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Kamala Harris Dons Progressive Mantle in Public, Strips it Off in Private as She Courts Israel Lobby

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | January 21, 2019

Confirming long-held speculation, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has announced that she will be running for president in 2020, pitting her against other Democratic senators such as Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as well as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). Harris’ announcement has generated some buzz but surprised few, as she has been considered a likely 2020 contender for the Democratic nomination since early 2017. Harris first tweeted on Monday morning out her plans to run for president along with the Clinton-esque slogan “Let’s do this together.”

She then repeated her announcement on ABC’s Good Morning America, stating that “I am running for president of the United States. I’m very excited about it.” Harris, who decided to launch her campaign on the federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., later added, “I love my country. And this is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”

However, despite the long-promoted “inevitability” of Harris’ campaign, she has failed to garner much enthusiasm from progressive voters, owing to her history of supporting neoliberal policies as well as her pro-Zionist leanings, which she has attempted to keep from public view.

Though hardly “progressive,” Harris – much like another 2020 hopeful, Elizabeth Warren – has sought to cast herself as such in recent years in an effort to unite a fractured Democratic party by publicly catering to progressives while also privately catering to special interests, including the Israel lobby.

In this two-part series, MintPress News will examine how Harris is set to emulate much of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign — particularly the distinction between her “private” and “public” positions — while using identity politics to her advantage. This has already begun, with Harris having courted past Hillary campaign staffers and millionaire donors alike. In addition, top establishment liberals like Joy Ann Reid of MSNBC and Clinton advisor Neera Tanden are claiming that legitimate criticism of, and a lack of enthusiasm for, a Harris presidential run on the part of progressives stem from “racism” and “sexism” among left-leaning Americans — reviving the Clinton campaign’s “Bernie bros” narrative that characterizes Bernie Sanders-supporting progressive voters as “all-white” and “all-male.”

One of the clearest examples of Harris’ practice of courting special interests in private while painting a different picture in public is her position on the Israel/Palestine conflict. While Harris once, in 2012 while serving as California’s attorney general, stood up to Israeli government pressure to persecute activists working with the pro-Palestinian rights movement Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS), she made a concerted effort to court pro-Israel interests as she began to pursue her higher political ambitions, namely when she kicked off her 2016 campaign for the Senate.

Since then, Harris has sought to keep a public persona of neutrality on the divisive issue by evasively responding to questions on the issue or avoiding them altogether. At the same time, Harris has been privately pandering to Israel lobby groups in “off-the-record” speeches and during trips to Israel that she and her staff chose not to publicize. This clearly reflects the image that Harris seeks to build of herself as a “progressive centrist” candidate, meaning one who cultivates a public persona of progressivism while also supporting many of the hallmark policies of establishment “centrist” Democrats and courting the mega-donors of the Democratic Party.

A quiet courtship

Once her 2016 Senate campaign was underway, Harris made it clear that she was willing to “look the other way” when it comes to the human-rights abuses regularly inflicted on Palestinians by the state of Israel. That year, in a questionnaire from Jewish News of Northern California, Harris asserted that “Lasting peace [between Israel and Palestine] can only be found through bilateral negotiations that protect Israel’s identity, ensure security for all people and include the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” — i.e., a Jewish ethnostate that gives other ethnoreligious backgrounds an “inferior” status.

In that same questionnaire, Harris also praised Israel’s Supreme Court, which has helped to enshrine apartheid and also legalized the targeted assassinations of hundreds of Palestinians during intifadas (uprisings), as “a beautiful home to democracy and justice in a region where radicalism and authoritarianism all too often shape government.”

Harris went on to resoundingly reject the non-violent BDS movement, stating:

The BDS movement seeks to weaken Israel but it will only isolate the nation and steer Israelis against prerequisite compromises for peace. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise – especially in Europe – and the Middle East is growing increasingly unstable, I believe we should not isolate Israel, the only democracy in the region.”

In 2017, a few months after winning her Senate seat, Harris gave her first public address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in which she stated:

I believe Israel should never be a partisan issue, and as long as I’m a United States senator, I will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense.”

Several months later, Harris quietly visited Israel, a trip that she did not post on her website or social media accounts but that was instead announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and another Israeli politician, Yair Lapid, via social media. During the trip, Harris also briefly visited 10 female students at Al-Quds University in the occupied West Bank, where she asked the students whether Israel’s massive separation wall posed “a real barrier” to their movement.

Though her trip to Israel and photo-op with Netanyahu raised some concern, Harris’ decision to court pro-Israel interests has since grown substantially. Much as with her Israel trip though, the California senator has sought to court these interests just out of public view. For instance, in March of last year, Harris spoke to the Israel lobby organization AIPAC at an event called “A Conversation with Senator Kamala Harris.” The event was not listed on the AIPAC conference’s program or website, nor was it promoted by Harris herself. AIPAC Director of Communications Beth Robbins later confirmed to the Intercept that Senator Harris’ remarks were part of “an off-the-record session.”

Though the transcript of her remarks was never made public, one anecdote shared by a participant in the session recounted how Harris had, as a child, helped fundraise for the Jewish National Fund (JNF) “to plant trees in Israel” as opposed to selling Girl Scout cookies or something similar. However, it’s unlikely that Harris mentioned at this gathering that JNF pine plantations are largely used to cover and effectively erase the bulldozed remnants of Palestinian villages that were destroyed by the state of Israel soon after its founding.

In addition to her AIPAC conferences and speeches, Harris’ national security adviser up until May 2018 was Halie Soifer, a long-time advocate for Israel who was also the Obama campaign’s Jewish outreach liaison in Florida in 2008 and a former advisor to former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Soifer was also previously a speechwriter for the Israeli ambassador to the United States and was a “Next Generation National Security Fellow” with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which is headed by Victoria Nuland, of the neo-conservative “Kagan clan,” and Richard Fontaine, former foreign policy advisor to John McCain.

Soifer is now the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, an Israel lobby organization that “actively promotes foreign and domestic policies consistent with socially progressive, pro-Israel, Jewish community values.”

Having it both ways

While being a pro-Israel senator is hardly uncommon in American politics, what stands out about Kamala Harris is that she has sought to obfuscate her courting of Israel lobby organizations and Israeli politicians. This shows that Harris is not only seeking to make inroads with the powerful pro-Israel lobby and win its support but is also seeking to construct a public persona that courts progressive voters.

However, if Clinton’s 2016 campaign is any indication, separating one’s “public” and “private” positions in order to win votes, while privately courting special interests, is a recipe for disaster — one that assumes progressive voters are easily duped and can be silenced by identity politics.

As the second part of this series will show, Harris’ Clintonesque construction of both a “private” and “public” platform is hardly a coincidence, since she has surrounded herself for much of her young Senate career with numerous Clinton campaign staffers and Obama administration officials and has been zealously courting Hillary Clinton’s former political patrons.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rebranding MLK: How the Establishment Blackened His Dream and Whitewashed His Legacy

By Teodrose Fikre | The Ghion Journal | January 19, 2019

First, the ruling class kill messengers and then co-opt their messages. It’s a ploy that dates back to biblical times; Pharisees dispatch prophets and then whitewash their legacies in a concerted campaign to appropriate their movements. Truth tellers are twice victimized, once by assassins and the second time around by propaganda. Their likeness and their teachings are then cunningly marketed by the same powers they spoke against to reinforce the status quo.

This same playbook—which has been used to silence dissenters throughout the ages—was unleashed with ruthless efficiency against Martin Luther King Jr. Lost in the chorus of politicians, pundits and media personalities who are praising MLK is the core message that he was pushing before he was felled on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. King evolved in his thinking; instead of seeking Civil Rights for “African-Americans”, he made the fatal decision to fight for economic justice for all.

King realized that the infringements against “black” folks in America were interconnected to the injustices felt by marginalized people throughout the world. That awakening is the reason he traveled to Memphis, by standing up for striking sanitation workers, he was hoping to form a bridge between poor folks irrespective of their skin color. The establishment love people who lead sectional movements—those who seek exclusive justice are doing the work of the status quo—what they will not abide are those who try to unify the oppressed and inspire collective actions.

King paid with his life for having the courage to pursue inclusive justice. After he was murdered, institutions of power—from government, academia to mainstream media and beyond—kicked in, stealthily erased King’s legacy and replaced it with disinformation. What has taken place over the past fifty years is a systematic and coordinated effort to blacken his narrative and dilute the power of his message.

I must pause here and explain what I mean by blackening Martin Luther King. What MLK fought for, and ultimately died on behalf of, was for equality and fairness for all. By narrowing the scope of his cause and containing his sacrifice to only as a struggle for “black” people, opinion leaders successfully ghettoized him in an effort to lessen his appeal to a broader constituency.

This is one of the main reasons why I reject racial labels and disavow constructs that were imposed by the very racists who shattered humanity. When you see me using quote marks around “black” and “white” in describing people, it’s because I know the true intentions behind these designations. Terms that we have come to embrace are actually insidious conventions used to dehumanize people, reduce us into abstractions and induce tribalism. As I make clear in this video below, it is vital for us to understand where these epithets come from and why bigots imposed these insidious labels on us to begin with.

Labels are insidious forms of reductionism, they are so subtle that most of us don’t understand how malicious they are. Martin Luther King is described as a “black leader” or an “African-American hero”, the adjectives in front of the title being used to depreciate the worth of the people they are describing. Nobody ever says Mozart was a European pianist or that Michelangelo was an Italian painter, yet when it comes to “black” folk, that descriptor is always attached to them—like a Scarlet letter used to insinuate that we are 3/5th human. Martin Luther King is not a black hero, he is a hero who spoke on behalf of all oppressed people.

To hide this truth and marginalize King, instigators and impostors are being propagated by mainstream media and moneyed interests. The profound message behind Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is continually transmuted by opportunists who use identity politics to advance their own agendas. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” These words were eloquently spoken by King in order to free us from the shackles of imposed identities. We are creeping further and further away from MLK’s dream as we let demagogues lead us into the wasteland of sectarianism.

“One unfortunate thing about [the slogan] Black Power is that it gives priority to race precisely at a time when the impact of automation and other forces have made the economic question fundamental for blacks and whites alike. In this context a slogan ‘Power for Poor People’ would be much more appropriate than the slogan ‘Black Power.’”

This was a quote from King in August of 1967, eight months before he was executed. After spearheading the Civil Rights movement from the 50’s into the early 60’s, it dawned upon King that the struggle for equality was greater than being able to sit at lunch counters and riding at the front of buses. He realized that the only way to overcome oppression was to stitch together the pains felt by the proletariat in ways that would attract anyone who felt disenfranchised.

King articulated his apprehension about the movement he organized and expressed how he might have unwittingly directed his people into a quagmire. During a conversation he shared with Harry Belafonte and his inner-circle, King detailed the flaws of fighting racism’s symptoms without addressing the system that gives rise to inequalities.

“I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply. We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know we will win, but I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house. I’m afraid that America has lost the moral vision she may have had, and I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears the soul of this nation. I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.”

Martin Luther King was not disregarding the plight of “black” folks, nor was he giving short shrift to the struggles faced by “African-Americans”. What he recognized is that the struggles being borne by “minorities” would never be alleviated unless a majority of humanity formed a broad coalition to defend their common interests. Martin Luther King was not alone in this realization; Malcolm X came around to this same viewpoint once he visited Mecca and saw that the only way to attain justice was through mass-movements. Do you think it was an accident that both met the same gruesome fate?

Gone are the days of moral giants like Malcolm and Martin, we are firmly entrenched in the era of charlatans who profit from our disunion. What is truly sad is that so many hypocrites readily praise Martin Luther King while they get paid by the same powers that he was speaking against. Proving that treachery is truly bipartisan, on the day Martin Luther King is being celebrated, the King Center is commemorating warmonger emeritus John McCain. What better way to remember Dr. King than by praising the man who vehemently fought against honoring him and as the King Center dismantles his memory.

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris, California’s junior Senator—who was one of the biggest proponents of the prison-industrial complex—is expected to announce her presidential campaign on Martin Luther King Day. This is the same Kamala Harris whose office argued against early release of inmates on the grounds that it would hurt the labor supply [slave workers] of for-profit prisons. It is truly an affront that someone who reserved draconian measures for poor and working Californians— while giving a pass to banking executives like Steven Mnuchin—is going to use Martin Luther King day to hide the fact that she made a name for herself by being a staunch advocate of penal plantations. Kamala Harris 2020: chains you can believe in!

As always, the way to unravel conspiracies is to follow the money. Martin Luther King was sent to his grave because he connected the dots between wars overseas and economic inequalities in America. The hundreds of billions of dollars that were being spent to perpetuate the Vietnam War and conflicts around the world prevented investments in programs that could have alleviated suffering and lifted millions of people out of crushing poverty. That’s why King decided to come out against the Vietnam War, this brave stance made MLK radioactive and shortly led to his assassination.

What is lost in all the pageantry and the pomp surrounding King’s holiday is the fact that he was once savagely attacked by the very establishment that is now lionizing him. Not only was his character maligned by opinion leaders, the FBI targeted him and terrorized King and his family to such an extent that they drove him into a period of deep depression. COINTELPRO was a program launched by J. Edgar Hoover to identify and neutralize, by any means necessary, the Civil Rights icons who dared speak truth to power. A generation later, the same power structure that extinguished their flames is now lighting candles on their behalf while annulling their true stories—they’ve turned a martyr into a merchandise.

As hard as the “elites” try to commandeer King’s narrative to suit their purposes, the harsh truth is that King was murdered because he threatened the hustle of capital gangsters. If this sounds very familiar, that is because currency traders have a way of exterminating anyone who speaks against their pyramid schemes. As noted earlier, those who defy profiteers are given death sentences only for their memories to be raised to further the very greed they crusaded against. King died standing against wars and economic inequalities; notice how these themes are rarely mentioned by politicians, pundits and media personalities who cry crocodile tears for him. #RebrandingMLK Click To Tweet

There is a biblical poetry to it all, the same way Jesus was sold out by his own people, crucified by imperial enforcers and had his teachings inverted to advance the evils he died fighting against, these modern day Judases are embracing King while working for the very institutions he courageously took on. Goes to show, change agents will never be found amidst supposed activists who cast their lot with the same powers they pretend to speak against. True revolutionaries are either ignored by the establishment or silenced by bullets.

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be known and brought into the light.” ~ Luke 8:17

Teodrose Fikre is the editor and founder of the Ghion Journal. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment