Amid the Worse Public Crisis in Decades, Trump Admin Finds the Time and Money to Bomb Iraq

By Alan Macleod

Source

Amid a spreading COVID-19 pandemic, the United States government is continuing to ramp up aggression against Iran in lieu of responding to the true threat of disease. Earlier today, the U.S. military launched a number of strikes against five separate targets in Iraq, all of which it alleges are “pro-Iranian” groups. At least six deaths reported. Washington has described the move as retaliation for previous attacks on Western forces. “The United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests, or our allies,” Defence Secretary Mark Esper said. “As we have demonstrated in recent months, we will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region.” The Iraqi government, which has formally requested the United States leave the country, condemned the action.

Iran is reeling from the coronavirus, with over 11,000 confirmed cases and 514 deaths – the most of any country outside of China and Italy. A host of government officials and 23 members of the Iranian parliament have been diagnosed. Yet the U.S. is using their misfortune to further punish and destroy the Islamic Republic.

Iran is suffering from huge shortages of medical supplies, including crucial virus detection kits, precisely because other sovereign nations refuse to sell them to Tehran, fearing reprisals from the Trump administration. Eventually, the World Health Organization was forced to step in and begin sending them directly. Iranian-American blogger Hoda Katebi revealed that her aunt, a doctor in Iran, is even forced to share facemasks with other hospital staff, highlighting the intense shortages the country faces. Because of the sanctions, it is a crime to donate money to Iranian organizations fighting the virus.

In January, MintPress reported that Silicon Valley tech firms had joined the Trump administration’s all-out war against Tehran. The Iranian government recently released an app intended to inform citizens and medical workers about the virus and protect the population from infection. Google, however, following United States law about aiding “terrorist” organizations, duly removed it, noting, “developer accounts from Iran are not allowed on Google Play.”

In January, Trump ordered the assassination of top Iranian general and statesman Qassem Soleimani while he was in Baghdad for peace talks. The U.S. has sent around 2,500 troops to Saudi Arabia and many thousands more to other nations in the region as the buildup of military might continues. Over the vehement protestations of locals, it has also begun to construct three new bases in Iraq, all very close to the Iranian border.

Anti-war group Code Pink are demanding that all sanctions be lifted, writing to the Treasury Department:

Health, hygiene, and access to medical care are fundamental human rights, regardless of race, religion and nationality. For the sake of the health and well-being of 80 million Iranians and their neighbors, we demand that you immediately lift all sanctions on Iran pertaining to healthcare products, medicine, medical laboratory kits, and equipment. In addition, we call on you to lift all the sanctions on Iran, ending the campaign of maximum pressure that is crippling the Iranian economy.

Meanwhile, Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduced legislation attempting to rein in aggressive American foreign policy towards Iran.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

As hundreds of public schools close, *22 million* children who count on their schools for free or reduced-price meals don’t know when they’ll eat next.

I introduced the to make sure no child goes without food. History will judge us if we don’t pass it immediately. https://twitter.com/EdDiveK12/status/1237806493526822912 

Education Dive: K12@EdDiveK12

House members are introducing today 3 proposals for meal assistance for schools closed or transitioned to remote learning due to the ongoing #coronavirus outbreak. An aide says the proposals are expected to pass the full House. http://ow.ly/LuGf50yJhva 

While the government has found plenty of money to carry out wars around the globe (the Trump administration increased the military budget to $934 billion), when it comes to policies protecting public health, money is always apparently lacking. At the Democratic debates, moderators have asked candidates 21 questions about how to pay for social programs, but zero about paying for war.

Omar herself is a vocal proponent of emergency legislation to protect the United States from the worst economic and societal decline the coronavirus threatens to bring. On Wednesday, she introduced a provision of a bill that would introduce free virus testing for all Americans, two weeks’ emergency paid sick leave for all, increased funding for Medicaid and guarantee food for poor children during the crisis. “As the country responds to coronavirus, we cannot forget that many Americans could face hardship as a result of some of our preventative measures,” she said. “Twenty-two million children rely on federal subsidized meals. For many kids, it is the only meal they get each day. It is our responsibility to ensure that kids continue to get the meals they need.”

The deep inequalities in American society are harming the country’s ability to respond to the coronavirus effectively. Without universal healthcare, sick Americans face bills of up to $3,500 simply for being tested, while others face financial ruin or homelessness if they miss work self-quarantining. New York City announced it would only close its schools as a “last resort” on the basis that tens of thousands of homeless children have literally nowhere else to go. “History will judge us if we don’t pass [the legislation] immediately,” Omar added.

Although there is a seemingly bottomless pit of money to fund wars abroad or to bail out the rich (yesterday the Federal Reserve injected $1.5 trillion into the stock market, leading to a 15-minute surge), the government moves at a glacier-like pace when it comes to provisions that would help ordinary citizens. President Trump only recently agreed to make coronavirus testing free. Still, only 8,000 Americans have been tested in total, compared to nearly 20,000 per day in South Korea. The arrival of a worldwide pandemic puts into stark contrast what Washington’s priorities really are.

DR. GUY BECHOR ON AMERICAN JEWRY AND ITS DESTINY

DECEMBER 23, 2019BY GILAD ATZMON

According to Israeli academic Guy Bechor the fate of American Jewry is sealed.

In this three years old video Dr. Bechor points at a Jewish progressive ‘conspiracy’ against America, its values and ideals. Bechor reckons that it is just a question of time before American Jews flee to Israel. He also insists that the so-called progressive Jews won’t be allowed to seek refuge in the Jewish State.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/k5VxUwr7OEP7/

Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: Tareq Haddad’s First-Hand Account

By Tareq Haddad

Source

Newsweek_OPCW_82ecf.jpg

A mafia runs editors. Freedom of the press is dead. Journalists and ordinary people must stand up.

  • Introduction
  • Syria
  • Newsweek Suppression: A Timeline of Events
  • Editors at Fault
  • Is Rep. Ilhan Omar a Spy?
  • External Control of the Media Narrative

INTRODUCTION

Until several days ago, I was a journalist at Newsweek. I decided to hand my resignation in because, in essence, I was given a simple choice. On one hand, I could continue to be employed by the company, stay in their chic London offices and earn a steady salary—only if I adhered to what could or could not be reported and suppressed vital facts. Alternatively, I could leave the company and tell the truth.

In the end, that decision was rather simple, all be it I understand the cost to me will be undesirable. I will be unemployed, struggle to finance myself and will likely not find another position in the industry I care about so passionately. If I am a little lucky, I will be smeared as a conspiracy theorist, maybe an Assad apologist or even a Russian asset—the latest farcical slur of the day.

Although I am a British citizen, the irony is that I’m half Arabic and half Russian. (Bellingcat: I’m happy to answer any requests.)

It is a terribly sad state of affairs when perfectly loyal people who want nothing but the best for their countries are labelled with such preposterous accusations. Take Iraq war veteran and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for example, who was the target of such mud slinging for opposing U.S. involvement in Syria and for simply standing up to the Democratic Party’s most corrupt politician, Hillary Clinton. These smears are immature for a democracy—but I, in fact, welcome such attacks.

When the facts presented are utterly ignored and the messengers themselves are crucified in this way, it signals to right-minded people who the true perpetrators of lies are and where the truth in fact lies.

That truth is what matters most to me. It is what first drove me to journalism while I was working in Jersey’s offshore finance industry after completing my degree from Binghamton University’s School of Management in upstate New York. I was so outraged when I grew to realize that this small idyllic island I love and had grown up on since the age of nine, a British Crown dependency fifteen miles off the coast of France, was in fact a hub for global tax evasion. This realization came to me while the British people were being told that austerity had to continue—public funding for schools, hospitals, policing and all matter of things were to be slashed—all while the government “recovered” after bailing out the banks following the 2008 crash. That austerity lie was one I could no longer stomach as soon as I came to understand that my fairly uninspiring administrative role was in fact a part of this global network of firms to help multinational companies, businessmen, politicians and members of various royal families in avoiding paying trillions in tax—all under a perfectly legal infrastructure that the government was fully aware of, but kept quiet about.

In my naivety, as I left that industry and began my journalism training, I wrote a piece that detailed some of this corruption in hopes of changing the public awareness around these issues and in hopes that they no longer continued—albeit I did so in a manner of writing and sophistication I would be embarrassed of presently—but to my disappointment at the time, the piece was hardly noticed and the system remains little changed to now. Nonetheless, since that moment, I have not once regretted speaking truthfully, most especially for my own mental wellbeing: I would not have been able to regard myself with a grain of self-respect had I continued to engage in something I knew was a lie. It is the very same force that compels me to write now.

There is also another, deeper force that compels me to write. In my years since that moment when I decided to become a journalist and a writer, although I suspect I have known it intrinsically long before, I have come to learn that truth is also the most fundamental pillar of this modern society we so often take for granted—a realisation that did not come to us easily and one that we should be extremely careful to neglect. That is why when journalistic institutions fail to remember this central pillar, we should all be outraged because our mutual destruction follows. It may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you it’s not. When our record of where we come from is flawed, or our truth to put it more simply, the new lies stack on top of the old until our connection to reality becomes so disjointed that our understanding of the world ultimately implodes. The failure of current journalism, among other factors, is undoubtedly linked to the current regression of the Western world. In consequence, we have become the biggest perpetrators of the crimes our democracies were created to prevent.

Of course, for those who pay attention, this failure of mainstream journalism I speak of is nothing new. It has been ongoing for decades and was all too obvious following the Iraq war fiasco. The U.S. and U.K. governments, headed by people who cared for little other than their own personal gain, told the people of their respective countries a slew of fabrications and the media establishment, other than a handful of exceptions, simply went along for the ride.

This was something that consumed my interest when I was training to be a journalist. How could hundreds of reputable, well-meaning journalists get it so wrong? I read numerous books on the issue—from Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent and Philip Knightley’s The First Casualty to work by Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer-prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times who was booted out for opposing that war (who I disagree with on some things, for the record)—but still, I believed that honest journalism could be done. Nothing I read however, came close to the dishonesty and deception I experienced while at Newsweek. Previously, I believed that not enough journalists questioned the government narrative sufficiently. I believed they failed to examine the facts with close enough attention and had not connected the dots as a handful of others had done.

No. The problem is far worse than that.

SYRIA

In the aftermath of the Iraq war and during my time studying this failure of the media since, I was of course extremely aware of the high likelihood that the U.S. government narrative on Syria was a deception. For starters, there were the statements made by the retired four-star general, General Wesley Clark, to Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman in 2007, four years prior to the beginning of the Syria conflict. The following is worth watching to in full.

Nonetheless, once I joined IBTimes UK in 2016, after training with the Press Association and working at the Hull Daily Mail (both of whom I am eternally indebted to for giving me an excellent foundation for starting my career) I solidly understood that journalism was not the profession of making unverifiable claims. I, or any journalist for that matter, could not out-right say that the nature of the Syrian conflict was based on a lie, no matter how strongly we suspected it. To do so, we would need unshakeable evidence that pointed to this.

Through the years, good journalists did document evidence. Roula Khalaf, who will soon take over from Lionel Barber as the editor of the Financial Times, wrote one such piece alongside Abigail Fielding-Smith in 2013. It documented how Qatar provided arms and funded the opposition of Bashar al-Assad’s legitimate government to the tune of somewhere between $1 and $3 billion from the outset of the conflict, rubbishing claims that it was a “people’s revolution” that turned violent. Footage captured by Syrian photographer Issa Touma—made into a short film titled 9 Days From My Window in Aleppo—similarly showed how Qatar-funded jihadists from the Al-Tawhid Brigade were present in the streets of Syria’s capital from the very outset of the war.

“Fighters re-enter my street,” Touma says as he films covertly out of his window. “They look different. They are heavily armed men with beards. I had only heard about them before. This is Liwa al-Tawhid. National television calls them terrorists. The international press calls them freedom fighters. I don’t care what they call it—I refuse to chose a side. But it’s a lie that the revolution started peacefully everywhere. At least in my street, Al Said Ali Street, it started with guns. It didn’t start peacefully at all.”

Veterans of the trade Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk also poked holes in the U.S. government narrative, but their treatment by other journalists has been one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the press.

Hersh—who exposed the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, the clandestine bombing of Cambodia, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, in addition to telling the world the real story of how Osama Bin Laden died—was shunned from the industry for reporting a simple fact: Bashar al-Assad’s government is not the only actor with access to chemical weapons in Syria. After a sarin attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013, he was further smeared for reporting that Barack Obama withheld important military intelligence: samples examined in Britain’s Porton Down did not match the chemical signatures of sarin held in the Syrian government’s arsenals.

Fisk, writing days before the Syrian conflict escalated, in a piece that asked Americans to consider what they were really doing in the Middle East as the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 approached, also raised important questions, but he too was largely ignored.

I also did my best to document evidence that poked holes in the narrative as best I could. In 2016, I wrote how Egyptian authorities arrested five people for allegedly filming staged propaganda that purported to be from Syria. Though I’m not aware of any evidence to suggest that the two are connected and I make no such claims, these arrests came to light after The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Sunday Times revealed that a British PR firm, Bell Pottinger, was working with the CIA, the Pentagon and the National Security Council and received $540 million to create false propaganda in Iraq a month prior.

The following year, after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, I documented the intriguing story of Shajul Islam, the British doctor who purported to have treated the alleged victims and appeared on several television networks including NBC to sell the case for retaliation. He gushed with heroism, but it was not reported he was previously charged with terror offences in the U.K. and was in fact considered a “committed jihadist” by MI6. He was imprisoned in 2013 in connection with the kidnapping of two Western photo-journalists in northern Syria and was struck off Britain’s General Medical Council in 2016. Why he was released without sentencing and was allowed to travel back to Syria remains a mystery to me.

I also refused to recycle the same sloppy language used, inadvertently or not, by a number of other publications. Al Qaeda and their affiliates had always been referred to as terrorists as far as I was aware—why the sudden change to “rebels” or “moderate rebels” for the purposes of Syria? Thankfully, the news editor I worked with most frequently at the time, Fiona Keating, trusted my reporting and had no problems with me using the more appropriate terms “anti-Assad fighters” or “insurgents”—though one could arguably say even that was not accurate enough.

When buses carrying civilian refugees hoping to escape the fighting in Idlib province were attacked with car bombs in April of 2017, killing over 100, most of them women and children, I was disappointed with the Guardian and the BBC for continuing with their use of this infantile word, but this was not the language I felt to be appropriate in my report.

At roughly the same time, in light of the Khan Sheikhoun attack, confronted with an ever-growing list of irregularities and obvious falsifications—such as increasing evidence that the White Helmets were not what they purported of being, or the ridiculousness that the Western world’s de facto authority on Syria had become 7-year-old Bana al-Abed—I wrote an opinion piece that came short of calling the narrative around the Syrian conflict a lie, but simply pleaded that independent investigations of the alleged chemical weapons attack were allowed to take place before we rushed head first into war. I still believed honesty would prevail.

That piece was ultimately declined by IBTimes—though I covertly published it in CounterPunch later—but the rejection email I received from the editor-in-chief at the time makes for interesting reading.

I was sad to hear that asking for an independent investigation into a chemical weapons attack was an “incendiary theory,” but I was forced to move on.

By that summer, I was let go alongside a number of other journalists from the publication after the Buzzfeed-style model of click-bait-aggregation journalism was heavily punished by a new Google algorithm and had largely failed: page views plummeted and editors couldn’t seem to understand it was because we weren’t doing any real journalism. Having felt frustrated with the industry, I decided to not pursue another position in reporting and decided to move to mainland Europe in hopes of pursuing my other passion—literature—with aspirations of being able to write more freely.

Fast forward to 2019, I decided to return to journalism as I was feeling the pressure to have “a grown-up job” and could not count on my ability to be a novelist as a means of long-term career stability. So when I joined Newsweek in September, I was extremely thankful for the opportunity and had no intention of being controversial—the number of jobs in the industry appeared to be shrinking and, besides, the Syrian conflict appeared to be dying down. As soon as I arrived, Newsweek editor-in-chief Nancy Cooper emphasised original reporting and I was even even more pleased. I wanted to come in, get my head down and start building my reputation as a journalist again.

Then on October 6, President Donald Trump and the military machine behind him threw my quiet hopes of staying well clear of Syria into disarray. He announced the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country and green-lit the Turkish invasion that followed in a matter of days. Given my understanding of the situation, I was asked by Newsweek editors to report on this.

Within days of the Turkish invasion into Syria beginning, Turkey was accused of using the incendiary chemical white phosphorus in an attack on Ras al-Ayn and, again, having pitched the story, I was asked to report on the allegations. This spurred a follow-up investigation on why the use of the substance—a self-igniting chemical that burns at upwards of 4,800 degrees Fahrenheit, causing devastating damage to its victims—was rarely considered a war crime under the relevant weapons conventions and I was commended by Nancy for doing excellent journalism.

It was while investigating this story that I started to come across growing evidence that the U.N.-backed body for investigating chemical weapons use, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued a doctored report about an alleged chemical attack in Douma in April of 2018, much to the anger of OPCW investigators who visited the scene. Once Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday published his story containing a leaked letter that was circulated internally from one of the disgruntled OPCW scientists, I believed there was more than enough evidence to publish the story in Newsweek. That case was made even stronger when the letter was confirmed by Reuters and had been corroborated by former OPCW director-general Dr. Jose Bustani.

Although I am no stranger to having story ideas rejected, or having to censor my language to not rock the ship, this was a truth that had to be told. I was not prepared to back down on this.

Let me be clear: there is evidence that a United Nations body—whose jurisdiction was established after the world agreed to never repeat the horrors of World War I and World War II, such as German forces firing more than 150 tons of chlorine gas at French colonial troops in Ypres—is being weaponized to sell the case for war.

After OPCW experts found trace levels of chlorine when they visited Douma—i.e. no different than the levels of chlorine normally present in the atmosphere—or raised concerns that the canisters may have been tampered with or placed, both of which were reflected in their original reports, they made protestations because this information was withheld from the final report that was released to the world’s media. Instead, the final wording said chlorine was “likely” used and the war machine continued.

This is not a “conspiracy theory” as Newsweek sadly said in a statement to Fox News—interestingly the only mainstream publication to cover my resignation. Real OPCW scientists have met with real journalists and explained the timeline of events. They provided internal documents that proved these allegations—documents that were then confirmed by Reuters. This is all I wanted to report.

Meanwhile, OPCW scientists were prevented from investigating Turkey’s alleged use of white phosphorus. This flagrant politicization of a neutral body is opening the world up to repeating the same horrors we experienced in those two devastating wars.

This is unacceptable and I resigned when I was forbidden from reporting on this.

NEWSWEEK SUPPRESSION: A TIMELINE OF EVENTS

I first became aware of the Mail on Sunday report on Monday, November 25, and this is when I raised it with Alfred Joyner, Newsweek’s global executive producer, who had been my main point of contact for pitching stories.

Following a conversation with Alfred, he asked me to write the pitch in a note to him and Newsweek’s foreign affairs editor, Dimi Reider, on the company’s internal messaging system. The following is a copy and paste of that pitch, alongside the conversation that followed in the next few days.

Dimi Reider Alfred Joyner Chat.pdf

Once I returned to the office on Thursday, November 28, I proceeded to have a conversation with Dimi, but to my disappointment, he did not address any of my protestations against why the article could not be published. He made the famous joke about former Soviet politician Leonid Brezhnev irrelevantly, one he had already made to me a couple of weeks before, and after listening to my reasoning for wanting to have the story published for several minutes, all he had to say was: “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it’s a no.”

The following morning, feeling incredibly frustrated, I wrote an email to Nancy and Newsweek’s digital director and London bureau chief, Laura Davis, to express my concerns.

Several stressful days passed where I did not hear from either Laura or Nancy, but in the meantime, as I tried to continue as best as I could with my every day reporting role, I noticed how an entertainment editor by the name of Tufayel Ahmed began to pick up most of the following stories I wrote.

In my experience of working with editors in the past, if an issue ever arose with a story, we would have a perfectly civil conversation, I would make the relevant adjustments where necessary and the article would be published without further problems. That was not my experience with Tufayel.

At first, when he sent me long, overly critical and often hostile criticisms on articles I wrote, I considered asking him to step into a meeting room in order to ask him whether I had inadvertently done something to offend him. Having come from a newspaper background where mistakes in articles required embarrassing apologies printed in the paper the next day, and having held the belief that editors were your best friend and should always be kept on side, I always prided myself in filing copy that was free of any errors and throughout my career, I was frequently commended for doing exactly this.

In my time at the Hull Daily Mail for example, regarded as one of the U.K.’s best regional newspapers, I do not recall a single correction being printed on any of the articles I wrote. That was the case despite covering murder trials, rape cases and numerous other sensitive stories.

On the eve of the Brexit referendum, despite still being a trainee reporter, I had built such a reputation for my accurate journalism and my attention-to-detail skills that I was even entrusted to single-handedly edit and publish copy from two politics reporters to the publication’s website, while managing the live blog, all social media channels and filing my own stories on national developments as the results came in. The following morning, following a short nap, the editor was so impressed with my efforts that I was asked to conduct the interviews with the local leaders of each political party, despite being one of the most junior reporters on the team.

Brexit.pdf

Furthermore, in close to 1,000 published articles for IBTimes UK, I can only recall one incident where an article required a correction. An Israel lobby group—forgive me for being unable to recall which one—objected to my use of the word “settlements” and requested that it be replaced with “settlement units” instead. This was a reasonable request and the article was updated to reflect this without further incident.

I do not say these things to be self-congratulatory. I say these things because I was deeply saddened and disturbed. Because when I finally received a response from Laura about the OPCW story on December 5, six days after my initial email and after repeated attempts to speak to her in person, only one paragraph was devoted to the leaked letter and the rest of the email attacked my capability as a journalist.

It listed all the instances that Tufayel had criticised me on, unfairly mischaracterising my actions, in addition to listing one genuine mistake I made in the course of everyday reporting—something not to be unexpected when every day I was expected to write four stories, often about complicated topics, sometimes with no prior experience in them. Nonetheless, even for this story, I had taken immediate action needed to resolve and had apologised to editors at the time, the characterisation of what took place in Laura’s email was deeply maligned.

That was the moment I knew beyond doubt what my gut had been telling me before: there was no valid reason for this OPCW story not to be published. It was simply being suppressed. I was being attacked for pushing back against this.

As I have nothing to hide, I will publish Laura’s response in full.

You will see my full response in due course, but first, some further comments about Laura’s criticisms must be addressed.

EDITORS AT FAULT

My first “indiscretion” is rather simple to address. I believe—however I must admit I am not certain, as the information was never published—that the article Laura is referring to this. Regardless of which piece it was, the following events took place.

In 2018, confirming the earlier reporting by Hersh, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced that the Pentagon has no evidence to support the allegations that the Syrian government used sarin in Ghouta, as reported here by the Associated Press. As Newsweek did not report this fact (more evidence of suppression?) I linked to an opinion piece on our website that addressed that report. The first line of that piece links back to the AP story. When questioned by Tufayel why I did this, I explained that I was simply trying to link to references on our website, explaining to him the source was AP—ironically, I was trying to help Newsweek gather more clicks. The information which was ultimately removed from my article was not badly sourced.

The second point listed by Laura—the only occasion out of 156 stories written during my two-month stint at Newsweek where an article required a correction—raises another serious problem at the publication: editors tell journalists what to report.

This article was assigned to me by Alfred on Newsweek’s internal messaging system, as is commonplace for editors to do, and I felt obliged to report the story, although I had concerns and it is not one I personally would have chosen to do. I raised these concerns with Alfred—whose background is in video editing, not journalism—but instead of ditching the story, a new angle was suggested and a new headline was provided too. Feeling that I couldn’t challenge his authority any further without being rude, I proceeded as best as I could, but in the course of doing so, I made two mistakes: One, I neglected to reach out for comment on two of the five parties involved (thinking Facebook, who I contacted, would comment on behalf of the remaining). Two, I wrongly reported that some funds were donated by Mark Zuckerburg as opposed to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

When the Facebook spokesperson returned my request, she simply pointed me in the direction of tweets made by the remaining individuals and asked if I could update accordingly. The tweets did not criticize our reporting, but of the original reporting done by Popular Information, the source assigned to me by Alfred to base my reporting on.

Once their statements came to my knowledge (which reflected the concerns I had about the article in the first place), I alerted Alfred immediately and did my best to redress. Laura’s criticism also neglected to mention that Newsweek’s chief sub-editor—whom I will not name as he has been among a handful of editors to treat me fairly—was the one to look over the article and he had no problems in publishing my piece.

This practice of editors telling journalists what to write, with what angle and with headlines already assigned is completely backwards and is the cause of numerous problems. How can journalists find genuine newsworthy developments if what to write has already been scripted for them?

I spoke to several Newsweek journalists about this very problem prior to my departure and they shared the same concerns. This was the very same problem that led to Jessica Kwong’s firing a week before my resignation.

Kwong, who I do not know, wrote a story titled “How is Trump Spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing and More,” a day before the day in question—only for it to emerge that Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. No proper journalist would have written that piece by their own volition—it was only done because editors were on their tireless crusade for clicks.

In the end, she was fired because she did not approach the White House for comment, although all the information came from the president’s public diary.

“Dear press office,” her email should have read supposedly. “I am writing a piece that is of no useful public information, but will be criticising the president for what he choses to do in his leisure time on Thanksgiving. Can you please provide a statement at your earliest convenience.”

For goodness sake, whatever your opinions are of President Trump, what were most of you doing on Thanksgiving Day?

Most appallingly, in a team meeting between the New York and London offices following the firing, where “lessons to be learned” were discussed at length, the editor in question tried to make a joke along the lines of: “Don’t worry guys! I’ve learned my lesson! I’ll happily edit the story ‘What’s Trump doing on Christmas Day?” Silence followed. You should have seen the faces of the journalists in the room.

A final note on the contents of Laura’s email, for the rest is addressed in my response.

Yes. I did make adjustments in the content management system and republished some articles. Journalists are permitted to do this if they spot small mistakes—such as in spelling or grammar, for example—but I did not editorialise as the email claims. And yes. On the white phosphorus story, I did question an editor’s judgement. It was Nancy’s in fact.

After the article had been published, she amended the headline so that it was more attention grabbing, but the grammar she used made it non-sensical and she also didn’t abide by Newsweek’s own house style in doing so. (She wrote “US” not “U.S.”) I didn’t want an article I spent three weeks working on to be ruined because of sloppiness. Is there something so wrong with that? For the record: I am still unhappy with the headline on the piece as it stands.

Now, before I return to my response and to my ultimate resignation, there were several other important things to note.

IS REP. ILHAN OMAR A QATARI SPY?

On Saturday, November 30, a day after I sent my initial email to Laura and Nancy, I was working a weekend shift and there had been a change in the rota: Tufayel was to be the news editor for the day. There was nothing demonstrably unusual about this, but what did strike me as odd is how I was immediately assigned a story about some relatively unknown congressional candidate who had been kicked off Twitter for tweeting something in relation to the Democratic Congresswoman of Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, and allegations that she was a spy.

The nature of the story was not odd in itself, but only seemed strange because of Dimi’s earlier refutation of my OPCW piece.

“It’s not just about Syria,” he wrote. “This was part of my reluctance to put take up this weird story going around since yesterday about Ilhan Omar being a Qatari spy. Not a single serious U.S. site picked it up, which confirms my hunch it’s BS.”

At the time, not knowing about the story, I thought that was fair enough—it seemed like a ridiculous claim. In fact, when I had seen that line written in Dimi’s refutation, it further enraged me: why was my provable story about the existence of this leaked letter (verified by Reuters!!!) being smeared by being placed next to this?

Regardless, when I was assigned the story by Tufayel, I did my best to be professional and I did what I always did: I pulled up as many resources as I could find on the matter at hand and began to research and fact-check. That was when I was shocked to discover this report in Al Arabiya about Ilhan.

The publication acquired a 233-page legal deposition, made to a U.S. district court, by a Kuwaiti-born Canadian businessman by the name of Alan Bender. He gave evidence against the Qatari emir’s brother, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, after al-Thani was accused of ordering his American bodyguard to murder two people and after holding his hired American paramedic prisoner. In that deposition, Bender claimed to have high connections among Qatari officials—presumably why he was asked to testify—and it was there that he made the Ilhan spy allegations.

Now, I have no further evidence to support Alan Bender’s claims—I will be the first to admit I know very little about Qatari politics—but surely a well-connected businessman’s deposition in a U.S. court of law did not justify Dimi’s “hunch it’s BS” without providing further evidence. If Alan Bender’s claims are untrue and he is lying under oath, he has to answer for them. I suddenly realised that this was a test.

Would I get the hint and do my reporting in line with management orders? Or would I continue to report perfectly publishable details that are in the public interest?

Of course, there is the possibility I was assigned the article by mere happenstance, but what took place after I submitted my draft copy to Tufayel for editing was revealing. The draft I submitted was as follows.

All reasonable journalists, I hope, will not find anything wrong with my reporting here. Despite this, following the submission of my draft, all references to Alan Bender were scrubbed from my piece, and so too was the link to the Al Arabiya’s story. All that was left of the newsworthy information I provided on the matter were the words “baseless claims”.

How was Tufayel so certain that the claims were baseless? Did he have information to the contrary of what Alan Bender said? Or was there any other journalistic justification for removing information that was provided in a court of law, although I clearly stated there was no other evidence to currently support the claims? Was there any good reason at all? I suspect not, other than the fact that it could be deeply damaging if the allegations emerged to be true, and that management orders had been to suppress anything Alan Bender said, as was the same across most media organizations across the U.S.

Curiously, Nancy later amended the article again, this time changing the word “baseless” to “unverified”—softening the language, I imagine, in order to not draw unnecessary attention to it.

This is shown by the content management system (CMS) logs that capture all changes made.

EXTERNAL CONTROL OF THE MEDIA NARRATIVE

While all this was going on, and while I waited for a response from Laura, I started to have strong suspicions that something wasn’t quite right with Dimi, the so-called foreign affairs editor. For starters, he rarely did any foreign affairs editing. He rarely did any editing at all.

Newsweek has a system where reporters paste the relevant CMS link of draft articles ready to be edited into a “publishme” channel of the internal messaging system and editors make their way down the list, picking up stories that reporters had filed. Once they are looked over and published, editors dropped them in another channel called “published_stories” for all to see.

I made a habit of watching this list closely—it was useful to know what other reporters had filed in order to be able to link to their stories and also for ensuring articles were not repeated accidentally. In the two months I spent at Newsweek, I saw Dimi post in the “published_stories” channel only a handful of times. This is odd as most editors publish several stories a day. Instead, his most active contributions to the messaging system were with funny tweets or articles in the “general” thread. Sadly, I do not have physical evidence to support this, but the journalists I worked with will know this to be true.

The only times Dimi appeared to be involved is when a story had the potential to be controversial. He worked on my white phosphorus investigation, made the decision to not publish anything about the original Ilhan spy claims and rejected my attempts at publishing the OPCW leaks.

While working on that white phosphorus story, before I was fully aware of his background, he spoke to me of how he co-founded +972 Magazine—a liberal Israeli publication that started out by covering the 2008-2009 Gaza War. I glanced at his resume and was honored to be working with such an accomplished foreign affairs journalist. I had genuinely hoped to build a closer relationship to him.

That was why I was so bewildered when he flatly refused to publish the OPCW revelations. Surely any editor worth their salt would see this as big? Of course, I understood that the implications of such a piece would be substantial and not easy to report—it was the strongest evidence of lies about Syria to date—but surely most educated people could see this coming? Other evidence was growing by the day.

But no. As the earlier messages showed, there was no desire to report these revelations, regardless of how strong the evidence appeared to be. Dimi was simply happy to defer to Bellingcat—a clearly dubious organization as others have taken the time to address, such as here and here—instead of allowing journalists who are more than capable of doing their own research to do their job.

It was this realization that made me start to question Dimi. When I looked a little deeper, he was the missing piece.

Dimi worked at the European Council on Foreign Relations from 2013 and 2016—the sister organization to the more prevalent think-tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Some may be asking why this matters, but the lobbying group—the largest and most powerful in the United States—is nicknamed “Wall Street’s think-tank” for a reason, as the book by Laurence H. Shoup with the same title explains.

To understand just how influential the body is, it is worth noting that 10 of George H. W. Bush’s top 11 foreign policymakers were members, as was the former president himself. Bill Clinton, also a member, hired 15 foreign policymakers with CFR membership from a total of 17. George W. Bush hired 14 CFR members as top foreign policymakers and Barack Obama had 12, with a further five working in domestic policy positions.

Its European sister act is also highly influential, as this graphic from its website about current members demonstrates.

It is also worth noting that the CFR’s current chairman is David Rubenstein, co-founder and executive chairman of the Carlyle Group—the same Carlyle Group which previously described itself as the “leading private equity investor in the aerospace and the defense industries,” until it probably decided it was not a good look to boast about its war profiteering, though its investments in those industries remain.

It is the same Carlyle Group that hosted Osama bin Laden’s brother as the guest of honor for the group’s annual investor meeting in Washington D.C. the same day the Twin Towers fell. George H. W. Bush, an informal advisor to Carlyle, was also present.

Furthermore, one of the CFR’s most notorious exports was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger—a man famously described by Christopher Hitchens as America’s greatest ever war criminal. His long list of crimes against humanity cannot be summarized quickly.

Jeffrey Epstein was also a member from 1995 to 2009 and in a PR push, the CFR recently announced its decision to donate $350,000 to help fight sexual trafficking victims, equivalent in amount to the donations received from him. It may be obvious to state, but the Epstein story is another that’s not being investigated adequately by the media.

For those wanting to learn more about the influence of the CFR over the years, there is more in this paper published in the political science journal Reviews in American History.

But what about the think tank’s influence on journalism?

I’m unaware if what I will report here is common knowledge to the rest of the industry, but what I discovered when researching this topic is unacceptable to me.

I learned that aside from a large number of prominent journalists holding membership, I discovered that the CFR offers fellowships for journalists to come work alongside its many State Department and Department of Defensive representatives. A list of historical fellows includes top reporters and editors from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and CNN, among others—not forgetting journalists from Newsweek.

The most prominent CFR member to join Newsweek’s ranks was Fareed Zakaria. After stints at Yale and Harvard, at the age of 28, Zakaria became the managing editor of Foreign Affairs—the CFR’s own in-house publication. From there, he became the editor of Newsweek International in 2000, before moving on to edit Time Magazine in 2010.

 

When CIA intelligence analyst Kenneth Pollack wrote a book titled The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Zakaria lauded the work and described Pollack as “One of the world’s leading experts on Iraq.”

Zakaria’s Newsweek columns prior to the war also make for interesting reading. “Let’s get real with Iraq,” one headline reads as early as 2001. “Time to take on America’s haters,” another one goes on. Others include “It’s time to do as daddy did,” and “Invade Iraq, but bring friends.” I could go on.

Interestingly, once the war had started in 2003, Foreign Affairs—where Zakaria writes to this day—was ranked first by research firm Erdos and Morgan as the most successful in influencing in public opinion. It achieved the accolade in 2005 and again in 2006. Results for other years are not known.

Scrolling through LinkedIn and Twitter, numerous individuals listed as journalists have taken the same path Zakaria has taken. They complete State Department-funded “diplomacy” degrees from prestigious universities—such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, or at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London—before gritting their teeth at publications or think tanks funded by the CFR or Open Society Foundations. Once their unquestioning obedience is demonstrated, they slowly filter into mainstream organizations or Foreign Affairs.

It also emerged that this is the same path that Dimi has taken. +972 Magazine’s biggest funder is the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund, whose president and CEO, Stephen Heintz, is a CFR member. In addition to his work with the ECFR, Dimi is also listed as a research associate at SOAS.

This conflict of interests may be known to other journalists in the trade, but I will repeat: this is unacceptable to me.

The U.S. government, in an ugly alliance with those the profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media—imposters, with ties to the U.S. State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world. Editors, with no apparent connections to the member’s club, have done nothing to resist. Together, they filter out what can or cannot be reported. Inconvenient stories are completely blocked. As a result, journalism is quickly dying. America is regressing because it lacks the truth.

The Afghanistan Papers, released this week by the Washington Post, showed further evidence of this. Misinformation, a trillion dollars wasted and two thousand Americans killed—and who knows how many more Afghanis. The newspapers ran countless stories on this utter failure, however, none will not tell you how they are to blame. The same mistakes are being repeated. The situation is becoming more grave. Real journalists and ordinary people need to take back journalism.

This was the letter I sent to Newsweek when I resigned.

Ilhan Omar faces abuse after challenging Indian reporter at US Congress

Source

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar criticised Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh for defending India’s actions in Kashmir and found herself in the midst of a Twitter hate campaign.

US Representatives, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (R) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) look on during an Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee hearing on
US Representatives, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (R) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) look on during an Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee hearing on “Human Rights in South Asia: Views from the State Department and the Region” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 22, 2019. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP)

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar received enormous hate from Indian Twitter users for challenging journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh’s defence of India’s aggressive actions in Kashmir.

Singh testified at the US House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Human Rights in South Asia on October 22 2019, describing India’s lockdown in Kashmir as a necessary measure to avoid civilian casualties and to take the state on the path of prosperity.

Singh also defended the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution by the Indian government which effectively ended Kashmir’s special status with India. India revoked Article 370 on August 5 2019, sparking much controversy and worldwide concern.

This article was the bedrock of Kashmir’s accession to India in 1947. It also safeguarded the environment and demographic balance of the disputed region by forbidding citizens of other Indian states from buying land there.

While ending Kashmir’s special status, the Indian government blocked communications in India-administered Kashmir, cutting off landlines and the internet, and imposed a curfew as well. The lockdown continued for over two months. In early October, about 50 percent of mobile communication was restored in the region but the internet ban is still in effect.

Singh said Kashmiri Muslims were more terrorised by Pakistan-sponsored militants, overlooking India’s bad human rights record in Kashmir, where cases of abuse, ranging from custodial killings to enforced disappearances and torture by Indian armed forces, can be found in almost every neighbourhood.

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar would have none of it. Omar accused Singh of using her platform as a journalist to whitewash India’s crimes in Kashmir.

“Ms Singh, a reporter’s job is to find the objective truth about what is happening and report it to the public. You have an enormous audience at The Times of India and you have an enormous responsibility to get it right. I am aware of how the narrative shaped by reporting can distort the truth. I am also very aware of how it could be limited to sharing only the official side of the story,” Omar said.

“The press is at its worst when it is a mouthpiece for a government. In your version of the story, the only problems in Kashmir are caused by what you call militants, the only people protesting to break away from India; and are all nefariously backed by Pak.”

Omar didn’t stop there: “You also make the incredible dubious claim that the Indian government’s crackdown in Kashmir is good for human rights. If it was good for human rights, Ms Singh, it wouldn’t be happening in secret. You make, what I might call, a feminist case for the occupation of Kashmir and communication shutdowns, saying it will be better for women.”

Singh responded: “My record, my professional record is that I have lashed out at every single government in India on various issues, from human rights violations committed in Kashmir to the lynchings over beef.”

She continued: “I have a record of being non-partisan throughout in my profession of the last 20 years. So for Ms Omar to say… such accusations against me, is really condemnable.”

Omar’s support of Kashmiris affected by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisions made her a target in social media. She was falsely accused of having “married her brother” for example.

Harbir Singh@HarbirSingh_

The woman who married her brother to defraud American immigration, then fornicated with her own employee, is now the hero of Pakistan’s Jihad against India in Kashmir.

What desperate straits @NarendraModi has put the Jihadis in, now leaning on degenerates like @IlhanMN https://twitter.com/Ilhan/status/1186698702309724160 

Rep. Ilhan Omar

@Ilhan

Kashmiris have been restricted from communicating outside their country for 50+ days.

In Assam, almost 2 million people are being asked to prove their citizenship. This is how the Rohingya genocide started.

At what point do we question whether PM Modi shares our values?

Embedded video

The same user, Harbir Singh, who happens to be Aarti Tikoo Singh’s husband, also claimed that Omar was a Somalian gang member before immigrating to the US, and would not delete his tweet despite others challenging its veracity. Only later did he thank Twitter users “for pointing out that this is not @IlhanMN.”

Pratik Sinha

@free_thinker

After journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh’s congressional hearing, Columnist Harbir Singh shared an image of a woman with an automatic weapon claiming she is US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. | @Pooja_Chaudhuri https://www.altnews.in/no-this-is-not-us-congresswoman-ilhan-omar-at-a-training-camp-of-a-somali-warlord/ 

No, this is not US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at a training camp of a Somali warlord – Alt News

Columnist Harbir Singh quote-tweeted a tweet which shared a photograph of a turbaned woman holding an automatic weapon. The original tweet claimed that the image showed US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at…

Criticisms aimed at Omar did not stop there. Twitter user Abhijit Iyer-Mitra alluded to Omar wearing a vest that detonates, suggesting that she is a suicide bomber. In a previous tweet, Iyer-Mitra had called Omar a “jihadi”.

Abhijit Iyer-Mitra

@Iyervval

Hoo boy!!! @AartiTikoo is really giving it back in a nice dignified way!!! Forced Sherman to correct the record on “foreign press not allowed in Kashmir” … waiting for Ilhan to detonate her vest anytime now https://twitter.com/iyervval/status/1186726505256144896 

Abhijit Iyer-Mitra

@Iyervval

Wow!!! Jihadi @IlhanMN just levelled a set of slanderous Pakistani talking points at @AartiTikoo & then doesn’t give her the chance to respond turning to Fai’s lil ISI muppet Angana Chatterji. Choreographed misuse of her prerogative.

Despite a campaign to smear Omar’s name for sympathising with Kashmiris suffering in India-administered Kashmir, there was still support for the congresswoman.

Irena Akbar@irenaakbar

So, I watched the video. Ilhan Omar actually did Aarti Tikoo Singh a favour by reminding her of the basics of journalism. She told her upfront that a journalist isn’t a mouthpiece of the government (in response to Tikoo’s M0di-fied account of Kashmir lockdown). I love Ilhan!

Lying for Israel: Why Nearly Everyone in Washington Does It

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Reuven Rivlin Trump e8554

It is not often that one hears anything like the truth in today’s Washington, a city where the art of dissimulation has reached new heights among both Democrats and Republicans. Everyone who has not been asleep like Rip Van Winkle for the past twenty years knows that the most powerful foreign lobby operating in the United States is that of the state of Israel. Indeed, by some measures it just might be the most powerful lobby period, given the fact that it has now succeeded in extending its tentacles into state and local levels with its largely successful campaigns to punish criticism or boycotting of Israel while also infiltrating boards of education to require Holocaust education and textbooks that reflect favorably on the Jewish state.

Occasionally, however, the light does shine in darkness. The efforts by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to challenge the power of the Israel Lobby are commendable and it is worth noting that the two women are being subjected to harassment by their own Democratic Party in an effort to make them be silent. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has attempted to make them the face of the Democrats, calling them “Jew haters” and “anti-Semites” while also further claiming that they despise the United States just as they condemn Israel. This has developed into a Trump diatribe claiming that American Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal.” By disloyal he meant disloyal to Israel, in a sense ironically confirming that in the president’s mind Jews have dual loyalty, which, of course, at least some of them do.

And Trump has further exercised his claim to the Jewish vote by accepting the sobriquet “King of Israel” bestowed by a demented talk radio host. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already asserted that Trump’s election victory was the result of divine intervention to “save Israel from Iran,” the kingship is presumably an inevitable progression. One can only imagine what will come next.

One Democratic congressman who has apparently become fatigued by all that bipartisan pandering to Israel is Ted Lieu of California. Last Thursday Lieu rebuked Trump’s US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman over his support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to allow Tlaib and Omar to visit the West Bank where Tlaib’s grandmother lives under Israeli occupation. Friedman had issued a statement saying that the United States “respects and supports” the Israeli action. He went on to elaborate “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech. Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish state. [Israel] has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons.”

As Friedman was describing two thirty-something nonviolent first term congresswomen as nothing less than armed attackers about to be unleashed against the Jewish state because they support a peaceful boycott movement, Lieu apparently felt compelled to courageously respond to the ambassador, tweeting “Dear @USAmbIsrael: You are an American. Your allegiance should be to America, not to a foreign power. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. If you don’t understand that, then you need to resign.”

Later that day, on CNN, Lieu explained his objection to Friedman’s actions, saying “Actually, I think he should resign because he doesn’t see to understand that his allegiance is to America, not to a foreign power. He should be defending the right of Americans to go abroad to other countries and to visit their relatives.”

The outrage from the mighty host of friends of Israel came immediately, with accusations that Lieu was accusing Friedman of “dual loyalty,” that greatly feared derogatory label that is somewhat akin to “anti-Semitism” or “Holocaust denial” in the battery of verbal munitions used to silence critics of the Jewish state. Indeed, Lieu was accused of employing nothing less than a “classic anti-Semitic” trope.

Under considerable pressure, Lieu deleted the tweet and then issued something of an apology, “It has been brought to my attention that my prior tweet to @USAmbIsrael raises dual loyalty allegations that have historically caused harm to the Jewish community. That is a legitimate concern. I am therefore deleting the tweet.”

But the reality is, of course, that Friedman does not have dual loyalty. He has real loyalty only to Israel, which he demonstrates repeatedly by uncritically supporting everything the kleptocratic Netanyahu regime does with nary a pause to consider actual American interests. He has supported the weekly slaughter of unarmed Gazan civilians by Israeli sharpshooters, praised the bombing of Syria, pushed for the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, applauded the recognition by Washington of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and is an active supporter of and contributor to the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank. He has even pressured the State Department into ceasing its use of the word “occupation” when describing the situation on the West Bank. It is now “disputed.” So, it is no surprise that David Friedman, formerly a bankruptcy lawyer before he became ambassador, lines up with Netanyahu rather than with two American Congresswomen who, apart from anything else, have good reasons to travel to a country that is the largest US aid recipient in order to see conditions on the ground. To put it mildly, Friedman is a disgrace and a reflection of the character or lack thereof of the man who appointed him. If he had any decency, he would resign.

There is no benefit for the United States when an American Ambassador excuses the brutality of a foreign government, quite the contrary as it makes Washington an accomplice in what are often undeniably war crimes. Even though Congressman Lieu was clearly read the riot act and made to fly right by his own party’s leadership, it took considerable courage to speak up against both Israel and an American ambassador who clearly is more in love with the country he is posted to than the country he is supposed to represent. Of course, in never-any-accountability Washington a buffoon posing as an ambassador as Friedman does will get away with just about anything and, as the subject is Israel, there will hardly be a word of rebuke coming from anyone, to include the mainstream media. But the tweet by Lieu is nevertheless significant. Hopefully, he will be among the first of many congressmen willing to put at risk their careers at times to speak the truth.

Exclusive: Rashida Tlaib’s Granny Supports Her Refusal of ‘Israeli’ Conditions

By Al-Ahed Correspondent

Occupied Palestine – Soon after the ‘Israeli’ occupation imposed restrictions on the visit of Democratic US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s visit to the occupied territories, the family anticipating her was totally disappointed.

Tlaib was supposed to visit her grandmother’s home in the village of “Beit Aour al-Fawqa” in the West Bank.

But following the Zionist conditions imposed on the US congresswoman’s visit, Rashida voiced rejection and said in a tweet on her account:

“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The lady in her nineties, called Muftiyya, told al-Ahed in an exclusive interview that she is sad that the occupation’s authorities barred Rashida from visiting occupied Palestine without conditions.

“I was happy with her visit, which was supposed to happen in the coming days, but the occupation’s conditions barred her,” she told al-Ahed, adding that “I prepared delicious meals to receive her, but the occupation killed our joy.”

Her family further voiced support for Rashida’s refusal to submit to the Zionist conditions, considering it a restriction of her freedom. They were also proud of the decision Rashida has made.

Tlaib’s uncle supports her decision

For his part, Rashida’s uncle Bassam said that their stance is the same as Rashida: “We reject the humiliating conditions that were put on her visit of family and relatives in Palestine,” adding that “Rashida has the right to visit Palestine without any condition.”

Bassam also hailed the congresswoman’s stance from the Zionist occupation, noting that the Zionist entity rejects the voices calling for people’s right to self-determination, explaining that the enemy wants Rashida to meet with ‘Israeli’ officials before visiting the Palestinian territories, which she rejected.

The Zionist occupation had blocked the visit of Rashida Tlaib and her fellow Ilhan Omar after pressures from US President Donald Trump. However, according to Zionist officials, the block came due to their Boycott, Divestment, Sanction ‘Israel’ BDS movement ties.

Earlier, Tlaib and Omar voiced solidarity with the pro-Palestinian BDS Movement due to the Zionist policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Tlaib later tweeted: One day @IlhanMN and I will see Bethlehem and InshAllah it will be free when we do. #FreePalestine

Related Videos

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Two US congresswomen barred from visiting Israel for backing BDS

Press TV

Thu Aug 15, 2019 03:31PM [Updated: Thu Aug 15, 2019

US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (L) and Ilhan Omar (Photo by AP)

US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (L) and Ilhan Omar (Photo by AP)

Israel has decided to prevent two American congresswomen from traveling to the occupied territories over their support for a boycott of the Tel Aviv regime.

Ilhan Omar, a representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, and Rashida Tlaib, a representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district, are expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories at the weekend.

Omar, with a Somali origin and Tlaib, with Palestinian roots, have openly supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and been outspoken in their criticism of the Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

The movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations and later became international.

Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Thursday Tel Aviv had decided not to allow the members of US Congress to enter Israel.

“We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle this is a very justified decision,” she told the Kan public broadcaster.

Earlier in the day, AFP quoted an Israel official as saying that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held consultations on the visit on Wednesday and a final decision was being weighed.

“There is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format,” the official said, adding, “Professional teams and legal counsel in various government ministries are continuing to examine the decision.”

The official further said that according to Israeli law, the interior minister who is now Aryeh Deri has the authority to decide on the issue.

Deri, 60, is the chairman of Shas, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish political party in Israel. Back in 1999, he was convicted of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, and received a three-year prison sentence.

“If Congresswoman Tlaib makes a humanitarian request to visit her family, the decision on her matter will be considered favorably,” the official noted.

Israel’s Knesset in 2017 passed a law banning entry to foreigners who support BDS, which is meant to initiate “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law” and ends its occupation of Palestinian lands.

Omar has accused the Tel Aviv regime of discrimination against Palestinians similar to apartheid.

In January, she enraged the large pro-Israel contingent in Congress, particularly the largely Democratic US Jewish community, by mocking America’s branding of Israel as a democracy.

Additionally on Thursday, American President Donald Trump urged Tel Aviv not to show “weakness” and firmly prevent the pair from visiting Israel.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!

48.1K people are talking about this
Israeli decision on US congresswomen ‘outrageous’: Palestinian official

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official described Israel’s decision to bar two US congresswomen from visiting the Palestinian territories as “an outrageous act of hostility.”

“The Israeli decision to ban Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Palestine is an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement.

“This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people’s right to engage with the rest of the world,” she said.

Both women, who became the first Muslim members of the House of Representatives in January, have faced accusations of anti-Semitism, which they firmly deny.

Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer had previously signaled that the pair would be allowed to visit out of respect for Washington.

Omar and Tlaib’s support for BDS comes at a time when Trump has stepped up ties with Tel Aviv and stopped Palestinian aid.

Israel and its allies in Washington have long railed against calls for people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural and academic ties to the occupying regime.

 

With Criticism Crushed in the West, Israel Can Enjoy Its Impunity

Global Research, July 29, 2019

Recent events have shone a spotlight not only on how Israel is intensifying its abuse of Palestinians under its rule, but the utterly depraved complicity of western governments in its actions.

The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House two-and-a-half years ago has emboldened Israel as never before, leaving it free to unleash new waves of brutality in the occupied territories.

Western states have not only turned a blind eye to these outrages, but are actively assisting in silencing anyone who dares to speak out.

It is rapidly creating a vicious spiral: the more Israel violates international law, the more the West represses criticism, the more Israel luxuriates in its impunity.

This shameless descent was starkly illustrated last week when hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, many of them masked, raided a neighbourhood of Sur Baher, on the edges of Jerusalem. Explosives and bulldozers destroyed dozens of homes, leaving many hundreds of Palestinians without a roof over their heads.

During the operation, extreme force was used against residents, as well as international volunteers there in the forlorn hope that their presence would deter violence. Videos showed the soldiers cheering and celebrating as they razed the neighbourhood.

House destructions have long been an ugly staple of Israel’s belligerent occupation, but there were grounds for extra alarm on this occasion.

Traditionally, demolitions occur on the two-thirds of the West Bank placed by the Oslo accords temporarily under Israeli control. That is bad enough: Israel should have handed over what is called “Area C” to the Palestinian Authority 20 years ago. Instead, it has hounded Palestinians off these areas to free them up for illegal Jewish settlement.

But the Sur Baher demolitions took place in “Area A”, land assigned by Oslo to the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting – as a prelude to Palestinian statehood. Israel is supposed to have zero planning or security jurisdiction there.

Palestinians rightly fear that Israel has established a dangerous precedent, further reversing the Oslo Accords, which can one day be used to justify driving many thousands more Palestinians off land under PA control.

Most western governments barely raised their voices. Even the United Nations offered a mealy-mouthed expression of “sadness” at what took place.

A few kilometres north, in Issawiya, another East Jerusalem suburb, Israeli soldiers have been terrorising 20,000 Palestinian residents for weeks. They have set up checkpoints, carried out dozens of random night-time arrests, imposed arbitrary fines and traffic tickets, and shot live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets into residential areas.

Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights group, calls Issawiya’s treatment a “perpetual state of collective punishment” – that is, a war crime.

Over in Gaza, not only are the 2 million inhabitants being slowly starved by Israel’s 12-year blockade, but a weekly shooting spree against Palestinians who protest at the fence imprisoning them has become so routine it barely attracts attention any more.

On Friday, Israeli snipers killed one protester and seriously injured 56, including 22 children.

That followed new revelations that Israeli’s policy of shooting unarmed protesters in the upper leg to injure them – another war crime – continued long after it became clear a significant proportion of Palestinians were dying from their wounds.

Belatedly – after more than 200 deaths and the severe disabling of many thousands of Palestinians – snipers have been advised to “ease up” by shooting protesters in the ankle.

B’Tselem, another Israeli rights organisation, called the army’s open-fire regulation a “criminal policy”, one that “consciously chose not to regard those standing on the other side of the fence as humans”.

Rather than end such criminal practices, Israel prefers to conceal them. It has effectively sealed Palestinian areas off to avoid scrutiny.

Omar Shakir, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, is facing imminent deportation, yet more evidence of Israel’s growing crackdown on the human rights community.

A report by the Palestinian Right to Enter campaign last week warned that Israel is systematically denying foreign nationals permits to live and work in the occupied territories, including areas supposedly under PA control.

That affects both foreign-born Palestinians, often those marrying local Palestinians, and internationals. According to recent reports, Israel is actively forcing out academics teaching at the West Bank’s leading university, Bir Zeit, in a severe blow to Palestinian academic freedom.

Palestinian journalists highlighting Israeli crimes are in Israel’s sights too. Last week, Israel stripped one – Mustafa Al Haruf – of his Jerusalem residency, tearing him from his wife and young child. Because it is illegal to leave someone stateless, Israel is now bullying Jordan to accept him.

Another exclusion policy – denying entry to Israel’s fiercest critics, those who back the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – is facing its first challenge.

Two US congresswomen who support BDS – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank – have announced plans to visit.

Israeli officials have indicated they will exempt them both, apparently fearful of drawing wider attention to Israel’s draconian entry restrictions, which also cover the occupied territories.

Israel is probably being overly cautious. The BDS movement, which alone argues for the imposition of penalties on Israel until it halts its abuse of Palestinians, is being bludgeoned by western governments.

In the US and Europe, strong criticism of Israel, even from Jews – let alone demands for meaningful action – is being conflated with antisemitism. Much of this furore seems intended to ease the path towards silencing Israel’s critics.

More than two dozen US states, as well as the Senate, have passed laws – drafted by pro-Israel lobby groups – to limit the rights of the American public to support boycotts of Israel.

Anti-BDS legislation has also been passed by the German and French parliaments.

And last week the US House of Representatives joined them, overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning the BDS movement. Only 17 legislators demurred.

It was a slap in the face to Omar, who has been promoting a bill designed to uphold the First Amendment rights of boycott supporters.

It seems absurd that these curbs on free speech have emerged just as Israel makes clear it has no interest in peace, will never concede Palestinian statehood and is entrenching a permanent system of apartheid in the occupied territories.

But there should be no surprise. The clampdown is further evidence that western support for Israel is indeed based on shared values – those that treat the Palestinians as lesser beings, whose rights can be trampled at will.

*

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A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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

 

Bibi to Decide Whether to Allow Muslim Congresswomen in Occupied Palestine

By Staff, Haaretz

Democratic US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are planning a visit to the Occupied Palestine in the coming weeks, but “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to decide whether they would be allowed to enter, over the support they have voiced for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement [BDS].

The lawmakers’ planned trip has been first reported on Wednesday, noting that Omar said that the “Israeli” occupation of Palestinian territories will be the focal point of the trip: “Everything that I hear points to both sides feeling like there is still an occupation.”

Though, “Israeli” law allows authorities to deny entry into the “Israeli” occupied territories by individuals who support boycotting the entity. However, the entity’s so-called Foreign Ministry has the authority to recommend to the so-called Strategic Affairs Ministry and the Interior Ministry issuing waivers for political or diplomatic figures, if it deems denying them entry would harm the “Israeli” entity’s foreign relations.

Due to the sensitivity of the congresswomen’s planned visit and its possible ramifications on “Israel”-US relations, Netanyahu would be asked to be the one to make the call on the issue.

Omar and Tlaib broke barriers when they were elected as the first Muslim US congresswomen in November. Omar, who was born in Somalia and immigrated at a young age to Minnesota, and Tlaib, who was born in Michigan to Palestinian parents, have been outspoken about their views on the “Israeli”-Palestinian conflict, as both support the BDS movement.

On Tuesday, Omar introduced a House resolution that “opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad,” and affirms Americans’ right to pursue boycotts “in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.”

Both Omar and Tlaib hold anti-“Israeli” sentiments. In 2012, Omar tweeted that the “Israeli” entity had “hypnotized the world” to carry out “evil”.

Tlaib conceived of her trip to the West Bank last year, and proposed it as an alternative to AIPAC-organized trips to the “Israeli” entity. She told the Intercept that she was “rejecting [the] ‘Israel’ lobby’s influence over Congress” echoing and that her plan was a “rebuke of a decades-old tradition for newly elected members: a junket to ‘Israel’ sponsored by the education arm” of AIPAC. “I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” The Intercept quoted Tlaib as saying.

The trip was reported to be jeopardized on Sunday after the organizing group, the Humpty Dumpty Institute, which describes itself on its website as being “dedicated to tackling difficult global and domestic issues, pulled out of the trip due to scheduling conflicts. Regardless, a spokeswoman for Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, told the Daily News she was “pretty sure” the trip would still be taking place in August.

“My city [of Beit Ur al-Fauqa] is so excited that I am possibly going to come to see her next month,” Tlaib said, according to Jewish Insider. “She is so happy. And I am going to take my two wonderful boys… and they are going to meet their great grandmother. So I am really, really excited about that.”

US Politicians, Journos, Activists Condemn Saudi Arabia’s Mass Beheadings

By Staff, Agencies

Human rights groups have hit out at the most recent brutal wave of punishment, revealed by the Saudis on Wednesday, in which 37 people killed.

Critics say the majority of those executed were convicted after sham trials that violated international standards and relied on confessions extracted through torture.

They also say the grisly and public punishments are being used as tools to crush pro-democracy campaigners, human rights activists, intellectuals and the Shia minority — to which at least 33 of those executed belonged to.

The mass execution was also denounced by a number of American politicians and journalists. Below are a few statements that went viral on social media:

Senator Dianne Feinstein: an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from California.

I’m deeply troubled by the Saudi government’s mass execution of 37 prisoners, including 33 members of the kingdom’s Shiite minority. Human Rights Watch has reported that many of the confessions in two mass trials were obtained using torture and the prisoners later recanted.

I’ve called for the US to reconsider our relationship with Saudi Arabia and spoken out against the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom’s oppression of women’s rights activists and the numerous human rights violations committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

These latest reports reinforce my concerns. We can’t look way from Saudi Arabia’s increased use of executions, particularly when so many questions surround the validity of the trials.

 

Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard: US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district.

Trump/Pence continue to try to hide the truth from their Christian supporters–the terrorist attacks on Christians/Christian churches in Sri Lanka and elsewhere are inspired by the extremist Saudi ideology that Saudi Arabia spends billions propagating worldwide

The tweet also had a video pointing that the Saudis have been spending billions of dollars spreading an “intolerant form of Islam,” which she said inspires terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”], and Boko Haram.

“It’s an ideology that preaches hatred and bias toward Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists, and Muslims who are not followers of that extremist ideology,” Gabbard said. “Yet President Trump and Pence, who pose as defenders of Christians and Christianity, have embraced the Saudis, the purveyors of this anti-Christian jihad.”

Gabbard concluded her video by saying people who believe “in the freedom of religion must demand that President Trump and Vice President Pence give up their unholy alliance with Saudi Arabia.”

 

Ilhan Omar: US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district.

This is appalling. We have to stop selling the Saudis weapons and supporting this brutality.

 

Rashida Tlaib: US Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district.

Saudi Arabia’s ruler MBS tortures & executes children. Already this year, he has killed 100 people. At least 3 today were arrested as teenagers & tortured into false confessions. He killed them for attending protests! Think about that.

 

Bernie Sanders: US politician and junior United States Senator from Vermont

Yesterday’s mass execution underscores how urgent it has become for the United States to redefine our relationship with the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia, and to show that the Saudis do not have a blank check to continue violating human rights and dictating our foreign policy.

 

Nicholas Kristof: American journalist and political commentator, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist.

Student slated to attend Western Michigan University beheaded in Saudi Arabia, after attending a pro-democracy protest. Remind me, @realDonaldTrump, why are we best buddies with Saudi Arabia?

 

Niraj Warikoo: an American journalist and the religion reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

Mujtaba al-Sweikat, a student slated to attend Western Michigan University, is beheaded in Saudi Arabia. He had been arrested when he was 17 by Saudis in 2012 after taking part in democracy rallies, and tortured while in custody.

 

Seth Abramson: an American professor, poet, attorney, and author.

Now MBS has beheaded a freshman acceptee to Western Michigan University.

 

Kenneth Roth: an American attorney who has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993.

Among the 37 men just executed by the Saudi government was Mujtaba al-Sweikat who at age 17 was detained at the airport on his way to attend Western Michigan University. His supposed offense was attending a pro-democracy rally during the Arab Spring.

 

Randi Weingarten: an American labor leader, attorney, and educator.

“.@AFTunion joins the international human rights community in condemning the government of #SaudiArabia for forced confessions, torture, beatings and now execution of young student protestor Mujtaba al-Sweikat. @Reprieve @amnesty @AFTIntlAffairs”

 

Lena Sun: the national reporter for The Washington Post.

One of the people executed on Tuesday was arrested at an airport in Saudi Arabia in 2012 as he was preparing to leave the country for a college visit to Western Michigan University, a human rights group said. He was 17 at the time.

 

Steven Metz: an American author and Senior Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute

America needs to limit ties with that dark and backward despotism.

 

Jesse Singal: a Brooklyn-based journalist

This is an utterly horrific regime and in a world that made more sense no US president of any party would feel comfortable getting filmed gladhanding with its tyrants. Student slated to attend Western Michigan University beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

Related

How Much Pro-Israel Money Politicians Attacking Ilhan Omar Received

March 31, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

How Much Money Israel Lobby Gave Politicians Attacking Ilhan Omar. You watch this entertaining video and make up your mind as to whether it is about the ‘Benjamins’ or not…

Purim Blackface

March 22, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Eve Mykytym

The focus on anti Semitism has become pervasive in the US. Recent backlash to statements by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar have united the left and the right in condemning Jewish stereotypes. But have Jews been held to the same standards when it comes to racism?

According to the Forward, it is not uncommon for Orthodox Jews to dress in blackface for Purim. After someone in blackface attended a Purim party in Los Angeles, Aliza Hausman of Chabad-Lubavitch, who identifies as a mixed-race Dominican Jew, said she believes that the general attitude in the orthodox world is that, “dressing up in blackface for Purim is not racist.”

Nonetheless, it is clear that African Americans find blackface offensive. Blackface isn’t just about a costume, it invokes a racist and painful history.

The first minstrel shows mimicked enslaved Africans on Southern plantations, depicting black people as lazy, ignorant, cowardly or hypersexual.

Later, blackface became a staple of vaudeville, with stereotypes that were fully integrated into American culture. Beyond entertainment, caricatures of mammies and pickaninnies – dark-skinned children with densely coiled hair – as well as grinning, bug-eyed black men adorned everything from postcards to cookie jars.

Then as entertainment evolved, menacing rapists, lazy watermelon eaters, coddling mammies and comic simpletons, all with blackened faces, moved from the stage to the screen. These offensive cultural stereotypes persisted into the 1960s when the civil rights movement was mostly successful in condemning their use.

But, albeit to a lesser degree, blackface has continued and Orthodox Jews are not alone in appearing in the costume.

In 2010, Sarah Silverman tweeted a photo of herself in blackface with the caption “I’m having minstrel cramps.”  (tweet now deleted)

In the last few years, colleges and universities with blackface incidents have included Albright College, Brigham Young, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis ObispoOklahoma State UniversityPurdue UniversityUniversity of Central ArkansasUniversity of Nevada at RenoUniversity of North DakotaUniversity of Oregon and University of Wisconsin at Whitewater,

This year, Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of Virginia, faced harsh criticism when his medical school yearbook page pictured a man in blackface and a man in a KKK uniform. At the same time, it came out that Attorney General Mark Herring  had also worn blackface in college.

In Florida, Michael Ertel, the Republican secretary of state, resigned after  photos from a 2005 Halloween party showed him in blackface mocking survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

David Pilgrim, director of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan says that for the most part, those who wear blackface now, know exactly what it implies. “It’s a part of the privilege of being white in our culture,” he says. “They are doing it in a safe, white space consistent with the mores of their in-group.”

But unlike others ‘caught’ in blackface, the Orthodox present justifications for their behavior. There seem to be three general arguments as to why some believe it is acceptable for Jews to don blackface for Purim.

The first, articulated by Queens College sociologist Samuel Heilman, is that blackface costumes are a response to racial tensions between Orthodox Jews and Black Americans. Heilman claims that because Orthodox Jewish communities have remained in inner city neighborhoods, they’ve borne the brunt of anti-white backlash at various points since the Civil Rights movement. This argument assumes that the racial tensions are not at least partially caused by the behavior of the Orthodox and posits the offender (dressed in blackface) as the victim.

The second explanation is that Orthodox Jews may not know the history of racism because they may not have grown up with people of color. The assertion that insensitivity results from a lack of familiarity contradicts the argument that blackface is a response to tension between the Black and Jewish communities. Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, the leading ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, wrote “The history of minstrelsy is not something familiar to many, if not most, Orthodox Jews. That’s unfortunate, but a fact.”

The third excuse is that Purim is a Jewish holiday. Purim costumes that stereotype other cultures shouldn’t be considered offensive because they’re not about those cultures, they’re about cutting loose for Purim.

This line of thought was illustrated in 2013, when New York State Assembly member, Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew, wore a blackface costume to a Purim celebration. Hikind stated that, “If a Jew wears blackface on Purim, it’s certainly not to intentionally insult blacks but only to ‘become’ [an] ‘other, which is what Purim masks are all about.” See Jon Stewart on the subject.

“Purim is a holiday that’s built on collective memory of anti-Semitism and near genocide,” Heilman said. But the story of Purim is not just that Jews were saved from a genocidal plot but that Jews were allowed to slaughter their enemies.

Chabad’s website contains this paragraph about Purim. “On the 13th of Adar that year, the Jews throughout the Persian Empire mobilized and killed the enemies who had wanted to kill them. In Shushan, among the dead were Haman’s 10 sons. Esther asked the king’s permission for the Jews in Shushan to have one more day to destroy their enemy—and the king acceded to her wish. On that day, the 14th of Adar, the Jews worldwide celebrated, and the Jews of Shushan killed more of their enemies, and also hung Haman’s sons. The Jews of Shushan then rested and celebrated on the 15th of Adar… This holiday, called “Purim,” is the most joyous holiday on the Jewish calendar.”

So on this ‘joyous’ holiday, when Jews celebrate their destruction of their enemy, it remains an open question why this celebration may include stereotypes offensive to an ethnic group that, at least at the moment, is far more ‘oppressed’ than the Jews.

source: https://www.evemykytyn.com/writing/2019/3/22/purim-blackface

Hot Off the Press: Israel’s Three Largest Banks Pay Hundreds Of Millions In Fines For Helping US Citizens Evade Taxes

March 17, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Eve Mykytyn

Following a few mild words of dissent by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the US House of Representatives was almost united in affirming the special relationship between Israel and the US. See, for ex.  So how is “our most reliable and most important ally” treating us? If ‘our’ includes the US treasury, the answer is that Israel’s banks have been accused of and have admitted to actively colluding with wealthy US taxpayers to avoid US taxes.

On March 12, Israel’s third largest  bank, Mizrahi Tefahot, agreed to pay $195 million to the United States to settle charges that the bank knowingly aided tax evasion by US citizens from 2002 until 2012.

Israel’s largest bank, Leumi paid a $400 million dollar fine for similar “criminal activity” that spanned the period from at least 2000 to 2011. Hapoalim, Israel’s second largest bank is presently negotiating a settlement with the US Justice Department. The total settlement from all three banks will amount to over $1 billion.

As conceded by the banks, these tax avoidance schemes have been going on for decades. Israel’s Supervisor of Banks, Hedva Ber, noted the longevity of this practice: “Twenty years ago, Israeli banks did not ask customers about the source of their money and did not ask if they had paid taxes or not.” But the issue is not limited to banks failing to inquire about the source of funds, these admissions of actively aiding tax evasion show that “Israeli banks…..for decades helped Diaspora Jews evade taxes and launder money on a major scale.”

According to Hevda Ber, for many years Israeli banks provided essentially the same services to foreigners that Swiss banks gave, minus Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws. Actually, according to the settlements and to criminal cases against US taxpayers, Israel’s banks not only did indeed offer American customers secrecy for bank accounts, (Leumi admitted to failing to send statements to the US addresses of over 2400 customers) but also provided ways for US citizens to bring untaxed income back to the US without paying US taxes.

For instance, for over twelve years in the 1970s and 1980s, the Antar family, owners of the discount electronics chain Crazy Eddie, laundered money through Bank Leumi. Sam Antar  described to The Times of Israel how he and his family transferred a total of about  $10 million in unreported cash by handing a briefcase full of cash to a Bank Leumi employee in New York and then receiving an equivalent suitcase the next day on an El Al flight to Israel.

Here was the challenge of withdrawing that money as described by Anton.  “Say I had $10 million in Israel, and I needed to use that money over here in New York. They couldn’t wire me the funds because the account is secret. This money is hidden from the US government to evade income taxes.”  So, according to Antar, Bank Leumi in New York would give him a low interest rate loan secured by Antar’s assets in Israel. The paperwork for the loan concealed the fact that Antar had money deposited in Israel.

Similarly, and according to court documents, Elie Waknine, of Huntington Beach, California, held millions of dollars in an account at Bank Leumi.  Waknine’s tax returns falsely claimed he did not have any foreign accounts.  Bank Leumi did not send bank mail to Waknine’s home in the United States. Leumi allowed Waknine to access his accounts through certain ‘loans’  issued by Leumi’s U.S. branch that were secretly secured by funds in his undeclared accounts in Israel.

The Times of Israel notes that the fact that three of Israel’s major banks have been under criminal investigation by the US Justice Department for allegedly helping thousands of US citizens launder money and evade taxes has garnered remarkably little public attention. The Jewish press covered the  Mizrahi Tefahot settlement, but the New York Times gave only a short summary and I could find no mention in the Wall Street Journal.

In comparison, the  2016 Panama Papers leak of offshore bank account holders led to street protests around the world, the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister, and countless investigations.

According to David Shuster, a lawyer who represents a number of American citizens who had undisclosed bank accounts in Israel, the lack of publicity is understandable because none of the actors involved are interested in the limelight.The Department of Justice’s goal is tax enforcement and the banks are “going to say as little as possible. The more they say, the more evidence can be brought against them.”

Mr. Shuster may be right, but he fails to account for the dearth of reporting about Israel’s banks as compared to the Panama Papers or even the recently uncovered money laundering activities of certain European banks. I suspect in the present atmosphere of heightened paranoia over anti Semitism, the press may be reluctant to touch a financial scandal in which most of the participants are Jewish. Maybe they have taken into consideration that much of the outrage over Omar’s observations about Israel was over her accusation that “it’s all about the Benjamins.”

Source: https://www.evemykytyn.com/


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It’s Not ‘Anti-Semitic’ to Question the Influence of AIPAC in American Politics

It’s Not ‘Anti-Semitic’ to Question the Influence of AIPAC in American Politics

ROBERT BRIDGE | 14.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

It’s Not ‘Anti-Semitic’ to Question the Influence of AIPAC in American Politics

Freshman Democrat lawmaker Ilhan Omar triggered an earthquake in Washington that split the political aisle when she touched the forbidden third rail, which is any discussion of the pro-Israeli lobby’s influence on the US political system.

During a bookstore event hosted by Busboys and Poets, Omar told the assembled guests: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why it is okay for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy.”

Judging how she prefaced the remark, with a lengthy discussion about “the stories of Palestinians” and how she was being regularly accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ to end all debate on the decades-old standoff, it was clear what lobbying group Omar was referring to.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslims to serve in Congress, was accused of allegedly espousing anti-Semitic comments.

In early February, Omar had responded to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald who said it was “stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Omar responded, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” followed by a musical emoji.

When pushed by another Twitter user to say who she thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, Omar responded simply, “AIPAC!”

In fact, Omar was wrong. AIPAC does not raise funds for candidates. But its members do, with the group’s powerful endorsement.

On March 3, Omar tweeted to her fellow Congresswoman, Nita Lowey, that she should “not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee…”

Such complaints have been heard before.

In 2014, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney told Press TV that her campaign funding suddenly went “kaput” after she refused to sign a “pledge of allegiance” to Israel while she was in office.

“I refused to toe the line on US policy for Israel,” she said.

On another occasion, in 2006, academics John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt published a paper in the London Review of Books, entitled “The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy.” In it, the authors discussed the influence of pro-Israel organizations in the United States, with primary emphasis on AIPAC, which they described as “the most powerful and well-known.”

Omar’s string of remarks quickly sparked similar debate, but this time inside of the Democratic Party. This demonstrated the potential future impact of a new generation of multiethnic lawmakers, many of whom, as Muslims, are increasingly frustrated by the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and their inability to discuss it.

Omar, however, was quickly upbraided by senior Democrats.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called out the freshman lawmaker, saying her “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive… and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

Although Omar did offer contrition, she refused to budge on “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics,” mentioning the NRA, fossil fuel industry and AIPAC. It seems like a fair criticism, all things considered.

Following the high-profile fallout, the House Democrats passed, with remarkable alacrity, a House Resolution that condemns anti-Semitism as “hateful expressions of intolerance…and anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities.”

The resolution, while intended to tamp down messages of hate, conspicuously failed to mention Omar’s purportedly anti-Semitic remarks, focusing its attention instead on “white supremacists” and “white nationalists,” who were not even remotely mentioned by Omar during her bookstore comments, thus prompting 23 Republican lawmakers to reject the resolution.

The partisan smashup helped to deflect attention away from the main point of contention with regards to Omar’s claim, which on the face of it does not sound radical: Does the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), as well as the other powerful lobbying groups, hold too much sway over US foreign policy? Should AIPAC be ranked as an agent of a foreign power working on behalf of Israeli interests in the US?

Mearsheimer and Walt certainly thought so. In their paper, they quoted a 1997 article in Fortune magazine, which asked members of Congress to name the most powerful lobbies in Washington. AIPAC was ranked second behind only the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), but ahead of the AFL-CIO and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The authors were quick to point out, however, that there was nothing inherently wrong about the way AIPAC operates. “For the most part, the individuals and groups that comprise the Lobby are doing what other special interest groups do, just much better.”

How much better? Well, consider that in 2016, during a breakdown in relations between the Obama White House and Israel over the question of nuclear talks with Iran, AIPAC helped persuade the Republicans to let Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a joint session of Congress – without the foreknowledge of then President Barack Obama. As a thought experiment, try and imagine the same privilege being extended to any other leader in the world. The reason it is difficult to imagine is because it’s never been done before precisely because it’s unconstitutional.

“Democrats accuse Boehner of ambushing the president as the Republicans push – with the backing of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington – to strengthen sanctions against Iran,” as the Guardian reported.

Another example came with the push for war against Iraq following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 against the United States. An article in the Forward admitted that as “President Bush attempted to sell the … war in Iraq, America’s most important Jewish organizations rallied as one to his defense.” As Mearsheimer and Walt pointed out, this lobbying influence on behalf of war did not flush with the opinion of the US Jewish population.

“Samuel Freedman reported just after the war started that a compilation of nationwide opinion polls by the Pew Research Center shows that Jews are less supportive of the Iraq war than the population at large, 52% to 62%. Thus it would be wrong to blame the war in Iraq on “Jewish influence,” the academics argued.

Indeed, as Paul Waldman argued in The Washington Post, in the United States today, “a ‘supporter of Israel’ is much more likely to be an evangelical Christian Republican than a Jew.”

Whatever the case may be, the essence of the question remains the same: Does AIPAC, as well as many other lobbying groups, wield too much power in the US political system? The question cannot be casually brushed aside as ‘anti-Semitic,’ any more than questioning the power of Big Pharma, for example, could be dismissed as ‘anti-Doctor,’ or the power of the NRA as ‘anti-Cowboy.’ It makes no sense, and unfairly accuses people who are asking legitimate questions of the most loathsome charges.

With the face of the American political system changing along ethnic and religious lines, it is critical that such issues with regards to political influence get a fair hearing.

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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar: The Shameful Attack that Backfired

Global Research, March 13, 2019

What happened to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was troubling. On the one hand, because she dared to challenge the way supporters of Israel have worked to silence debate on US policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she became a victim of incitement, and the target of legislation meant to shame her. At the same time, however, the heavy-handed tactics employed against her by some pro-Israel members of Congress backfired, exposing new fault lines in the US-Israel relationship.

The weapon of choice utilized by Omar’s opponents was to demonize her as an anti-Semite. Her “sin,” it appears, was her continued umbrage over the double-standard that exists in American policy toward Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

During Israel’s assault on Gaza, for example, she criticized the failure of the US media to pierce through Israeli propaganda and see what was actually happening to Palestinians in that impoverished strip of land. Once in Congress, she was deemed to have “sinned” again when she challenged the power of AIPAC to intimidate politicians and silence debate on Israel/Palestine.

New to Washington and the “acceptable language” one should use to discuss these issues, she admitted that her word choices had been unfortunate and apologized for the pain she may have caused.

Despite her apology, she remained a target. Because she is a hijab-wearing Muslim, who was critical of Israel, the GOP sought to exploit her in their continuing effort to drive a wedge between the Jewish community and Democrats. For their part, some Democrats reacted with hyperventilated outrage. Extreme language was used to denounce Omar. Her words were described as “bigoted,” “vile,” and, of course, “anti-Semitic slurs.”

Never, in all this time, was there a critical examination of what she actually said. In fact, she never accused the Jewish community of controlling the media (unless one assumes that Israel’s ability to dominate media coverage of events occurring in the occupation can be attributed to the Jewish community). Nor did she accuse the Jewish community of using money to buy influence in Washington (unless one suggests that AIPAC speaks for and acts on behalf of the entire Jewish community). It didn’t matter, her opponents continued to call her an “anti-Semite,” and did so with such frequency that the term stuck, putting her at risk to threats of violence from bigots.

The entire affair came to a head when, at a town hall last week, Omar attempted to explain herself. Asked to address the controversy that had erupted over her advocacy of Palestinian rights, Omar’s colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, spoke first noting that to her the question of Palestine is personal – her grandmother still lives in the West Bank and Congresswoman Tlaib desires that she receive equal justice and recognition of her rights to live in dignity. Reacting to what she had just heard, Omar said that she couldn’t agree with those who fight for human rights and dignity for others and yet exclude Palestinian rights and dignity. For her part, she said, the focus should be universal – leaving no one out. She then chided those in Congress who have pressed her to reject her commitment to call out Israeli abuses and ignore Palestinians rights. Because she is a Muslim, Omar said, her criticism of Israel has been automatically seen as anti-Semitic in order to silence her. Even more troubling she noted was that, as a result of the manufactured controversy over her words, the discussion became whether or not she was an anti-Semite, while ignoring “the broader debate about what is happening in Palestine.”

At that point, Omar said that she resented those who are pushing her to demonstrate allegiance to Israel. She concluded by saying that she wanted to have this conversation about “the political influence in this country that says it’s okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

The reaction to this newest “sin” was near hysteria. Without ever listening to what she actually said, some members of Congress accused her of saying that the Jews had dual-loyalty – despite the fact that she had said no such thing. They demanded that Omar be censured or removed from her committee posts. And the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee proposed a resolution that would have denounced anti-Semitism in a way that was clearly directed at the congresswoman.

What was disturbing about this proposed resolution was that none of “Whereas” clauses included had anything to do with what Omar actually said. She never accused Jews of “dual loyalty because they support Israel”; nor did she display “prejudicial attitudes” towards Jews; nor did she ever make “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews”.

What she did do was: challenge official American, and in particular, Congressional silence on the suffering of the Palestinians; the efforts by pro-Israel groups to silence debate on this issue; and the way that some have sought to create a virtual identity being pro-Israel and American interests.

Despite the obvious falseness of their claims, Omar’s opponents in Congress plowed ahead with their proposed bill in order “to teach her a lesson.” In their remarks rebuking Omar, they unwittingly made her point. One congressman said, “Questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable.” Another said, “there are many reasons to support Israel, but there is no reason to oppose Israel.” While still another said that Democrats and Republicans, alike, are committed to insuring that the “United States and Israel stand as one.”

It is exactly this attitude to which Omar objected when she wrote,

“I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel…I know what it means to be an American and no one will ever tell me otherwise…I have not said anything about the loyalty of others, but spoke about the loyalty expected of me.”

Because Omar has touched what some have come to say is “the third rail of American politics” she was being exploited by some Republicans and hung out to dry by some Democrats. They put a target on her back. And haters were quick to respond with frightening death threats and shameful bigoted assaults on her as a Muslim woman. There is no question that these threats against Omar were the byproduct of the sustained campaign of incitement.

It’s important to note, however, that outside of the halls of Congress a different reality was unfolding. The attacks on Congresswoman Omar were rejected by many Democrats, including progressive Jewish groups, and a debate was sparked by the issues she raised and the over-reaction to them by Congress.

By week’s end, the entire effort appeared to backfire. Instead of being the “slam dunk” they expected, the proposed resolution ran into blocks. Some members objected to singling out of anti-Semitism, without also denouncing racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc. Others protested that Omar was being singled out and put at risk.  And a few of the more prominent Democratic presidential hopefuls (Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris) insisted that charges of anti-Semitism should not be used to silence debate on Israeli policy.

By week’s end, Congress passed a resolution denouncing all forms of hate or intolerance against any religious, ethnic, or religious community. Since it made no mention of Ilhan, it was clearly a loss for those who began the push to shame or punish her

Two final points must be made:

Firstly, Representative Omar is owed an apology. False charges and a manufactured crisis have sullied her name and put her at risk.

And secondly, it is clear that Omar’s courage has helped to open a door enabling a discussion of Israeli policy and the US-Israel relationship. While her opponents attempted to slam it shut, it seems that their behavior and incitement against her backfired stirring a debate that has helped to pry the door even further open.

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Ilhan Omar Is Just Another Victim of Zion’s Politically Lethal Sting

Ilhan Omar Is Just Another Victim of Zion’s Politically Lethal Sting

WAYNE MADSEN | 13.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Ilhan Omar Is Just Another Victim of Zion’s Politically Lethal Sting

Freshman US Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and a Somali-American Muslim, is not the first nor will she be the last victim of Zion’s sting. Omar is merely the latest in a long line of US politicians who have faced the onslaught of Israel’s powerful lobbying vise grip in Washington. In fact, long before there was a state of Israel, American presidents and statesmen fell victim to the power of political Zionism to retaliate against those who failed to back the concept of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.

On March 5, 1891, President Benjamin Harrison received a visitor to the White House bearing a petition signed by 421 influential American citizens urging the president to recognize Palestine as the “restored” homeland of the Jewish people. The bearer of the petition, evangelical Christian clergyman William E. Blackstone was one of the earliest “Christian Zionists” in proclaiming solidarity with certain Jewish Zionists in support of a Jewish state in the Holy Land. Blackstone was no different than many of today’s Zionists who ensure total fealty of US administrations to Israeli policy, no matter how reprehensible it may be, especially toward the Palestinian people. Blackstone’s petition had been signed by John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Thomas Reed, inventor Cyrus McCormick, co-owner and managing editor of The Chicago Tribune Joseph Medill, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Robert Hitt, and US Representative and future president William McKinley.

Blackstone, then the chairman of the Conference of Christians and Jews, wrote in his petition that the Ottoman Empire, which had control over Palestine, could be enticed into handing the territory over to Jewish control through the “funding of a portion of the [Ottoman] National debt by rich Jewish bankers.” Such a clause, today, would result in the same howls of “anti-Semitism” that are being directed at Omar because of her statement that pro-Israel lobbying groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), ensure congressional support for Israel by showering members of Congress and candidates with “benjamins,” a reference to US$100 bills.

Harrison, who was president from 1889 to 1893, was polite to Blackstone and promised to give his petition “careful attention.” Harrison, who had his hands full with civil service reform, the tariff debate, the gold versus silver standard for US currency, voting rights for African-Americans in the South, a US-backed coup in Hawaii, and the death of his wife from tuberculosis, slid the Blackstone petition into a “dead file.” Harrison did name a special commission to Russia to investigate anti-Jewish pogroms taking place in the country, urging Congress to condemn the actions of the czar.

Harrison’s inaction on Palestine contributed to his defeat in the 1892 election by his predecessor, Democrat Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was viewed as a safer bet for Zionism because of his denouncement of Austria-Hungary during his first term. The Habsburg emperor refused to accept the credentials of the US Minister-designate to Vienna, John Kieley, because Kieley’s wife was Jewish.

Omar’s stance was defended by her colleagues, newly-elected Palestinian-American Muslim Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont also issued statements in defense of Omar.

In 2009, AIPAC went to battle stations over a House letter, signed by 54 members, urging President Obama to pressure Israel to lift the inhumane blockade of Gaza. The signatories immediately were called the “anti-Semitic Hamas 54” by AIPAC and their propaganda ciphers at Fox “News” and hate talk radio. In fact, the signatories included two Jewish Democratic members, Bob Filner and John Yarmuth.

Over the years, AIPAC has sought to bring down several politicians who, to varying degrees, criticized Israel. AIPAC, a right-wing organization, put out the word that while the signatures of “pro-Hamas” members like Keith Ellison of Minnesota, America’s first Muslim congressman; Jim McDermott of Washington state (retired); incumbent Barbara Lee of California, and Jim Moran of Virginia(retired after being stripped of House seniority committee assignments) were no surprise, others had to be punished for their criticism of Israel over Gaza. AIPAC smeared “pro-Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)” members like Representatives Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan (defeated); Nick Rahall of West Virginia (defeated); Eric Massa of New York (resigned amid a targeted and manufactured scandal concocted with the connivance of AIPAC loyalist Representative Barney Frank; Pete Stark of California (defeated); and Diane Watson of California (retired) and “pro-Islamic sharia” members like William Delahunt of Massachusetts (retired) and John Dingell of Michigan (retired).

America’s political road is littered with those who dared challenge political Zionism’s influence over the American political scene: Democrats and Republicans like Secretary of State and US ambassador to the United Nations Edward Stettinius Jr. (resigned as ambassador over President Harry Truman’s pro-Zionist policies); Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan (failed to secure Republican presidential nomination in 1940 and 1948); New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (defeated in the 1948 presidential election), Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas (defeated), Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton (lost the 1964 GOP presidential nomination), Illinois Senator Charles Percy (defeated), Iowa Senator Roger Jepsen (defeated), Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson III (retired), Stevenson’s father, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson II and twice Democratic presidential candidate, who, in 1955, said of Israeli designs on its neighbors’ lands, “I quietly asserted that it should be the policy of this government not to permit any change in the status quo by force – and the more noisy Zionists have been denouncing me as a traitor ever since, and, frankly, I’m getting damned well fed up with it… Moreover, I’m about the only leading Democrat left with whom Arabs will still talk in confidence.” (defeated twice for the US presidency by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who the Zionists also criticized for failing to back Israel in its 1956 invasion of Sinai and the Suez Canal); President John F. Kennedy, who criticized Israel’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in heated exchanges with Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol (assassinated in 1963); Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who, in 1986, in answer to a question that asked, “Is the Israel Lobby too powerful?” replied, “God, yes, way too powerful!” (defeated for president in 1964, retired from the Senate); Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (defeated in Senate primary); Illinois Representative Paul Findlay, who wrote an excellent book on AIPAC’s influence over American politics, “They Dare to Speak Out,” (defeated), South Dakota Senator James Abdnor (defeated), South Dakota Senator James Abourezk (retired), President Jimmy Carter (defeated), California Representative Pete McCloskey (defeated in Senate primary), Ohio Representative James Traficant (indicted and expelled from the House), Alabama Representative Earl Hilliard (defeated), Texas Representative Ron Paul (retired); Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (retired from the Senate but faced a contentious Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense based on his comments about the power of the Israel Lobby, and Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney (defeated).

Those who opposed the Israel Lobby and placed America’s interests ahead of Israel’s were punished politically. However, all of those who stood up to Israel’s arrogance of power in Washington represented a cross section of the American people: Democrats and Republicans, libertarians and democratic socialists, whites and African-Americans, Gentiles and Jews, and those from the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. Saying no to bullies is an American trait that should be revered and not condemned by those who now find it sporting to take cheap political pot shots at Congresswomen Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez.

More Power to You Miss Omar

More Power to You Miss Omar

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 10.03.2019

More Power to You Miss Omar

Eric S. MARGOLIS

“Tell me who you cannot criticize and I will tell you who is your master”. (Attributed to Voltaire).

Saying anything negative about Israel has long been the third rail of US politics and media. Israel is our nation’s most sacred cow. Any questioning of its behavior brings furious charges of anti-Semitism and professional oblivion.

I keep in my bookcase a cautionary book, ‘They Dared Speak Out’ written by US senators and congressmen who all lost their positions after rebuking Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians or daring to suggest that Israel had far too much influence in the US.

Journalists learn this first commandment very early. Criticize, or even question, Israel at your own peril. Until recently, we journalists were not even allowed to write there was an ‘Israel lobby.’ It was widely considered Washington’s most powerful lobby group but, until lately, mentioning its name was seriously verboten.

Now, young Democratic stars Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a feisty congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, have suddenly broken the taboo and said what dared not be said: there is too much rightwing Israeli influence and there must be justice for Palestine.

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have come to the defense of Ilhan Omar against the usual charges that she is anti-Semitic. So have black groups and smaller liberal Jewish groups. The Democratic Party, that once received half its financial support from Jewish sources, . Its old guard is retreating and does not know what to do beyond issuing fiery denunciations of the heretical Miss Omar. The Democrat Party split comes just at a time when it is trying to bring down President Donald Trump.

Many people seem unaware that Islam is now America’s third largest religion and may soon surpass the number of Jews. In Canada, Muslims are already the second religion.

Ilhan is not anti-Semitic. I grew up in New York and New England where vicious anti-Semitism abounded. I know real anti-Semitism when I see it. But she is quite right in charging that vast amounts of pro-Israel money have bought Congress and the media.

Sheldon Adelson, the pro-Israel casino tycoon, has given well over $100 million to the Republican Party and its leaders. This money comes from legal gambling, a sickness that preys on addicts and the unfortunate.

In the 1700’s, Dr. Samuel Johnson well defined lotteries and gambling as ‘a tax on fools.’ Such is the source of Adelson’s billions and his influence over the US political process. He is also the primary financier of Israel’s prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, who now faces serious charges of corruption.

Interestingly, Britain faces a similar political storm. Its left-leaning Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has called for justice for the Palestinians and a viable state for them. Britain’s pro-Israel groups and media have launched furious counterattacks on Corbyn and his allies, barraging them with false accusations of being anti-Semitic. This is utter nonsense. To find real anti-Semitism in Britain you need look into the recesses of the Conservative Party. I’ve seen its ugly face.

Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinians has sparked bitter anti-Israel sentiments across Europe. Not so much in America, where media leans far over to Israel’s side and evangelical Christians have been bamboozled into believing that a Greater Israel is somehow necessary for the Second Coming.

But young Americans, and even more so Europeans, are increasingly hearing the call of justice for Palestine. They want no truck with Israel’s right-wingers, whom many leftist Israelis, including the late great writer, Uri Avnery, brand ‘fascists.’

The prescient and courageous Pat Buchanan said it years ago: the US Congress was ‘Israeli occupied territory.’ His political career was ruined.

So was my mother’s career. She was one of the first American female journalists to cover the Mideast in the early 1950’s. After extensively reporting the unknown fact that there were nearly one million Palestinian refugees driven from the new state of Israel, she was silenced by advertisers pulling ads from the papers she wrote for and, finally, threats to throw acid in my face. Her career was ruined.

So I say to Miss Omar and the other brave ladies, full speed ahead. Damn the torpedoes. Do what is good for the world and your country. Break the hold of big money over our republic.

ericmargolis.com

It Is israel (apartheid state), Not Russia, That Interferes in US Political Life

It Is Israel, Not Russia, That Interferes in US Political Life

Paul Craig Roberts — paulcraigroberts.org March 7, 2019

Who Does Congress Represent?

Ilhan Omar is a brave woman.  She has embarrassed the corrupt Democratic Party that, together with the Republicans and many evangelical Christians, have sold out America to Israel.

More and more people have come out in her defense, refusing to be silenced by the criminal state of Israel.  Dr. Paul Kindlon explains what is at stake.

He accuses Congress of Treason if Congress legislates at the Israel Lobby’s insistence the death of the First Amendment.  Enough members of the House and Senate have been purchased by the Israel Lobby that the traitors will sell out the US Constitution for Israel’s interests if they can get away with it.

I Accuse Congress of Treason

Dr. Paul Kindlon

Let us be clear…the U.S. Congressional vote condemning criticism of Israel as a form of anti-Semitism – if it passes – will be an act of treachery of historical proportions. Do not be fooled – this is a move by politicians in the pocket of a foreign power to make censorship legal, ending two-hundred plus years of freedom of speech in our country.

I accuse the Congressional representatives who will vote for this resolution of being un-American and of spitting in the face of the founding fathers. It will truly be a dark day in our nation’s history and those responsible will be condemned and held in utter contempt by posterity.

I accuse the Congressional members who vote for this resolution to be traitors to their country and heritage. Men and women who knowingly, willingly and perversely trample upon our sacred first amendment – that uniquely democratic principle that has inspired so many countries to emulate us in order to enjoy the freedom to speak openly and freely.

I accuse the mainstream, corporate, media of aiding and abetting this crime against American democracy. Of turning its back on professional standards and practice. Presenting straight-forward news and balanced reporting have been abandoned because it makes far less money than providing PR and low-level entertainment. It’s all about the Benjamins and humiliating subservience to a foreign government.

I accuse the mainstream media of going tabloid, desecrating the cherished values of past journalists who stood for honesty and objectivity. Journalists who questioned authority and who did not kow-tow to power the way modern day fake journalists do. Like those perfidious members of Congress with fingers poised over the Yea button, these so – called journalists are traitors, as well.

I also accuse the Israeli government of undermining American democracy and weakening our civic society. For it is Israel – not Russia – that has meddled in our political process through AIPAC for many years. By doing so, Israel has acted in a duplicitous manner violating the trust of Americans who have so generously aided Israel for decades. Millions have fretted over the possibility that one powerful member of our government may be working in the interests of a foreign power, not realizing that literally hundreds of key government officials have been putting the interests of Israel over and above the interests of America and its citizens and are preparing to do so again.

And finally…I accuse the American public of being too passive in the face of such treacherous behavior from politicians and journalists who are bringing America straight down into the muck and mire of lies, greed and hypocrisy. The situation is dire. We know who the guilty parties are among us. The question is: what shall be done to punish those who are venal mercenaries –those politicians and journalists who will sell out their own country for thirty pieces of silver?

https://russia-insider.com/en/i-accuse-congress-treason-if-they-vote-yea-anti-semitism-question/ri26488

See also:

Congress Criticizes Ihlan Omar but Remains Silent About Israel’s Violence Against Palestinians

The obsession with US Congresswoman Ihlan Omar’s criticism of Israeli influence over American politics really is unique. And what makes this debate genuinely immoral is that it focuses on Omar’s words but ignores the killing and oppression of Palestinian civilians by Israel.

The Minnesota Congresswoman has been pilloried over the past few weeks for criticising members of Congress who take money from pro-Israel Political Action Committees (PACs) in exchange for political support for Israeli policies. Omar has also highlighted the ugly tendency for many pro-Israel activists and politicians to have an apparently greater loyalty to Israel, a foreign country, than they do to the United States.

As a journalist for nearly half century, I know it is a reality that PACs donate millions to congressmen and women specifically to influence their votes. So why is Omar’s legitimate criticism of donations by supporters of a foreign country, Israel, denounced viciously by Republicans and Democrats alike as an “an anti-Semitic trope”? This is the quid-pro-quo: literally, “something for something”. Translated from Latin into US politics it comes up as, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

As I have written before, pro-Israel activists and the Congressmen and women they “buy” with their PAC donations have weaponised anti-Semitism, turning it into a political bludgeon rather than trying to suppress the racist hatred of Jews, although Arabs are Semites, too, by the way.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190307-congress-criticises-ihlan-omars-words-but-remains-silent-about-israels-violence/

And this:

American Jews, including prominent figures like Naomi Klein, have signed an open letter in support of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

The letter states that she has been “falsely accused of antisemitism” and that there was nothing anti-Semitic about calling out the “noxious” role of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in American politics.

It went on to say that “The pro-Israel lobby has played an outsized role in producing nearly unanimous congressional support for Israel.”

The letter finished by saying “We thank Ilhan Omar for having the bravery to shake up the congressional taboo against criticizing Israel. As Jews with a long tradition of social justice and anti-racism, AIPAC does not represent us.” and called on other Jews to sign the letter.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190306-in-open-letter-jewish-americans-come-out-in-support-of-ilhan-omar/

Source

Dual Loyalty as Racism

ilhan3.jpg

March 08, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

GA: How reassuring is it that the only American who upholds the core values of liberty, patriotism and freedom is a black muslim and an immigrant…

By Eve Mykytyn

The US House of Representatives just passed a resolution that declared, “whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse.”  The key words in this resolution are “dual loyalty” which make clear that this otherwise banal condemnation of racism was made in direct response to Representative Ilhan Omar’s controversial statement:

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Apparently, the House resolution was a disappointment to some. The New York Times reports that this ‘all-inclusive’ approach was criticized for not “solely condemn[ing]  anti-Semitism.” Representative Ted Deutch asked  “Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call it anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?”

It is bizarre that Mr. Deutch seemingly objects to condemning racism per se. Would Mr. Deutch prefer that the House pass separate resolutions condemning prejudice against each of the ever growing list of identity groups?  The House would be so busy debating these resolutions that they would  accomplish nothing else, although admittedly, that might be a positive outcome.

Omar has not retracted her statements. In response to criticism from representative Nita Lowy, Omar tweeted,

“I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

Omar’s point has been substantiated by the reaction it has provoked. Omar claimed that accusations of anti-Semitism tend to be used to silence critics of Israel. In response, she was called a “Jew hater.”

Representative Juan Vargas tweeted, “It is disturbing that Rep. Omar continues to perpetuate hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes that misrepresent our Jewish community. Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”

Omar is condemned for criticizing dual loyalty by those who insist upon loyalty to Israel. As journalist Jordan Weisman noted,

“If Israel’s most devoted U.S. backers are really so concerned over dual loyalty smears, maybe they should think more carefully about how they’re encouraging them. “

 

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