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Academic: Saudi arrest campaign against Palestinians

MEMO | April 18, 2019

Saudi is carrying out an arrest campaign against Palestinians in the country, an exiled academic has said according to Al-Resalah newspaper.

On Twitter, Said Bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi wrote: “In the kingdom, a new and wide arrest campaign against a number of Palestinians, another number under travel ban, their accounts were frozen and their organisations were confiscated.”

Al-Ghamdi said that these Palestinians are accused of “sympathising with the resistance in Palestine, having an interest in the issue of Jerusalem and Gaza or supporting Hamas.”

He also said that authorities arrested Saudis, who sponsored the Palestinians or employed them in the kingdom.

In early March, Saudi announced the arrest of 50 people over security concerns, they included 30 of its own nationals, six Palestinians and three Jordanians.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We

By Ramzy Baroud |  MEMO | April 17, 2019

So, what have we learned from the Israeli legislative elections on April 9?

A whole lot.

To start with, don’t let such references as the “tight race” between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his main rival, Benny Gantz, fool you.

Yes, Israelis are divided on some issues that are particular to their social and economic makeup. But they are also firmly unified around the issue that should concern us most: the continued subjugation of the Palestinian people.

Indeed, ‘tight race’, or not, Israel has voted to cement Apartheid, support the ongoing annexation of the Occupied West Bank, and carry on with the Gaza siege.

In the aftermath of the elections, Netanyahu emerged even more powerful; his Likud party has won the elections with 36 seats, followed by Gantz’s Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) with 35 seats.

Gantz, the rising star in Israeli politics was branded throughout the campaign as a centrist politician, a designation that tossed a lifeline to the vanquished Israeli ‘left’ – of which not much is left anyway.

This branding helped sustain a short-lived illusion that there is an Israeli alternative to Netanyahu’s extremist right-wing camp.

But there was never any evidence to suggest that Gantz would have been any better as far as ending the Israeli occupation, dismantling the Apartheid regime and parting ways with the country’s predominantly racist discourse.

The opposite is true.

Gantz has repeatedly criticized Netanyahu for supposedly being too soft on Gaza, promising to rain yet more death and destruction on a region that, according to the United Nations, will be unlivable by 2020.

A series of videos, dubbed “Only the Strong Survives”, was issued by the Gantz campaign in the run-up to the elections. In the footage, Gantz was portrayed as the national saviour, who had killed many Palestinians while serving as the army’s chief of staff between 2011 and 2015.

Gantz is particularly proud of being partly responsible for bombing Gaza “back to the stone age.”

It mattered little to Israeli centrists and the remnants of the left that in the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, dubbed Operation “Protective Edge”, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 11,000 were injured. In that most tragic war, over 500 Palestinian children were killed, and much of Gaza’s already ailing infrastructure was destroyed.

But then again, why vote for Gantz when Netanyahu and his right-wing extremist camp are getting the job done?

Sadly, Netanyahu’s future coalition is likely to be even more extreme than the previous one.

Moreover, thanks to new possible alliances, Netanyahu will most likely free himself of burdensome allies, the likes of former Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

One significant change in the likely makeup of the Israeli right is the absence of such domineering figures, who, aside from Lieberman also include former Education Minister, Naftali Bennett and former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

All the grandstanding from Bennett and Shaked, who had recently established a new party called “The New Right”, didn’t even garner them enough votes to reach the threshold required to win a single seat in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. They needed 3.25 per cent of the vote but only achieved 3.22 per cent. They are both out.

The defeat of the infamous duo is quite revealing: the symbols of Israel’s extreme right no longer meet the expectations of Israel’s extremist constituencies.

Now the stage is wide open for the ultra-orthodox parties, Shas, which now has eight seats, and United Torah Judaism, with seven seats to help define the new normal in Israel.

The Israeli left – if it was ever deserving of the name – received a final blow; the once prominent Labor Party won merely six seats.

On the other hand, Arab parties that ran in the 2015 elections under the united banner of the “Joint List”, fragmented once more, to collectively achieve only ten seats.

Their loss of three seats, compared to the previous elections, can be partly blamed on factional and personal agendas. But, that is hardly enough to explain the massive drop in Arab voter participation in the elections: 48 per cent compared to 68 per cent in 2015.

This record low participation can only be explained through the racist ‘Nation State Law”, which was passed by the right-wing-dominated Knesset on July 19, 2018. The new Basic Law, declared Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people” everywhere, relegating the rights of the Palestinian people, their history, culture and language, while elevating everything Jewish, making self-determination in the state an exclusive right for Jews only.

This trend is likely to continue, as Israel’s political institutions no longer offer even a symbolic margin for true democracy and fair representation.

But perhaps the most important lesson that we can learn in the aftermath of these elections is that in today’s Israel, military occupation and apartheid have been internalised and normalised as uncontested realities, unworthy of national debate. This, in particular, should summon our immediate attention.

During election campaigns, no major party spoke about peace, let alone provided a comprehensive vision for achieving it. No leading politician called for the dismantling of the illegal Jewish settlements that have been erected on Palestinian land in violation of international law.

More importantly and tellingly, no one spoke of a two-state solution.

As far as Israelis are concerned, the two-state solution is dead. While this is also true for many Palestinians, the Israeli alternative is hardly co-existence in one democratic secular state. The Israeli alternative is Apartheid.

Netanyahu and his future government coalition of like-minded extremists are now armed with an unmistakably popular mandate to fulfil all of their electoral promises, including the annexation of the West Bank.

Moreover, with an emboldened and empowered right-wing coalition, we are also likely to witness a major escalation in violence against Gaza this coming summer.

Considering all of this, we must understand that Israel’s illegal policies in Palestine cannot and will not be challenged from within Israeli society.

Challenging and ending the Israeli occupation and dismantling Apartheid can only happen through internal Palestinian resistance and external pressure that is centred around the strategy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

It is now incumbent on the international community to break this vicious Israeli cycle and support the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle against Israeli occupation, racism and apartheid.

April 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Is Julian Assange an Anti Semite as Well as a Publisher?

By Eve Mykytyn | April 16, 2019

One might think that with all that Assange has to contend with, Jews pro or con, might not be a top priority for him. In fact, one might think that the controversy around Assange has to do with government secrecy and the rights of the press. But not so to The Forward, for whom Assange is guilty of a crime apparently worse than conspiracy to commit computer intrusion (I am not expressing an opinion here, that is the allegation) anti Semitism. Assange has been widely portrayed in the media as an anti Semite, see: for example, articles in The Guardian, Slate, Wired and The New York Times. Since Assange has denied that he is an anti Semite, it might be interesting to find the basis for such assertions.

Not surprisingly, The Forward gives breathless coverage to the accusations of anti Semitism without troubling itself to look into the circumstances of each allegation. It’s as if the Forward delights in finding an anti Semite, and a person’s denial of anti Semitism is not even evidence of his own state of mind. In fact, the Forward decries that Assange’s anti Semitism (the title of the article used ‘alleges’ although the article itself quickly drops the hedge) persists “despite the fact that some of his most loyal employees and public defenders are themselves Jewish,” an observation that should give weight to Assange’s claim that he is not an anti Semite.

The Forward’s first charge is that Assange employed “the anti Semitic holocaust denier who goes by the name Israel Shamir.”  Shamir seems to be one of the people whose name is simply followed by the shibboleth ‘anti Semite’ without further explanation. For instance, the Guardian accused Shamir as a holocaust denier and Shamir defended himself in the following paragraph. (quoted in Wiki and giving as a citation this now deleted article.) “As for the accusation of ‘Holocaust denial’, my family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust.”

The bold accusations about Shamir and the deletion of his rebuttal calls into question Shamir’s alleged anti Semitism. But whatever Shamir is, does merely employing him transfer his beliefs to Assange? Is anti Semitism, like the measles, contagious?

The next charge is a ‘he said’ ‘he said’ story in which only one side is assumed to be truth telling. The British magazine Private Eye wrote an article (not on line, so comment is based on reports of the article) criticizing Israel Shamir and then Assange for employing him.

Private Eye’s editor, Ian Hislop , then published an article relying on “as much as I could remember” of a phone call Assange allegedly made to Hilsop.  According to Hislop, Assange claimed the Shamir article was “joining in the international conspiracy to smear Wikileaks. The piece was an obvious attempt to deprive him and his organisation of Jewish support and donations.” The alleged comment does not actually even seem anti Semitic.

Hislop continued, “But then Assange said that we [Private Eye] were part of a conspiracy led by the Guardian which included journalist David Leigh, editor Alan Rusbridger and John Kampfner— all of whom “are Jewish.”  Hislop’s proof that Assange is anti Semitic? Rusbridger is apparently not Jewish. But that might tend to make Assange less likely to be anti Semitic since the cabal he accuses is not all Jewish. Further, Assange absolutely denied that the phone call was as Hislop reported it.

In its response, WikiLeaks observed that its organization has “some Jewish staff and enjoys wide spread Jewish support” and has itself been accused of working on behalf of the Mossad and George Soros. Assange said of Hislop’s article:“Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, ‘Jewish conspiracy’ is completely false, in spirit and in word. … Rather than correct a smear, Mr. Hislop has attempted, … to justify one smear with another in the same direction… he has a reputation for this, and is famed to have received more libel suits in the UK than any other journalist… We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff, just as we treasure the support …. [of] others who share our hope for a just world.”

Wiki’s tweet goes on to explain that the problem stems from Guardian journalist  David Leigh, who used information in violation of an agreement not to utilize Wikileaks signed by The Guardian’s editor in chief. When Leigh was notified that the German paper Der Spiegel was writing a book that would expose his breach, “Leigh attempted to cover his actions, [by smearing wikileaks] first by laundering an distorted version of the events through a friend at Vanity Fair then by writing his own book, which he had published through the Guardian.”

Assange’s next crime? The mysterious triple parentheses. ((())). In July 2016, Wikileaks published a tweet about Jews who put the parentheses around Jewish names.  (This is done on twitter supposedly in response to anti Semites who used the parens. So if parens are so offensive, why do it yourself?  The logic is a bit hard to follow.) “Tribalist symbol for establishment climbers? Most of our critics have 3 (((brackets around their names))) & have black-rim glasses.”  So it is ok for critics to use the parens but not ok for Wikileaks to make the observation that the parens were used. Again, the anti Semitism, if any, is hard to discern.

Assange’s next and related ‘transgression’ comes from an internal Wikileaks message in 2018 in which  Assange referred to a critic,  AP reporter, Raphael Satter, as “a rat. But he’s jewish and engaged with the ((()))) issue.” I guess they find it anti Semitic to privately refer to a  critic as a rat and separately refer to use of an absurd parens to show Jewish identity.

Assange’s last two supposed offenses of anti Semitism are that:1.The WikiLeaks website’s online shop had a t shirt with the words “first they came for Assange” misquoting the famous Niemoller poem about the Nazi Party. The Forward uses this incident to claim that Assange is comparing himself to a holocaust victim, apparently a comparison only allowed to the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of a holocaust victim. And, 2) Assange refused to deny that the 2016 death of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer, may have been connected to WikiLeaks’ dump of DNC emails. Police have blamed a botched robbery. The Forward notes that, “Rich was Jewish, and many of the conspiracy theories surrounding his death had anti semitic overtones.” This may be true, but how would Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London possibly know how Rich died? How was it anti Semitic to refuse to speculate?

Haaretz, the ‘liberal’ Israeli outlet uses the accusations of anti Semitism to join their Labour brethren in condemning Corbyn. How? Here’s the Haaretz  headline:  “Why Jeremy Corbyn Loves Julian Assange So Much; The UK Labour leader’s kneejerk support for the Wikileaks founder is entirely predictable, as is Corbyn’s lack of response to the scent of anti-Semitism Assange exudes.”

Jeremy Corbyn called Assange a twenty-first century folk hero for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan  and has opposed extradition. Haaretz expands on this to claim that Corbyn was willing to expose the failures of Western capitalism at all costs, ignoring all other injustices. “Not least, accusations of anti-Jewish racism.”  The comparison is a far fetched conclusion from the evidence. Haaretz (in a line of argument borrowed from Dershowitz) asks why  support Palestinian rights but not comment on healthcare  in Britain or hunger in Venezuela.  Actually, Here is Corbyn  on health and here is Corbyn on Venezuela.

Haaretz acknowledges that Assange attempted to ‘row back’ from anti-Jewish comments, or more properly, comments interpreted as anti Semitic. Haaretz believes that Corbyn embraced Assange  because he was instrumental in publishing files stolen from the CIA that included 2500 files relating to cables sent by the U.S. Embassy in Israel. Among them were the then head of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch’s, writings on the rationale of legal rulings on Palestinian human rights issues. These files seem to contain what many in the public would like to see: that is, what is the legal justification for abrogating Palestinian rights?

Haaretz also points out that Wikileaks exposed a ‘secret’ back-channel to Tehran operated by a Lubavitcher and London activist Rabbi Herschel Gluck which was opened to mediate the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza. Apparently, after the leak the effort was halted. Lastly, the paper bemoans that Corbyn was part of the British campaign to free Israeli nuclear whistleblower Vanunu from prison in Israel.

Then the paper that just relied solely on his relationship to Israel to criticize Corbyn claims that “It is this one-dimensional approach to politics that has allowed him to share a platform with Islamist reactionaries … to be silent when they mouth anti-Jewish (rather than anti-Israel) comments, … and to believe that Julian Assange is a hero for our time.”

“Needless to say, Corbyn’s positions bear no relation to the very essence of what it means to be a socialist.”

April 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Israel is holding 22 Palestinian journalists behind bars: NGO

Press TV – April 16, 2019

A non-profit organization representing journalists, writers and broadcasters says nearly two dozen Palestinian journalists are currently being held in harsh conditions in Israeli jails contrary to various treaties and international law.

The Journalists Support Committee (JSC), in a statement released on the eve of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day – which is marked on April 17 every year, highlighted that four journalists are being incarcerated under the so-called administrative detention, a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.

“The Israeli occupation arrests [Palestinian] journalists for their opinions and then hauls them before military courts using racist laws,” the statement read.

The JSC further noted that the practice violates international rights conventions guaranteeing freedom of the press.

The NGO then condemned Israel’s practice of arresting journalists or banning them from entering certain areas.

Palestinian journalists Ahmad Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja succumbed to Israeli-inflicted gunshot wounds last year, while covering anti-occupation protests along the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied land.

The Tel Aviv regime has thus been seeking a media blackout on the criminal acts of its soldiers, with Israeli cabinet ministers authorizing a contentious bill in mid-June 2018 that would criminalize the filming of certain military activities.

Under the proposed legislation, those found photographing, recording or filming Israeli troops “with the intention of undermining the spirit” of the army “shall be liable to five years imprisonment” and those “intending to harm” Israel’s security could be given 10 years in jail.

The bill, which has been widely censured as an attack on media freedom, needs several parliamentary votes to become law.

In recent months, Israeli troops have on numerous occasions been caught on camera brutally killing Palestinians, with the videos going viral online and sparking condemnations of the regime’s military.

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel confiscates 51,000 dunams from Jordan Valley

Ma’an – April 16, 2019

TUBAS – The Israeli authorities confiscated 51,000 dunams and isolated five villages in the Jordan Valley area in the northern occupied West Bank, an official in charge of Jordan Valley’s Israeli settlements file at the Palestinian Authority (PA) reported.

Mutaz Bisharat told the Voice of Palestine radio station that the Israeli authorities confiscated 51,000 dunams, isolated 5 villages and seized control over water springs, agricultural machinery and solar cells.

Bisharat added that the Israeli policy is very clear in isolating villages of the Tubas district, pointing out that these areas were marked as closed military areas banning their owners from entering without an Israeli-issued permit.

He stressed that Israel aims to expel Palestinians from the area under its plan to seize the Jordan Valley area.

The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control.

International rights organizations consider the continuation of the Israeli campaign which targets Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, whether though confiscations, demolitions or evictions under the pretext of holding military exercises, as a violation of international humanitarian law.

Since the beginning of the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Israel has confiscated hundreds of thousands of dunums by declaring it state land.

Israeli authorities in 1968 banned Palestinians from registering their lands and subsequently took advantage of previously low rates of land registration to confiscate areas currently or previously in use by locals but not registered as such.

The confiscated lands are then used to construct Jewish-only settlements on the land, while further confiscation often uses the pretext of the settlements’ security.

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Palestinian prisoners reach agreement to achieve demands, end hunger strike

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | April 16, 2019

Palestinian prisoners have reached an agreement with the Israeli prison administration to achieve their demands and suspend their hunger strike, the Battle of Dignity 2, on Monday, 15 April. The agreement came as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were engaged in their eighth day of a collective hunger strike.

According to the leadership of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, the agreement includes the installation of public telephones in the prison sections, which prisoners would be allowed to use three times a week for 15-minute calls, as well as stopping the installation of cell-phone jamming devices. In addition, the repressive measures and sanctions imposed in the past year upon the prisoners will also be lifted, while fines imposed on prisoners in recent struggles inside the prisons would be reduced. Hundreds more prisoners have been set to join the hunger strike in the coming days, especially 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said that the agreement also included provisions to transfer the women prisoners from Damon prison to another detention center; the prisoners have repeatedly cited harsh, difficult conditions unsuitable for human life in the Damon prison. In addition, sick prisoners would be returned to the previous section in the Ramleh prison clinic, an area that was considered better than their current location.

The National and Islamic Forces held a press conference in Gaza City to highlight the prisoners’ final statement. “The battle is not over; the hardest phase of this struggle is to implement what has been agreed upon,” the prisoners wrote, noting that previous agreements have been repeatedly broken by the Israeli prison administration.

They saluted the prisoners in section 4 of the Negev desert prison and section 1 in Ramon prison who were attacked by Israeli repressive forces, noting that “their great sacrifices underline that freedom and dignity are… human rights that cannot be denied.” They saluted Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, occupied Palestine ’48 and exile and diaspora, as well as supporters of freedom around the world, journalists and prisoners’ centers, that stood with the prisoners in their struggle. The statement particularly saluted “the people and leadership in Gaza,” noting their unity in commitment to the struggle.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest salutes and greetings to all of the Palestinian prisoners on this occasion of victory. These achievements follow on many historical accomplishments of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, on the front lines of the Palestinian liberation struggle, extracting their victories through great sacrifice, with their bodies and lives on the line. As Palestinian Prisoners Day approaches, we emphasize our continuing dedication to work for the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners and the freedom of Palestine from the river to the sea.

Mohammed Tabanja, Hussam al-Ruzza, Khaled Farraj

In addition, we urge people around the world to continue their solidarity activities to support the Palestinian prisoners, throughout the coming days, months and years, until their freedom is achieved. In particular, we emphasize the cases of three Palestinian prisoners who remain on hunger strike: Hussam al-Ruzza (61), Mohammed Tabanja (40) and Khaled Farraj (31). Al-Ruzza has been on hunger strike since 19 March – nearly one month – while Tabanja and Farraj have been on hunger strike since 25 March. All are held without charge or trial under administrative detention orders, and their detention has been repeatedly and arbitrarily renewed.

They are among nearly 500 Palestinians out of approximately 5,500 Palestinian prisoners jailed with no charges and no trial for indefinitely renewable periods under administrative detention. The end of administrative detention is a long-time demand of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and supporters of justice and liberation around the world. Join the call to free Hussam al-Ruzza, Mohammed Tabanja, Khaled Farraj and all Palestinian prisoners!

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Dances to Israel’s Tune

More wag-the-dog means war for America

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • April 16, 2019

So newly reelected Israeli monster-in-chief Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted, with a grin, that America’s President Donald J. Trump followed through on his proposal to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist group. Bibi was smiling because the timing of the move, one day before the Israeli election, strongly suggests it was done to assist him against what had become a very strong opposition challenge. That Trump likely colluded with Netanyahu to blatantly interfere in the election has apparently bothered no one in Israel or in the tame American media.

The gift from Washington came on top of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, threatening members of the International Criminal Court if they try to prosecute Israel for war crimes, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, removing the word “occupation” from the State Department’s assessments of human rights infringements on the West Bank, eliminating relief funding for Palestinian refugees, leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council because it was too critical of Israel, and looking the other way as Israel declared itself a state only for Jews. Washington also ignored the bombing of hospitals, schools and water treatment infrastructure in Gaza while Israeli army snipers were shooting unarmed demonstrators demanding their freedom.

The labeling of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group is particularly disturbing as it means that the United States military by virtue of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) now has a mandate to attack the IRGC wherever it appears, including in Syria or even in the waterway the Straits of Hormuz, where the guard has regular patrols in small boats. It is a de facto declaration of war and it comes on top of a number of deliberate provocations directed against Iran starting with the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) one year ago, which led to the unilateral imposition of harsh sanctions directed against the Iranian economy to bring about a popular uprising as well as regularly repeated false claims that Iran is the leading “state sponsor of terrorism.” Next month, the U.S. will begin enforcing a unilaterally declared worldwide sanction on any and all Iranian oil sales.

Netanyahu pledged to annex Israeli settlements on the largely Palestinian West Bank if elected, which is undoubtedly a move cleared in advance with the Trump team of foreign policy sociopaths as it de facto puts an end to any delusional speculation over a possible two-state negotiated solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. It will also lead to a massive upsurge in violence as the Palestinians object, which is neither a concern for the White House or Netanyahu, as they are assuming that it can be suppressed by overwhelming force directed against an almost completely unarmed civilian population.

And Trump will no doubt expect Bibi to return the favor when he is running for reelection in 2020 by encouraging American Jews who care about Israel to support the Republicans. Trump is focused on his own electability and is absolutely shameless about his betrayal of actual American interests in the Middle East, possibly because he has no inkling of the actual damage that he is doing. His speech last week before the casino multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson-hosted Jewish Republican Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas was a disgusting pander to a group that includes many key players who have little or no concern for what happens to the United States as long as Israel flourishes. The only good news that came out of the meeting was that Adelson himself appears to be “gravely ill.”

Trump at times appeared to be speaking to what he thought was a group of Israelis, referring to “your prime minister” when mentioning Benjamin Netanyahu and several times describing Israel as “yours,” suggesting that deep down he understands that many American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States. At another point, Trump declared that “The Democrats have even allowed the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party and their country,” apparently part of a White House plan to keep playing that card to turn American Jews and their political donations in a Republican direction before elections in 2020.

Trump also told the Republican Coalition audience how he came to a decision on recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He described how “he’d been speaking to his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his Israel adviser, Jason Greenblatt, over the phone about an unrelated issue when he suddenly brought up the Golan Heights.” Trump shared how “I said, ‘Fellows, do me a favor. Give me a little history, quick. Want to go fast. I got a lot of things I’m working on: China, North Korea. Give me a quickie.’ After the advisers filled him in, Trump said he asked Friedman: ‘David, what do you think about me recognizing Israel and the Golan Heights?’ Friedman, apparently surprised by the suggestion, reacted like a ‘wonderful, beautiful baby,’ Trump said, and asked if he would ‘really … do that.’ ‘Yeah, I think I’m doing it right now. Let’s write something up,’ Trump said he responded, prompting applause and cheers from his audience in Las Vegas. ‘We make fast decisions and we make good decisions.’”

Putting the Trump story about the Golan Heights in some kind of context is not really that difficult. He wanted an answer to please Netanyahu and he went to three Orthodox Jews who support the illegal Israeli settlements and have also individually contributed financially to their growth so he was expecting the response that he got. That he was establishing a precedent by his moves on Jerusalem and the Golan apparently did not occur to him as his administration prides itself on having a foreign policy vision that extends no longer than the beginning of next week, which is why he hired Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams. And then there is always the doleful Stephen Miller lurking in the background as well as the three musketeers of Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman for really serious questions relating to why acceding to the wishes of parasite state Israel should continue to be the apparent number one priority of the government of the United States.

Donald Trump neither poses nor answers the question why he feels compelled to fulfill all of the campaign pledges he made to the Jewish community, which by and large did not vote for him, while failing to carry out the promises made to those who actually did support him. The absurd Jewish Republican Coalition narrative about how Trump gave Israel the Golan Heights should have resulted in a flood of opprobrium in the U.S. media about his profound ignorance and fundamental hypocrisy, but there was largely silence.

The nonsense going on in Las Vegas in front of a lot of fat cats who regard the United States as little more than a cash cow that they control as well as in the White House itself unfortunately has real world consequences. America is being led by the nose by a well-entrenched and powerful group of Israeli loyalists and this will not end well. The U.S. doesn’t even have a Middle Eastern foreign policy anymore – it has a “to do” list handed by Netanyahu to whomever is president. The fact that the current man in charge in Washington is either so ignorant or so deluded as to allow the process to escalate until the U.S. is drawn into yet more catastrophic wars is beyond regrettable. U.S. foreign policy should not depend on the perceptions of Kushner and company. It should be based on real, tangible American interests, not those of Israel. Someone should explain that to the president.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli businessmen, officials cancel Bahrain visit amid national outcry

Press TV – April 15, 2019

An Israeli delegation of merchants and officials has canceled its planned participation in a business conference in Bahrain amid growing national outcry over the Persian Gulf kingdom’s warming ties with the Tel Aviv regime following years of clandestine contacts.

A spokeswoman for Israel’s Economy Ministry said a planned visit to Bahrain this week by Israel’s Economy Minister Eli Cohen had been “delayed because of political issues.”

A group of around 30 Israeli business executives and regime officials was scheduled to participate in the event, which is organized by the US- based Global Entrepreneurship Network and will run in Manama from April 15 to 18.

At least three Israeli speakers, including the Israel Innovation Authority’s deputy chief, Anya Eldan, were scheduled to speak at the event.

“While we advised the Israeli delegation they would be welcome, they decided this morning not to come due to security concerns and a wish not to cause disruption for the other 180 nations participating,” the organization’s president Jonathan Ortmans told Reuters.

Earlier this month, Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim strongly denounced the Manama regime’s decision to host an Israeli delegation in the business conference.

“Hosting and greeting the Zionists at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, is a bold step on a dishonorable path; that of humiliation, capitulation and shamelessness,” he said in a statement carried by the Arabic-language Lua Lua television network.

Sheikh Qassim further underlined that the Israeli regime tops the list of Muslim world’s enemies, and that Manama’s plan to host Israeli delegates was in line with its attempts to compromise and normalize ties with the enemy.

This is a clear sign of the Manama regime’s disregard for Islam and the will of the nation, the top cleric pointed out.

Last month, members of the Bahrain parliament issued a statement, rejecting the visit.

“Parliament stresses its support for the just cause of the brotherly Palestinian people, and it will remain a priority for the Bahraini and Arab people,” the statement read.

It added, “The end of the Israeli occupation and the withdrawal from all Arab land is an absolute necessity for the stability and security of the region and for a fair and comprehensive peace.”

Some street protests were also held in Manama in condemnation of the planned visit.

Russia’s RT Arabic television news network reported on March 4 that Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh, the speaker of Saudi Arabia’s Consultative Assembly, together with his Emirati and Egyptian counterparts had opposed a paragraph in the final communiqué of the 29th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in the Jordanian capital city of Amman, which demanded an end to efforts aimed at normalizing ties with Israel and condemned all forms of rapprochement with the occupying regime.

The paragraph stated that “one of the most important steps to support Palestinian brethren requires the cessation of all forms of rapprochement and normalization with the Israeli occupiers. Therefore, we call for resilience and steadfastness by blocking all the doors of normalization with Israel.”

On February 17, a report published by Israeli Channel 13 television network said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had held a “secret meeting” with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita last September.

Additionally, the Warsaw conference, a US-sponsored gathering that was held in the Polish capital on February 13-14, brought together Netanyahu and representatives from a number of Arab states, including Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabic, the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.

The Israeli regime also recently re-launched a “virtual embassy” in a bid to “promote dialogue” with the Persian Gulf Arab states.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas: New Fatah government “separatist and unconstitutional”

Palestine Information Center – April 14, 2019

GAZA – The Hamas Movement has described the formation of a new Fatah-dominated government as “persistence in monopolizing power and excluding other political forces,” saying it will deepen the national division.

In a press release on Saturday, Hamas said the government of Mohamed Shtayyeh would work on fulfilling the desires of Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas at the expense of the Palestinian people’s interests, unity, struggle and sacrifices.

Hamas also described the government of Shtayyeh as “a separatist body that lacks constitutional and national legitimacy.”

The Movement warned that the new government would increase the chances of separating the West Bank from Gaza as a practical step towards executing the deal of the century.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Russia expands ties in Lebanon’s oil and gas sector

Michal Kranz – Al Monitor – April 10, 2019

During a Middle East tour last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo focused primarily on Iran’s influence in the region, but on Mar. 20 in Jerusalem he also labeled Russia an adversary of US regional allies in addition to Iran and China when speaking about energy and security in the eastern Mediterranean. “Revisionist powers like Iran and Russia and China are all trying to take major footholds in the East and in the West,” Pompeo said, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Greece and Cyprus.

Pompeo had also reportedly planned to set “red lines” on Russian projects in Lebanon while in Beirut March 22-23. Yet, whatever plans Pompeo may have had to counter Russia in Lebanon, they seem to have had little effect. Lebanese leaders have doubled down on working with Russian companies in their country’s expanding oil and gas sector in the weeks since Pompeo’s visit.

Although the United States maintains an important degree of diplomatic clout in Lebanese energy matters, Russian economic investments in the sector have far outpaced those of the Americans, and Russian officials and business leaders have expressed their desire to take further steps to cement roles as key players like the United States continue to lag behind.

“The Russians have an advantage over the Americans not only in Lebanon, but in the region as well,” Amal Abou Zeid, adviser for Lebanese-Russian affairs at Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry, told Al-Monitor.

Lebanon and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on oil and gas in October 2013, and since then cooperation between them has deepened. In December 2017, the Lebanese government awarded its first contracts for offshore oil and gas exploration to a consortium of three firms that included Novatek, Russia’s second-largest gas company.

This past January, Russia’s majority state-owned oil giant Rosneft signed a deal to manage, operate and potentially rehabilitate and expand part of the oil storage terminal in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, as part of a 20-year lease. Rosneft is also competing in a bidding process along with other consortiums, including an American company, for an offshore gas terminal off the Lebanese coast.

Days after Pompeo’s visit, Lebanese President Michel Aoun traveled to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, who said the company is interested in “elevating the oil facilities in north Lebanon.” According to Abou Zeid, Sechin is interested in building up to three additional oil storage facilities in Tripoli and potentially investing in a future refinery in the north.

Cesar Abi Khalil, a parliamentarian who served as energy minister when Lebanon signed the Tripoli deal with Rosneft, told Al-Monitor that there is “high interest” in Lebanon to work with companies, including American ones, on refinery construction and rehabilitation. He added that ultimately, contracts will be awarded to companies that present the best proposals, as Rosneft did for the Tripoli terminal.

Russia’s interest in Lebanon is tied to its regional strategy. Since 2016, Rosneft has steadily expanded its operations into Iraq, Egypt and Libya, and Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas company, has been making inroads in Syria’s gas market during the civil war there. While Syria’s oil and gas reserves are dwarfed by those in neighboring Iraq, its location is highly strategic for Russia, which has been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil conflict since 2015. Hundreds of Russian mercenaries have reportedly been killed securing oil fields in the country [actually that is a myth], and Russia has begun exploring for oil and gas off the Syrian coast.

Abou Zeid confirmed that the rehabilitation of a long-disused oil pipeline connecting Tripoli with oilfields in Iraqi Kurdistan, where Rosneft is active, was one of the topics discussed by Aoun and Sechin in Moscow. It is likely that gaining access to oil infrastructure in Lebanon in addition to offshore reserves in the country will enhance Russia’s strategic position in Syria and across the eastern Mediterranean, but it remains possible that it could also use the Tripoli facilities to try to bypass US sanctions on fuel shipments to Syria.

Meanwhile, American companies have been unable or unwilling to secure stakes in Lebanon’s new offshore prospects, which the US Department of Energy estimates will produce almost $254 billion between 2020 and 2039. Abou Zeid said that he had heard that ExxonMobil had entered into a consortium before the first bidding process for the offshore exploration contract began, but ultimately they and many other American companies failed to submit bids once they were eligible.

“I am certain that the Americans are interested, and they were not very happy with the Russian presence in this sector,” Abou Zeid said, speculating that political issues, like Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese politics, may have scared off potential American investors.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, told Al-Monitor that other factors were more likely to be involved.

“Repeated delays resulting from frequent vacuums within the executive branch, an incomplete legal framework, changes in blocks offered and a change in market conditions all affected companies’ enthusiasm for the first licensing round,” she said.

Abi Khalil agreed that market forces were partially to blame for the lack of interest from the United States during the first round of bidding, but he also said that he had found ongoing interest by American firms in Lebanese oil and gas during his three official visits to the States, including in potential refinery projects across the country.

Despite these difficulties, the Novatek consortium followed through on its interest and secured rights to two blocks in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), one of which is in a disputed zone that Israel has claimed as part of its own EEZ since 2010. On April 4, Lebanese Energy Minister Nada Boustani announced the opening of a second round of bidding for contracts to five additional offshore blocks, two of which lie along the disputed border area. Lebanese leaders have long maintained that Israel is encroaching on Lebanon’s maritime boundary.

On April 1, parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said that Lebanon won’t give Israel “one cup” of its water. According Berri’s office, on March 22 the speaker and Pompeo discussed the issue of Lebanon’s southern maritime border and efforts to settle the dispute with Israel.

Abou Zeid claims that all the involved parties are interested in seeing the United States play a mediating role in the boundary issue. Regardless, US influence over matters related to energy in Lebanon are quickly diminishing given American companies’ absence in the country’s oil and gas sector and the lack of trust among Lebanese leaders, who believe Washington is biased toward Israel’s geopolitical positions.

“The US is really, one, not that interested, and two, the space that the US used to have in Lebanon in terms of influence and shaping decisions, it’s been lost,” Hanin Ghaddar, a researcher specializing in Lebanon and Iran at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Al-Monitor. She added that in her view, it is unlikely that American firms will gain any offshore contracts.

So far, US efforts to counter Russian expansion in the eastern Mediterranean through diplomacy have proven inadequate. Unless American companies get serious about acquiring stakes in Lebanon’s offshore reserves, it will likely be almost impossible for the United States to overcome the head start Russia has gotten in Lebanon’s oil and gas sector, allowing Moscow to continue to strengthen its economic position across the Middle East.

Michal Kranz is a freelance journalist who has covered politics in the United States, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. He was formerly based in New York City, where he wrote for Business Insider, and is currently reporting on politics and society in Lebanon for a variety of media outlets. On Twitter: @Michal_Kranz

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Euro-Med to EU: Stop funds for project serving Israeli settlements

Ma’an – April 13, 2019

BETHLEHEM – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med) sent an urgent letter to the European Union’s European Commission regarding their participation in funding EuroAsia Interconnector, a power transmission project aiming to build the infrastructure necessary to link energy sources between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece.

The project, expected to be implemented in June 2019 with an estimated budget of 3.5 billion Euros, will not only link the electricity infrastructure between Israeli cities with Greece and Cyprus, however, will also include illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including occupied East Jerusalem.

According to a Euro-Med press release, the EU has been labeled as one of the financiers and supporters of the project that nurtures and strengthens settlements built illegally on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Jerusalem, a move that shows sheer disregard for international law and amounts to complicity in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Audrey Ferdinand, Euro-Med’s legal researcher, said, “The EU must adhere to its legal obligations under international law, including by not violating its own long-held commitment to a two-state solution.”

Ferdinand stressed, “While Israel is working on projects to boost its energy sources, it denies Palestinians access to basic needs such as energy and clean water,” calling on the EU to “respect its international obligations and not to establish partnerships with states violating international human rights law and international humanitarian law for decades.”

Euro-Med expressed deep shock and surprise at the contradictory policies and non-neutral practices of the European Union. On the one hand, it funds projects to help Palestinians suffering under occupation, it also funds projects that serve Israeli settlers, calling the move as setting for a “double-standard logic.”

Euro-Med called on the European Union to seriously reconsider its policies that are biased to the Israeli authorities at the expense of the Palestinian people, to uphold its human rights obligations and to rise above the discourse of selfish interest, to stop the project, especially as Israel continues to expand its illegal settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and not reward them for such infamous record of human rights abuse.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

WHO calls for protection of health workers, facilities in Gaza

Ma’an – April 13, 2019

BETHLEHEM – The World Health Organization (WHO) called for the protection of health workers and health facilities in the besieged Gaza Strip, following a rise in the number of health workers killed or injured and facilities damaged by Israeli army gunfire.

WHO said in a press statement that it has recorded an unprecedented “446 attacks on health care in Gaza since the start of ‘The Great March of Return’ on 30th March 2018.”

Who stressed that these attacks have resulted in three deaths and 731 injuries among health workers, in addition to 104 ambulances and six other forms of health transport have been damaged, as well as five health facilities and one hospital.

In addition to personal risk and damage to health care, health workers also face substantial barriers to carrying out their work: firing between health workers and those injured prevents or hampers access and witnessing such events has significant implications for longer term mental health and continued work.

WHO concluded, “WHO reiterates its call for the protection of health workers and health facilities. Health care is #NotATarget.”

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment