The “Deal of The Century” Won’t Go Through: The Palestinian Cause Is Behind Iran And Hezbollah’s Success

By Elijah J. Magnier
Source

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Israel is not preparing a military adventure against Gaza, Syria, Hezbollah or Iran because it is in fact already attaining its objectives both internationally and domestically.

Its military apparatus regularly hits targets in Syria with a calculated risk of retaliation from Damascus and its allies. Israel willingly risks a Syrian reprisal. If Syria were to respond to Israel’s continuous violations of its sovereignty, it would help Israel attract world attention. The world powers would then do their best to try and stop an escalation between Israel and all its enemies gathered in one place in the Levant, rather than looking in meticulous detail at Israel’s wrongdoing in Palestine, and its violations of UN and Oslo agreements. Israel is aware that its enemies will evaluate the timing, benefits and reaction to any military response. Syria and its allies believe a war will slow its recovery from 8 years of war. The potential consequences of a war with Israel on the Syrian economy – at a time of ongoing economic crisis – would be devastating. Syria’s allies are not willing to be dragged into a confrontation at Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s whim. They are also aware of Trump’s unlimited support for Israel at all costs and by any means. An Israeli-US war on Syria would be disastrous.

Netanyahu feels very confident, given Trump’s unlimited support and the confirmation of his domestic support in recent legislative elections. He holds the initiative and has managed to concentrate global attention on Iran rather than Palestine. Demonization of Iran as the head of the “Axis of Evil” diverts attention from the Jewish Nationalist law, the dislodging of the Palestinians from the West Bank-Zone C, and the Israeli attempt to wipe out any trace of Palestinians in the occupied Israeli territory.

Saudi Arabia’s record of militant hatred against Iran’s wide influence in the region is nothing new. It dates back to 1981 when Saddam Hussein declared war on Iran. Moreover, Saudi’s extremist Wahhabite Islamic doctrine leaves little room for tolerance towards any other practice of Islam or towards any other religion. Saudi’s takfiri Wahhabist doctrine is the same creed as that of al-Qaeda and ISIS, who consider secular, Shia, Druse, Isma’ili and Zaidi men, women and children as deserving to be killed at sight, and Yazidi and secular women and children as subject to enslavement.

The Israeli Defence Minister has said that he would prefer to have ISIS on Israel’s borders than the Syrian army and its allies; he publicly acknowledges Israeli military and non-military support to jihadist terrorists during the war against Syria. At the same time Saudi Arabia generously invested in support to Jihadists and opened its prisons and borders for Jihadist-tourists to leave the Kingdom in direction of the Levant. Israel and Saudi Arabia agreed and still agree today that their common enemy is Iran not ISIS.

Netanyahu plans to keep up his aggressive rhetoric against Iran while at the same time domestically pushing the one million Palestinian refugees from Gaza towards the Egyptian Sinai territory, so that he can later divide Gaza into parts A-B-C as his predecessors did to the West Bank through the 1993 Oslo agreement. The Israeli Prime Minister is also aiming to normalise Israeli-Arab relationships and establish overt diplomatic and commercial ties with Arab states, isolating Iran and its allies, i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen.

The Israeli Prime Minister was happy to share with the world that “more than two Arab Leaders rushed to congratulate him for his victory in the last legislative elections”, when a coalition of the far-right wing overwhelmingly defeated more conventional right-wing elements.

Gaza Strip:

Gaza is the cornerstone of what Israel calls the “Deal of the Century”. Netanyahu cannot, any more than Hamas, deal with one million refugees and another million inhabitants – when he or his successors decide to move on Gaza. These people need water, electricity, medical care, infrastructure, schools, universities, security, and links with the outside world. The economic situation in Gaza is critical and Hamas is suffering from the sanctions imposed on its administration of the Strip.

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Gaza was under Egyptian administration from 1948-1959. This inspired Netanyahu’s idea to relocate the Palestinians to Sinai. In the 1950s, President Abdel Nasser sent to Gaza his General Mustafa Hafez who in 1955 created “the Palestinian Fedayeen Forces”. Abdel Nasser visited al-Arish with Abdel Hakim Amer and Salah Salem and considered Hafez commander of the “Army of Palestine”. The Egyptian President considered it important not to rely on any UN resolutions, but he proved incompetent to give the Palestinians back their territory. Hafez was confronted with the  Israeli unit 101 led by Ariel Sharon and was assassinated by the Israeli intelligence service.

David Ben Gurion decided to join the British and the French in their  war against President Abdel Nasser following his decision to nationalise the Suez Canal. Israel saw in the charismatic Egyptian President an existential danger; Israel wanted control of Gaza and demanded that France build its  nuclear military facility in Dimona.

Ben Gurion entered Gaza, Rafah and al-Arish and attacked the 200,000 Palestinian refugees (the population in those days). They had come from Haifa, Yafa, Gallilea, Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine. The Israelis killed in cold blood between 275 to 900 civilians during the nine-day massacre. In the 50s, Ben Gurion already wanted to implement the “Deal of the Century”. Israel was also responsible for another massacre, in Kfar Qassem, killing 49 farmers returning to their home because they hadn’t heard about a sudden curfew imposed by the Israeli army, as ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak later acknowledged.

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Israel adopted the “open door” policy, encouraging or intimidating Palestinians to leavetheir country. But the Israeli massacres didn’t persuade the Palestinians to leave their territory, like those who left in 1948. These were no longer affected by the Israeli “Ironing policy” and decided to stay even in wretched conditions.

These days, Israel is using Trump to try and twist the Palestinians’ arms. He gave Jerusalem (and the Golan) to Netanyahu and will probably give him the West Bank-zone C too. Trump also halted fundingfor the UN agency helping Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in an attempt to force the Palestinians to accept Netanyahu’s objectives.

This is pushing the Palestinians to adopt what now appears the only solution–to join the resistance, to fight for their land. Those who have decided to stand up to Israel believe it is “weaker than the spider’s web”. Despite the murder of children, the elderly and women by Israeli bullets, Palestinians demonstrate weekly for the right of return. The Palestinian resistance (for the first time 14 groups have united in one military operational room joining their decisions, military actions and capabilities against Israel) has shown its capability to bomb Tel Aviv, forcing Netanyahu to positively respond to some Palestinian demands.

“Netanyahu said he will allow the re-opening of the passage between Gaza and Egypt; he will allow money to reach Hamas; he has agreed to enlarge the fishing space and allow trucks to supply Gaza with most needed goods. The Palestinian resistance agreed to stop using “rough methods” (flying burning kites) and managed to bring out of Israeli jails 1027 prisoners in the Gilad Shalit  exchange deal. The Palestinian resistance has now halted all negotiations with Netanyahu in regard to the 5 Israelis detained by the Palestinian resistance. In turn the Israelis have re-arrested 56 prisoners who were released during the Shalit deal. Unless these are first released unconditionally, negotiations between the resistance and Israel will not be resumed”, said the Palestinian source.

The Palestinians find it difficult to reconcile amongst themselves to unite against Netanyahu’s “deal of the Century”. President Abbas wants to control Gaza, and Hamas is happy to pass on political leadership to him provided the armed resistance keeps its autonomy. Hamas is in organisational and economic trouble in Gaza and would like to take such responsibilities off its back. Hamas didn’t learn from the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon. Despite its huge military power Hezbollah wisely refuses to exert political control, thus avoiding blame for bad administration. Abbas believes in verbal resistance rather than armed resistance. Netanyahu supports the Palestinian President’s peaceful methods because he believes that talking has never won back any territory for the Palestinians. Abbas wants Hamas to retain control of Gaza if it won’t give up its weapons. This condition has been rejected by all resistance groups in Gaza.

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Hamas has made many mistakes in the past. In Iraq and Syria, many ex-Hamas joined al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (ISIS) with the aim of establishing an Islamic State. Many of them had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon but reappeared later as suicide bombers and on the battlefield, fighting against the Iraqi and Syrian governments for a purpose unrelated to Palestine. The political leadership jumped from one alliance to another and declared enmity to President Bashar al-Assad who still today refuses reconciliation with Hamas. Other Palestinian groups acted as a “guns for hire” in the service of Muammar Ghedaffi, Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad.

Netanyahu has failed to tame the resistance because he has no intention either of giving the Palestinians any territory, or of giving back territories Israel is currently occupying or has received from Trump. Netanyahu’s policies vindicate Hezbollah’s raison-d’être, justify Iran’s continued presence in the Levant, and provide strong motivations for President Bashar al-Assad to reject any future negotiations with Israel and to stick with the “Axis of the Resistance” for good. He is also offering to Iraq a motive to sympathise with the cause of the Levantine peoples and is dooming Israel to a state of ongoing war with its close neighbours.

The last word does not belong to Netanyahu or Trump. It belongs to the Palestinians. The wealth of the Middle East is being invested in Middle Eastern wars and is now being used in the service of Netanyahu – through Trump – to divide and reshuffle the Middle Eastern map. But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

The “Deal of The Century” Won’t Go Through: Split Among Palestinians Supports Israel 1/3

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

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For over a year now, the Israeli “Deal of the Century” for Palestine has been endorsed by the US establishment and is now echoing to the four corners of the world. The two novices in foreign policy, US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, manoeuvred by Israel from behind the scenes, are trying to promote it among Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, the three countries who are supposed to exchange territories to further Israel’s plans in Gaza and the West Bank. It remains improbable that the US and Israel can impose this plan that has taken shape under the watchful but impotent gaze of Europe and the Arab nations.

Notwithstanding US-Arab-Israeli initial approval of this deal, the ultimate decision is in the hands of the Palestinian people. Although bickering and serious splits are omnipresent among the Palestinian leadership, all (including the President ad interimMahmoud Abbas) have agreed to reject the Israeli-US deal. Thus, the “Deal of the Century” is expected to fall through because the Palestinians will never again make the mistake they made in1948, and will hold on to their territory. They will not agree to exchange Palestine for parcels of land in Egypt and Jordan as written in the plan leaked by the same US establishment.

Palestinian officials said “the Deal of the Century was launched by Israel in 1956 when, for nine days, Israel was committing genocidal massacres against Palestinian civilians and refugees in the Gaza strip and in particular in Khan Yunis and Rafah. The objective then was to push the Palestinian refugees toward an exodus so Israel could annex Gaza without refugees. The Palestinians who sought shelter in Gaza escaped the Israeli killing in 1948 from Akka, Haifa, Yafa, Safad, Gallilea, al-Led, al-Ramla, Nablus, al-Quds and Bir el-Sabe’. Today, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is trying to accomplish what David-Ben Gurion, the founder of the Zionist state and the first Prime Minister of this state, failed to achieve”.

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“Today Netanyahu feels euphoric following the victory of the extreme right-wing parties in the last elections. Extremism in Israel dominates the Knesset. The classic right-wing party has a share in power but centrists like Labour went from 42 seats to 6 in the last legislative elections, its worst showing in its 71-year history. Thus, most of Israeli society has decided to vote for the extremism that is now overwhelming Israeli culture together with the armed forces. It is time for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to realize that Israel is not willing to give a state to the Palestinians and will always reject the right of return. No one today except President Abbas holds to the Oslo agreement(signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 in Washington). Thus, it is time to reject every single article in the Oslo treaty and refuse any deal with Israel. President Abbas (Abu Mazen) believes in peaceful resistance and in “talking-resistance” at the United Nations and Europe, both of whom are impotent in the face of Israel’s plans and those of Trump. For this reason, we believe that armed resistance is the only way to get our state, because we reject any deal and any swap of territories”, said the source.

Several Arab states are promoting the Israeli “Deal of the Century”. Oil-rich countries, i.e. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, are trying to convince the Palestinians, Egyptians and the Jordanian leadership to swap territories to ease the deal and accommodate Israel.

According to well-informed sources, the “Deal of the Century” offers Egypt a sum between 65 and 100 billion dollars in exchange for offering part of Sinai (Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah and al-Aresh) to the Palestinian refugees in Gaza. In exchange, Jordan gives al-Baqoura and al-Ghamer to the Palestinians in the West Bank in exchange of “part C’. Amman would be offered around 50 to 60 billion dollars. Saudi Arabia is expected to offer Jordan a piece of Haql and Magna in exchange for the Egyptian islands of Tiran and Sanafir (the Saudis already paid for these Islands but an Egyptian court blocked the transfer of property). The Palestinians who remain in Palestine are expected, according to the deal, to receive tens of billions of dollars “to ease their life”. Also, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are supposed to receive a handsome quantity of billions of dollars to naturalize the Palestinian refugees on the condition they never return to Palestine.

The above details of the “Deal” confirm that it will not go through for many reasons: Lebanon and Syria will never agree to naturalize the Palestinian refugees. When young Palestinian teens living in Lebanon or Syria are asked where they come from, they immediately respond: “I am from Haifa, Yafa, Nablous, Quds, Safad…” They never say, even if they were born in Lebanon or Syria, that they belong to the country their parents or grandparents were forced to migrate to. They have never renounced their right to return and keep the key of their home hanging on the wall so as to never, ever forget where they belong.

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Jordanian and Egyptian leaders will never dare offer territories to ease Israel’s plan because the population will revolt and regimes will fall. These and many more reasons lead to one conclusion: the “Deal of the Century” was dead even before it was born.

At the heart of US efforts to promote the deal is the economic strangulation of a few Middle Eastern countries – i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza – who are going through a serious economic crisis. US forces are occupying north-east Syria, an area rich in oil and gas and agriculture. US forces also block the main crossing between Syria and Iraq at al-Tanf in order to block trade and keep the area insecure for commerce between the two countries, with the goal of breaking the Syrian government’s back. The US establishment is also putting pressure on the Arab Gulf States and has succeeded in stopping them from restoring a normal relationship with Syria, to prevent their participation in the reconstruction of the country. Israel and the US believe this is the best way to force Syria to the negotiation table- but this is not going to happen either.

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Lebanon is going through a severe economic crisis but will never accept to naturalize the Palestinians for many reasons. First, the Palestinian cause will remain alive so long as Israel rejects a Palestinian state that meets the aspiration of the Palestinian population. Second, naturalization would unbalance the country’s demography and to the detriment of the Christians so that they eventually be marginalized in Lebanon.

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Neither will Jordan ever exchange this territory, even for the billions of dollars the country is in need of. By taking the money the monarchy would lose the country.

Egypt rejected Trump’s characteristic attempt at blackmail to force acceptance of the “Deal of the Century”. US officials threatened Egypt in reference to its military deal with Russia; in reality, these threats were meant to force Sisi’s hand into accepting the “Deal”.

All these Middle Eastern countries are aware that geography moves history and changes regimes. This “deal” is not new at all. It started in 1956 and over the years Israel has contrived to create the conditions for its acceptance. It is exactly what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice advocated in 2006 when she announced the creation of a “New Middle East”. To support this plan, the US invaded Iraq in 2003; Israel declared war on Hezbollah in 2006 and half of the world gathered – but failed – to change the regime in Syria by means of terrorist proxies. His recent election victory is motivating Netanyahu to take advantage of a totally obedient President in the White House, and push him to endorse his “deal of the Century”. The time is right, from Israel’s point of view, to push through the deal. This Israeli insistence is forcing its neighbors to the opposite conclusion: it is proof to the “Axis of the Resistance” that no solution is possible in the Middle East but through resistance.

Note: The 1948 Palestinian exodus, also known as the Nakba (Arabic: النكبة‎, al-Nakbah, literally “disaster”, “catastrophe”, or “cataclysm”), occurred from December 1947 to January 1949 when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine war. 600 Palestinian villages were sacked during the war, while urban Palestine was almost entirely extinguished.

Trump Dances to Israel’s Tune

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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So newly reelected Israeli monster-in-chief Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted, with a grin, that America’s President Donald J. Trump followed through on his proposal to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist group. Bibi was smiling because the timing of the move, one day before the Israeli election, strongly suggests it was done to assist him against what had become a very strong opposition challenge. That Trump likely colluded with Netanyahu to blatantly interfere in the election has apparently bothered no one in Israel or in the tame American media.

The gift from Washington came on top of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, threatening members of the International Criminal Court if they try to prosecute Israel for war crimes, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, removing the word “occupation” from the State Department’s assessments of human rights infringements on the West Bank, eliminating relief funding for Palestinian refugees, leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council because it was too critical of Israel, and looking the other way as Israel declared itself a state only for Jews. Washington also ignored the bombing of hospitals, schools and water treatment infrastructure in Gaza while Israeli army snipers were shooting unarmed demonstrators demanding their freedom.

The labeling of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group is particularly disturbing as it means that the United States military by virtue of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) now has a mandate to attack the IRGC wherever it appears, including in Syria or even in the waterway the Straits of Hormuz, where the guard has regular patrols in small boats. It is a de facto declaration of war and it comes on top of a number of deliberate provocations directed against Iran starting with the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) one year ago, which led to the unilateral imposition of harsh sanctions directed against the Iranian economy to bring about a popular uprising as well as regularly repeated false claims that Iran is the leading “state sponsor of terrorism.” Next month, the U.S. will begin enforcing a unilaterally declared worldwide sanction on any and all Iranian oil sales.

Netanyahu pledged to annex Israeli settlements on the largely Palestinian West Bank if elected, which is undoubtedly a move cleared in advance with the Trump team of foreign policy sociopaths as it de facto puts an end to any delusional speculation over a possible two-state negotiated solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. It will also lead to a massive upsurge in violence as the Palestinians object, which is neither a concern for the White House or Netanyahu, as they are assuming that it can be suppressed by overwhelming force directed against an almost completely unarmed civilian population.

And Trump will no doubt expect Bibi to return the favor when he is running for reelection in 2020 by encouraging American Jews who care about Israel to support the Republicans. Trump is focused on his own electability and is absolutely shameless about his betrayal of actual American interests in the Middle East, possibly because he has no inkling of the actual damage that he is doing. His speech last week before the casino multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson-hosted Jewish Republican Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas was a disgusting pander to a group that includes many key players who have little or no concern for what happens to the United States as long as Israel flourishes. The only good news that came out of the meeting was that Adelson himself appears to be “gravely ill.”

Trump at times appeared to be speaking to what he thought was a group of Israelis, referring to “your prime minister” when mentioning Benjamin Netanyahu and several times describing Israel as “yours,” suggesting that deep down he understands that many American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States. At another point, Trump declared that “The Democrats have even allowed the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party and their country,” apparently part of a White House plan to keep playing that card to turn American Jews and their political donations in a Republican direction before elections in 2020.

Trump also told the Republican Coalition audience how he came to a decision on recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He described how “he’d been speaking to his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his Israel adviser, Jason Greenblatt, over the phone about an unrelated issue when he suddenly brought up the Golan Heights.” Trump shared how “I said, ‘Fellows, do me a favor. Give me a little history, quick. Want to go fast. I got a lot of things I’m working on: China, North Korea. Give me a quickie.’ After the advisers filled him in, Trump said he asked Friedman: ‘David, what do you think about me recognizing Israel and the Golan Heights?’ Friedman, apparently surprised by the suggestion, reacted like a ‘wonderful, beautiful baby,’ Trump said, and asked if he would ‘really … do that.’ ‘Yeah, I think I’m doing it right now. Let’s write something up,’ Trump said he responded, prompting applause and cheers from his audience in Las Vegas. ‘We make fast decisions and we make good decisions.’”

Putting the Trump story about the Golan Heights in some kind of context is not really that difficult. He wanted an answer to please Netanyahu and he went to three Orthodox Jews who support the illegal Israeli settlements and have also individually contributed financially to their growth so he was expecting the response that he got. That he was establishing a precedent by his moves on Jerusalem and the Golan apparently did not occur to him as his administration prides itself on having a foreign policy vision that extends no longer than the beginning of next week, which is why he hired Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams. And then there is always the doleful Stephen Miller lurking in the background as well as the three musketeers of Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman for really serious questions relating to why acceding to the wishes of parasite state Israel should continue to be the apparent number one priority of the government of the United States.

Donald Trump neither poses nor answers the question why he feels compelled to fulfill all of the campaign pledges he made to the Jewish community, which by and large did not vote for him, while failing to carry out the promises made to those who actually did support him. The absurd Jewish Republican Coalition narrative about how Trump gave Israel the Golan Heights should have resulted in a flood of opprobrium in the U.S. media about his profound ignorance and fundamental hypocrisy, but there was largely silence.

The nonsense going on in Las Vegas in front of a lot of fat cats who regard the United States as little more than a cash cow that they control as well as in the White House itself unfortunately has real world consequences. America is being led by the nose by a well-entrenched and powerful group of Israeli loyalists and this will not end well. The U.S. doesn’t even have a Middle Eastern foreign policy anymore – it has a “to do” list handed by Netanyahu to whomever is president. The fact that the current man in charge in Washington is either so ignorant or so deluded as to allow the process to escalate until the U.S. is drawn into yet more catastrophic wars is beyond regrettable. U.S. foreign policy should not depend on the perceptions of Kushner and company. It should be based on real, tangible American interests, not those of Israel. Someone should explain that to the president.

US Rep. Says Cutting Military Aid to «Israel» Is «on the Table»

By Staff, Agencies

US Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez raised eyebrows during an interview Sunday when she said the possibility of cutting military or economic aid to the “Israeli” entity is “on the table” after the election of “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ocasio-Cortez was on Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast when she said Netanyahu’s election comes during a disturbing trend of “authoritarianism across the world” and called the leader a “Trump-like figure.”

The US representative further slammed the “Israeli” policy of detaining Palestinian minors, saying other senators have proposals asking the US not to fund “Israeli” detention of Palestinian children.

The representative reflected her concerns, as a US citizen, if “Trump started really pursuing more and more increasingly dangerous policies and everyone standing aside saying this is normal.”

Netanyahu has pledged to “apply sovereignty” to settlements in the occupied West Bank. He told “Israeli” Channel 12 TV that, “we will go to the next phase to extend ‘Israeli’ sovereignty.”

“I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements,” he continued, The Associated Press reported.

Trump has recognized al-Quds [Jerusalem] as “Israel’s” so-called capital early in his term. Trump has also recognized the so-called “Israeli” sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The move was viewed in the entity as a political gift from Trump to Netanyahu.

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العلاقات السورية- الروسية: ظرفية أم استراتيجية؟

أبريل 11, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتهمّ مراكز تحليل عربية وأجنبية متنوّعة، روسيا باستعدادها للتخلي عن دورها في سورية مقابل أيّ تحسّن نوعي في علاقاتها مع كلّ من تركيا و»إسرائيل». ويرون أيضاً أنّ تقارباً روسياً – أميركياً حول تقاسم السيطرة بينهما حصرياً أو مع الصين في إطار ثلاثية دولية يعطي النتيجة نفسها فيتراخى الدور الروسي في سورية على الفور.

إنّ مشكلة هذه التحليلات أنها ذات طابع نظري قابلة للسقوط عند مناقشها عملياً، فتصبح غير قابلة للتطبيق.. صحيحٌ أنّ العلاقات بين الدول تقوم على المصالح كما تقول النظرية السياسية الإنكليزية منذ قرنين تقريباً.. والتي تضيف بأن لا علاقات ثابتة، وتتحرك بالتالي في اتجاه حركة المصالح فتندفع للتطابق معها وتتعارض حيناً آخر.. عند ولادة مصالح أكثر أهمية في أمكنة متناقضة.

هذا هو البُعد الذي يسيطر على العلاقات بين الدول منذ القرن السابع عشر، مع استثناءات بسيطة لدول ايديولوجية كالاتحاد السوفياتي سقطت وهي تقاوم نظرية المصالح.

إنّ التسليم بهذه الآلية التي تحكم العالم حالياً، يتطلب تفسيرها. فالمصالح اقتصادية واجتماعية وسياسية واقتصادية تضرب في شتى المجالات لإدراك أهدافها. أيّ أنها ليست مجرد تحسين في الاستفادة الاقتصادية لمرة أو مرتين وينقضي الأمر… فهي بناءات تجمع بين الاستفادة من السياسة والاستراتيجيا والعلاقات الثقافية والاجتماعية.. هذا ما تطبّقه الدول ذات الوزن الكبير… فها هي الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تسيطر على 800 قاعدة عسكرية منتشرة في بقاع الأرض وتقدّم تسهيلات لنشر اللغة الانكليزية والأفلام والدعايات الخاصة بالترويج لملبسها ومآكلها. وتدعم قوى سياسية موالية لها داخل البلدان على حساب قوى أخرى.

وهذه آليات لا تزال أوروبا تفعل مثلها منذ قرون عدة. وابتدأت الصين بمحاكاتها منذ عقود عدة.

لذلك فإنّ تحقيق المصالح الدولية لا يمارس على طريقة «بائع جوّال» يضرب «ضربته التجارية» ويرحل إلى جغرافيا أخرى فيها ضربات جديدة خاطفة.. لقد أصبحت البراغماتية بناءات مترابطة بين السياسة والتاريخ والثقافة والاقتصاد والاستراتيجيا.

فهل ينطبق هذا الأمر على العلاقات السائدة حالياً بين روسيا وسورية؟

هذه علاقات لها تاريخ عميق وترقى إلى خمسينيات القرن الماضي… وكانت تتعامل مع المصالح بعقلية حاجات الاتحاد السوفياتي إلى مواقع استراتيجية في الشرق الأوسط تطلّ على البحار الدافئة في مواجهة الإمبراطورية الأميركية، مقابل دعم الدولة السورية بالسلاح والاقتصاد، والسياسة. لكن الطابع السياسي ظلّ طاغياً عليها، حتى 1990.

وجنحت هذه العلاقات نحو التراجع لعقدين من الزمن بدءاً من الانهيار السوفياتي وحتى نهاية عهد الرئيس الروسي السابق يلتسين التي اتسمت بانكفاء داخلي وضعف، وتراجع الدور العالمي الروسي… وكان طبيعياً انعكاس هذا التراجع على العلاقات مع سورية.

إلا أنّ مرحلة الرئيس الحالي بوتين، سجلت إصراراً على العودة إلى الموقع الدولي.. وبعد النجاح في إجهاض الحرب على روسيا من خلال أوكرانيا الأكثر من مجاورة.. عاد الروسي إلى سورية.. لماذا؟ لأنها قلب البحار الدافئة التي كانت يشتهيها قياصرتهم من كاترينا وبطرس الأكبر وآخرين ويربطون بينها وبين خروجهم من «الأسر» في القطب الشمالي.. وإذا كان الخط البحري الذي حرّروه تاريخياً بالقوة المسلحة من بحار أزوف والأسود ومرمرة وإيجه وصولاً إلى المتوسط أصبح سالكاً أمام بوارجهم.. فهذا لا يكفي لأن معظمهم يقع تحت السيادة التركية.. ما شجّعهم على الاتفاق مع سورية على بناء قواعد جوية وبحرية على الساحل الساحلي. فيصبح لروسيا قوة ثابتة تطل على الداخل العربي من خلال سورية وعلى مقربة من تركيا المليئة بقواعد الناتو الأميركية، ولها عين على كل ما يتحرّك في البحر الأبيض المتوسط. استعاد الروس إذاً من عملية دعم الدولة السورية في الهجوم الإرهابي الأميركي الخليجي – الإسرائيلي عليها، فطوّروا قواعدهم فيها مضيفين عليها قواعد جديدة وبوظائف جديدة، متدّخلين على شكل أضخم قصف جوي منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية، استطاعوا بواسطته، تسهيل مهمة سورية وإيران وحزب الله باكتساح مناطق الإرهاب وتحريرها على مدى في غربي الفرات يصل إلى 120 ألف كيلومتر مربع.

إنّ كلّ الأطراف المتحالفة استفادت من هذا الانتصار وأوّلها الدولة السورية التي حرّرت كامل مدنها الكبرى من حلب وحمص وحماة ودمشق ودير الزور.. وإيران التي أكدت إقليمية دورها وصلابتها في القتال على الأراضي السورية في ظرف تتعرّض فيه لحصار أميركي متواصل منذ ثلاثة عقود وعداء خليجي – إسرائيلي. بدوره حزب الله الذي يجسّد أعلى درجات الالتزام الايديولوجي، مارس جهادية عالية بقتال إرهاب أراد تفتيت المنطقة.

وإذا كان الجيش السوري وحزب الله وإيران يقاتلون ايديولوجيا ضدّ إرهاب تكفيري يستعمله الأميركيون وتحالفاتهم لتدمير سورية وإيران ولاحقاً المنطقة بأسرها، فإنّ لروسيا حسابات استراتيجية، تبدأ من ضرورة حماية الدولة السورية، المتحالفة معها تاريخياً، وذلك كمعبر ضروري وإلزامي لتأمين الدور الروسي في البحار الدافئة، بما يؤدي أيضاً إلى صعود روسيا في التوازنات الإقليمية والدولية.

ولولا الوجود الروسي في سورية لما وصلت إلى فنزويلا، وتؤسّس لعلاقات عميقة مع الكثير من الدول في الشرق الأوسط.. وتحاول جذب تركيا ببيعها سلاحاً وتحويلها معبراً لأكبر أنبوب غاز يمر عبرها إلى أوروبا، وتنظيم علاقات اقتصادية وسياحية عميقة معها. كما أنّ علاقتها بـ»إسرائيل» تتطوّر على وقع حاجة «إسرائيل» إليها في.. سورية.

لذلك لا يمكن أبداً المقارنة أو القياس بين علاقة سورية بإيران وحزب الله ذات البُعد الايديولوجي العميق المستند إلى ضرورة التصدي للنفوذ الأميركي.. بالعلاقات بين روسيا وسورية القائمة على مصالح استراتيجية لطرفيها.. وهذا يعني أنها مستمرة لأنها تلبّي وظائف لا تتراجع.. فروسيا من دون سورية تعود إلى القطب الشمالي.. وهذا لا يعني وجود قدرة تمنعها على تحسين علاقاتها بكلّ من تجده ضرورياً لمشروعها، شرط أنّ لا يتعارض مع السيادة السورية..

أما الرهان الروسي على «إسرائيل».. إذا كان موجوداً، فهو ساقط بالولادة لأن لـ»إسرائيل» علاقات استراتيجية استتباعية بالأميركيين غير قابلة للإلغاء.. وكذلك قد تسوء علاقة الأتراك بالأميركيين لكنها غير قابلة للزوال.. ومن لا يصدق فليذهب إلى قاعدة انجرليك ومثيلاتها..

ضمن هذه الدائرة، تلعب السياسة الروسية.. إنما في إطار الاستفادة من تناقضات تركية – أميركية، مع محاولة تحييد «إسرائيل» في الانتخابات الروسية المقبلة حيث يحوز اليهود الروس على أهمية فيها لكن روسيا تعرف في خاتمة الأمر أن حلفها مع سورية هو امتداد لأمنيات قدماء القياصرة، وضرورة لخروجها إلى قلب العالم.

أما لجهة تنافسها مع إيران، فليس في الأمر منطقية لأن الطرفين مستهدفان تباعاً من النفوذ الأميركي، بما يؤكد ضرورة تحالفهما في مواقع وتنافسهما الطبيعي في مواقع أخرى.

والطرفان الروسي والإيراني يعرفان أنّ سورية هي للدولة السورية التي نجحت بالقضاء على أعتى أنواع الإرهاب المدعوم دولياً بجيشها والتحالفات. لذلك فإن الرهان على خلافات داخل الحلف الواحد، في إطار أحلام العرب الذين ينتظرون عوناً من رب العالمين وهم سكارى.

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Trump’s ‘Deal of Century’ To Be Unveiled Only after Netanyahu Forms His Coalition

By Staff, Agencies

The new alleged peace plan between the Zionist entity and the Palestinians expected to be imminently unveiled by US President Donald Trump’s administration won’t be revealed until after Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just secured his record-breaking fifth consecutive term on Tuesday, forms his new coalition.

The plan, whose contents have been kept closely guarded over the past two years, has only been seen regularly by four members of the delegation appointed by Trump, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, to avoid any leaks and “to ensure people approach it with an open mind,” Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a senior administration official.

Apparently Trump himself hasn’t even seen the plan in its entirety.

“He is briefed if something interesting is happening or there is an idea they want to run by him,” the official told Reuters.

The report comes on the heels of a high-stakes national election in the Zionist entity, which saw Netanyahu grasping to his seat, and which would determine when the long-anticipated peace proposal will be unveiled.

Trump congratulated the long-reigning premier once the results were finalized on Wednesday, adding that Washington’s plan had a “better chance” with Netanyahu.

“Everyone said you can’t have peace in the Middle East between ‘Israel’ and the Palestinians,” Trump told reporters.  “I think we have a chance, and I think we have now a better chance with Bibi having won.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton on Wednesday morning told Hugh Hewitt radio that he estimates the administration’s “Deal of the Century” will be released “in the very near future.”

“We’ve been working, President Trump, Jared Kushner and others, for a couple of years now on a Middle East peace plan. We’ve been in the preparatory stages to getting it ready. And I think we’re going to see that coming out in the very near future,” Bolton said, though he did not specify a date.

Earlier on Monday, an ‘Israeli’ television report said the deal drawn up by Trump’s team could be ready to present by mid-June, despite expectations it would be published imminently following the Zionist elections on Tuesday.

 

Terrorism Is What We Say It Is

By Jeremy Salt
Source

Ahwaz terror attack 54fc1

There is no consensus when it comes to defining terrorism. The most acceptable is ‘the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in pursuit of political aims.’ Some definitions insert the word ‘systematic’ so the act is defined as the regular, standard behavior of an individual or a group and not just one aberrant or anomalous action.

Terror is not quite the same as terrorism. Terror is experienced by many people in many ways and at many levels of their lives. There is terror at home in the hands of an abusive husband. There is the terror experienced by sexually abused children. There is terror in the school and the church, from abusive priests and teachers.

There is terror in the streets, from the man holding a knife to your throat as he demands your wallet and there can be terror at the hands of police, there to protect but frequently to abuse and even kill.

A violent father will terrorize his family for years. He will terrorize them regularly, day after day. He will assault his wife and children. He might even kill them. The family will live in a state of fear for years. There will be no end to it any more than there seems to be an end to occupation for the occupied.

This is a digression but it is not unreasonable to compare the fear of an abusive father in the home to the fear of soldiers and settlers amongst a people living under occupation. Violence is always just around the corner in both circumstances.

The home is turned into occupied territory, a place of violence and terror from which there is no escape for the trapped child. The abusive father becomes the soldier, the border police and the settler.

The state and the media tell us who the terrorist is. It is never us. It is always them. The terrorist is the Islamic State in Syria, the terrorist is the gunmen shooting dead 90 young people in the Bataclan theatre in Paris and the terrorist is the man driving a 19-ton truck into a mass of people strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The central problem with this mainstream definition is that it excludes the terrorist actions of a state, except, of course, when the state is part of ‘them’ and not ‘us’ and needs to be set up as a fitting target for attack.

The killers at Bataclan and Nice had their own political motives but so do ‘western’ governments and their regional allies when launching their wars of aggression in the Middle East. Their actions meet their own criteria of terrorism – unlawful violence against civilians with a political aim in mind – and they have killed infinitely more people than the victims of all individual or group terrorist attacks put together.

Their wars would be more accurately described as onslaughts by the most powerful armies in the world on countries scarcely capable of defending themselves. Israel’s war on Lebanon in 1982 was a terrorist war directed against a civilian population, with the political aim in mind of extinguishing the PLO. Its ‘wars’ on Gaza have been terrorist attacks on a civilian population with the aim of destroying support for the Palestinian government elected in 2006.

When the US and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003 the entire Iraqi population south of the Kurdish region was terrorized. Across the country, people did not know whether they or someone close to them would live to see the next day. Hundreds of thousands did not.

They were the sacrifice that had to be made so a dictator could be stripped of the weapons of mass destruction he did not have and the architects of the killing of these civilians knew he did not have.

There were no elegies, no regrets, and no remorse. No flags waving over coffins and no sound of the last post. They were pulp, no more than dross, the scourings in the factory of war, a faceless, nameless pile of bodies with a sign stuck on the top reading ‘collateral damage.’

This did not mean that death did not concern the folk back home. Many were horrified and came out into the streets to demonstrate but most were concerned only with the death of their own, the soldiers sent to kill in this senseless war.

The same governments that led the attack on Iraq then took advantage of the ‘Arab spring’ to turn their attention to Libya. This most developed country in Africa was not destroyed by ‘rebels.’ It was destroyed by the air forces of the US, the UK, and France. The ‘rebels’ moved forward only under cover of aerial attack. Without it they could not have gone beyond the municipal boundaries of Benghazi.

These same governments changed gear when it came to Syria, where they knew they could not get any kind of UN Security Council backing for what they intended to do. They claimed to have been engaged in a ‘war on terror’ since 9/11 but now they and their regional allies used the terrorist gangs they had pledged to destroy to destroy Syria. Their takfiris were no more than the equivalent of the contras Ronald Reagan used against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

The criminality in all of this is enormous. The Nuremberg tribunal defined an aggressive war as the supreme international crime. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, the destruction of Libya in 2011 and the slow-motion destruction of Syria from 2011 onwards were aggressive wars and thus supreme international crimes for which no-one who commissioned them has been held accountable in a court of law.

The 2003 attack on Iraq followed ten years of sanctions described by senior UN humanitarian coordinators as genocidal. This was a decade of terror suffered by the Iraqi people, deprived of food, clean water, and energy supplies. Half a million children who would have lived died. The sanctions sickened so many governments they refused to apply them any longer.

With the sanctions regime collapsing, and with it becoming clear that Saddam would survive and Iraq would again take its place as a front line Arab state against Israel, the US decided to attack again and break Iraq up.

The second war on Iraq was launched and sustained under cover of the most reprehensible lies, not one of them being challenged let alone exposed by the corporate media. Up to one million people were killed within a few years and millions more fled their country. Until the attack on Syria, it was the greatest outpouring of refugees in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

The refugees scattered in all directions. Some managed to reach Indonesia, where they took rickety boats across the Timor Sea to Australia. Many drowned when their boats sank.  Others were turned back and some actually made it through the naval cordon. Taking no responsibility for its military role in the destruction of their country, the Australian government then locked them up in ‘detention centers’ or in camps behind razor wire in the middle of the desert.

The vicious, inhumane treatment of such vulnerable people will rank for all time as one of the most despicable episodes in Australian history. What it exposed yet again was the racism deeply embedded in Australian society, directed against one vulnerable group of people after another, the indigenous people from the beginning of white settlement, Chinese miners in the 19th century, ‘boat people’ escaping the Vietnam war in the 1970s and most recently the ‘boat people’ escaping the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

The irony could not be lost on anyone, as it was the white settlers themselves who in 1788 were the first ‘boat people,’ massacring the native people and claiming the entire land under the lie of terra nullius. Neither should the similarities with the Zionist occupation of Palestine be lost on anyone.

War turned Libya into a jumping-off point for Libyans and other Africans escaping war or seeking a better life in Europe. Thousands drowned crossing the Mediterranean. The Aegean was another death zone, for Iraqis driven out of their homeland or Kurds escaping theirs.

Then it was Syria’s turn.  If there is any redeeming feature in this latest attempt to destroy an Arab country it is that Syria has survived and in time foreign forces will eventually have to withdraw from the territory they have occupied.  The governments responsible have again violated international law in the most shocking fashion and again no-one has been punished or even held accountable.

These state crimes are the greatest in modern history, far worse in the scale of destruction and the numbers of people killed than the crimes of the national socialists and fascists in the 1930s. One would have to go back to the war on Vietnam for a parallel measure of death and destruction.

Israel was a central element in the wars on Iraq and Syria. It has long been agitating for war on Iran. Its politicians and lobbyists in the US were pushing for ‘regime change’ in the Middle East two decades ago, with the aim of clearing the region of all possible threats to Israeli military domination.

Psycho-historically, Israel also wanted to destroy what was left of the ‘Arab idea’ and what lay at its heart – Palestine. This project began with its establishment.  Israel would decide what the Arab world would be and Israel would tell the world what Arab and Palestinian history had been. Indeed, there would no longer be an ‘Arab world’ in any integrated sense.  As the Yinon planrevealed in the 1980s, it would be broken up into ethno-religious enclaves that Israel could dominate.

Along with the gross crimes committed in Iraq, Libya and Syria there have been the drone missile attacks ordered against Yemen, Somalia and other countries by that paragon of western liberal democracy, Barack Obama.

Now we have his successor dismissing international law with his claim that Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are part of Israel. Thus encouraged, Netanyahu is pledging that after the forthcoming elections he will annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank. ‘A Palestinian state would endanger our existence’ he says. If he does, Trump is likely to follow through with recognition.

What else are these attacks on the governments and people of the Middle East but terror and terrorism as defined – ‘the unlawful use of violence … especially against civilians … in the pursuit of political aims’?

This terrorism is not random but part of the DNA of certain states, no different in essence from the terror of the gunmen who burst into the Bataclan theatre and began shooting down civilians as innocent as the Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and Palestinians killed by tank fire and missile strikes or shot by gunmen along the Gaza fence. Only the uniform separates them from the Bataclan killers.

These two governments, the US and Israel, have turned the canons of international law upside down. Their law is no more than the law of the jungle, the law not of the civilization whose virtues they endlessly spout but of brute force. They have demonstrated by their actions that where their perceptions of national interest are concerned there is no law they will obey and every law they will break.

They are the Leviathan without the social contract. They have taken the world back to Thomas Hobbes’ ‘state of nature,’ in which, for millions of people in the Middle East the life of a man or a woman, adult or child, becomes ‘brutish and short.’

In their eyes, the ‘terrorist’ is not just the Bataclan gunmen but anyone who stands in their way, whether an individual, an organization or a state. The latest addition, put on the list of designated terrorist groups by Donald Trump, is Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which has sent forces to support Syrian and Hizbullah resistance to western-led and Israeli aggression against Syria and Lebanon. In response, Iran’s Supreme Security Council has designated the US government as a terrorist government and CENTCOM, the US central military command, as a terrorist group.

The attack on Syria has been yet another terrible violation of international law, at numerous levels, by the US and its ‘western’ and Middle Eastern regional partners. As usual, the UN Secretary-General refuses to speak out, further whittling away the UN’s credibility as the supposed defender of international order. The response by the Syrian government and its allies to the attack on Syria is not terrorism, but resistance to it.

US and Israeli orchestrated terror in the Middle East has to be put in the right semantical order. Israel was founded through terror and by terror it has been maintained. Its terrorism is not random but normalized and necessary to its existence as a state that has chosen to live outside the law, with the full support of the US.

Israel is not ‘defending’ itself when it attacks Gaza or when its soldiers, police, and settlers kill Palestinians in Jerusalem or on the West Bank. What is it is ‘defending’ is its theft of someone else’s property. It is the Palestinians who are defending their rights, under law, not Israel.

Israeli civilians living illegally on occupied land in east Jerusalem or the West Bank put themselves in harm’s way and are to be held primarily responsible for the consequences to themselves and their families.

The terror experienced by Israeli Jews living close to the Gaza fence is the minutest fraction of the terror routinely inflicted on Palestinians on the other side of the fence. They are being targeted not because they are Jews, as Netanyahu and Zionist lobbyists would have the world believe, but because they are living on land stolen from its owners more than seven decades ago after being ethnically cleansed. It would not matter who they are.  They would still be resisted because of what they have done.

Adherence to international law would redress the situation in Palestine yet the joint US and Israeli response to the violence and terror they have initiated across the Middle East is more violence and more terror. This is their answer. You will do as we say or else, signaling that the ‘special relationship’ between these two unruly, lawbreaking countries is one of the most dangerous in history.

Democratic Capitulation-must watch!

April 08, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) & Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with Haim Saban – 2018 Israeli-American Council (IAC) National Conference.

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” To Hand Palestine to Israel Along with Whole Set of New Problems

By Miko Peled
Source

As Benjamin Netanyahu returns from Washington to Jerusalem determined to keep his seat as Israel’s prime minister, it is clear that the Final Status issues — those pesky issues between Israel and the Palestinians that Israel never wants to discuss –  are being eliminated one by one in a regional scheme that is titled Deal of the Century. This so-called “Deal” will be the final undoing of Palestinian hopes for justice, self-determination and return.

From the reckless declaration by President Donald Trump that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, to his more recent proclamation that the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, it is becoming clear what the Deal of the Century will entail: disregard of the Palestinians and recognition of Israeli rights to all of Palestine.

The purpose of the declaration recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights at this particular moment is twofold: It is an enormous contribution to Netanyahu’s campaign for re-election on April 9, a clear signal that Trump favors Netanyahu; and, what is even more troubling, it is a precursor to what we may soon see happen with Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

Four elements

Four elements are likely to dominate the Deal of the Century: Palestinian self-determination; refugees; Jerusalem; and the future of what was formerly known as the West Bank and has been named by Israel Judea and Samaria. We have already been given a  preview of what is to come with the first three:

  • Jerusalem, with the Trump declaration of December 6, 2017 recognizing the city as the capital of Israel;
  • Recognition of Palestinian right to self-determination was de-facto reversed when in September 2018, on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the Trump administration closed down the PLO mission in Washington;
  • The refugee issue received an almost fatal blow when in August of 2018 the State Department announced that it will no longer provide funds for UNRWA , the United Nations agency created to take care of Palestinian refugees. Even more than financial significance, the $350 million cut to the UNRWA budget was a blow to the very existence of refugee issue. Trump, serving Netanyahu’s agenda, is attempting to eliminate the refugee issue altogether by questioning the right of the Palestinians to aid and by questioning the right of the descendants of the 1948 refugees to refugee status.

The refugees must cease to exist

The Deal of the Century is likely to include an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian refugee issue. In a statement he made in Hebrew to the Israeli cabinet, in July 2018, Netanyahu called the Palestinian refugee issue “fictitious.” He claimed that the sole purpose of UNRWA was to keep the Palestinian refugee issue alive forever and thus to threaten the state of Israel by perpetuating the notion of a right of return. Trump, for his part, is currently claiming that only the people who had actually lived in Mandatory Palestine before the 1948 ethnic cleansing — people who are now 70 years old or older — can be considered refugees; their descendants cannot.

Netanyahu’s problem is that when you ask Palestinians in the diaspora where they are from, they say Yaffa, Haifa, Ramle, and so on. When you ask Israelis where they are from, they say, Poland, Russia, Morocco, Yemen, and so on.

Palestine | Refugees

When you ask Jews around the world they say the same thing Israelis do. So, while the grandchildren of the 1948 refugees can tell you the name of the town or village from which their family came, even though the village has been destroyed, no Israelis — or Jewish people, for that matter — can trace their roots back to the ancient kingdom of Judea.

It is important to note and remind both Trump and Netanyahu that, according to international law, even refugees who were not born in Palestine but in the diaspora are refugees and have a right to return. This is because, under international human rights law, neither local integration nor resettlement forecloses the possibility of refugee return to their country of origin. Furthermore, after a large-scale displacement, such as the one that took place in Palestine in 1948, restitution may cover both public and private property.

Not only people

It is not only the return of the people, but it is also the rightful claim to restitution, which will surely be made, that Israel dreads.

The extent of abandoned property that Israel has taken over as a result of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine is enormous. Palestinians were expelled from entire cities including Jaffa, Ramleh, Haifa and all of west Jerusalem. In addition to that, there are vast tracts of agricultural land that were taken. After the population was expelled, profit-making orchards of citrus, olive and other agricultural products were handed over by the newly established state to Jewish agricultural settlements.

Netanyahu and the entire Zionist establishment are aware of all this and they fear the day when they will be held accountable for this theft of property. Restitution of Palestinian property has received little discussion, largely because of Israel’s refusal to engage and pressure by Zionist groups to keep this subject off the table. The Deal of the Century is likely to try to make it disappear for good.

Judea and Samaria is next

Israeli annexation of the West Bank used to be a far-fetched idea. That is no longer the case. The West Bank is now, and has been for many years, “Judea and Samaria.” It has cities and counties; it includes industry and a bureaucracy with its own police force. There is a highway system in place and shopping centers — all built exclusively for Jews. Official annexation of the area to Israel today — much like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — would be merely a formality, albeit one that contravenes international law.

Palestinian protesters carry national flags and plant olive trees facing the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit during a protest marking Land Day, in the village of Wadi Fukin, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 30, 2015.

It is realistic to expect that, as part of the Deal of the Century, the U.S. will, before long, recognize Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. This will mean officially creating one state over all of Palestine with exclusive rights for the minority Israeli Jews. While this may seem like a win for Israel, it will also give rise to serious problems for the Zionist state.

Israel controls the lives of 2 million Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship, 2.2 million Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Strip and about 3 million Palestinians in what used to be the West Bank. That is a total of 7 million Palestinians living without rights in a state where about 6 million Israeli Jews have exclusive rights.

Careful what you wish for

Today, perhaps more than ever, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is being dictated by Israel and specifically by Benjamin Netanyahu. It is executed by Jared Kushner through his father-in-law, the president of the United States. Though the Deal of the Century will try to eliminate the Palestinian issue for good, what the architects of the “Deal” in their arrogance fail to see is that this so-called “Deal” is nothing more than an irresponsible, impractical and precarious plan that will fall just as soon as it is raised.

Lebanon Decides to Confront Israel And The US in Shebaa, Kfarshouba And Syria

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

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Lebanese Judge Ahmad Mezher has given orders that a survey be conducted of Lebanese occupied territories in the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba, Huneen, Ideise and Bleeda. These villages are bordering Hasbaiya, Rashaya al-Fukhar and Kiyam and have been under Israeli occupation since 1981, as Syria’s Golan Heights have been since 1967. This step coincides with the illegal “gift” of the Syrian Golan Heights offered by US President Donald Trump to his closest ally Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Although Trump’s move was verbally condemned by the international community, no other state or international body seems likely to openly oppose Trump’s move at the moment.

However, Lebanon has decided to confront this move on the ground, showing its readiness to defend its territory if US “gifts” were ever seen to include Lebanese occupied territories. The Lebanese presidency, the Parliament and the government agreed that it is the right of Lebanon to regain its occupied territory and that the equation “the army, the people, the resistance” is united under one umbrella. Thus, the possibility of confrontation between the Resistance – i.e. Hezbollah in this case – and Israel is now on the table.

The level of tension and chances of confrontation increased during Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s visit to Moscow. During meetings with his homolog Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Christian President Aoun rejected US pressure on his country. The US establishment, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his envoys to Lebanon, wants to prevent the over one and a half million Syrian refugees in Lebanon from returning home. President Aoun also rejected Trump’s gift to Netanyahu, stating clearly that the Golan Heights is Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel,  and not the property of the US to dispose of as it will.

It remains unclear whether the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba and neighboring villages are part of Trump’s gift to Israel. This is why Lebanese authorities have requested the judiciary authority officially survey the southern Lebanese territories occupied by Israel. If in response to the survey, any attempt is made to assert that these areas are part of Israel, then the Lebanese triad (the army, the people and the resistance) will be bound to recover its occupied territory. The timing of the decision is important because it shows the readiness of the Lebanese government to raise the subject and to confront Israel in the wake of the US decision on the Golan Heights, a territory closely linked to the Lebanese farms and villages. As recently as 2009 some of these lands were contested between Syria and Lebanon, but now that Lebanon is in a better position than Syria to vindicate its claims against Israel, the Syrian government will be happy for it to do so.

President Aoun raised these issues with President Putin in the context of Trump’s previous gift of Jerusalem, by virtue of his recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Lebanon fully supports the right of return of Palestinians to their land, particularly since there are over 800,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon. Just as the US would prefer these Palestinians to remain in Lebanon, the US now seems to want Lebanon to accept an ongoing presence of Syrian refugees on Lebanese soil. The US policy of keeping Syrian refugees in Lebanon has several goals.

The first is to shift the religious balance of power in Lebanon. Most Syrian refugees are Sunni (mainly hostile to Assad and to his allies) and the US would like to see a Sunni plurality in Lebanon to confront Shia Hezbollah and the society behind it. All Israeli wars have failed to curb Hezbollah and could not reduce its strength. On the contrary, Hezbollah military power is increased to an unprecedented level, domestically and regionally. Moreover, in the last Lebanese Parliamentary polls, Hezbollah won more votes than any religious party, surprising everyone. Support for Hezbollah goes beyond any one religious confession; it has proved itself as a force defending Christians and Shia against Wahhabi takfiri extremists. Confronting Hezbollah face to face would lead to certain failure, hence the US need to strategically build another society to stand against it.

President Aoun insists on the return of Syrian refugees to Syria, notwithstanding the financial incentives being offered by the US and Europe to keep them in Lebanon. The presence of the refugees upsets the religious equilibrium in Lebanon and accelerates the process by which Christians are becoming a minority on Lebanese soil. The religious terrorism that hit the Middle East over the last decade targeted regional minorities, notably the Christians. The same NATO leaders whose governments sponsored takfiri terrorism against Christians in the Levant proposed to Lebanese Christian leaders that they leave the land of their ancestors and settle in the west. Christians who were raped, murdered and terrorized by ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria would have suffered the same fate in Lebanon had Hezbollah decided to entrench themselves in the south of Lebanon, in the Beirut suburbs, or in selected villages of the Bekaa Valley.

Moreover, the Lebanese President considers the Syrian refugees a security and a financial burden that is placing a heavy burden on the fragile and chaotic Lebanese infrastructure.  These refugees currently represent a third of the total Lebanese population.

Another objective of US refugee policy in Lebanon is to recover from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad what it failed to achieve by arming militants to overthrow his government over the last 8 years. The US establishment would like to keep over 5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria, mainly in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe. This, in US thinking, could impede forthcoming presidential elections in Syria, and prevent both the rebuilding of the Syrian Army and the reconstruction of the country. Syrians are skillful craftsmen; keeping them away from home impedes rebuilding.  All these US objectives do not help Lebanon in any way. On the contrary, they weaken Lebanon, which needs a healthy relationship with neighboring Syria for its security and commercial development.

Trump has made the Middle East less secure. He has offered Israel an illegal and unnecessary gift. Israel was already controlling the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria posed no threat to it. Syria had not fired a bullet against Israeli occupation of the Golan for 30 years and will be busy for the next ten years rebuilding its destroyed infrastructure. Moreover, the late President Hafez Assad had engaged with Israel, through US mediation, to negotiate a peace deal in exchange for the Golan Heights. It was Israel who rejected the deal at the last minute. Assad then said he would leave liberation of the territory to the generation to come.

The US establishment is undermining Lebanon’s security and peace by imposing one and a half million refugees on the country, destabilizing the local society, and threatening to impose sanctions if Lebanon does not submit to US bullying.

Trump gave Jerusalem to Israel and can no longer be considered a partner in any peace process. This realization has given new urgency to the Palestinian cause. He is not willing to give a state to the Palestinians, but he is disposing of their rights.

US forces are unwelcome in Syria, occupying a third of the country and a bordering passage, while ISIS no longer controls any Syrian territory in the north-east. At the same time the US is keeping tens of thousands of Syrian refugees at the al-Rukban camps from returning home.

In Iraq, the parliament is divided between those willing to see the last US soldier depart and those who want to maintain some training and intelligence collaboration. Iraqi politicians are afraid of asking the US to stay or to leave permanently for fear of seeing ISIS return with US support in either case (if US forces stay there is fear of seeing the US support for ISIS, an eventuality Iraqis also fear if the US were to leave).

Finally, the US is now seen as a superpower ruled by a thug sucking wealth from the oil-rich Arab countries, forcing them to buy US weapons so that Middle Easterners can continue killing each other at their own expense. Arab countries, once very rich, are imposing local taxes they have never imposed before on their own nationals and are going through a financial crisis unheard of for decades. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Lebanon are on the floor financially and even Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar and Bahrein are not in their best financial shape. Iran’s nuclear deal was revoked and since Trump took power the country is facing the harshest sanctions ever.

It is unclear when the next war may erupt to challenge US hegemony in this part of the world. It is clear that Russia and China are already present in the Middle East, ready to take the place of a US establishment which is no longer regarded as a friendly nation by any state but Israel.

Kamala Harris skips AIPAC conference — but AIPAC comes to her! — Mondoweiss — Rebel Voice

Democratic Senator, Kamala Harris, is a presidential candidate for the next run out. She is making waves with her apparently fearless desire to take on the corrupt status quo. But is she all that she would like us to believe? Harris has stated that she will not be prostrating herself (Rebel Voice‘s words) before AIPAC, […]

via Kamala Harris skips AIPAC conference — but AIPAC comes to her! — Mondoweiss — Rebel Voice

Media Blackout as Israel’s Largest Banks Pay Over $1 Billion in Fines for US Tax Evasion Schemes

By Whitney Webb
Source

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Israel’s three largest banks — Hapoalim Bank, Leumi Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank — have all been ordered to pay record fines, which collectively are set to total over $1 billion, to the U.S. government after the banks were found to have actively colluded with thousands of wealthy Americans in massive tax-evasion schemes.

The scandal, though it has been reported on in Israeli media, has garnered little attention in the United States. The media black-out has been so surprising it was even directly mentioned by the Times of Israel, given that similar revelations about other banks and offshore tax-evasion schemes — such as those contained within the Panama Papers — led to global protests and even the resignations of some world leaders.

The settlements are the end result of a series of Department of Justice (DOJ) probes that were related to the DOJ’s 2007 investigation targeting UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank. The focus of the probe turned to Israel a few years later in 2011, when it was determined that the Swiss subsidiaries of several of Israel’s largest banks had actively aided Americans seeking to launder their money.

As the probes advanced, the DOJ found that the three banks — Israel’s largest when ranked by net income and total assets — had a history of collaborating with wealthy Americans in tax evasion schemes, not just in their Swiss subsidiaries but in Israel as well. Most of those wealthy Americans were Jewish Americans or dual U.S.-Israeli citizens who hid their U.S. citizenship from the Israeli banks.

A year after the probes into Leumi, Hapoalim and Mizrahi Tefahot were made public, the U.S. State Department notably listed Israel as a “major money laundering country… whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking … or other serious crime.”

Settlements reached and pending

Bank Leumi was the first to admit to wrongdoing and reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ in 2014 that eventually resulted in the bank paying $400 million in fines to the U.S. government and the State of New York in order to avoid prosecution. According to the DOJ, the agreement marked “the first time an Israeli bank has admitted to such criminal conduct, which spanned over a 10 year period.”

The investigations into the other two banks, Mizrahi Tefahot and Hapoalim, continued until just last Wednesday, when Mizrahi Tefahot agreed to pay $195 million in fines for “conspiring” with U.S. clients to avoid taxes. Like Leumi Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot admitted its guilt.

A settlement with Hapoalim Bank, Israel’s largest bank, has yet to be reached. The bank had set aside $343 million for a potential settlement as of last February, though that figure has since ballooned to $616 million as of this week. Hapoalim CEO Arik Pinto told reporters on Monday that he “really hopes” that the DOJ probe will be resolved by the end of the year, a sentiment likely motivated by the fact that the probe has weighed on the bank’s profit performance.

Human Rights as Seen by the White House: Concessions to Israel Are Notable

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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The State Department’s just issued annual Human Rights Report for 2018 is a disgrace, a document so heavily politicized by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his crew of hardliners that it might be regarded as a model in how to make something that is black appear to be white. Which is not to say that it is not cleverly composed, quite the contrary, but it uses its choice of words and expressions to mitigate or even dismiss some actual human rights abuses while regarding as more grave other lesser offenses to make political points. And then there is what it does not say, deliberate omissions intended to frame situations in terms favorable to America and its dwindling number of friends in the world.

Not surprisingly, the region that has received the most massaging by the authors of the report is the Middle East, where an effort has been made to depict Israel in a positive light while also denigrating the Palestinians and Iranians. The language used regarding Israel’s occupation of much of the West Bank and the Golan Heights has been particularly welcomed by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also by the Israeli media. The word “occupation” or “occupied” to describe the status quo of those areas administered by the Israeli military has been dropped in favor of “Israeli controlled.” The difference is important as occupation has specific legal implications defined by the Geneva Conventions in terms of what the occupying power can and cannot do. To starve and dispossess the Arab inhabitants of the occupied area, as the Israelis are doing to build their settlements, is a war crime. Also, an occupation must have a terminus ante quem date whereby the occupation itself must end. It cannot be permanent.

The new language is a gift to Israel on the eve of its April 9th election and it allows incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu to claim that he is the candidate best able to obtain concessions from Washington. America’s so-called Ambassador to Israel is a former Trump bankruptcy lawyer named David Friedman who is more involved in serving up Israeli propaganda than in supporting the actual interests of the United States. He probably believes that what is good for Israelis is good for Americans.

Friedman personally supports the view that the illegal Jewish settlements are legitimately part of Israel, choosing to ignore their expansion even though it has long been U.S. policy to oppose them. He has also long sought to change the State Department’s language on the Israeli control of the West Bank and Golan Heights, being particularly concerned about the expression “occupied” which has previously appeared in U.S. government texts describing the situation in the Israel-Palestine region. Friedman now appears to have won the fight over language, to the delight of the Netanyahu government.

And the elimination of “occupied” will apparently be only the first of several gifts intended to bolster Netanyahu’s chances. Senator Lindsey Graham, who also boasts of his close ties to the Israeli Prime Minister, recently stated his intention to initiate legislative action to go one step further and compel the United States to actually recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory that was annexed after fighting in 1967, but which has not been recognized as part of Israel by any other country or international body.

Last Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that the Senate vote promoted by Graham would not be necessary, that he would order the State Department to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area.  This will hugely benefit Bibi and further damage America’s standing in the Middle East and beyond. Some sources are already predicting that recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights will soon lead to U.S. government recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over much of the West Bank, both ending forever any prospect for a Palestinian state and making it clear that the United States is running a foreign policy to benefit Israel.

There is, of course, much more in the Human Rights Report. The executive summary and first section on Israel and Palestine include text that could easily have come from an Israeli government press release or been featured as an editorial in the New York PostWashington Post or Wall Street Journal: “Human rights issues included reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, including Palestinian killings of Israeli civilians and soldiers…From March 30 to December 5, Palestinian militant groups launched more than 1,150 rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip toward arbitrary or civilian targets in Israel. Gaza-based militants shot and killed one Israeli soldier, and a rocket launched by Gaza-based militants killed one Palestinian laborer in Ashkelon. More than 200 Israelis required treatment from these attacks, mostly for shock. Beginning on March 30, Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Palestinians at the Gaza fence, including armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters. This occurred during mass protests co-opted by terrorist organization Hamas and dubbed a ‘March of Return.’ The government stated that since March 30 it had been ‘contending with violent attempts led by Hamas to sabotage and destroy Israel’s defensive security infrastructure separating Israel from the Gaza Strip, penetrate Israel’s territory, harm Israeli security forces, overrun Israeli civilian areas, and murder Israeli civilians.’”

A separate report section on Gaza adds “On March 30, Palestinians in Gaza launched the ‘March of Return,’ a series of weekly protests along the fence between Gaza and Israel. The protests, some of which drew tens of thousands of people, and included armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters, continued throughout the year. Hamas took control of the weekly protests, and many of the protests were violent as encouraged by Hamas.”

Interestingly, the Report does not even have a dedicated section on Iran, only providing a link to a separate document: “Read the State Department’s new report detailing the magnitude of the Iranian regime’s destructive behavior at home and abroad. The report covers Iran’s support for terrorism, its missile program, illicit financial activities, threats to maritime security and cybersecurity, human rights abuses, as well as environmental exploitation.” A second link is to a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo given before the neocon group United Against Nuclear Iran: “The Iranian regime’s track record over the past 40 years has revealed it as among the worst violators of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions – perhaps, indeed, the worst violator. It is truly an outlaw regime.”

Exonerating perpetual victim Israel of all its misdeeds and blaming the Israel-Palestine problem on the Palestinians while also labeling them as “terrorists” is both delusional and propaganda, not responsible analysis. Nor is damning Iran when speaking before a partisan group and falsely calling it a “worst violator of the U.N. Charter and U.N. Security Council resolutions” exactly informative. It is actually Israel that is the worst violator of U.N. Security Council resolutions, a fact that is not mentioned in the Human Rights Report.

One might well question why to write a Human Rights Report at all, but that is something that can be blamed on Congress, which ordered the State Department to prepare it. And one should note the key omission in the document: there is no admission of causality. The United States foreign and national security policies over the past twenty years have created a “human rights” disaster mostly in Asia but also elsewhere, a virtual tsunami rolling over ruined countries that has killed millions of people while also displacing millions more. In reckoning the terrible circumstances being endured by many in so many places there is no mention of the American role. And, unfortunately, there is no section in the Human Rights Report for “United States of America.

US Duplicity over Golan Demolishes Posturing on Crimea

By Finian Cunningham
Source

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In a controversial snub to international law, the United States signaled last week that it is moving to officially recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory. If the US does so, then it forfeits any moral authority to sanction Russia over allegations of “annexing Crimea”.

In its annual US State Department report, the section dealing with the Golan Heights reportedly refers to the contested area as “Israeli-controlled”, not “Israeli-occupied”. The change in wording deviates from United Nations resolutions and international norm which use the term “Israeli-occupied” to designate the land Israel annexed from Syria following the 1967 Six Day War.

Israel has occupied the western part of the Golan since 1967 as a spoil from that war. In 1981, Tel Aviv formally annexed the Syrian territory. However, the UN Security Council in 1981, including the US, unanimously condemned the annexation as illegal. The resolution mandates Israel to return the land to Syria which has historical claim to the entire Golan. The area of 1,800 square kilometers is a strategic elevation overlooking the northern Jordan Valley.

If Washington confirms its recent indications of recognizing the Golan as officially part of Israel, the development would mark an egregious flouting of international law.

But what’s more, such a move totally prohibits Washington from posturing with presumed principle over the issue of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which since 2014 voluntarily became part of Russia.

Just last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated accusations against Russia of “annexing” Crimea. Pompeo insisted that US sanctions against Moscow would be maintained until Russia “returns Crimea to Ukraine”.

“The world has not forgotten the cynical lies Russia employed to justify its aggression and mask its attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory,” he said. “The United States will maintain respective sanctions against Russia until the Russian government returns control of Crimea to Ukraine.”

Last year, Pompeo’s State Department issued a ‘Crimea Declaration’ in which it was stated that, “Russia undermines a bedrock of international principle shared by democratic states: that no country can change the borders of another by force.”

Claims by Washington and the European Union of “illegal annexation” of Crimea by Russia are the central basis for five years of economic sanctions imposed on Moscow. Those sanctions have contributed to ever-worsening tensions with Russia and the build-up of NATO forces along Russia’s borders.

Those claims are, however, highly contestable. The people of Crimea voted in a legally constituted referendum in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and to join the Russian Federation. That referendum followed an illegal coup in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the US and Europe against a legally elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. Historically, Crimea has centuries of shared cultural heritage with Russia. Its erstwhile position within the state of Ukraine was arguably an anomaly of the Cold War and subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union.

In any case, there is scant comparison between the Golan Heights and Crimea, save, that is, for the latest hypocrisy in Washington. While Crimea and its people are arguably historically part of Russia, the Golan Heights are indisputably a sovereign part of Syria which was forcibly annexed by Israeli military occupation.

The illegality of Israel’s occupation of Golan is a matter of record under international law as stipulated in UNSC Resolution 497.

There is no such international mandate concerning Crimea. Claims of Russia’s “annexation” are simply a matter of dubious political assertion made by Washington and its European allies.

The latest move by Washington towards recognizing Golan as part of Israel – in defiance of international law – comes on the back of several other recent developments.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made a tour of Israeli-occupied Golan last week in the company of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointedly transported by an IDF military helicopter. Graham said following his tour that he would recommend the Trump administration to officially recognize the area as under Israeli sovereignty.

Currently, there is legislation going through both the US Senate and House of Representatives which is aimed at declaring the entire Golan as Israeli territory.

The stark shift in pro-Israeli bias in Washington under the Trump administration is consistent with the White House declaring at the end of 2017 that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Again, that move by President Trump overturned international consensus and UN resolutions which have stipulated Jerusalem to be a shared capital between Israel and a future Palestinian state, to be worked out by (defunct) peace negotiations.

Why Washington has taken up the Golan issue as a prize for Israel at this time is not precisely clear. It could be seen as the Trump administration giving a political boost to Netanyahu for next month’s elections.

There has been previous speculation that Trump is doing the bidding for a US-based oil company, Genie Oil, which is linked to his administration through his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family investments. The New Jersey company has a subsidiary in Israel, is tied to the Netanyahu government, and has long been aiming to drill the Golan for its abundant oil resources.

The Golan move could also be retribution meted out to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his country’s historic defeat of the US-backed covert war for regime change. The nearly eight-year war was also covertly backed by Israel which sponsored jihadist militia operating out of the Golan against the Syrian army. Having vanquished the US regime-change plot, thanks to crucial military support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the payback could be Washington stepping up Israeli claims to annex the Golan.

But whatever the background explanation is, the initiative by Washington to legalize the annexation of Golan by Israel is a brazen violation of international law. In doing so, the US is officially sponsoring war crimes and theft of Syria’s sovereign territory. Or as the Crimea Declaration would put it: “changing the borders of another country by force” – supposedly a “bedrock principle” that Washington continually sermonizes about to Russia.

Crimea and Golan are different issues of territorial dispute, as noted already. Nevertheless, the duplicity of Washington over Golan makes its posturing on Crimea null and void. If the Europeans meekly go along with the US move on Golan, then they too should shut their mouths and their moralizing sanctions over Crimea.

ماذا في زيارة بومبيو وإعلان ترامب غير الكلام الانتخابي؟

مارس 23, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– يصعب على كثيرين تصديق التفكير بأن واشنطن لم تعد تملك إلا الكلام. ويعتبرون هذا الاستنتاج استخفافاً في غير مكانه بالقوة العظمى الأولى في العالم. لذلك لا بد من الدعوة للتدقيق التفصيلي بما تحمله وتريده واشنطن من زيارة رئيس دبلوماسيتها إلى لبنان. وما يريده رئيسها من الإعلان عن موافقته على ضم الجولان إلى كيان الاحتلال. فواشنطن تحزم حقائب الرحيل العسكري من المنطقة تسليماً بمحدوديّة قدرة القوة العسكرية على التأثير في معادلات المنطقة المتغيّرة بعكس اتجاه ما تريد. وبالمقابل الكلفة المرتفعة للاعتماد على القوة العسكرية. والعقوبات التي تنتهجها واشنطن لإضعاف محور المقاومة دولاً وحركات تتسبّب بالتعب لأطراف المحور لكنها لا تغير في السياسات ولا في المعادلات. والذهاب فيها بعيداً لتصبح مجدية يستدعي تعميمها على دول مهمة بالنسبة لإيران مثل تركيا وباكستان والعراق والصين وروسيا وأوروبا. قبل الحديث عن معاقبة الدولة اللبنانية. وفقاً لتلويح وتهديد وزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو.

– يعرف بومبيو أن لا نتيجة ستحققها زيارته إذا كان الهدف زعزعة مكانة حزب الله اللبنانية. فالمعنيون في لبنان بملف العلاقة مع حزب الله. كالمعنيون في واشنطن بملف العلاقة مع «إسرائيل». والأمل الأميركي بنتاج لبناني يشبه الأمل اللبناني بتبدّل أميركي تجاه حقوق لبنان ومصالحه وسيادته المهدّدة من «إسرائيل». وفي واشنطن قلة ضئيلة تشارك اللبنانيين بتوصيف الأفعال الإسرائيلية باللاقانونية. كما في لبنان قلة ضئيلة جداً تشارك الأميركيين بتوصيف مواقف ودور حزب الله سواء في مواجهة «إسرائيل» أو الإرهاب باللاقانونية أو اللاوطنية. وكما الغالبية الأميركية تنظر لموقع ومكانة «إسرائيل» بحسابات داخلية. تفعل الغالبية اللبنانية تجاه حزب الله. وكما «إسرائيل» جزء من النسيج السياسيّ الأميركيّ وتوازناته. حزب الله ببعده الإقليمي جزء من نسيج لبنان السياسيّ وتوازناته. وبمعزل عن الصح والخطأ والحق والباطل. لا وجود واقعيّ لمن يتخلّى عن «إسرائيل» في واشنطن لإرضاء لبنان أو سورية أو العرب. ولا وجود واقعي لمن يخاطر بالتآمر على حزب الله في بيروت حتى لو كان الثمن إرضاء واشنطن. طالما أن معادلة واشنطن هي أنّها بعدما فشلت في قتال حزب الله بقواها الذاتية. وفشلت قبلها «إسرائيل». جاءت تطلب من اللبنانيين فعل ذلك لحسابها وحساب «إسرائيل».

– من دون أن ينتبه بومبيو. لبس ربطة العنق الصفراء والبدلة السوداء. مجسداً برمزية لباسه في اللاوعي. الحزبالله فوبيا. أو رهاب حزب الله الذي يسكن مخيلته. ولكنه وهو شديد الانتباه كان يدرك أن زيارته لبيروت ليست لتحقيق نتائج من الغرف المغلقة. كما هو حال رئيسه وإعلاناته المتلاحقة. فحزم حقائب الرحيل من المنطقة. يصيب «إسرائيل» في صميم شعورها بالأمان والاستقرار. وواشنطن لا تستطيع البقاء حتى تحقيق ضمانات الأمن الإسرائيلي في سورية ولبنان. وليست بوارد خوض حروب هذا الأمن الإسرائيلي. لذلك فهي تعوّض على «إسرائيل». بإعلانات متدرّجة. ما كانت في الماضي طلبات إسرائيلية ملحّة وفقدت اليوم قيمتها العملية والواقعية. فتمنحها الاعتراف بالقدس عاصمة لكيانها مع الإعلان عن نية الانسحاب من سورية. وتمنحها الاعتراف بضمّ الجولان إلى كيانها مع اقتراب ساعة الانسحاب. وهي تدرك أن زمن تحويل القرارات الأميركية قرارات أممية تغير الوضعية القانونية لمفهوم السيادة قد ولّى إلى غير رجعة. وأن زمن قدرة «إسرائيل» على ترجمة القرارات الأميركية كغطاء لتغيير الواقع الميداني مستحيل في القدس والجولان.

– من بيروت يخاطب بومبيو الإسرائيليين، مؤكداً وفاء أميركا بالتزاماتها لهم ومعهم. وهو كرئيسه يخاطب الناخب المؤيّد لـ«إسرائيل» داخل أميركا أكثر من سواه. ليقول إنه أفضل رئيس أو مرشح رئاسي في تاريخ أميركا يقف إلى جانب «إسرائيل». ولسان الحال الأميركي. «لا خيلَ عندك تهديها ولا مالُ فليُسعف النطق إن لم يُسعف الحال».

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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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Why are Palestinian voices often marginalized?

Why are Palestinian voices often marginalized?

MSNBC discussion of Ilhan Omar

MSNBC’s coverage of the controversy over Ilhan Omar and Israel has not included Palestinian perspectives

Progressive activists in North America have been inundated for weeks now with analysis and commentary about what happened to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The cracks that opened up in the seemingly impenetrable wall of the pro-Israel lobby are indeed a good thing; now, the opportunity should be taken to highlight why Zionism constitutes a supremacist ideology. But one voice that consistently seems to be missing from most of this debate is the voice of Zionism’s primary victims, the Palestinians. Once again, the Palestinian narrative is marginalized and not considered pivotal to the “issues of the day”. Now is the time to challenge one of the basic thrusts of the Zionist lobby, which has always been to block out Palestinian voices and accordingly nullify their humanity.

In an article in Mondoweiss on February 19, 2019, cofounder Philip Weiss wrote: “The Jewish divide is the reason there is a debate. People defer to Jews on this issue…Now we are giving them permission to wonder.” And he is correct that the divide in the American Jewish community has been a propelling force to push this issue forward at this particular time, but let us consider the implications of what that means. “Now we are giving them permission to wonder” – not the Palestinians, not the hundreds of deaths on the Gaza border, not the horrific siege on Gaza, not the millions of refugees. Not even the two very young Palestinian children that died just last week in a blaze in alKhalil/Hebron as Israeli authorities blocked the fire trucks from reaching them.  Those things may have helped deepen the divide Weiss talked about, but only because of the steadfastness of the Palestinians and the horrible price they have had to pay.

The Palestinians are still relegated to bit players in their own tragedy, at least in North America, and that has to change. “People defer to Jews on this issue…” – again true, and any Palestinian activist can confirm that for you. How many times has an analysis from a Palestinian been ignored only to be embraced when espoused by a progressive Jewish ally? Not because the second presentation was more articulate or more carefully documented, but simply because of whose voice it was. Not only must this change but progressive Jews must understand and accept the responsibility they now carry for ensuring that the parameters of this debate are expanded and correctly assessed. If indeed their voice is more privileged and more listened to, then that includes a duty to change the boundaries and not allow the old Zionist narratives to prevail. There is no genuine debate without Palestinian voices and without challenging the whole premise of the roots and trajectory of Zionism.

This is not to say that there haven’t been extremely positive developments, like the statement a few months ago by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) in the U.S. that “unequivocally opposed Zionism”.

Or Gideon Levy’s article in the Israeli paper Haaretz on Feb. 10, 2019, stating that “Its Leftism or Zionism…you can’t have both”.

“Liberal Zionists” or “left Zionists” are often described as those who support the basics of Zionism i.e. a national homeland for Jews in a Jewish-majority state, but claim that the Zionist project went awry in either 1948 during the Nakba or (more often) in 1976, during the further occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories.

The flaw with this school of thought has to do with ascribing noble motives to the origins of the Zionist movement, most notably that it was a reaction to anti-Semitism at the time. However, even if that were true, the solution cannot lie in taking another peoples’ land to impose your own state in which you will have to ensure a Jewish majority. How did anyone think this was going to be achieved?

Zionism was coined on the model of the European settler colonialist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and shared the same basis of racism, supremacy and disregard for the indigenous peoples. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, wrote in his book The Jewish State in 1896: “We should there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” And the Zionist leadership of the day were more than willing to search for support from the most notorious and racist governments, be they Russian, British or otherwise. This tradition continues today as Israel and the Zionist lobby openly collaborate with extreme anti-Semites and racists as long as they are pro-Israel.

We can only move forward if Zionism is recognized as the settler colonialist movement that it is, and always was, from its inception. This heightened discussion about criticizing Israeli policy offers a historic chance to start redefining how this debate unfolds. However, the roadmap to any future of a just peace should include several key points. It must be acknowledged that the Palestinian narrative and voice is often marginalized, even by those who are supportive of their struggle. It is also imperative that Zionism is clearly called out as a form of racism, a racism that has done irreparable harm to the Palestinians for decades and is as insidious and dangerous as any other form of racism. And lastly, there is no possibility to reconcile the ideology of Zionism with principles of equality and justice; all efforts to do that will simply prolong the pain and suffering of the Palestinians, a people that have sacrificed enough on the altar of Western imperial greed and hegemony.

About Marion Kawas

Marion Kawas is a long-time pro-Palestinian activist, a member of BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish and cohost of Voice of Palestine.

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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Talking About Israel

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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recent article by Andrew Sullivan in the New York magazine considers how one might discuss the issue of Israel and its powerful domestic lobby without being accused of anti-Semitism. Sullivan is a keen observer of the dynamics of American political power and the article pretty clearly lays out why the relationship with Israel is poison for the United States, but he cautions that words matter and one has to be careful about the packaging surrounding any critique of the Israel Lobby and its American Jewish supporters.

Sullivan begins with:

“Let’s get this out of the way first: Using the phrases ‘all about the Benjamins’ and ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ when referring to the Israel lobby in D.C., as freshman Democratic representative Ilhan Omar recently did, is anti-Semitic. It should be possible to criticize Washington’s relationship with Israel without deploying crude and freighted language like this.”

And that is precisely where some critics of the Israel-America relationship might have a problem with observers like Sullivan as what for him passes as “crude and freighted” is for others frankness. Okay, “all about the Benjamins” is slang and the implication is that Jewish money is what has corrupted American politics and the media to stifle any honest discussion on Israel-Palestine and to skew U.S. government activity in the Middle East so that it favors what Israel perceives to be its own interests. This process operates right out in the open with Israel-firster Jewish billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban respectively serving as principal donors for the Republican and Democratic parties.

Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson b6f0f

This flood of Jewish money into foreign policy generation has done incalculable damage to the actual interests of the United States as Sullivan, to his credit, makes clear in his article. The point is that politics in America is all about money and Ilhan Omar was quite right to make that connection. Most congress-critters do not love Israel because they honestly like the hordes of lobbyists that it is able to send their way. In fact, many of them privately complain about the pressure, but they do love the campaign donations and the lucrative sinecure jobs in the financial services industry that come with their retirements. And they also know that if they cross Israeli interests while in office they will soon be unemployed.

And as for the “allegiance to a foreign country,” how else does one describe doing everything possible to favor a foreign state at the expense of the nation where one lives? Sullivan himself provides ample evidence in his article that the one-way relationship with Israel inflicts major damage on the United States and that the enabling of that process comes from a disciplined and well-funded lobbying effort that operates at all levels of government and also through the media. Is that not allegiance to a foreign country?

After expressing the “thou shalt nots” regarding Israel, Andrew Sullivan pulls no punches in his article, which should be read in extenso. He writes “The basic facts are not really in dispute. A very powerful lobby deploys the money and passions of its members to ensure that a foreign country gets very, very special treatment from the U.S.” and then goes on to detail exactly how Israel is a major liability to America. He discusses the $3.8 billion it receives annually in spite of the fact that is a wealthy country, its failure to support U.S. foreign policy objectives, its unwillingness to curtail a brutal occupation of the West Bank, its humiliation of President Obama because he entered into an agreement with Iran, and its nearly complete subjugation of Congress, congressional leaders and the White House.

Sullivan fails to mention how Israel also spies on the United States, steals U.S. developed technology and benefits hugely from beneficial trade agreements that kill American jobs. And there are also the “suspected but not proven” issues like Israel’s role in 9/11, its apparent manipulation of Jewish American officials in the Pentagon to start the disastrous 2003 war with Iraq, and its current clandestine agitation for Washington to attack Iran. Jewish billionaires also are the prime sources of “charitable” contributions that feed the illegal settlement outposts on the West Bank populated largely by fundamentalist Jews whose prime mission is to make the lives of their Palestinian neighbors so miserable that they will emigrate. That is sometimes referred to as ethnic cleansing. Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman, the key components of the Trump Administration Middle East “peace” team, are all passionate about Israel and have all supported the illegal settlements. Friedman, in particular, has sought to eliminate the word “occupation” from official U.S. government descriptions of the Israeli activity in Palestinian areas.

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And then there is the Israeli predilection to use unarmed Palestinian demonstrators for target practice and to bomb schools and vital infrastructure in Gaza, which once upon a time most Americans would have considered war crimes or crimes against humanity. Sullivan does mention how Congress is willing to pass legislation to restrict freedom of speech if such speech involves criticism of Israel, noting that the very first bill to come up in the Senate after the recent shutdown was supporting the punishment of those who advocate nonviolent boycotting of Israel. He might have added how Israel’s friends at state and local levels are pushing to rewrite world history texts to eliminate any references to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. And holocaust study is becoming mandatory in many U.S. school systems without any suggestion that the standard narrative might be in large part bogus. And then there are the holocaust museums springing up like mushrooms at the taxpayers’ expense. Is it all driven by money and enabled by the power that money buys to propagandize for Israel? And is it maybe just a bit of allegiance to a foreign country? Yes indeed, thank you, Ilhan Omar, for saying so.

All of this warm and fuzzy feeling about Israel did not happen by magic. By one estimate there are 600 Christian and Jewish organizations in the United States that have at least part of their agendas the promotion of the relationship with Israel. Christian Zionists are formidable in numbers but the money, as well as the political and media access that drive the so-called Israel Lobby process, is Jewish. The directors and presidents of those organizations meet regularly and discuss what they can do to help Israel. How does one describe such collusion? Some might prefer to call it a conspiracy.

So how should one view the dystopic nature of the relationship with Israel? No one has ever described it better than America’s first president George Washington. In his Farewell Address he wrote:

“The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest…So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.”

Andrew Sullivan concludes with some optimism and also a warning, which should be heeded: “Can our current controversy lead to a less inhibited debate? I sure hope so. Will that actually happen? All I can say is that AIPAC will wield all the power it can muster to prevent it.” It is, to be sure, AIPAC versus all decent Americans and one has to hope that this time the voice of the people will be heard in defense of the actual interests of the United States of America rather than those of Israel.

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