On the liberty to teach, pursue, and discuss knowledge without restriction

 

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by Gilad Atzmon

It didn’t  take long for the American Administration to crudely interfere with an open society’s most sacred ethos, that of academic freedom.  We learned this weekend that the US Department of Education has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake their joint Middle East studies program after concluding that they were offering students “a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region.”

Academic freedom is a relatively simple principle. It refers to the ”liberty to teach, pursue, and discuss knowledge without restriction or interference, as by school or public officials.”

This principle seems to be under attack in America.  The American administration has openly interfered with the liberty to freely teach, pursue and discuss knowledge.

The New York Times writes:  “in a rare instance of federal intervention in college course content, the department asserted that the universities’ Middle East program violated the standards of a federal program that awards funding to international studies and foreign language programs.”

According to the NYT the focus on ‘anti Israeli bias’ “appears to reflect the views of an agency leadership that includes a civil rights chief, Kenneth L. Marcus, who has made a career of pro-Israel advocacy and has waged a years long campaign to delegitimize and defund Middle East studies programs that he has criticized as rife with anti-Israel bias.”

One may wonder why America is willing to sacrifice its liberal ethos on the pro Israel altar?  Miriam Elman provides a possible answer. Elman is an associate professor at Syracuse University and executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, which opposes BDS. Elman told the NYT that this “should be a wake-up call… what they’re (the Federal government presumably) saying is, ‘If you want to be biased and show an unbalanced view of the Middle East, you can do that, but you’re not going to get federal and taxpayer money.”

In Elman’s view academic freedom has stayed intact, it is just the dollars  that will be  withheld unless a university adheres to pro Israel politics.

Those who follow the history of Zionism, Israeli politics and Jewish nationalism find this latest development unsurprising. Zionism, once dedicated to the concept of a “promised land,” morphed decades ago into an aspiration toward a ‘promised planet.’  Zionism is a global project operating in most, if not all, Western states. Jewish pressure groups, Zionist think tanks and Pro Israel lobbies work intensively to suppress elementary freedoms and reshape the public, political and cultural discourse all to achieve Zionism’s ambitious goal. After all, Jewish power, as I define it, is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power.

This authoritarian symptom is not at all new. It is apparently a wandering phenomenon. It has popped out in different forms at different times.  What happened in the USSR  provides a perfect illustration of this  symptom. In the early days of Soviet Russia, anti-Semitism was met with the death penalty as stated by Joseph Stalin  in answer to an inquiry made by the Jewish News Agency: “In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.”

Germany saw the formation of Jewish anti defamation leagues attempted to suppress the rise in anti Jewish sentiments.* There’s no need to elaborate on the dramatic failure of these efforts in Germany. And despite Stalin’s early pro-Jewish stance, the Soviet leader turned against the so- called rootless cosmopolitans.” This campaign led to the 1950s Doctors’ plot, in which a group of doctors (mostly Jewish) were subjected to a show trial for supposedly having plotted to assassinate the Soviet leader.

In Britain and other Western nations we have seen fierce pro Israel campaigns waged to suppress criticism of Israel and Jewish politics. Different lobbies have been  utilizing different means amongst them the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by governments and institutions. In Britain, France, Germany and other European countries, intellectuals, artists, politicians, party members and ordinary citizens are constantly harassed by a few powerful Jewish pressure groups. In dark Orwellian Britain 2019, critics of Israel have yet to face the death sentence, but they are subjected to severe reprisals ranging  from personal intimidation to police actions and criminal prosecution. People have lost their jobs for supporting Palestine, others have been expelled from Corbyn’s compromised Labour Party for making truthful statements. Some have even been jailed for satirical  content. And as you might guess, none of this has made Israel, its supporters or its stooges popular. Quite the opposite.  

I learned from the NYT that the administration “ordered” the universities’ consortium to submit a revised schedule of events it planned to support, a full list of the courses it offers and the professors working in its Middle East studies program.  I wonder who in the administration possesses the scholarly credentials to assess the academic level of university courses or professors? Professor Trump himself, or maybe Kushner & Ivanka or Kushner’s coffee boy Avi Berkovitch, or maybe recently retired ‘peace maker’ Jason Greenblatt?

 It takes years to build academic institutions, departments, libraries and research facilities. Apparently, it takes one determined lobby to ruin the future of American scholarship.

*In his book Final Solution David Cesarani brings the story of the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith) that operated in Germany since the late 19th century “suing rabble rousers for defamation, funding candidates pledging to contest antisemitism…” You can read about the association and its activity here


My battle for truth and freedom involves some expensive legal and security services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me and others.

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Jews vs. Israelis

 

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by Gilad Atzmon

 Now would be the correct time for Ali Abunimah, JVP,  & CO to form an orderly queue to issue their deep and sincere apology to me. Since the early 2000s my detractors within the so called Jewish ‘Left’ together with  their sometime stooges, have been harassing me, my publishers and my readers for pointing out that Zionism is an obsolete concept with little meaning for Israel, Israelis  and their politics let alone the conflict that has been destroying the Eastern Mediterranean region

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In my 2011 book The Wandering Who, I argue that “Since Israel defines itself openly as the ‘Jewish State’, we should ask what the notions of ’Judaism’, ‘Jewishness’, ‘Jewish culture’ and ‘Jewish ideology’ stand for.” Just before the publication of the book I was urged by both JVP’s leader and Ali Abunimah to drop the J-Word and focus solely on Zionism. In Britain, a gang of so called ‘anti’ Zionist Jews relentlessly terrorised my publisher and promoters. Funny, most of these authoritarian tribals who worked 24/7 to silence me have been expelled from the British Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism. Now, they promote the ideal of ‘freedom of speech.’

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In ‘The Wandering Who’ and in the years preceding its publication, I realised that the Palestinian solidarity discourse has been suffocated with misleading and often duplicitous terminology that was set to divert  attention from the root cause of the conflict and that acted  to prevent intelligible discussion of  possible solutions.

Let’s face it. Israel doesn’t see  itself as the Zionist State: not one Israeli party integrated the word ‘Zionism’ into its name. To Israelis, Zionism is a dated and clichéd concept that describes the ideology that promised to erect a Jewish homeland in Palestine. For Israelis, Zionism fulfilled its purpose in 1948, it is now an archaic term. In ‘The Wandering Who’ I presented a so-far unrefuted argument that an understanding of ‘Jewishness’, a term familiar to every self-identified Jew, may provide answers to most questions related to Israel and its politics. It may also help us to grasp the fake dissent that has dominated the so- called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist campaign for the last two decades.

Though I was probably the first to write about the crucial shift in Israeli society in favour of Judeo-centrism, this shift is now mainstream news.  Haaretz’s lead writer, Anshel Pfeffer, just wrote a spectacular analysis of this transformation. Pfeffer’s view is that Israelis are going to the polls this Tuesday to decide whether they are “Jews” or “Israelis.” 

According to Pfeffer, in the mid 1990s it was Netanyahu’s American campaign guru, Arthur Finkelstein, who promoted  “a message that could reach secular and religious voters alike. In his polling, he had asked voters whether they considered themselves ‘more Jewish’ or ‘more Israeli.’ The results convinced him there was a much larger constituency of voters, not just religious ones, who emphasized their Jewish identity over their Israeli one.”

In light of Finkelstein’s observation, Likud focused its message on Jerusalem. Its campaign slogan was:  “Peres will divide Jerusalem.” In the final 48 hours before Election Day there was also “an unofficial slogan, emblazoned on millions of posters and bumper stickers distributed by Chabad Hasidim: “Netanyahu is good for the Jews.”

In a Haaretz interview after his narrow 1996 defeat, Peres lamented that “the Israelis lost the election.” When asked then who had won, he answered, “The Jews won.”

Pfeffer points out that Netanyahu learned from Finkelstein that the “Jew” is the primary unifier for Israelis. This certainly applies to religious Jews but also to those who regard themselves as secular. After all, Israel has really been the “Jewish State” for a while.

This is probably the right place to point out that Netanyahu’s move of locating Jewishness at the heart of Israel is a reversal of the original Zionist promise. While early Zionism was a desperate attempt to divorce the Jews from the ghetto and their tribal obsession and make them “people like all other people,” the present adherence to Jewishness and kinship induces  a return to Judeo-centric chauvinism. As odd as this may sound, Netanyahu’s transformation of Israel into a ‘Jewish realm’ makes him an ardent anti Zionist probably more anti Zionist than JVP, Mondoweiss and the BDS together.

Pfeffer points out that when Netanyahu returned to power in 2009 and  formed a right-wing/ religious coalition, was when “the Jews prevailed — and have done so ever since in four consecutive elections, including the last one in April 2019.”

To illustrate this Pfeffer cites the 2012 Israeli  High Court of Justice decision to deny a petition by writer Yoram Kaniuk and others to allow themselves to be registered solely as ‘Israelis’ as opposed to ‘Jews.’

Every so often we hear from one Torah rabbi or another that “Zionism is not Judaism.” Those who have reached this point surely grasp that ‘Zionism vs. Judaism’ is a fake dichotomy. It serves to confuse and to divert questioning minds from the path toward an understanding of the conflict: In Israel Zionism is an empty concept, politically, ideologically and spiritually. Israel defines itself as ‘The Jewish state’ and orthodox rabbis are at the centre of this transition in Israeli politics and life.

I guess that Abunimah and JVP were desperate to silence me at the time as they foolishly believed that shooting the messenger or alternatively burning books was the way forward for human rights activism. I stood firm. The observations I produced in ‘The Wandering Who’ were endorsed by the most profound thinkers associated with the conflict and the anti war movement. My observations are more relevant than ever and in Israel they have entered mainstream analysis. When it comes to Palestine solidarity we have managed to waste a good two decades of intellectual progress thanks to authoritarian lobbies operating in our midst. For truth and justice to prevail, we have to learn to speak the truth as we see it, and to accept JVP and Abumimah’s apologies when they are mature enough to come clean.

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Israel’s Hands Spread Wide and Dig Deep

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Brian Cloughley
August 6, 2019
© Photo: Flickr / Official Photo by Caleb Smith

In the US House of Representatives on 23 July there was an overwhelming vote condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement which has the objective of encouraging the government of Israel to meet “its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully comply with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

There is nothing morally or legally questionable in any of these aims.  But the United States Congress does not concern itself with morality or legality if these are inconsistent with its policy concerning Israel, which, as enunciated by Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, is based on the conviction that “Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats.”  Fox News reported that the condemnatory resolution “has been pushed by AIPAC, the influential Israel lobby in Washington,” which explains a great deal, as AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a very powerful organisation, with deep pockets and wide-spreading hands.

In February 2019 The Intercept noted  that “AIPAC, on its own website, recruits members to join its ‘Congressional Club,’ and commit to give at least $5,000 per election cycle.” In a film called The Lobby “Eric Gallagher, a top official at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015, tells an Al Jazeera reporter that AIPAC gets results.”  A secret recording revealed that “Getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did. Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress.”

And AIPAC influences Congress and other agencies extremely efficiently, even to the extent of managing to have Al Jazeera refrain from broadcasting the US-focused version of The Lobby.The Director of Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, Clayton Swisher, said that pressure included “pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington threatening to convince Congress to register the network as ‘foreign agents,’ and false accusations of anti-Semitism against the producers of the documentary.”  That’s all you need:  the mere mention of anti-Semitism makes everyone suck their teeth, roll their eyes, and leap out of the way.

It so happened that the day before Congress condemned an initiative aimed at having Israel recognise the rights of Palestinians and abide by international law, the Israelis carried out an operation of destruction that was specifically aimed against the rights of Palestinians and was contrary to international law.  As the BBC reported, it involved 200 Israeli soldiers and 700 police, weapons at the ready, deploying to the Palestinian village of Wadi Hummus at 4 in the morning of July 22, along with bulldozers and excavators that proceeded to destroy Palestinian homes.

There wasn’t a word of objection from the US Administration whose Tweeter-in-Chief had made his views on Israel crystal-clear on 16 July when he announced that the four non-white female Members of Congress whom he loathes to the point of psychosis are “a bunch of Communists [who] hate Israel.”  Moreover, they “talk about Israel like they’re a bunch of   thugs, not victims of the entire region.”  On the other hand, the European Union stated that “Israel’s settlement policy, including actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, is illegal under international law. In line with the EU’s long-standing position, we expect the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the ongoing demolitions.”  Fat chance of that — just as there is no possibility that the United states or the United Kingdom will support pursuit of international law when it is violated by Israel.

Britain is on its way out of the European Union, so has no say in EU policy, but in any case it wouldn’t agree about criticism of Israel because the governing Conservative Party fosters an organisation called ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’ (CFI) whose members constitute some eighty per cent of Conservative Members of Parliament.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Trump-loving new prime minister, is a fervid supporter of CFI which supported him in his bid to be head of the Conservative party. On 23 July, after his selection to be leader and thus prime minister, the CFI’s Chairmen, Stephen Crabb MP and Lord Pickles, and Honorary President Lord Polak declared that “From his refusal to boycott Israeli goods in his time as Mayor of London through to his instrumental role as Foreign Secretary…  Boris has a long history of standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel and the Jewish community. Mr Johnson continued to display his resolute support… reiterating his deep support for Israel and pledging to be a champion for Jews in Britain and around the world.”

One of Johnson’s first ministerial appointments was of Ms Priti Patel to be Home Secretary. She had resigned from the Cabinet of PM Theresa May in November 2017 because it had been discovered that she had been telling lies, which wasn’t in itself unusual, but the circumstances were intriguing.  As the BBC headlined about the then head of International Development :  “Priti Patel quits cabinet over Israel meetings row” which involved her apologising to the prime minister “after unauthorised meetings in August with Israeli politicians — including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — came to light. But it later emerged she had two further meetings without government officials present in September.”  Not only that, but in a media interview “she gave the false impression that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the Foreign Office knew about her meetings in Israel.”

It’s one of these irregular verbs which were met with much laughter during the marvellous BBC series ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ — ‘I make a misstatement;  she gives a false impression;  he is in prison for telling lies.’

And it was decidedly strange that the egregious Lord Polak, he of the statement that Boris Johnson stands “shoulder to shoulder with Israel” accompanied Patel at 13 of her 14 meetings with Israeli officials during August and September. What on earth could have been going on?

Of course she had no reason to worry about having to resign for telling lies, because at the time of her disgrace Boris Johnson told the BBC that “Priti Patel has been a very good colleague and friend for a long time and a first class secretary of state for international development. It’s been a real pleasure working with her and I’m sure she has a great future ahead of her.”  The man has the gift of prophecy.

Then Johnson appointed Michael Gove to his Cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is a weird appointment that gives a lot of power and very little responsibility. Gove had been demonstrably disloyal to Johnson during the first leadership struggle, in what the Daily Telegraph called a “spectacular act of treachery” but all was forgiven because, as recorded approvingly by the Conservative Friends of Israel he believes that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are “two sides of the same coin”, which means that anybody who criticises Israel’s nationalistic persecution of Palestinians is an anti-Semite. He believes that “the test for any civilised society is whether it stands with the Jewish people, and whether it stands with Israel. It is a pleasure to stand with the Jewish people. It is a duty to stand with Israel.”

The Palestinians are not going to get one tiny bit of support from either the United States or Britain when their houses are bulldozed to rubble.  They can expect no criticism from Washington or London when their children are killed in Gaza by Israeli soldiers.

The West Bank of the Jordan River, between Israel and Jordan, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Then it annexed East Jerusalem. Both areas are defined in international law as occupied territory.  Although this is ignored by the US and Britain it was intriguing that in a minor but telling legal finding in Canada on 30 July, a judge ruled that wines made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank should not carry labels that say “Product of Israel” because of course the settlements are built on Palestinian land.

But there’s no point in telling that to the Israeli-supporting wine connoisseur Donald Trump or the US Congress or any member of Britain’s governing Conservative party, because international law means nothing when there are other priorities.

What Tulsi Gabbard’s caving in to the Israel Lobby really shows

The Saker

July 24, 2019

What Tulsi Gabbard’s caving in to the Israel Lobby really shows

Yes, Tulsi Gabbard’s name was not found in the list of those members of Congress which voted “no” to the resolution condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.  This is the full list as reported by The Forward: Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Andre Carson (D-Indiana), Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Illinois), Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), Barbara Lee (D-California), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), Bobby Rush (D-Illinois), Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-New Jersey).

Thank you, so-called “US free and independent media”!

Truth be told, the Israeli Lobby did a superb job focusing what is left of the mind of those who expose themselves to the corporate Ziomedia’s propaganda on nonsensical pretend-issues such as who is in the so-called “squad”  (Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Rashida Tlaib), on Ilhan Omar alledged anti-Semitism (what else is new?) and on Trump’s brilliant idea to send her “home” (only to disawow it later – in typical Trump style).  As a result, a major chunk of the First Amendement has now been chipped away.

I also note with interest that these 17 Democracts prove that the most pro-Zionist party is the GOP, not the Democrats.  I salute the courage of Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky)!

There were plenty of other signs that showed that for all her very real qualities and her likely sincerity, Tulsi Gabbard does not really dare to speak truth to power.  Here is a very good example of that:

I agree with the slogan she chose: the Kremlin’s darling?  Think again!

A very wise friend of mine wrote this about why Gabbard had to cave in:

I told you she is a single issue politician. It’s about wars without end. Everything else is Realpolitik and nothing is more real than Zionists controlling the politics and legislation in Washington.  She would have no hope of surviving the next round of laws. They are going to make anything “anti-Israel” equal “anti-Semitic” and that will be a crime like it is in France. She has high ideals on only a single issue. It’s a great issue. But you cannot count on a politician to be a noble warrior. Forget anyone doing the right thing all the time.  She shines bright on one issue. If she was really wise or clever, she would have abstained. So, she is neither. 

Again, I can only agree with him.

My personal conclusion from all this is that this is yet another strong indication that the US political system is completely unreformable.  And, furthermore, any political system which cannot adapt to new realities and reform itself is simply condemned to a sudden, catastrophic (and often violent) collapse.

This being said, Gabbard is still the only running candidate who wants to legalize cannabis (at least as far as I know), she wants to reform what is justly called the “US Gulag” system and she backs Medicare For All.  I still think that she is very likable and probably sincere.  But she sure does not have what it takes to tackle what is by far the worst problem of the United States: they are just a subservient and voiceless colony of the last openly racist state on the planet and that is a moral issue.  This is the type of issue in which no compromise is possible, at least for an honest person.  Gabbard chose to compromise on that, and this makes her useless to those who want to free the United States and restore in full their full sovereignty.

Too bad.

The Saker

 

The Plot to Keep Jeremy Corbyn Out of Power

 

 • JULY 4, 2019

 

In the latest of the interminable media “furores” about Jeremy Corbyn’s supposed unfitness to lead Britain’s Labour party – let alone become prime minister – it is easy to forget where we were shortly before he won the support of an overwhelming majority of Labour members to head the party.

In the preceding two years, it was hard to avoid on TV the figure of Russell Brand, a comedian and minor film star who had reinvented himself, after years of battling addiction, as a spiritual guru-cum-political revolutionary.

Brand’s fast-talking, plain-speaking criticism of the existing political order, calling it discredited, unaccountable and unrepresentative, was greeted with smirking condescension by the political and media establishment. Nonetheless, in an era before Donald Trump had become president of the United States, the British media were happy to indulge Brand for a while, seemingly believing he or his ideas might prove a ratings winner with younger audiences.

But Brand started to look rather more impressive than anyone could have imagined. He took on supposed media heavyweights like the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman and Channel 4’s Jon Snow and charmed and shamed them into submission – both with his compassion and his thoughtful radicalism. Even in the gladiatorial-style battle of wits so beloved of modern TV, he made these titans of the political interview look mediocre, shallow and out of touch. Videos of these head-to-heads went viral, and Brand won hundreds of thousands of new followers.

Then he overstepped the mark.

Democracy as charade

Instead of simply criticising the political system, Brand argued that it was in fact so rigged by the powerful, by corporate interests, that western democracy had become a charade. Elections were pointless. Our votes were simply a fig-leaf, concealing the fact that our political leaders were there to represent not us but the interests of globe-spanning corporations. Political and media elites had been captured by unshored corporate money. Our voices had become irrelevant.

Brand didn’t just talk the talk. He started committing to direct action. He shamed our do-nothing politicians and corporate media – the devastating Grenfell Tower fire had yet to happen – by helping to gain attention for a group of poor tenants in London who were taking on the might of a corporation that had become their landlord and wanted to evict them to develop their homes for a much richer clientele. Brand’s revolutionary words had turned into revolutionary action.

But just as Brand’s rejection of the old politics began to articulate a wider mood, it was stopped in its tracks. After Corbyn was unexpectedly elected Labour leader, offering for the first time in living memory a politics that listened to people before money, Brand’s style of rejectionism looked a little too cynical, or at least premature.

While Corbyn’s victory marked a sea-change, it is worth recalling, however, that it occurred only because of a mistake. Or perhaps two.

The Corbyn accident

First, a handful of Labour MPs agreed to nominate Corbyn for the leadership contest, scraping him past the threshold needed to get on the ballot paper. Most backed him only because they wanted to give the impression of an election that was fair and open. After his victory, some loudly regretted having assisted him. None had thought a representative of the tiny and besieged left wing of the parliamentary party stood a chance of winning – not after Tony Blair and his acolytes had spent more than two decades remaking Labour, using their own version of entryism to eradicate any vestiges of socialism in the party. These “New Labour” MPs were there, just as Brand had noted, to represent the interests of a corporate class, not ordinary people.

Corbyn had very different ideas from most of his colleagues. Over the years he had broken with the consensus of the dominant Blairite faction time and again in parliamentary votes, consistently taking a minority view that later proved to be on the right side of history. He alone among the leadership contenders spoke unequivocally against austerity, regarding it as a way to leech away more public money to enrich the corporations and banks that had already pocketed vast sums from the public coffers – so much so that by 2008 they had nearly bankrupted the entire western economic system.

And second, Corbyn won because of a recent change in the party’s rulebook – one now much regretted by party managers. A new internal balloting system gave more weight to the votes of ordinary members than the parliamentary party. The members, unlike the party machine, wanted Corbyn.

Corbyn’s success didn’t really prove Brand wrong. Even the best designed systems have flaws, especially when the maintenance of the system’s image as benevolent is considered vitally important. It wasn’t that Corbyn’s election had shown Britain’s political system was representative and accountable. It was simply evidence that corporate power had made itself vulnerable to a potential accident by preferring to work out of sight, in the shadows, to maintain the illusion of democracy. Corbyn was that accident.

‘Brainwashing under freedom’

Corbyn’s success also wasn’t evidence that the power structure he challenged had weakened. The system was still in place and it still had a chokehold on the political and media establishments that exist to uphold its interests. Which is why it has been mobilising these forces endlessly to damage Corbyn and avert the risk of a further, even more disastrous “accident”, such as his becoming prime minister.

Listing the ways the state-corporate media have sought to undermine Corbyn would sound preposterous to anyone not deeply immersed in these media-constructed narratives. But almost all of us have been exposed to this kind of “brainwashing under freedom” since birth.

The initial attacks on Corbyn were for being poorly dressed, sexist, unstatesmanlike, a national security threat, a Communist spy – relentless, unsubstantiated smears the like of which no other party leader had ever faced. But over time the allegations became even more outrageously propagandistic as the campaign to undermine him not only failed but backfired – not least, because Labour membership rocketed under Corbyn to make the party the largest in Europe.

As the establishment’s need to keep him away from power has grown more urgent and desperate so has the nature of the attacks.

Redefining anti-semitism

Corbyn was extremely unusual in many ways as the leader of a western party within sight of power. Personally he was self-effacing and lived modestly. Ideologically he was resolutely against the thrust of four decades of a turbo-charged neoliberal capitalism unleashed by Thatcher and Reagan in the early 1980s; and he opposed foreign wars for empire, fashionable “humanitarian interventions” whose real goal was to attack other sovereign states either to control their resources, usually oil, or line the pockets of the military-industrial complex.

It was difficult to attack Corbyn directly for these positions. There was the danger that they might prove popular with voters. But Corbyn was seen to have an Achilles’ heel. He was a life-long anti-racism activist and well known for his support for the rights of the long-suffering Palestinians. The political and media establishments quickly learnt that they could recharacterise his support for the Palestinians and criticism of Israel as anti-semitism. He was soon being presented as a leader happy to preside over an “institutionally” anti-semitic party.

Under pressure of these attacks, Labour was forced to adopt a new and highly controversial definition of anti-semitism – one rejected by leading jurists and later repudiated by the lawyer who devised it – that expressly conflates criticism of Israel, and anti-Zionism, with Jew hatred. One by one Corbyn’s few ideological allies in the party – those outside the Blairite consensus – have been picked off as anti-semites. They have either fallen foul of this conflation or, as with Labour MP Chris Williamson, they have been tarred and feathered for trying to defend Labour’s record against the accusations of a supposed endemic anti-semitism in its ranks.

The bad faith of the anti-semitism smears were particularly clear in relation to Williamson. The comment that plunged him into so much trouble – now leading twice to his suspension – was videoed. In it he can be heard calling anti-semitism a “scourge” that must be confronted. But also, in line with all evidence, Williamson denied that Labour had any particular anti-semitism problem. In part he blamed the party for being too ready to concede unwarranted ground to critics, further stoking the attacks and smears. He noted that Labour had been “demonised as a racist, bigoted party”, adding: “Our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion … we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic.”

The Guardian has been typical in mischaracterising Williamson’s remarks not once but each time it has covered developments in his case. Every Guardian report has stated, against the audible evidence, that Williamson said Labour was “too apologetic about anti-semitism”. In short, the Guardian and the rest of the media have insinuated that Williamson approves of anti-semitism. But what he actually said was that Labour was “too apologetic” when dealing with unfair or unreasonable allegations of anti-semitism, that it had too willingly accepted the unfounded premise of its critics that the party condoned racism.

Like the Salem witch-hunts

The McCarthyite nature of this process of misrepresentation and guilt by association was underscored when Jewish Voice for Labour, a group of Jewish party members who have defended Corbyn against the anti-semitism smears, voiced their support for Williamson. Jon Lansman, a founder of the Momentum group originally close to Corbyn, turned on the JVL calling them “part of the problem and not part of the solution to antisemitism in the Labour Party”. In an additional, ugly but increasingly normalised remark, he added: “Neither the vast majority of individual members of JVL nor the organisation itself can really be said to be part of the Jewish community.”

In this febrile atmosphere, Corbyn’s allies have been required to confess that the party is institutionally anti-semitic, to distance themselves from Corbyn and often to submit to anti-semitism training. To do otherwise, to deny the accusation is, as in the Salem witch-hunts, treated as proof of guilt.

The anti-semitism claims have been regurgitated almost daily across the narrow corporate media “spectrum”, even though they are unsupported by any actual evidence of an anti-semitism problem in Labour beyond a marginal one representative of wider British society. The allegations have reached such fever-pitch, stoked into a hysteria by the media, that the party is now under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – the only party apart from the neo-Nazi British National Party ever to face such an investigation.

These attacks have transformed the whole discursive landscape on Israel, the Palestinians, Zionism and anti-semitism in ways unimaginable 20 years ago, when I first started reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then the claim that anti-Zionism – opposition to Israel as a state privileging Jews over non-Jews – was the same as anti-semitism sounded patently ridiculous. It was an idea promoted only by the most unhinged apologists for Israel.

Now, however, we have leading liberal commentators such as the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland claiming not only that Israel is integral to their Jewish identity but that they speak for all other Jews in making such an identification. To criticise Israel is to attack them as Jews, and by implication to attack all Jews. And therefore any Jew dissenting from this consensus, any Jew identifying as anti-Zionist, any Jew in Labour who supports Corbyn – and there are many, even if they are largely ignored – are denounced, in line with Lansman, as the “wrong kind of Jews”. It may be absurd logic, but such ideas are now so commonplace as to be unremarkable.

In fact, the weaponisation of anti-semitism against Corbyn has become so normal that, even while I was writing this post, a new nadir was reached. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary who hopes to defeat Boris Johnson in the upcoming Tory leadership race, as good as accused Corbyn of being a new Hitler, a man who as prime minister might allow Jews to be exterminated, just as occurred in the Nazi death camps.

Too ‘frail’ to be PM

Although anti-semitism has become the favoured stick with which to beat Corbyn, other forms of attack regularly surface. The latest are comments by unnamed “senior civil servants” reported in the Times alleging that Corbyn is too physically frail and mentally ill-equipped to grasp the details necessary to serve as prime minister. It barely matters whether the comment was actually made by a senior official or simply concocted by the Times. It is yet further evidence of the political and media establishments’ anti-democratic efforts to discredit Corbyn as a general election looms.

One of the ironies is that media critics of Corbyn regularly accuse him of failing to make any political capital from the shambolic disarray of the ruling Conservative party, which is eating itself alive over the terms of Brexit, Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union. But it is the corporate media – which serves both as society’s main forum of debate and as a supposed watchdog on power – that is starkly failing to hold the Tories to account. While the media obsess about Corbyn’s supposed mental deficiencies, they have smoothed the path of Boris Johnson, a man who personifies the word “buffoon” like no one else in political life, to become the new leader of the Conservative party and therefore by default – and without an election – the next prime minister.

An indication of how the relentless character assassination of Corbyn is being coordinated was hinted at early on, months after his election as Labour leader in 2015. A British military general told the Times, again anonymously, that there would be “direct action” – what he also termed a “mutiny” – by the armed forces should Corbyn ever get in sight of power. The generals, he said, regarded Corbyn as a national security threat and would use any means, “fair or foul”, to prevent him implementing his political programme.

Running the gauntlet

But this campaign of domestic attacks on Corbyn needs to be understood in a still wider framework, which relates to Britain’s abiding Transatlantic “special relationship”, one that in reality means that the UK serves as Robin to the United States’ Batman, or as a very junior partner to the global hegemon.

Last month a private conversation concerning Corbyn between the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the heads of a handful of rightwing American Jewish organisations was leaked. Contrary to the refrain of the UK corporate media that Corbyn is so absurd a figure that he could never win an election, the fear expressed on both sides of that Washington conversation was that the Labour leader might soon become Britain’s prime minister.

Framing Corbyn yet again as an anti-semite, a US Jewish leader could be heard asking Pompeo if he would be “willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK”. Pompeo responded that it was possible “Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected” – a telling phrase that attracted remarkably little attention, as did the story itself, given that it revealed one of the most senior Trump administration officials explicitly talking about meddling directly in the outcome of a UK election.

Here is the dictionary definition of “run the gauntlet”: to take part in a form of corporal punishment in which the party judged guilty is forced to run between two rows of soldiers, who strike out and attack him.

So Pompeo was suggesting that there already is a gauntlet – systematic and organised blows and strikes against Corbyn – that he is being made to run through. In fact, “running the gauntlet” precisely describes the experience Corbyn has faced since he was elected Labour leader – from the corporate media, from the dominant Blairite faction of his own party, from rightwing, pro-Israel Jewish organisations like the Board of Deputies, and from anonymous generals and senior civil servants.

‘We cheated, we stole’

Pompeo continued: “You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

So, Washington’s view is that action must be taken before Corbyn reaches a position of power. To avoid any danger he might become the UK’s next prime minister, the US will do its “level best” to “push back”. Assuming that this hasn’t suddenly become the US administration’s priority, how much time does the US think it has before Corbyn might win power? How close is a UK election?

As everyone in Washington is only too keenly aware, a UK election has been a distinct possiblity since the Conservatives set up a minority goverment two years ago with the help of fickle, hardline Ulster loyalists. Elections have been looming ever since, as the UK ruling party has torn itself apart over Brexit, its MPs regularly defeating their own leader, prime minister Theresa May, in parliamentary votes.

So if Pompeo is saying, as he appears to be, that the US will do whatever it can to make sure Corbyn doesn’t win an election well before that election takes place, it means the US is already deeply mired in anti-Corbyn activity. Pompeo is not only saying that the US is ready to meddle in the UK’s election, which is bad enough; he is hinting that it is already meddling in UK politics to make sure the will of the British people does not bring to power the wrong leader.

Remember that Pompeo, a former CIA director, once effectively America’s spy chief, was unusually frank about what his agency got up to when he was in charge. He observed: “I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses.”

One would have to be remarkably naive to think that Pompeo changed the CIA’s culture during his short tenure. He simply became the figurehead of the world’s most powerful spying outfit, one that had spent decades developing the principles of US exceptionalism, that had lied its way to recent wars in Iraq and Libya, as it had done earlier in Vietnam and in justifying the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, and much more. Black ops and psyops were not invented by Pompeo. They have long been a mainstay of US foreign policy.

An eroding consensus

It takes a determined refusal to join the dots not to see a clear pattern here.

Brand was right that the system is rigged, that our political and media elites are captured, and that the power structure of our societies will defend itself by all means possible, “fair or foul”. Corbyn is far from alone in this treatment. The system is similarly rigged to stop a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders – though not a rich businessman like Donald Trump – winning the nomination for the US presidential race. It is also rigged to silence real journalists like Julian Assange who are trying to overturn the access journalism prized by the corporate media – with its reliance on official sources and insiders for stories – to divulge the secrets of the national security states we live in.

There is a conspiracy at work here, though it is not of the kind lampooned by critics: a small cabal of the rich secretly pullng the strings of our societies. The conspiracy operates at an institutional level, one that has evolved over time to create structures and refine and entrench values that keep power and wealth in the hands of the few. In that sense we are all part of the conspiracy. It is a conspiracy that embraces us every time we unquestioningly accept the “consensual” narratives laid out for us by our education systems, politicians and media. Our minds have been occupied with myths, fears and narratives that turned us into the turkeys that keep voting for Christmas.

That system is not impregnable, however. The consensus so carefully constructed over many decades is rapidly breaking down as the power structure that underpins it is forced to grapple with real-world problems it is entirely unsuited to resolve, such as the gradual collapse of western economies premised on infinite growth and a climate that is fighting back against our insatiable appetite for the planet’s resources.

As long as we colluded in the manufactured consensus of western societies, the system operated without challenge or meaningful dissent. A deeply ideological system destroying the planet was treated as if it was natural, immutable, the summit of human progress, the end of history. Those times are over. Accidents like Corbyn will happen more frequently, as will extreme climate events and economic crises. The power structures in place to prevent such accidents will by necessity grow more ham-fisted, more belligerent, less concealed to get their way. And we might finally understand that a system designed to pacify us while a few grow rich at the expense of our children’s future and our own does not have to continue. That we can raise our voices and loudly say: “No!”

Not Every Jewish Woman is Gal Gadot

June 11, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

not Gal Gadot.jpg

Deconstruction by Gilad Atzmon

Introduction by GA: The DC Jewish Dyke march has been immersed in controversy,  its organisers banned marchers from carrying  rainbow Star of David flags. In the following interview Jill Raney a “mildly radical Southern queer Jewish feminist”  interviews  IfNotNow DC, a community partner of DC Dyke March. I have provided commentary for the interview, deconstructing and exposing the duplicitous nature of the Jewish anti Zionist argument. This interview is a crucial window into the Jewish Identitarian discourse and it provides proof,  yet again, that not every Jew is an Einstein and as the documentation of the march reveals, not every Jewish woman is Gal Gadot.

 Jewish dykes are welcome at DC Dyke March! Nationalist symbols are not.

https://medium.com/

Q: Are Jewish dykes welcome at DC Dyke March?

 A: Absolutely!

 GA: The question is whether Goyim are also welcome at this Purim celebration.

 Q: Why does it sometimes seem as though liberation for Jews and liberation for Palestinians are at odds with each other?

 GA: The obvious answer is that the two calls have nothing in common.  Jews are liberated and Palestinians are oppressed by the Jewish state. ‘Jews’ and Palestinians have little or nothing in common politically.

 A: Because white supremacy wants to divide us! Antisemitism structurally makes intersectional organizing more difficult by making Jews feel afraid of non-Jews. Zionism and the State of Israel are important to some Jews, but the particular way that the State of Israel was founded caused catastrophic harm to Palestinians. Antisemitism and white supremacy have pitted Jews and Palestinians against each other, and we say enough!

 GA: Did  “antisemitism and white supremacy” pit Jews and Palestinians against each other? NO! It is the Jewish State that commits crimes against the Palestinians in the name of the Jewish people and with the almost universal support of world Jewry and its institutions. It is blatantly duplicitous to blame  ‘White’ goyim for Israel’s crimes, although the accusation is symptomatic of the Jewish Left call.

 Q: What is antisemitism?

 A: “Originating in European Christianity, antisemitism is the form of ideological oppression that targets Jews. In Europe and the United States it has functioned to protect the prevailing economic system and the almost exclusively Christian ruling class by diverting blame for hardship onto Jews.”

— Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Understanding Antisemitism

 GA: When you refer to  the ‘Christian Ruling class’ who do you have in mind? Are you thinking of Goldman Sachs, or perhaps you mean George Soros or the Kushner Family, or might you mean Haim Saban, a major funder of the Democratic Party or perhaps  you are thinking of  Sheldon Adelson who takes care of both Bibi and Trump’s campaigns?  Who,  I wonder do the IfNotNow’s Dykes intend to fool by this deception?

 Q: What is Anti-Zionism?

 A: “‘Anti-Zionism’ is a loose term referring to criticism of the current policies of the Israeli state, and/or moral, ethical, or religious criticism of the idea of a Jewish nation-state. There has been debate, criticism and opposition to Zionism within Jewish thought for as long as it has existed…

 GA: This is revealing. In the good old days, anti Zionism was understood to be opposition to the ‘right’ of the Jewish State to form a Jewish homeland at the expense of others. But as a result of the domination by Jewish groups of the anti Zionist discourse anti Zionism has been diminished into just  “criticism of the current policies of the Israeli state.”  Here, we are treated to an exposition of the controlled opposition apparatus.

 There are also many non-Jewish anti-Zionists whose perspectives may be informed by moral criticism of the policies of the Israeli government, problems with the impact of Zionist thinking in Israel on non-Jewish residents, and/or a criticism of ethno-nationalism more broadly.”

— Jewish Voice for Peace, “Our Approach to Zionism.”

 Q: What is the difference between antisemitism and Anti-Zionism?

 A: Antisemitism is hatred of Jews for being Jews, also known as bigotry.

Anti-Zionism is criticism of the actions and policies of the State of Israel and/or criticism of the idea of a Jewish nation-state.

 GA: Once again, under her definition, Anti Zionism is not the rejection of the Zionist agenda i.e., the erection of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It is merely criticism of Israel’s policies.

 Q: What is IfNotNow’s position on Zionism?

 A: A principle of our movement is: “We focus on what unites rather than what divides us…We do not take a unified stance on BDS, Zionism or the question of statehood. We work together to end American Jewish support for the occupation.”

 GA: IfNotNow could not be clearer, it is not even anti Zionist. It only opposes the occupation. In other words, it supports the existence of the Jewish State, and criticises only some of it policies.

 Zionism in practice causes many harms, but Zionism as a conceptual movement for Jewish liberation, and Israel as a place where Jewish people live and visit, are dear to many Jews. Most mainstream Jewish institutions assume all Jews must be Zionist and even hide from young Jews the reality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, so many Jewish dykes are unfamiliar with the harms Zionism has caused to Palestinians. We can take seriously the harms Zionism causes to Palestinians and to some Jews, and also welcome Jewish dykes who hold a variety of perspectives on Israel and Zionism.

 GA: This is consistent with the Likud Party’s philosophy. Making plain that IfNotNow is a left field Jewish Hasbara project. We do not need Jewish “progressives” to advise us that “Zionism as a conceptual movement for Jewish liberation, and Israel as a place where Jewish people live and visit, are dear to many Jews.” This is what the ADL are there for .

 Q: I want to show that I’m a proud Jewish dyke! Are there things I should think about?

 A: Jewish dykes deserve to be proud of their Jewishness at DC Dyke March. Certain symbols of Jewishness have been co-opted by the pinkwashing movement, an effort to conceal Israel’s harms against Palestinians. Palestinian dykes deserve to be proud of their Palestinian-ness at DC Dyke March too, and we believe that Jewish and Palestinian dykes can celebrate shared liberation at DC Dyke March. Is it frustrating that Jews are uniquely expected to consider another marginalized group’s needs before showing our own pride? Absolutely! It is very frustrating that Israel violates Palestinians’ human rights in the name of Jews around the world.

 GA: Just out of  interest, is the notion of ‘Dyke’ a form of sexually orientated stance on human rights or is it a well informed position on global politics?  Would the DC Jewish Dyke organisers who are defined sexually (as queers)  and racially (as Jews)  welcome Aryan Dykes to their kosher protest? If not, why not?  

 Q: What happened at Chicago Dyke March in 2017 and why were people upset about it?

A: A few Jewish dykes who were associated with A Wider Bridge, an Israel lobbying organization that engages in pinkwashing, brought a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the middle of it, which looks a lot like an Israeli flag, a Zionist symbol. These dykes purposefully disrupted the march and harassed attendees during the rally. Organizers of the march, including other Jewish dykes, asked them to stop their disruptive, harassing behavior and to put the flag away. They told press that they felt as though they could not be openly Jewish at Chicago Dyke March. This caused many Jewish dykes who heard about the event to worry that they would be unwelcome or asked to hide their Jewishness in dyke spaces. The dykes associated with A Wider Bridge took advantage of common public misunderstanding of the difference between being proudly Jewish, and carrying a flag that represented Zionism. This can be confusing because the Jewish star has been co-opted by Zionism and the State of Israel.

GA: What entitles these Jewish Dykes to decide for other Jewish (Zionist) Lesbians how  to identify and what symbols represent them? Their statements here provide a window into the tyrannical and vile nature of the Jewish Identitarian discourse.

 Q: What is pinkwashing?

 A: Pinkwashing is the practice of a country or corporation presenting itself as queer-friendly and progressive in order to downplay their negative behavior. The State of Israel practices pinkwashing by promoting itself as a safe haven for queer and trans people. This distracts attention from Israel’s denial of Palestinian human rights, erases queer and trans Palestinians and some queer and trans Jews who don’t have a safe haven in Israel, and promotes the Islamophobic and anti-Arab racist narrative that Palestinian queers must be saved from Arab and Muslim society.

 GA: Is this true? Do we really turn a blind eye to Israel’s criminality simply because it pretends to be gay friendly? Do we fail to see that Israel locks Palestinians in open air prisons because Israel pretends to be LGBTQ paradise? Sorry to deliver the news. The Anti Israeli Pinkwash campaign is a classic controlled opposition apparatus. It is there to rehabilitate the moral validity of the Jewish Identitarian Left and it does so at the expense of the Palestinians. It diverts the struggle from the essential Palestinian cause of the right of return to irrelevant Jew-related issues to do with queer politics. 

 Q: Why is IfNotNow cosponsoring DC Dyke March?

 A: One of IfNotNow’s principles as a movement is We show up for others. We stand with other movements, such as those working for racial, economic, and gender justice. We are building a world in which American Jews use our unique position to fight for the liberation of all people.” We are also here to show up for ourselves: there are a lot of Jewish dykes who are members of IfNotNow DC, and our work for queer and trans liberation and for Jewish liberation are deeply connected.

 GA: Since when do people who care for ‘all people’ dictate to others how they may or may not identify and what symbols to avoid? IfNotNow ought to be honest and admit that they really care for the Jews who think as they do. We are dealing here with an Orwellian synagogue. 

 Q: Can we talk more about the rainbow flag with the Star of David in the middle? What’s wrong with bringing that flag to DC Dyke March, and what are my other options?

 A: The flag that caused so much consternation back in 2017 was a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the middle that used the same proportions and line art as the Star of David in the middle of the Israeli flag. It was very specifically an Israeli flag and a rainbow flag merged together, a specifically Zionist symbol, not a neutral symbol of Jewish pride. DC Dyke March is a liberatory space for all dykes, and that includes liberation from violence, from cops, from militarism, and from nationalism. “We are asking people to not bring nationalist symbols because violent nationalism does not fit with our vision of queer liberation,” says a recent piece from DC Dyke March organizers.

 So DC Dyke March welcomes Jewish dykes and does not welcome nationalist symbols. What symbols of Jewish dyke pride are available to us? Paint a rainbow Star of David on your face! Scrawl the words YIDDISHKEIT DYKES across a rainbow flag, or a lesbian pride flag, a bi pride flag, an ace pride flag, a trans pride flag!

 Or if Yiddishkeit isn’t your thing, take your pride flag of choice and put a big menorah on it, or a Hamsa or a chai or a pomegranate, or a cool dinosaur wearing Star of David sunglasses and eating a bagel!

Wear a yarmulke, your rainbow tallis, maybe booty shorts that say Jewish Dyke across the ass! There are so many options! Go wild! See you there!

 GA: The Jewish Dykes certainly provide a list of kosher symbols. I could add a few: what about putting matzo balls in your bikini? Or gefilte fish in the bra? Maybe noodles dripping from armpits? I better stop now before I get too exited.  

Belfast councillors vote against sending rep on Israel trade trip — — Rebel Voice

Belfast councillors have voted against sending a representative on a business and investment mission to Israel, reported the Belfast Telegraph.According to the report, councillors rejected a plan to send the council’s Director of Economic Development on the trip with local businesses during a meeting on Wednesday.The purported aim of the visit was to “facilitate access… via […]

via Belfast councillors vote against sending rep on Israel trade trip — — Rebel Voice

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