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Fiasco In Islington

By Richard Hugus | December 21, 2018

Jazz saxophonist and writer Gilad Atzmon was recently banned from playing at an assembly hall in Islington, a borough of London, by order of the Islington Town Council. This came about as a result of an e-mail from one person — Martin Rankoff  — saying nothing more than that if Atzmon was going to be at the venue on December 21 he would give a ticket that was given to him to someone else. Rankoff wrote, “Mr Atzmon’s news and beliefs I personally find repulsive and do not wish to be in the same place as him, let alone listen to his music.” Rankoff included links to ADL and Israeli news outlets accusing Atzmon of antisemitism. Incredibly, on the basis of this letter alone, the Islington Council went way out of its way and contacted the show’s promoter to get Atzmon banned — something Rankoff didn’t even ask for.

Imagine the situation in reverse: Gilad Atzmon writes a letter to the Council saying he is uncomfortable with Martin Rankoff appearing in the audience at Islington assembly hall. He refers to Mr. Rankoff’s pro-Israel Twitter page where Rankoff calls Jeremy Corbyn “A F***ing Antisemite and Racist” and where Corbyn is pictured on a bike with a comment suggesting Corbyn should be rammed by a car. Atzmon says that he doesn’t feel safe with Rankoff in the audience. He finds Mr. Rankoff’s support for Israel repulsive because Israel was founded on genocide against the people of Palestine. As proof he provides links to news reports on the slaughter of unarmed protestors in Gaza since  March 30, 2018, and a story on the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948.

This imaginary second complaint would have been scorned as an abridgement of Rankoff’s rights. Indeed, since the Islington Council has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, in which criticism of Israel is deemed antisemitic, the Council would probably feel obliged to forward the letter to the authorities as evidence of hate speech.

The Council provided a statement on the banning in which it says: “under the Equality Act 2010, the Council must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to foster good relations between different races and religions within the borough. The Council took account of the fact that Mr Atzmon’s presence at the Hall, and knowledge of his presence among residents of the borough, might harm such relationships, as well as the Council’s duty to tackle prejudice and promote understanding within the borough.”

This begs the question — in what way would either the “presence” of Gilad Atzmon or “knowledge of his presence among residents” harm the relationship between different races and religions in the borough? Atzmon was to appear at the venue as a saxophone player in a jazz group. It’s hard to imagine a more severe inversion of the concept of discrimination. On the basis of the feelings of one complainant, the right of a musician to work or even be present in Islington is taken away.

What lies behind this is a familiar tactic. Zionists have no argument to counter critics of Israel, so they try to shut them up by attacking their character and robbing them of their livelihood. Now AIPAC and other lobbies are working to make it illegal to criticize Israel, as we see in the recent case of a Texas speech therapist whose yearly contract was denied because she refused to sign a pledge not to support a boycott of Israel. One might ask, what does a teaching position in Pflugerville, Texas have to do with one’s opinions about a country seven thousand miles away? And why does that country have the right to compel anyone in the US to sign a loyalty oath?

If the BDS movement doesn’t do it, zealotry and fanatacism will be the undoing of the Zionist project. People don’t like being told what they are allowed to think and say. When our words and thoughts are policed, it makes us question all the more. What were once decent leftist positions against racism and discrimination have been twisted into a new kind of totalitarianism, one in which it is racist to question the racist, and discriminatory to question discrimination; one in which we are told to think something doesn’t exist when we can see with our own eyes that it does. The self-righteous members of the Islington Town Council have set a very dangerous precedent, and have been used as fools on top of it.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Inside Banksy’s The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem

We check in to Banksy’s bizarre Palestinian hotel, where the hospitality is as peculiar as the message is powerful

By Jonathon Cook – The National – December 21, 2018

Anonymous British street artist Banksy made headlines in October when his $1.4 million artwork Girl with Balloon self-destructed by passing through a shredder concealed in its frame at a London auction moments after it had been bought.

But in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, a much larger Banksy art project – a hotel boasting “the worst view in the world” – appears to be unexpectedly saving itself from similar, planned destruction.

When it opened in March last year, The Walled Off Hotel – hemmed in by the eight-metre-high concrete wall built by Israel to encage Bethlehem – was supposed to be operational for only a year. But nearly two years on, as I joined those staying in one of its nine Banksy-designed rooms, it was clearly going from strength to strength.

Originally, The Walled Off Hotel was intended as a temporary and provocative piece of installation art, turning the oppressive 700-kilometre-long wall that cuts through occupied Palestinian land into an improbable tourist attraction. Visitors drawn to Bethlehem by Banksy’s art – both inside the hotel and on the colossal wall outside – are given a brief, but potent, taste of Palestinian life in the shadow of Israel’s military infrastructure of confinement.

It proved, unexpectedly, so successful that it was soon competing as a top tourist attraction with the city’s traditional pilgrimage site, the reputed spot where Jesus was born, the Church of the Nativity. “The hotel has attracted 140,000 visitors – local Israelis, Palestinians, as well as internationals – since it opened,” says Wisam Salsa, the hotel’s Palestinian co-founder and manager. “It’s given a massive boost to the Palestinian tourism industry.”

Exception to Banksy’s rule

The Walled Off Hotel was effectively a follow-up to Banksy’s “Dismaland Bemusement Park”, created in the more familiar and safer setting of a British seaside resort. For five weeks, that installation in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, offered holidaymakers a dystopian version of a Disney-style amusement park, featuring a nuclear mushroom-cloud, medical experiments gone wrong, boat people trapped on the high seas and the Cinderella story told as a car crash.

But unlike Girl with Balloon and Dismaland, Banksy appears uncharacteristically reluctant to follow through with the destruction of his Bethlehem creation. Some 21 months later, it seems to have become a permanent feature of this small city’s tourist landscape.

Given that Banksy is notoriously elusive, it is difficult to be sure why he has made an exception for The Walled Off Hotel. But given his well-known sympathy for the Palestinian cause, a few reasons suggest themselves. One is that, were he to abandon the hotel, it would delight the Israeli military authorities. They would love to see The Walled Off Hotel disappear – and with it, a major reason to focus on a particularly ugly aspect of Israel’s occupation. In addition, dismantling the hotel might echo rather uncomfortably Israel’s long-standing policy of clearing Palestinians off their land – invariably to free-up space for Jewish settlement.

Israel strenuously claims the wall was built to aid security by keeping out Palestinian “terrorists”. But the wall’s path outside The Walled Off Hotel seals off Bethlehem from one of its major holy sites, Rachel’s Tomb, and has allowed Jewish religious extremists to take it over.

A rare success story

In sticking by the hotel, Banksy appears to have been influenced by Palestinian “sumud”, Arabic for steadfastness, a commitment to staying put in the face of Israeli pressure and aggression. But significantly, there is a practical consideration: The Walled Off Hotel has rapidly become a rare success story in the occupied territories, boosting the struggling Palestinian economy. That has occurred in spite of Israel’s best efforts to curb tourism to Bethlehem, including by making a trip through the wall and an Israeli checkpoint a time-consuming and discomfiting experience.

Israel’s attitude was highlighted last year when the interior ministry issued a directive to travel agencies warning them not to take groups of pilgrims into Bethlehem to stay overnight. After an outcry, the government ­relented, but the message was clear.

Salsa notes that The Walled Off Hotel has not only attracted a new kind of visitor to Bethlehem, but has also persuaded many to spend time in other parts of the occupied West Bank, too.

Salsa understands the importance of tourism personally. He was an out-of-work guide when mutual friends first introduced him to Banksy in 2005, shortly after the wall cutting off Bethlehem from nearby Jerusalem had been completed. The city was economically dead, with tourists too fearful to visit its holy sites as armed uprisings raged across the occupied territories. The Second Intifada from 2000-2005 was the Palestinians’ response after Israel refused to grant them the viable state most observers had assumed was implicit in the Oslo Accords of the 1990s.

Banksy arrived in 2005 to spray-paint on what was then a largely pristine surface, creating a series of striking images. It unleashed a wave of local and foreign copycats. The wall in Bethlehem quickly became a giant canvas for artistic resistance, says Salsa.

Much later, in 2014, Banksy came up with the idea of the hotel. Salsa found a large residential building abandoned for more than a decade because of its proximity to the wall. In secret, The Walled Off was born. “It was a crazy spot for a hotel,” says Salsa. “It felt like divine intervention finding it. It was close to the main road from Jerusalem so no one could miss us.”

Palestinians’ reality

Importantly, the hotel was also in one of the few areas of Bethlehem inside “Area C”, parts of the West Bank classified in the temporary Oslo Accords as under full Israeli control. That meant the army could not bar Israelis from visiting. “Nowadays there are no channels open between Palestinians and Israelis. So The Walled Off Hotel is a rare space where Israelis can visit and taste the reality lived by Palestinians.

“True, Israelis mostly come to see the art. But they can’t help but learn a lot more while they are here.”

Salsa is happy that the Walled Off Hotel provides a good salary to 45 local employees and their families. His hope in setting up the hotel was to “encourage more tourists to stay in Bethlehem and for them to hear our story, our voice”.

But Banksy’s grander vision had been fully vindicated, he says. “The Walled Off Hotel gives tourists an experience of our reality.

“But it also emphasises other, creative ways to struggle and speak up. It offers art as a model of resistance.

“The hotel magnifies the Palestinian’s voice. And it makes the world hear us in a way that doesn’t depend on either us or the Israelis suffering more casualties.”

Global impact

The hotel’s continuing impact was underscored last month when it featured for the first time at the Palestinian stand at the annual World Travel Market in London, the largest tourism trade show in the world. The event attracts 50,000 travel agents, who conduct more than $4 billion in deals over the course of the show.

Banksy had announced beforehand that he would bring a replica of one of his artworks on the wall just outside the Bethlehem hotel: cherubs trying to prise open two concrete slabs with a crowbar. He also promised a limited-edition poster showing children using one of Israel’s military watchtowers as a fairground ride. A slogan underneath reads: “Visit historic Palestine. The Israeli army liked it so much they never left!” As a result, there was a stampede to the Palestinian stand, one of the smallest, that caught the show’s organisers by surprise.

Rula Maayah, the Palestinian tourism minister, praised Banksy for changing the image of Palestinian tourism by diverting younger people into the West Bank, often during a visit to Israel. “He promotes Palestine and focuses on the occupation, but at the same time he is talking about the beauty of Palestine,” she said.

At the Walled Off Hotel, however, Israel has made it much harder to see the beauty. Most windows provide little more than a view of the wall, which dwarfs in both height and length the Berlin Wall to which it is most often compared. That is all part of the Walled Off “experience” that now attracts not only wealthier visitors keen to stay in one the hotel’s rooms, but a much larger audience of day trippers.

So successful has the Walled Off Hotel proved in such a short space of time that even some locals concede it upstages the Church of the Nativity – at least for a proportion of visitors. A local taxi driver who was guiding two French sisters along the wall outside the hotel said many independent tourists now prioritised it ahead of the church.

Only wanting to be identified as Nasser, he said: “We may not know who Banksy is, but the truth is, he has done us a huge favour with this hotel and his art.”

Sanctuary in a police state

If Dismaland created a dystopian amusement park in the midst of a fun-filled seaside resort, the Walled Off Hotel offers a small sanctuary of serenity – even if a politically charged one – in surroundings that look more like a post-apocalyptic police state.

Along the top of the wall, there are innumerable surveillance cameras, as well as looming watchtowers, where ever-present Israeli soldiers remain out of view behind darkened glass. They can emerge unexpectedly, usually to make raids on the homes of unsuspecting Palestinians.

When I made a trip to the Walled Off in October, I parked outside to find half a dozen armed Israeli soldiers on top of the hotel’s flat roof. When one waved to me, I was left wondering whether I had been caught up in another of Banksy’s famous art stunts. I hadn’t. They were real – there to watch over Jewish extremists celebrating a religious holiday nearby at Rachel’s Tomb.

The hotel’s lobby, though not the rooms, are readily accessible to the public. It is conceived as a puzzling mixture: part cheeky homage to the contrived gentility of British colonial life, part chaotic exhibition space for Banksy’s subversive street art. Visitors can enjoy a British cream tea, served in the finest china, sitting under a number of Israeli surveillance cameras wall-mounted like hunting trophies or alongside a portrait of Jesus with the red dot of a marksman’s laser-beam on his forehead.

A history of resistance

The lobby leads to a museum that is probably the most comprehensive ever to document Israel’s various methods of colonisation and control over Palestinians, and their history of resistance.

At its entrance sits a dummy of Lord Balfour, the foreign secretary who 101 years ago initiated Britain’s sponsorship of Palestine’s colonisation. He issued the infamous Balfour Declaration promising the Palestinians’ homeland to the Jewish people. Press a button and Balfour jerks into life to furiously sign the declaration on his desk. Upstairs is a large gallery exhibiting some of the best of Palestinian art, and the hotel reception organises twice-daily tours of the wall.

Entry to the rooms is hidden behind a secret door, disguised as a bookcase. Guests need to wave a room key, shaped like a section of the wall, in front of a small statue of Venus that makes her breasts glow red and the door open.

A stairway leads to the second and third floors, where the landings are decorated with more fading colonial splendour and Banksy art. Kitsch paintings of boats, landscapes and vases of flowers are hidden behind tight metal gauze of the kind Israel uses to protect its military Jeeps from stone-throwers.

A permanent “Sorry – out of service” sign hangs from a lift, its half-open doors revealing that it is, in fact, walled up.

No mementos

Although the rooms are designed thematically by Banksy, only a few contain original artworks, most significantly in the Presidential Suite.

Hotels may be used to customers taking shampoos and soaps, even the odd towel, as mementos of their stay. But at the Walled Off, the stakes are a little higher. Guests are issued with an inventory they must sign on departing, declaring that they have not pilfered any art from their room. But it is the wall itself that is the dominant presence, towering over guests as they come and go, trapping them in a narrow space between the hotel entrance and an expanse of solid grey.

A proportion visit the neighbouring graffiti shop, Wall Mart, where they can get help on how to leave their mark on the concrete. Most of the casual graffiti is short-lived, with space regularly cleared so that new visitors can scrawl their messages and use art as a tool of resistance.

Protest pieces

Banksy’s better-known artworks, however, are saved from the spray-paint pandemonium elsewhere.

The crowbar-armed cherubs he brought to London were painted in time for Christmas last year, when he recruited film director Danny Boyle – of Slumdog Millionaire fame – to stage an alternative nativity play for local families in the hotel car park. The “Alternativity”, featuring a real donkey and real snow produced by a machine on the Walled Off’s roof, became a BBC documentary. Banksy had once again found a way to persuade prime-time TV to shine a light on Israel’s oppressive wall.

Another artwork is his “Er sorry”, a leftover from the Walled Off’s “apologetic street party” of November last year, marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration’s signing. Children from two neighbouring refugee camps were invited to wear Union-Jack crash helmets and wave charred British flags. A person dressed as Queen Elizabeth II unveiled “Er Sorry” stencilled into the wall. It served both as a hesitant apology on behalf of Britain and as a play on the initials of the Queen’s official Latin title, Elizabeth Regina.

The event, however, illustrated that Banksy’s subversive message, directed chiefly at western audiences, does not always translate well to sections of the local Palestinian population. The party was hijacked by local activists who stuck a Palestinian flag into the Union Jack-adorned cake and chanted “Free Palestine”.

Is this ‘war tourism’?

Salsa outright rejects claims from some locals and foreign critics that the hotel is exploiting Palestinian misery and is an example of “war tourism”.

He points out: “The Balfour party got the media interested in a story they probably would not have covered otherwise, because it lacked violence and bloodshed.”

He adds that the area of Bethlehem in which the Walled Off is located would have been killed off by the wall were it not for Banksy investing his own money and time in the project. As well as the staff, it has brought work to tour guides, taxi drivers, neighbouring and cheaper hotels, shops and petrol stations. “That is a very important form of resistance,” he says.

It is also a rare example of Palestinians reclaiming land from the Israeli army. On the other side of the wall there had been a large army camp until the hotel started drawing significant numbers of visitors.

“The army didn’t like lots of tourists taking pictures nearby, so they moved further away, out of sight.”

Eternal memories

Canadian tourist Mike Seleski, 30, visited the hotel to see Banksy’s art before standing in front of the wall. He said he had heard about the Walled Off from an Israeli he befriended in Vietnam during a year travelling.

This was a detour from his stay in Israel – his only stop in the occupied territories. “I don’t like the usual tourist experiences,” he said. “It is important to hear the other side of the story when you travel.”

In every one of the 32 countries he has visited, he has stood to be photographed before a famous local spot holding a cardboard sign with words to reassure his worried mother: “Mum – I’m OK.”

In Bethlehem, he said it was obvious he’d take the photo in front of Banksy’s art on the wall, rather than the Church of the Nativity. “You see the wall on TV and forget about it. You get on with your life. But when you stand here, you realise Palestinians don’t have a choice. They simply can’t ignore it.”

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 3 Comments

Israel soldiers shot Palestinian teen, ‘dragged him around’ and chased away ambulance

MEMO | December 21, 2018

Israeli soldiers who fatally shot a Palestinian child last week prevented him from receiving potentially life-saving medical treatment, reported Haaretz.

Seventeen-year-old Mahmoud Nakhle was shot on Friday 14 December as Israeli occupation forces suppressed protests around Al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah.

The confrontations between residents and soldiers had already slowed down when Israeli forces “began chasing after the youths” and “suddenly… started shooting, using live ammunition”.

According to the paper, Nakhle was returning home “by way of a dirt path that passes above the camp”, when “the soldiers ran after him and one of them shot him once, in the lower back”.

The soldiers lifted Nakhle up and carried him a few dozen metres away, “laying him down at the side of the road”; one eyewitness said they carried him “like you haul a slaughtered sheep”.

After a few minutes, soldiers lifted the boy up again, and “carried him a few dozen metres more”. A Palestinian ambulance “was chased off by the soldiers, who threatened the driver with their rifles”. As far as is known, Haaretz reported, “the soldiers did not give Nakhle any sort of medical aid”.

It was only after a quarter of an hour “that the soldiers allowed an ambulance to be summoned”, but Mahmoud died en route to the hospital.

His death certificate states that the teen “died from loss of blood after a bullet entered his lower back, struck his liver and hit a main artery, damaging other internal organs”.

The paper described how “Mahmoud attended school until the 10th grade and then studied electrical engineering at a professional college”. After a year of apprenticeship, he had been “waiting to find a job as an electrician”. He is survived by his parents and two sisters aged 14 and four.

The Israeli military spokesperson told Haaretz “a Palestinian holding a suspicious object approached one of the soldiers” when “the soldier fired at him”. The incident is being investigated by the Military Police, who routinely whitewash the killing of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces.

READ:

Israel killed Gaza teens with ‘warning’ missile then published misleading video, investigation reveals

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Psychoanalysing NATO: The Diagnosis

By Patrick ARMSTRONG | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.12.2018

In previous essays I argued that NATO tries to distract our attention from its crimes by accusing Russia of those crimes: this is “projection“. NATO manipulates its audience into thinking the unreal is real: this is “gaslighting“. NATO sees what it expects to see – Moscow’s statements that they will respond to medium range missiles emplaced next door are re-jigged as the “threats” which justify NATO’s earlier act: this is “confirmation bias“. And, finally, NATO thinks Russia is so weak it’s doomed and so strong that it is destroying the tranquillity of NATOLand: this is a sort of geopolitical “schizophrenia.” (I must acknowledge Bryan MacDonald’s marvellous neologism of Russophrenia a condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.)

I wrote the series partly to amuse the reader but with a serious purpose as well. And that serious purpose is to illustrate the absurdities that NATO expects us to believe. NATO here being understood as sometimes the headquarters “international staff”, sometimes all members in solemn conclave, sometimes some NATO members and associates. “NATO” has become a remarkably flexible concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of itSomalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren’t. The NATO alliance today is a box of spare parts from which Washington assembles its “coalitions of the willing“. It’s Washington’s beard.

NATO and its members are inexhaustible sources of wooden language and dishonesty. Take Washington’s demand that Iran get out of Syria while US forces stay there. Syria has a recognised government, that government invited Iran in; no one invited the USA and its minions in. A child could see the upside down nature of this: it’s a housebreaker demanding the host evict the guests and hand over their bedrooms. This, apparently, is what NATO calls the “rules-based order“. Here’s the American official insisting it’s all legal: “our forces are there under a set of legal and diplomatic documents… “; but he only mentions one and it’s an American one. Putin is condemned for saying “Whatever action a State takes bypassing this procedure are illegitimate, run counter to the UN Charter and defy international law“. We are expected to solemnly nod our heads rather than contemptuously laugh when unilateralism is meretriciously named “rules-based”. These inversions of reality are routinely fed to us by NATO and its mouthpieces.

A very recent revelation of NATO’s gaslighting is the Integrity Initiative (such a gaslighting name!) busy trolling away with a couple of million from the British taxpayer. Its remit, apparently, includes infiltrating political movements of an ally and it “defends democracy against disinformation” by smearing its own political actors with disinformation. Does Russia do this? Well there’s RT and Sputnik and “Russians” did spend nearly $5000 on Google and $7000 on Facebook fixing the US election. And almost one dollar on Brexit ads. And one should never forget the insidious effect of Masha and the Bear. But don’t dare laugh at these preposterous assertions: the BBC earnestly assures us that humour is Putin’s newest weapon. Against this mighty effort, there can be  no vigilance too strong! The only way to protect our values is to trash them: defend freedom of thought by secretly planting fake stories, defend democracy by smearing the opposition as Russian stooges. Pure gaslighting, defended by projection and confirmation bias: “This kind of work attracts the extremely hostile and aggressive attention of disinformation actors, like the Kremlin and its various proxies“.

NATO hyperventilates about “Russia’s military activities, particularly along NATO’s borders“. Only in NATO’s counterfeit universe could this be imagined; in the real world Russia’s military is inside its own borders. Once again, the proper response is a contemptuous sneer rather than solemn head nodding.

NATO collectively and severally manifests a detachment from reality. Its website is full of pious assertions about being a defensive alliance that brings stability wherever it goes, replete with valuable values. And it always tells the truth. The reality? No rational person would regard Moscow’s concern about a military alliance creeping ever closer as “aggressive”. There is less stability in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan than before NATO entered them. Fooling around in Yugoslavia, Georgia and Ukraine have sparked actual shooting wars. NATO’s activities in Syria (illegal by any standards of international law, be it remembered) have not brought stability. More civilians killedRaqqa obliteratedhospitals methodically destroyed. All “tragic accidents” of course; but don’t look here! look at Russia! Only in its imagination is NATO a bringer of stability. As to its values, they’re mutable – it’s good to break up Yugoslavia, invade Iraq and Afghanistan and destroy Libya but Crimeans taking the opportunity to return to Russia is a heinous crime. NATO’s so-called values are whatever NATO does. And as to NATO’s promises: well it did expand, didn’t it? (Here’s NATO’s official weasel-wording: “Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement”. And suddenly its narrative jumps to President Clinton. Wrong POTUS, actually; NATO’s caught gaslighting again.) Its intervention in Libya was very far from what the UN resolution approved: it was an armed intervention against the government on false pretences.

Here’s what NATO’s so-called “stability projection” has actually produced: riots in Francepartly connected with the influx of “migrants” coming from the Libya that NATO destroyed. But, we are supposed to believe it has nothing to do with NATOit’s Putin! Only an idiot could believe that.

NATO had a purpose when it was formed, or at least it thought it did. It is true that, at war’s end where the Soviet Army stood “elections” were held and socialist or communist parties came to power and stayed in power. (Austria being an exception). There were at least two ways that one could understand this extension of Soviet power. One was that they were the actions of an expansionist hostile power that fully intended to go all the way to Cape Finisterre if it could and, if not prevented, would. In such a case the Western Allies would be fully justified in forming a defensive alliance to deter Soviet expansion. Another possible interpretation was that, after such a hard victory in so fearfully destructive a war, Moscow was determined that never again would its neighbours be used as an assembly area and start line for the forces of another Hitler. Such an interpretation would call for quite another approach from the Western Allies. We all know which of the two interpretations was followed. I have speculated elsewhere that Reinhard Gehlen may have had a strong influence on that decision. But, for whatever reason, the NATO alliance was founded on that first assumption and it shaped the world in one direction rather than another.

Since the USSR broke up, taking with it NATO’s original raison d’être, NATO members, sometimes under the NATO flag and sometimes not, have helped break up Yugoslavia and Serbia, invaded Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Syria, destroyed Libya, incited a war in Georgia, carried out a coup d’etat in Ukraine and participated in the civil war there. That’s not stability. And, where NATO has set foot, it stays. KFOR is still bringing “peace and stability” in Year 19 and Kosovo is home to a huge US baseAfghanistan is in Year 17Iraq is in Year 15.  Syria is Year 7 and set to run forever. Ironically Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians are back in Afghanistan; different flag, same place. That’s not stability either.

And still the wooden language rolls out. But turn off your brain when you read it.

POLITICAL – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
MILITARY – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.

Has post-USSR NATO ever peacefully resolved a dispute? Anywhere? Any time? It’s always military power. What did Article 5 (an attack on one is an attack on all) have to do with NATO’s war on Libya? Did it attack one of them? How about Serbia? One can (fraudulently) argue that someone in Afghanistan attacked the USA but who did in Iraq? As to “democratic values”, well, it will be amusing to watch NATO’s reactions to Ukraine President Poroshenko trying to avoid the election. And nobody likes to mention the pack of organ harvesters and drug runners NATO gave a whole country to.

If NATO were a human individual on the couch, a case could be made that it is living in a fantasy world in which everything is reversed.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Delenda NATO est!

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Canadian Terror Patsies” Walk Free… but Media Cover-up Begins re “TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE”

Greencrow | December 20, 2018

I just checked the front pages of the three “national” newspapers in Canada, the CBC, The Globe and Mail and the National Post. NONE of these papers contains any reference to the fact that the Appeals Court Justice called the RCMP/CSIS behaviour of entrapping Nuttall and Korody a Travesty of Justice“.  No one is calling the Prime Minister, the Attorney General of Canada or any politicians to task over this shocking revelation. In fact, it would appear that a “cover up” has been set in motion…. so that these kinds of taxpayer-paid-for police/security agency criminal exploitations of vulnerable citizens for foreign policy subservience and Deep State agendas can happen again.

NOTE: Regular Commenter on this blog, “Reading Between The Lines” has just advised that a paper finally has the guts to write about the issue. Here is the link to that paper. Thanks RBTL!

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, set free today from Canadian Security Agencies

Efforts to Use them as Terror Patsies way back in 2013

As regular readers know, I have been following this local story for years.  In my opinion, this legal decision is the most significant decision in Canadian history… during my lifetime, anyway.  This decision reinforces the fundamental legal principle that “no one is above the law”… not even the police or security agencies.  Please read the report and I will have more comments to follow:

From News 1130

B.C. couple found guilty of plotting to bomb legislature to walk free

John Nuttall-Amanda Korody’s convictions had been stayed due to entrapment, abuse of process

“The judge said police used deceit and veiled threats to engineer the bomb plot.”

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A couple found guilty of plotting to set off pressure cooker bombs outside the provincial legislature have had their convictions stayed.

The BC Court of Appeal has agreed with a lower court judge who said the RCMP officers manipulated John Nuttall and Amanda Korody into going ahead with the attack planned for Canada Day 2013.

A jury initially convicted the two on several charges in 2015, but the judge tossed them out months later because of issues with the investigation.

More to come

Wanting to get this posted ASAP, I will save my detailed summation of the significance of this decision for a later time. Suffice it to say that this “travesty of justice” has been a powder keg ticking “time bomb” in Canada for years.  Now that the ruling reinforces the rule of law in Canada.. .there will be huge ramifications for the government, the security agencies and the victims, John Nuttall and Amanda Korody. The couple can now get themselves good lawyers and sue the pants off the government, the RCMP and CSIS [aka the USrael mole in Canada], which in my opinion was the “brains” behind the operation…getting the RCMP to do its dirty work. It won’t be the first time the Canadian government has had to pay million$ to victims of miscarriage of justice resulting from corruption in the “security agencies“… actually malfeasance is a regular event here in Canada.

The timing is also significant. After this decision has been delayed [justice delayed justice certainly denied… as I said time after time] for so many years… why now? Why indeed, when Canada has recently been betrayed by the government/security agencies in USrael, recently, after toadying up to them and arresting the Chinese CEO… then being left hung out to dry by them.

If there is a thorough “Royal Commission” investigation into this travesty, which I believe there should be, then we can all follow the smell of Deep State Corruption… right back to the cesspool in Langley, Virgina… the home of the MosCIAd. These patsy/Terror bomb FALSE FLAG capers were SOP and still are–all over the West.  Just in this case, the RCMP botched the assignment so badly that the public was able to surmise what has been going on… well, at least the 33% of the public with two brain cells to rub together anyway. As the 1130 report says… … more to come.

December 19, 2018: According to Global News the lawyer for Amanda Korody said the following today:

“…. Sandford said she feels Wednesday’s decision sends a clear message.

“I think that the court has drawn a line and underscored that these type of American-style sting operations… are not going to be tolerated here and that we have a strong and robust principle of entrapment that the courts are going to uphold.”…

Greencrow says: Canadians need and deserve to know the history of this “travesty of justice”. It was much more than a “sting operation”. It was a potential False Flag. Perhaps under different dynamics the “security agencies” would have allowed it to follow its course and citizens could have been killed… as they have been in other similar cases. It signals deep corruption on the part of the government, the police and CSIS.  Remember the million$ in police salaries, including overtime?  Who made the corrupt decisions?  Are these individuals still in positions of power in Canada??? Watch the government, the M$M and particularly the “security agencies” go into desperate damage control mode. After the previous “Travesties of Justice” in the Omar Khadr and Maher Arar cases [amongst many others]… will we be suckered again? Or, this time will some intrepid investigative team or preferably a Royal Commission…. FINALLY trace the stench of the Nuttall/Korody matter right back to its source… IMO, in Langley, Virginia?

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia | , | 2 Comments

British Government Covert Anti-Russian Propaganda and the Skripal Case

By Craig Murray | December 21, 2018

It is worth starting by noting that a high percentage of the Integrity Initiative archive has been authenticated. The scheme has been admitted by the FCO and defended as legitimate government activity. Individual items like the minutes of the meeting with David Leask are authenticated. Not one of the documents has so far been disproven, or even denied.

Which tends to obscure some of the difficulties with the material. There is no metadata showing when each document was created, as opposed to when Anonymous made it into a PDF. Anonymous have released it in tranches and made plain there is more to come. The reason for this methodology is left obscure.

Most frustratingly, Anonymous’ comments on the releases indicate that they have vital information which is not, so far, revealed. The most important document of all appears to be a simple contact list, of a particular group within the hundreds of contacts revealed in the papers overall. This is it in full:

Tantalisingly, Anonymous describe this as a list of people who attended a meeting with the White Helmets. But there is no evidence of that in the document itself, nor does any other document released so far refer to this meeting. There is very little in the documents released so far about the White Helmets at all. But there is a huge amount about the Skripal case. With the greatest of respect to Anonymous and pending any release of further evidence, I want you to consider whether this might be a document related to the Skripal incident.

The list is headed CND gen list 2. CND is Christopher Nigel Donnelly, Director of the Institute for Statecraft and the Integrity Initiative and a very senior career Military Intelligence Officer.

The first name on the list caught my eye. Duncan Allan was the young FCO Research Analyst who, as detailed in Murder in Samarkand, appears in my Ambassadorial office in Tashkent, telling me of the FCO staff who had been left in tears by the pressure put on them to sign up to Blair’s dodgy dossier on Iraqi WMD. During the process of clearing the manuscript with the FCO, I was told (though not by him) that he denied having ever said it. It was one of a very few instances where I refused to make the changes requested to the text, because I had no doubt whatsoever of what had been said.

If Duncan did lie about having told me, it did his career no harm as he is now Deputy Head of FCO Research Analysts and, most importantly, the FCO’s lead analyst on Russia and the Former Soviet Union.

Now let us tie that in with the notorious name further down the list; Pablo Miller, the long-term MI6 handler of Sergei Skripal, who lived in Salisbury with Skripal. Miller is the man who was, within 24 hours of the Skripal attack, protected by a D(SMA) notice banning the media from mentioning him. Here Pablo Miller is actively involved, alongside serving FCO and MOD staff, in a government funded organisation whose avowed intention is to spread disinformation about Russia. The story that Miller is in an inactive retirement is immediately and spectacularly exploded.

Now look at another name on this list. Howard Body. Assistant Head of Science Support at Porton Down chemical weapon research laboratory, just six miles away from Salisbury and the Skripal attack, a role he took up in December 2017. He combines this role with Assistant Head of Strategic Analysis at MOD London. “Science Support” at Porton Down is a euphemism for political direction to the scientists – Body has no scientific qualifications.

Another element brought into this group is the state broadcaster, through Helen Boaden, the former Head of BBC News and Current Affairs.

In all there are six serving MOD staff on the list, all either in Intelligence or in PR. Intriguingly one of them, Ian Cohen, has email addresses both at the MOD and at the notoriously corrupt HSBC bank. The other FCO name besides Duncan Allan, Adam Rutland, is also on the PR side.

Zachary Harkenrider is the Political Counsellor at the US Embassy in London. There are normally at least two Political Counsellors at an Embassy this size, one of whom will normally be the CIA Head of Station. I do not know if Harkenrider is CIA but it seems highly likely.

So what do we have here? We have a programme, the Integrity Initiative, whose entire purpose is to pump out covert disinformation against Russia, through social media and news stories secretly paid for by the British government. And we have the Skripals’ MI6 handler, the BBC, Porton Down, the FCO, the MOD and the US Embassy, working together in a group under the auspices of the Integrity Initiative. The Skripal Case happened to occur shortly after a massive increase in the Integrity Initiative’s budget and activity, which itself was a small part of a British Government decision to ramp up a major information war against Russia.

I find that very interesting indeed.

With a hat-tip to members of the Working Group on Syria, Media, and the Propaganda, who are preparing a major and important publication which is imminent. UPDATE Their extremely important briefing note on the Integrity Initiative is now online, prepared to the highest standards of academic discipline. I shall be drawing on and extrapolating from it further next week.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

US leaves trail of bitterness in Syria

Stalingrad of Syrian war: ancient Syrian city of Raqqa after US bombing
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 21, 2018

On December 17, Ankara was notified of President Trump’s decision on troop withdrawal from Syria. During an earlier phone conversation between him and President Recep Erdogan on Dec 14, Trump had pointedly asked and elicited a positive response from the Turkish leader as to whether Turkey would have the capability to eliminate the remnants of the ISIS in the Syrian tract east of the Euphrates in the event of a US withdrawal from Syria. Erdogan reportedly “reaffirmed” Turkey’s commitment to fight the ISIS.

Ankara likely shared this information with Moscow and Tehran. The three foreign ministers met in Geneva on Dec 19 for a trilateral meeting as guarantors of the Astana format on Syria. The joint statement issued after the meeting, therefore, can be seen as indicative of Turkey’s resolve to give primacy to the trilateral format with Russia and Iran on issues concerning Syria.

To be sure, Turkey will have issues to take up with the Trump administration in the coming days and weeks. As one commentator put it, “For example, will the U.S. collect the weapons provided to the YPG? What measures will the U.S. take for preventing a chaos in the region after the withdrawal? All these require more military and political talks between Turkey and the U.S. Turkey will continue to cautiously follow the situation in Syria.”

However, senior Turkish officials have made it clear that the planned military operations against Syrian Kurds will continue to unfold. Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has been quoted by the state news agency Anadolu as saying, “Now we have Manbij and the east of the Euphrates in front of us. We are working intensively on this subject. Right now it is being said that some ditches, tunnels were dug in Manbij and to the east of the Euphrates. They (Kurds) can dig tunnels or ditches if they want, they can go underground if they want, when the time and place comes they will buried in the ditches they dug. No one should doubt this.”

Yesterday, Erdogan told the visiting Iranian president Hassan Rouhani that Ankara hopes to work closer with Tehran to end the fighting in Syria. Erdogan said at a joint press conference with Rouhani, “There are many steps that Turkey and Iran can take together to stop the fighting in the region and to establish peace. Syria’s territorial integrity must be respected by all sides. Both countries are of the same opinion regarding this.” Significantly, Erdogan also voiced Turkey’s support for Iran (“brotherly nation”) against the US sanctions.

However, Ankara is yet to make an official statement regarding Trump’s Syrian pullout plan. All three countries – Turkey, Russia and Iran – seem skeptical about Trump’s clout to enforce his decision overcoming resistance from the Pentagon. From such a perspective, the resignation of Defence Secretary James Mattis on December 20 will come as confirmation that Trump is indeed forcing his political will, exercising his presidential prerogative to take foreign policy decisions as well as insisting on his supreme authority as commander-in-chief to decide on issues of war involving the US armed forces.

Unlike Turkey and Iran, Russia has voiced opinions on Trump’s withdrawal plans. President Vladimir Putin stated at a press conference in Moscow on Dec 20:

“As concerns the defeat of ISIS, overall I agree with the President of the United States. I already said that we achieved significant progress in the fight against terrorism… There is a risk of these and similar groups migrating to neighbouring regions… We know that, we understand the risk fully. Donald is right about that, and I agree with him.”

“As concerns the withdrawal of American troops, I do not know what that is. The United States have been present in, say, Afghanistan, for how long? Seventeen years, and every year they talk about withdrawing the troops. But they are still there. This is my second point.”

“Third… The current issue on the agenda is building a constitutional committee… We submitted the list to the UN… Maybe not by the end of this year but in the beginning of the next the list will be agreed and this will open the next stage of the settlement, which will be political settlement.”

“Is the presence of American troops required there? I do not think it is. However, let us not forget that their presence… is illegitimate… The military contingent can only be there under a resolution of the UN Security Council or at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian Government…. So, if they decide to withdraw their troops, it is the right decision.”

Overall, Putin commended Trump’s decision, while keeping fingers crossed that as the focus is shifting to the political process will gain traction. Putin didn’t mince words in calling the US intervention in Syria as a violation of international law and UN Charter. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who spoke later in a TV interview was also quite upfront: “The American presence on the Syrian soil is not conductive to attaining the goals of a political and diplomatic solution.” (TASS )

Neither Russia nor Turkey and Iran would expect a cooperative attitude from the American side in a near term over Syria. The US has a stony heart when it comes to Syria’s reconstruction – although it caused immense destruction in that country during its occupation. The US military will be leaving behind a trail of bitterness in Syria. The three other protagonists understood perfectly well that Pentagon commanders were fighting a secretive geopolitical war against each of them. “Good riddance” – that must be the refrain in Ankara, Moscow and Tehran.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Syria Withdrawal Decision Requires Congressional Hearings – Senator Graham

Sputnik – December 21, 2018

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s plan to pull all American forces out of Syria needs to be examined by Congress to determine the impact on US national security, Senator Lindsey Graham said on Friday.

“It is imperative Congress hold hearings on withdrawal decision in Syria — and potentially Afghanistan — to understand implications to our national security,” Graham said on Twitter.

Any hearings, as suggested by Graham, would likely be held when the new Congress convenes in January.

Trump announced plans this week to pull 2,000 US troops out of northern Syria, where they have been backing Kurdish rebels in the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The president has also ordered the withdrawal of about half of the 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan, according to media reports.

The planned withdrawals – which are opposed by many Republicans and Democrats in Congress — prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday.

More: ‘Trump Plunging Country Into Chaos’: GOP, Dems Slam Trump for Mattis Resignation

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Diplomat: US Elites Alarmed That Trump May Accomplish Promised Foreign Policy

Sputnik – 21.12.2018

WASHINGTON – The US troop withdrawal from Syria and the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis has the establishment fearful that President Donald Trump might finally implement the foreign policy he campaigned on, former diplomat Jim Jatras told Sputnik.

“Terror has again gripped the establishment that the Trump who was elected president in 2016 might actually start implementing what he promised,” Jatras, who was also once a US Senate foreign policy adviser, said on Thursday.

Trump needed to also overhaul the rest of his top-tier defense and national security advisers and chiefs, Jatras said.

“This will be a critical time for the Trump presidency. If he can get the machinery of the Executive Branch to implement his decision to withdraw from Syria, and if he can pick a replacement to General Mattis who actually agrees with [his own] views,” Jatras said. “It is imperative that he pick someone for the Pentagon — and frankly, clear out the rest of his national security team — and appoint people he can trust and whose views comport with his own.”

Trump in a tweet earlier in the day commenting on his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, said it was “time to come home and rebuild.”

On Thursday, Mattis stepped down citing the fact his views no longer aligned with Trump’s a day after the White House announced that US troops were leaving Syria.

Earlier on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has ordered the US military to withdraw some 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

The president made promises during his campaign to stop expending money and lives on foreign wars to rebuild the United States.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

White Helmets Engaged in Looting, Human Organ Trafficking in Syria – Watchdog

Sputnik – 21.12.2018

Members of the organization White Helmets were engaged in the forced removal of human organs as well as theft and corruption in Syria, according to evidence presented at the United Nations by Foundation for the Study of Democracy Director Maxim Grigoriev on Thursday.

“People evacuated by the White Helmets often did not come back alive,” Grigoriev said quoting a witness who lives in an area where the White Helmets operated. “For example, a person receives a minor injury, is rescued, evacuated and then brought back with their stomach cut open and with their internal organs missing.”

Grigoriev noted that according to multiple witnesses, including members of the White Helmets, the organization was also involved in looting wounded individuals in Syria, especially women, as well as plundering stores and damaged buildings.

“Sometimes we came to help, entered a flat, and, if we found gold or jewelry, seized it,” Grigoriev quoted a White Helmets member in Douma. “In one flat, there was a woman who felt ill, we came to help her, found some gold and stole it.”

Members of the White Helmets in Saqba also reported about the extensive system of corruption and theft among sponsors in the organization. Referring to the information provided by a White Helmets member, Grigoriev said the leaders of the organization took for private gain parts of donations they received.

Moreover, the White Helmets constructed the fortifications for terrorists and illegal armed groups in Syria, the Foundation for the Study of Democracy revealed.

“There is overwhelming evidence which proves that the White Helmets centers were permanently engaged in building fortifications for battle positions for terrorist and illegal armed groups who had been supplying them with water and food and evacuating wounded terrorists from the front line,” Grigoriev reported on Thursday on the research completed by the Foundation in Syria.

Grigoriev said that a White Helmets member in Douma told him the group constructed earthen mounds, dug trenches, transport fighters, weapons and ammunition for the fighters.”

“For instance, we dug trenches in the towns of Mesraba and al-Shaifuniya and constructed an earthen mound,” Grigoriev quoted the White Helmets member as saying.

The report on the activities of the White Helmets was prepared using information provided by more than 100 Syrian eyewitnesses, including members of the organization, Syrian Civil Defence, former fighters from illegal groups and terrorist groups, and people living in the areas controlled by terrorists where White Helmets conducted their activities.

The White Helmets, a non-governmental organization that operates in parts of rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey, claims to be a group of volunteer rescue workers.

Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the White Helmets of staging several provocations involving chemical weapons to influence public opinion and justify foreign intervention in Syria.

In August, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said that Washington would continue to provide life-saving and needs-based humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Syrians and support for the White Helmets operating in Syria.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Syria Insanity Must Continue, Sez Washington Establishment & Media

By James Bovard | December 20, 2018

The Washington Post front page today is in full panic mode over Trump’s decision on Syria. Reading the Post, one would think that US intervention had achieved something aside from getting vast numbers of Syrians pointlessly killed. Washington’s laptop bombardiers are hysterically opposed to Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria. But the “Combat Veterans for Continued Carnage” lobby is almost nonexistent.  I slammed Trump’s Syria policy last year in USA Today as his “worst foreign policy folly” but his decision to exit Syria is one of his best decisions yet.

Here’s a link to a USA Today oped I did five years ago on why Americans couldn’t trust Obama on Syria. In a 2014 blog on “Obama’s Great Syrian Bombing Scam,” I groused: “Obama loves to preen as if he is spreading peace, freedom, and democracy with his bombs. But there is no reason to presume that bombing Syria is not as idiotic as it appears. Thus far, the Establishment media is largely playing a lapdog role.” The media’s response to Trump’s withdrawal announcement vivifies how the pro-war bias continues.

When Trump denounced “trigger-happy Hillary” on the campaign trail in 2016, crowds roared. Hopefully exiting Syria is the start of a sea change in U.S. intervention abroad.

Cartoonist Tom Toles beautifully captured the idiocy of U.S. policy in this 2014 cartoon. Two years later, CIA-backed Syrian rebels were fighting Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels. What could possible go wrong?

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December 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment