The United States and some of its key allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, may be able to paper over differences that allow for short-term advances against IS. But in the longer term it could be the failure to address those differences head on that will create new breeding grounds for militancy. It’s the kind of trade-off that in the past has produced short-term results only to create even greater problems down the road.

This week both ISIS & the USA has threatened Iran, what should we read into that, who exactly is supporting terrorists?

US general calls for military action against Iran

threatens for a hilarious reason- What ISIS & Al Nusra really are

US should use ‘military means’ against Iran: CENTCOM chief

US Central Command Commander Army General Joseph Votel testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, March 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP) US Central Command Commander Army General Joseph Votel testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, March 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The United States should consider using “military means” against Iran, US Army General Joseph Votel says, calling Tehran “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the Middle East.

Votel, who heads the US Central Command (CENTCOM), made the hostile remarks while speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

“I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone, and it’s an area between normal competition between states — and it’s just short of open conflict,” he told the panel.

Votel went on to accuse Iran of “destabilizing” the region through “lethal aid facilitation,” using “surrogate forces” and cyber operations.

“We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt [Iran] through military means or other means their activities,” he said. “We need to look at opportunities where we can expose and hold them accountable for the things that they are doing.”

The general’s statements fall in line with the anti-Iran rhetoric of US President Donald Trump, who has accused Iran of supporting terrorism and said “nothing is off the table” in terms of a response to the country’s defensive missile program. Trump has also said that his administration formally put Tehran “on notice” over its missile test.

As the commander of CENTCOM, Votel is tasked with leading Washington’s military efforts in Central Asia and the Middle East. More than 80,000 US soldiers are stationed across the area under Votel’s command.

The general also oversees the US-led coalition’s airstrikes and other military operations against purported terrorist targets inside Syria and Iraq, a campaign that began in 2014 and has led to the death of many civilians without any meaningful achievement.

Votel’s comments came less than two weeks after a deadly coalition strike that killed over 200 civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

 

The Pentagon has admitted to carrying out such “unintentional” raids against civilian targets in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen as well.

Relatives mourn as bodies of Iraqi children of west Mosul killed in an airstrike by the US-led coalition are covered with blankets, March 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Additionally, Washington has come under pressure for forging a close military and political alliance with Saudi Arabia, ignoring the regime’s bloody war on Yemen and its clear support for extremist groups.

This is while the international community has constantly hailed Iran’s active role in curbing the terrorism threat plaguing the region.

Persian Gulf encounters

In his testimony before the lawmakers, Votel also discussed the recent surge in Iran-US military encounters in the Persian Gulf, saying his team was “paying extraordinarily close attention” to the issue.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Navy has on several occasions forced US Navy vessels to change course before wandering into Iranian territorial waters.

The last of such encounters occurred earlier this month, when a US Navy ship and three British Royal Navy boats steered out of the course approved for international naval transit in the Persian Gulf and came within 550 meters (0.3 nautical miles) of IRGC vessels, drawing serious warnings from them.

Iran has repeatedly warned that any act of transgression into Iran’s territorial waters would be met with an immediate and befitting response.

 

More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as Trump Expands War on Terror

More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as Trump Expands War on Terror

 

Details are emerging about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that are believed to have killed over 200 people in a single day in Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition has admitted launching airstrikes on March 17 targeting a crowded neighborhood in Mosul. They are among the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in the region since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. According to some reports, one of these strikes destroyed houses where hundreds of people were taking refuge amid the city’s heavy fighting. Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one house’s basement alone. This bombing is just one of an onslaught of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that has killed as many as 1,000 civilians in March alone, according to the journalistic project Airwars. For more, we speak with Chris Woods, founder of Airwars, a nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The U.S.-backed Iraqi military’s ground campaign to retake west Mosul from ISIS has been halted, as details emerged over the weekend about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that are believed to have killed over 200 people in a single day. The U.S.-led coalition has admitted launching airstrikes on March 17th that targeted a crowded neighborhood in Mosul. They are among the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in the region since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. According to reports, one of these strikes hit an explosive-filled truck, triggering a blast that destroyed nearby houses where hundreds of people were taking refuge amid the city’s heavy fighting. Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one house’s basement alone. This is a family member of some of the civilians killed in the strike.

WITNESS: [translated] I came to the house to stay with my family, but the owner of the house told me there was no place for me. More than 100 people were inside. Half an hour later, the house was hit in an airstrike. There were neither snipers nor ISIL militants on the street. At least 15 people from this street, that links into the alleyways, have been killed.

AMY GOODMAN: This bombing is just one of an onslaught of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that’s killed as many as a thousand civilians in March alone, according to the journalistic project Airwars. Another one of these strikes occurred last week in Syria, when a U.S. Reaper drone struck a gathering in the rebel-held village near Aleppo, killing as many as 49 people. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most of the dead were civilians who had gathered at a mosque to pray. The Pentagon acknowledged carrying out strikes on this village, but denied hitting a mosque. Pentagon officials said the gathering was a meeting of al-Qaeda. The high civilian death toll is leading many to question whether the U.S. military has loosened the rules of engagement that seek to limit civilian casualties. The Pentagon maintains the rules have not changed.

Well, for more, we’re going to London to speak to Chris Woods, founder of Airwars, the nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Chris woods is also an award-winning reporter and author of Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars.

Chris, welcome to Democracy Now!

CHRIS WOODS: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what you understand happened on March 17th in—in Iraq.

CHRIS WOODS: This is a very complicated event, and, in fact, the story is still changing today. We know that a devastating explosion, or sequence of explosions, took place in the al-Jadida neighborhood, the New Mosul area. And a minimum of 101 civilians died. Some claims have placed the number of dead in that immediate neighborhood at over 500. We’re talking like a really catastrophic event.

In terms of attributing responsibility, that’s proving more challenging. The coalition, as you said, has said it did conduct an airstrike in the immediate vicinity on March 17th. But what’s complicating this is that the Iraq military also appears to have conducted artillery strikes into that immediate area, and there may or may not have been ISIS booby traps or a vehicle-borne truck bomb. So it’s a very complex event. We also—with the coalition, we don’t know which coalition partners were involved in the event—the United States most probably, but there are four other nations in the coalition also bombing quite heavily at Mosul at the moment. But—

AMY GOODMAN: Those countries are?

CHRIS WOODS: —what we can absolutely say—so, these are Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium and France. All of them have said that Mosul is where most of their airstrikes are now taking place. So, a lot of—a lot of people involved here. But, of course, you know, the reality here is that more than a hundred civilians certainly are dead, Washington Post saying this morning that they’ve been speaking to civil defense in Baghdad—in Mosul, and a minimum of 101 bodies so far removed from the scene, and perhaps many more—many more bodies there. And this is what leads to this report of this is possibly one of the highest-ever reported civilian casualty events that the coalition or the U.S. may have been involved in.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Chris, The Guardian is reporting that Iraq has suspended the Mosul offensive after these attacks. What do you know about the accuracy of that report? And what’s the situation in terms of the response of the Iraqi government?

CHRIS WOODS: Yeah, it was certainly reported that the campaign had been paused, but, in fact, there’s very little sign of that. The airstrikes have still been going in very heavily from not just the coalition, but also the Iraqis. Two more neighborhoods were captured by Iraqi ground forces just yesterday from ISIS. So, there may have been a slowing down of the campaign, but really, I think, you know, the coalition, the Iraq government, is keen to capture west Mosul as quickly as possible. They’re gambling here that the quicker they capture the city, the less overall risk of harm there is to civilians. But civilians are paying a terrible price here. According to one report last week, which appears to have come from a senior Iraq military official, 4,000 civilians have died in the first month of fighting for west Mosul. That’s a thousand civilians being killed a week at the moment. Those are very high numbers—unacceptable numbers, in our view.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, these casualties are far higher than in the months, the last months, of the Obama administration. Do you get any sense that this is as a result of changes in operation by U.S. forces in this particular offensive, or is this just the fact that they’re now moving into a highly populated area?

CHRIS WOODS: It’s a really difficult one to untangle. There’s no doubt that the number of allegations and reported fatalities are through the roof. We have more than 120 alleged civilian casualty events from the coalition so far in March. That’s across Iraq and Syria. We have more than 1,200 civilians reported killed, alleged killed, by coalition actions. Those are way up there with the levels of allegations we saw against Russia last year when it was bombing across Syria. So these are very, very high levels of reported civilian casualties.

Part of that is definitely to do with west Mosul. The U.N. had warned beforehand, the aid agencies had warned, NGOs had warned there were going to be a lot of civilian casualties, because so many civilians were trapped in the city. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing. And we’re seeing far too many civilians killed in west Mosul. But we’re seeing many civilians being reported killed in northern Syria, as well, around Raqqa. And the assault on Raqqa itself hasn’t even begun yet, and yet we’re seeing two, three, four civilian casualty events a day around Raqqa.

So, yes, civilian deaths are way up with the coalition. What’s still somewhat difficult to untangle is whether we would have seen that under Obama. The strikes were rising. The deaths were rising steeply in the last months of Obama. Trump has obviously inherited Obama’s battle plan, to some degree. Even so, we’re hearing from Iraqi officials that it is easier to call in airstrikes now, particularly U.S. strikes. So the picture is still confused. I actually think this is—you know, we need a straight answer from the Pentagon, from the White House. Have they lifted restrictions that were there to protect civilians on the battlefield? Because ordinary Iraqis and Syrians have a right to know that. This is a life-and-death issue for them.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Woods, I wanted to ask you about another recent harrowing attack involving the United States and its allies. In Syria, a U.S. Reaper drone recently struck a gathering in the rebel-held village in the province of Aleppo. As many as 49 people died. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most of the dead were civilians who had gathered at a mosque to pray. The Pentagon acknowledges carrying out strikes on the village, but denied hitting a mosque. They said the gathering was a meeting of al-Qaeda members. This is Syrian ambulance driver Munther Abu Amar.

MUNTHER ABU AMAR: [translated] I’m an ambulance driver, Munther Abu Amar, from Aleppo’s western province. We came here after we were called, after an airstrike targeted the mosque while worshipers were inside. There are more than 30 martyrs, and dozens of injured people were transported to the Atareb hospital. There are still many people who are missing, five or six missing people. One of the martyrs was an elderly woman who lived close to the mosque. God help us.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s a Syrian ambulance driver in Aleppo. Can you tell us what you understand happened there, Chris?

CHRIS WOODS: Well, I mean, every—every—report from the ground is in agreement that this was a mosque complex, that it looks like the U.S. wasn’t aware that a new building that had been built near the old mosque was an extension of that complex, and that hundreds of locals were gathered for a religious meeting when that unilateral U.S. strike took place. So this wasn’t a coalition attack. It was a unilateral U.S. targeted attack, the kind we’ve more usually seen in Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia. And it’s part of this shadow war that only America has been conducting against al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria. It gets very little publicity, but, in fact, many of these strikes taking place now. And again, they’ve ramped up under Trump, although in the last weeks of Obama we saw quite a big jump in the number of those reports. Significant numbers of civilians killed in that event, as well.

I think one thing we’re really seeing with Syria is poor intelligence. It seems CENTCOM did not know that that was a mosque building. And again, there was a school reported targeted and destroyed just last week in a place called Tabqa, near Raqqa. In that instance, the school was being used by internally displaced people. And there were reports of up to a hundred families being in that building when it was struck. There’s still a great deal of dispute about how many civilians died. But a minimum, we think, of about 35 civilians were killed in that event, as well. This is poor intelligence. Any local would have been able to tell them that IDPs, displaced civilians, were living in that building. And I think this is—this is about the proxy force that America is using in Syria today, which are not from this area—the SDF, primarily Kurdish force. It’s poor intelligence. It’s strikes being conducted very quickly. And civilians on the ground in Syria are paying a significant price for that.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris, we just have a minute left. Certainly, a huge amount of attention was paid to what happened in London with the killing of four people in an attack near the Parliament. There’s almost no—in the United States—attention paid to this massive spike in casualties in Iraq and Syria.

CHRIS WOODS: You’re right. You’re right. I mean, there isn’t an equivalence there. You know, a few weeks ago, we were very critical of international media for not covering the civilian casualties in Iraq, in Syria. That’s really changed now. Great work being done by international, regional, local media in both countries, really outstanding journalism now, looking at these civilian casualties. The disconnect is domestically. Where are the political voices being raised about this? There was a lot of anger from our politicians last year with Aleppo, and quite rightly so, when so many civilians died. Where are the raised voices here on behalf of Syrians and Iraqis who are dying as a result of our bombs?

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Woods, I want to thank you for being with us, founder of Airwars, the nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Chris is an award-winning reporter and author of Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars.

ISIS threatens Iran for a hilarious reason- What ISIS & Al Nusra really are

ISIS THREATENS IRAN FOR A HILARIOUS REASON – WHAT ISIS AND AL-NUSRA REALLY ARE
by : JOHN CHUCKMAN

“Perfect Timing: Islamic State Vows to Destroy Iran For ‘Protecting’ Jews’

Well, it just doesn’t get much clearer than that. In fact, it is almost comic in its clarity, resembling a feeble script written somewhere in the bowels of Mossad by junior publicity officers.

ISIS never, never attacks Israel or Israeli interests or even individual Israelis. There is nothing about ISIS threatening to Israel but the odd cheap slogan.

It always, always fights against governments Israel hates, as in Syria or in Iraq. Almost as if on command.

Now, the country Israel hates most of all, Iran, is said to be added to the list, with that asinine nonsense about the sin of “protecting Jews.” Why does Israel hate Iran so much? Because Iran is the only remaining competitor for the role of dominant state in the region. Israel wants it all, and the Pentagon and CIA happen to agree that America’s nasty little colony should have it all.

Israel has always been a key player in covertly supporting ISIS and other cutthroat outfits like Al-Nusra.

What we have here is good old-fashioned American imperialism working covertly, hand-in-glove, with its Middle East colony, otherwise known as Israel.


Response to another reader’s comment about Putin’s description of ISIS as mercenaries going for the highest pay:

Yes, as Putin has said, they are mercenaries. The US knows it is always possible to collect rag-tag armies of such people, give them a bit of help and arms and set them loose on some place you want to destroy. The world is full of young men with poor job prospects in their homelands and who are attracted to paid violence and the opportunity to excel in some way, if only in killing and raping. All you have to do is round up some of them under a phony advertising name, suggesting a cause such as Muslim militancy.

The “help” you give them gets a bit complex here, as with money from Saudi Arabia and Oman, armaments from Israel, Britain, US, and France, medical services from Israel, and air support from the US, Britain, and France.

When so-called terrorists strike back at parts of Europe, as we see occasionally in huge press events, they are not in fact ISIS or Al-Nusra, the people who have always been, in one way or another, supported by America, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Britain, and others. That phony claim of responsibility only reinforces the public support for the dirty war which got everything going in the first, the war against legitimate governments like that of Syria.

The attackers in Europe are really desperate men from some of the very places under attack, and they are trying to strike a blow against states they know are involved in the destruction of their homes, as France or Britain, places like the US being much too hard to reach effectively.

This entire stage play with ISIS and Al-Nusra and other murderous bands surely represents one of the most complex and insidious covert operations we’ve ever seen. I am sure people in the State Department and CIA spent many long hours years ago working it all out.

How do we destroy Syria without sending American troops in for another illegal invasion like the one in Iraq, illegal invasions having many undesirable consequences including huge amounts of public disapproval and dirtying your carefully-groomed public image with the clear public perception of your being an aggressor nation?

Same for Israel. It could have handled all or much of this alone, but it is already seen, and justly, as a pariah nation by much of the planet. How neat to get all the dirt you want done carried out in this fashion.

American troops dying in any large numbers, even though they are not conscripts as in Vietnam but well-paid mercenaries themselves, is still not politically acceptable in America. That’s why the “shock and awe” and unbelievably overwhelming force used in Iraq, to pulverize the “enemy” and to prevent really large numbers of coffins coming home. Its aggressive war on the cheap, as it were.

That’s why Afghanistan was done with massive bombing supporting the cutthroats of the Northern Alliance doing much of the fighting on the ground against their old opposition, the Taleban.

That’s why the phony imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya while rag-tag forces you’ve recruited and supplied, quite likely helped by American special forces covertly seeded in, fight a government totally pinned down by American planes. Of course, that situation quickly morphs into one where the US air forces simply start massive bombing and strafing, effectively an open invasion but from the skies, supposedly excused by violations of a harmless-sounding “no-fly zone.”

That is what the US wanted to do in Syria, too, with Obama’s phony “crossing a red line” talk over sporadic use of chemical weapons, sporadic use exclusively by America’s own paid goons but attributed to the government, using material likely forwarded by team Hillary from Gaddafi’s captured supplies in Libya to create an excuse for direct American air intervention. It is all a huge, dirty game to keep the public confused while getting what you want with extreme violence in other lands.

Does the US ever really bomb ISIS? Yes, there are times and places, as at Mosul now, when it views its former servants as inconvenient and disposable. Who cares about such human trash? is the American attitude. Use them while they are useful, and kill them off where they’ve started getting in the way for one reason or another. After all, gangs of armed thugs do get tempted to stray from the script, or we find external circumstances change enough to warrant dispatching them.

The deadly cynicism is what you would expect from well-paid teams of bright psychopathic personalities deliberately hired by CIA for its operations branch, a branch which amounts to a large covert army free to fight under no rules or international laws, one which has access to virtually limitless funds. The operations branch, the real reason for the CIA’s existence as it provides bones and sinews for expanding America’s international empire. This is opposed to the CIA’s information-gathering branch, something which serves almost as window dressing for public consumption over the decades. After all, gathering information is good, isn’t it? And intelligence is what the organization’s name has in it, isn’t it? The dark destructive stuff, well that stays deep in the shadows.

This all serves multiple objectives. In the West, the stuff about horrible terrorists keeps getting reinforced, scaring people and getting them to keep supporting more military spending, more covert operations abroad, and more intrusions by outfits like CIA, NSA, and FBI into their own rights and freedoms in the name of fighting “terror.”

Actually, all the while, a mass grave is being surreptitiously dug, a grave for what people were used to regarding as “inalienable rights.” America’s power establishment, in its pursuit of total world domination, has little use for such niceties, but it is not politically acceptable to say so. I’m sure there are many nasty smirks and chuckles in places like Langley, Virginia, when speeches are heard about America’s traditional rights, as by naïve idealistic politicians like Bernie Sanders or naïve leaders of rights organizations. Powerful bullies, of course, do not have a lot of tolerance for “bleeding hearts” stuff, but the many sadistic types among them appreciate a good laugh.

This way of doing things serves Israel’s interests, too, in continuously portraying Muslims as terrible people capable of anything, so Israel, the actual aggressor and begetter or most of the wars in the region, can keep playing the phony role it has played for decades, that of poor little David fighting Goliath and hordes of ignorant, uncouth Philistines. The role was somewhat well received back in the 1960s, but, after a half century of Israel’s brutal occupation, abuse, theft, and killing, the role had become a bit tired in its acceptance by audiences. This work tarts things up a bit, like a fresh coat of make-up applied to a corpse.

And Israel’s interests are the interests of the Pentagon and CIA since Israel really effectively is an American colony serving a number of American imperial interests in the region.

Germany admits assisting the USA in illegal airstrikes in Syria killing civilians

Germany Admits Role in Airstrike That Killed 33 Civilians in Syria

German Recon Planes Provided Pictures of School Full of Civilians Before Strike

Last week, a US airstrike against the Syrian town of al-Mansour hit a school that was housing displaced civilians, killing at least 33 of them, and by some estimates as many as 50. Today, German officials confirmed that the German Air Force was also involved in the incident.

German planes do not conduct airstrikes in Syria, but are rather used for reconnaissance, and officials say that German Tornado jets had taken images of the school and the surrounding area the day before the attack, along with photos after the attack on the damage inflicted.

The German officials conceded that the planes’ images showed nothing to indicate whether the school contained civilians or combatants, which contradicts the Pentagon’s claims that they had conclusive intelligence that the school was full of ISIS fighters.

That locals described the victims as largely women and children did not deter US commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend from declaring the attack a “clean strike,” and insisting that claims of civilian deaths were not credible. German reports appear to give even more credence to the idea that civilians were killed in the incident, or at the very least that the US did not have any conclusive intelligence on ISIS being inside the site.

Jewish Neocons and the Deep State

Posted on March 24, 2017

[ Ed. note – AIPAC’s annual policy conference begins this Sunday in Washington. With that in mind I thought I would post the following commentary recently published by Philip Giraldi. In the article, Giraldi, a former CIA officer, makes two essential points: a) that “neocons are most definitely an integral part of the Deep State,” and, b) that “nearly all neocons are Jewish.” He also discusses efforts now to stigmatize even the very use of the words “neocon” and “deep state.” One writer for instance has recently claimed that the word neocon revives “a great many stupid and ugly myths about Jewish bankers orchestrating wars for profit.”

Of course, most if not all the wars we’ve gotten involved in over the past 20 years or so were waged in large part to advance the interests of Israel, and each one, without exception, was urged on by neocons. Nonetheless, a time when use of the word “neocon” will get you branded an anti-Semite may not be far off in the future.

Speakers at this year’s AIPAC summit will include two officials from the Trump administration, Vice President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN; two US senators–Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer of New York; and four members of the US House of Representatives: House Speaker Paul RyanNancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, both of California, and Steny Hoyer of Maryland. I wonder if all these people would fancy themselves “patriotic Americans”? They are of course going to be speaking before an organization whose goal is to advance the interests of a foreign nation. Can you imagine the hue and cry if Congress members were turning up to speak before a group dedicated to promoting Russian interests?

Additional speakers will include Isaac Herzog, Israeli politician and Knesset member, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will speak live via satellite. But significantly not on the list (at least as far as I can tell) is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Gabbard is the congresswoman who recently introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists” bill. Perhaps people might give some thought to contacting Gabbard and encouraging her to introduce a bill to force AIPAC to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Such a bill almost assuredly would not pass, but it would be interesting observing how those in AIPAC’s hip pocket would stand up and argue against it. For those who might think it worthwhile to contact Gabbard, you can do so at: TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov  or  at (202) 225-4906. If you do contact her, please be sure and thank her for supporting the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and ask her to please consider introducing a bill to require AIPAC to register as a foreign agent. ]

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Neocons as Figment of Imagination: Criticizing Their Thuggery is Anti-Semitism?

By Philip Giraldi

We have a president who is belligerent towards Iran, who is sending “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS, who loves Israel passionately and who is increasing already bloated defense budgets. If one were a neoconservative, what is there not to like, yet neocons in the media and ensconced comfortably in their multitude of think tanks hate Donald Trump. I suspect it comes down to three reasons. First, it is because Trump knows who was sticking the knife in his back during his campaign in 2016 and he has neither forgiven nor hired them. Nor does he pay any attention to their bleating, denying them the status that they think they deserve because of their self-promoted foreign policy brilliance.

And second, Trump persists in his desire to “do business” with Russia. The predominantly Jewish neocons always imagine the thunder of hooves of approaching Cossacks preparing to engage in pogroms whenever they hear the word Russia. And this is particularly true of Vladimir Putin’s regime, which is Holy Russia revived. When not musing over how it is always 1938 and one is in Munich, neocons are nearly as unsettled when they think it is 1905 in Odessa.

The third reason, linked to number two, is that having a plausible and dangerous enemy like Russia on tap keeps the cash flowing from defense industries to the foundations and think tanks that the neocons nest in when they are not running the Pentagon and National Security Council. Follow the money. So it is all about self-interest combined with tribal memory: money, status and a visceral hatred of Russia.

The hatred of Trump runs so deep that a leading neocon Bill Kristol actually tweeted that he would prefer a country run by bureaucrats and special interests rather than the current constitutional arrangement. The neocon vendetta was as well neatly summed up in two recent articles by Max Boot. The first is entitled“Trump knows the Feds are closing in on him” and the second is “WikiLeaks has joined the Trump Administration.”In the former piece Boot asserts that “Trump’s recent tweets aren’t just conspiratorial gibberish—they’re the erratic ravings of a guilty conscience” and in the latter, that “The anti-American WikiLeaks has become the preferred intelligence service for a conspiracy-addled White House.”

Now, who is Max Boot and why should anyone care what he writes? Russian-born, Max entered the United States with his family through a special visa exemption under the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment even though they were not notably persecuted and only had to prove that they were Jewish. Jackson-Vanik was one of the first public assertions of neoconism, having reportedly been drafted in the office of Senator Henry Jackson by no less than Richard Perle and Ben Wattenberg as a form of affirmative action for Russian Jews. As refugees instead of immigrants, the new arrivals received welfare, health insurance, job placement, English language classes, and the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after only five years. Max went to college at Berkeley and received an M.A. from Yale.

Boot, a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, networked his way up the neocon ladder, including writing for The Weekly Standard, Commentary, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He was a member of the neocon incubator Project for a New American Century and now sits on the heavily neocon Council on Foreign Relations. Boot characteristically has never served in the U.S. military but likes war a lot. In 2012 he co-authored “5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now.” He is a reliable Russia and Putin basher.

Max Boot’s articles are smears of Donald Trump from top to bottom. The “closing in” piece calls for establishment of a special counsel to investigate every aspect of the Trump Team/Russian relationship. Along the way, it makes its case to come to that conclusion by accepting every single worst case scenario regarding Trump as true. Yes, per Boot “Putin was intervening in the presidential election to help Trump.” And President Barack Obama could not possibly have “interfered with the lawful workings of the FBI.” As is always the case, not one shred of evidence is produced to demonstrate that anyone associated with Donald Trump somehow became a Russian useful idiot, but Boot assumes that the White House is now being run out of the Kremlin.

Max is certainly fun to read but on a more serious note, the National Review is working hard to make us forget about employing the expression “neocon” because it is apparently rarely understood by the people who use the term. Plus its implied meaning is anti-Semitic in nature, something that David Brooks in an article pretty much denying that neocons really exist suggested thirteen years ago when he postulated that it was shorthand for “Jewish conservative.”

National Review actually searched hard to find a gentile who could write the piece, one Kevin D. Williamson, who is described as a “roving correspondent” for the magazine. His article is entitled “Word Games: The Right Discovers the Deep State.” Williamson begins by observing that using “neocon” disparagingly in the post-9/11 context acts either “as a kind of catalyst enabling a political reaction that revived a great many stupid and ugly myths about Jewish bankers orchestrating wars for profit…” or serves as a standby expression for a “Jew with politics I don’t like.”

Interestingly, I have never heard the “Jewish bankers” theory or disparagement of Jewish “politics” from the many responsible critics who have been dismayed by the aberrant U.S. foreign policy that has evolved since 2001. I don’t know how much money Goldman Sachs has made since the World Trade Center went down and that is not really the issue, nor is the fact that Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic, which is a party that I don’t particularly like. Williamson dodges the increasingly held view that America slid into the abyss when Washington declared war on the entire world and invaded Iraq based on a tissue of lies, in large part to benefit Israel, which is what matters and why the enabling role of the neocons is important.

And one might reasonably argue that U.S. policy since that time has nearly always deferred to Israeli interests, most recently declaring its prime mission at the U.N. to be protecting Israel, then acting on that premise by forcing the resignation of a senior official who had prepared a report critical of Israel’s “apartheid” regime. I recognize that relatively few American Jews are neocons and that many American Jews are in the forefront in resistance to Israel’s inhumane policies, but the reality is that nearly all neocons are Jewish. And they are in your face every time you turn on the television or pick up a newspaper. Abrasive and abusive Professor Alan Dershowitz recently proclaimed that Jews should never apologize for Jewish power, saying that it is deserved and granted by God, but I for one think it is past time for a little pushback from the rest of us to make Washington protect American interests instead of those of Israel.

The neocon cult has been behind the promotion of Israel as well as the serial foreign policy misadventures since 2001. Do the names Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Edelman, Ledeen, Senor, Libby and Nuland in and around the government as well as a host of others in think tanks and lobbies like AIPAC, AEI, WINEP, PNAC, FPI, FDD, JINSA and Hudson ring a bell? And do the loud voices in the media to include Judith Miller, Robert Kaplan, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, Fred Hiatt, Bret Stephens, Bill Kristol, the Kagans and the Podhoretzes, as well as the entire Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editorial pages, suggest any connivance?

They are all Jews and many are connected in terms of their careers, which were heavily networked from the inside to advance them up the ladder, often to include moving between government and lucrative think tank and academic positions. They mostly self-identify as neoconservatives and all share some significant traits, notably extreme dedication to Israel and embrace of the doctrine that the U.S. should not be shy about using military force, so it is interesting to learn from Williamson that they really do not constitute a cohesive group with shared values and interests as well as excellent access to the media and the levers of power. When did you last see an “expert” on the Middle East on television who was not Jewish?

Having made his pithy comments and dismissed neoconservatism-phobes as bigots, Williamson then wanders off subject into the Deep State, which, like neoconism apparently is some kind of urban legend being propagated by the poorly informed, whom these days he identifies as Trump supporters. He argues that the entities that are frequently cited as the Deep State, including the neocons, actually have quite divergent interests and it is unlikely that those interests should become “identical or aligned” to enable running of the country in an essentially clandestine fashion.

It is perhaps inevitable that Williamson is confused as he does not recognize how the American Deep State differs from that in most other countries – it is perhaps better described as the Establishment. Unlike in places like Turkey, it operates largely out in the open and ostensibly legally along a New York-Washington axis that constantly revitalizes itself through the revolving door allowing the entry of politicians and high government officials who create and enforce the legislation that benefits Deep State interests. Its components do indeed have different motives, but they come together in preserving the status quo, which benefits all parties, while little dissent comes from the Fourth Estate as the process plays out, since much of the media and many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide Deep State “intellectual” credibility are also part of the same malignancy. And yes, quite a bit of today’s Establishment is Jewish, most particularly financial and legal services, the think tanks, and academia. Many of them support or are part of the neocon persuasion and frequently also of the Israel Lobby.

Continued here

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