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Collective punishment has always been the stated goal of Iran sanctions hawks

By Eli Clifton | Responsible Statecraft | March 23, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact in Iran, which already claimed over 1,800 lives and infected more than 23,000 people, is one of the world’s more troubling examples of widespread infection, with insufficient medical resources to treat the victims and a staggering anticipated death toll.

While public health experts and human rights advocates all point to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions regime against Iran as contributing to the public health crisis, sanctions advocates in the Trump administration and at two ultra hawkish think tanks claim that the “humanitarian trade” sanctions exemption is sufficient to address Iran’s medical needs.

But the reality is that advocates of an expansive sanctions campaign have been working to deny Iranians the staples of daily life in pursuit of bringing the regime to its knees or fomenting regime collapse. And it’s likely why to this day, the Trump administration, and its pro-Iran war/regime change allies are reluctant to relent to massive domestic and international pressure to relieve sanctions on Iran.

Indeed, remarks and actions from sanctions hawks in the State Department, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), and United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) illustrate their desire to inflict collective punishment on Iran as a means of generating political instability and state collapse.

Amid the crisis, on March 17, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions against Iran, telling reporters, “We have an open humanitarian channel to facilitate legitimate transactions even while ensuring our maximum pressure campaign denies terrorists money.”

But that assessment of the humanitarian channel isn’t widely shared and, despite Pompeo’s repeated assertions that the Trump administration offered Iran help to deal with the coronavirus crisis, he hasn’t provided details of what those offers entail.

“Our research showed that in practice, humanitarian exemptions in the U.S. comprehensive sanctions regime have been ineffective in offsetting the strong reluctance of companies and banks to conduct trade with Iran, including the humanitarian trade that is presumably legal,” Human Rights Watch Iran researcher Tara Sepheri Far told Responsible Statecraft. “The Iranian healthcare system, both in terms of access to specialized medicine and also with regards to access to medical equipment, has taken a toll as a result of sanctions,” she added.

Even Pompeo acknowledged that collective punishment and threat of a humanitarian crisis were very much part of the sanctions strategy he was pursuing.

“The leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat,” said Pompeo in 2018. “They have to make a decision that they want to use their wealth to import medicine and not use their wealth to fund [Iran’s Quds Force commander] Qassem Soleimani’s travels around the Middle East, with causing death and destruction.”

Two of the most prominent groups advocating for “maximum pressure” against Iran, even in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, have repeatedly called for collective punishment against Iranians.

Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of FDD, a think tank that has regularly called for harsh sanctions and preventive military action against Iran, has repeatedly called for punitive measures against Iran’s entire population.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last April, Dubowitz urged lawmakers to “build a sanctions wall” with the goal of “crippl[ing] key sectors of the [Iranian] economy and lead to larger protests.” He added, “[T]he resulting economic and political instability could be leverage for a better, comprehensive deal.”

In a September Fox News appearance, Dubowitz again argued that widespread collective punishment of Iranians was a desirable strategy in bringing pressure on Iran’s leadership to negotiate with the Trump administration about their nuclear program.

“I think the Iranians are in a situation where they are running out of foreign exchange reserves, they’re not going to have the money to pay for imports that they need to run their factories, with factories closing they’re going to have massive unemployment, and so their situation is getting worse every day,” said Dubowitz. “And I think the administration, with a few moves, could actually bring about that kind of economic collapse which will then put the regime in a position where they’ll have to choose between negotiations and the survival of its regime.”

This mentality isn’t a recent phenomenon. Squeezing the Iranian people has been a goal for some time. FDD “freedom scholar” Michael Ledeen made this argument even more bluntly back in 2012 when he openly celebrated ordinary Iranians being unable to afford chickens, claimed this was largely the effect of sanctions, and applauded the fact that Iranians were blaming their leadership for hardships that were largely out of the government’s control.

“[T]here are a lot of very angry Iranians, who not surprisingly are blaming their government for this foul state of affairs,” wrote Ledeen. “In part, the government is blameless, since the cost of imports and the cost of feed grain have been driven up by the sanctions. But then again, the behavior of the government provoked the sanctions in the first place, and the singularly incompetent economic policies of the regime probably constitute the most important cause of the crisis.”

A U.S. senator at the time was even more explicit in promoting the strategy of denying Iranians basic foodstuffs. “It’s okay to take the food out of the mouths of the citizens from a government that’s plotting an attack directly on American soil,” said then-Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in reference to sanctions that might impose food shortages on Iranians.

Kirk now serves on the advisory board of UANI, a group that has engaged in a lengthy campaign to pressure all companies, including those engaged in U.S. government licensed humanitarian trade with Iran, to halt their business with the Islamic Republic. (Kirk’s former foreign policy adviser, Richard Goldberg, later went to work at FDD where he promoted military options against Iran. And in an unusual arrangement, he later went to work in Trump’s National Security Council while FDD continued to pay his salary and travel expenses. There Goldberg advocated for an expansive sanctions regime against Iran.)

UANI applauded the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy for “wreaking maximum havoc on Iran’s economy” Its CEO Mark Wallace, endorsed “economic isolation … to the point of being unbearable.”

Indeed, both UANI and FDD’s fondness for imposing collective punishment on Iranian civilians in order to pressure Iran’s leadership to make concessions on its nuclear program is also reflected in statements from some of their biggest donors.

GOP and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson contributed at least $1.5 million to FDD by 2011 (FDD claims he is no longer a funder) and contributed nearly one-third of UANI’s 2013 budget, sending $500,000 to the group.

Adelson told an audience at Yeshiva University in October 2013 that Obama should launch a preventive nuclear attack on a swath of uninhabited Iranian desert and threaten that Iran will be “wiped out” if the country’s leadership doesn’t dismantle their nuclear program.

UANI’s top funder, billionaire Thomas Kaplan, is an investor whose companies have looked to profit from “political unrest” in the Middle East. At UANI’s 2018 conference, Kaplan was presented with a framed Iranian rial by Wallace to recognize his support of UANI and their shared efforts to devalue Iran’s currency.

The calls for economic collapse, military strikes, cheering food shortages, and demanding more “maximum pressure” come at a severe humanitarian cost. But for many in the Trump administration and their allies, that’s precisely the point, which explains why, up until now at least, that President Trump has refused to suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“During last year’s nearly-nationwide flood relief, problems with licenses required for transferring funds to Iran slowed down the relief efforts,” said Far. “The COVID-19 outbreak is more of a serious threat by order of magnitude. There’s a collective responsibility to ensure Iran’s access to resources they need to protect the health of millions of Iranians.”

March 24, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Iran: Dubowitz’s coronavirus remarks ‘shameful and inhuman’

Press TV – February 26, 2020

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi says the remarks by Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), about the spread of coronavirus in Iran are “shameful and downright inhuman.”

Dubowitz claimed on Twitter Tuesday that coronavirus has halted Iran’s non-oil exports, achieving “what American economic sanctions could not.”

Araqchi, in response, said Wednesday that cheering for a deadly virus to spread is shameful, noting that at least Dubowitz “understands that the American economic sanctions were not — and will not be — as effective as a Covid-19 Virus.”

In another outrageous and unfounded claim, Dubowitz said that Tehran has “spread terrorism” in the Middle East and “now it’s spreading the coronavirus.”

Nearly 140 people have been tested positive for coronavirus in Iran since the infection was identified in a city in central country last week. The government has put the number of deaths at 19 as of Wednesday noon local time.

Dubowitz’s remarks come as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday issued warnings about the virus, urging Americans to prepare and take precautionary measures.

“The data over the past week about the spread in other countries has raised our level of concern and expectation that we are going to have community spread here,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s head of respiratory diseases, told reporters in a conference call.

The warning came as President Donald Trump tried to play down fears and said in a tweet Monday that the coronavirus was “very much under control in the USA.”

Meanwhile, growing economic pressure on Iran has hampered the country’s efforts to confront the outbreak of coronavirus as health bodies face restrictions importing test kits to detect the infection.

Ramin Fallah, a board member at Iran’s Association of Medical Equipment Importers, said on Sunday that US sanctions as well as restrictions newly imposed on Iran by a global money laundering watchdog had made it increasingly difficult to access the kits.

Under mounting pressure from Washington, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided on Friday to place Iran on its blacklist, making it more difficult for Iranian banks to settle payments with foreign counterparts.

February 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

With Grenell Appointment, the Israel Lobby’s Foothold on US Intelligence Grows Even Stronger

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | February 25, 2020

Last week’s appointment of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to the post of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) received criticism from both sides of the political divide, mainly for his lack of experience and history of outspoken and partisan political statements. Much more overlooked, however, are Grenell’s ties to the powerful American pro-Israel lobby and Israeli politicians alike, including organizations and individuals with a history of espionage and blackmail against the United States.

Grenell is merely the latest example in a series of appointments over the past few years that have seen individuals with deep ties to the pro-Israel lobby rise to top positions in the U.S. intelligence community, including the NSA’s current director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger as well as the leaders of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB).

With many of these posts directly involved in overseeing the security of the upcoming 2020 election, ostensibly to combat “foreign interference,” these connections are even more significant. Some of the Israel lobby groups in question have not only engaged in illegal espionage against the U.S. government, but are also openly meddling in the current Democratic party primary.

Beyond the potential effects on the upcoming election, these troubling ties between top U.S. intelligence officials and a foreign government do not bode well for American national security and will only advance the long-standing practice of American neoconservatives conflating Israeli national security interests with those of the United States.

Grenell’s many conflicts of interest

Richard Grenell’s appointment last Wednesday to the post of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) raised a number of eyebrows on the Beltway and drew sharp condemnation from former and current intelligence officials alike. Most of the concern was due to the fact that Grenell, who has been serving as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, has virtually no intelligence experience or background. Yet, he will now oversee and coordinate all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA, and will be responsible for briefing President Trump on intelligence matters of both domestic and international concern.

Grenell’s new position is not required to be confirmed by the Senate unless Trump decides to nominate him as a permanent candidate at the end of the temporary three-month period during which he can serve as acting DNI. There has not been a permanent DNI since Dan Coats resigned last August.

Grenell’s appointment was also criticized due to his brazen political approach towards his diplomatic post as U.S. ambassador to Germany, which he will maintain while coordinating and overseeing U.S. intelligence activities. In his two years as ambassador, Grenell has alienated numerous German politicians to the extent that prominent officials have refused to meet with him. Some German officials began calling for his resignation during his first month as ambassador.

One very valid criticism of Grenell’s appointment, however, has been glossed over, namely his ties to controversial lobbyists, political operatives and foreign politicians. For instance, Grenell used to work on behalf of Arthur Finkelstein and Associates, a firm of the late Republican political operative of the same name.

Finkelstein was one of the main architects of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first campaign in 1996. Finkelstein was placed in contact with the Netanyahu campaign by prominent Jewish American businessman and billionaire, Ronald Lauder — a close associate of Trump, then-top backer of Netanyahu (they have since had a falling out) and a member of the controversial “Mega Group.”

Finkelstein worked on numerous successive campaigns for far-right politicians in Israel, including former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He has been described as being “deeply committed” to and a “staunch supporter” of Israel and the hawkish Likud Party. He also spent numerous years on Likud’s payroll.

Grenell’s financial disclosures reveal that his consulting firm, Capitol Media Partners, received more than $5,000 from Finkelstein but does not specify the exact amount. ProPublica recently reported that Grenell, who has ties to Fox News and Newsmax, worked for Finkelstein as a “media consultant” in Eastern Europe, where Ronald Lauder has long held significant media interests. In that capacity, Grenell was paid to work on Finkelstein’s behalf for the now-disgraced Moldovan politician, Vladimir Plahotniuc, work that Grenell did not disclose, but should have according to experts.

Concerns over Grenell’s susceptibility to foreign influence are particularly troubling given his especially close relationship with Israel, despite nominally having served as U.S. ambassador to Germany, a position which ostensibly would require close ties to Germany (which Grenell lacks) as opposed to Israel. Soon after Grenell became ambassador to Germany, he requested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet him at the Berlin airport. After that meeting, Netanyahu told reporters that Grenell is a “big fan of Israel.” Grenell himself has stated that he views his support for Israeli “peace” (i.e. security) policy as a “biblical mandate” and has visited the country “more times than he can count.”

Richard Grenell, left, poses with Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America. Photo | ZOA

Though many intelligence community veterans and politicians in both major parties opposed Grenell’s appointment, the American Israel lobby was thrilled. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) “strongly praised” Grenell’s appointment as acting DNI, with ZOA president Morton Klein, stating:

I am proud to say that during my long personal friendship with Ambassador Grenell, it became powerfully clear to me that Grenell is a very talented and knowledgeable man whose commitment to America and its security is second to none. He is also a man who understands the importance of our country’s great alliance with Israel in promoting U.S. security interests. There has never been a better friend of a strong U.S-Israel relationship than Ambassador Grenell. (emphasis added)”

Klein previously announced his displeasure that Grenell had not been appointed to serve as U.S. ambassador to NATO after he had been given private “assurances” by the Trump administration that Grenell would be nominated to that post.

Grenell’s ties to political operatives like Finkelstein, his close friendships to Israel lobbyists Morton Klein and Israeli PM Netanyahu as well as his failure to disclose paid work done on behalf of foreign politicians make him susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail according to the official policy of the office of the DNI, which Grenell now leads.

That policy holds that “conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying” include “connections to a foreign person, group, government or country that create a potential conflict of interest between the individual’s obligation to protect classified or sensitive information or technology and the individual’s desire to help a foreign person, group or country by providing that information or technology.”

Given that Israeli politicians and officials, including Netanyahu, have actively used blackmail to influence sitting U.S. presidents and that the pro-Israel lobby has a history of espionage targeting the United States, it is telling that Grenell’s appointment to a sensitive intelligence post has not been criticized in the media over his close ties to the pro-Israel lobby, Arthur Finkelstein and Israel’s government.

Israel’s foothold grows

While Grenell’s appointment is troubling over his ties to the pro-Israel lobby, it is merely the latest such appointment made by the Trump administration as several top intelligence figures with deep ties to the pro-Israel lobby have recently risen to prominence.

For example, current NSA director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger is married to Yehuda Neuberger, who serves as chair of AIPAC’s executive council in Baltimore. Neuberger’s parents were rescued via the IDF’s “Operation Entebbe,” an operation led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother, Yonathan Netanyahu. Neuberger was less than a year old at the time, but was not with her parents during the incident.

As Cybersecurity director for the NSA, Neuberger oversees a division of that agency that “unifies NSA’s foreign intelligence and cyberdefense missions” and works “to prevent and eradicate threats to national security systems and critical infrastructure,” including the country’s election infrastructure. Her family ties to AIPAC are therefore concerning given the powerful lobby groups’ propensity to meddle in this election’s Democratic primary. This is belied by the fact that AIPAC has, in the past, committed espionage against the U.S. government on Israel’s behalf on more than one occasion.

In addition to Neuberger, both the head and deputy chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) have close ties to foreign lobbies and intelligence services. According to the U.S. government, PIAB “exists exclusively to assist the President by providing him with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the Intelligence Community is meeting the Nation’s intelligence needs, and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future. The Board has access to all information needed to perform its functions and has direct access to the President.” The government’s official description of the body’s role also states that PIAB has “immense and long-lasting impacts on the structure, management, and operations of U.S. intelligence.”

PIAB is chaired by Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire owner of Cerberus capital management, which owns scandal-ridden U.S. military and intelligence contractor DynCorp. Court documents cited by the New York Times accused Cerberus of “orchestrating secretive deals that transgressed legal and ethical boundaries,” making his role at PIAB at overseeing the often ethically-challenged U.S. intelligence community troubling. In addition, Cerberus was previously the owner of or majority stakeholder of a string of now-bankrupt companies that defrauded U.S. intelligence and the U.S. military on a massive scale during the George W. Bush administration, with much of that occurring while then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was invested in Cerberus.

Feinberg’s close relationships also raise some red flags. He is a close friend of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law whose family has a close friendship with Netanyahu, as well as Steve Bannon, who has close ties to the U.S. Israel lobby, particularly the ZOA. Feinberg is also a close associate of hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, a “Mega Group” member whose father worked for the National Crime Syndicate. Steinhardt was instrumental in the controversial Clinton-era pardon of Mossad asset Marc Rich and is a major funder of pro-Israel organizations.

Feinberg was also one of the main shareholders in Israel’s then-largest bank, Bank Leumi, until he was pressured to sell his stake following the revelation that his partner in that investment, Ezra Merkin, played a key role in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Cerberus’ acquisition of those shares had originally been closely tied to a Likud party initiative to privatize Israel’s entire banking sector.

Companies owned by Cerberus have also been found to be closely tied to Saudi intelligence. The Washington Post reported last year that a U.S.-backed plan to “modernize” Saudi intelligence had been created by Culpeper National Security Solutions, a unit of Cerberus-owned DynCorp, along “with help from some prominent former CIA officials.” Another Cerberus-owned company called Tier 1 has also helped train Saudi Special Forces, some of whom were reportedly involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Though Feinberg says he divested his personal stake from these companies prior to chairing PIAB, they remain owned by his firm Cerberus and arguably still present a conflict of interest.

In addition to Feinberg, the PIAB’s current deputy chair — Samantha Ravich — formerly worked for the pro-Israel lobby group Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spin-off of AIPAC that was created to shield the lobby organization from scrutiny, when it was investigated in 1984 for espionage against the U.S. government on Israel’s behalf.

Samantha Ravich speaks at Israel Bonds luncheon in Clevland in 2016. CJN | Screenshot

Ravich, who joined PIAB in 2018, is also a senior advisor to the group the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which was revealed to work directly with Israel’s government in a since-censored Al Jazeera documentary on the Israel lobby. Ravich also worked for the consulting firm of Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security whose mother worked with Israel’s Mossad.

Ravich has specifically promoted a “cyber project” to the U.S. Senate that would protect member countries from cyber threats but exclude nations that endorse or fail to condemn the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that supports Palestinian rights and Israeli compliance with international law. Ravich also praised the Trump administration’s decision to partner with Israel’s government on “cybersecurity” in 2017, saying that “the U.S. cannot go it alone in its endeavor to safeguard the networks and systems upon which our economy depends.” As MintPress reported last month, several highly classified networks of the U.S. intelligence community and the military, including networks of the CIA, NSA, and DISA, now use cybersecurity software deeply tied to Israeli military intelligence, thanks in part to this U.S.-Israel partnership.

Now, with Richard Grenell overseeing all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, Israel’s influence in the U.S. intelligence community has reached new and troubling heights. Yet, his appointment is only the latest move by the Trump administration that places pro-Israel partisans in highly sensitive positions, suggesting that similar appointments are likely in the future, especially if Trump is reelected in November.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran Hawk Leaves US NSC Amid Escalation of Tensions After IRGC Commander’s Killing – Report

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 04.01.2020

On Friday, Qasem Soleimani, the commander who led Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was killed in a US drone strike near the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

US National Security Council (NSC)’s Director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction Richard Goldberg is quitting for personal reasons, Bloomberg quoted an unnamed source as saying on Saturday.

The source claimed that Goldberg is due to return to the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based think tank where he served as a senior advisor before joining the NSC in early January 2019.

Goldberg’s role at the NSC was endorsed by former US National Security Adviser John Bolton in a bid to contain “what Bolton saw as a desire at the departments of State and Treasury to weaken the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran,” according to Bloomberg. The news outlet referred to exacerbating tensions last March, when the White House considered extending waivers to allow Iran to sell a limited amount of oil in the face of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic that were reinstated following the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Goldberg’s reported departure from the NSC comes amid fresh US-Iranian tensions which escalated after Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike near the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 3 January.

The US Department of Defence said that the strike was authorised by US President Donald Trump who said that his administration took preemptive action against Soleimani to “stop a war”.

An advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US had crossed a “red line” after the Friday airstrike, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stating that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for Washington.

January 4, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s Agents of Influence

Trips to Israel, a “Nationalism Conference,” Epstein and more

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • July 23, 2019

Some journalists in the Jewish media are starting to complain that President Donald Trump is “loving Israel” just a little too much since he keeps citing his concern for the Jewish state as the driving force behind some of his erratic behavior. It is a viewpoint that I most definitely share, though I would describe the apparent White House lovefest with the Israel as a “lot too much.” When the President of the United States calls a congresswoman an anti-Semite and demands that she apologize to him personally and also to Israel it is definitely a lot too much.

So Israel is always in the news, or so it seems, though it is often not in the news when the story might be derogatory. The story disappears from sight as soon as it is determined that Israel might be involved, as is currently the case with Jeffrey Epstein, or Israeli activity is excised completely as was the case with the Mueller investigation where Russiagate should have really been called Israelgate as it was Israel that was seeking favors from the incoming Trump Administration, not Russia. As Noam Chomsky put it, Israeli interference in American politics “vastly overwhelms” anything Russia has done.

I have recently written about how the Jewish state works hard to brainwash the American people and limit the foreign policy options of the U.S. government, to include aggressive efforts to obtain what the intelligence agencies would call “agents of influence.” Agents of influence live and work in one country while simultaneously and treacherously advancing the interests of another nation. It is what George Washington warned about in his Farewell Address when he counseled “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Foreign influence as a potential national security threat is also a status defined in legal terms by the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA), which requires anyone working on behalf of a foreign government to register and make transparent sources of income.

Uniquely, no foundation or individual working in America to advance the interests of the Jewish state has ever been required to register under FARA even though many, like the odious American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), boast unambiguously on their websites that they are “America’s pro-Israel Lobby.” Many of the foundations are regarded as educational or charitable 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profits, which means the U.S. taxpayer is helping support their activity. But being a non-profit charity does not necessarily mean austerity, as the salaries of top employees are generous. Canadian Jew Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a 501(c)3, is paid $560,000 in salary and benefits. FDD has for many years been calling for war against Iran.

The most recent foundation being set up by Israel’s friends to promote the interests of the Jewish state is the Edmund Burke Foundation, which hosted a conference on “Nationalism” last week. The conference was interesting in that the Burke Foundation is headed by an Israeli and an American Jew who has served as Executive Director of the Christians United For Israel (CUFI). The event was held at the Washington D.C. Ritz-Carlton, suggesting that the Burkeans are not short of cash. Pro-Israel groups always seem to have plenty of Benjamins.

A number of traditional conservatives and even some organizations were fooled by the promotional material and speakers’ list into thinking that the program was legitimate and would focus on supporting national interests as well as foreign policy restraint, but some at least had their eyes opened when John Bolton, as featured speaker, was vigorously applauded by at least half of the audience.

Some potential critics of the agenda were not invited or even deliberately denied tickets to limit dissent, and several attendees were appalled by what they had witnessed, which was essentially an affirmation of status quo foreign policy, to the benefit of the hawks in Washington and Israel. Inevitably, some delusional dimwits were unable to understand that they were being used and were oddly entranced by what they were seeing and hearing. And don’t worry if you are among those who missed the event. It will probably be replayed in a few months under a different name and with a slightly different cast of characters.

The most visible Israeli tool for generating contacts with Americans that might prove useful is the all- expenses-paid VIP junkets that are arranged for Congressmen. New Congressmen routinely travel to Israel for a dog-and-pony show within months of their taking office. One of Congress’s leading cheerleaders for Israel, Maryland’s Steny Hoyer has visited the Jewish state many times and can be relied on to pressure freshman congressmen to make the trip. Other Americans who might be influential in the future are also feted by the Israeli hospitality machine. American military cadets from the service academies and colleges are now being brought to Israel to learn a fictional version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Undoubtedly, some of them are set up for intelligence approaches after they are commissioned.

Which brings us to the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein story and how it is being handled by government and covered in the media since the story exploded two weeks ago. No one outside the alternative media seems to be interested in the possibility, or rather likelihood, that Epstein was working for a foreign intelligence service, which would most likely be Israel. In the media the Epstein story died almost immediately, submerged in the tale of Donald Trump telling several congresswomen to go back where they came from.

It is unlikely that the spying aspect of Epstein’s alleged crimes will even be investigated both because it involves the Jewish state and also because it appears to include participation by leading politicians from both parties and other public figures. The Deep State will make the story die, which just might also be what happens to Epstein in jail.

The evidence that Epstein was involved in intelligence work most likely bribing or blackmailing prominent individuals to act on behalf of Israel, derives both from the statement made by former U.S. Attorney for Miami Alexander Acosta that “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone” and from other external evidence. Epstein was making videos of his guests having sex with his young girls, which is a version of a classic intelligence entrapment technique referred to as a “honey trap” that is employed by every major spy agency worldwide. And the Acosta quote – will it ever be fully investigated? Who told him that Epstein was “intelligence” and what were the circumstances?

Jeffrey’s sources of income have also been questioned. Epstein’s sole identified business connection was Ohio billionaire Les Wexner, who maintained very close ties to the upper echelons of the Israeli diplomatic and intelligence establishment. Epstein served as Wexner’s trustee when the latter was forming the Mega Group, created by Wexner and Edgar Bronfman to generate positive views of Israel as a cover for Israeli propaganda dissemination in America.

Epstein’s lack of an identifiable income stream rather suggests that he might have been supported by a government agency of some kind. He had hidden in his Manhattan house a great deal of cash, diamonds and an Austrian passport. The diamonds might have represented payment in kind from Israel, which is capital of the world diamond trade, and the existence of the passport is intriguing. It has been described in the media as “fake” but that can mean anything. The passport, dating from the 1980s, was apparently authentic with a photo of Epstein and a fake name inserted in it, but it might plausibly be the product of a government document forgery lab. Why Austria? Because Austria was at the time politically neutral and the passport would be a good one for traveling anywhere. It would be much preferred by spy agencies or by agents who wanted to travel anonymously.

That Epstein would be linked to Israel rather than to some other intelligence service is due to his relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, whose father Robert, a Czech Jew who became a naturalized British citizen, was believed by C.I.A. and other intelligence services to be a long-time agent of Mossad. After he died under mysterious circumstances, he was given a state funeral in Israel that was attended by every current and former head of the Jewish state’s intelligence service as well as by the country’s prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. Ghislaine was reportedly Epstein’s close friend and a procurer of his young girl victims.

As most of Israel’s agents of influence are now on Martha’s Vineyard where they gather in July and August, it would be wonderful to cut off all transportation and communication with the island and leave them there, but that would be unfair to the genuine year-round residents. Alternatively, I would be happy just to see Israel’s dire influence over the United States exposed by the media and discussed in public fora by the more than 20 Democratic Party presidential wannabes. As that is not likely to happen, I would settle for a real honest-to-God investigation of Epstein and what he was doing coupled with a move by the Treasury and Justice departments against all the hundreds of pro-Israel groups that have never registered under FARA. It’s a big job to uncover Israeli subversion, but somebody needs to start doing it.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) 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

July 23, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Has a $259 million Reason to Bomb Iran

By Eli Clifton | LobeLog | June 22, 2019

On Thursday, the United States came perilously close to a military confrontation with Iran after it downed a U.S. drone that may or may not have entered the country’s air space. President Donald Trump reportedly ordered a retaliatory military strike on Iran but called it off, according to Trump’s own tweets on Friday morning, because a general told him that “150 people” might die in the strike.

Much analysis of Trump’s slide toward war with Iran has focused on his hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, who, reportedly requested options from the Pentagon to deploy as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East and hit Iran with 500 missiles per day. Bolton is the loudest voice inside the White House pushing for a military escalation to the administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for his part, is staking out the position that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force allows the administration to take military action against Iran without congressional approval, an unusual and broadly criticized interpretation of congressional oversight.

Yet, there’s another omnipresent influence on Trump: $259 million given by some of the GOP’s top supporters to boost his campaign in 2016 and support Republican congressional and senate campaigns in 2016 and 2018.

Those funds  came from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Paul Singer and Bernard Marcus, donors who have made no secret, both through public statements and funding think tanks that support military action against Iran, of their desire for the United States to destroy the Islamic Republic.

Adelson, who alongside his wife Miriam are the biggest donors to Trump and the GOP, contributed $205 million to Republicans in the past two political cycles and reportedly sent $35 million to the Future 45 Super PAC that supported Trump’s presidential bid. His role as the biggest funder of Republican House and Senate campaigns makes him a vital ally for Trump—who relied on Adelson’s campaign donations to maintain a Republican majority in the Senate and curb Republican losses in the House in the 2018 midterm election—and any Republican seeking national office.

Adelson publicly suggested using nuclear weapons against Iran and pushed for Trump to replace then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster with Bolton, partly due to the former’s perceived unwillingness to take a harder line on Iran. In 2017, the Zionist Organization of America, which receives much of its funding from the Adelsons, led a public campaign against McMaster, accusing him of being “opposed to President Trump’s basic policy positions on Israel, Iran, and Islamist terror.”

In 2015, Trump mocked his primary opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for seeking Adelson’s financial support, warning that Adelson expects a degree of control over candidates in exchange for campaign contributions. Trump tweeted:

Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!

And Adelson isn’t alone.

Billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus is the second largest contributor to Trump’s campaign, providing $7 million. He also champions John Bolton, contributing $530,000 to John Bolton’s super PAC over its lifetime. And he’s a major contributor to GOP campaigns, contributing over $13 million to Trump’s presidential campaign and GOP congressional campaigns in 2016 and nearly $8 million to GOP midterm efforts in 2018.

Marcus, like Adelson, makes no qualms about his views on Iran, which he characterized as “the devil” in a 2015 Fox Business interview.

Unlike Adelson and Marcus, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer was a “never Trump” conservative until Trump won the election. Then he donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. Singer is far more careful with his words than Marcus and Adelson, but his money supports some of the most hawkish think tank experts and politicians in Washington.

Singer, alongside Marcus and Adelson, has contributed generously to the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose experts have spent the past decade regularly promoting policies to pressure Iran economically and militarily, including most recently Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach.

According to donor rolls of FDD’s biggest supporters by the end of 2011, a year that saw a sharp rise in tensions and rumors of war by Israel against Iran, Adelson contributed $1.5 million, Paul Singer contributed $3.6 million, and Bernard Marcus, who sits on FDD’s board, contributed $10.7 million.

(FDD says that Adelson is no longer a contributor, but Marcus continues to give generously, contributing $3.63 million in 2017, over a quarter of FDD’s contributions that year.)

Employees of Singer’s firm, Elliott Management, were the second largest source of funds for the 2014 candidacy of the Senate’s most outspoken Iran hawk, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who urged Trump to conduct a “retaliatory strike” against Iran for purportedly attacking two commercial tankers last week.

Singer donated $26 million to Republicans in the 2016 election and $6.4 million to the GOP’s midterm campaigns.

The billionaire Iran hawks—the Adelsons, Singer, and Marcus—made combined donations of over $259 million to GOP politicians in the past two cycles, making them some of the Republican Party’s most important donors. That quarter-billion-dollars doesn’t include contributions to dark money 501c4 groups and donations to 501c3 nonprofits, such as think tanks like FDD.

News coverage of Trump’s slide toward war frames the discussion as a competition between his better instincts and a national security advisor and secretary of state who, to varying degrees, favor military action.

But the $259 million that helped elect Trump and Trump-friendly Republicans must loom large over the president.

As Trump evaluates his options with Iran and turns his attention to the 2020 election, he knows he’ll need to rely on the Adelsons, Singer, and Marcus to boost his campaign, maintain a narrow majority in the Senate, and attempt a takeback of the House.

These donors have made their policy preferences on Iran plainly known. They surely expect a return on their investment in Trump’s GOP.

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Journalists, activists disturbed by State Department’s anti-Iran troll campaign

RT | June 20, 2019

Victims of anti-Iran trolling campaign were shocked to learn it was taxpayer- funded by the State Department, but not so shocked to see the government attempting to cover it up or mainstream media giving it little coverage.

Journalists, human rights activists, academics, and even outspoken critics of the Iranian government were all targeted by @IranDisinfo, which smeared any and all critics of President Donald Trump’s hawkish Iran policy as paid operatives of the regime in social media assaults that some say veered into personal attacks. Now, they want answers as to how this $1.5 million operation – bristling with the hallmarks of a totalitarian propaganda campaign – was allowed to see daylight.

“How can individuals who are not willing to adhere to the norms of American civil society be entrusted with resources to promote civil society in other countries?” asked Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post columnist who was on the troll’s hit list – despite spending time in an Iranian jail.

In a Twilight Zone-level twist, the troll even went after the NATO-backed think tank Atlantic Council’s Iran expert and a former Voice of America host.

The State Department quietly “suspended” @IranDisinfo last month, admitting the operation had gone rogue in a closed-door congressional hearing, but an apology to those targeted, and answers on who was responsible, has not been forthcoming.

Former State Department employee Joel Rubin has pointed out @IranDisinfo was run under a “cooperative agreement” which means the government had “hands-on engagement” with the months-long smear campaign, contrary to its protestations that the project went off the rails only recently.

“What other @StateDept funded organizations claiming to promote democracy in #Iran are using taxpayer money to harass, intimidate, threaten and slander American journalists & academics? Follow the money folks,” tweeted Farnaz Fassihi, a Wall Street Journal columnist and @IranDisinfo target.

Money funding @IranDisinfo had been earmarked to counteract ISIS propaganda, as well as Russian and Chinese information ops, through the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, former White House official Brett Bruen told Independent journalist Negar Mortazevi, a former VOA host and another victim of the troll.

E-Collaborative for Civic Education, which was contracted to run @IranDisinfo, appears to be connected with pro-war think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), whose website boasted a page titled “Iran Disinfo” that was a carbon copy of the troll account, as well as other pro-regime-change organizations through its founder, Mariam Memarsadeghi.

“Never did I think that nine years [after imprisonment in Iran], an American administration that has claimed to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran would fund attacks against me,” Tara Sepehri Far of Human Rights Watch wrote in the Nation, demanding greater transparency and speculating about a “broader pattern of harassment funded in whole or in part by the US government against journalists and analysts.”

Mainstream media has been mostly silent on the issue, aside from those – like WaPo’s Rezaian – directly affected by the trolling. Even though BBC Persia journalists were among @IranDisinfo’s victims, the outlet hosted anti-regime activist Alireza Kiani, who dutifully defended the abusive propaganda as “quite beneficial with respect to the circumstances of the Iranian people,” insisting “Iran Disinfo attacked people’s political positions, not their person.”

CNN did limply condemn the operation a few weeks after it was exposed.

“There’s no moral equivalence between Iran and the US,” CNN assured its viewers, “but that clear line threatens to become a bit blurry when the US funds disinformation campaigns that attack people who don’t parrot the party line. That’s a tactic of authoritarian regimes, not democracies.”

We may not have heard the last of @IranDisinfo, either – its funding was only suspended “until [ECCE] takes necessary steps to ensure that any future activity remains within the agreed scope of work.”

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Curious Bedfellows: The Neocon and Progressive Alliance to Destroy Donald Trump

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | January 14, 2019

The Roman poet Ovid’s masterful epic The Metamorphoses includes the memorable opening line regarding the poem’s central theme of transformation. He wrote In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, which has been translated as “Of shapes transformed to bodies strange, I purpose to entreat…”

Ovid framed his narrative around gods, heroes and quasi-historical events but if he were around today, he would no doubt be fascinated by the many transformations of the group that has defined itself as neoconservative. The movement began in a cafeteria in City College of New York in the 1930s, where a group of radical Jewish students would meet to discuss politics and developments in Europe. Many of the founders were from the far left, communists of the Trotskyite persuasion, which meant that they believed in permanent global revolution led by a vanguard party. The transformation into conservatives of a neo-persuasion took place when they were reportedly “mugged by reality” into accepting that the standard leftist formulae were not working to transform the world rapidly enough. As liberal hawks, they then hitched their wagon to the power of the United States to bring about transformation by force if necessary and began to infiltrate institutions like the Pentagon to give themselves the tools to achieve their objectives, which included promotion of regime change wars, full spectrum global dominance and unconditional support for Israel.

The neocons initially found a home with Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, but they moved on in the 1970s and 1980s to prosper under Ronald Reagan as well as under Democrat Bill Clinton. Their ability to shape policy peaked under George W. Bush, when they virtually ran the Pentagon and were heavily represented in both the national security apparatus and in the White House. They became adept at selling their mantra of “strong national defense” to whomever was buying, including to President Obama, even while simultaneously complaining about his administration’s “weakness.”

The neoconservatives lined up behind Hillary Clinton in 2016, appalled by Donald Trump’s condemnation of their centerpiece war in Iraq and even more so by his pledge to end the wars in Asia and nation-building projects while also improving relations with the Russians. They worked actively against the Republican candidate both before he was nominated and elected and did everything they could to stop him, including libeling him as a Russian agent.

When Trump was elected, it, therefore, seemed that the reign of the neocons had ended, but chameleonlike, they have changed shape and are now ensconced both in some conservative as well as in an increasing number of progressive circles in Washington and in the media. Against all odds, they have even captured key posts in the White House itself with the naming of John Bolton as National Security Adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Bolton’s Chief of Staff is Fred Fleitz, a leading neocon and Islamophobe while last week Trump added Iran hawk Richard Goldberg to the National Security Council as director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction. Goldberg is an alumnus of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is the leading neocon think tank calling incessantly for war with Iran.

Meanwhile, the neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint. Glenn Greenwald reports that, based on polling of party supporters, the Democrats have gone full-Hillary and are now by far more hawkish than the Republicans, unwilling to leave either Syria or Afghanistan.

The neocon survival and rejuvenation is particularly astonishing in that they have been wrong about virtually everything, most notably the catastrophic Iraq War. They have never been held accountable for anything, though one should note that accountability is not a prominent American trait, at least since Vietnam. What is important is that neocon views have been perceived by the media and punditry as being part of the Establishment consensus, which provides them with access to programming all across the political spectrum. That is why neocon standard-bearers like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have been able to move effortlessly from Fox News to MSNBC where they are fêted by the likes of Rachel Maddow. They applauded the Iraq War when the Establishment was firmly behind it and are now trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency because America’s elite is behind that effort.

Indeed, the largely successful swing by the neocons from right to left has in some ways become more surreal, as an increasing number of progressive spokesmen and institutions have lined up behind their perpetual warfare banner. The ease with which the transformation took place reveals, interestingly, that the neocons have no real political constituency apart from voters who feel threatened and respond by supporting perpetual war, but they do share many common interests with the so-called liberal interventionists. Neocons see a global crisis for the United States defined in terms of power while the liberals see the struggle as a moral imperative, but the end result is the same: intervention by the United States. This fusion is clearly visible in Washington, where the Clintons’ Center for American Progress (CAP) is now working on position papers with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

One of the most active groups attacking President Trump is “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” founded by Bill Kristol in January 2018, as a component of Defending Democracy Together (DDT), a 501(c)4 lobbying group that also incorporates projects called The Russia Tweets and Republicans Against Putin. Republicans Against Putin promotes the view that President Trump is not “stand[ing] up to [Vladimir] Putin” and calls for more aggressive investigation of the Russian role in the 2016 election.

DDT is a prime example of how the neoconservatives and traditional liberal interventionists have come together as it is in part funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire co-founder of eBay who has provided DDT with $600,000 in two grants through his Democracy Fund Voice, also a 501(c)4. Omidyar is a political liberal who has given millions of dollars to progressive organizations and individuals since 1999. Indeed, he is regarded as a top funder of liberal causes in the United States and even globally together with Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. His Democracy Fund awarded $9 million in grants in 2015 alone.

Last week, the Omidyar-Kristol connection may have deepened with an announcement regarding the launch of the launch of a new webzine The Bulwark, which would clearly be at least somewhat intended to take the place of the recently deceased Weekly Standard. It is promoting itself as the center of the “Never Trump Resistance” and it is being assumed that at least some of the Omidyar money is behind it.

Iranian-born Omidyar’s relationship with Kristol is clearly based on the hatred that the two share regarding Donald Trump. Omidyar has stated that Trump is a “dangerous authoritarian demagogue… endorsing Donald Trump immediately disqualifies you from any position of public trust.” He has tweeted that Trump suffers from “failing mental capacity” and is both “corrupt and incapacitated.”

Omidyar is what he is – a hardcore social justice warrior who supports traditional big government and globalist liberal causes, most of which are antithetical to genuine conservatives. But what is interesting about the relationship with Kristol is that it also reveals what the neoconservatives are all about. Kristol and company have never been actual conservatives on social issues, a topic that they studiously avoid, and their foreign policy is based on two principles: creating a state of perpetual war based on fearmongering about foreign enemies while also providing unlimited support for Israel. Kristol hates Trump because he threatens the war agenda while Omidyar despises the president for traditional progressive reasons. That hatred is the tie that binds and it is why Bill Kristol, a man possessing no character and values whatsoever, is willing to take Pierre Omidyar’s money while Pierre is quite happy to provide it to destroy a common enemy, the President of the United States of America.

January 14, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Muslim Leaders Headline UAE Conference at Expense of American Muslim and Palestinian Rights

American Muslims for Palestine | December 12, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last Wednesday, a group of prominent and select American Muslim leaders traveled to the United Arab Emirates to participate in the fifth annual conference of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (FPPMS), which is sponsored by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed, and headed by Mauritanian Islamic scholar, Abdullah bin Bayyah. Despite the country’s appalling human rights record, U.S. Muslim leaders present praised  the country for being “committed to tolerance […] and civil society.”

During the conference, the same Muslim figures were photographed in a meeting with several leading members of the Zionist-Jewish American community including representatives of the American Jewish Committee  (AJC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a powerful pro-Israel lobby organization whose dark history of domestic spying and investment of millions of dollars to extinguish all criticism of Israel is documented in a 2014 report  by AMP. The photo, which was widely tweeted  on Friday by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, features Sh. Hamza Yusuf, a California-based scholar who has been described by the Guardian as “arguably the West’s most influential Islamic scholar,” and Imam Mohamed Magid, the former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), who serves as the Executive Imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Virginia.

It is worth noting that the UAE “Promoting Peace Forum” was founded in 2014, the same year that the UAE government designated  CAIR, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in America, a terrorist organization. Several critics have denounced this forum as part of a series of counter-revolutionary measures carried out in the wake of the Arab Spring to crush pro-democracy efforts in the region and promote obedience toward autocratic rulers. It’s been previously exposed  that conferences such as these are part of a sophisticated PR campaign by the Emirati government to pursue its own political agenda in the name of “moderate Islam”. AMP is disturbed by the continuous participation of some American Muslim leaders in these propaganda conferences that whitewash the nefarious agenda of the UAE government.

“Given the UAE’s dismal record on human rights and its catastrophic policies in the region, as in Yemen and the staging of counter-revolutions, it is the last country to allege the promotion of peace in Muslim societies. The American Muslim leaders and scholars who participated in the conference should not have lent their names to an event aimed at legitimizing a regime that has brought much harm to their own communities and other nations,” said AMP National Policy Director Osama Abuirshaid. If “promoting peace” in Muslim societies is the purported objective of this forum then it should have called for the immediate ceasefire and end to the armed intervention in Yemen, and expressed solidarity with the Palestinians living under Apartheid conditions and occupation.

Not only has the UAE labeled the most prominent American Muslim civic group as a terrorist organization, it also has elevated virulently Islamophobic and pro-Israel organizations such as the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), whose senior researcher Jonathan Schanzer has waged a longstanding smear campaign against AMP and was recently captured maligning Palestine activists in the censored Al Jazeera documentary on the Israel Lobby . The film sheds light on the operations directed at demonizing Muslims and Palestine activists in the U.S. The hosting of the ADL at this year’s conference is especially disconcerting given the group’s sinister history of instigating political prosecutions against prominent American Muslim and Palestinian leaders and institutions, as detailed in Israeli author Miko Peled’s recent book Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. Peled recently commented to AMP that the ADL “is an organization dedicated to protecting Israel from criticism. They conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. The ADL supports the racism, ethnic cleansing, genocide and apartheid regime to which Israel has subjected the Palestinians. ADL does not represent Jewish people and must be shunned by people of conscience.” Rather than invite the ADL and AJC to the stage, the primary purveyors of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian discourses, the “Peace Forum” should have expressed support for the peaceful and nonviolent BDS movement and highlight the global success of the Palestinian struggle.

Since the Arab Spring, the UAE government has exposed itself as an enemy of human rights and democracy. From intervening in Libya and Egypt to aiding and abetting Saudi crimes in Yemen, supporting its blockade of Qatar, and helping cover up its recent murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, it is clear that the country is willing to secure its regional strategic interests at all costs and on the backs of millions of Muslims and Arabs. Meanwhile, it continues to openly tighten its relationship with Israel, working with lobby groups in the U.S. and purchasing Israeli spyware  to target civil society both locally and abroad. No conference or publicity stunt can change these critical facts or boost this country’s corrupt image.

“This was a conference to normalize Islamophobia, bigotry against Muslims in the West, in addition to normalizing relations and engagement with apologists for Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people. The participation of these Muslim leaders and scholars make us wonder whether they are involved in last year’s revealed attempts of UAE’s ambassador in Washington to hijack the representation of Islam in the U.S. under the pretext of promoting ‘moderate’ Islam which is in essence a distorted complacent form of Islam that aligns itself with Zionists and Islamophobes in the U.S. through trojan horses within the American Muslim community,” Abuirshaid added.

The active participation of some American Muslim leaders in these dubious initiatives with a deeply troubling agenda demands serious and urgent accountability.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Registering Israel’s Useful Idiots

FDD and AIPAC need adult supervision

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 20, 2018

Depending on what criteria one uses, there are between 200 and 600 groups in the United States that wholly or in part are dedicated to furthering the interests of Israel. The organizations are both Jewish, like the Zionist Organization of America, and Christian Zionist to include John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, but the funding of the Israel Lobby and both its political and media access comes overwhelmingly from Jewish supporters and advocates.

Many of the groups are registered with the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes as 501(c)3 “educational” or “charitable” foundations, which enables them to solicit tax exempt donations. One might dispute whether promoting Israeli interests in the United States is actually educational, but as of right now the Department of the Treasury believes it can be so construed, protected by the First Amendment.

But there is a more serious consideration in terms of the actual relationships that many of the groups enjoy with the Israeli government. To be sure, many of them boast on their promotional literature and websites about their relationships with the Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, so the issue of dual loyalty or, worse, acting as actual Israeli government agents must be considered.

There is a legal remedy to hostile foreigners acting against American interests and that is the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). Originally intended to identify and monitor agents of Nazi Germany propagandizing in the United States, it has since been applied to individuals and groups linked to other nations. Most recently, it was used against Russian news agencies RT America and Sputnik, which were forced to register. It is also being considered for Qatar based al-Jazeera.

FARA requires identified agents to be transparent in terms of their funding and contacts while also being publicly identified as representing the interests of a foreign nation. They must report to the Department of Justice every contact they have with congressmen or other government officials. The text of the Act defines a foreign agent as

“any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person— (i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal; or (iv) within the United States represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States.”

In spite of language that would presumably cover many of the hundreds of Jewish organizations acting for Israel, FARA has never been used to compel registration of any such groups or individuals even when it was public knowledge that they were working closely with the Israeli government to coordinate positions and promote other Israeli interests. That failure is at a minimum a tribute to Jewish power in the United States, but it is also due to the fact that the organizations are funded from within the United States by wealthy American Jews, not by Israel, which is the argument sometimes inaccurately made by the groups themselves to demonstrate that they are not being directed by the Israeli government.

The difficulty in proving that one is directed by a foreign government has been definitively resolved regarding one group the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has become the leading neoconservative bastion seeking a war with Iran, Israel’s bête noir. The recent al-Jazeera expose on the activities of the Israeli lobbies in both Britain and the United States, which I wrote about last week, included a surreptitiously filmed conversation with Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli intelligence officer who now heads the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which is tasked with countering what is perceived to be anti-Israeli activity worldwide. The Ministry is particularly focused on the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which is increasingly active in both the United States and Europe.

Vaknin-Gil was discussing his activities with Tony Kleinfeld, an undercover investigative reporter who was secretly recording and filming his encounters with various members of the Israel Lobby as well as of the Israeli government. Vaknin-Gil provided explicit confirmation that the FDD works directly with the Israeli government, making it an Israeli agent by the definition of FARA.

For those who are unfamiliar with FDD, it is probably currently the most prominent neocon organization though it nevertheless claims to be a non-partisan “research group.” It focuses on foreign policy and security issues by “Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Freedom,” as it informs us on its website masthead. It works to “defend free nations against their enemies,” which frequently means in practice anyone whom Israel considers to be hostile, most particularly Iran. FDD’s Leadership Council has featured former CIA Director James Woolsey, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Bill Kristol. Its Executive Director is Canadian import Mark Dubowitz, who is obsessed with Iran. Its advisors and experts are mostly Jewish and most of its funding comes from Jewish oligarchs.

FDD’s auditorium has become a preferred venue for senior officials of the Trump Administration to go and make hardline speeches, just as the American Enterprise Institute was under George W. Bush. Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Nikki Haley have all spoken there recently, frequently focusing on Iran and the threat that it allegedly constitutes.

FDD aside, Vaknin-Gil also confirmed that there were other groups in the United States doing the same sorts of things on behalf of Israel. He said “We have FDD. We have others working on this,” elaborating that FDD is “working on” projects for Israel including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail.”

So Vaknin-Gil was admitting that FDD and others were working as Israeli proxies, collecting information on U.S. citizens, spying on legal organizations, and both planning and executing disinformation at Israeli direction. Kleinfeld also spoke with a Jonathan Schanzer, a senior official in FDD, who filled in a bit more of what the foundation is up to in terms of discrediting groups in the U.S. that support the BDS movement.

Schanzer admitted “BDS has taken everybody by surprise” before complaining that the Jewish response has been “a complete mess. I don’t think that anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a good job.” He then complained that attempts to discredit Palestinian groups by linking them to terrorist groups had failed, as also had the use of the label anti-Semitism. “Personally I think anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be.”

So, when will the Justice Department move on FDD now that its true colors have been exposed by al-Jazeera? The group must be required to register if justice be done, but will it? Its principal partner in crime the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has avoided registering for more than sixty years by claiming that it is an American organization working to educate the U.S. public about the all the good things connected to Israel. Even though it meets regularly with Israeli government officials, it claims not to be representing Israeli interests. But just as in the case of FDD, it is time to require AIPAC to register as what it really is: a foreign agent. As a registered agent, it will still be able to exercise First Amendment rights to defend Israel but it would not be able to be involved in lobbying on Capitol Hill and directing money to politicians who are described as pro-Israeli, as it does now. Its finances will be transparent and it will be perceived as an official advocate for Israel, not as an educational resource for what is happening in the Middle East. Hopefully, when AIPAC stops throwing money around, the politicians and media types will find another place to roost.

To be sure the lovefest for Israel in government extends far beyond FDD and AIPAC. It can be found in many dark corners. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently received the “Defender of Israel” award from the Zionist Organization of America. And one might suggest that the U.S. United Nations delegation, headed by Ambassador Nikki Haley, is directed by the Israeli government, particularly given events of last Friday whereby the U.S. voted against a motion condemning Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, thereby recognizing for the first time Israel’s sovereignty over the area. Whether Haley was speaking for herself or for the administration was characteristically unclear, but it hardly matters. Nikki Haley might be referred to as a useful idiot, as Lenin put it, but her consistent pattern of extreme loyalty in defense of Israel marks her out as being particularly beholden to the Jewish state, which will no doubt arrange to richly reward her through some position in financial services for which she is totally unqualified when she leaves her post in January. And then she will be well funded to run for president in 2020. Having Haley in charge, one might just as well vote for Benjamin Netanyahu.

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 www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Surrounded by Neocons

They are all the news that fits

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 9, 2018

Award winning journalist James Risen has recently described in some detail his sometimes painful relationship with The New York Times. His lengthy account is well worth reading as it demonstrates how successive editors of the paper frequently cooperated with the government to suppress stories on torture and illegal activity while also self-censoring to make sure that nothing outside the framework provided by the “war on terror” should be seriously discussed. It became a faithful lap dog for an American role as global hegemon, promoting government half-truths and suppressing information that it knew to be true but which would embarrass the administration in power, be they Democrats or Republicans.

If one were to obtain a similar insider account of goings-on at the other national “newspaper of record”, The Washington Post, it is quite likely that comparable trimming of the narrative also took place. To be sure, the Post is worse than the Times, characterized by heavily editorializing in its news coverage without necessarily tipping off the reader when “facts” end and speculation begins. In both publications, stories about Iran or Russia routinely begin with an assertion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and that Iran is the aggressor in the Middle East, contentions that have not been demonstrated and can easily be challenged. Both publications also have endorsed every American war since 2001, including Iraq, Libya and the current mess in Syria, one indication of the quality of their reporting and analysis.

A recent op-ed in the Times by Bret Stephens is a perfect example of warmongering mischief wrapped in faux expert testimony to make it palatable. Stephens is the resident neocon at the Times. He was brought over from the Wall Street Journal when it was determined that his neocon colleague David Brooks had become overly squishy, while the resident “conservative” Russ Douthat had proven to be a bit too cautious and even rational to please the increasingly hawkish senior editors.

Stephens’ article, entitled Finding the Way Forward on Iran sparkles with throwaway gems like “Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal” and “Real democracies don’t live in fear of their own people” and even “it’s not too soon to start rethinking the way we think about Iran.” Or try “A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal.”

Bret has been a hardliner on Iran for years. Early on in this op-ed he makes very clear that he wants it to be dealt with forcibly because it has “centrifuges, ballistic missiles, enriched uranium [and] fund[s] Hezbollah, assist Bashar al-Assad, arm[s] the Houthis, [and] imprison[s] the occasional British or American citizen.” He describes how Iran is a very corrupt place run by religious leaders and Revolutionary Guards and proposes that their corruption be exposed so that the Iranian people can take note and rise up in anger. And if exposure doesn’t work, they should be hammered with sanctions. He does not explain why sanctions, which disproportionately hurt the people he expects to rise up, will bring about any real change.

Stephens cites two of his buddies Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who are apparently experts on how to squeeze Iran. Weinstein prefers exposing the misdeeds of the Mullahs to anger the Iranian people while Dubowitz prefers punitive sanctions “for corruption.”

The article does not reveal that Weinstein and Dubowitz are long time critics of Iran, are part of the Israel Lobby and just happen to be Jewish, as is Stephens. The Hudson Institute and the FDD are leading neocon and pro-Israel fronts. So my question becomes, “Why Iran?” The often-heard Israeli complaint about its being unfairly picked on could reasonably be turned on its head in asking the same about Iran. In fact, Iran compares favorably with Israel. It has no nuclear weapons, it does not support any of the Sunni terrorist groups that are chopping heads, and it has not disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people that it rules over. The fact is that Iran is being targeted because Israel sees it as its prime enemy in the region and has corrupted many “opinion makers” in the U.S., to include Stephens, to hammer home that point. To be sure, Iran is a very corrupt place run by people who should not be running a hot dog stand, but the same applies to the United States and Israel. And there are lots of places that are not being targeted like Iran that are far worse, including good friend and ally of both Jerusalem and Washington, Saudi Arabia.

Oddly enough Stephens, Weinstein and Dubowitz do not get into any of that back story, presumably because it would be unseemly. And, of course and unfortunately, the New York Times opinion page is not unique. An interesting recent podcast interview by Politico‘s Chief International Affairs correspondent Susan Glasser with leading neoconservatives Eliot Cohen and Max Boot, is typical of how the media selectively shapes a narrative to suit its own biases. Glasser, Cohen and Boot are all part of the establishment foreign policy consensus in the U.S. and therefore both hate and fail to understand the Trump phenomenon. Both Cohen and Booth were vociferous founding members of the #NeverTrump foreign policy resistance movement.

Boot describes the new regime’s foreign policy as “kowtow[ing] to dictators and undermin[ing] American support for freedom and democracy around the world,” typical neocon leitmotifs. Glasser appears to be in love with her interviewees and hurls softball after softball. She describes Boot as “fantastic” and Cohen receives the epithet “The Great.” The interview itself is remarkably devoid of any serious discussion of foreign policy and is essentially a sustained assault on Trump while also implicitly supporting hardline national security positions. Cohen fulminates about “a very serious Russian attack on the core of our political system. I mean, I don’t know how you get more reckless and dangerous than that,” while Boot asks what “has to be done” about Iran.

Pompous ass Cohen, who interjected in the interview that “and you know, Max and I are both intellectuals,” notably very publicly refused to have any part in a Trump foreign policy team during the campaign but later when The Donald was actually elected suggested that the new regime might approach him with humility to offer a senior position and he just might condescend to join them. They did not do so, and he wrote an angry commentary on their refusal.

Hating Trump is one thing, but I would bet that if the question of a hardline policy vis-à-vis Russia or the Jerusalem Embassy move had come up Cohen and Boot would have expressed delight. The irony is that Trump is in fact pursuing a basically neocon foreign policy which the two men would normally support, but they appear to be making room for Trump haters in the policy formulation process to push the national security consensus even farther to the right. Indeed, in another article by Boot at Foreign Policy he writes “I applaud Trump’s decisions to provide Ukraine with arms to defend itself from Russian aggression, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and to accelerate former President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting the Islamic State.” Cohen meanwhile applauds the embassy move, though he warns that Trump’s success in so doing might embolden him to do something reckless over North Korea.

Perhaps one should not be astonished that leading neocons appearing in the mainstream media will continue to have their eyes on the ball and seek for more aggressive engagement in places like Iran and Russia. The media should be faulted because it rarely publishes any contrary viewpoint and it also consistently fails to give any space to the considerable downside to the agitprop. It must be reassuring for many Americans to know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing itself to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the United States and it will be sharing information on the appropriate preparations with the American people. There will be a public session on how to prepare for a nuclear explosion on January 16th.

CDC experts will consider “planning and preparation efforts” for such a strike. “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” the Center elaborated in its press release on the event.

That the United States should be preparing for a possible nuclear future can in part be attributed to recent commentary by the “like, really smart” and “very stable genius” who is the nation’s chief executive, but the fuel being poured on the fire for war is from the very same neocons who are featured in the mainstream media as all-purpose experts and have succeeded in selling the snake oil about America’s proper role as aggressor-in-chief for the entire world. It would be an unparalleled delight to be able to open a newspaper and not see Bret Stephens, Eliot Cohen, Max Boot or even the redoubtable Bill Kristol grinning back from the editorial page, but I suppose I am only dreaming.

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 http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Future of JCPOA In Hands of GOP Indebted To Billionaire Iran Hawks

By Eli Clifton | LobeLog | October 19, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), appears to have fallen in line with the views espoused by several of his top donors. These funders believe that Iran poses an apocalyptic threat only addressable through military action, including the use of nuclear weapons.

Two years ago, every Republican in Congress opposed the JCPOA. With the future of the agreement now in the hands of a GOP-controlled House and Senate, those same billionaire Iran hawks may hold a powerful influence over any Republican lawmaker contemplating voting against legislation designed to harm the JCPOA.

Indeed, the influence of these key donors—Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer—over U.S. foreign policy, particularly with regards to Iran, doesn’t stop at the White House, where combined they contributed over $40 million to various pro-Trump political groups and causes.

Those three donors also contributed $65 million at the congressional level. That represents nearly half of the individual contributions made to the Senate Leadership Fund (CLF) and Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), Super PACs dedicated to maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Those contributions provide a considerable incentive for Hill Republicans to stake out a hawkish position on the JCPOA.

Trump’s decision to punt the decision to Congress about whether to reimpose sanctions or attempt to unilaterally rewrite the JCPOA, a multilateral agreement, threatens to unravel the nuclear deal and/or put the U.S. into noncompliance with the accord.

Republican members of Congress owe a great deal to the CLF and the SLF. In the 2016 election cycle the two GOP Super PACs were some of the biggest sources of independent expenditures in House and Senate races. The SLF was the biggest spender in the 2016 election cycle after Priorities USA Action (a Hillary Clinton-supporting Super PAC) and Right to Rise USA (a Jeb Bush-supporting Super PAC).

The CLF raised $50 million in individual contributions and the SLF raised $90 million in individual contributions in the past election cycle. That is in no small part thanks to Adelson, Marcus, and Singer, three of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. They also provide millions in funding to hawkish think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which regularly promotes military intervention against Iran. Adelson and Marcus, in particular, have been outspoken in their opposition to the JCPOA and expressing their extreme hostility toward Iran.

Adelson, who actually suggested firing a nuclear weapon at Iran as a negotiating tactic, alongside his wife, Miriam, are the biggest overall donors to both the CLF and SLF as well as Trump’s largest campaign donor. They contributed $20 million to the CLF and $35 million to the SLF. Adelson, via John Bolton, may have helped inject language into Trump’s speech last week decertifying the JCPOA. Politico reported (my emphasis):

The line was added to Trump’s speech after Bolton, despite Kelly’s recent edict [limiting Bolton’s access to Trump], reached the president by phone on Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where Bolton was visiting with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Bolton urged Trump to include a line in his remarks noting that he reserved the right to scrap the agreement entirely, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

Trump wound up saying that the agreement “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.” Bolton declined to comment on any conversation with the president.

Singer, who was the second largest source of funds supporting Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) campaign, contributed $1.9 million to the CLF and $6 million to the SLF.

Cotton, an outspoken critic of the Iran deal and proponent of pursuing a regime-change strategy in Iran, reportedly advised the White House on decertifying the agreement. He is the cosponsor of legislation that would institute automatic reinstatement of sanctions if Iran comes within a year of a nuclear weapons capability and eliminates the JCPOA’s sunset clauses, effectively rewriting the agreement and potentially putting the U.S. in violation of the accord.

Marcus contributed $500,000 to the CLF and $2 million to the SLF. He is Trump’s second biggest campaign donor after the Adelsons and contributes tens of millions of dollars to FDD and other groups opposing the JCPOA.

In a 2015 Fox Business interview, he compared the JCPOA to “do[ing] business with the devil” and, in case he wasn’t clear about who “the devil” was in his metaphor, clarified “I think Iran is the devil.”

Adelson, Singer, and Marcus’s combined contributions account for 44% of individual contributions received by the CLF and 47% of those received by the SLF. Marcus and Singer are already spending on the SLF for the 2018 cycle. Singer contributed $1 million and Marcus contributed $2 million, providing over a quarter of the $11.13 million the Super PAC has raised for the coming election.

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment