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

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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.

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