Aletho News


China, Russia helping Zimbabwe ride out West’s bullying

The BRICS Post | January 8, 2016

The year 2016 promises to see the deepening of Zimbabwe’s relations with Russia and China, old friends who supported our quest to overthrow colonialism as long ago as the 1950s.

Both Russia and China are stepping up economic investment in Zimbabwe. They are also continuing to oppose the illegal sanctions the West has imposed on us — a blatant attempt to change an elected government by crippling our economy in the hope that the masses would rise up against it.

Yet this hope has proved utterly false, as the people of Zimbabwe refuse to adopt the West’s notions about how to conduct our sovereign affairs.

Russia’s biggest economic commitment to Zimbabwe to date was its agreement in September 2014 to invest $3 billion in what will be Zimbabwe’s largest platinum mine.

What will set this investment apart from those that have been in Zimbabwe for decades is that the project will see the installation of a refinery to add value, thereby creating more employment and secondary industries. The Darwendale operation near our capital of Harare is expected to produce 600,000 ounces of platinum a year when it reaches capacity.

We are confident that this is just the start of a Russia-Zimbabwe economic partnership that will blossom in coming years. Our two countries are discussing other mining deals in addition to energy, agriculture, manufacturing and industrial projects. Russia also continues to assist Zimbabwe in training young Zimbabweans in special-skills areas such as medicine, general engineering, agricultural engineering and many other disciplines.

Groundwork was laid for expanding trade and investment when Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe met President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in May 2015.

A few months after their meeting in December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Zimbabwe, where he announced 10 economic agreements worth billions of dollars.

China is already our largest trading partner outside the continent, and the new investments will have a major impact on our economy.

Of particular importance is a billion-dollar deal that will help Zimbabwe overcome the critical shortage of electricity that prevents us from realizing our full economic potential.

Under the agreement, China will expand the capacity of our largest electric-generating facility at Hwange in western Zimbabwe, while the Chinese-funded Kariba South power extension project — adding 300 MW to the grid — will be commissioned within the next 18 months.

Another deal will involve China financing the installation of fiber-optic cable to help us expand our high-speed Internet system. It is the government’s desire to ensure that every corner of the country has access to modern communication systems, including the Internet. This will facilitate trade and commerce, as the better a country‘s Internet, the greater its chances of boosting its industrial efficiency and developing its own high-tech sector.

China has also agreed to build a pharmaceutical distribution center in Zimbabwe. The facility will assist the government in improving the health delivery system, which has long been burdened by the debilitating illegal sanctions. This will allow us to provide medicine to all hospitals and clinics at affordable prices. But in addition to creating jobs, it will also give us a key piece of infrastructure that we can use to build out the domestic pharmaceutical industry.

China has not only become the biggest investor in Zimbabwe, but in all of Africa in recent years. Alarmed and envious of China’s expanding investment on the continent, the West has tried to portray China as trying to set up its own neocolonialist system in Africa.

Zimbabwe rejects that notion. China has proved a reliable development partner. It has not dictated terms of cooperation with us. Instead the parties have negotiated and agreed to the terms under which economic cooperation is to be consummated. Such agreements take into account the need to empower our own people by accepting that mineral resources are finite.

We highly appreciate both Russia’s and China’s opposition to the West’s efforts to harm our economy through illegal sanctions. They adamantly believe that such sanctions are illegal infringements on sovereignty because they are designed to intimidate a sanctioned country into adopting those policies that the West prefers, as opposed to those that it believes are in its best interest.

But Russia and China have not just talked the talk in opposing sanctions against Zimbabwe. They have walked the walk. In addition to investing in our country in defiance of the sanctions, they vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on July 11, 2008 that sought to impose further sanctions.

The African Union has joined Russia and China in resisting Western efforts to bully Zimbabwe. Its most important show of support was defying the West by naming President Mugabe the chairman of the AU in February 2015. Many Western governments had called publicly for the AU not to give Zimbabwe the chairmanship. These calls, however, fell on deaf ears.

As long as Zimbabwe refuses to dance to the West’s wishes it will remain sanctioned indefinitely. Yet we have already lived under these sanctions for 16 years and believe that the worst is over. Sanctions cannot defeat the human spirit, no matter how hurtful they might be.

We are thankful for the AU’s support and are confident that the illegal sanctions will fail to bring us to our knees as the West so desires.

With the support that Zimbabwe is receiving from China and Russia — two powerful nations — as well as an increasingly progressive mankind, we have entered 2016 with greater hope, optimism and confidence. We look forward to positive changes in the living standards of our people.

We thank everyone who has steadfastly stood with us in 2015 and look forward to their continued support in 2016.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 4 Comments

‘Male-dominant migrant wave threatens Europe’s gender equality’

RT | January 8, 2016

As European nations continue to accept thousands of refugees, officials are failing to consider that most young adults entering are males, a fact that could have a huge impact on gender equality, says Valerie Hudson, professor at Texas A&M University.

Critics of Europe’s loose and liberal policy towards refugees flooding its shores were galvanized by the harrowing news out of Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve.

According to an internal report by Germany’s state police, the Bundespolizei, obtained by DER SPIEGEL, it was written by an official that “[W]omen, accompanied or not, literally ran a ‘gauntlet’ through masses of heavily intoxicated men that words cannot describe.”

RT spoke with Professor Valerie Hudson on a subject that European leaders are apparently ignoring as they continue to open the door to thousands of migrants from North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East with little or no concern for the sex-ratio makeup of the arrivals.

RT:  The majority of migrants arriving in Europe are young unmarried males. How could that affect the overall social and cultural landscape on the continent?

Valerie Hudson: Over two-thirds of the migrants in this wave are male. As far as Sweden is concerned, I put to one side adult males because one never knows if adult males may be bringing a family subsequently. I looked primarily at older teens – 16-17 years old – and what I found is that most of these are unaccompanied and over 90 percent are male and that means a significant alteration in the sex ratios for Sweden for that age group. My calculations show that there are now approximately 125 boys aged 16-17 for every 100 girls aged 16-17 in Sweden. That is highly abnormal. It is significantly more abnormal than China, whose sex ratio for this age group – due to the problems of the one-child policy – is only 117 boys for every 100 girls aged 16-17.

RT:  Norway has a government-run program teaching migrants how to treat women. Meanwhile in Germany, we now have the Cologne mayor calling on women to alter their behavior around men. Which is the way to go?

VH: That’s an excellent question. What boggles my mind is that no one in Europe has been asking this question. I’ve been studying societies with abnormal sex ratios favoring males for over 20 years… and I can tell you on the basis of my research that societies with highly masculinized sex ratios, that is, with far more men than women in the young adult age group, are unstable. They have higher rates of violent crime, property crime, crimes against women. Women’s freedom to move about in an unconstrained manner is curtailed and there is also a very high demand for prostitution and trafficked women to fill that need, that demand. And so I think someone should be asking whether the alteration in the sex ratio for Europe is not a tragic loss for the women of Europe, for ideals of gender equality in Europe and so forth.

RT:  One attacker in Cologne was quoted as saying that “they should be treated kindly as Merkel has invited them”. Could it be that migrants indeed have a sense of entitlement when coming to Europe?

VH: There are two issues here, and they’re separate issues. One is the question of assimilation, the idea that many of the migrants are coming from cultures in which women are perhaps not viewed as the equals of men, and standards of modesty, standards of male-female interaction in public spaces is vastly different. So yes, anything that one can do to ease assimilation would be helpful.

But there’s a second problem, and it’s the second problem that I’ve been dealing with, which is: It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about migrants from Afghanistan or Greek Orthodox migrants or Hindu migrants. When you get masculinized sex ratios – even if it has nothing to do with migration, like we see in India – you’re going to get these same problems of crime and instability and curtailment of movement for women. So it’s not simply an assimilation issue; it’s also a sex-ratio issue. Canada for one has taken a different approach to migration… it will not allow in unaccompanied males unless they are of a particularly vulnerable group, like gay men. They are refusing to allow these alterations in their sex ratio to take place, and I think it behooves European countries to think about similar measures.

RT:  Could there be any backlash from local politicians pushing citizens to change their ways for accommodating migrants?

VH: Well, there ought to be backlash to this. The rest of the world looks to North and Northwestern Europe as the shining example of how a society can achieve gender equality. On any measure of women’s rights or gender equality, nations like Sweden and Norway are at the top of the heap. What a tragic loss it would be not just for those countries, but for the world. For those nations to now say their women: ‘You know, maybe you should stay home on nights of public festivals; maybe you should dress differently.’

Women in Europe fought not for decades but centuries to create the kind of culture where gender equality could flourish. Sweden prides itself on having a feminist foreign policy; Sweden prides itself on having a complete abolitionist approach to prostitution. These are countries that have embraced feminism. So to now turn around and say ‘You know women, maybe you should alter your behavior,’ isn’t that a stunning loss for these nations?

What has been missing in this debate is that a normal balanced sex ratio is a very precious thing. It is a public good. And the state government has an absolute obligation to its citizens to attempt to preserve that normal balanced sex ratio. So to the extent that they have neglected this issue, that it has not even made it onto their radar screen, is actually an indictment of the leadership.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Taking on the Nuclear Goliath

By Robert Koehler | CounterPunch | January 8, 2016

“Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And . . . as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.

“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”


These words, the core of President Obama’s first major foreign policy speech, delivered in Prague in April 2009, now resonate with nothing so much as toxic irony — these pretty words, these words of false hope, which disappeared into Washington’s military-industrial consensus and failed to materialize into action or policy.

James Carroll, writing at Mother Jones in 2013, describes what happened in the wake of this extraordinary policy declaration:

“In order to get the votes of Senate Republicans to ratify the START treaty, Obama made what turned out to be a devil’s bargain. He agreed to lay the groundwork for a vast ‘modernization’ of the US nuclear arsenal, which, in the name of updating an aged system, is already morphing into a full-blown reinvention of the arms cache at an estimated future cost of more than a trillion dollars. In the process, the Navy wants, and may get 12 new strategic submarines; the Air Force wants, and may get a new long-range strike bomber force. Bombers and submarines would, of course, both be outfitted with next-generation missiles, and we’d be off to the races. The arms races.”

And the cause of global nuclear disarmament, once a dream with geopolitical cred, may wind up entombed in eternal apathy. As Carroll put it: “Nuclear abolition itself is being abolished.”
But I refuse to believe that. What I do believe is that change of such magnitude simply cannot emerge from the actions of top-down leadership, even sentimentally sympathetic leadership like Obama’s, until a counterforce for disarmament is able to stand eyeball to eyeball with world decision makers and the military-industrial matrix in which they operate.

Say hello to the Marshall Islands, the tiny, heroic island nation in Micronesia, with a population just over 70,000. This former U.S. territory, which still bears the terrible scars of 67 above-ground nuclear blasts between 1946 and 1958, when this country used it as an expendable nuclear test site, has engaged the United States — and, indeed, all nine nations that possess nuclear weapons — in lawsuits demanding that they comply with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and begin the process of negotiating global nuclear disarmament.

Specifically, the lawsuits — filed both in the International Court of Justice in the Hague and U.S. federal court — are demanding compliance with Article VI of the treaty, signed by the U.S. in 1970, which reads: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

General and complete disarmament…

Do these words actually have meaning? Right now the Marshall Islands stand alone among the nations of Planet Earth in believing that they do.

The U.S. suit was filed in April 2014 and dismissed as “speculative.” This ruling was appealed, the appeal was contested, and last month the attorneys for the Marshall Islands filed their reply brief, challenging, among other things, the U.S. government’s contention that an international treaty is the province of the Executive Branch to comply with (or ignore) as it chooses.

The brief is demanding that the Judicial Branch assert itself in this matter and rule on the island nation’s claims that A) as a signatory to the treaty, it is owed U.S. compliance to negotiate disarmament in good faith and dismantle its own nuclear weapons cache rather than upgrade it; and B) U.S. failure to do so creates a “measurable increased risk of nuclear danger” for the Marshall Island (and, of course, everyone else on the planet).

There’s no clear time frame for what will happen next, but at some point, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will either uphold the case’s dismissal or call for oral arguments to proceed.

“Under the treaty, they are obligated to do what they said they were going to do,” David Krieger, president of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, which is working with the Marshall Islands on its case, said to me. The case alerts the public to how its interests are “being jeopardized by the failure of nuclear-armed countries to fulfill their obligations.”

Today, as I write this, North Korea is claiming that it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb; if true, this is seriously disheartening news for the rest of the planet, and the claim is reaping universal condemnation. But the nuclear-armed nations aren’t condemning themselves for doing the same thing. Clearly, such enormous power is difficult — if not impossible — to give up on one’s own.

Is there a force for peace that can break this impasse? A tiny, wounded nation, which is still reaping the consequences of being forced to serve as a nuclear testing ground, says yes there is. The challenge is real, not symbolic. It’s also unprecedented. Multiply their effort by the hopes of almost everyone on the planet and maybe we could produce a leader who means what he says:
“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The Frontline of Hasbara is on PBS

By Andrew Stewart | CounterPunch | January 8, 2016

On January 5, 2015, PBS aired a new Frontline documentary NETANYAHU AT WAR, a profile of the troubled relationship between the Israeli Prime Minister and President Obama. It is now available on the PBS website in some markets and will perhaps be on other platforms such as Netflix, who have previously carried Frontline specials.

The film is typical of what we should now call Hasbara 2.0. No longer are we subjected to the Irving Howe-styled apologias wherein Israel is some great social democratic wonderland besieged by the terrorist Arabs. Now we are given a much more nuanced vision where there are problematic Israelis (here, the antihero of our narrative, Bibi) but where a criminal like the late Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin is a fallen hero and American presidents like Bill Clinton and Obama are the poor Sampsons who are betrayed by Likudnik Delilah. In other words, it is a complete and utter farce that unfortunately deceives many people.

The point to begin with is the interviewees. The talking heads here are not experts on the topic, like Dr. Norman Finkelstein or Dr. Ilan Pappe. Instead, we get Peter Beinart, Avi Shavit, and David Remnick regurgitating Beltway gossip and Tel Aviv talking points like they are great chroniclers of the modern realpolitik. For the Palestinians, we have the voice of Saeb Erekat, the negotiator whose diplomatic skills were summed up best by Dr. Finkelstein:

Abbas and his imbecile sidekick Saeb Erekat are playing good cop/bad cop. Abbas says “yes, this agreement might work,” whereas Erekat whispers to the media—you know, the “senior Palestinian negotiator who doesn’t want to be identified”—that “oh, this agreement is horrible, it’s terrible, it’s awful, they can shove it.” Erekat thinks that’s being clever, it’s putting pressure on the Americans, as if anyone on god’s earth gives a flying fig what Erekat has to say about anything.

Ergo, if PBS thinks getting Erekat on the record is a big score, we are in for a travesty.

On the American side, we have the likes of Dennis Ross, Sandy Berger, and Martin Indyk giving high praises to the Oslo years and Clinton’s annexation process. Consider this passage of narration:

Known as the Oslo Accord, it was designed to end years of violence by laying out a peace process, a deal that could give Palestinians their own state and land captured in the ‘67 war.

This is perhaps able to be true in some technical sense, maybe if one stands on their head and squints, but it is totally removed from reality. From the outset, be it Republican or Democrat, the Palestinians have never found a fair negotiator in the United States. Consider what Dr. Chomsky wrote in September 1993:

The US was therefore in a good position to advance its rejectionist program without interference, moving towards the solution outlined by Secretary of State James Baker well before the Gulf [War] crisis: any settlement must be based on the 1989 plan of the government of Israel, which flatly bars Palestinian national rights (Baker Plan, December 1989).

Even when President H.W. Bush was allowing Secretary Baker to infamously goad the Israelis by telling them the White House phone number during his House testimony, the Americans have always been all show and allowed the dispossession to continue.

Consider another line of narration:

Palestinians launched a new round of violence, a sustained uprising, the [Second] Intifada.

This is so preposterous when one remembers the words of Alex Kane:

Neve Gordon… tells us that the 2nd Intifada began as a nonviolent popular uprising, but only turned violent after Israel brutally suppressed the uprising, firing 1.3 million bullets into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Israeli security forces were directed to “fan the flames”, as Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar reported in 2004.

This is just par for the course here and demonstrates the level of duplicity that PBS is involved in here with your tax dollars.

The film serves two purposes. Besides the aforementioned hasbara effect, it also tries to salvage what it can of the Obama legacy and create a post facto explanation for why this Presidency has been an almost complete disaster. In that regard, it shapes recent history into a bizarre narrative, failing to mention the words “Cast Lead” or “Protective Edge” while trying to float the preposterous idea that Obama tried to be ahead of history and support the Arab Spring. My own view, while perhaps incorrect, is that he instead succeeded in subverting the genuine democratic uprisings across the region to serve his own ends. When things in Egypt became far too complicated by having a Muslim Brotherhood government across the Sinai from besieged Gaza, a coup was initiated and al-Sisi installed.

Of course, this obviates the question of whose voice should be heard here. My own wish would be that of the late Edward Said. Although Dr. Said was not alive for these events, there is a double meaning that makes his presence necessary. First, in his writings he was absolutely open and honest about both Israeli brutality and Palestinian bravery, yet also the failings of leaders like Arafat. But also of a second degree of value is the infamous image of him speaking with a younger Obama at a dinner. Perhaps his voice would continue to speak a truth to Obama’s career that needs to be heard.

Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter for Rhode Island’s Future, who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US May Drop Program Helping Cuban Doctors Defect

teleSUR | January 9, 2016

The White House may end a program encouraging Cuban doctors sent abroad to defect and move to the United States.

The program, created under George W. Bush in 2006, is under review as a part of ongoing negotiations to normalize relations with Cuba, reported Reuters on Friday. Cuba considers it a “reprehensible practice” that is designed to “deprive Cuba and many other countries of vital human resources.”

The island sends medical personnel to countries suffering from health crises, including to South Africa in the post-apartheid brain drain and to West Africa to treat patients infected with Ebola.

The dispatches are a significant export and source of income for the country. In exchange for staff Cuba receives 100,000 barrels of oil a year from Venezuela.

Under the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, U.S. embassies in over 60 countries have discretionary authority to grant Cuban doctors abroad U.S. visas.

Despite being compared to slaves or prisoners on parole, out of over 40,000 medical workers in third world countries, the program accepted a total of 7,117 applicants. In 2015, 1,663 applicants were approved, a record in its nine-year history.

“It’s not only an issue of quantity, but of the quality of the specialists, the brains that the North American government has been selectively robbing… which is also a source of income for the problems that our people are confronting daily,” Marcos Agustín del Risco, director of Human Capital in the Ministry of Public Health, told Radio Rebelde.

The defectors “seriously affected” Cuba’s own free health care system, causing President Raul Castro to recently announce that the government will re-impose limits on the number of medics leaving the country. Last summer, controversy over Cuban doctors who had fled to Colombia to process U.S. visas became a major question in U.S.-Cuba relations.

“It’s an unusual policy, and I think as we look at the whole totality of the relationship, this is something that we felt was worth being in the list of things that we consider,” Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser that participated in Cuba talks last year, told Reuters.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

BDS in the Crosshairs

By Lawrence Davidson | To The Point Analyses | January 9, 2016

Most readers will know that the United States has served as the patron of Israel for decades. Why has it done so? The commonly given reasons are suspect. It is not because the two countries have overlapping interests. The U.S. seeks stability in the Middle East (mostly by supporting dictators) and Israel is constantly making things unstable (mostly by practicing ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, illegally colonizing conquered lands and launching massive assaults against its neighbors). Nor, as is often claimed, is the alliance based on “shared Western values.” The U.S. long ago outlawed racial, ethnic and religious discrimination in the public sphere. In Israel, religious-based discrimination is the law. The Zionist state’s values in this regard are the opposite of those of the United States.

So why is it that a project that seeks to pressure Israel to be more cognizant in foreign affairs of regional stability, and more democratic and egalitarian in domestic affairs, is now under fire by almost every presidential candidate standing for the 2016 election?

That project in dispute is BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, promoted by civil society throughout the Western world. BDS is directed at Israel due to its illegal colonization of the Occupied Territories and its general apartheid-style discrimination against non-Jews in general and Palestinians in particular.

The Candidates and BDS

With but two exceptions, every presidential candidate in both parties is condemning the BDS Movement. Lets start with the two exceptions. The first exception is the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has taken the accurate position that “the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government.” She has pledged to use both diplomatic and economic means to change Israeli behavior, behavior which she rightly believes is in contravention of international law and violates human rights.

The second exception is the Republican candidate Donald Trump, who recently told a meeting of Jewish Republicans that he didn’t think Israel is serious about peace and that they would have to make greater efforts to achieve it. When he was booed he just shrugged and told the crowd that he did not care if they supported him or not, “I don’t want your money.” Unfortunately, this appears to be the only policy area where Mr. Trump is reasonable [Russia relations? MENA interventions?].

Jill Stein gets absolutely no media coverage and Donald Trump gets too much. And neither is in the “mainstream” when it comes to American political reactions to BDS. However, the rest of the
presidential candidates are. Here is what is coming out of the “mainstream”:

— Jeb Bush (Republican), 4 December 2015: “On day one I will work with the next attorney general to stop the BDS movement in the United States, to use whatever resources that exist” to do so.
— Ted Cruz (Republican), 28 May 2015: “BDS is premised on a lie and it is anti-Semitism, plain and simple. And we need a president of the United States who will stand up and say if a university in this country boycotts the nation of Israel than that university will forfeit federal taxpayer dollars.”
— Marco Rubio (Republican), 3 December 2015: “This [BDS] coalition of the radical left thinks it has discovered a clever, politically correct way to advocate Israel’s destruction. As president,

I will call on university presidents, administrators, religious leaders, and professors to speak out with clarity and force on this issue. I will make clear that calling for the destruction of Israel is the same as calling for the death of Jews.”

Hillary Clinton (Democrat), 2 July 2015: In a letter to Haim Saban, who is a staunch supporter of the Zionist state and also among the biggest donors to the Democratic Party, she said, “I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority, I am seeking your advice on how we can work together – across party lines and with a diverse array of voices – to fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel.”

Bernie Sanders (Democrat), 20 October 2015: “Sanders’ fraught encounter with BDS supporters who challenged his defense of Israel at a town hall meeting in Cabot [Vermont] last year was captured on YouTube.” Sanders told them to “shut up.”

The Legitimacy of Boycott

This hostility to the tactic of boycott runs counter to both U.S. legal tradition and the country’s broader historical tradition.

For instance, advocating and practicing BDS can be seen as a constitutionally protected right. It certainly is more obviously protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech than is the use of money to buy elections. Thus, if Zionist lobbyists can use money to buy support for Israel, why can’t anti-Zionists use their free speech rights to challenge that support? It should be noted that, in this regard, most Americans of voting age think it is the Zionists, and not the anti-Zionists, who have gone too far.

According to a December 2015 Brookings Institute poll, 49% of Democratic voters and 25% of Republican voters think that Israel has too much influence with U.S. politicians. Those supporting BDS in the United States might give some thought as to how to use these numbers to uphold their cause.

Then there is the fact of well-established historical tradition. The war for American Independence was build upon a framework of boycott. In November 1767, England introduced the Townshend Acts, requiring the colonists to pay a tax on a large number of items. The reply to this was both a boycott of British goods by many colonial consumers which was eventually followed by a boycott on the importation of such goods on the part of colonial merchants.

Subsequently, Americans have used the tactic of boycott against:

— (1930s) Goods produced by Nazi Germany
— (1960s and 1970s) California-grown grapes in support of the United Farm Workers
— (1970s and 1980s) All aspects of the economy and cultural output of South Africa
— (1980) The Moscow-hosted Olympics of 1980
— Myriad number of boycotts of various companies and products ranging from Nestle (baby formula) to Coca Cola. See the list given by the Ethical Consumer.

The reality is that the tactic of boycott has long been as American as the proverbial apple pie.


Apple pie not withstanding, the legal and historical legitimacy of boycott no longer has much impact on the attitudes of presidential candidates or, for that matter, members of Congress. Nor does the fact that the changes the BDS movement seeks to make in Israeli behavior would be to the benefit of U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Instead what the positions of the candidates seem to indicate is that there will be an almost certain attack on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, coming from the very highest levels of U.S. power, sometime soon after the 2016 elections.

How is it that such a contradiction between national interests and established tradition on the one hand, and imminent government policy on the other can exist? The answer is not difficult to come by. It is just a matter of fact that constitutional rights, historical tradition, and indeed the very interests of the nation, can be overridden by special interest demands. The demands of what George Washington once called “combinations and associations” of “corrupted citizens” who would “betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country” in favor of those of some other “favorite nation.” It is exactly such demands that are now given priority by the politicians in Washington.

This form of corruption will go on as long as the general public does not seem to care that it is happening. And it is sadly clear that the BDS activists alone cannot overcome this indifference. Thus, the politicians can dismiss the Brookings Poll numbers mentioned above. They can shrug and say, So what? As long as that majority does not express their opinion by actively demanding a change in the situation, as long as they are not successfully organized to do so, their opinion cannot compete with the millions of special interest dollars flowing into political campaigns.

In many ways our greatest enemy is our own indifference to the quiet erosion of important aspects of the democratic process. Allowing the attack on BDS only contributes to this disintegration of rights. A combination of localness and ignorance sets us up for this feeling of indifference. However, in the end, there can be no excuse for not paying attention. One morning you will wake up to find that valued rights and traditions are no longer there for you.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Welfare Ministry, Foster Agencies, Traffic in Palestinian Children

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | January 9, 2016

adel vaknin

Daniella Vaknin’s daughter, Adel, at her settlement pre-school

A few months ago, I wrote about a shocking Israeli Supreme Court decision which ratified the officially-sanctioned theft of children from a mixed Jewish-Palestinian couple and their adoption by an Orthodox Jewish couple who planned to raise the children with no access to their birth identity. The decision was flagrantly racist and defied many Israeli child welfare regulations. But it was the decision of the highest court in the land. One which foreign observers continue to mistakenly credit with being a beacon of western democratic values.

Tonight brings a new saga of judicially-sanctioned racism and woe perpetrated again by the Israeli Welfare Ministry (run by Minister Haim Katz) and its child services agency.

daniella vaknin

Daniella with daughter, Adel at younger age

Over a decade ago, Daniella Vaknin was a troubled teenager living in an Orthodox home in the settlement of Avney Heifetz. Daniella was labelled as rebellious, violent, aggressive, and sent to an institution for troubled youth.  She was abused at this facility and ran away. She stayed away till she became an adult and could make her own decisions. At that time, she met a Palestinian man, Ala’a Suliman, whose family lived in the West Bank village of Zetta. They fell in love.  Against her parents wishes, she moved to his village, married him, and became pregnant. They had a daughter they named Adel.

Daniella’s mother continued to pressure her to abandon her marriage and return to live with her parents among Jews. She warned her daughter that the Israeli social welfare system would frown on her decision and might take her child away.  Even then, despite living among Palestinians in the West Bank, child welfare officials summoned her to a meeting where they pummeled her with questions about her baby, the care she was providing, etc. Among the first questions they asked was why she wore a hijab to meet with them. Daniella responded that she did this out of respect to her husband’s family. The social workers clearly disapproved of this and saw it as a rejection of her Jewish roots.

Eventually, Daniella understood the immense pain she was causing her mother and decided to return home. But that is when the trouble really began. A neighbor of her parents reported falsely that Ala’a had threatened Daniela. That permitted them to further question her. She denied that her husband had ever threatened her.  But it didn’t help matters.

Her parents and the child welfare officials persuaded her to place Adel in a pre-school program. This enabled Daniella to work. She got two jobs and commuted many hours to work each day.  Luckily, her mother’s best friend agreed to provide care to the child and the arrangement seemed to suit everyone. Except child welfare. They argued that her long hours of work meant she had abandoned her baby, another false claim.

One day, the authorities came to Adel’s pre-school and took her into custody. Daniella had not been provided any warning of their intent.  And they had obtained no judicial order approving the removal as is required by child welfare regulations (they obtained an order ex post facto). They justified taking Adel away from Daniela by dredging up her wayward childhood. They claimed she was an unfit mother because she had not changed her ways.  That she abandoned her daughter. That her biological father was a threat to mother and daughter.

Adel was not taken into emergency protective services as would be normal in such cases.  She was given directly into the hands of her foster parents, Yehuda and Shoshana Damri. This raises serious questions of a conspiracy between the Damris and child services. In effect, this is child trafficking. How can a government agency assign a child to another family before it even has legal custody of the child? It’s the worst violation of the rights of the mother.

Ala’a also tried to intervene in the legal process to assert his paternal rights. But when the case came before an Israeli Palestinian judge in Nazareth, he astonishingly ruled that no Palestinian father could have any parental rights when the adopted child was to raised by as a Jew.  The ruling had little or no basis in law. But that hardly mattered. If you ask why a Palestinian judge would rule against a Palestinian father remember, just as with security cases, judges are tightly bound to those who appear before them regularly: government officials.  They tend to rule in favor of authority and against individual citizens who have little or no power. People just like Daniella and Ala’a. This a perfect example of a Palestinian Muslim judge ruling against a Palestinian father in order to curry favor with the Jewish judicial power structure. Divide and conquer.

In a separate ruling, the authorities found that Ala’a had “abandoned” Adel because he had not visited her. In truth, no Palestinian may enter Israel legally without a permit. Permits are given exceedingly sparingly and Ala’a could not get one to visit his daughter. To official Israel, this didn’t matter. The fact that he did not visit his daughter, regardless of the reason, permitted them to steal his parental rights from him.

System Rigged Against Kids, Parents

None of the accusations against either parent is true. But it hardly matters in the Israeli welfare system. Social workers have absolute power. Their actions are unchecked. Parents have no recourse. And judges always go along with the child welfare authorities. They rarely side with parents, even biological parents.  They often make decisions that directly contravene official regulations. But no one takes notice.

The entire process of foster care is hugely rewarding for the many agencies involved in it. One of the largest is Orr Shalom. It supervised Adel’s own foster care arrangement with the family which fostered her after she was removed from her mother’s care. In fact, child welfare authorities would have consulted with Orr Shalom even before taking Adel away from Daniella. The agency also would’ve identified prospective foster parents.

Orr Shalom and other such agencies receive more than $4,000 per month from the Welfare Ministry for every child who enters their custody. If you multiply this by the hundreds of children in foster care, it becomes a lucrative business. Nor is it beneficial for them to return foster children to the biological parents care. As such, you’ve created a system which works diametrically opposite to what should be the societal interest in having children raised by their natural parents.

This may explain why they targeted Adel. Not to mention that foster parents as well earn up to $500 per month for their role. So social workers working for these child welfare agencies are always on the look-out for vulnerable young mothers from whom they may wrest a child. In short, it’s a racket and the children trafficked and their biological parents are often the victims.

Of course, there are myriad justifications authorities and social workers offer for separating children from their mothers. Think about the Christian missionaries who forcibly removed Native American and Aboriginal children from their parents in order to “civilize” the children and introduce them to “modern ways.” Israeli social workers believe they are doing a social good by removing children from ‘troubled homes’ and finding more stable homes for them. There are, of course, hundreds of Jewish couples who cannot conceive and desperately seek to adopt a baby.  They are often willing to pay handsomely for the privilege.

fighting to return adel

Daniella’s Facebook group, “Fighting to Return Adel.”

Orthodox Settlers Foster Palestinian Child

Such a couple were Yehuda and Shoshana Damri. They were Orthodox Jews who lived in the West Bank settlement of Elkanah. Once Adel was taken from her mother, she was placed in foster care with the Damris.  Daniella of course objected strenuously to all of this, but to no avail. She created a Facebook page vowing to fight for her rights to Adel.  She plastered hundreds of flyers seeking information about where her baby had been taken.

The Damris wanted to adopt because Yehuda was sterile and could not produce a child. This is particularly traumatic for an Orthodox family because one of the most important Biblical commandments is: “Be fruitful and multiply.”  Under halacha, infertility of either spouse is grounds for divorce. The couple would’ve been highly motivated, since they couldn’t have their own child, to find one to adopt.

Adel was a beautiful child with black hair and piercing dark eyes. Their prayers seemed to be answered when the social workers gave her to them. But later, Shoshana decided she wanted her own child and not to raise the child of a stranger. She and her husband could not work out their fundamental differences. Eventually, they divorced.

That raised problems with the adoption agency. By regulation, single parents may not be foster parents nor may they adopt.  By rights, they should have returned Adel to her mother for that reason alone. But naturally that didn’t happen. Officials winked and nodded at regulations and Adel remained in Yehuda’s care. To return Adel to her mother would’ve ended Orr Shalom’s gravy train.  So he had to find a wife to marry as quickly as possible in order to retain custody of Adel.  It took him nearly two years.  But he finally did and now he is ‘kosher l’mehadrin.’

In the meantime, Daniella had no idea where her daughter lived. Though regulations permitted short twice monthly meetings with Adel, they never happened.  So she did some detective work and discovered where her daughter lived and which pre-school she attended. She brought along her smart phone and took a few blurry pictures of Adel in her classroom. For her troubles, the teachers swarmed all over her and sent her packing.  She left the premises without raising a fuss.

But the next day, Damri sicced the police on Daniella. They accused her of attempting to kidnap her daughter. Though this never happened, it’s precisely the sort of accusation that officials can use to bolster a fabricated case against a mother to justify stealing her daughter.

Daniella is further concerned about her daughter’s well-being when she discovered the medication record for Adel at her local medical clinic. You can see from the prescription form that she’s being pumped full of Ritalin (20mg per day), a commonly over-prescribed drug for young children. Adel’s emotional state is terrible and the instability of her circumstances weighs heavily on her. She was uprooted from her biological mother and grandmother; inserted into a family she didn’t know with a foster-mother who rejected her and decided to divorce her foster-father. Then, after he remarried she was forced to come to know yet another maternal figure, the third in only a few year’s time. Adel has endured far more than her share of emotional upheaval. All thanks to a system designed to benefit the bureaucracy and the foster agencies, rather than her.

The Damri family is quite well-connected among the settler movement. A relative, Yochai Damri, was recently elected the official leader of the Mt. Hebron settler community council. He had the support of Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi Party. Though I don’t know the political or ideological leanings of the Damris, it’s almost goes without saying that, given their Orthodox religious beliefs and living in Elkanah, that they are ultra-nationalists.

This raises another problem under child welfare regulations. When children are adopted, officials must respect the religious and ethnic traditions of the child’s biological parents. The idea of having a child with a Palestinian Muslim father adopted by an Orthodox Jewish couple living in a West Bank settlement is a serious violation of adoption regulations.

There can be only one explanation for the adoption agency’s decision to place Adel with the Damris.  They object to miscegenation.  They further object to a child of a Jewish parent who might be raised as a Palestinian; or even by a mother who was once married to a Palestinian.  When offered a choice between having Adel raised by a single mother who had rejected her own Orthodox upbringing; or an Orthodox Jewish couple living in a settlement, there was no question which was preferable.

Borderline banned book cartoon

Education Minister Naftali Bennett dressed as policeman forbids Israeli reader from entering a bookstore to buy Borderline, the banned novel. (Eran Wolkowski)

Just as the Supreme Court decision I referred to above displayed Israeli racism resplendent, Adel’s theft from Daniela confirms that Israel is a State in which religious identity trumps individual or democratic rights.  It further confirms that Israel is not a democracy, but a theocracy in which Jews reign supreme.

The trampling of the rights of parents in the social welfare system is but one symptom of a disease ravaging the Israeli body politic. That the system can kidnap children and wrench them from the arms of loving parents merely because it disapproves of a lifestyle or marital choice, is part of the sickness afflicting Israel. In a society respecting the rule of law such grave violations of human rights would never be tolerated. In Israel, they are de rigueur.

I called the Welfare Ministry press office, the government child welfare agency (Sherut LaYeled), and several social workers assigned to Adel’s case for comment. I reached one of the social workers twice and each time she hung up on me without uttering a word. I also sent them an e mail requesting comment.  No one has yet responded.

Banning Books and Miscegenation, Israel-Style

On a related note, an Israeli novelist published a young adult book recently called Borderline.  It deals with an Israeli Jewish woman who meets a Palestinian man and falls in love with him.  The book was recommended for inclusion in the national high school reading curriculum. However, the education ministry under the ‘able’ direction of Naftali Bennett, decided that it must protect the tender, confused identities of Israeli teenagers. The pedagogic specialists determined that reading such literature would confuse them about their own Jewish identity and give them the mistaken impression that miscegenation was a desirable phenomenon.

This is only a slightly more elegant approach than that of the thugs of Lehava, who prefer to beat Palestinian men who dare to dream they may soil the purity of Jewish maidens. So you see that the evils of this system permeate all: from child adoptions to the public schools. It is riddled with the concept of Jewish racialism and superiority. These are values derived directly from the ideology of Meir Kahane, who is, to my chagrin, the patron saint of the contemporary Israeli State.

NOTE: Please read my latest article on the Duma murders published at Mint Press News, State Department’s Silence Deafening After U.S. Citizens Engage In Israeli Settler Violence.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Yemen: A US-Orchestrated Holocaust

By Stephen Lendman | Peoples Voice | January 9, 2016

Millions of lives are at risk from violence, starvation, lack of vital medical care, and overall deprivation.

A new UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) report downplayed the ongoing catastrophe, shamelessly undercounting civilian casualties since conflict began last March.

It’s likely in the tens of thousands from Saudi terror-bombing heavily populated areas and absence of vital essentials to life.

Claiming it’s only 2,800, another 5,200 wounded mocks the unbearable suffering of millions of Yemenis, victims of US imperialism.

The world community remains largely indifferent, ignoring an entire population at risk. Millions may perish before conflict ends. Nothing is being done to prevent it.

Fighting shows no signs of abating. Obama’s orchestrated war complicit with Riyadh is another high crime on his rap sheet, major media scoundrels giving it short shrift.

Famine stalks Yemen, around 20 million at risk, children, the ill and elderly most vulnerable. War without mercy continues.

Secure sources of food, potable water, fuel, electricity and medical care are absent or in too short supply in most of the country – impossible conditions to survive for many.

Malnutrition is rampant, near-starvation commonplace. So are preventable diseases claiming unknown numbers of lives for lack of treatment. Body counts exclude nonviolent deaths.

A phantom mid-December ceasefire ended in the new year. Saudis escalated terror-bombing US selected targets, including densely populated residential areas, hospitals, refugee camps, vital infrastructure and other non-military sites.

A blockade remains in force, preventing vital to life essentials from getting to people in need in amounts enough to matter.

Washington and Riyadh want war, not peace. Ceasefire was more illusion than reality – Houthis irresponsibly blamed for imperial crimes. Yemenis continue suffering horrifically.

Their country is being systematically ravaged and destroyed – increasingly looking like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

US imperialism bears full responsibility, destroying life on earth one country at a time, making things unbearable for survivors.

Last September, a largely Saudi-drafted (US/UK supported) UN Human Rights Council resolution on Yemen excluded an independent international war crimes investigation, whitewashing imperial high crimes.

It authorized only UN provided technical assistance to a Yemeni inquiry headed by illegitimate president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi – US-installed in a 2012 election with no opposing candidates.

Yemen remains a black hole of endless violence and instability, no relief in sight for its suffering millions.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III“.

Visit his blog site at

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Protesters slam Pakistan’s role in Saudi-led coalition

Press TV – January 9, 2016

Pakistanis have taken to the streets in Islamabad to express their anger at the government’s decision to join a Saudi-led coalition allegedly set up to counter terrorism.

Protesters presented a memorandum to the Pakistani Foreign Office, calling on Islamabad to withdraw from the Saudi-led alliance.

The demonstrators said Islamabad had agreed to join the Saudi-led coalition for money.

“Neither the Pakistan army nor the nation is for rent, we will oppose any attempts to sell the army to the House of Saud for a few billion riyals,” Gul-e-Zahra, a senior activist, said in an address to the rally.

Last December, Saudi Arabia said it had formed an alliance of 34 countries to combat terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria.

The kingdom has long been accused of supporting terror groups operating against the Damascus government.

Meanwhile, some of the key countries in the coalition have said they were surprised by inclusion in the group without their knowledge.

At the time when the coalition was announced, Pakistan reacted cautiously and said it needed further details before deciding the extent of its participation.

In a U-turn following the two-day visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Islamabad said Thursday it would join the Saudi-led coalition.

“Pakistan welcomes Saudi Arabia’s initiative and supports all such regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.

Pakistanis are also angry at the Saudi regime’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

On Friday, people staged a demonstration, chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia. They had staged another demonstration a day earlier to protest Saudi foreign minister’s arrival in Islamabad.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment