IN PHOTOS ~~ VETERANS’ DAY IN NEW YORK

On November 11th, Veterans Day thousands of people marched up Manhattan’s 5th  Avenue. Many shouldered rifles and represented the militaristic attitude so prevalent in the United States. But there was one contingent, a hundred people strong: The Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against War, the Granny Peace Brigade, The Raging Grannies (a singing group who sang peace songs all along  5th Avenue)  and other individuals who joined and also marched as the voice for peace. 

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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AN OPTIMISTIC 2017

Optimism is not a mood but a systematic studied approach. If we want to make the world better, we must concentrate on those processes that show the Human potential for improvement. And when you start looking for reasons to be optimist you can find plenty. Here are some to cheer you up as you go to celebrate a new 2017.

learned-optimism-helen-keller

12 reasons for optimism about 2017 and beyond

Yoav Haifawi AT

There are many reasons to be pessimist today. Everybody is talking about it. There is a world economic crisis for already 10 years and it is not going anywhere. The rich continue to buy influence, corrupt politics, set the rules, exploit and rob working people and the poor. It seems that the poor working people, instead of uniting to fight for their rights, are turning against each other, as we see from the rise of the Populist Right demagogy against minorities and immigrants in the West and from sectarian civil wars in the Middle East.  And when people are fighting for their rights they are confronted with bloody oppression and nobody will come to their rescue, as the people of Halab (Aleppo) have just learned.

But for me Optimism is not a mood but a systematic studied approach. If we want to make the world better, we must concentrate on those processes that show the Human potential for improvement. And when you start looking for reasons to be optimist you can find plenty. Here are some to cheer you up as you go to celebrate a new 2017.

Health

My grandma told me that she didn’t know anyone from her family that lived more than 60 years. So she naturally expected to die as she became 60. She was surprised when it didn’t happen. Finally she lived to 93, most of it a healthy life.

Today we see a great tragedy in every family that lost a child. It was not a long time ago when most families suffered the death of babies and children. Actually, historically what kept the balance of the human population was the natural death of most children. When early death stopped to be natural, the world’s human population inflated. Only now we are approaching a new balance based on the conscious choice to have fewer children.

Similarly the main problem that was daunting humanity till recently was the search for food. My mom used to tell me: We are farmers, so we will never go hungry. As a child I was advised: Eat bread with every meal to fill your stomach. Now if anybody goes hungry it is not because the lack of food but because the failure of the distribution system or the greed of merchants and speculators. The problem of excess eating is now becoming a major health hazard around the world – until we will find a new balance in a world with plenty of food.

Bringing decent healthcare to everybody around the world is not a dream – it is something that is technologically possible and economically affordable.

Education and Knowledge

It is not so long ago that even the most basic education was the privilege of the few. The spread of general basic education is an ongoing revolution around the world. Now we witness a second wave of the education revolution where high education is becoming available to ever more people.

But formal education is only a technical detail. The real issue is the availability of knowledge and the ability to use it. Today as we chat at the family reunion my kids check online for historical and scientific facts. As we stroll in the forest we take a picture of a flower and can reach its botanical file… And the knowledge revolution is only at its beginnings.

I’m not sure at all whether Trump is more disgraceful or ignorant than previous US presidents. But what is sure is that now the news about his every fallacy is more ubiquitous and spreading faster than ever before. The same go for the facts (and some false news) about the corruption and servitude to big business of his nominees as those of Hillary Clinton. Part of our disgust at current politics is a result of being more enlightened. It should be a force for good in the longer run.

Speaking Up

The reading revolution is centuries old, but just recently less than 1% of us ever wrote anything that other people would read. Actually it was Facebook (launched on 2004) that gave everyone a wall to write on.

I still remember the times when an intelligent person would read one and the same paper every day. When speaking with a person you would typically find that he holds the views of the paper that he reads, and knows the set of facts that the paper supplies to support these views.

Now that everybody have a voice we see all kinds of nonsense, insults and prejudice coming out – but they were there in peoples’ minds much before. The fact that people speak up their mind and the lively discussion that ensues will make people think better, as now what they think makes a difference and they get much more feedback.

It is a new process that can hardly be evaluated. Just think about the development of a child, how much time and experience is required between she starts speaking and until she can express herself clearly or present a case about complicated issues. Now remember that it is only a few years since hundreds of millions of people started to speak up and try to figure out how to make sense out of the ensuing noise.

Democracy

After a period of enthusiasm about the rise of social movements and leftist governments in Latin America, we see a backlash with the election victories of conservatives and rightists and some suspicious power-grabs. Yet, comparing with previous rightists onslaughts just a few decades ago, this time governments are changing mostly peacefully and it is just possible that leftist governments will come back peacefully in some next elections. The same trend of changing governments peacefully is taking root also in much of Africa and other parts of the world.

The benefit of changing governments by elections is not only the avoidance of violence and destructive wars. After repression everywhere, and after a leftist wave almost everywhere in Latin America, now those government that succeeded more in fulfilling their promises, like Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, may keep their leftist regimes. The left in other countries will have to reorganize to regain public trust and work harder to give their voters what they really want.

Democracy is not only about changing governments by elections. Actually we are still looking for the real thing: How to enable people take control of their destiny. Bottom-up democracy is the more promising model, as people may be involved on a daily basis with the essentials of their lives as they see and understand them, and improve with experience.

In many places around the world, people are experimenting with new types of popular involvement and control. Some of the most amazing experiments of self-rule come amid the harshest conditions. In Greece, as the traditional economy stopped functioning, people were building democratic cooperatives. In Syria people experiment with popular democracy in Kurdish Rojava as well as in some liberated cities and villages in other parts of the country.

Travel and Immigration

Just where progress faces the harshest resistance – we may be making a real breakthrough. The technological progress that drives travel and communication is a one-way process that interconnects our world and transforms it into one global village. The national state is an anachronism that runs counter to the direction of the economy, our culture and the spirit of the time. Whoever will try to resist it will do it at his own peril.

We can celebrate as more people travel around the world, choose their place to live by what is better for them and not by where they were born, and mix together into one beautiful human race.

Gender equality and Personal Freedom

Some of the greatest achievements of the last decades were the progress in women’s rights. We also experienced some breakthroughs with the social recognition of different sexual choices and gender identities. Of course, there are battles ahead before we would be able to declare full victory over misogyny, patriarchy, homophobia and bigotry.

Every achievement on this road is a relief and blessing to all humanity as there is less social oppression, violence, prejudice and hatred. It expands the limits of what one can do and what you can be. With every obstacle that is removed, there will be more options to explore new ways of life and social interaction.

Technology

Unlike political and social development, which goes through conflict, ups and downs and upheavals, technological progress is mostly a one way process. Many of our problems can simply be solved by the right technical solutions. Energy can be produced from renewable sources like sun and wind without much pollution. Food can be produced using much smaller land and without harming animals. Water can be desalinated. Self-driving cars can prevent most road accidents. Biotechnology may prevent or cure most diseases.

The knowledge that all these technologies are here ready to serve us should make us wake up and remove the current obstacles that stand in their way.

Less Work More Life

One danger that scares many people is the disappearance of jobs. As most people’s work life is only slightly better than slavery, we would expect people to celebrate the falling of their chains. Really, it should be the best of news that all humanity’s needs may be supplied with a fraction of the work that was required previously. This is the inevitable result of technological progress.

Looking at the current economy, much work that is done is actually a burden and not a benefit for society. Armies around the world are getting huge budgets that are more likely to cause war than to protect the people. The police, courts and prisons are doing more to perpetuate crime than to prevent it. A single political decision to legalize drugs may abolish at once most of the criminality around the world. Bureaucracy is a burden over the real economy and constant stress over ordinary peoples’ lives. Much of the white collar tasks can be replaced by computers just as blue-collar tasks were replaced by machines.

The economists that portray the current capitalist order as the law of nature say that people are becoming redundant and are destined to poverty because they are no more required for the economy. It is a simple question of political power: who serves whom. If the economy is ours to serve people, it is our time to take control of it.

The recent experiments, in several places around the world, giving basic wages to all people without connection to work, is an overdue first step to break the yoke of wage slavery.

China and Vietnam

International bodies agreed about the millennium goals of reducing poverty and

improving human conditions in essential fields like health and education. The greatest contributions toward fulfilling these goals are due to two countries: China and Vietnam. Over the last half century they demonstrated an unprecedented spell of economic development, starting from the harshest levels of poverty and mostly working against hostile obstacles from the dominant world powers.

China started by leading the world in the production of most goods. Cheap Chinese products improved the standard of living of consumers all over the world.

Now China also leads the efforts to develop clean energy, stop climate change, bring high quality education to wide masses, develop fast trains and electric cars and much more. Within 15 years China built new modern cities (no slums there) for 300 million people that had to leave under-productive village life and became part of the modern economy – building the equivalent of a whole new USA or Western Europe all at once.

Just 15 years ago most third world countries were subject to different kinds of sanctions by Western powers that were supposed to “educate” them but actually served to subdue their economies to the interest of imperialist multinational companies. Now China builds a new world economic order, based on unconditional cooperation and mutual development.

It is mostly due to China’s role that the balance of world economic power started to change, over the last 15 years, to the benefit of the third world.

The rebellious human spirit

In the development of Human society there are always measures and counter measures. There are long term consistent trends like technological progress, the spread of knowledge and the interconnection of the world. But politics are working in many different ways, many times producing the reverse of what their initiators wanted. One force that is constantly working is the rebellious human spirit inspiring billions of people to try new ways to improve their lives…

The two world wars, the biggest clashes between imperialist powers in their quest to control the world, brought immense misery. But they ended with two big waves of decolonization and the formation of alternative socialist regimes. Today, as the Western powers are becoming hostile to immigrants, more people from the 3rd world will try to build their future in their (or other 3rd world) countries – and the decline of the western powers will accelerate. Iran, which tried to force strict religious behavior over its people, is now probably the Middle Eastern country with the most free-wheeling population.

Fast Changes

They say: “If it is not broken, don’t fix it”. But now it clearly is!

As fragile human beings we look for security and are afraid of change. Those who are most disadvantaged by the current order are the most vulnerable to any disturbances. But they also have the most to gain from fundamental change. And the majority of humanity is disadvantaged by the current world order. Palestinians in particular are denied basic Human Rights or any decent place in the current order and their plight is not going to change until there will be major changes to the rules of the game, at least in our region.

Change may come faster in our age than ever before. Almost a hundred years ago Britain occupied Iraq and faced stiff popular resistance – the Iraqi Revolt (1920). With air bombardment and the systematic burning of villages they succeeded to consolidate their rule over a nation that was mostly composed of illiterate peasants. The US occupation of Iraq in 2003 had even bigger military advantage, but the cultural gap almost disappeared. It ended up with the US spending a devastating one trillion dollar on the military adventure, with no political gains to show for its money.

The Arab spring is a social and political movement on the scale of the democratization of Europe that started with the French revolution in 1789, or the fall of the Soviet Union and its East European block in 1989-1991. But it is the first great revolutionary wave that uses social networks and new media. Till now it proved, at least, that no amount of force and no level of cruelty can assure the forces of the old order the suppression of the will of the people.

Respect All Lives

I was raised as a vegetarian, a relic of my grandma’s Tolstoyan tradition. I still remember the times when most ordinary people didn’t eat meat on a regular basis, simply because they couldn’t afford to buy it. I remember old people in the neighborhood saying how lucky they are – they eat meat on every holiday… (It was a cynical refrain to Islam having only two holidays a year). Later it became harder to be a vegetarian as people started to eat meat every day. Friends from the new generation would wonder: what do you eat at all if you don’t eat meat?

But now people everywhere are starting to reassess their behavior out of conscious and not out of necessity. When we invited our friends to a vegetarian wedding party, we heard everywhere stories about people trying to be vegetarian or thinking about it.

I must admit that when we decided, just a year ago, to make another step toward healthier and more moral life as vegans, one consideration was that it is easy to do it these days. Now, even in the most commercial supermarkets, there is a lot of choice of vegan alternatives for people that don’t want to give up spoiled tastes.

Technological progress and consciousness help us all make the moral choice and respect all lives.

A SPEECH ON PALESTINE/ISRAEL AWAITING PRESIDENT OBAMA

SECRETARY KERRY: “There are other countries in the UN who believe it is our job to dictate the terms of a solution in the Security Council. Others want us to simply recognize a Palestinian state, absent an agreement. But I want to make clear today, these are not the choices that we will make.”

QUESTION: Will the U.S. allow others to make these choices?

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office, Oct 1, 2014.

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA
President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office, Oct 1, 2014.

A speech on Palestine-Israel awaiting President Obama

By Sam Bahour FOR

I hesitated before weighing in on the flurry of activity taking place around Israel and Palestine after the U.S. seems to have finally decided to act. I felt that all that needs to be said has been written and rewritten ad infinitum, including by me. That now at the eleventh hour the U.S. seems to be waking up to the reality Israel has created on the ground with unfettered U.S. support over seven decades, struck me at first as anticlimactic. But on deeper reflection and seeing the continuous flow of commentary, I notice that no one has yet mentioned one important and potentially game-changing way of framing this latest development.

During the past two years, U.S. government officials have been meeting with everyone willing to meet with them to explore what the Obama Administration can do, given the dangerous state of affairs in the Israeli militarily occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Jerusalem-based U.S. Consulate staff, Washington D.C.-based State Department staff, researchers with the Congressional Research Service, numerous Inside the Beltway think tank experts, and many more were dispatched to Palestine and Israel to gain insights on possible ways forward.

Three possible options were floated: having the Administration take UN action at the Security Council against Israeli settlement building; making a policy speech which lays outs the Administration’s understanding of the parameters for a resolution of the conflict; or recognizing the State of Palestine, as over 130 countries have already done. I repeatedly made the case for the recognition of Palestine, which I believe is the only policy action possible at this late hour that would have irrevocably binding legal ramifications, not to mention being a real step forward to preserve the two-state solution.

I want to believe—with zero expectations—that President Obama did not choose one of these options, but rather all three. What we have witnessed thus far with the unanimous passing of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements and Secretary of State John Kerry’s policy speech about preserving the two-state scenario may be only two acts of a three-act Greek tragedy playing out on the global political theater. The only remaining act is that of recognizing the State of Palestine, something Secretary Kerry explicitly stated was not a choice that the U.S. would make. The question that begs for an answer is, will the U.S. allow the international community collectively to make such a decision, as they allowed it to unanimously stand against Israel’s settlement enterprise?

Given the uproar Secretary Kerry’s rather mundane but still bold and courageous speech has generated, I’d like to suggest that President Obama deliver the following sequel, much more concise and honest, before January 15, when France will host over 70 counties in a conference to discuss Palestine and Israel.

Ladies and Gentleman,

I stand before you today, only a few days after I instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to present my Administration’s outright disgust concerning the Palestine-Israel conflict. I had hoped that Secretary Kerry’s personal commitment, exhaustive experience, mastery of the diplomatic lexicon, and utter frustration would serve to clear the air about exactly where the U.S. stands on this issue. Evidently, we failed to achieve the desired clarity. So, please allow me to present my Administration’s outgoing message, unfettered by diplomatic jargon. Prime Minister Netanyahu, please take notes.

Secretary Kerry said we needed to engage in an “honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices.” He was absolutely correct, but then tactfully went on to present known truths and choices we already know Israel refuses. That was misleading. Let me explain, point by point:

“The two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.” Of course it is! You did not need Secretary Kerry to tell you that, we have been saying it from day one of my Administration, not to mention it being said by every single prior Administration. As the U.S. has been talking the talk of two states, however, we have continued to fund, arm and diplomatically cover Israeli actions which brought us to where we are today. The U.S. is part of the problem. All the while, Israeli leaders have said over and over again that they have zero appetite for a Palestinian state to emerge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Even the Israeli Prime Minister’s Likud party platform rejects a two-state solution. Thank God the media is not giving attention to theCNN interview by Jake Tapper with prominent settler Minister Naftali Bennett immediately following Secretary Kerry’s speech. The U.S. can no longer pretend to be deaf, dumb and blind as the region collapses into utter mayhem.

“The truth is that trends on the ground […] are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality…” Although this is totally true, what we avoided saying outright was that the Palestinians, albeit weak from the standpoint of their internal political affairs, are making tremendous strides on creating their state. The majority of the world’s countries have recognized the State of Palestine and 138 countries upgraded the Palestinians status at the UN with a UN General Assembly resolution that passed on November 29, 2012. I’ve read this UN resolution a thousand times; it is 100% aligned with long-standing U.S. policy: two states based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem being the capital of both Israel and Palestine. When the U.S. voted “No” to this resolution we found ourselves in the company of only eight other countries: Israel, Czech Republic, Canada, Panama and the tiny states of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Micronesia. For the world’s superpower to stand under the spotlight of world attention alongside these microscopic Pacific Island states is insane and cannot continue. To persist in blocking Palestine from its rightful place among the community of nations is becoming extremely embarrassing. In a local paper in D.C. over a year ago, the case for recognition was made jointly by an Israeli Jew, an American Jew and a Palestinian American. The State of Palestine has become a positive, forward-looking rallying call and I feel we are missing the boat by acquiescing to Israeli intransigence.

“No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace.” We tried to shift all the attention to the settlements, but it’s not working. The international community is seeing right through us. Israel is a colonial project, par excellence, and no screaming about illegal settlements is going to change that. Israel, I’ve always assumed we’ve supported you for this long because our own history is just like yours, but your native Palestinian population refuses to buckle in the face of your brute force. Native Americans being regulated to impoverished reservations worked for us once upon a time, but your modern day equivalent in the form of Palestinian Bantustans, infamously called Areas A in the Oslo Accords, is clearly failing.

Israel, Secretary Kerry lied. It’s not a choice about Israel being “Jewish” or “democratic,” because you are neither and never have been. This is about your sheer existence, plain and simple. You definitely do not operate on central virtues and principles in Jewish ethics, such as “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others.” (Talmud) or what Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel taught: “The world rests on three things: justice, truth, and peace” (Avot 1:18) or the three passages in the Book of Genesis telling us that all people are made “B’tzelem Elohim” (in the divine image) and hence the humanity in all people—including Palestinians—must be valued equally.

Likewise, your democracy is highly flawed. One only needs to read our annual State Department Human Rights Reports to see that we have already acknowledged, on the record, your institutional and structured discrimination against your Christian, Muslim, and Druze citizens who make up nearly 20% of your population.

So what Secretary Kerry said in his speech, and our abstention to the UN Security Council resolution against settlements, are not outgoing expressions of frustration, but a last-ditch effort to save Israel from itself. I hope that Secretary Kerry’s and my words here become inputs to the upcoming French-sponsored international conference to be held in January. We had to state our opinions now, Israel, because thanks to your pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., our domestic political system has been hijacked on this issue, so in this case we can’t act in our strategic interests in the proper venues.

Lastly, Israel, we do not appreciate your ferocious attacks after we have stood by you more thoroughly and reliably than any other Administration in the history of your existence. As Henry Siegman, the former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, so pointedly wrote, “If there has been a betrayal in this latest chapter of America’s relations with Israel, it is [you] Netanyahu who has betrayed [me].”

God bless the United States for Israel, oops, I mean, of America.

Back to reality. The Palestinian leadership first submitted their bid for full membership in the UN to the Security Council in 2011. When the U.S. threatened to veto the request if it came to a vote, the Palestinians strategically requested that it be sent to a UN Security Council committee for further deliberations pending a more opportune timing. This is where it currently resides. If the international conference planned for mid-January in France can acknowledge that there is nothing further to be gained by making yet another statement about the threat of losing the two-state paradigm or the risk posed by illegal Israeli settlements, the only serious political act would be to produce a second UN Security Council resolution to recognize the State of Palestine. This one is easy since it’s already in committee. The U.S. can abstain, or better yet vote in the affirmative. This is what would preserve the two-state solution; otherwise, we can fasten our seatbelts as Maestro Trump steps onto to the stage, picks up the baton, and perhaps unrolls a version of Zionism in its rawest form.

THE TRUMP VICTORY ~~HOW AND WHY

This is the best analysis of the election that I have seen to date …

For many years, the U.S. — like the U.K. and other Western nations — has embarked on a course that virtually guaranteed a collapse of elite authority and internal implosion. From the invasion of Iraq to the 2008 financial crisis to the all-consuming framework of prisons and endless wars, societal benefits have been directed almost exclusively to the very elite institutions most responsible for failure at the expense of everyone else.

Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit

Glenn Greenwald

THE PARALLELS BETWEEN the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’s even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president Tuesday night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.

That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population — all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction — are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture they regard — not without reason — as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.

After the Brexit vote, I wrote an article comprehensively detailing these dynamics, which I won’t repeat here but hope those interested will read. The title conveys the crux: “Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.” That analysis was inspired by a short, incredibly insightful, and now more relevant than ever post-Brexit Facebook note by the Los Angeles Times’s Vincent Bevins, who wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years.” Bevins went on: “Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”

For those who tried to remove themselves from the self-affirming, vehemently pro-Clinton elite echo chamber of 2016, the warning signs that Brexit screechingly announced were not hard to see. Two short passages from a Slate interview I gave in July summarized those grave dangers: that opinion-making elites were so clustered, so incestuous, so far removed from the people who would decide this election — so contemptuous of them — that they were not only incapable of seeing the trends toward Trump but were unwittingly accelerating those trends with their own condescending, self-glorifying behavior.

Like most everyone else who saw the polling data and predictive models of the media’s self-proclaimed data experts, I long believed Clinton would win, but the reasons why she very well could lose were not hard to see. The warning lights were flashing in neon for a long time, but they were in seedy places that elites studiously avoid. The few people who purposely went to those places and listened, such as Chris Arnade, saw and heard them loud and clear. The ongoing failure to take heed of this intense but invisible resentment and suffering guarantees that it will fester and strengthen. This was the last paragraph of my July article on the Brexit fallout:

Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, [elites] are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to delegitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

Beyond the Brexit analysis, there are three new points from last night’s results that I want to emphasize, as they are unique to the 2016 U.S. election and, more importantly, illustrate the elite pathologies that led to all of this:

1. Democrats have already begun flailing around trying to blame anyone and everyone they can find — everyone except themselves — for last night’s crushing defeat of their party.

You know the drearily predictable list of their scapegoats: Russia, WikiLeaks, James Comey, Jill Stein, Bernie Bros, The Media, news outlets (including, perhaps especially, The Intercept) that sinned by reporting negatively on Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks that what happened last night in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan can be blamed on any of that is drowning in self-protective ignorance so deep that it’s impossible to express in words.

When a political party is demolished, the principal responsibility belongs to one entity: the party that got crushed. It’s the job of the party and the candidate, and nobody else, to persuade the citizenry to support them and find ways to do that. Last night, the Democrats failed, resoundingly, to do that, and any autopsy or liberal think piece or pro-Clinton pundit commentary that does not start and finish with their own behavior is one that is inherently worthless.

Put simply, Democrats knowingly chose to nominate a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable, scandal-plagued candidate, who — for very good reason — was widely perceived to be a protector and beneficiary of all the worst components of status quo elite corruption. It’s astonishing that those of us who tried frantically to warn Democrats that nominating Hillary Clinton was a huge and scary gamble — that all empirical evidence showed that she could lose to anyone and Bernie Sanders would be a much stronger candidate, especially in this climate — are now the ones being blamed: by the very same people who insisted on ignoring all that data and nominating her anyway.

But that’s just basic blame shifting and self-preservation. Far more significant is what this shows about the mentality of the Democratic Party. Just think about who they nominated: someone who — when she wasn’t dining with Saudi monarchs and being feted in Davos by tyrants who gave million-dollar checks — spent the last several years piggishly running around to Wall Street banks and major corporations cashing in with $250,000 fees for 45-minute secret speeches even though she had already become unimaginably rich with book advances while her husband already made tens of millions playing these same games. She did all that without the slightest apparent concern for how that would feed into all the perceptions and resentments of her and the Democratic Party as corrupt, status quo-protecting, aristocratic tools of the rich and powerful: exactly the worst possible behavior for this post-2008-economic-crisis era of globalism and destroyed industries.

It goes without saying that Trump is a sociopathic con artist obsessed with personal enrichment: the opposite of a genuine warrior for the downtrodden. That’s too obvious to debate. But, just as Obama did so powerfully in 2008, he could credibly run as an enemy of the D.C. and Wall Street system that has steamrolled over so many people, while Hillary Clinton is its loyal guardian, its consummate beneficiary.

Trump vowed to destroy the system that elites love (for good reason) and the masses hate (for equally good reason), while Clinton vowed to manage it more efficiently. That, as Matt Stoller’s indispensable article in The Atlanticthree weeks ago documented, is the conniving choice the Democratic Party made decades ago: to abandon populism and become the party of technocratically proficient, mildly benevolent managers of elite power. Those are the cynical, self-interested seeds they planted, and now the crop has sprouted.

Of course there are fundamental differences between Obama’s version of “change” and Trump’s. But at a high level of generality — which is where these messages are often ingested — both were perceived as outside forces on a mission to tear down corrupt elite structures, while Clinton was perceived as devoted to their fortification. That is the choice made by Democrats — largely happy with status quo authorities, believing in their basic goodness — and any honest attempt by Democrats to find the prime author of last night’s debacle will begin with a large mirror.

2. That racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are pervasive in all sectors of America is indisputable from even a casual glance at its history, both distant and recent.

There are reasons why all presidents until 2008 were white and all 45 elected presidents have been men. There can be no doubt that those pathologies played a substantial role in last night’s outcome. But that fact answers very few questions and begs many critical ones.

To begin with, one must confront the fact that not only was Barack Obama elected twice, but he is poised to leave office as a highly popular president: now viewed more positively than Reagan. America wasn’t any less racist and xenophobic in 2008 and 2012 than it is now. Even stalwart Democrats fond of casually branding their opponents as bigots are acknowledging that a far more complicated analysis is required to understand last night’s results. As the New York Times’s Nate Cohn put it: “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters. It’s not a simple racism story.” Matt Yglesias acknowledged that Obama’s high approval rating is inconsistent with depictions of the U.S. as a country “besotted with racism.”

People often talk about “racism/sexism/xenophobia” vs. “economic suffering” as if they are totally distinct dichotomies. Of course there are substantial elements of both in Trump’s voting base, but the two categories are inextricably linked: The more economic suffering people endure, the angrier and more bitter they get, the easier it is to direct their anger to scapegoats. Economic suffering often fuels ugly bigotry. It is true that many Trump voters are relatively well-off and many of the nation’s poorest voted for Clinton, but, as Michael Moore quite presciently warned, those portions of the country that have been most ravaged by free trade orgies and globalism — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa — were filled with rage and “see [Trump] as a chance to be the human Molotov cocktail that they’d like to throw into the system to blow it up.” Those are the places that were decisive in Trump’s victory. As the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney put it:

Low-income rural white voters in Pa. voted for Obama in 2008 and then Trump in 2016, and your explanation is white supremacy? Interesting.

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It has long been, and still is, a central American challenge to rid society of these structural inequalities. But one way to ensure those scapegoating dynamics fester rather than erode is to continue to embrace a system that excludes and ignores a large portion of the population. Hillary Clinton was viewed, reasonably, as a stalwart devotee, beloved agent, and prime beneficiary of that system, and thus could not possibly be viewed as a credible actor against it.

3. Over the last six decades, and particularly over the last 15 years of the endless war on terror, both political parties have joined to construct a frightening and unprecedentedly invasive and destructive system of authoritarian power, accompanied by the unbridled authority vested in the executive branch to use it.

As a result, the president of the United States commands a vast nuclear arsenal that can destroy the planet many times over; the deadliest and most expensive military ever developed in human history; legal authorities that allow him to prosecute numerous secret wars at the same time, imprison people with no due process, and target people (including U.S. citizens) for assassination with no oversight; domestic law enforcement agencies that are constructed to appear and act as standing, para-militarized armies; a sprawling penal state that allows imprisonment far more easily than most Western countries; and a system of electronic surveillance purposely designed to be ubiquitous and limitless, including on U.S. soil.

Those who have been warning of the grave dangers these powers pose have often been dismissed on the ground that the leaders who control this system are benevolent and well-intentioned. They have thus often resorted to the tactic of urging people to imagine what might happen if a president they regarded as less than benevolent one day gained control of it. That day has arrived. One hopes this will at least provide the impetus to unite across ideological and partisan lines to finally impose meaningful limits on these powers that should never have been vested in the first place. That commitment should start now.

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For many years, the U.S. — like the U.K. and other Western nations — has embarked on a course that virtually guaranteed a collapse of elite authority and internal implosion. From the invasion of Iraq to the 2008 financial crisis to the all-consuming framework of prisons and endless wars, societal benefits have been directed almost exclusively to the very elite institutions most responsible for failure at the expense of everyone else.

It was only a matter of time before instability, backlash, and disruption resulted. Both Brexit and Trump unmistakably signal its arrival. The only question is whether those two cataclysmic events will be the peak of this process, or just the beginning. And that, in turn, will be determined by whether their crucial lessons are learned — truly internalized — or ignored in favor of self-exonerating campaigns to blame everyone else.

A LOOK AT HATE IN TOONS

All images by Carlos Latuff

This cartoonist does not condone homophobia AND Islamophobia, since both are rotten fruits of ignorance.

This cartoonist does not condone homophobia AND Islamophobia, since both are rotten fruits of ignorance.

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Feeding a Monster Called ISLAMOPHOBIA

Feeding a Monster Called ISLAMOPHOBIA

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I was born surrounded by “armed citizens”.

I was born surrounded by “armed citizens”.

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I play games where I can kill many creatures, including humans.

I play games where I can kill many creatures, including humans.

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Donald Trump's response to the Orlando massacre

Donald Trump’s response to the Orlando massacre

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Why do we not call US crimes Christian crimes???

Why do we not call US crimes Christian crimes???

YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS THE DEATH PENALTY IN ISRAEL

Despite it’s claims to the contrary, there IS the death penalty in Israel as can be seen in the following report that you won’t read about in the Western Media …

Israeli court’s decision may be death sentence for hunger striker

Al-Qiq, who works for the Saudi news agency Al-Majd, began his hunger strike in November, shortly after Israeli authorities arrested him. Following his interrogation, Israel put him in administrative detention.

Human rights organizations and UN officials have called on Israel to charge or release al-Qiq, who is one of 660 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention orders handed down by a military court.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Despite his critical condition, journalist captive Mohammad al-Qiq refuses to bow.

Despite his critical condition, journalist captive Mohammad al-Qiq refuses to bow.

Israel’s high court today confirmed its refusal to free Muhammad al-Qiq, the gravely ill Palestinian journalist who has been on hunger strike for 84 days.

The judges held a closed session Tuesday morning, adjourned for several hours, and then issued their decision.

In response to the decision, al-Qiq reportedly told his supporters and his family to be “patient and steadfast.”

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, whose lawyers represent al-Qiq, sent a brief statement to media confirming the court’s rejection of al-Qiq’s request to be allowed to receive treatment in a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The court’s hearing likely marked a last chance for al-Qiq, who is now too weak to receive visitors, according to sources at the hospital where he is being held.

Doctors have said that al-Qiq could die at any moment. By all accounts his life remains at imminent risk.

“Death sentence”

Yousef Jabareen, a member of Israel’s parliament for the Joint List, called the court’s decision a “death sentence.”

“Instead of canceling the administrative detention to save al-Qiq’s life, the court once again succumbed to the diktats of the security agencies and set aside humanitarian considerations,” Jabareen added in a statement sent to media.

Al-Qiq has vowed not to give up his strike unless he is freed.

On Monday, a video was circulated on social media showing al-Qiq in his hospital bed, crying out from severe pain.

Earlier on Monday, the high court rejected a petition from al-Qiq to be transferred to Ramallah, but it ruled that he could go to al-Makassed hospital in occupied East Jerusalem. It gave him until Tuesday to consider the offer.

But al-Qiq rejected the offer immediately, because it did not meet his condition to be released and go where he chooses.

Al-Qiq has insisted that he be allowed to return to the West Bank and receive treatment in a Palestinian hospital.

No compromise

While the court considered its decision on Tuesday, Palestinian Prisoners Club attorney Jawad Boulos told mediathat Israeli military prosecutors had said in the hearing that they could not allow al-Qiq to go to Ramallah, where he would be outside Israel’s direct control, and could therefore represent a “threat” to its security.

Boulos said he responded that currently al-Qiq is not under guard at the hospital in Afula, in the north of present-day Israel, and is able to speak to whoever he wants, which would also be the case in Ramallah.

Boulos added that al-Qiq and his family had also agreed that he could be monitored by Palestinian Authority security for the remainder of his administrative detention period, which ends in May.

On 4 February, Israel’s high court suspended al-Qiq’s administrative detention but ordered him to remain in the HaEmek hospital in Afula to receive medical treatment.

But al-Qiq rejected the suspension, refusing to be treated by Israeli authorities as long as he was not free to leave. It is also unclear what the suspension meant in practice, since al-Qiq has remained effectively an Israeli prisoner.

Al-Qiq, who works for the Saudi news agency Al-Majd, began his hunger strike in November, shortly after Israeli authorities arrested him. Following his interrogation, Israel put him in administrative detention.

Human rights organizations and UN officials have called on Israel to charge or release al-Qiq, who is one of 660 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention orders handed down by a military court.

POLLARD AND PALESTINE …. AND MORE

Pollard's useless Israeli passport

Pollard’s useless Israeli passport

VIEWS FROM PALESTINE

Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD


 

Spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard was released from US prisons. He did so
much damage to US security and could still do more damage that he should
have never been released. He is to stay in the US for five years and then
want to move to Palestine to settle on stolen lands as part of apartheid
colonial regime. He divorced his American wife while in prison and married
an Israeli wife. I would not be surprised to see him become an Israeli
minister. After all, Israel rewarded those who even killed US Citizens 
(see for example and). 
Yet, Israel continues to infiltrate the US 
at the highest levels 
(see for example these troubling incidents )

Sunday as almost every day, Palestinian natives were murdered by colonial
settlers. In an incident Sunday morning Israeli colonial settlement leader
Gershon Mesika rammed a teenage girl with his car, claiming 'she had a
knife'. When the girl, Ashraqat Taha Qatanany, 16, from Nablus, fell to the
ground, another Israeli paramilitary settler pulled over and shot her
multiple times.As in many similar incidents, eyewitness (and in some cases
video evidence) showed there was no knives and knives are planted later
near the victims. Later Sunday Taxi driver  Shadi Mohammad Mahmoud Khseib
from al-Bireh was killed when he had an accident and he was murdered by
colonial settler as soon as he stepped out of his car to deal with the
accident. A third Palestinian was also murdered. Several young people were
kidnapped by occupation forces and children continue to be held and abused
in Israeli gulags.

In other news, the Israeli Knesset is considering more racist laws to add
to the dozens of laws already making life hell for us native Palestinians.
One new law will allow actual prison sentences for children under age 14
(ofcourse only if they are Palestinian and do something to resist colonial
occupation). Another law will force taxation of Israeli non-governmental
organizations and apply draconian measures to them if they speak out for
human righst and receive funding from abroad (of course Zionist
organizations will be exempt from this law).

IN PHOTOS ~~ DEMO AGAINST NYC MAYOR de BLASIO

DEMONSTRATING AGAINST NYC MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO’S DOMESTIC (NYC) AND FOREIGN POLICY (ISRAEL)

A coalition of  NYC political groups protested NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio as he attended an event at Manhattan’s Sheraton Hotel. The protesters included supporters of the Palestinian struggle against Zionism: Mayor Bill de Blasio has on several occasions announced his support of the Zionist state.

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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GOODBYE COLUMBUS!

This is a good start!

In the past two months, eight cities got rid of Columbus Day in favor of adopting Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Three of those cities adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day last week. 

columbus-genocide

 

These 8 Cities Just Abolished Columbus Day

Dylan Sevett

Following a growing trend, the city council of Albuquerque, New Mexico has voted six to three to recognize October 12th – typically known to most as “Columbus Day” within the USA– as Indigenous Peoples’ day in a new proclamation. Albuquerque has the highest concentration of Indigenous people in New Mexico.

In the past two months, eight cities got rid of Columbus Day in favor of adopting Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Three of those cities adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day this week.

  1. Albuquerque, New Mexico – The city’s formal declaration”encourages businesses, organizations and public entities to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, which shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that our Indigenous nations add to our City.”
  2. Lawrence, KS – Since September, students from Haskell University in Lawrence, Kansas have been taking initiative and pushing for the city to honor their ancestors by declaring October 12th Indigenous Peoples’ day. Just this Wednesday, they won.
  3. Portland, OR – Portland’s City Council declared Indigenous Peoples’ day on Tuesday, something tribal leaders have been seeking since 1954.
  4. St. Paul, MN – In August, St. Paul followed Minneapolis by declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. Minneapolis passed its own resolution last year.
  5. Bexar County, TX – The resolution was passed Tuesday, and local activists intend to press for the same thing in San Antonio.
  6. Anadarko, OK – In September, Anadarko declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Anadarko Mayor Kyle Eastwood signed the proclamation while surrounded by tribal leaders from the Apache, Choctaw, Delaware, Wichita and others.
  7. Olympia, WA – Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones presented Olympia’s proclamation at a rally in August. Nearly 150 people showed up to support the initiative.
  8. Alpena, MI – In September, Mayor Matt Waligora declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The city says they desire “to develop a strong and productive relationship with all indigenous peoples, including the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, based on mutual respect and trust.”

These cities are following in the footsteps of Seattle and MinneapolisMeanwhile, Oklahoma City came close to passing it in September and will try to pass it again on October 13th, the day after the holiday.City Council Member Rey Garduño wrote and proposed the proclamation, with guidance from local activists. The campaign was initiated last year during an “Abolish Columbus Day” demonstration at City Hall.

Although these changes have been quite recent, the struggle for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day has been going on since 1954, when the idea was first proposed in Portland, OR.

The Albuquerque Police Department have a notorious record of harassing and killing oppressed people. Their law enforcement divisions have shot 50 people resulting in 28 fatalities since 2010. In Albuquerque, Indigenous people compose 4.6 of the city’s population, but 13% of its consistently homeless population.

This name change is a fantastic trend that needs to grow fast, but it needs to be followed up by concrete action and legislation. Nationwide (and worldwide – particularly in Latin American countries that have suffered from US-backed coups), Indigenous people suffer from economic inequality, health problems, and human rights abuses. It’s time we celebrate their culture and tradition rather than their oppressors’, and it’s time we give back to those we’ve taken so much from.

RadioOrNot.com

RadioOrNot.com

POETIC BALTIMORE ~~ ‘TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME’

Two poems that say it all …..

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The Yards

© By Tom Karlson 

it was the first retro ball park

built on the public dime in 1992

in downtown Baltimore

by that crab and fish paradise

 

today 45,971 seats have been emptied

for public safety

baseball loving gulls are here

and when the organ plays

“Take Me Out To the Ball Game”

all join in

 

gulls fly while fifty players stand stiff

at the Star’s Spangled Banner

later God Bless America is ignored

by all

 

Eddie Murray and Carl Rifkin smile

outside young women and men

march

chanting Black lives matter

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FIELD BOX 54

© by Alejandro Escudé

Its come down to this: empty
major league baseball stands
while the game goes on below,

except for the one skeleton
sitting in Field Box 54, wolfing
down a hot dog whole, tossing peanuts
into its open jaw.

The hot dog bun perfectly preserved
and the pristine peanut shells
scattering past the skeleton’s severed
spinal chord.

The lonely announcer
can’t believe his eyes. “It appears
to be enjoying the game!” he says.

And why not? The whole stadium
to itself, Orioles against
the White Sox, nothing to worry about,

though it still remembers
the gelid badge pressed to its ear

and the godforsaken fear.

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Related Blog Post

An empty baseball stadium and social inequality: Reflections and lessons on Baltimore

Read it HERE

JE SUIS JON STEWART

Always good for a laugh in the worst of situations ….


Now THIS is satire

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Now for a serious look at the situation as seen be Chris Hedges

 

  Broken pens were placed in a pool of simulated blood Friday outside the French Consulate in Istanbul in memory of the victims of the shooting at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. AP/Emrah Gurel

Broken pens were placed in a pool of simulated blood Friday outside the French Consulate in Istanbul in memory of the victims of the shooting at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. AP/Emrah Gurel

A Message From the Dispossessed

Chris Hedges

The terrorist attack in France that took place at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was not about free speech. It was not about radical Islam. It did not illustrate the fictitious clash of civilizations. It was a harbinger of an emerging dystopia where the wretched of the earth, deprived of resources to survive, devoid of hope, brutally controlled, belittled and mocked by the privileged who live in the splendor and indolence of the industrial West, lash out in nihilistic fury.

We have engineered the rage of the dispossessed. The evil of predatory global capitalism and empire has spawned the evil of terrorism. And rather than understand the roots of that rage and attempt to ameliorate it, we have built sophisticated mechanisms of security and surveillance, passed laws that permit the targeted assassinations and torture of the weak, and amassed modern armies and the machines of industrial warfare to dominate the world by force. This is not about justice. It is not about the war on terror. It is not about liberty or democracy. It is not about the freedom of expression. It is about the mad scramble by the privileged to survive at the expense of the poor. And the poor know it.

If you spend time as I have in Gaza, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan, as well as the depressing, segregated housing projects known as banlieues that ring French cities such as Paris and Lyon, warehousing impoverished North African immigrants, you begin to understand the brothers Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, who were killed Friday in a gun battle with French police. There is little employment in these pockets of squalor. Racism is overt. Despair is rampant, especially for the men, who feel they have no purpose. Harassment of immigrants, usually done by police during identity checks, is almost constant. Police once pulled a North African immigrant, for no apparent reason, off a Paris Metro subway car I was riding in and mercilessly beat him on the platform. French Muslims make up 60 to 70 percent of the prison population in France. Drugs and alcohol beckon like sirens to blunt the pain of poor Muslim communities.

 

Continue reading AT

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Be sure to see yesterday’s post

IS THERE A LESSON TO BE LEARNT FROM CHARLIE?

WHY I AM NOT CHARLIE

Since the brutal attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo there have been vigils throughout the world simply stating ‘I AM CHARLIE’.

That one of those murdered happened to be a Jewish ‘cartoonist’ gave call to the zionists to pull their anti-Semite card and raise the false flag to the top of the pole as can be seen HERE.

Satire is meant to be funny, not hateful. Mad Magazine has kept us laughing for decades and never has there been an attack at their offices. Charlie Hebdo has a history of offending people, especially Muslims. There is definitely nothing funny about hatred or racism.

I am one of many that state without hesitation that I AM NOT CHARLIE!

What happened was wrong. There is no argument that could convince me otherwise,   BUT

(Continue reading this post after the image)

Cartoon by Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih, from Aljazeera.com

Cartoon by Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih, from Aljazeera.com

There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.  Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Among the dead at Charlie Hebdo: Deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier, who was also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous)

Among the dead at Charlie Hebdo: Deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier, who was also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous)

Continue reading this at Mondowiess

POLITICIANS LIE, DON’T THEY?

Truth or Consequences??

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-Lies about the need to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagazaki (not to end WWII but to start WWIII or the cold war)
-Lies about why Britain issued the Balfour declaration and France the Jules Cambon declaration in support of Zionism
-Lies about why Israel was created in Palestine
-Lies about why Henry Wallace was replaced by Harry Truman as a vice president in the Democratic convention
-Lies about why Truman supported the creation of Israel on top of Palestine
-Lies about the ethnic cleansing of 530 Palestinian villages and towns
-Lies about  September 11, 2001
-Lies about the reasons for the war on Iraq
-Lies about safety of nuclear power plants
-Lies about violations of US citizen rights by their own government
-Lies about US/Israel want to subdue  Iran now
-Lies about the US role in propping-up dictatorships
-Lies about western governments and human rights
-Lies about Vietnam, Cambodia, and much more
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Politicians lie

Compiled by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
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Note of Thanks to Japan and Montana: After a tiring but highly productive trip to Japan, I am back in Palestine welcoming visitors and speaking to visiting delegations and about to start teaching the fall semester.  While in Japan, I was awarded Montana’s Peace Seeker of the Year
More about my trip to Japan at

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There is no way to say this truth nicely: Politicians lie.  That includes Japanese, American, Egyptian, Israeli, and Palestinian politicians! Is there something more common sense than that?  Yet, so many citizens around the world believe their own politicians or wistfully acknowledge lies but think it is part of the job needed to run things.   They believe even when politicians contradict themselves blatantly.  This phenomenon is rather remarkable.  It is a dissonance and disconnect from reality that many seem oblivious to.  It is very dangerous because it can lead to accepting rational for going to war.  These can be deadly wars that lead to millions of lives lost as happened in what was called World War 1 and WW2.  Even when incredible and declassified evidence abound, politicians continue to lie and old mythologies refuse to die.  Here are just a few of the countless  lies told to us over the past few decades:
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-Lies about the need to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagazaki (not to end WWII but to start WWIII or the cold war)
-Lies about why Britain issued the Balfour declaration and France the Jules Cambon declaration in support of Zionism
-Lies about why Israel was created in Palestine
-Lies about why Henry Wallace was replaced by Harry Truman as a vice president in the Democratic convention
-Lies about why Truman supported the creation of Israel on top of Palestine
-Lies about the ethnic cleansing of 530 Palestinian villages and towns
-Lies about  September 11, 2001
-Lies about the reasons for the war on Iraq
-Lies about safety of nuclear power plants
-Lies about violations of US citizen rights by their own government
-Lies about US/Israel want to subdue  Iran now
-Lies about the US role in propping-up dictatorships
-Lies about western governments and human rights
-Lies about Vietnam, Cambodia, and much more
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With a little effort, any person could easily find 1001 lies and the sometimes painful truth about them.  With very minor effort, I compiled 65 lies/myths told to us about Zionism  There are many more. 
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But even when it has nothing to do with going to war, lies can be very dangerous. I am not talking about naiveté or stupidity because that is not what the politicians have.  Take for example the Palestinian authority “leadership” represented by Mr. Mahmoud Abbas.  Is it naiveté that  would make him go into fruitless negotiations for 20 years with Israeli politicians then suspend negotiations telling his people that we will not go back to negotiations until Israel stops colonial settlement building and then tell his people that he went back to negotiations anyway while Israel is building.  This flip-flop is the typical politician: no principles and no honesty.  Yet, again many continue to clap for him.  I do not say vote for him since his term is expired a long time ago and no elections are going to happen.
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Even when confronted with paper evidence of political lies, many people ignore the mounting evidence.  In our case, there was the lies about support for right of return told to our people while Abu Mazen tells Israeli TV that 1948 areas are Israel and he has no right to go back there (maybe should be able to go “visit”).  There were the lies about being good negotiators with Israel.  Saeb Erekat even wrote two books about negotiations full of such lies.  Those lies were clearly debunked by the leaking of the Palestine papers which show that even a middle school student could do a better job at these negotiations than this groveling charade that these Palestinian negotiators are going through. The fate of 12 million Palestinians and the legacy of 80,000 martyrs are left to lying politicians: Israeli, Palestinian and American. 
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But we cannot blame politicians for our ill societies.  It is us the people who let them do what they do by not challenging them.    
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An example of a good grasroot project (this one in Canada but similar ones can be done in every country)
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Israel Deserves to Be Expelled from UN, Miguel D’Escoto Says
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US Green party foreign policy platform: a breath of fresh air in the politics of the US
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Tawfiq Saleh, famous Egyptian Director and Producer died at age 86.  The film that most effected me was his film AlMakhdoun (the Duped) based on Ghassan Kanafani famous novel “Men in the Sun” (Kanafani was assasinated by Israeli agents in 1972)
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Dying for Freedom in Egypt: I was shocked by how many generally good people lost their basic values by fear or hatred or political calculations…This is a call to go back to the basic values, and first of all Human Rights, Dignity, Freedom and Democracy. We, the oppressed people, need them just as we need air to breath. 
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[I would simply ask those who support the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood (a group I obviously do not support) one simple question: how will you have political reconciliation or build a democratic Egypt if you kill, exclude and jail the leaders of the largest organized group in Egypt?]

DOCTOR’S ADVICE TO ISRAELIS ~~ ‘CHILL OUT!’

Could stress be the root of the many problems facing Israel today?
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“What you people need is some good stress management tools. I just want to remind everyone in Israel that anxiety is not something that comes from outside – it comes from within. So no matter what the source of stress may be, it’s how we cope with it that determines our overall health.”
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Dr. Oz to Israelis: Keep walking, but chill out

In interview with Haaretz, America’s most famous doctor, who is currently visiting Israel, says Israelis need some good stress management tools.

By Judy Maltz
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Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz, the daytime television talk-show star Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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America’s best-known doctor, on his first trip to Israel, has this advice for the locals: Keep walking, but chill out.

“I think the Israelis have incorporated into their daily lives activities that make them healthier in general than many Americans, partly because they move themselves more,” Dr. Mehmet Oz, the daytime television talk-show star, told Haaretz in an interview. “They don’t rely on their cars solely, which is a major positive.”

Yet all the benefits of this ambulatory lifestyle, Oz warns, could be wiped out by the tendency he has observed of Israelis to stress out. “Living under constant stress, as you do here, can cause people to overeat and lead to obesity,” he noted during a short break following a tour of a drug rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv.

“What you people need is some good stress management tools. I just want to remind everyone in Israel that anxiety is not something that comes from outside – it comes from within. So no matter what the source of stress may be, it’s how we cope with it that determines our overall health.”

Oz, a practicing Muslim of Turkish heritage, is in Israel this week with his wife and four children on a trip organized and hosted by America’s celebrity rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, who runs a nonprofit group devoted to promoting Jewish values. Boteach also brought his family along for the trip.

The two struck up a friendship when they worked together as radio hosts on “Oprah and Friends,” a program produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. That company also produces “The Dr. Oz Show,” a three-time Emmy winner televised in 118 countries, including Israel. The trip was paid for by Jewish-American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. “Honest to goodness, I didn’t come because of the free trip,” said Oz. “I should have come years ago.”

All the way to Ankara

Oz, whose parents moved back to Turkey after many years in the United States, visits them every year and is known to enjoy close relations with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He is scheduled to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, and Boteach suggested that Oz might help the prime minister patch up relations with Turkey. “Mehmet celebrates his Turkish heritage, and he’s even going to Turkey after this trip, so I believe the prime minister will have a very substantive discussion with him about Israel’s relations with Turkey,” said Boteach. “Not that Mehmet is a diplomat, but he carries a lot of weight.”

Asked whether he would agree to take on this assignment, Oz said: “It’s not that I’m averse to playing a role in making people who are already friendly friendlier, despite the recent conflict, but there’s no question that I need to learn a lot more. I’m not there yet.”

Boteach said word had gotten to him that Netanyahu is a fan of “The Dr. Oz Show,” which is broadcast in Israel on the Good Health Channel. “Perhaps he’ll be asking Mehmet for some advice on health,” Boteach said.

Unlike other international celebrities, Oz said he had not been pressured by Israel boycott supporters to refrain from visiting the country. “We have an obligation and a responsibility to learn, and it’s very difficult to argue against learning,” he said, explaining his opposition to a boycott.

“I had never been to this country before, and I’m already in my 53rd year of life. I think it’s very difficult to understand the world if you don’t understand what’s going on in Israel, and that’s part of the reason I wanted to meet with the prime minister.”

So is it strange for him to be here as a Muslim?

“There are some vocal Muslims who are not friends of Israel, but I certainly have been exposed to many Muslims who are – friends not just of Israel but of Jewish people,” Oz said. “I feel like I’m living in a world where there are many opportunities to build bigger pies, but fighting for crumbs – not to belittle the conflict that’s happening here – it limits our ability to thrive.”

Based on his impressions of the past few days, Oz said Israelis seem not only to exercise more but also to eat more healthily than Americans. “They eat real food here,” he said, admitting that he did accompany Boteach for a bite at a kosher McDonald’s.

Any culinary discoveries that America’s guru on healthy eating and living intends to bring back home with him? “Oh yes,” he lights up. “Pickled herring in the morning – it’s just fantastic.”

 

Source

50 YEARS AFTER ‘THE DREAM’, THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES

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WHITE SKIN AMERICA
By Tom Karlson
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That White Skin

Another man gone done

He could not stand his ground                

Another man gone

Ah those riflin’

Standin’ your ground

Hoodie baitin’

Black skin huntin’

Legal lynchin’

Terrorizin’

White skinned privileged motherfucker

Judged prosecuted defended juried

Tag teamin’

three card Monty playin’

Strange fruit swingin’

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A shot to the heart

The dead man’s on trial

The shooter whines

Feared for his life

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The heads talk

And talk of

Post racial America

A black presidented America

A beyond reasonable doubt America

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Not a murmur

Of a million stop and frisks

A thousand legal lynchings

The 21st century Jim Crowed prison complex

And never not ever

0f white skin privileged America

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Another man done gone

He could not stand his ground

Another man done gone

Another man done gone

THE LANGUAGE OF POWER AND OTHER ISSUES

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Prepared by Nima Shirazi
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As expected, the dog whistles of war have began blowing again. And they’re as shrill as ever, regurgitating the same old talking points we’ve heard for decades now.  Whether from Obama’s pick for the next US Ambassador to the United Nations, a megalomaniacal, obsessed Israeli Prime Minister, or a delisted terrorist cult with deep pockets and well-connected friends, the media amplifies unfounded allegations as fact and fails, as usual, to challenge long-established narratives that lead inevitably to a misinformed and fearful public and the potential for unspeakable violence.

Below are links to a number of my recent posts on these (and some other) issues.

The Language of Power:

Obama’s “Humanitarian Hawk” & Israel’s New Gladiator at the UN
July 18, 2013

In her first appearance before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Samantha Power, Obama’s pick for next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, made clear that she will spend her time in the role much as her predecessor Susan Rice did: acting as Israel’s consummate defender, fear-mongering about Iran, and opposing any move to champion Palestinian human rights or self-determination.

In her confirmation hearing yesterday, Power revealed her adherence to AIPAC talking points, essentially working her way down the tried and true list of boilerplate phrases. Perhaps her most disturbing comments, however, were about Iran. She claimed that the Islamic Republic’s “continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat to international peace and security,” echoing precisely George W. Bush’s own UN Ambassador, perennial Iran hawk John Bolton, who in 2006, insisted to the UN Security Council that Iran, by “continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons…constituted a direct threat to international peace and security.”

 
[Read more]

July 16, 2013

In a renewed propaganda blitz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS‘ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” that Iran is getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and resurrected a number of embarrassing phrases including “red line,” “credible military threat” and something about ticking clocks.

Netanyahu has been leading the charge against Iran since the mid-1990s, warning of weapons programs that don’t exist and calling for sanctions and explicit military threats. His talking points since then literally have not changed and are identical to those he used to encourage the United States to invade Iraq a decade ago.

Here’s a reminder of why the Israeli Prime Minister’s CBS interview may actually have been a rerun…

On January 11, 1995, Benjamin Netanyahu told a nearly empty Knesset hearing that “within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material.”  His solution to this crisis? “[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S. It necessitates economic sanctions on Iran,” he declared.

Fourteen years later, then-Prime Ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu told an American Congressional delegation that Israeli “experts” determined Iranian nuclear weapons capability “was probably only one or two years away.”

 
[Read more]

July 13, 2013

Embracing its recent removal from the U.S. State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranianterror cult with deep pockets and close ties to the Washington establishment, is attempting to ramp up the fear-mongering and propaganda over Iran’s nuclear program following last month’s election of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani as the Islamic Republic’s next president.

In April 2013, the group opened an office in Washington DC and officially registeredas a lobbying organization the following month.

Now, a Reuters article from July 11, 2013 reported the MEK and its affiliate organizations such as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claim to have “obtained reliable information on a new and completely secret site designated for [Iran’s] nuclear project,” despite providing no credible evidence to back up the allegation.

 
[Read more]

Relax, Iran Isn’t Going to Withdraw from the NPT

July 11, 2013

An article in The Cairo Review by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former ambassador who served as spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005 under Hassan Rouhani, outlines five options for addressing the stand-off between the United States and Iran over the latter’s uranium enrichment and nuclear energy program.  The most striking option Mousavian floats is that Iran could potentially “[w]ithdraw from the NPT and all WMD treaties” and merely “substitute the treaties with the supreme leader’s religious fatwa banning all WMDs.”

“This move,” Mousavian writes, “will relieve Iran of its treaty obligations, which have been used by the West to place further sanctions on Tehran,” adding, “Withdrawing from the NPT has become an increasingly attractive option within the decision-making circles of the country,” because, he argues, “since the 1979 Revolution, the NPT has proven more harmful than beneficial for Iran.”

This argument, surprisingly coming from such a consistently reasoned and rationaldiplomat like Mousavian, doesn’t actually make much sense.  In fact, while it’s essentially the same suggestion that various Iranian parliamentarians have been making for a decade now out of frustration with Western duplicity and arrogance, Iranian policy towards the NPT has been consistent: as a charter member of the treaty, Iran abides by its tenets and will continue to do so.

 
[Read more]

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Nima Blogs AT
 

WHY IS ISRAEL SO AFRAID OF STEPHEN HAWKING?

  • What is clear today is that his action has forced Israelis – and the rest of the world – to understand that the status quo has a price. Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.*
    • Stephen Hawking’s support for the boycott of Israel is a turning point
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      Boycotting Israel as a stance for justice is going mainstream – Israelis can no longer pretend theirs is in an enlightened country
      • Ali Abunimah
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      • hawking
      • ‘Professor Hawking’s decision to respect the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has forced Israelis – and the rest of the world – to understand that the status quo has a price.’ Photograph: John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images
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        A standard objection to the Palestinian campaign for the boycott of Israel is that it would cut off “dialogue” and hurt the chances of peace. We’ve heard this again in the wake of Professor Stephen Hawking’s laudable decision to withdraw from Israel’s Presidential Conference in response to requests from Palestinian academics – but it would be hard to think of a more unconvincing position as far as Palestinians are concerned.

        One of the most deceptive aspects of the so-called peace process is the pretence that Palestinians and Israelis are two equal sides, equally at fault, equally responsible – thus erasing from view the brutal reality that Palestinians are an occupied, colonised people, dispossessed at the hands of one of the most powerful militaries on earth.

        For more than two decades, under the cover of this fiction, Palestinians have engaged in internationally-sponsored “peace talks” and other forms of dialogue, only to watch as Israel has continued to occupy, steal and settle their land, and to kill and maim thousands of people with impunity.

        While there are a handful of courageous dissenting Israeli voices, major Israeli institutions, especially the universities, have been complicit in this oppression by, for example, engaging in research and training partnerships with the Israeli army. Israel’s government has actively engaged academics, artists and other cultural figures in international “Brand Israel” campaigns to prettify the country’s image and distract attention from the oppression of Palestinians.

        The vast majority of Palestinians, meanwhile, have been disenfranchised by the official peace process as their fate has been placed in the hands of venal and comprised envoys such as Tony Blair, and US and EU governments that only seem to find the courage to implement international law and protect human rights when it comes to the transgressions of African or Arab states.

        When it comes to Israel’s abuses, governments around the world have offered nothing but lip service; while dozens of countries face US, EU or UN sanctions for far lesser transgressions, it has taken years for EU governments to even discuss timid steps such as labelling goods from illegal Israeli settlements, let alone actually banning them. Yet the peace process train trundles on – now with a new conductor in the form of John Kerry, the US secretary of state – but with no greater prospects of ever reaching its destination. So, enough talk already.

        The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) aims to change this dynamic. It puts the initiative back in the hands of Palestinians. The goal is to build pressure on Israel to respect the rights of all Palestinians by ending its occupation and blockade of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees who are currently excluded from returning to their homes just because they are not Jews; and abolishing all forms of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

        These demands are in line with universal human rights principles and would be unremarkable and uncontroversial in any other context, which is precisely why support for them is growing.

        BDS builds on a long tradition of popular resistance around the world: from within Palestine itself to the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Historically, boycotts work.

        During the 1980s opponents of sanctions against apartheid South Africa – including, notoriously, the late Margaret Thatcher – argued instead for “constructive engagement”. They were on the wrong side of history. Today, Palestinians are lectured to drop BDS and return to empty talks that are the present-day equivalent of constructive engagement.

        But there can be no going back to the days when Palestinians were silenced and only the strong were given a voice. There can be no going back to endless “dialogue” and fuzzy and toothless talk about “peace” that provides a cover for Israel to entrench its colonisation.

        When we look back in a few years, Hawking’s decision to respect BDS may be seen as a turning point – the moment when boycotting Israel as a stance for justice went mainstream.

        What is clear today is that his action has forced Israelis – and the rest of the world – to understand that the status quo has a price. Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.

         

        Written FOR Comment Is Free

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        Philip Weiss reports on Mondoweiss
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        Even Dershowitz had to pontificate on the matter …
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        Dershowitz said that his job is to protect Israel. He doesn’t care what Jews do inside Jewish life; he is concerned with external threats, like Stephen Hawking.
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        Dershowitz calls Hawking an ‘ignoramus,’ a ‘lemming,’ and likely an anti-Semite

        by Philip Weiss 
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        Last night at the City University of New York, Alan Dershowitz attacked the British physicist Stephen Hawking for cancelling a visit to Israel in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Dershowitz called Hawking an “ignoramus” and suggested he’s anti-Semitic, then said he is just another “lemming” being pressured by the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movement, which he said was gaining ground around the world.

        Dershowitz made these sober utterances in his third debate with liberal Zionist Peter Beinart over whether there’s a crisis for Zionism.

        It was an interesting discussion. Below are some excerpts. I’ll focus on Dershowitz’s and Beinart’s central disagreement over what is fueling the movement against the Jewish state, even inside American Jewish life–anti-Semitism or Israel’s actions. 

        Dershowitz said that his job is to protect Israel. He doesn’t care what Jews do inside Jewish life; he is concerned with external threats, like Stephen Hawking:

        If Jews choose to assimilate, that’s a question of free will, choice and freedom… But I defend Israel against its external enemies, external threats. My job is to protect Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people, along with many other people, from external threats so that Jews can obsess about their internal problems and drive themselves crazy. I want to get back to the point where we are divided and fight among each other and have these kinds of arguments– as long as the Stephen Hawkings of the world leave us alone and don’t try and destroy us.

        Dershowitz was most compelling when he deconstructed the idea of Jewish values and opposed Beinart’s call for more religious education. He sounded a lot like Israel Shahak and Yossi Gurvitz, criticizing the Jewish religion:

        Peter talks about Jewish values. I don’t know what that means, Jewish values. I’m as familiar with the Torah as Peter is. I can quote from all the wonderful parts of the Torah and the wonderful parts of the Talmud. But I also understand that for every wonderful part of the Torah and the Talmud, there’s at least  one perhaps two godawful parts that also represent the worst of Jewish values….

        [Peter] wants [Israel] to represent Peter’s Jewish values…. I like Peter’s Jewish values. I would much prefer that they [Israel] represent Peter’s Jewish values than Meir Kahane’s Jewish values because I like Peter’s Jewish values more than Meir Kahane’s, but I can’t tell you that Kahane’s are any less authentic.

        To the red meat. Moderator Ethan Bronner of the New York Times asked the anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism question. Bronner, the former Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times who was so often indifferent to Palestinian conditions in his reporting, is Jewish, and he ventured that “Israel is the central project of the Jewish people of the world,” the one thing that nearly every Jew has some link to.

        Bronner: If that’s true, is attacking Israel’s right to exist a form of anti-Semitism?

        Dershowitz: Let me put it this way, I have never met anybody except perhaps Palestinians who really give one good goddamn about the Palestinian people. The love of the Palestinian people is largely a function of the hatred of the nation state of the Jewish people. People who don’t care about the Kurds, who don’t care about the Armenians, who don’t care about the Tibetans, who didn’t give a damn about the Cambodians, who didn’t say a word about the people of Rwanda and the people of Darfur, suddenly have discovered the Palestinian people. The deep hatred that people have of Israel– I’m not talking about criticism; I was very actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement, I remember how strongly we felt about white South Africa, it didn’t come close to the kind of hatred that many people feel today about Israel. Let me put it this way, Stephen Hawkings [sic] would not refuse to attend a conference in a country that was equally oppressing another country, say China and Tibet, or Russia and Chechnya– it’s all about the fact that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. You cannot understand the hatred of Israel if you eliminate the fact that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Is that anti-Semitism? You know– you name it, I’m describing it.

        Dershowitz acknowledged that supporting Israel has become an embarrassment because of the shift in attitude on campus and in Europe, toward what he described as politically-correct anti-Semitism. This also explains Stephen Hawking’s defection.

        Dershowitz: In 1967 Jews were able to beat their chest and say wow we’re proud to be Israel, look how tough Israelis are. It was a source of pride. Today it’s a source of embarrassment.

        Bronner: Because of the occupation.

        No. Because of their friends, because of Stephen Hawking. Because of the Brits. No, it’s not about the occupation. If the occupation ended tomorrow, you would find the same… He [Hawking] accepted the invitation two months ago. What happened– did the Israelis start the occupation in the last two months? He got a lot of pressure in 2 months. What we’re seeing is, Today if you go to dinner at a university dinner, and you speak up on behalf of Israel, in favor of Israel, it is an embarrassment. It is not an embarrassment because of what Israel is doing but because of what Israel is. And the BDS movement is growing and the BDS movement does not talk about the occupation. The occupation BDS talks about is the occupation of 1948, the occupation from the ocean to the sea. [sic]

        Beinart took sharp issue with that analysis. He said that what is driving world opinion and many young Jews away from support for Israel is the condition of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

        Beinart: It’s definitely true that there are a lot of people who don’t want Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and there are many important people in the BDS movement who take that view. But if you don’t believe that their efforts are being fueled by people’s anger at what happens in the West Bank and Gaza, you’re just not connected to reality. And this is the problem with the Jewish community. We go to Israel all the time, and it’s wonderful. But where we don’t go– on Birthright, our synagogue trips– we don’t go to experience Palestinian life in the West Bank. And as a result, we are disproportionately ignorant. It’s actually the non-Jews who go and see those things. And when you go and see those things– I was there last week. Believe me, there’s an Israeli flag on my kid’s wall, I love Israel. It is deeply, deeply upsetting and deeply angering to see the way that people are forced to live because they lack [unintelligible]. It is that anger which is leading to the BDS anti-Zionists getting more and more support, and leading to those Jewish kids hearing from their friends…

        Dershowitz: They’ve never seen the West Bank. They are just being politically correct. They are being lemmings, who are being led the way the ignoramus Stephen Hawking who doesn’t know anything about the Middle East was led, by pressure from his fellow academics. That’s what it’s about today. It’s an embarrassment.

        Beinart and Dershowitz argued about how democratic Israel is. Dershowitz expressed some indifference about the matter. “Israel’s soul will take care of itself, so long as [its] body is kept intact,” he said, then quoted Scripture to make the point that he wants Israel to survive and be stronger than all its neighbors, more than he wants it to have peace. 

        Beinart: The message of [the Israeli documentary] The Gatekeepers is precisely that Israel’s ethical character and its physical security are intertwined. This was the bet that Israel’s founders made when they yoked Zionism to democracy, that ultimately if Israel surrendered its democratic character it would not be able to survive physically. Because in today’s age, any nondemocratic government is living on borrowed time. Any nondemocratic government has a huge legitimacy problem in today’s world, and that’s why you can’t distinguish so easily Israel’s democratic survival and its physical survival.

        Dershowitz: I don’t disagree with that, but… the worst case scenario Israel is still among the top 5 or 10 percent of the countries in the world in terms of democratic values–

        Beinart: Not on the West Bank–

        Dershowitz: in terms of the judiciary, in terms of the rule of law, in terms of equality of women, equality of  gays.  Israel’s soul is not in grave turmoil today.

        Beinart: Alan– Alan– Alan– have you been to–

        Dershowitz: It could improve. It could get matter. Israel on the West Bank, the worst case scenario, Israel on the West Bank is more democratic than any Arab or Muslim state in the world today. And there is more democracy on the West Bank, more freedom of speech, more freedom to criticize, more freedom to get an education. I think Israel on the West Bank is a three or four on a scale of ten.

        Beinart: You need to spend more time there.

        Dershowitz: I spend a lot of time there.

        Beinart. Go to Shuhada street [in Hebron], where Palestinians are literally not allowed to walk on that street even if they live on that street and tell me that Israel’s soul in Hebron is doing well.

        Dershowitz. You don’t look at one place–

        Beinart said that Palestinians’ inability to vote for the government that is determining their lives is the reason there is a global campaign to delegitimize Israel. If those Palestinians did have the vote, there would have been a “radically different outcome” in the last Israel election.

        Dershowitz challenged Beinart: But Israelis chose that government, and it supports the occupation; what would you do to overrule them, impeach Netanyahu?

        Beinart: We stand up as Americans and say this is bad for American national security. And we stand up as Jews and say that Our honor is on the line in the question of how Jews use power…. That’s what we do.

        An excellent speech. Beinart concluded by addressing the power of the Israel lobby.

        Beinart: Look Israel is not going to– the United States is Israel’s only important strategic partner in the world. If the U.S. president said that the relationship with the United States is going to change if you don’t support the ’67 parameters, believe me, the Israeli government would fall.

        Dershowitz responded with Bill Kristol’s warning to another liberal Zionist on the Upper West Side a year or so back: he warned Beinart against sitting in comfort in New York and telling the Israelis how to behave.

        Beinart: We have a right to decide what is best for the United States. I believe that America must always support Israel’s security interest… But we as Americans and Jews do not have to fund and support the settlement enterprise that is destroying Israel’s democratic character…. We can have a president who said that very loudly…

         

OBAMA’S VISIT TO ISRAEL PROMISES NO CHANGE

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President Obama will arrive in Israel for a whirlwind tour this coming Wednesday. Below you will find a video of where he will be making stops ….
… But more importantly is where he won’t be making stops;
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He won’t be stopping at Sheikh Jarrah to take part in the weekly demonstation in support of families evicted from their homes by illegal settlers.
He won’t be stopping at Al Aqsa Mosque on Friday to see the restrictions put on Muslims who want to pray there.
He won’t be stopping at Bil’in on Friday to see the weekly protest against the wall of apartheid.
He won’t be visiting families of children massacred by the occupation forces.
He won’t be visiting Gaza to see the devastation there resulting from Israel’s attacks.
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No, there appears to be no interest in the results of US Tax Dollars being poured into the country used to destroy the little that is left of Palestine.
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Yes, this will be a visit that promises NO CHANGE to the region.
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Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes previews the President’s trip to Israel, The West Bank and Jordan
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The new mantra…
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NO WE WON’T!

DOES GOD WANT A WAR WITH IRAN?

Ask a rabbi 😉

Israeli defense officials consult with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef over Iran strike

Some want the spiritual leader of Haredi party Shas to support a strike, others to oppose it. At least one visit, in which the rabbi was briefed on Iran’s nuclear program, came at Netanyahu’s behest.

By Yair Ettinger and Barak Ravid
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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Photo by Michal Fattal
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Senior defense officials have recently been visiting the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to discuss a possible Israeli attack on Iran.

Some want the 91-year-old rabbi to support it, others to oppose it. At least one visit, in which the rabbi was briefed on Iran’s nuclear program, came at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is battling for support in the cabinet to strike Iran.

One of the visitors to Yosef’s Jerusalem home was National Security Council head Ya’akov Amidror, accompanied by Interior Minister and Shas political leader Eli Yishai, the Kikar Hashabat website reported.

Yishai reportedly objects to an Israeli attack on Iran in the current circumstances, although he has not made his position clear in public.

It is not known whether Amidror or any of the others succeeded in persuading Yosef. However, on Saturday evening, a day after his meeting with Amidror, Yosef said in his weekly sermon: “You know what situation we’re in, there are evil people, Iran, about to destroy us. … We must pray before [the almighty] with all our heart.”

Meanwhile, opposition head MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima ) on Monday demanded clarifications from Netanyahu over his “intention to lead Israel into war with Iran,” saying the costs of such a war would far outweigh its benefits. Mofaz also implied that Netanyahu was opening a rift with the Obama administration in an attempt to influence the November 6 U.S. presidential election, in which the prime minister is widely seen as favoring Republican Mitt Romney.

The Kadima leader wrote Netanyahu a letter asking for an urgent meeting on his plans. According to law, the prime minister must brief the opposition head on a monthly basis.

Mofaz attached a classified document, copies of which were sent to the defense minister, attorney general and chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. According to Army Radio, the attached document included a number of questions concerning Israel’s preparedness for a war with Iran and relations with the United States.

Mofaz also asked for explanations of the official American position regarding an attack, and the degree of understanding between Washington and Israel in terms of intelligence, operations, the economy and the political arena.

The Kadima chairman added that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would achieve limited results, alongside “loss of life, grave damage to the home front and deep erosion of Israel’s political situation.

“Such action is immoral and operationally illogical under the circumstances,” he wrote.

Mofaz criticized Netanyahu for his handling of relations with the United States. “What is the real goal behind widening the rift with the United States?” he asked. “Administration officials have clearly demonstrated to you, to the defense minister and to myself the dramatic ramifications of an Israeli operation, which would [constitute] a blunt and illegitimate intervention in internal U.S. political processes in the run-up to the presidential election in November this year,” he wrote.

He slammed Netanyahu’s response to President Shimon Peres’ public objection to an attack. “The unrestrained attack you led against the president over the weekend points to a general loss of senses and control,” he wrote.

Also, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday night that the United States and Israel have different interpretations of the same intelligence reports on Iran’s nuclear program. Dempsey said Israel viewed the threat posed by Tehran’s atomic ambitions with more urgency, as a nuclear-armed Iran could endanger Israel’s existence.

Dempsey said he conferred with his Israeli counterpart Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on a “biweekly” basis. “We compare intelligence, we discuss regional implications. And we’ve admitted to each other that our clocks are turning at different rates,” he said.

Dempsey said the U.S. military felt no pressure from Israel to back possible bombing raids. Speaking to reporters aboard his plane before landing Sunday night at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, Dempsey reiterated his view that any air strikes by Israel would delay but not destroy Iran’s disputed nuclear project.

Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said on Monday that Israelis were “afraid of their own shadow (and are ) therefore trying to control this disappointing atmosphere by brouhaha and psychological warfare, but should know that propaganda will not resolve their problems.”

Written FOR

ISRAEL / IRAN: POINTS OF NO RETURN

As it was, so it is again.  An incumbent president is in full campaign mode and a challenger is pledging eternal fealty to Israeli militarism and Zionist expansionism.  Such was 2004, so it is again.  And through it all, the Israeli government, despite making its preferences clear, feigns neutrality.
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Points of No Return, Zones of Immunity, & Windows of Opportunity: The Constant Israeli Hype Over Iran

Nima Shirazi*

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“For the greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”

– President John F. Kennedy, June 1962

“Propaganda by its very nature is an enterprise for perverting the significance of events and of insinuating false intentions…The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed; he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime that he himself is about to commit. He who wants to provoke a war not only proclaims his own peaceful intentions but also accuses the other party of provocation.”

Jacques Ellul, 1965

A report in The Times of London, with the headline “Israel steps up plan for air attacks on Iran”, enumerates the various “options” and “military contingency plans” available to the Israeli military in order to “neutralise” Iran’s “nuclear weapons programme.”  Journalist Christopher Walker writes that Israeli “[m]ilitary planners are studying” the possibility of “hitting Iranian missile plants…with the ‘long arm’ of its airforce or targeting foreign scientists at the facilities rather than the buildings themselves.”  He adds that “surgical air strikes” would be carried out by “advanced F-15I fighter planes.”

The piece also quotes the Israeli Defense Minister as warning, “A country like Iran possessing such long range weaponry – a country that lacks stability, that is characterised by Islamic fundamentalism, by an extremist ideology that is striving to become a superpower in the Middle East – is very dangerous.”

Another alarming article, this one in The Washington Times, begins this way:

Reports that Israel is preparing for pre-emptive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities and is now able to fire nuclear missiles from submarines were seen as reflecting deep anxiety in Israel for Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israeli newspapers said officials appear to have leaked the reports in an attempt to focus the attention of the international community on the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons development.

In The New York Times, Hebrew University professor Martin van Creveld writes of the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, explaining, “With the United States now in the midst of a hotly disputed election campaign,” if the Israeli Prime Minister “wanted to act, the time to do so would be between now and November.”

The first report is from December 9, 1997.  The second from October 13, 2003.  The third was published on August 21, 2004.

It is now August 2012.  Another election cycle is nearing an end and with it as always comes the same tired fearmongering and war hysteriaThreats and predictions of an unprovoked, illegal Israeli assault on Iran are once again flooding the media with dire warnings of fabricated and meaningless – but sufficiently spooky – phrases such as Iran’s supposedly loomingzone of immunity,” which until recently was ominously dubbed thepoint of no return.”  We’ve been through this charade for three decades with no end in sight.

Early this month, Israeli national security adviser Ephraim Halevy, who was once director of Mossad, was quoted as saying that if he were Iranian he “would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”  Meanwhile, Iranian diplomats continue to assert that the Islamic Republic has no intention of attacking Israel.  “We will react if there is any provocative act from the other side,” Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporter Laura Rozen just a month ago. “We will not initiate any provocative steps.”

Iran’s defense doctrine has been reaffirmed at the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community.  Earlier this year, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Ronald Burgess told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his agency continues to assess that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”

On the very same day that the editors of the New York Daily News took their cues from Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren to warn that “Tehran is on the verge of being able to produce a bomb,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council maintained that U.S. intelligence “continue[s] to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”

Last week, reliable Netanyahu administration mouthpiece Barak Ravid reported in Ha’aretz that “[n]ew intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing components for its nuclear weapons program than the West had previously realized.”  He also published an article claiming that “President Barack Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel’s view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability,” adding that the alleged report contains “new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Not only was Ravid’s reporting – tactlessly and transparently planted by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barakfull of evidence-free claims by the MEK and over-hyped falsehoods about a secret detonation chamber and atomic particles washed away from an Iranian military installation legally off-limits to IAEA inspectors that have long been debunked, it’s main scoop was immediately denied by the Obama administration.  In response to Ravid’s claims, Reuters reported a National Security Council spokesman as saying that “U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.”  Both the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess have consistently assessed that Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Essentially confirming suspicions that he was the source of Ravid’s information, Ehud Barak told Israel Radio,  “There probably really is such an American intelligence report…making its way around senior offices” in Washington that, “makes the Iranian issue even more urgent and (shows it is) less clear and certain that we will know everything in time about their steady progress toward military nuclear capability.”

That’s right: probably really.

Ehud Barak even resorted to totally inapplicable and inappropriate historical analogies to anonymously fear-monger about Iran.  Utilizing the ultimate in Zionist emotional blackmail and hasbara, Barak evoked the threat of Nazi Germany: “What happened in the Rhine in 1936 will be child’s play compared to what will happen with Iran,” he declared.

Seemingly responding to former Mossad head Meir Dagan’s January 2011 determination that Israel “should use military force only if it is attacked, or if it has ‘a sword at its neck,'” Barak also pulled the phony, back-up-against-a-corner, self-defense card: “The sword at our throat is a lot sharper than the sword at our throat before the Six-Day War,” he told Ha’aretz.

Neither of these claims makes any sense.  That Iran is not the industrialized, military powerhouse that Nazi Germany was, nor does it have any expansionist or genocidal goals, hardly merits attention.  With regard to the Six-Day War, Barak is hoping his audience knows nothing of history.  The Israeli attack on Egypt that began the war was not a preemptive act of self-defense, but rather an aggressive military action.  Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin even admitted in 1982, “In June 1967 we again had a choice.  The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us.  We must be honest with ourselves.  We decided to attack him.”

Speaking to reporters on August 10, White House spokesman Jay Carney revealed that, with regard to U.S. intelligence on the Iranian nuclear energy program, “we have eyes, we have visibility into the program, and we would know if and when Iran made a — what’s called a ‘breakout move’ towards acquiring a weapon.”

Furthermore, Carney bragged about his administration’s deliberate imposition upon the Iranian people of “the most stringent sanctions ever imposed on any country,” which he said are “designed to take advantage of what we believe remains to be a window of opportunity to persuade Iran through these sanctions and through diplomatic efforts to forego its nuclear weapons ambitions.”

Window of opportunity. Zone of immunity.  Point of no return.  All options on the table.  Credible military threat.

Such hype, based on dubious claims and false information, is nothing new when it comes to American and Israeli warmongering.  For instance, a CBS News report from August 18, 2002 stated, “Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence that Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons, said [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon aide Ranaan Gissin.”  The article quotes Gissin: “Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose.  It will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.”

Similarly, this past weekend, The New York Times reported that Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called upon the P5+1 (the five nuclear-armed permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) to “declare today that the talks [with Iran] have failed” and demand Iran cease all nuclear activity within a matter of “weeks.”  When Iran obviously does not comply, as such a demand is ludicrous and a direct abrogation of Iran’s inalienable rights, Ayalon said “it will be clear that all options are on the table.”

The threats of war come not only from politicians, but also – as it has before – from pundits and the press.

In a memorandum highlighting a particularly alarmist and dishonest speech delivered by Vice President Dick Cheney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention on August 26, 2002, neoconservative rainmaker Bill Kristol wrote, “The time for action grows near. Congressional leaders should seriously consider a resolution authorizing use of force when they return next week. Passing such a resolution as soon as possible would provide the president with maximum flexibility and an opportunity for tactical surprise, would strengthen his hand vis-a-vis our allies, and might embolden internal opposition in Iraq.”

Nearly a decade later, a Weekly Standard opinion piece published July 2, 2012 and co-authored by Kristol declared, “Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.”

The repetition of rhetoric advocating military violence in the form of initiating a “war of aggression” – long considered “the supreme international crime” – has never been limited only to neoconservative hawks.  For example, the warmongering of so-called “liberal” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is virtually indistinguishable from that of Kristol.

In February 2003, following Colin Powell’s dazzling display of lies before the United Nations Security Council, Cohen wrote that Iraq “without a doubt” maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Such was Cohen’s certainty that he added, “Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.”

This year, Cohen has been at it again, this time arguing that Israel has good reason to attack Iran, claiming that, while “the ultimate remedy is Iranian regime change,” which Cohen insists is “not as improbable as it sounds,” in the meantime, an Israeli assault “could accomplish quite a lot.”  His reasoning is based on a total misunderstanding of historical events, wholesale contempt for international law, blind acceptance of selective Israeli and American allegations, and willfully ignoring consistently reaffirmed assessments of U.S. intelligence and IAEA inspections.

Inexplicably, this man still has a job.

As it was, so it is again.  An incumbent president is in full campaign mode and a challenger is pledging eternal fealty to Israeli militarism and Zionist expansionism.  Such was 2004, so it is again.  And through it all, the Israeli government, despite making its preferences clear, feigns neutrality.

In a September 7, 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared, “I don’t interfere in elections. I never interfere in elections in other countries, and I hope that they will never interfere here either. I have no need to interfere and it is forbidden to interfere.”  He added, “It is no secret that the US is Israel’s devoted friend. There is a traditional friendship between the US and Israel. It is mutual.”

In a letter to The New York Times published on April 12, 2012, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren wrote, “Israel does not interfere in internal political affairs of the United States…and greatly values the wide bipartisan support it enjoys in America.”

And yet Oren continues to insist that the Israeli clock “is ticking faster” and claims “Israel, not the United States, is threatened almost weekly, if not daily, with annihilation by Iranian leaders.”  He declares diplomacy dead and suggests “that truly crippling sanctions together with a credible military threat – and that I stress, that’s a threat; not that we just say that it’s credible, the folks in Tehran have to believe us when we say that – may still deter them. But we also have to be prepared, as President Obama has said, to keep all options on the table, including a military option.”

Oren’s explicit call for not only collective punishment but a “credible military threat” – echoing the demands of his boss Netanyahu – is in fact a direct violation of the Chapter 1, Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter which declares, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Nevertheless, the threats and speculations continue unabated with Israel always residing safely within its own zone of impunity.  Though highlycredentialed foreign policy experts, in addition to many military and defense officials, warn against the wisdom of an Israeli attack, rarely – if ever – does anyone explain that such action would unequivocally constitute a war crime.  This same scenario repeats year after year.

In his 1997 book Open Secrets: Israeli Foreign and Nuclear Policies, Holocaust survivor and Israeli professor Israel Shahak wrote,

Since the spring of 1992, public opinion in Israel is being prepared for the prospect of a war with Iran, to be fought to bring about Iran’s total military and political defeat. In one version, Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would ‘persuade’ the West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear weapons as it is expected to a few years hence. (p.54)

We’ve been seeing exactly this situation play out with increasing frequency.  Last summer, Ha’aretz reporter Ari Shavit, this regarding the constant Israeli “threat of a military attack against Iran,” wrote:

This threat is crucial for scaring the Iranians and for goading on the Americans and the Europeans. It is also crucial for spurring on the Chinese and the Russians. Israel must not behave like an insane country. Rather, it must create the fear that if it is pushed into a corner it will behave insanely. To ensure that Israel is not forced to bomb Iran, it must maintain the impression that it is about to bomb Iran.

Yet the Iranian government isn’t falling for the bluff, despite the fact that, with inhumane sanctions, the murders of Iranian civilians, drone surveillance, covert operations, support for Iranian terrorist groups,  and continuing cyberwar, the United States and Israel are already violating Iranian sovereignty and imposing lethal violence and forced deprivation on the Iranian people and their country.

But even an air strike, let alone a full-scale war, won’t happenProbably really.

Aboard Air Force One last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that “the President remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and that we are leading an international effort to — yes, something exciting happened in soccer.  Sorry, excuse me, now I’m distracted.”

Carney had the right idea.  We should all be so distracted.

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