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Israel propaganda trips target ‘Pacific Progressive Leaders’ – no one will say who’s going

The Israel lobby is working to woo people like Andrea Beth Damsky, second from right. Damsky, active in numerous progressive causes, is a member of the La Mesa, California Environmental Sustainability Commission and on the California Democratic Party Executive Board. She was taken on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel.
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | December 8, 2018

An Israel lobby organization is taking “Pacific Northwest Progressive Leaders” to Israel today on an all expense-paid propaganda trip to Israel. Another group just returned on December 2nd from a similar trip, officially billed as an “Educational Seminar in Israel for Southern Pacific Progressive Leaders.” No one will divulge the rosters.

The sponsoring organization is the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a tax-exempt organization that serves as an arm of the powerful Israel lobbying organization AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee).

Roll Call reports that the AIPAC and AIEF “share leaders, employees and money.” They also share the same address and phone number.

AIPAC used to sponsor such tours itself until it became illegal for lobbying organizations to organize these. A “charitable” arm, AIEF, was then formed to continue the practice. While such trips are now “legal,” they appear to violate the spirit of the law.

Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen told Roll Call: “The purpose of the 2007 travel restrictions was to remove these types of sponsored trips. Most of these trips tend to be nothing but an extension of lobbying. “ Unfortunately, Holman explains, “When it came to negotiating the travel rules regarding privately funding trips, a huge gaping loophole was written in to exempt nonprofits. … I call it the ‘AIPAC loophole.’”

Israel advocacy organizations have exploited this loophole intensively.

Tailored trips

AIEF is an $85 million operation that takes thousands of American officials and opinion makers on all expense paid trips. It pays for their international flights, hotel accommodations, tourist excursions, meals, drinks, etc. Roll Call estimates the cost of a trip for one Congressional representative to be $10,000.

And AIEF is just one of the many pro-Israel organizations that do this; some others are the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, Passages Israel, (backed by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer), the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of Northern California (JPAC), and the American-Israel Friendship League, which has been operating since 1971 and largely targets young people. Last year it gave a special award to potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. A fundraising video featured former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, Elie Wiesel, and others (see below).

A fundraising gala for the American-Israel Friendship League

These and other groups organize tours for every sector of American society, tailoring the trips carefully for each group. There are trips for military veterans, business leaders of all races and ethnicities, educators, athletes, students, etc, and every level of political office.

They treat each chosen group to an exotic, extravagant tour replete with visits to historic sites, exciting night life, beaches, religious sites, official offices, academics; whatever will appeal to the group members. There are meetings with congenial, impressive Israeli hosts of the political and social category that will best fit the visiting delegation, and the meetings even include a few hand-picked “Palestinian representatives” and Druze Israelis who play their role in the skillfully crafted tours.

And through it all those with political, professional, and/or economic ambitions will pick up something more: this is a group that has the money and power to further their careers. The particularly astute trip members will also pick up the converse: this is not a group to alienate.

Such trips are oddly public and secretive at the same time.

On the one hand, there are numerous videos extolling the sponsoring groups’ power and the trips’ effectiveness; diverse, wide-eyed Americans are seen being shown around Israel, and then, on cue, these American visitors describe how much they’ve learned and how wonderful Israel is (see below).

At the same time, however, the trips are sometimes run with extraordinary secrecy. AIEF’S website contains only one paragraph and an email address to contact for information. When we wrote asking who was going on the upcoming delegation for progressive leaders, the response was: “We don’t publicize our trip rosters.” Phone calls were unreturned.

The progressive participants were also unforthcoming about the delegations’ composition; some refused to provide this information, others pled ignorance. None of the participants seem to have publicly announced their trips ahead of time, perhaps aware that many progressive voters today are aware of Israel’s record of brutality against Palestinians, as described by former Israeli soldiers, documented in videos, and reported by human rights organizations.

The California participants

So far we’ve only identified three of the participants on the current progressive trips.

Andrea Beth Damsky – a member of the La Mesa Environmental Sustainability Commission and member of the California Democratic Party executive board and credentials committee – went on the November 24-December 2, 2018 trip for “Southern Pacific Progressive Leaders.” Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and Santa Clara Supervisor Joseph Simitian are going on the December 8-16 trip.

(Simitian also went on a lobby sponsored trip to Israel in 2005, when he was a Democratic state legislator. He is already in Israel, apparently having departed on Wednesday. It is unknown why Simitian left early and whether AIEF is paying for the extra days, or whether Simitian is paying his own way.)

John Gioia – backrow, glasses blue suit jacket & jeans. From his Facebook page

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian with farmworkers – photo on his campaign page

While it seems implausible that public elected officials would go on a trip without knowing the names of any other participants, staff members at both offices say they “have no idea” who’s going on the delegation. Damsky would not reveal which public officials were on her trip.

While not everyone is taken in by tours organized by advocacy organizations, the probability is that many will be influenced by them, some significantly.  That, of course, is why groups like IEAF shell out millions of dollars for them.

Damsky herself says: “I feel more educated on the issue than I did before.”

When asked if she would go on a trip organized by a group without a pro-Israel agenda, she said she would. However, she said she couldn’t afford to pay for such a trip herself and that the trip would have to be paid for by others.

And that’s the stumbling block.

Palestine solidarity groups don’t have anywhere near the astronomical budgets of the multi-billion dollar Israel lobby.

Therefore, it would seem, those with the most money will provide the free trips, and call the shots on this, as in so many other issues – unless Americans do four things:

Actions to take

(1) Prohibit public officials from going on trips paid for by others. Congress tried this before; now it’s time to close the loophole.  If government officials are going to take trips, let them pay for them out of their own pockets. Until such legislation is forthcoming, there are additional steps that can be taken:

(2) Require transparency from our public officials. They should be required to announce these trips publicly and divulge the details. American tax-exempt corporations should be required to reveal the details of the free tours they provide, including the names of those going on them.

(3) Require fairness. Voters should demand that officials who have gone on such lobby funded junkets afterward meet with people beyond the Israel advocacy crowd, so that they can learn facts the pro-Israel tours may have left out.

For example, some of the reports that came out while the southern delegation was in Israel included the fact that Doctors Without Borders reported that more than1,000 Gazans shot by Israel are at risk of infection, which could lead to permanent disabilities or death; Israel’s Shin Bet admitted the use of torture, and a number of human rights groups have documented the “routine use of torture” by Israeli forces; a report found that Israeli settlers, with IDF complicity, have destroyed 800,000 Palestinian olive trees since 1967.

Such post-trip meetings could inform these progressive officials that Israel was founded – in the words of an Israeli historian – by ethnic cleansing, that its settlements are illegal under international law, and that a typical day for Palestinians looks like this. Officials could be shown a list of those killed and learn about the victims:

Given that the Israel trips last a week or longer, the post-trip meetings should take place over a similar time frame and be accorded equal attention.

It seems possible that Damsky, Simitian, and Gioia would be willing to take part in such meetings, especially if they are invited publicly. These are individuals with a record of caring about human rights and indigenous peoples, and who oppose discrimination and oppression; if so, they will not refuse to learn about the plight of Palestinians.

Damsky, who is Jewish, has already suggested that she would meet with other groups, and Supervisor Gioia has stated that he wishes to learn the full facts. In an email response to questions for this article, he wrote: “My goal in this trip is to hear from many individuals, ask hard questions and critically learn. My learning will not end when the trip is done. I intend to continue to read and speak with those who hold positions on the issue.” Their contact information is below.

Trip participants’ contact info:
Supervisor John Gioia: 510-231-8686 /
Supervisor Joe Simitian: 408-299-5050 / 650-289-9038 Twitter
Andrea Beth Damsky: 619-884-7918 /

Finally, there is a fourth action that Americans can do about these influence buying trips, and this one is probably the most important:

(4) Support politicians who do not give in to Israel lobby pressure.

Many politicians go on these tours because they feel they have no choice – and they may be right. If they fail to dance to the Israel tune, there is a large likelihood that their opponent will get the money, organization, and media support that is usually required to win an American election.

Until and unless Americans who desire fairness, peace, and justice in Israel-Palestine help on political campaigns and make their wishes known at the ballot box, politicians of all backgrounds will continue to go on these trips, Israel will continue to get American tax money and support, and the tragedy will continue.

Ultimately, it’s up to all of us.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

While Israel Lobby Blocks BDS in Chile at the Local Level, National-Level BDS Looms

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | December 7, 2018

SANTIAGO, CHILE — After the Chilean city of Valdivia became the first municipality in Latin America to support the non-violent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement this past June, the Chilean government has now ruled that it is illegal to boycott Israel at the municipal level throughout the entire country.

The decision was made by Chilean Comptroller Jorge Bermudez Soto on Wednesday after a long legal battle initiated by the Jewish Community of Chile (Comunidad Judía de Chile) over Valdivia’s decision to boycott Israel.

In June, Valdivia unanimously adopted a measure that specifically declared the municipality as an “Apartheid Free Zone” and prohibited the city from working with any business that benefits or is linked to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and/or Israel’s apartheid policy that targets Palestinians.

According to the text of the declaration, the ban on working with such businesses would remain in effect until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine and dismantles the border wall; until Palestinians are granted fundamental human rights by the Israeli state and are treated as equals under Israeli law; and until the right of return of Palestinian refugees is granted, as stipulated by UN Resolution 194. The initiative had been personally introduced by the city’s mayor, Omar Sabat, who is of Palestinian descent.

However, Bermudez Soto – in representing Chile’s national government – determined on Wednesday that, though the Chilean Constitution gives local governments independence on some matters, the head of the Chilean state has the exclusive right to conduct relations with foreign powers. As a result, Valdivia’s boycott of Israel was determined to be illegal.

Bermudez Soto also went on to state that Valdivia’s boycott violated Chilean law for failing to treat anyone participating in a government bidding process in an “equal and non-discriminatory” fashion. Most importantly, Bermudez Soto noted that this decision applies not only to Valdivia but to all Chilean municipalities, making it illegal to support BDS at the municipal level in Chile. As a result, the decision has made Chile the first country in Latin America to ban support for BDS at the local level.

Bermudez Soto’s language in his decision echoes the four legal complaints filed against Valdivia in June by various Zionist organizations in Chile and abroad. The Jewish Community of Chile, which filed three out of the four complaints, argued that Valdivia’s ban on services linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine or illegal Israeli settlements violated Chilean laws on equality as well as discrimination in economic matters.

Powerful Zionist forces made Valdivia a target

Unsurprisingly, the Jewish Community of Chile has praised the move, claiming that it is the first step in creating a “Chile free from BDS.” Zionist organizations in the U.S. — including StandWithUs, whose controversial behavior was detailed in a recently leaked Al Jazeera documentary — have praised the Chilean government’s edict as “an example for the rest of the world.”

The Jewish Community of Chile is one of the most powerful organizations of the Zionist lobby in Chile, as it is the Chilean branch of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), an influential international Zionist organization that regularly hosts events with the Israeli government and supports illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The group’s current chairman is David de Rothschild and one of its vice presidents is Argentinian real estate magnate Eduardo Elsztain, who is very close to controversial Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.

WJC, as evidenced by the presence of several billionaires on its leadership board, is extremely well-funded, with its U.S. offices alone reporting an annual revenue in excess of $22 million. Given the Jewish Community of Chile’s direct association with WJC, it is safe to assume that WJC helped foot the bill for the nearly six-month legal battle aimed at derailing Valdivia’s decision to support BDS in June.

Notably, without this legal action taken by the Jewish Community of Chile and other Zionist lobby organizations in Chile, the June decision to support BDS by Valdivia – a city whose population is under 150,000 – would have likely gone unchallenged.

Prospects good for national BDS action

While the declaration of the illegality of BDS support at the municipal level is being treated by Zionist groups within Chile and beyond as a “BDS fail,” other recent actions at the national level in Chile suggest that Chile could soon follow Ireland and become the next country to support BDS as a nation.

On November 27, the Chilean Congress approved a resolution demanding that the Chilean government “forbid the entry of products manufactured and coming from Israeli colonies in occupied Palestinian territory,” in a vote with 99 in favor and seven against. The resolution mandated that the government explore how a boycott could be implemented nationwide, an important step towards the future passage of a nationwide boycott of Israel. It also recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and accused Israel of being an apartheid state.

Given that the recent decision by Chile’s comptroller to make municipal support for BDS illegal relied on the lack of authority Chilean cities have in regards to foreign relations, the nationwide BDS law – which has a good chance of passing Chile’s Congress – could soon deliver a much larger victory for Palestinian rights activists — and one that could not be challenged on the same grounds that were used to nullify Valdivia’s support for the BDS movement.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

US Deploys Carrier Strike Group to Middle East Amid Iran, Syria Tensions

Sputnik – December 8, 2018

A carrier strike group led by the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis has arrived in the Middle East, ending an eight month period during which a US carrier wasn’t based in the region, the US Navy has reported.

Earlier, the Pentagon announced that the US and its allies in eastern Syria would train an additional 35,000 to 40,000 local militia to “provide stability” in the region following the defeat of Daesh (ISIS) terrorists.

The carrier group will be based with the 5th Fleet, which is responsible for US naval activity in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and will be stationed in the region for at least two months.

According to the US government-funded news service Voice of America, the carrier strike group is being deployed to “help in the fight against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria and the war in Afghanistan.”

Furthermore, a US Defense Department official confirmed earlier reports that the US was beefing up its presence in the region as a “message” to Tehran, telling VOA that “just being there is a show of force to Iran.”

The carrier group’s presence is expected to have a similar effect to the US base in at-Tanf, southern Syria, the official added.

The US established an illegal garrison at at-Tanf in 2016, justifying the deployment as part of its war against Daesh. Damascus and its allies have repeatedly accused the US of using the base to retrain and reequip former Islamist militia to continue the war against the Syrian government. On Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said that the US would have to train 35,000 to 40,000 more “local forces” to “provide stability” in eastern Syria, where US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces took control following Daesh’s expulsion from the region.

Washington, which originally justified its presence in Syria by citing the war against terrorism, has altered its reasoning for remaining in the country following Daesh’s decline. In September, Trump national security adviser John Bolton said that the US military would stay in Syria until alleged Iranian-backed militias had also left the country.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated in May, after the US unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and slapped Iran with a series of strict sanctions.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

European Union: Why Norway and Switzerland Never Signed the Treaty of Lisbon

By David Alexandre | teleSUR | September 7, 2014

An overview of the Treaty of Lisbon in order to understand the consequences of being an EU member, the consequences of leaving decisions in economic policy, monetary policy, foreign policy, budget policy and defense policy to outsiders’ decision-makers.

The Treaty of Lisbon establishes the conditions to adhere to the European Union. It defines the institutions that will replace the national ones, in other words any Treaty of Lisbon signatory state leaves most of its decision-making to institutions placed above. Unlike Norway and Switzerland, 28 European states have left their independence to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors on economy, foreign relations, defense, money (those on the Euro zone, 19 Members States) and finance. Members states’ national politicians have now some tools only to have an effect on the life of the citizens they represent because the Union will do that for them.

March 25th 1957 is a red-letter day for pro-European Union (EU). Indeed, the Treaty of Rome then signed by France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg must be seen as the first step towards what we call European Union. The Treaty of Lisbon is the last of a series of eight, each one leading to a deeper commitment to a European government for a larger number of countries. Starting with six European countries in 1957, there are currently 28 countries adhering to the same economic policy, the same monetary and financial policy, the same foreign policy, the same budget policy and following the path toward a common defense policy.

Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, rights of persons belonging to minorities, pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men are the values promoted by every single member of the EU. Who could be opposed to such values?

Nevertheless two countries, Norway and Switzerland, refused to sign the Treaty of Lisbon. In fact, they never ratified any of the eight treaties. Why did they deny being the 29th and the 30th members? Don’t their citizens want to defend those values? Like the other 28 countries members, don’t their citizens want to improve their life?

The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the Treaty of Lisbon in order to understand the consequences of being an EU member, the consequences of leaving decisions in economic policy, monetary policy, foreign policy, budget policy and defense policy to outsiders’ decision-makers. Afterwards, we will be able to see what is left to national decision-makers and why we vote in national polls.

Treaty of Lisbon

The aim of the EU institutions defined by the Treaty of Lisbon is to replace the national ones in different areas such as economy, politics, education, health, foreign relations, defense, money and finance. These particular areas are critical to the independence of any nation. So, let’s have a deeper look at those institutions.

Key areas and institutions


I’m not going to provide a detailed description of EU institutions since I would have to write an article ten times longer than this. I suggest that the reader have a look at the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union title III (articles 13 to 19) to better understand them.

The European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Commission’), the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors provides the institutional framework to the EU members states. Once the treaty is signed, any state agrees to leave the decisions on key areas to others. From now on, those institutions will replace the national governments, the national parliament and the president or prime minister on most of the decisions in economy, foreign policy, defense, justice and social policies.

Key areas

Foreign policy. The Council plays a paramount role on EU-third countries relationship. According to Article 28.1(1), “Where the international situation requires operational action by the Union, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions. They shall lay down their objectives, scope, the means to be made available to the Union, if necessary their duration, and the conditions for their implementation”. Along with the Council, the High Representative plays an important role as well on foreign policy. Appointed by the European Council with the President of the Commission’s endorsement, his or her tasks are to organize the coordination of the actions of the members states in international organizations and at international conferences. The purpose is to uphold the Union’s position when dealing with third countries. (For further details see Art.18.4(1), Art.34(1), Art.36(1) and Art.38(1)).

Defense. Even if the Treaty of Lisbon does not yet propose a European army, nevertheless it creates the “progressive framing of a common defense” (further details in article 24.1[1], Art.24.2(1)). This coordination is materialized with the creation of ‘the European Defense Agency’ who “shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defense sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilities” (Art. 42.3(1)). The exception of this submission to the supervision of the European Defense Agency can be applied to those countries “which see their common defense realized in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)” (Art.42.2(1) & Art.42.7(1)). I would like to mention that 22 of the 28 Members States are NATO’s members as well(3).

Monetary and Financial policy. European Central Bank ECB coordinates euro coins issues with Members States national central banks. Its basics tasks are defined in  Art.127(2). Articles 127 to 133(2) from theTreaty on the Functioning of the European Union pull the monetary tool out to the Member State who signs this treaty.

Economic policy. The economic policy as defined in the Treaty of Lisbon is based on three pillars: absolutely free and competitive market, unification of the economic policy and national budget monitoring.

Free and competitive market is the ideology that guides EU economic policy (Art.31 & Art.127(2); this affects trade of goods and capital movements. The abolition of trade restrictions between Members States is clearly mentioned, “(the EU) Encourage the integration of all countries into the world economy, including through the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade” (Art.21.2.e1)); see articles234, 35, 36 and 37. As for capital movements they have a different treatment, the Treaty goes further since there are absolutely no restrictions. The article 63(2) clearly states “[…]all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member states and between member states and third countries shall be prohibited” and is reinforced by the articles 64(2) and 65(2) which extends it to third countries.

Unification of national economies (article 120[2] and 121(2)) is the second major aim of the Treaty. These two articles recall the signatory that the EU is guided by the principle of an open market economy with free competition and that s/he has to adjust their economy to be in line with the EU member states’ economies and that s/he will be monitored by the commission. (Monitoring of member states budget Art.126.1(2) & Art.126.2(2))

Toward a worldwide governance?

Article 21.2 h) [1] of the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union states, “The Union shall define and pursue common policies and actions, and shall work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to … promote an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation and good global governance.”

What does it mean? Maybe I am wrong but it sounds like saying we, signatories of the following treaty, accept the establishment of worldwide governance in the future, and we leave all our national decision making tools to someone else.

Putting aside this sentence, all the Treaty is clearly designed in that way. Signing the Treaty of Lisbon means loss of independence on the defense, foreign policy, the economy and on the monetary and financial policy, loss of control of the state budget. On a theoretical point of view, the Treaty of Lisbon has many flaws for the vast majority of the population; I think it is important to be aware of the conditions and the consequences of being a European member state in 2014.

Personal thoughts and conclusion

It is important to understand that the European Union under its current shape is not a union of strong nations with identical views who decided to create it to cope with the imperialist US. Quite the opposite, the EU is currently composed by politically weakened nations who gave all their political and economical power to others. Otherwise, why would the White House support the expansion of the Union?

All the values promoted by the Treaty sound very nice, but we should wonder if the institutions proposed by the EU truly encourage them. Does the freedom of capital movement encourage them? Does preventing capital discrimination help the people? EU defenders might say we can modify the Treaty if we disagree, it is foreseen in the article 48. Good luck with it!

To conclude, I would say I don’t think the EU is made to help its citizens in spite of what its defenders might say.  The mainstream media, major political parties all claim here in Europe that, without the EU it would be a disaster, a nightmare for any member state. When you look at the GDP of the last years and the growing debts the European countries are facing, we have the right to be more than suspicious. When you look at Norway (3.5% GDP growth, 3.6% unemployment in 2013) and Switzerland’s (2.0% GDP growth in 2013, 3.3% unemployment in March 2014) economic results, no wonder they may never join the EU, which is having serious problems on economic, political and social levels.

Two questions rise.

On a theoretical level, we must ask ourselves how 28 countries so different in many aspects can make decisions that make everyone happy.

On a practical level, one should wonder why national politicians in Europe keep making promises during their election campaigns knowing they have not the tools to do anything.

[1] Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union
[2] Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
[3]  Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden are not members

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | | 13 Comments

US Arm Sales Turning Middle East into ‘Tinderbox’: Zarif

Al-Manar | December 8, 2018

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that the United States is selling arms into the Middle East which were beyond the region’s needs, turning it into a “tinderbox”.

“The level of arms sales by the Americans is unbelievable and much beyond regional needs and this points to the very dangerous policies followed by the Americans,” IRNA reported Zarif as saying on the sidelines of the 2nd Speakers’ Conference with participation of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, China and Russia in Tehran.

He added that the US policy has brought many modern destructive weapons to the region, which have given no help to establishment of regional peace and security.

Asked about US accusations against Iran regarding missiles, the foreign minister said that the American officials spare no effort to interrupt relations between Iran and Europe, “so they resort to baseless allegations these days.”

“They [American officials] try to distort the regional issues.”

“We’ve read in the American media that the US arms are in hands of Al Qaeda in Yemen and ISIL in Syria, and this is a danger threatening our region,” Zarif said.

The top Iranian diplomat stressed meanwhile, that the US has been isolated in the world.

The US “has entered [trade] war with China and even arrested a senior Huawei executive. This indicates US frustration rather than its power.”

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 5 Comments

“Yellow Vests” Protesters Gather in Brussels

Sputnik – 08.12.2018

According to a Sputnik correspondent, Brussels police had blocked the passage to certain busy streets in order to prevent groups of protesters from entering. Special units of the Brussels police are traveling across the city in trucks, while police are also patting down all suspicious individuals coming from the city’s train stations.

Brussels police on Saturday faced off against about 100 “Yellow Vests” protesters on Rue de la Loi, denying them access to the European Quarter, where the demonstrators intended to hold an unauthorised rally.

“Around 100 people have already been detained,” Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere said.

Law enforcement officers had already detained about 70 people earlier on suspicion that they intended to join protesters in various areas of the capital, Ilse Van De Keere told reporters.

On Saturday, Belgian police prepared a thousand special forces officers to combat riots in Brussels. As Ilse Van de Keere emphasised, police had “tried to contact the organisers of the protest rallies scheduled for Saturday to warn about unauthorised gatherings of people, but could not do this because they did not find anyone responsible for organising the protest”.

Many trains this Saturday did not stop at Brussels Central Station; Parc metro station is closed in the centre of the city near government offices. The rest of the city’s subway system is still functioning normally.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , | 3 Comments

The Zionist Circular Maze

By Gilad Atzmon | December 7, 2018

On Thursday Israel cheered as the EU called on its member states that have not yet done so “to endorse the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism employed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).”

Israel called this move a “breakthrough,” the European Jewish Congress hailed the declaration as “unprecedented.” Both are correct: the Europeans ‘adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism is both a ‘breakthrough’ and ‘unprecedented.’ It confirms that Europe has explicitly abandoned its Athenian ethical ethos.

Rather than declaring its opposition to racism as a universal precept and denouncing all forms of discrimination and prejudice against any group or person of any X’ simply for being X’ (for example, a Jew for being a Jew, a Black person for being Black, a Gay person for being Gay, etc.), the EU has fallen into the most banal trap and subscribed to the primacy of Jewish suffering.

A lot has been written criticising the IHRA definition, how it stifles free speech and treats one particular group as exceptional but I think we have failed to address the most important question the IHRA raises. Why are Jewish institutions so enthusiastic about a definition that clearly extinguishes the Zionist promise to make ‘Jews people like all other people.’ The IHRA validates the vile antisemitic claim that Jews are somehow different than others, as no other people have advocated for nor benefit from an IHRA-like definition of prejudice directed solely against them. One should wonder why Jewish institutions see a need to impose such a definition on individuals, organisations, states and even continents.

The answer is circular. Jewish institutions need the IHRA definition simply because they have managed to impose such a definition — since the acceptance of the IHRA definition points at boundless political power, the IHRA definition serves to target and suppress any exploration, discourse or even discussion of such power.

This reflexive reasoning recalls the old rude joke; ‘why does a dog lick its testicles? Because it can.’ Why does the Lobby impose the IHRA definition on us? Because it can.

I wish the effects were merely so simple. The dog joke is amusing because it hints that if men could indulge in a similar gratifying act, the world would be somehow calmer and friendly like the happy dog. The joke is basically a comical illustration of Freud’s pleasure principle. But the IHRA definition is neither funny nor pleasing. It is hardly gratifying for those who have endorsed it, and in some cases its adoption has involved a chain of abuse and harassment (in the British Labour Party, for instance). While the dog is thrilled or titillated by his own act, it is not clear whether Europeans and Americans are at all happy to have to endorse a ‘non legally binding definition’ imposed on them by a powerful foreign lobby. It is reasonable ask why the EU Council has adopted a non universal definition of racism. It has done so because it doesn’t have another option.

This state of affairs is far from simple, harmonious or peaceful. It is in fact, pretty much a situation that incites instability, fear and anger.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment