Trump Regime Demand for Palestinian Surrender

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” has nothing to do with peace, nothing to do with resolving irreconcilable Israeli/Palestinian differences — everything to do with serving Israeli interests at their expense.

Throughout his tenure, Trump waged war on Palestinian rights, one-sidedly benefitting Israel at their expense.

During a Wednesday Security Council session on the Middle East, Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia addressed the issue of Palestinian rights. 

He called for the “terminat(ion) (of) Israel’s occupation of Arab territories that began in 1967 and establish(ment) an independent, viable and integral Palestinian State that would peacefully exist side-by-side with Israel, have safe and acknowledged borders, and have a capital in Eastern Jerusalem. At the same time, Western Jerusalem would be the capital of the State of Israel,” adding:

“We see no alternative to the two-state solution. We believe it is the only realistic prospect to put an end to the confrontation and reciprocal claims of Palestine and Israel.” 

“Other concepts only mislead and obscure prospects to resume political process. We do not think that Palestinians will abandon their legitimate claims to obtain statehood, no matter what they might be promised in return.  Attempts to impose a ready-made solution on the sides will fail.”

Trump regime hardliners have other ideas, polar opposite the position of Russia and majority of world community nations.

The unacceptability of its no-peace/peace plan delayed its release. Its latest wrinkle is releasing it in stages, beginning with a so-called Peace to Prosperity conference in Manama, Bahrain on June 25 and 26. 

The country is a fascist dictatorship. The Saudis, UAE, and likely other officials from regional despotic regimes will attend the so-called “economic workshop” — a PR stunt to sell an unacceptable deal to Arab states and the world community. 

It’s unclear if representatives from Western nations are coming. Participation will show complicity with the US/Israeli plot against fundamental Palestinian rights.

The two-day session is by invitation only, Palestinian officials not invited. According to an Orwellian White House statement:

“ ‘Peace to Prosperity (sic)’ will facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region.”

The planned event is unrelated to the above statement. It’s all about unveiling part of the Trump regime’s sham proposal in segments, declared dead-before-arrival by Palestinian officials.

Its UN Riyad Mansour envoy called the plan a land grab scheme for Israel to steal all parts of Judea and Samaria not under its control, prelude to annexing its settlements and other Palestinian land it covets.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki categorically rejected what he called “not a peace plan, but rather conditions for surrender.”

PLO official Saeb Erekat said the Trump regime plan leaves core issues unaddressed, notably Palestinian statehood within pre-June 1967 borders, East Jerusalem as their exclusive capital, control over its borders, air, water and resources, the right of return for its diaspora population, and end of illegal Israeli occupation harshness.

Oslo left these and other major issues unresolved, delayed for later final status talks. Over a generation later, Palestinians are still waiting, betrayed time and again by US/Israeli complicity against them, the Trump regime taking Washington’s bad faith to an unprecedented level.

From inception decades earlier, the so-called peace process has been and remains a colossal hoax. Along with the US global war OF terror, not on it, it’s the greatest scam in modern times.

The Trump regime is perpetuating the deception, its scheme amounting to old wine in new bottles, pretending to offer Palestinians economic incentives, a neoliberal hoax similar to John Kerry’s no-peace/peace plan.

He proposed $4 billion in fantasy economic incentives. It was all about attracting exploitive private investments, benefitting Israeli and Western business interests exclusively, imposing greater neoliberal harshness on the Territories than already.

Reportedly, that’s a core element of Trump’s no-peace/deal of the century, its exploitive economic portion to be presented next month in Bahrain, a deceptive scheme no responsible leadership would accept.

According to Erekat, the Trump regime’s plan “is a non-starter for the Palestinians,” adding: “It should be for the rest of the world, as well.”

It’s all about demanding a Palestinian Versailles 2.0, a repeat of the Oslo sellout in Trump regime wrapping.

“There will be no economic prosperity in Palestine without the end of the occupation,” said Erekat, adding: “Notably, the Palestinian leadership was not consulted by any party on this meeting.”

Trump regime hardliners aren’t “seeking…peace. (They want) a Palestinian declaration of surrender,” Zionist ideologues Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt co-maestros of the grand deception.

They don’t give a hoot about Palestinian prosperity and other rights, notably its millions of refugees by cutting off UNRWA funding and slashing it to the PLO. 

They support repressive Israeli apartheid, its illegal occupation and state terror, its militarized control over Palestinian lives and welfare, its slow-motion genocide against suffocating Gazans, its targeted assassinations and belligerence against Palestinians.

Trump’s self-styled “deal of the century” is a scheme only despotic regimes could love — one-sidedly serving Israeli interests, denying Palestinians their fundamental rights.

It bears repeating what I’ve stressed time and again. The US doesn’t negotiate. It demands other nations and people bend to its will — or face the force of its wrath.

 

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Was that the Next Palestinian President You Just Banned, Mr Trump?

By Jeremy Salt
Source

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Grandma Ashrawi is more than a match for Israel’s stooges in the White House and whatever ‘deal of the century’ they have cooked up for the Holy Land

So the Trump administration will no longer allow Hanan Ashrawi into the US even though she’s a top diplomat, has family there and visits regularly. Why?

A US State Department spokesperson told Haaretz that “visa records are confidential under US law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases”, adding that the law “does not authorize the refusal of visas based solely on political statements or views if those statements or views would be lawful in the United States.”

Ashrawi is reported as saying, in her forthright way, that refusal to let her in was a political act and full of “pettiness and vindictiveness.”

Ashrawi, a Palestinian Christian, is something of a hot potato. She was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council representing Jerusalem in 1996 and again in 2006. She has been a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) for 20 years, becoming the first woman to hold a seat in the highest executive body in Palestine. It is recognised as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people by the 137 states with which it has diplomatic relations. Ashrawi’s father, a physician, was a founder of the PLO.

She has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Literature from the Department of English at the American University of Beirut and completed her education with a PhD in Medieval and Comparative Literature from the University of Virginia. She is also an Honorary Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Ashrawi has been an official spokes of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process starting with the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991. In 1996, she was appointed as the Palestinian Authority Minister of Higher Education and Research. Before that she was Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Birzeit University.

In 2003 Ashrawi received the Sydney Peace Prize, an award praised by, among others, Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State. Albright called Ashrawi “a brilliant spokeswoman for her cause”.

Ashrawi, now 72, is a grandmother, and several of her grandchildren live in the United States. So why is America hostile towards her?

Israeli occupation “a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession and denial”

In a recent article in Al Jazeera, Marwan Bishara reminds us that for the past year and a half Trump and his administration have been showering Benjamin Netanyahu and his apartheid regime with anti-Palestinian ‘gifts’…. like recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv, ending US assistance to UNRWA (the agency that supports millions of Palestinian refugees), quitting the UN Human Rights Council and shutting down the PLO’s office in Washington.

As if that wasn’t enough the Trump administration has stopped describing the West Bank and East Jerusalem (which are Palestinian) as “occupied” and instead calls them “Israeli-controlled”. This gives Netanyahu all the encouragement he needs for expanding Israel’s illegal settlements and pledging to annex them. To cap it all Trump then delivered Netanyahu a splendid election present in recognising Israel’s illegal annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights. Of course, whatever Trump says that territory is still Syria’s.

Western media, when providing ‘balance’ to news on the Israel/Palestine conflict, usually wheel in a Palestinian spokesperson who is unintelligible. Israeli spokespeople on the other hand are media trained and sound very British/American, giving them a huge advantage. Ashrawi has perfect English and is a highly articulate and persuasive woman – an unrivaled expert in Middle East affairs — and capable of reducing Trump and his entourage to mincemeat in any broadcast encounter. Therefore she poses a clear and present danger to their hopes of putting across and maintaining the false narrative that sustains Israel’s rogue dominance in the Middle East.

Haaretz reproduces some of Hanan Ashrawi’s recent tweets. In one she says:

I despise hypocrisy, misogyny, absolutist fundamentalism, populism, racism of all kinds, exclusivity, arrogance & condescension, power politics & militarism, cruelty in any form, & any sense of entitlement & exceptionalism…

In another:

Most of all, I have no tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession & denial; I have no respect for the enablers of this inhuman condition nor for its apologists…

She tells it straight. And in her tweets she adds:

I’ve met (and even negotiated with) every Sec. of State since Shultz, and every President since George H. W. Bush (present administration excluded); I’ve been a vocal critic of this administration and its underlings; I believe in freedom of speech.

This is one formidable lady! I have her down as the next Palestinian president, head and shoulders above any male candidates. But will the good people of Palestine have a say in the matter? The presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, the quisling loser, should have ended in 2009. But the corrupt system he presides over has allowed him to cling to power indefinitely, to his people’s great detriment.

Netanyahu Took Trump to New Heights of Global Tension and Dropped Him

By Elijah J. Magnier
Source

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Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed he personally convinced the US president Donald Trump to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA agreement, and wished Iran to “disappear with the help of God”. Israel is much more experienced in dealing with the Middle East than the current US president and his entire team in this administration. Even if Israel itself was not convinced, they evidently managed to convince the Americans that a show of US “superior force with the will to use it” would compel Iran to back off and submit to the US 12 conditions dictated by Secretary Pompeo, as Israel’s former Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon said would happen. Israel, the instigator of this strategy that has been refuted by two clear messages from Iran and its allies– is nonetheless coming out unharmed by this rhetorical escalation. Trump seems the only loser, waiting by the phone that is not expected to ring.

It is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s belligerence which obliges Iran to take a strong stand; Netanyahu has boasted that his influence led Trump to give him the Syrian Golan Heights, move the US embassy to Jerusalem, give Jerusalem to Netanyahu, and to revoke the JCPOA deal with Iran. He is also very likely behind the 12 conditions Trump seeks to impose on Iran since, unlike the inept US administration, the Israelis know well that Iran cannot accept them. The US president has sabotaged the peace process and squandered the position of his country as a mediator between the Palestinians and Israel.

When Netanyahu asked Trump to give him all these gifts, the US president did not hesitate to save the Israeli prime minister from criminal prosecution for fraud and breach of trust to boost his re-election and give him what doesn’t belong to him!

And now it is Iran’s turn to be in the US frying pan. Nevertheless, it seems things haven’t turned out the way Trump planned. His own image has been damaged, but not that of Netanyahu, who has instructed his cabinet to keep silent and stay out of the Iran-US contention. The Israeli Prime Minister can wash his hands of the US non-act of war against Iran and watch in silence, keeping Israel out of the Iran-US tensions as though he were far from being involved. He is trying to pretend that the ongoing bras-de-fer between the US and Iran and Trump’s retreat after the al-Fujairah and Aramco attacks have nothing to do with him.

Netanyahu’s military officers are mistaken to believe “Iran has an unsettled account with the Israeli Army because it has delivered several hits (in Syria) to which Tehran has not had the chance to retaliate”. Here again, Israel is far from understanding the Iranian mode of action: In February 2018, Iran shot down an F-16 bombing Syria. Iran delivered to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad the most efficient Kornet, the anti-tank laser-guided missiles and the technology to fire destructive long-range missiles from Gaza. It is arming Hezbollah with the most sophisticated anti-ship, anti-air, surface-to-surface missiles for possible use against Israel oil platforms and harbors and is spending billions to maintain the strength of its allies: Hezbollah, Iraqi non-state actors, the Syrian government, and the Houthis in Yemen, to name but a few.

But from where does Hezbollah derive its legitimate presence and survival? The answer is simple: from Israel’s wars and its violation of Lebanon’s sea, territory, and airspace. Israel is still occupying the Shebaa farms and Kfarshouba, disputing Lebanon’s territorial waters, and it continues to assassinate Hezbollah leaders. Hezbollah would have nothing to do if Israel opted for peace.

In Syria, Moshe Yaalon (former Israel defense minister) says Israel would rather have ISIS on its borders than Assad and Iran. Trump has given Israel a gift, the Syrian Golan, that belongs to neither country. It has bombed the Syrian Army and its allies that were fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda. Assad was negotiating peace with Israel in exchange for land in 2010, as his father did before him. Netanyahu refuses peace, logically enough since the alternative is to manipulate Trump and collect gifts from him, including all of Jerusalem.

If Israel wanted to end the raison d’être of Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and all the non-state actors around it, it could start by implementing the Oslo accords as a first step, recognizing a state of Palestine, as the Palestinians recognized a state of Israel. A next step would be to return the Lebanese and Syrian territories to their owners (President Hafez Assad and his son Bashar were both prepared to sign a peace deal with Israel in exchange for this land) and to refrain from bombing (Israel acknowledges it has bombed over 200 targets in Syria) and violating its neighbours’ sea and airspace (daily violation of Lebanese sovereignty). Then Iran would have no need to build up a necklace of states and non-state allies in the Middle East.

And last but not least, Israel seems to be behind the intelligence misinformation provided to the US, indicating that Iran “is moving missiles by boat”, speeding up the US sending of additional forces to the Middle East. Nevertheless, the US had to find a way out of this seemingly “false flag”, because it says now that “Iran has unloaded missiles from its small boat” to ease the tension.

Iran is unwilling to give Trump an easy escape from the climate of tension he and his team have created. Netanyahu is keeping quiet to avoid criticism from the US, since he is clearly the one who pushed Trump towards confrontation with Iran.

Tehran is aware of the Israeli sabotage and manipulation of the current US administration to its advantage. Trump’s lack of knowledge in foreign affairs and his eagerness to be re-elected in 2020 are allowing Netanyahu to pull him around by the nose. The Iranian leader of the revolution never trusted either the US or Europe to keep their commitments to the JCPOA.

“The US will never keep its promises and the EU is an acolyte of the US. You shall get nothing from them” Sayyed Khamenei told president Rouhani when he signed off the JCPOA deal with the Obama administration – according to a high Iranian official – who, after a few years, agreed with his “Rahbar” (the supreme leader of the revolution).

Israel’s Mossad provided the US with false intelligence that ballistic missiles were being carried on wooden boats, as though Iran doesn’t have enough deserts and places to hide its missiles. Incredibly enough, the Mossad was believed.

This is just one illustration of Israel’s power to manipulate the US government into a lose-lose scenario, while Israel can only win-win. The US will lose prestige from backing down, but will lose much more if it is backed into a senseless and catastrophic war. The 12 demands Netanyahu has persuaded the US to make on Iran are impossible for Iran to comply with, as Israel well knows. If Iran were to submit, it would be a victory for Israel. If not, the US will try to go to war or will impose more sanctions—both beneficial to Israel’s position. Israel can push the US to a confrontation and push Iran to its limits because Netanyahu has nothing to lose in a situation where the US military assumes the risks of his reckless strategy; Israel has no skin in the game. It is Trump confronting the Iranians not Netanyahu. Israel can sit back, eat popcorn, and watch events unfold. It will consider itself the winner whatever the consequences. Israel’s influence over Trump’s incompetent administration is the greatest threat to peace today.

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.

Benefiting Israel Tops Congressional Agenda

By Philip Giraldi
Source

 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously was unaware that he was being filmed when he commented that “America is a thing you can move very easily, moved in the right direction.” His predecessor Ariel Sharon was even more to the point when he reportedly said “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that …don’t worry about American pressure; I tell you, we, the Jewish people, control America and the American people know it!”

If this were only chest thumping rhetoric one might just shrug and go about one’s business, but actions speak louder than words, even in the world of corrupt politicians, where nothing is ever as it seems to be. In the past year alone, the U.S. government has moved its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, has stopped criticizing the Netanyahu government’s expansion of illegal settlements, and is reportedly currently contemplating recognizing as legal Israel’s illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights. All the moves were and are contrary to actual American interests.

Furthermore, Israel, a country having a European level standard of living to include free education and medical care, has received more than $250 billion in “aid” from Washington. It currently is receiving $3.8 billion yearly from the U.S. Treasury as a base figure guaranteed for ten years, with supplements for special projects and programs. Adding in trade arrangements favorable to Israel and the money it gets from American Jewish donors’ tax-exempt contributions, the real total per annum approaches and may even exceed $10 billion. Much of the donor money, including that from the Kushner Foundation, has gone to fund the illegal settlements on the West Bank in violation of U.S. law. And then there is the $2.7 billion given yearly to Egypt and Jordan, essentially bribes to maintain friendly relations with Israel.

The ultimate irony is that any aid to Israel is illegal in light of the fact that it has violated the Symington and Glenn amendments to the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act due to its undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal and its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Both Congress and the White House have chosen to ignore that complication, one more demonstration of Jewish power in the United States. In truth, Ariel Sharon, if he was quoted correctly, had it right. Jewish Americans do control or at least exercise considerable influence over key sectors in the U.S. They are overwhelmingly disproportionately present on Wall Street, in the entertainment and news industries, in academia, in high value professions and in government at all levels. Their collective power both enriches and protects Israel at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer and genuine national interests. It also enables Israeli agents in the U.S., like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to avoid scrutiny and regulation under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

Some federal government agencies exist largely to promote Israeli interests, most notably the Treasury Department’s Office for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which has only had Jewish Under Secretaries heading it since it was founded in 2004. It is currently run by Israeli Sigal Mandelker. The office has focused on punishing Iran, Israel’s principle enemy, throughout its existence.

Jewish power is most perniciously evident in U.S. foreign policy, where it has a strangle hold on relations between Washington and the Arab countries of the Middle East. Much of this leverage is derived from the fact that the principal donors to both the Democratic and Republican parties – Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson-are both Jews having very strong ties to Israel. Saban is an Israeli and Adelson may have Israeli citizenship. With both parties more than willing to act on behalf of Israel, the United States has engaged in a number of wars that serve no national interest and which have, on the contrary, brought with them devastating consequences, including the rise of new terrorist groups.

To be sure, many American Jews are not convinced by the love affair with Israel, but they are hard to hear amidst the cacophony coming from the Jewish oligarchs and hundreds of pro-Israel organizations that are constantly singing the praises of Netanyahu and his kleptocratic regime. For many young Jews in particular, it is difficult to empathize with a country that deploys army snipers to shoot thousands of unarmed demonstrators or a government that engages in starvation policies and the arrests, beatings and killings of children. Not to mention a governing system that believes that only Jewish citizens have full rights.

The Jewish oligarchs who manipulate the politicians do so with money, though one should in no way minimize the essential mendacity of the politicians themselves who are willing to sell out the interests of their country in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is not one of the brightest bulbs in congress, is a prime example of a legislator who has been bought and paid for by Israeli interests in the form of campaign donations from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and vulture capitalist Paul Singer.

Rubio’s speech last week supporting Senate bill S.1 for 2019, which he sponsored, was remarkable and should serve as primary evidence for anyone who really wonders why we have a Senate at all. The bill itself should also be read in toto to learn the details of what largesse we give to Israel in exchange for absolutely nothing in return. To put it succinctly, Rubio is all about protecting and nurturing Israel, which he sees as a good move since he has aspirations to become president. S.1 was, notably, the first Senate bill to be considered in 2019 after what once upon a time used to be referred to as the Christmas Recess. The full title of S.1 is the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, which might be considered a bit of a fraud as it has nothing to do with the United States and is really all about giving Israel money and anything else it might desire, to include destroying the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has targeted Israel’s apartheid. Rubio openly has admitted that the bill was crafted to help Israel and during his speech he registered his opposition to the impending pullout of U.S. troops from Syria because it would, according to him, “endanger” the Jewish state. Apart from that, the half hour presentation incorporated some remarkable oratory explaining S.1 including:

First of all, let me tell you what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t outlaw BDS. if you’re an American company and you want to boycott or divest from Israel, it doesn’t make it illegal. It doesn’t stop you from doing it. The only thing it says is if there is some city or county or state in this country who wants to support Israel, they have a right to say we are not going to buy services or goods from any company that’s boycotting or divesting from Israel. That’s all it does. It gives cities and counties like these 26 states the opportunity to have their elected officials who respond to the people of those states or cities or counties that elected them to make a decision that they are not going to do business with people who don’t do business with Israel and boycott Israel. In essence, it allows us to boycott the boycotters.

It would be difficult to find a more stupid justification for S.1 than that provided by Rubio. He does not understand that the “state” at all levels is supposed to be politically neutral in terms of providing government services. It is not supposed to retaliate against someone for views they hold, particularly, as in this case, when it involves opposition to the policies of a foreign government that many consider to be guilty of crimes against humanity. Rubio clearly believes that you can exercise free speech but government can then punish you by taking away your livelihood or denying you services that you are entitled to if you do not agree with it on an issue that ultimately has nothing to do with the United States. The ACLU has addressed the issue succinctly, arguing that “Public officials cannot use the power of public office to punish views they don’t agree with. That’s the kind of authoritarian power our Constitution is meant to protect against.”

In any event, the Senate bill failed in two tries last week with a vote of 56 in favor and 45 against followed by a 53 to 43 tally, with 60 votes being needed to advance for a final vote. It was supported by every Republican senator, but never fear, S.1 will surely pass when the government shutdown ends and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, himself a beneficiary of generous pro-Israel PAC donations, brings it up again for yet another vote. The Democrats who voted against S.1 to embarrass President Trump and protest the shutdown included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Ben Cardin who are unrestrained champions of Israel due to both their ethnic and religious ties. Schumer has described himself as Israel’s “shomer” or protector in the Senate while Cardin has been a key player in advancing any and all pro-Israel legislation. They and most other Democrats will support the bill as they are in thrall to Israel as much as are the Republicans.

Over at the U.S. House of Representatives there was also early action on behalf of Israel. H.R.221- Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act“To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to monitor and combat anti-Semitism globally, and for other purposes” passed by a margin of 411 to 1 in a mere twelve minutes with only congressman Justin Amash voting “nay.” The bill, which was being pushed by the Israel Lobby, compels President Trump to name an anti-Semitism Special Envoy with Ambassadorial rank to “serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the U.S. government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement in foreign countries.” Criticism of Israel is considered to be anti-Semitism.

Another recent and related story reveals the power of Israel and its friends as reflected by their ability to force potential dissidents to fall in line. Senator Rand Paul, a critic of foreign aid in general, rightly received praise for his willingness to step up and block approval of last year’s aid package for Israel. But even there he waffled, his office putting out a statement “While I’m not for foreign aid in general, if we are going to send aid to Israel it should be limited in time and scope so we aren’t doing it forever, and it should be paid for by cutting the aid to people who hate Israel and America.” Apparently Rand Paul believes that the people who hate Israel and America constitute an identifiable group receiving billions of U.S. Treasury dollars.

Senator Paul has also been involved in the current anti-BDS legislation declaring in an op-ed, that the bill would be damaging to first amendment rights. However, he did not back up his words with action, having voted both times in favor of S.1, and he also felt it necessary to preface his op-ed remarks with the usual sucking up to the Jewish state: “I am not in favor of boycotting Israel. Israel has been a good ally. I have traveled to Israel, and it was one of the best and most meaningful trips I have taken with my family. Standing at the Western Wall was special and powerful. Visiting old Jerusalem was incredible, and sailing on the sea of Galilee while a double rainbow glowed above us is something I will never forget. Israel is truly a unique and special place.”

It is disgraceful that the legislature of the United States of America in the midst of a government shutdown is giving first priority to bills granting billions of dollars-worth of benefits to Israel while also appointing an anti-Semitism Czar to interfere with the domestic politics of foreign nations. It is shameful that an American Senator should find himself compelled, if he wants to survive politically, to grovel before a domestic lobby representing a foreign nation. Still worse is the compulsion to apologize to that nation even while honorably critiquing legislation that would do significant damage to freedom of speech in America.

Rand Paul also knows perfectly well, as does every senator, that Israel is not and has never been an “ally” in any real sense and has instead used its considerable political power to corrupt America’s political culture and to entangle the United States in a series of unwinnable and inhumane wars in the Middle East. It is certainly his right to personally refuse to support BDS, but he surely understands that effective nonviolent pressure directed against Israel might well be the only way to deliver even a modicum of justice to the Palestinians. Senator Rand Paul clearly does not care about the Palestinians or about Washington’s misadventures in the Middle East when his more compelling need as an ambitious politician is to placate the powerful Jews who, as Ariel Sharon put it, “control America.” How disappointing. Is there anyone left standing who will actually defend the interests of the American people?

Israel Is Bad for America

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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American journalism has become in its mainstream exponents a compendium of half-truths and out-and-out lies. The public, though poorly informed on most issues as a result, has generally figured out that it is being hoodwinked and trust in the Fourth Estate has plummeted over the past twenty years. The skepticism about what is being reported has enabled President Donald Trump and other politicians to evade serious questions about policy by claiming that what is being reported is little more than “fake news.”

No news is more fake than the reporting in the U.S. media that relates to the state of Israel. Former Illinois congressman Paul Findley in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby observed that nearly all the foreign press correspondents working out of Israel are Jewish while most of the editors that they report to at news desks are also Jews, guaranteeing that the articles that eventually surface in the newspapers will be carefully constructed to minimize any criticism of the Jewish state. The same goes for television news, particularly on cable news stations like CNN.

A particularly galling aspect of the sanitization of news reports regarding Israel is the underlying assumption that Israelis share American values and interests, to include freedom and democracy. This leads to the perception that Israelis are just like Americans with Israel’s enemies being America’s enemies. Given that, it is natural to believe that the United States and Israel are permanent allies and friends and that it is in the U.S. interest to do whatever is necessary to support Israel, including providing billions of dollars in aid to a country that is already wealthy as well as unlimited political cover in international bodies like the United Nations.

That bogus but nevertheless seemingly eternal bond is essentially the point from which a December 26th op-ed in The New York Times departs. The piece is by one of the Times’ resident opinion writers Bret Stephens and is entitled Donald Trump is Bad for Israel.

Stephens gets to the point rather quickly, claiming that “The president has abruptly undermined Israel’s security following a phone call with an Islamist strongman in Turkey. So much for the idea, common on the right, that this is the most pro-Israel administration ever. I write this as someone who supported Trump moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and who praised his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal as courageous and correct. I also would have opposed the president’s decision to remove U.S. forces from Syria under nearly any circumstances. Contrary to the invidious myth that neoconservatives always put Israel first, the reasons for staying in Syria have everything to do with core U.S. interests. Among them: Keeping ISIS beaten, keeping faith with the Kurds, maintaining leverage in Syria and preventing Russia and Iran from consolidating their grip on the Levant.”

The beauty of Stephens overwrought prose is that the careful reader might realize from the git-go that the argument being promoted makes no sense. Bret has a big heart for the Kurds but the Palestinians are invisible in his piece while his knowledge of other developments in the Middle East is superficial. First of all, the phone call with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had nothing to do with “undermining Israel’s security.” It concerned the northern border of Syria, which Turkey shares, and arrangements for working with the Kurds, which is a vital interest for both Ankara and Washington. And it might be added that from a U.S. national security point of view Turkey is an essential partner for the United States in the region while Israel is not, no matter what it pretends to be.

Stephens then goes on to demonstrate what he claims to be a libel, that for him and other neocons Israel always comes first, an odd assertion given the fact that he spends 80% of his article discussing what is or isn’t good for Israel. He supports the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, the end of the nuclear agreement with Iran, both of which were applauded in Israel but which are extremely damaging to American interests. He attacks the planned withdrawal from Syria because it is a “core interest” for the U.S., which is complete nonsense.

Contrary to Stephens’ no evidence assertion, Russia and Iran have neither the resources nor the desire to “consolidate[e] their grip on the Levant” while it is the United States has no right and no real interest to “maintain leverage” on Syria by invading and occupying the country. But, of course, invading and occupying are practices that Israel is good at, so Stephens’ brain fart on the issue can perhaps be attributed to confusion over whose bad policies he was defending. Stephens also demonstrate confusion over his insistence that the U.S. must “resist foreign aggressors…the Russians and Iranians in Syria in this decade,” suggesting that he is unaware that both nations are providing assistance at the request of the legitimate government in Damascus. It is the U.S. and Israel that are the aggressors in Syria.

Stephens then looks at the situation from the “Israeli standpoint,” which is presumably is easy for him to do as that is how he looks at everything given the fact that he is far more concerned about Israel’s interests than those of the United States. Indeed, all of his opinions are based on the assumption that U.S. policy should be supportive of a rightwing Israeli government, that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has recently been indicted for corruption and has called for an early election to subvert the process.

Bret finally comes to the point, writing that “What Israel most needs from the U.S. today is what it needed at its birth in 1948: an America committed to defending the liberal-international order against totalitarian enemies, as opposed to one that conducts a purely transactional foreign policy based on the needs of the moment or the whims of a president.”

Stephens then expands on what it means to be liberal-international: “It means we should oppose militant religious fundamentalism, whether it is Wahhabis in Riyadh or Khomeinists in Tehran or Muslim Brothers in Cairo and Ankara. It means we should advocate human rights, civil liberties, and democratic institutions, in that order.”

Bret also throws America’s two most recent presidents under the bus in his jeremiad, saying “During the eight years of the Obama presidency, I thought U.S. policy toward Israel — the hectoringthe incompetent diplomatic interventionsthe moral equivocationsthe Iran dealthe backstabbing at the U.N. — couldn’t get worse. As with so much else, Donald Trump succeeds in making his predecessors look good.” He then asks “Is any of this good for Israel?” and he answers “no.”

Bret Stephens in his complaining reveals himself to be undeniably all about Israel, but consider what he is actually saying. He claims to be against “militant religious fundamentalism,” but isn’t that what Israeli Zionism is all about, with more than a dash of racism and fanaticism thrown in for good measure? One Israeli Chief Rabbi has called black people “monkeys” while another has declared that gentiles cannot live in Israel. Right-wing religious fundamentalist parties currently are in power with Netanyahu and are policy making for the Israeli Government: Shas, Jewish Home, and United Torah Judaism. None of them could be regarded as a moderating influence on their thuggish serial financial lawbreaker Prime Minister.

And isn’t Israel’s record on human rights and civil liberties among the worst in the world? Here is the Human Rights Watch’s assessment of Israel:

“Israel maintains entrenched discriminatory systems that treat Palestinians unequally. Its 50-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza involves systematic rights abuses, including collective punishment, routine use of excessive lethal force, and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial for hundreds. It builds and supports illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, expropriating Palestinian land and imposing burdens on Palestinians but not on settlers, restricting their access to basic services and making it nearly impossible for them to build in much of the West Bank without risking demolition. Israel’s decade-long closure of Gaza, supported by Egypt, severely restricts the movement of people and goods, with devastating humanitarian impact.”

Israel, if one is considering the entire population under its rule, is among the most undemocratic states that chooses to call itself democratic. Much of the population living in lands that Israel claims cannot vote, they have no freedom of movement in their homeland, and they have no right of return to homes that they were forced to abandon. Israeli army snipers blithely shoot unarmed demonstrators while Netanyahu’s government kills, beats and imprisons children. And the Jewish state does not even operate very democratically even inside Israel itself, with special rights for Jewish citizens and areas and whole towns where Muslims or Christians are not allowed to buy property or reside.

It is time for American Jews like Bret Stephens to come to the realization that not everything that is good for Israel is good for the U.S. The strategic interests of the two countries, if they were openly discussed in either the media or in congress, would be seen to be often in direct conflict. Somehow in Stephens’ twisted mind the 1948 theft of Palestinian lands and the imposition of an apartheid system to control the people is in some way representative of a liberal world order.

If one were to suggest that Stephens should move to Israel since his primary loyalty clearly lies there, there would be accusations of anti-Semitism, but in a sense, it is far better to have him stick around blathering from the pulpit of The New York Times. When he writes so ineptly about how Donald Trump Is Bad for Israel the real message that comes through loud and clear is how bad Israel is for America.

 

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