Aletho News


Is Canada’s Minister of Defence an Arms Pusher?


Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan
By Yves Engler · May 11, 2019

Would it surprise you to learn that Canada’s minister of defence is an arms pusher?

Last Friday members of Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix interrupted a $135-a-plate luncheon to confront defence minister Harjit Sajjan. At an event sponsored by SNC Lavalin, Bombardier, Rio Tinto, etc., we called for cutting military spending, for Canada to withdraw from NATO and an end to weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

While Sajjan’s responsibility for NATO and military spending are straightforward, his role in fueling the Saudi led war in Yemen is less obvious. But, the Department of National Defence (DND) plays a substantial role in Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

As he did the last three years, Sajjan is set to speak at the CANSEC arms bazar in Ottawa later this month. For more than two decades the annual Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) conference has brought together representatives of arms companies, DND, Canadian Forces (CF), various other arms of the federal government and dozens of foreign governments. In 2018 more than 11,000 people attended the two-day conference, including 16 MPs and senators and many generals and admirals.

The corporation supplying Saudi Arabia with more than $10 billion in Light Armoured Vehicles produces the same LAVs for the CF. In a 2012 Canadian Military History article Frank Maas writes, “the CF has continued to purchase LAVs because they have been successful in the field, and they support a domestic producer, General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C), that cooperates closely with the military.” GDLS’ London, Ontario, operations exist largely because of interventionist military industrial policy. A 2013 Federal government report on “Leveraging Defence Procurement Through Key Industrial Capabilities” lists GDLS as one of three “Canadian Defence Industry Success Stories.”

Beyond contracts, subsidies and various other forms of support to Canadian weapons makers, DND has long promoted arms exports. Its website highlights different forms of support to arms exporters. “Learn how the Department of National Defence can assist in connecting Canadian industry to foreign markets”, explains one section. Another notes: “Learn how the Department of National Defence keeps Canadian companies informed of business opportunities at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).”

Based in 30 diplomatic posts around the world (with cross-accreditation to many neighbouring countries), Canadian Defence Attachés promote military exports. According to DND’s website, Defence Attachés assist “Canadian defence manufacturers in understanding and accessing foreign defence markets … facilitate Canadian industry access to relevant officials within the Ministries of Defence of accredited countries … support Canadian industry at key defence industry events in accredited countries … raise awareness in accredited countries of Canadian defence industrial capabilities … provide reports on accredited country defence budget information, items of interest, and trade issues to Canadian industry.”

Representatives of DND often talk up Canadian military equipment as part of delegations to international arms fairs such as the UK’s Defence Security and Equipment International exhibition. According to a FrontLine Defence story titled “Representing Canada in the UAE IDEX”, representatives of DND helped 50 Canadian arms companies flog their wares at the Abu Dhabi-based International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in February. To help the companies move their wares at the largest arms fair in the Middle East, Commander of the Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Darren Garnier, led a Canadian military delegation to IDEX.

International ports visits by naval frigates are sometimes designed to spur arms sales. Lieutenant Bruce Fenton writes, “Canadian warships can serve as venues for trade initiatives, as examples of Canadian technology, and as visible symbols of Canadian interest in a country or region. In countries where relationships are built over time, as is the case with many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, a visit by a Canadian warship can be an important part of a dialogue that can lead to commercial opportunities for Canadian industry.”

To get a sense of the interaction between the various components of the military industrial complex, the FrontLine Defence story detailing Canada’s participation in IDEX was written by Brett Boudreau. His byline notes that he “is a retired CAF Colonel, a Fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and former Director of Marketing and Communications at CADSI.” Boudreau’s trajectory — from the CF, to arms industry spokesperson, to militarist think tank, to writing for a militarist publication — is a stark example of one individual moving through the various components of the military industrial complex. But Boudreau is not unique. It is common for retired CF and DND officials to take up arms industry posts, including senior positions. It wouldn’t be surprising if Sajjan ended up on the board of an arms company after he leaves politics.

Harjit Sajjan heads a ministry intimately tied to a globally oriented corporate weapons industry that profits from war. Is this something Canadians understand and support? Or would the majority of us be upset to learn their Minister of Defence is an arms pusher, promoting sales to anti-democratic, repressive regimes?

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Bolton Is Spinning Israeli ‘Intelligence’ to Push for War Against Iran

By Gareth Porter | TruthDig | May 11, 2019

John Bolton has gotten away with a dangerous deception. The national security adviser’s announcement Sunday that the Pentagon has deployed air and naval forces to the Middle East, which he combined with a threat to Iran, points to a new maneuver to prepare the ground for an incident that could justify a retaliatory attack against Iran.

Bolton presented his threat and the deployments as a response to alleged intelligence about a possible Iranian attack on U.S. targets in the Middle East. But what has emerged indicates that the alleged intelligence does not actually reflect any dramatic new information or analysis from the U.S. intelligence community. Instead, it has all the hallmarks of a highly political case concocted by Bolton.

Further underscoring the deceptive character of Bolton’s maneuver is evidence that senior Israeli national security officials played a key role in creating the alleged intelligence rationale for the case.

The new initiative follows an audacious ruse carried out last fall by Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, detailed in Truthdig in February, to cast the firing of a few mortar rounds in the vicinity of the U.S. embassy and a consulate in Iraq as evidence of an effort by Tehran to harm U.S. diplomats. Bolton exploited that opportunity to press Pentagon officials to provide retaliatory military options, which they did, reluctantly.

Bolton and Pompeo thus established a policy that the Trump administration would hold Iran responsible for any incident involving forces supported by Iran that could be portrayed as an attack on either U.S. personnel or “interests.”

Bolton’s one-paragraph statement on Sunday considerably broadened that policy. It repeated the previously stated principle that the United States will respond to any alleged attack, whether by Iranian forces or by what the administration calls “proxy” forces. But it added yet another major point to Trump administration policy: “a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force [emphasis added].”

That language represents an obvious move by Bolton to create potential options for U.S. retaliation against Iran for a real or alleged attack by “proxy forces” on Israeli or Saudi forces or “interests.” Such a commitment to go to war with Iran over incidents related to Israeli or Saudi conflicts should be the subject of a major debate in the press and in Congress. Thus far, it has somehow escaped notice.

Significantly, on a flight to Finland on Sunday, Pompeo repeated the threat he made last September to respond to any attack by “proxy forces” on U.S. “interests.” He made no reference to possible attacks against “allies.”

Bolton and his staff claimed to the news media that what he characterizes as “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” are based on “intelligence.” Media reports about Bolton’s claim suggest, however, that his dramatic warning is not based on either U.S. intelligence reporting or analysis.

Citing “U.S. officials,” The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the alleged intelligence “showed that Iran drew up plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and possibly Syria, to orchestrate attacks in the Bab el-Mandeb strait near Yemen through proxies and in the Personal [sic] Gulf with its own armed drones.”

But in the very next paragraph, the report quotes an official saying it is “unclear whether the new intelligence indicated operations Tehran planned to carry out imminently or contingency preparations in the case U.S.-Iran tensions erupted into hostilities.”

A Defense Department source said the intelligence showed “a change in behavior that could be interpreted to foreshadow an attack on American forces or interests,” according to the New York Times story on the matter. But the source didn’t actually say that any emerging intelligence had led to such a conclusion or even that any U.S. intelligence official has come to that conclusion.

The timing of the alleged new intelligence also suggests that Bolton’s claim is false. “As recently as last week there were no obvious sign of a new threat,” the Wall Street Journal reported. The New York Times similarly reported that “several Defense officials” said “as recently as last Friday they have had [sic] not seen reason to change the American military’s posture in the region.”

Normally, it would require intelligence from either a highly credible source within the Iranian government or an intercept of a sensitive communication from Iran to justify this kind of accusation. But no news outlet has brought word that any such spectacular new intelligence has found its way to the White House or the Pentagon.

The Journal’s report revealed, moreover, that Bolton has only a “fresh intelligence assessment” rather than any new intelligence report. That “assessment” is clearly not a product of the intelligence community, which would have taken at least several days to arrive at such a fundamental reinterpretation of Iranian intentions. The mysterious new “assessment” was evidently unknown outside Bolton’s office before Bolton swung into action last weekend.

We now know, in fact, that the sources behind Bolton’s claim were Israel’s national security adviser and intelligence agency. Axios published a report Monday by leading Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, who covers national security for Israel’s Channel 13, revealing that a delegation of senior Israeli officials had given Bolton “information” about “possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf” two weeks earlier.

The Israeli delegation, led by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat, met with Bolton and other unnamed officials in the White House, according to Ravid, to discuss possible Iranian plans. Bolton himself tweeted on April 15 about his meeting with Shabbat.

Israeli officials told Ravid that they understood that “intelligence, gathered by the Mossad intelligence agency, was part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement.” What Ravid’s official sources told him reveals, however, that what the Israelis provided to Bolton was not really new intelligence at all; it consisted of several scenarios for what the Iranians might be planning, according to one Israeli official.

“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it,” the Israeli official told Ravid, “but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and that they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf.”

That revelation explains the lack of evidence of either genuine U.S. intelligence reporting or proper assessment to support Bolton’s statement.

Bolton is an old hand at using allegedly damning intelligence on Iran to advance a plan of aggressive U.S. war. In 2003-04, he leaked satellite photographs of specific sites in Iran’s Parchin military complex to the press, claiming those images provided evidence of covert Iranian nuclear weapons-related experiments—even though they showed nothing of the sort. He then tried to pressure International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to insist on an inspection of the sites. When ElBaradei finally relented, he found nothing in that inspection to support Bolton’s claim.

Bolton’s deceptive maneuver has the effect of increasing the range of contingencies that would trigger a U.S. strike on Iran and represent a major advance toward his long-declared intention to attack it. More alarmingly, however, some media outlets have reported his claims without any serious questioning.

Given the violent struggles in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Israel itself, Bolton and the Netanyahu government will be able to portray an incident as an attack by Shiite militias, the Houthis or Hamas on Israeli, Saudi or U.S. “interests,” just as Bolton and Pompeo did last fall. That, in turn, would offer an opportunity for urging Trump to approve a strike against one or more Iranian military targets.

Even more alarming is that both acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and new CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie have signed up for the Bolton initiative. That means that the Pentagon and military leaders can no longer be counted on to oppose such a war, as they did in 2007, when Vice President Dick Cheney pushed unsuccessfully for a plan to retaliate against a future Iraqi militia attack on U.S. troops in Iraq.

The United States is in danger of falling for yet another war ruse as malignant as those that led Congress and the mainstream media to accept the invasion of Iraq or the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Bases in Almost Every Direction: HERE is Where US Outposts Near Iran are Located

Sputnik – May 11, 2019

Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated sharply this week after the US announced the deployment of a carrier strike group to the region and warned that Washington would hit back at Iran with “unrelenting force” if the Islamic Republic threatened US interests.

The Pentagon doubled down on the deployment of its carrier strike group on Friday, saying it would beef up its Middle Eastern theatre command’s assets with additional Patriot missile defence batteries, an amphibious assault ship full of Marines and an amphibious dock ship to complement the recently deployed USS Abraham Lincoln and several nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers.

Iran has dismissed both Washington’s threats and President Trump’s simultaneous offer to negotiate with the country’s leadership, with a deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards saying the US was mistaken if it felt it could intimidate Tehran into talks with threats and sanctions.

Senior US officials have claimed that the troop buildup was a response to Iranian behaviour. Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan called the carrier deployment a “prudent repositioning of assets in response to indication of a credible threat” by Iranian forces. National Security Adviser John Bolton said the move was a reaction “to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” and was aimed at sending “a clear and unmistakable message to [Tehran] that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

However, in light of the vast network of bases that the US has surrounding Iran from virtually all directions, it’s worth asking what the US’s real goal is in the present escalation. Because even without those fresh deployments, the US already has thousands of troops surrounding the Islamic Republic.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, whose area of responsibility includes the Middle East and North Africa, has at least 7,000 US troops at its permanent base in Bahrain. In Kuwait, meanwhile, the US Army’s Central Command has its forward command post, where some 13,000 troops are stationed.

Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates contains 5,000 plus US personnel, while Qatar’s massive Al Udeid Air Base has roughly US 10,000 troops.

Along with the bases, the US has special forces troops operating in Yemen, while Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan station thousands more troops, although some politicians in Baghdad have recently threatened to evict the estimated 5,200 troops based in their country.

Along with the bases, the US also has access to a large series of smaller ‘cooperative security locations’, also known as ‘lily pads’ with 200 troops or less, as well as access to airfields and ports in countries including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.

On Saturday, Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi brushed aside US allegations about Iran posing a threat to US forces in the Middle East, accusing the Trump administration of using “fake intelligence.”

“These are all allegations which are being produced by the same people who, in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq, did the same,” Ravanchi said, likely referring to John Bolton’s role in pushing the invasion during his work as an adviser in the administration of President George W. Bush.

Given the presence of US troops at bases in virtually every one of Tehran’s neighbours, perhaps it’s Iran’s leaders who should be the ones complaining about “credible threats” and “escalatory indications.”

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Gaza Rockets: How Israeli PR & US media reverse the reality

If Americans Knew | May 11, 2019

Rockets Raining Down – An excerpt from the documentary “Occupation Of The American Mind”, an analysis of how Israeli propaganda experts spin Israel’s attacks on Palestinians, and how US media repeat this spin, reversing the reality of what’s actually going on.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | 1 Comment

Zainab Walks On Her Feet, Ivanka Uses Government Money for Secret Services

Image: Hezbollah Flag (L), Ivanka Trump (R). Credit: Public Domain/ Fortune Conferences
By Heba Mourad | American Herald Tribune | May 10, 2019

I entered the hotel apartment where a dozen ladies were sitting together. They were in Tehran for a conference on the status of women in Islam. Among the ladies sitting was a young lady in her 30s. I had seen her before in a public event in Beirut some two years ago. I went to the hotel to see a friend, and then I thought, why not see if I can socialize and get to know her up close. I had to go soon, loads of unfinished work was waiting for me at my office.

The next day, I decided to take some distance from office work and go on a short trip to accompany the ladies who were traveling to another Iranian city. And I did get lucky when I had the seat right next to her on the flight. Well, I forgot to introduce her to you; she is the daughter of the man Israel fears to death. Zainab, the daughter of Hezbollah Chief Sayed Hassan Nasrallah and I spoke all the way during that flight. We later had a long talk as well during the night after dinner.

She told me about her childhood memories, her relationship with her dad, her brother who was martyred while defending Lebanon in face of Israeli occupation, her mother who she thinks highly of, her life as a woman, a mother and a Lebanese citizen, and the list goes on.

Let all the details aside, what is so amazing about this young lady who is 33 years old and a mother of four children is that you totally forget she is the daughter of the Hezbollah chief. She is so humble and friendly. My plan was first to write about her memories with her dad in particular, especially that she does not usually talk to the media. I thought many might be curious to know more about this Nasrallah family member. I stayed with the group for one day at the hotel; we socialized and had food together. And again, I kept forgetting she is the daughter of so and so.

Rumors about this lady and her family have been circulating throughout the years. Some say she is arrogant, others say she and her family enjoy a luxurious life and spend the money of the people. Other times I hear some claiming that she lives somewhere underground and she does not go out without escorts and body guards.

She keeps a smile on her face all the time and she makes sure she is an average person in her society in terms of finances and spending.

“I go out alone, I do my own shopping and I do not have any bodyguards to escort me,” she told me. She likes keeping a simple life style and she says she is not poor, but would say she lives like any other middle-class person in her country. She joined the group of ladies all the time in the lunches and dinners, and shared a room with a couple of ladies. It felt like I had known her forever.

On that day, she was wearing her neat black gown known as the ‘Abaya’ and a pair of Sketchers. Taking pictures with the group here and there, they made jokes on how these should remain out of media’s reach to keep a low profile. She does not like being in the lime light and she likes having a normal and simple life. She told me how she enjoyed moments with her father, and how she looks up to him not only as a father but also as a leader.

She told me that the trait she likes the most about her father is how humble he is, and she tries to be always like him and teach this to her kids as well. Maybe I will not write down what I decide to keep to myself for the time being; a long and colorful discussion with the First daughter of the resistance movement.

For a second, I stopped to think: this young lady who can abuse the power of her father respects people and their feelings so much and practices what her father preaches. Her father, put on the terror list by the US is the one who taught this girl good manner. She said she always listens to his advice. “When it comes to society, I listen to his advice a lot. He knows what is best and always urges us to be respectful of the people and their feelings and that we should always set a good example.”

“I can say we are considered as middle-class. We are not poor and I thank God for providing us a decent life. However, even if we were super rich we would not have use that money to live a luxurious life. We are part of our society and we should share a similar living.”

On the other side of the planet, there exists another daughter of a famous man who has become notorious in the eyes of many, Ivanka Trump. First daughter and US presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, vacationed at a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic over a long weekend in August. The cost to US taxpayers: more than $58,000.

Also, a week-long Aspen ski vacation taken in March 2017 by Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and their families cost taxpayers at least $330,000 in security costs, plus thousands more in ski equipment rentals for the agents assigned to shadow the family on the slopes, according to records obtained by CBS News.

That other side of the planet is the one that keeps trying to impose “otherness”, wars, supremacy across the globe, and is inconsiderate of its own people. As Ivanka and the American ruling family enjoy luxurious hotel rooms and secret services, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) said in a new report that about 13 million American children are living in homes with incomes below the poverty line, depriving many of a decent education and proper nutrition, and putting them at risk of homelessness and violence.

The US Secret Service has allocated more than $90,000 for golf cart rentals in South Florida in the winter of 2018, ostensibly to protect President Donald Trump while he hits the links. Critics call the family’s frequent travel exorbitant and wasteful and insist the Trump family can afford their own security. It is okay for a president to use secret services but not to go (cheat) on golf courses, travel for the weekends or even allow his family to use that for personal and business trips.

This is while the head of the Hezbollah resistance movement lives a normal life and does not seek any luxuries, but rather dedicates all his time to protect Lebanon and the Lebanese in face of the US’s number one ally; the Israeli apartheid regime.

And the Israelis seem to fear Hezbollah more than ever. Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of Energy, saying that “Hezbollah missiles may target all of Israel. Zionists consider Hezbollah a very dangerous and highly experienced enemy.”

The Israeli Defense Forces, referring to the precision of the Lebanese Hezbollah missiles, writes: “Hezbollah is capable of targeting Israel’s critical facilities, and the 2006 Lebanon War seems nothing compared to a conflict with Hezbollah in future.”

Daniel “Danny” Rubinstein, an Israeli journalist, said that “Hassan Nasrallah is a great figure. Gamal Abdel Nasser fought for six days, but Hassan Nasrallah kept Israelis four weeks in their place in 2006.”

Now if you do not read history or keep up with the news, do not mistakenly think that Hezbollah is behind all the trouble in the region as Western mainstream media try to put it. Hezbollah is a Lebanese political party, as legitimate as any other in Lebanon. It was formed only when the Israeli apartheid regime decided to attack Lebanon, what people in the region used to call the ‘bride of the Middle East’.

Hezbollah has been defending the region in face of Israeli attacks and it has been standing firm in the face of terrorist groups like Daesh, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra front.

Back to where this all started; great people enjoy humility. Many say humility is weakness; however, a short but sufficient explanation would be that of Dr. Robert Hogan, founder and president of Hogan Assessments who was quoted by Forbes as explaining “Humility is the psychological opposite of narcissism.”

It is an underrated leadership quality. To be humble is not to think less of oneself, but to think of one-self-less, and this is what I think my story today should be all about.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Misled again by the arbiters of anti-semitism

By Jonathon Cook | May 11, 2019

British comedian David Schneider has become one of the more influential public figures on social media seeking to arbitrate what constitutes anti-semitism. Compared to TV show host Rachel Riley, or even Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, Schneider is an exemplar of moderation and rationality. But, to be honest, the bar has been set pretty low in recent years.

Schneider has now published a guide in the Independent newspaper on “how to talk about Israel without sliding into antisemitism”. Although there are elements to his guide I can agree with, most of his advice is – to put it charitably – simplistic, misleading or downright unhelpful.

Given how polarised public discourse has grown on the issue of anti-semitism, and the degree to which it has been weaponised by those – Jews and non-Jews alike – opposed to a new kind of insurgency politics in the UK and US demanding the right to speak out unequivocally in support of Palestinian rights, Schneider’s blind spots need highlighting.

He rightly notes that the phrase “legitimate criticism of Israel” has become clichéd. But it is more than just a cliché; it has come to serve as a ringfence, ensuring that “legitimate” criticism relates only to Netanyahu and the Israeli right.

Many of us, however, want to point out that there would still be major problems with Israel even if Netanyahu had been replaced at last month’s election by the rival party of generals led by Benny Gantz or if the Israeli Labour party ever managed to revive itself from terminal decline. We want to talk about why Israel was a very problematic kind of state long before anyone had heard of Netanyahu, during a time when a supposed Israeli left ruled the country.

So here I offer an addendum meant to clarify and counter the arguments made in Schneider’s seven-point guide.

The relevant text of his guide is in bold, with my comments below in ordinary type:

1. Avoid saying “Zionist” or “Zionism” when discussing contemporary Israel/Palestine. The terms are too loaded now, too coarse and broad in their application, and too often used by hardcore antisemites to mean simply Jews.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a Zionist, but so are Israeli lawyers and peace activists fighting to achieve justice for Palestinians. You cannot lump them all together. Fair enough when talking historically, as long as you’re informed and precise, but for the present day, I recommend using specific terms instead, such as “the Israeli government” or “Netanyahu”.

Schneider has lost no time in revealing the nub of the problem with his guide. He is a liberal Zionist, and understandably he feels uncomfortable being lumped in with Netanyahu. But the primary goal of Palestinians and their supporters isn’t to make Schneider or other liberal Zionists feel comfortable with their political views or to comply with their demand that “legitimate” criticism of Israel be restricted to Netanyahu.

Yes, some anti-semites may use “Zionist” as code for “Jew”. But Schneider is demanding his cake and eating it in insisting that the core ideology driving Israeli policy towards the Palestinians for more than seven decades be declared largely unmentionable.

Zionism wasn’t just a historical prelude to Israel’s creation, some anachronism to be deposited in a museum. All the major political parties in Israel still firmly define themselves as Zionist. It is at the core of their political programmes, meaning that they share much common ground. The parties are often divided chiefly about how to achieve their political goals, not what those goals are.

Political disagreements in Israel revolve around two camps: Labour Zionists, who founded Israel, and Revisionist Zionists, now represented chiefly by Netanyahu’s Likud party, that have largely ousted Labour Zionists from power since the late 1970s.

The movement Schneider probably identifies most with are the Labour Zionists (now often described as liberal Zionists) whose founders drove 80 per cent of the native Palestinian population off their lands in 1948 in what would today be called an ethnic cleansing operation.

It didn’t end there, though. The Labour Zionists then created a land and residential segregation system inside the new state of Israel that very much persists to this day. In fact, almost all of Israel’s land is reserved exclusively for Jews, with many hundreds of communities using admissions committees to bar the fifth of the population who are Palestinian citizens. The Palestinian minority have been herded into deprived and overcrowded ghettoes on a tiny fraction of the remaining land. All of this is entirely separate from what happens to Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Inside Israel, the state’s control and allocation of land and resources on an ethnic basis is know as Judaisation, and it has been at the heart of state policy for 71 years.

Labour Zionists also established and maintained a rigid system of segregated state education, separating Jewish and Palestinian children – all of them Israeli citizens – in much the same way as occurred in the Jim Crow South in the US.

Outside Israel, the Labour Zionists founded the first settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which were built in violation of international law and with intent to destroy any hope of a Palestinian state emerging.

Today the Labour Zionists still advocate policies to keep Israel’s Jewish and Palestinian citizens apart, and support the larger settlements, even at the cost of denying the Palestinians any viable right to self-determination. In any other context, we would call them ethnic nationalists, or racists.

In fact, one could reasonably argue that Judaisation and political Zionism – the kind that probably finds favour with 99 per cent of Israeli Jews – are as good as synonyms. Many of the Israeli Jewish lawyers and human rights activists Schneider refers to who are trying to help Palestinians in the occupied territories are still quite ready to back a political system inside Israel that keeps Palestinian citizens separate from Jewish citizens.

These extreme liberal Zionists – small in number though they are – are plagued by concerns about the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories, but all too often because they want Israel out of those territories so it can concentrate on privileging Jews inside Israel, even though a fifth of Israel’s population are not Jewish.

Those who do not feel that way are usually described as anti-Zionists – one reason why the term “Zionist” is such a helpful ideological signpost about where Israel Jews and their supporters stand on core issues like equality inside the state of Israel itself.

The other camp, the Likud Zionists, have not opposed this system of segregation, which closely echoes apartheid South Africa. In fact, they have sought to entrench and expand it. Today, the main difference between Labour and Likud Zionists is the latter’s indifference to how such policies are perceived by the international community.

So, in other words, there is no way to understand or critique Israel’s political system, or the nature of its abuses of Palestinians, or the ideology espoused by its supporters abroad, without analysing Zionism and its aims.

Schneider’s formula makes as much sense as demanding back in the 1980s that “legitimate criticism” of South Africa not address the country’s overarching apartheid ideology but be reserved specifically for P W Botha and his government. Following Schneider’s advice would make useful, reasoned criticism of Israel impossible.

2. Do not slide from anger at the actions of the Israeli state into asserting that Israel is controlling everything or paying money to MPs, celebrities or the media to act as they do. To do so simply echoes far-right antisemitism and centuries-old conspiracy theories about Jews, now rebadged to apply to Israel.

And yes, I know about the documentary The Lobby, where a Labour MP was filmed discussing money with an Israeli embassy official. But unless you have other examples of this, I suggest you avoid it.

Few critics of Israel are actually claiming anything of this sort. Schneider has offered a strawman formulation here. But I suspect he wishes to catch in his trawl net far more than these claims.

It is interesting to consider why it is so contentious to claim that Israel wields power through its lobbies to promote its interests in the US and UK when our political elites are so ready to claim that Russia has been supposedly interfering in superhuman ways in the US and UK to pursue its interests.

It is telling that Schneider, like the British media, wishes to hurry past Al-Jazeera’s documentary The Lobby. The undercover film did not just show a Labour MP discussing money with an embassy official – as Schneider would presumably know if he had watched the documentary. It showed much, much more.

Not least, it showed an Israeli government agent, Shai Masot, who was probably working for the strategic affairs ministry at the time, plotting from within the UK to unseat a British government minister who was seen by Israel as a little too sympathetic to the Palestinians. And it showed pro-Israel activists within the Labour party, led by the Jewish Labour Movement, colluding with the Israeli embassy to damage and oust Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn because he too is seen as overly sympathetic to Palestinian rights. That is the necessary context for understanding the endless claims of a supposed “anti-semitism crisis” in the Labour party, much of it advanced by this same Jewish Labour Movement.

The Lobby – both the UK series and the censored, but leaked, US follow-up – were groundbreaking television. They put flesh on the bare bones of what we already knew about the lobby’s activities in interfering in British and American politics. To dismiss its revelations so casually and quickly is to bury one’s head in the sand – because its findings are too unpalatable for those who wish to place Israel at the core of their identity.

3. Don’t conflate Israel and Jews. It may anger you that the likes of Netanyahu try to do this, so don’t make the same mistake yourself. If you see someone talking about Jews, antisemitism or the Holocaust and find yourself leaping straight to Israel-Palestine, think again.

This would make good sense only if we had not just spent the last three years witnessing the term “anti-semitism” being publicly redefined so as to refer chiefly to criticism of Israel. It wasn’t, after all, Israel’s critics that insisted public bodies and political parties, including the British Labour party, adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s 11 examples of anti-semitism, seven of which refer to Israel.

Here’s a promise. If the accusation of anti-semitism is restricted to examples of hatred, suspicion or fear of Jews, I happily promise to avoid raising the issue of Israel during debates about anti-semitism. But when the term is being weaponised, when its meaning is being altered to defend a state, and one that has been abusing Palestinians for decades without serious censure, then I and others are under a moral responsibility to talk about Israel and remind others that criticism of Israel is not usually anti-semitic.

4. Avoid the terms “Israel lobby” and especially “Jewish lobby” unless you also say “Saudi lobby”, “Russian lobby”, “Hindu lobby” and so on. “Supporters of Israel” is safer language.

As for “Jewish lobby”, they say “two Jews, three opinions”. The idea of us agreeing enough to form a single lobby is as likely as Theresa May fighting the next election as Tory leader.

It is rather surprising that Schneider claims Jews are so disputatious with each other that they could never form a single lobby. Surprising because so many prominent Jews, including Jonathan Freeland of the Guardian, and Schneider himself, I believe, have regularly insisted that Jews are almost entirely of a single mind on at least one issue: that Israel is crucial to their identity as Jews. (This, of course, usually serves as a prelude to warning that any criticism of Israel – apart from the “legitimate” kind they approve of – is evidence of anti-semitism because it undermines Jewish identity.)

Not only is there a very obvious “Israel lobby”, but it is quite unlike the other lobbies Schneider mentions. In the UK, for example, there is no visible public lobby for Saudi Arabia or Russia, and if Hindus are actively and vocally campaigning to prevent criticism of India, or labelling such criticism as anti-Hindu, I must have missed it.

And in one obvious sense, Schneider sabotages his own argument. We have just seen American society waste more than two years hyperventilating about non-existent Russian “collusion” with Donald Trump – a US president supposedly acting as a sort of Trojan horse or Manchurian candidate for the Russia lobby.

Unlike the many conspiracy theories about Russia, the Israel lobby is talked about so much by Israel’s critics because it is so in our faces, and so obviously trying to hijack or manipulate public debate in ways that harm free speech and Palestinian rights.

Right now, more than half of state legislatures in the US have passed legislation to limit their citizens’ fundamental right to free speech – but only in relation to criticism of Israel. Similar legislation is well advanced in Congress too.

This spate of legislation has occurred not because US politicians love Israel more than their own country (which Americans are still free to criticise), but because of the ferocious tactics of an extremely well organised Israel lobby in the US. That lobby is dominated by both rightwing Jewish leadership organisations and rightwing Christian evangelical groups.

None of this is to say that the Israel lobby is supremely powerful, or even unusually powerful, even if it sometimes looks that way. There are lots of other powerful lobbies, from the health and gun lobbies to the arms and financial industries lobbies. And, we could add, the Saudi-oil lobby too.

In fact, one could plausibly argue that many of these lobbies are even more powerful than the Israel lobby because their power is typically wielded far from public view. They are less visible, and therefore their presence less felt by the public. They operate almost entirely in the shadows.

But that is hardly grounds for condemning critics of Israel who are able to identify the Israel lobby’s activities and influence, and its efforts to manipulate public debate, whether it be by misusing the anti-semitism accusation or working actively to violate Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Many of us can see very clearly what the Israel lobby is up to.

It has, for example, also begun actively interfering in British politics. One only needs to see the arch-conservative body the Board of Deputies of British Jews or the Murdoch-owned Times newspaper regularly sticking the knife into Jeremy Corbyn using anti-semitism as their weapon of choice. It is his socialism, not any presumed anti-semitism, that is really driving the agenda of these bodies.

The lobby is seeking to damage our democracies in plain sight, but it is almost impossible to say so without being accused of anti-semitism, as Schneider himself implies here. That’s a wonderful self-rationalising system if you love Israel, but it is simply terrifying if you think the Palestinians should be entitled to rights in their homeland, or that we should at least have the right to discuss whether they are entitled to such rights.

That is why it is so important to keep identifying and exposing the Israel lobby – because, unlike those other lobbies, we don’t need special access to the hidden corridors of power to see it in operation. Even as ordinary citizens we can identify its role and call it out for what it is.

5) Don’t accuse Jews of dual loyalty to Israel and the UK (or whichever country), and certainly not of just being loyal to Israel. It’s another age-old antisemitic standard, as featured in Stalinist show trials and the Dreyfus affair.

And yet, many prominent Jews in the UK and US – as previously mentioned – tell us that Israel is central to their identity, and in the US have been willing to promote a unique violation of First Amendment rights to prevent criticism of Israel.

In fact, some make no secret of their dual loyalty. Here is what I wrote recently in a piece on the lobby:

That pro-Israel lobbyists – as opposed to Jews generally – do have dual loyalty seems a peculiar thing to deny, given that the purpose of groups like AIPAC is to rally support for Israel in Congress.

Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a key backer of Republican candidates for the presidency, has never hidden his passion not only for Israel but specifically for the ultra-nationalist governments of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In fact, he is so committed to Netanyahu’s survival that he spent nearly $200 million propping up an Israeli newspaper over its first seven years – all so he could assist the prime minister of a foreign country.

Similarly, Haim Saban, one of the main donors to Democratic presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton, has made no secret of his commitment to Israel. He has said: “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.”

6) Don’t compare Israeli actions to the Nazis unless it’s incredibly specific and historically justified (such as a settler calling for Arabs to be gassed). And even then, use extreme caution.

Finally we can agree.

7) Don’t ask every Jew to condemn Israel in every tweet or comment they make. Would you ask every Muslim to condemn Saudi Arabia? I hope, and presume, not.

Well, fair enough – if anyone beyond a few unhinged people trying to get themselves noticed on social media are actually doing this unbidden.

But it’s a little more complex than Schneider cares to make out. Aren’t Schnneider and other prominent Jewish figures who publicly support Israel or Zionism not creating this problem for themselves by specifically tying their Jewishness to an identification with Israel?

If Jonathan Freedland keeps telling us that to criticise Israel too vehemently is to undermine his Jewish identity – and that this is itself a new form of anti-semitism – he can hardly complain when Israel’s critics hone in on his support for Israel and try to assess what exactly he means by it.

Does his Israel-tied Jewish identity allow him to excuse, rationalise or minimise the murder of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza by Israeli snipers? Does he reject Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem, which violates international law and was based on the ethnic cleansing of many Palestinian residents living there? Does he accept that all of the West Bank must be handed over to the Palestinians as part of a future agreement? Does he accept that Palestinian refugees, ethnically cleansed from their homeland in 1948 and 1967 by Israel, have a right to return? And is he prepared to condemn unequivocally the apartheid system Israel has created inside its recognised borders that separates the rights of Jewish citizens from Palestinian citizens of Israel?

His and Schneider’s answers to those questions and many others not only help us understand what they mean when they speak of “legitimate” criticism of Israel, but what their view of their Jewish identity really entails – for their approach to human rights generally and their approach to Palestinian rights specifically.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

There’s No Other Way To Put It: Israel Kills Babies To Terrorize Gaza Into Submission

By Bryce Greene | May 10, 2019

On Sunday afternoon, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, ending a three-day escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip. After two unarmed protesters were killed during the weekly Friday protest, two Israeli soldiers were killed in a firefight at the border. The Israeli military responded by bombing targets in Gaza resulting in two more Palestinian deaths. In response, Hamas and other minor political groupings such as Islamic Jihad, launched a barrage of projectiles into Israel.

According to a Hamas leader, the organization felt escalation was a necessary response to Israel shirking its obligations to ease the blockade — one of the terms of the ceasefire after Operation Protective Edge. To signal resistance against Israel, Hamas and other militant groups in the strip occasionally launch homemade projectiles into southern Israel. In reality these “rockets” are weak, especially compared to the high tech war machine that Israel possesses. In fact, only four Israelis were killed by the indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel’s urban areas. According to the Independent, this is the first time in five years that an Israeli has been killed by a projectile launched from Gaza.

As a side note: when the Jerusalem Post reported early on about injured Israelis, their numbers were inflated by 10 who were mildly injured while running to shelter and 45 who suffered from “anxiety”. Only three in this case were actually injured from Gaza rocket fire.

Why then, in the face of such a relatively insignificant threat, does Israel decide to erupt into a bombing frenzy in one of the poorest areas in the world? Israeli officials often say it is about something called “deterrence capacity”.

Israel bombs Gaza during the night [From @MuhammadSmiry]

Deterrence capacity is essentially a measure of how terrified people are of a violent response if they were to cross Israel. Throughout all of Israel’s statehood, deterrence capacity has been at the center of its military strategy. It is established when the Israeli forces “demonstrate real hooliganism” at the demand of the high Israeli officials. The more indiscriminate the violence and the more fear struck into the hearts of Palestinians, the less likely they are to resist Israel’s harsh treatment. The Israelis use the term “mowing the lawn” to describe these periodic outbursts of violence. It is a deliberate attempt to beat a desperate people into submission in order to accomplish political ends. In a word, it is the definition of state terrorism.

On Sunday, while the bombs were still falling, Hamas and Islamic Jihad signaled that they were ready to reach a ceasefire. Israel ignored this because, according to Israeli officials, they wanted to reestablish their deterrence capacity. Netanyahu promised “massive strikes” and even began mobilizing ground forces in preparation for an invasion. In other words, the military wanted the population of Gaza to suffer more so that they would fear Israel more. If they fear Israeli bombs enough, Israeli strategy assumes the people of Gaza would quietly accept the destruction of their society. The only reason Israel did not escalate was that it did not want to juggle the PR of bombing a defenseless population during the Eurovision song contest which is being held in Tel Aviv this year.

Seba Abu Arar, 14 months, killed in Israeli Strikes [From @MuhammadSmiry]

The decision to continue the bombardment came even after it was known that many civilians, including a pregnant woman and and an infant, were killed in the attacks. Israeli command evidently did not care about these casualties. This is just the latest example of Israel using security concerns to justify outright terrorism. To show just how spurious the security pretext is, ask simple question: What effect will the bombing have on Israeli security?

The bombings are never designed to destroy Hamas militarily. That would be impossible without completely obliterating the strip after a costly invasion and then entirely uprooting Gaza’s civil society. The attacks also do not weaken Hamas politically, but strengthen it. Hamas’s popularity comes in part from their reputation as an armed resistance against Israeli aggression. Armed resistance wouldn’t be as popular if Israel was not continuously antagonizing the population with a crippling blockade and perpetuating the humanitarian crisis.

When Israel attacks Gaza, they’re not expecting some sort of change to the status quo. Bombing the enclave only serves to exacerbate both feelings of hostility as well as the underlying conditions. All of this increases the likelihood of Palestinian violence. As long as Israel refuses to address the roots of the situation, daily life in Gaza will remain unchanged, along with the conditions that lead some to justify firing projectiles into Israel.

So, when Israel bombs one of the most densely populated areas on earth, remorselessly slaughters infants and bombs school shelters and personal residences all in the name of security, the serious reader must understand it as nothing less than a cover for the continuation of terrorism against the Palestinian people. Without willful ignorance, mental gymnastics or outright cognitive dissonance, there’s no other way of putting it.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments