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Stories from the Homeland – A Palestinian Film by Zarefah Baroud

Stories of the Homeland from Zarefah Baroud on Vimeo.

Palestinian-American young filmmaker, Zarefah Baroud talks to her aunt in Gaza, Dr. Suma Baroud and her father, Palestinian author and journalist, Dr. Ramzy Baroud about the Nakba, growing up in a refugee camp and their hope for the future.

The two siblings, one in exile and the other under siege in Gaza convey a moving personal account of their lives in the context of the larger Palestinian narrative, that of war, military occupation, resistance and sumoud.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Pretexts for an Attack on Iran

By Ray McGovern – Consortium News – May 15, 2019

An Iraq-War redux is now in full play, with leading roles played by some of the same protagonists — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, for example, who says he still thinks attacking Iraq was a good idea. Co-starring is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The New York Times on Tuesday played its accustomed role in stoking the fires, front-paging a report that, at Bolton’s request, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has come up with an updated plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East, should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons. The Times headline writer, at least, thought it appropriate to point to echoes from the past: “White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War.”

By midday, Trump had denied the Times report, branding it “fake news.” Keep them guessing, seems to be the name of the game.

Following the Iraq playbook, Bolton and Pompeo are conjuring up dubious intelligence from Israel to “justify” attacking — this time — Iran. (For belligerent Bolton, this was entirely predictable.) All this is clear.

What is not clear, to Americans and foreigners alike, is why Trump would allow Bolton and Pompeo to use the same specious charges — terrorism and nuclear weapons — to provoke war with a country that poses just as much strategic threat to the U.S. as Iraq did — that is to say, none. The corporate media, with a two-decade memory-loss and a distinct pro-Israel bias, offers little help toward understanding.

Before discussing the main, but unspoken-in-polite-circles, impulse behind the present step-up in threats to Iran, let’s clear some underbrush by addressing the two limping-but-still-preferred, ostensible rationales, neither of which can bear close scrutiny:

No. 1: It isn’t because Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. We of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity shot down that canard a year and a half ago. In a Memorandum for President Trump, we said:

“The depiction of Iran as ‘the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism’ is not supported by the facts. While Iran is guilty of having used terrorism as a national policy tool in the past, the Iran of 2017 is not the Iran of 1981. In the early days of the Islamic Republic, Iranian operatives routinely carried out car bombings, kidnappings and assassinations of dissidents and of American citizens. That has not been the case for many years.”

No. 2. It isn’t because Iran is building a nuclear weapon. A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate concluded unanimously that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and had not resumed any such work. That judgment has been re-affirmed by the Intelligence Community annually since then.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, imposed strict, new, verifiable restrictions on Iranian nuclear-related activities and was agreed to in July 2015 by Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, France, the U.K., Germany and the European Union.

Even the Trump administration has acknowledged that Iran has been abiding by the agreement’s provisions. Nevertheless, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018, four weeks after John Bolton became his national security adviser.

‘We Prefer No Outcome’

Fair WarningWhat follows may come as a shock to those malnourished on the drivel in mainstream media: The “WHY,” quite simply, is Israel. It is impossible to understand U.S. Middle East policy without realizing the overwhelming influence of Israel on it and on opinion makers. (A personal experience drove home how strong the public appetite is for the straight story, after I gave a half-hour video interview to independent videographer Regis Tremblay three years ago. He titled it “The Inside Scoop on the Middle East & Israel,” put it on YouTube and it got an unusually high number of views.)

Syria is an illustrative case in point, since Israel has always sought to secure its position in the Middle East by enlisting U.S. support to curb and dominate its neighbors. An episode I recounted in that interview speaks volumes about Israeli objectives in the region as a whole, not only in Syria. And it includes an uncommonly frank admission/exposition of Israeli objectives straight from the mouths of senior Israeli officials. It is the kind of case-study, empirical approach much to be preferred to indulging in ponderous pronouncements or, worse still, so-called “intelligence assessments.”

It has long been clear that Israeli leaders have powerful incentives to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. This Israeli priority has become crystal clear in many ways. Reporter Jodi Rudoren, writing from Jerusalem, had an important article in TheNew York Times on Sept. 6, 2013, in which she addressed Israel’s motivation in a particularly candid way. Her article, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike against Syria,” noted that the Israelis have argued, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome.

Rudoren wrote:

Jodi Rudoren. (Twitter)

“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”

If this is the way Israel’s current leaders look at the carnage in Syria, they seem to believe that deeper U.S. involvement, including military action, is likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict especially when Syrian government forces seem to be getting the upper hand. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates it will be.

The fact that Syria’s main ally is Iran, with whom it has a mutual defense treaty, also plays a role in Israeli calculations. And since Iranian military support has not been enough to destroy those challenging Bashar al-Assad, Israel can highlight that in an attempt to humiliate Iran as an ally.

Today the geography has shifted from Syria to Iran: What’s playing out in the Persian Gulf area is a function of the politically-dictated obsequiousness of American presidents to the policies and actions of Israel’s leaders. This bipartisan phenomenon was obvious enough under recent presidents like Clinton and Obama; but under Bush II and Trump, it went on steroids, including a born-again, fundamentalist religious aspect.

One need hardly mention the political power of the Israel lobby and the lucrative campaign donations from the likes of Sheldon Adelson. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is riding high, at least for the now, Israeli influence is particularly strong in the lead-up to U.S. elections, and Trump has been acquitted of colluding with Russia.

The stars seem aligned for very strong “retaliatory strikes” for terrorist acts blamed on Iran.

Tonkin — er, I Mean Persian Gulf

Over the weekend, four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged near the Strait of Hormuz. Last evening The Wall Street Journal was the first to report an “initial U.S. assessment” that Iran likely was behind the attacks, and quoted a “U.S. official” to the effect that if confirmed, this would inflame military tensions in the Persian Gulf.The attacks came as the U.S. deploys an aircraft carrier, bombers and an antimissile battery to the Gulf — supposedly to deter what the Trump administration said is the possibility of Iranian aggression.

On Tuesday, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, with whom Saudi Arabia has been fighting a bloody war for the past four years, launched a drone attack on a Saudi east-west pipeline that carries crude to the Red Sea. This is not the first such attack; a Houthi spokesman said the attack was a response to Saudi “aggression” and “genocide” in Yemen. The Saudis shut down the pipeline for repair.

Thus the dangers in and around the Strait of Hormuz increase apace with U.S.-Iran recriminations. This, too, is not new.

Tension in the Strait was very much on Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen’s mind as he prepared to retire on Sept. 30, 2011. Ten days before, he told the Armed Force Press Service of his deep concern over the fact that the U.S. and Iran have had no formal communications since 1979:

“Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran. So we don’t understand each other. If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right, that there will be miscalculations.”

Now the potential for an incident has increased markedly. Adm. Mullen was primarily concerned about the various sides — Iran, the U.S., Israel — making hurried decisions with, you guessed it, “unintended consequences.”

With Pompeo and Bolton on the loose, the world may be well advised to worry even more about “intended consequences” from a false flag attack. The Israelis are masters at this. The tactic has been in the U.S. clandestine toolkit for a long time, as well. In recent days, the Pentagon has reported tracking “anomalous naval activity” in the Persian Gulf, including loading small sailing vessels with missiles and other military hardware.

Cheney: Down to the Sea in Boats

In July 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that Bush administration officials had held a meeting in the vice president’s office in the wake of a January 2008 incident between Iranian patrol boats and U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. The reported purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways to provoke war with Iran.

Hersh wrote:

“There were a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build in our shipyard four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.

“And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of, that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation.

“Silly? Maybe. But potentially very lethal. Because one of the things they learned in the [January 2008] incident was the American public, if you get the right incident, the American public will support bang-bang-kiss-kiss. Youknow, we’re into it.”

Preparing the (Propaganda) Battlefield

One of Washington’s favorite ways to blacken Iran and its leaders is to blame it for killing U.S. troops in Iraq. Iran was accused, inter alia, of supplying the most lethal improvised explosive devices, but sycophants like Gen. David Petraeus wanted to score points by blaming the Iranians for still more actions.

On April 25, 2008, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters that Gen. David Petraeus would be giving a briefing “in the next couple of weeks” that would provide detailed evidence of “just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability.”

Petraeus’s staff alerted U.S. media to a major news event in which captured Iranian arms in Karbala, Iraq, would be displayed and then destroyed. But there was a small problem. When American munitions experts went to Karbala to inspect the alleged cache of Iranian weapons, they found nothing that could be credibly linked to Iran.

This embarrassing episode went virtually unreported in Western media – like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no corporate media to hear it crash. A fiasco is only a fiasco if folks find out about it. The Iraqis did announce that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had formed his own Cabinet committee to investigate U.S. claims and attempt to “find tangible information and not information based on speculation.”

With his windsock full of neoconservative anti-Iran rhetoric, Petreaus, as CIA director, nevertheless persisted — and came up with even more imaginative allegations of Iranian perfidy. Think back, for example, to October 2011 and the outlandish White House spy feature at the time: the Iranian-American-used-car-salesman-Mexican-drug-cartel plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. And hold your nose.

More recently, the Pentagon announced it has upped its estimate of how many U.S. troops Iran killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2011. The revised death tally would mean that Iran is responsible for 17 percent of all U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

Who Will Restrain the ‘Crazies’?

Pompeo stopped off in Brussels on Monday to discuss Iran with EU leaders, skipping what would have been the first day of a two-day trip to Russia. Pompeo did not speak to the news media in Brussels, but European foreign ministers said that they had urged “restraint.”

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt told reporters: “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended, really on either side.” British Army Major General Christopher Ghika was rebuked by U.S. Central Command for saying Tuesday: “There has been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.” Central Command spokesperson Captain Bill Urban said Ghika’s remarks “run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region.”

Although there is growing resentment at the many serious problems tied to Trump’s pulling the U.S. out of the Iran deal, and there is the EU’s growing pique at heavyweights like Pompeo crashing their gatherings uninvited, I agree with Pepe Escobar’s bottom line, that “it’s politically naïve to believe the Europeans will suddenly grow a backbone.”

There remains a fleeting hope that cooler heads in the U.S. military might summon the courage to talk some sense into Trump, in the process making it clear that they will take orders from neither Pompeo nor from National Security Advisor John Bolton. But the generals and admirals of today are far more likely in the end to salute and “follow orders.”

There is a somewhat less forlorn hope that Russia will give Pompeo a strong warning in Sochi — a shot across the bow, so to speak. The last thing Russia, China, Turkey and other countries want is an attack on Iran. Strategic realities have greatly changed since the two wars on Iraq.

In 1992, still in the afterglow of Desert Storm (the first Gulf War), former Gen. Wesley Clark asked then Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz about major lessons to be drawn from the Desert Storm attack on Iraq in 1991. Without hesitation, Wolfowitz answered, “We can do these things and the Russians won’t stop us.” That was still true for the second attack on Iraq in 2003.

But much has changed since then: In 2014, the Russians stopped NATO expansion to include Ukraine, after the Western-sponsored coup in Kiev; and in the years that followed, Moscow thwarted attempts by the U.S., Israel, and others to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

No doubt Russian President Vladimir Putin would like to “stop us” before the Bolton/Pompeo team finds an “Iranian” casus belli. Initial reporting from Sochi, where Pompeo met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday indicates there was no meeting of the minds on Iran. Both Pompeo and Lavrov described their talks as “frank” — diplomat-speak for acrimonious.

Pompeo was probably treated to much stronger warnings in private during the Sochi talks with Lavrov and Putin. Either or both may even have put into play the potent China card, now that Russia and China have a relationship just short of a military alliance — a momentous alteration of what the Soviets used to call the “correlation of forces.”

In my mind’s eye, I can even see Putin warning, “If you attack Iran, you may wish to be prepared for trouble elsewhere, including in the South China Sea. Besides, the strategic balance is quite different from conditions existing each time you attacked Iraq. We strongly advise you not to start hostilities with Iran — under any pretext. If you do, we are ready this time.”

And, of course, Putin could also pick up the phone and simply call Trump.

There is no guarantee, however, that tough talk from Russia could stick an iron rod into the wheels of the juggernaut now rolling downhill to war on Iran. But, failing that kind of strong intervention and disincentive, an attack on Iran seems all but assured. Were we to be advising President Trump today, we VIPS would not alter a word in the recommendation at the very end of the Memorandum for President George W. Bush we sent him on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2003, after Colin Powell addressed the UN Security Council earlier that day:

“No one has a corner on the truth; nor do we harbor illusions that our analysis is irrefutable or undeniable [as Powell had claimed his was]. But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and presidential briefer and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Wants This War with Iran?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • May 17, 2019

Speaking on state TV of the prospect of a war in the Gulf, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei seemed to dismiss the idea.

“There won’t be any war. … We don’t seek a war, and (the Americans) don’t either. They know it’s not in their interests.”

The ayatollah’s analysis — a war is in neither nation’s interest — is correct. Consider the consequences of a war with the United States for his own country.

Iran’s hundreds of swift boats and handful of submarines would be sunk. Its ports would be mined or blockaded. Oil exports and oil revenue would halt. Air fields and missile bases would be bombed. The Iranian economy would crash. Iran would need years to recover.

And though Iran’s nuclear sites are under constant observation and regular inspection, they would be destroyed.

Tehran knows this, which is why, despite 40 years of hostility, Iran has never sought war with the “Great Satan” and does not want this war to which we seem to be edging closer every day.

What would such a war mean for the United States?

It would not bring about “regime change” or bring down Iran’s government that survived eight years of ground war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

If we wish to impose a regime more to our liking in Tehran, we will have to do it the way we did it with Germany and Japan after 1945, or with Iraq in 2003. We would have to invade and occupy Iran.

But in World War II, we had 12 million men under arms. And unlike Iraq in 2003, which is one-third the size and population of Iran, we do not have the hundreds of thousands of troops to call up and send to the Gulf.

Nor would Americans support such an invasion, as President Donald Trump knows from his 2016 campaign. Outside a few precincts, America has no enthusiasm for a new Mideast war, no stomach for any occupation of Iran.

Moreover, war with Iran would involve firefights in the Gulf that would cause at least a temporary shutdown in oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz — and a worldwide recession.

How would that help the world? Or Trump in 2020?

How many allies would we have in such a war?

Spain has pulled its lone frigate out of John Bolton’s flotilla headed for the Gulf. Britain, France and Germany are staying with the nuclear pact, continuing to trade with Iran, throwing ice water on our intelligence reports that Iran is preparing to attack us.

Turkey regards Iran as a cultural and economic partner. Russia was a de facto ally in Syria’s civil war. China continues to buy Iranian oil. India just hosted Iran’s foreign minister.

So, again, Cicero’s question: “Cui bono?”

Who really wants this war? How did we reach this precipice?

A year ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a MacArthurian ultimatum, making 12 demands on the Tehran regime.

Iran must abandon all its allies in the Middle East — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in Gaza — pull all forces under Iranian command out of Syria, and then disarm all its Shiite militia in Iraq.

Iran must halt all enrichment of uranium, swear never to produce plutonium, shut down its heavy water reactor, open up its military bases to inspection to prove it never had a secret nuclear program and stop testing missiles. And unless she submits, Iran will be strangled with sanctions.

Pompeo’s speech at the Heritage Foundation read like the terms of some conquering Caesar dictating to some defeated tribe in Gaul, though we had yet to fight and win the war, usually a precondition for dictating terms.

Iran’s response was to disregard Pompeo’s demands.

And crushing U.S. sanctions were imposed, to brutal effect.

Yet, as one looks again at the places where Pompeo ordered Iran out — Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza, Syria, Iraq — no vital interest of ours was imperiled by any Iranian presence.

The people who have a problem with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon are the Israelis whose occupations spawned those movements.

As for Yemen, the Houthis overthrew a Saudi puppet.

Syria’s Bashar Assad never threatened us, though we armed rebels to overthrow him. In Iraq, Iranian-backed Shiite militia helped us to defend Baghdad from the southerly advance of ISIS, which had taken Mosul.

Who wants us to plunge back into the Middle East, to fight a new and wider war than the ones we fought already this century in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen?

Answer: Pompeo and Bolton, Bibi Netanyahu, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Sunni kings, princes, emirs, sultans and the other assorted Jeffersonian democrats on the south shore of the Persian Gulf.

And lest we forget, the never-Trumpers and neocons in exile nursing their bruised egos, whose idea of sweet revenge is a U.S. return to the Mideast in a war with Iran, which then brings an end to the Trump presidency.

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

OPCW Confirm Leaked Report is Genuine

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | May 16, 2019

The leaked OPCW report appears to have been confirmed genuine.

The report, titled “Engineering Assessment of Two Cylinders Observed at Douma Incident”, came to public prominence a few days ago after The Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media released their analysis of the text.

Since then it has gotten a lot of play all across the alternate media (you can read our original report here, but there were many others too).

It has received virtually zero coverage in the mainstream media, of course. And that doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon.

The report spells out, in unambiguous language, that the two chlorine gas canisters were likely planted, rather than dropped from a helicopter.

In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being dropped.”

This finding adds to the pile of evidence which makes it appear very likely the whole event was staged.

The only question was whether or not the document could be confirmed genuine. And now it has been.

Peter Hitchens, for a long time the only mainstream voice to express any doubts about the “official narrative” on Douma, wrote to the OPCW to ask about the leaked report.

He wrote a column about it. We suggest you read it, but the most important passage, taken directly from an OPCW statement, is this:

Pursuant to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.

Note the language. Nowhere is it disputing either the findings of the document, nor the veracity. Instead, they are “conducting an investigation” into its “unauthorised release”.

That is as close to an admission as makes no difference. For now, we can safely conclude the document is real, and the findings genuine.

That means, not only that the Douma “chemical attack” was likely staged, but that the OPCW knew this and chose to cover it up.

A very distressing series of events, and one that could easily have lead to an all-out war between Syria, Russia and NATO.

We welcome the OPCW’s admission that this document is genuine. However, we would suggest the question is not “How was it leaked?”, but rather “Why was it suppressed in the first place?”

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment

Islamic Republic No Threat to Anybody in Iraq or Elsewhere: Iran UN Mission

Al-Manar | May 16, 2019

Iran has rejected the United States’ claims that ‘Iranian activities’ endanger American sites and troops in Iraq, saying the Islamic Republic is no threat to anybody in Iraq or elsewhere.

“’Iran is no threat to anybody in Iraq or elsewhere, and Iran is not preparing for any attacks anywhere,” Alireza Miryousefi, the spokesman for Iran mission to the United Nations made the statement on Wednesday.

“Iran, as is evidenced by our history, only acts in self-defense, and has no offensive strategy against any nation,” he added, according to Mehr news agency.

The official censured the US for sticking to fake reports for spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic, saying, “Iranians will never capitulate to this new psychological war.”

The US has recently built up its military presence in the region over what it calls an Iranian threat to American troops and interests.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the US administration had received intelligence related to “Iranian activity” that put American facilities and service personnel at “substantial risk.”

Other senior officials within the US administration itself as well as other countries have however dismissed that claim.

Following Pompeo’s claims, the US on Wednesday ordered the partial evacuation of its embassy in Baghdad and a consulate in Erbil.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | 3 Comments

Israel lost $16.8m due to halt of gas production during Gaza offensive

MEMO | May 15, 2019

Israel lost 60 million shekels ($16.8 million) from gas exports as a result of the two-day assault launched against the Gaza Strip earlier this month, a member of  the Knesset revealed yesterday.

Al-Wattan Voice reported the Hebrew newspaper Maariv saying that the loses were a result of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s decision to halt gas production at the from Tamar gas field during the attack on Gaza on 4-5 May.

Israeli Member of the Knesset Orit Farkash-Hacohen revealed that 60 million shekels ($16.8 million) had been lost as a result and this would be recouped from tax funds.

Twenty-seven Palestinians were killed during Israel’s attack on the besieged Gaza Strip, including two toddlers, two expectant mothers and one minor. Four Israelis were also killed.

Experts have said the attack was halted because Israel is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest and it did not want news of the attacks to overshadow the global music event, or to deter participants and concert goers from attending.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

Israel firm meddled in Africa, Asia and Latin America elections

MEMO – May 16, 2019

An Israel-based campaign to meddle in the elections of several African, Asian and Latin American countries has been uncovered by social media giant Facebook.

Facebook announced today that it had deactivated dozens of accounts found to be spreading disinformation by posing as local journalists and influencers. The social media giant traced these accounts to Archimedes Group, a private company based near Tel Aviv which had engineered the campaign.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, told reporters that the platform had deleted 65 accounts, 161 pages and dozens of groups linked to the misinformation campaign, noting that this activity had garnered 2.8 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views. Gleicher also told reporters that Archimedes has now been banned from Facebook, Haaretz reported.

For its part, the Times of Israel quoted Gleicher as saying that “these are actors that were essentially facilitating deception, and they appear to be commercially engaged to do this”. He added: “That type of business does not have a place on our platforms so we are removing them from the platform and our teams will continue to investigate to look for other instances of this type of behaviour, [whether] for commercial or other strategic purposes.”

Archimedes’ operations are thought to have focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, as well as a handful of Asian and Latin American countries. It is thought that the campaign has spent over $800,000 on Facebook adverts since 2012.

Relatively little is known about Archimedes Group. The Washington Post noted that the group presents itself as “a consulting firm involved in campaigns for presidential elections,” using the slogan “winning campaigns worldwide”. The website also features a vague description of the group’s “mass social media management” software, which it claims can enable the operation of an “unlimited” number of online accounts.

The Washington Post added that Archimedes is headed by Elinadav Heymann, citing Swiss negotiations consultancy Negotiations.CH. Heymann is also reported to have been Executive Director of the European Friends of Israel since 2012 and an “advisor to various parties [in] the Israeli Knesset for 3 terms”.

Facebook’s Gleicher said he could not speculate as to whether Archimedes’ motives were political, and as yet it is not known who solicited and paid for the group’s services. However, given the campaign’s focus on predominantly central and west African countries – a region in which the Israeli state has recently tried to increase its influence – questions to this effect are likely to be raised going forward.

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Chad to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries, which were severed in 1972. Speaking at a press conference before his departure, Netanyahu said that the visit was “part of the revolution we are doing in the Arab and Muslim world,” claiming that such an initiative “greatly worries, even greatly angers” Palestinians and the wider Arab world.

Though Israel’s normalisation drive in Africa has material benefits – often including lucrative arms deals, memorandums for economic cooperation and the use of airspace which will significantly shorten flight paths for commercial Israeli airlines – the initiative is also pursued for its propaganda value. Netanyahu has long been keen to emphasise these diplomatic successes, particularly in the run up to Israel’s general election which took place last month.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

PA New Government Does Not Represent the Palestinian People

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | April 18, 2019

The new Palestinian Authority government has been welcomed by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who reiterated the rhetoric reserved for occasions on which the international organisation pledges to work closely with governments in line with their agenda. “At a time of significant financial and political changes to the Palestinian national project,” Mladenov stated, “all must support the government’s efforts and work to overcome internal divisions.”

There is nothing, though, to suggest that the new PA government under recently appointed Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is working towards reconciliation. Fatah’s insistence that Hamas must relinquish its political control of Gaza has not abated, implying that the PA agenda, as well as that of the UN, has not altered. Last year, there was an increase in the number of international statements, from UN envoys in particular, calling for a return to PA rule in Gaza. The PA, according to them, makes it easier for the UN to carry out its plans.

Mladenov’s statement referenced the previous PA government led by Rami Hamdallah, who had also advanced the call for Hamas to step aside. What followed afterwards is well documented, not least the punitive measures imposed by the PA upon the Palestinian people in Gaza in order to force civilians and politicians alike to surrender. From a PA perspective, ending the Palestinian schism means eliminating and suppressing political alternatives and challengers.

The recent news from Cairo indicates as much, with the Fatah delegation at reconciliation talks placing ultimatums upon Hamas and issuing ambiguous statements regarding the PA’s views on unity and the issue of the weapons in the hands of the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement. In the event of reconciliation, asks Fatah, “What is the need for arms?”

There is thus little divergence from the previous government’s agenda, which is one of the reasons why Mladenov’s rhetoric about the previous and current PA governments overlaps in terms of content. As PA leader Mahmoud Abbas becomes even more irrelevant — due in part to the US efforts to ostracise any form of Palestinian representation and push through its own so-called “deal of the century” — international actors are increasingly taking over and determining the fate of Palestine’s remaining and cruelly fragmented territory.

Having a new PA government that adheres to the same definitions of reconciliation will provide the UN with a further opportunity to alter what remains of Palestine. Despite Mladenov’s praise for Hamdallah’s government keeping in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for example, it is clear that the ongoing colonisation of Palestine, along with the international complicity to ensure that Israel continues to expand its presence, have impeded Palestinians from experiencing any benefits.

A little less “commitment to working with the Palestinian leadership” and more effort towards listening to what the Palestinian people demand and need would go a long way. The UN is not working to “end the occupation”, much less end Israel’s colonisation. The PA has, since its inception, followed suit. A new government that is void of different political strategies, yet has the audacity to speak about Palestinian reconciliation, does not represent the Palestinian people. Mladenov’s comments are another indication of how the new government and the UN intend to work, by persisting in the creation of a diplomatic network that isolates the Palestinian people from the politics determining their fate.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is the US always ‘stumbling’ or ‘sliding’ into war? How the media misleads with language

By Danielle Ryan | RT | May 15, 2019

The way the mainstream media tells it, the United States never, ever ends up embroiled in wars and military conflicts on purpose — only ever by mistake, or as a result of things like ‘bad planning’ or ‘strategic missteps’.

Very often when media coverage of war is analysed, there is a focus on how hawkish pundits cheerlead for conflict and journalists parrot official narratives while dissenting voices are drowned out. Mainstream networks, for example, have been heavily criticized by media watchdogs for almost exclusively inviting pro-war guests and ex-military hawks onto their news shows to convince Americans that war is the only reasonable course of action, while refusing to let anti-war commentators get a look in.

But there is another more subtle and unnoticeable way that the media deceives us. Even when they are not outright cheerleading for military action (as was the case in the lead up to the Iraq War), the language they use to describe events is designed to absolve Washington of blame.

Next time you read the news, notice how the US is always “stumbling into” war, or “drifting into” war or “sliding into” war — or even “sleepwalking into” war. To “stumble into” war seems to be a firm favorite among headline writers. The US has “stumbled” into war in Iraq and Syria and has been, at one time or another, at risk of “stumbling” into war with Russia, North Korea and most recently Iran.

According to these headlines, the US has also been “dragged into” (CNN) and “sucked into” (NI ) war in Syria and Afghanistan, twice (NI, The Times ). In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been “sliding into” (AP ) a potential “accidental” war with Iran — and back in 2017, it was “dragged into” (FP ) the disastrous Yemen conflict.

The examples of the US stumbling, blundering and bumbling its way into wars are endless — and it does raise a question that no one ever seems to ask: If it’s so easy to trip and fall into massive never-ending wars, why isn’t it happening to everyone else? Is Washington just especially clumsy?

With this narrative of the bumbling superpower, agency is always removed from the architects of war. Instead of enthusiastically banging the drums for war, we’re told the White House is always ‘reluctant’ to deploy its military, but is ‘forced’ into it . Then, once the war is in full-swing, when things are not panning out exactly as planned, the US can become the sacrificial hero, propelled into a deadly conflict not of its own making.

A recent headline in the Miami Herald framed recent US actions on Venezuela as the US being “pushed to act.” Pushed by who? The Trump administration voluntarily helped organize and instigate the attempted coups that worsened the country’s political crisis and proudly imposed the economic sanctions which have led directly to thousands of premature deaths. There was no “pushing” involved.

In April, Foreign Policy magazine even had Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido “stumbling toward a coup.” How do you stumble into a military coup? Surely that’s the kind of thing that requires careful, deliberate planning and execution? The Washington Post had Trump “fumbling” an uprising in Caracas, too.

It’s not just media pundits and journalists who employ this kind of misleading language, either. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week that a US war with Iran could happen “by accident.” Did Hunt take a vacation from reality and miss US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton ramping up war rhetoric against Iran for months? Maybe Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by accident and sent an aircraft carrier and bomber task force into the Persian Gulf last week to “send a message” to Iran by mistake.

Such framing obscures basic facts about Washington’s motives and predilection toward military conflict over diplomacy. Washington doesn’t get into wars by mistake. Unless a country is directly attacked, threatened or occupied, wars are quite easy to avoid getting into if you really don’t want to be in them  — but the hawks in Washington, no matter how much they pretend to not want war, are always itching for more and they will stop at nothing to get what they want, even if that means fabricating evidence (as in Iraq) or pulling off false flag attacks to use as convenient pretexts for the US to ‘respond’ to.

US military actions are designed specifically to provoke the conflicts that they believe will be of benefit to their overall geopolitical strategy. Talk of freedom, democracy and human rights are just a convenient cover. Washington is never at risk, for example, of stumbling into war with Saudi Arabia, despite Riyadh’s laundry list of crimes against humanity.

Whether this propagandistic language is always employed in a totally conscious way or not, it’s difficult to tell. Either way, it’s a psychological trick which frames the most powerful, military-minded and trigger-happy country in the world as some kind of innocent victim of events beyond its control.

Also on rt.com:

US media’s love affair with war: Major outlets showed zero opposition to Syria strikes

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment