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Coronavirus: People are left alone in the face of a rapidly growing virus pandemic – some thoughts out of Germany

By Roman Baudzus | Institute For Political Economy | March 3, 2020

Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn (CDU), is a professional politician and a bureaucrat, so it can be assumed that Spahn may have learned a lot from Jean-Claude Juncker, who recently resigned as the EU´s Commission President.

“When things get serious, you have to lie,” Juncker once blatantly said in public when looking back at the euro crisis in the year 2011. It is easy to understand that, in addition to statements like these, it is the adapting behavior patterns of bureaucrats and professional politicians that have led to a steady decline in trust among citiziens in their European institutions over the past few years.

The fact that Jens Spahn seemed to be using the motto of Jean-Claude Juncker on the evening of January 31st was probably noticed by anyone who, based on good observation skills, developed a feeling for making an assessment for himself or herself of when and whether someone is lying.

This impression came to viewers on the evening of a TV program called “Maybrit Illner”, which is broadcast once a week on the Second German Television (ZDF), during which the discussions among the invited guests was the “novel Coronavirus” and its possibly associated dangers and risks for the German population.

According to data officially reported by the National Health Department of China (NHS), it should be noted that the number of novel Coronavirus infections in mainland China had – at this point of time – already exceeded the SARS infections registered in 2002 and 2003 over a period of nine months.

The city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei were already under lockdown enforced by the members of the People’s Liberation Army. At the same time, first cases of infection became known in Germany in the free state of Bavaria, where a Chinese woman infected at least four employees of the Bavarian automotive supplier Webasto with the new corona virus.

The afore mentioned TV program developed into a clash between Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, look for yourself at the tense impression the guy made during the program, and Dr. Johannes Wimmer. Statements and warnings from Dr. Wimmer, according to whom the prospect of an aggravation of the situation in Germany should also be expected and a  possibly deteriorating mood among the population, was answered by Spahn with occassional aggressive rejections.

The official narrative of the German federal government at this very early point in time was that only a handful of infection cases with the novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 had been identified in Germany, whereas in the course of a seasonal flu, far more people were statistically at risk from contagion and / or could find death. The Coronavirus would be more harmless than a normal flu. At this time, there was no reason for scaremongering, according to Spahn. And it would be counterproductive.

Spahn also pointed out that the German health care system was well prepared if there was an increase in the number of infections in the country, whereas according to his statement at the time, five of the people suffering from the novel Coronavirus were already doing well and were cheerfully happy.

Not just Dr. Johannes Wimmer, but also other German doctors and virologists see the statements made by Spahn in a contrary way. Spahn was often faced with the illusion that Germany’s hospitals were well prepared for such a crisis.

Many people who work in German hospitals or care facilities have complained for years that there is a lack of personnel and important resources in this area. At this point in time, doctors and nursing staff are completely overwhelmed with their daily amount of patients.

As a result, it cannot be ruled out that, in the event of a pandemic and a massive increase in the number of affected patients, the German health system could collapse due to a lack of staff and permanent austerity measures – if it got really bad like in China.

In the face of a drastically worsening situation in mainland China following this television discussion, the Chinese government, whose officially transmitted infection data cannot be believed for a variety of reasons, Chinese travelers – despite many demands from various associations – were not refused entry to Germany by the German government.

Infection clusters were also growing in other regions of the world, particularly in Thailand, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. From the point of view of the German federal government, this also gave no reason to protect the country’s home airports from travelers from the most affected countries by simply banning them from entry.

What was done was to introduce the taking of temperatures at German airports and set up various information boards to alert arriving travelers from all over the world to the dangers associated with the new coronavirus.

Since it had long been established at the time based on the results of a study that people infected with the novel Coronavirus could be asymptomatic for up to 24 days, which means without showing any signs of symptoms or illness, this behavior of the German federal government has already been negligent and over the past few weeks completely incomprehensible.

At the same time, the official narrative, according to which normal influenza was more dangerous and resulted in more fatalities over the course of a season, was maintained by the Federal Government and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, with which, from today’s perspective, the German population was misled and misinformed by its own government.

Officials such as Federal Minister of Health, Spahn, constantly downplayed possible dangers and risks, while increasingly critical reporting on the Internet was of course defamed under the category “conspiracy theories”.

From this point of view, the question arose how an interview by health expert Karl Lauterbach from the SPD party ruling the country in a coalition with the CDU with Springer press medium Die Welt from February 3 fitted into this narrative, which was officially maintained by the federal government, in which Lauterbach announced as follows: “We are dealing with a very dangerous pest.”

Now it should be looked at whether the time since the beginning of February has been used by the German government to initiate any preventive or containment measures of SARS-CoV-2 from spreading in the home country in the face of constantly increasing infection numbers in the rest of the world.

In this regard, nothing happened over the entire month of February. Rather, the risk of contagion and the health risk associated with SARS-CoV-2 were still downplayed by the German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, in public appearances, with the help of Germany´s National Center for Infections and Disease Control, namely the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI).

The Robert Koch-Institute even issued the recommendation not to wear face masks. The question arises whether this recommendation could have something to do with the fact that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas sent protective clothing, sprayers and disinfectants in abundance to China after the German government made the statement to the Chinese authorities to support them in their struggle against their local epidemic.

The result is that mouth and face masks have been sold out in almost all German pharmacies for some time. Some pharmacies that still have face masks in stock now sell a pack of 100 pieces for up to 90 euros. The German government is countering a buying panic by notifying the public that mouth protection against the virus is of no use.

Let´s see how things are seen in China, where Global Times editor Hu Xijin twittered as follows on March 2, 2020:

Suggesting people not wear face mask is seriously misleading. All of the Chinese experts have advised people to wear face masks when in contact with others during time of epidemic and consider it one of the most effective measures. Please heed suggestion of Chinese experts. pic.twitter.com/xUxq11m7Bg

— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) March 2, 2020

And this at a time when a great deal of uncertainty was and is even more so spreading among the German population despite the attempt by government officials to calm down everyone, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel would have been expected to turn to the citizenry in terms of addressing the threat that is associated with SARS-CoV-2.

But in this emerging crisis, Merkel can hardly be heard or seen at all. Anyone who has followed the news formats on Germany´s public channels such as the first channel (ARD) over the month of February, especially the daily news broadcast every evening at 8:00 p.m. (Tagesschau), could not help but become aware of it, to become a “victim” of a propaganda and disinformation campaign that seemed to be focused on suppressing what´s going on in the rest of the world.

The more the number of infections with SARS-CoV-2 increased abroad – and especially in Asia – the calmer it became in the reporting by Germany´s public media. In some news programs such as ARD Tagesschau, the global development around SARS-CoV-2 was increasingly not even mentioned in one word. Such reporting can be described as ignoring propaganda.

Otherwise, most of the news programs on public channels, for whose reception German citizens have to pay an annual compulsory levy, dedicated its news stories in particular to the regional election in the eastern German state of Thuringia (Thüringen), the interference of the Berlin government with regard to its election result and a supposedly reviving right-wing radicalism in the country.

Once there was talk of the spread of SARS-CoV-2, it was in most cases about an establishment of quarantine stations in the country, in which German citizens brought home from Wuhan were taken in over a period of 14 days. It has also been reported that members of the German Red Cross will volunteer to help those affected in these quarantine facilities.

The fact that a 14-day quarantine period, based on current studies showing that the incubation period can be up to 27 days before infected people start developing disease symptoms, turns out to be too short, is neither mentioned nor addressed in the official planning of the various government authorities.

Furthermore, German airports remained open to travelers from high-risk areas such as China, Iran, South Korea, Thailand, etc. throughout the entire month of February – and this is still the case at present time.

A responsible government would have ensured that risks, threats, and dangers were communicated openly to the citizenry!

In my view, a responsible government would have ensured that risks and dangers were communicated openly to an increasingly insecure population. This would have included the temporary suspension of major events such as Carnival, Bundesliga soccer matches or the like in order to prevent a massive spread of infections. However, none of this has happened so far.

After such decisions have long been made in Italy, France and Switzerland, the German government is still not doing anything. The result is that weekend after weekend tens of thousands of visitors flock to the Bundesliga soccer stadiums to enjoy the matches.

The whole thing gets even more incredible. Despite the significant increase in confirmed novel Coronavirus cases in Germany, the Robert Koch-Institute does still not seem to see any increased risk to the general health of the German population.

“The risk can be assessed as low to moderate,” said RKI Vice President Lars Schaade recently at a press conference in Berlin. The RKI also advises: “Please receive your informatiom from reliable sources.” This statement is intended to insinuate that in the case of a “reliable source” it is solely the Robert Koch-Institute to advise people what to do and what not do.

Are people listening what the RKI is publicly recommending? It does not seem so. And there must be a valid reason why people choose not to listen.

For example the RKI  explicitly does not recommend “the use of disinfectants in everyday life, even in this current situation. It is neither recommended to use face masks or any other kind of mouth-nose protection in the general public or in everyday life. ”

It is already known among people that the RKI advises against mouth-nose protection like a mantra. Reason seems to be, as more and more local politicians from several states warn, that there is by far not enough equipment stored at German warehouses for which the health minister of the Western state Nothrine-Westphalia not only openly apologized recently but also said in a TV discussion to feel ashamed that things like this would be possible in a developed nation  like Germany.

Hygiene expert Professor Dr. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow contrastingly believes that the hand disinfection among people is now actively talked down by the RKI, which Zastrow finds “extremely dangerous”.

“This is a kind of misinformation that does neither help the population nor the country a yota in containing the local epidemic,” says Zastrow. Mouth and nose protection is the only effective protection against droplet infection. ”

The expert repeatedly criticized the incorrect information being published by the RKI. Since mouth and nose protection as well as hand disinfection were discouraged from the onset, the result is that a spread of the virus is even promoted and there would be no way to contain it.

Over the past few years things like this have unfortunately become quite normal in Germany. The fact that eleven cities in the two Northern Italian provinces of Lombardy and Veneto are now under lockdown by police and military forces does not change the perspective of the German government and the Robert Koch-Institute at all.

Considering the dramatically increasing number of confirmed cases, it is still pretended that an even greater spread of the novel Coronavirus in Germany could be managed by itself, although Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has meanwhile announced that individual infection chains can no longer be traced back.

From “Coronavirus is more harmless than flu” to “We are at the beginning of a serious epidemic” – Despite the fact, Spahn is still doing nothing while Merkel is nowhere to be seen or heard!

After all, the basic general opinion of the German Federal Minister of Health changed at least once after the events in Northern Italy, since Spahn all of a sudden sees Germany “at the beginning of a Coronavirus epidemic”. It’s hard to believe! In a conference call, he (Spahn) asked the Federal Health Ministers of the 16 German states to “activate their pandemic plans and prepare for their possible entry into force”.

Despite his fears of an epidemic outbreak, Mr. Spahn still does not want to consider closing the German borders to other – and highly affected – European nations or to take into consideration a set up of police controls at the inner German borders of the individual states!

What kind of political “leadership” is that? Mr. Spahn seems to be waiting for the novel Coronavirus to spread throughout Germany, what is happening anyway at the moment. The failure to act by this federal government does not only leave you with the impression of negligence, but almost with the bitter impression of sabotaging the interests of the own population!

And what does the Brussels EU have to say in terms of this development: We exactly got what had to be expected.

Even in the wake of the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus in Europe, EU officials are vehemently opposed to finally implementing border closures. Rather, in the face of current developments, it seems  more important from their perspective to maintain the policy of open borders among the 28 European Union member states.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed infections in Italy has risen to more than 2,300 and a death toll of 52 persons as of today. Please keep in mind that this increase from three to more than 2,300 officially confirmed cases occurred within just a little more than one week. But the EU Health ministers, including Mr. Jens Spahn, still insist on their viewpoint that the Schengen agreement must remain untouched.

In the meantime, 50,000 citizens in Northern Italy still see themselves under lockdown in the two provinces of Lombardy and Veneto. From this point of view, why is it so difficult to close the borders in order to prevent an infiltration from Italy to the neighbouring nations on the continent? !! According to published information many cases being recently confirmed show that the affected German persons had been on vaccation or a business trip to Italy. Or they contracted the novel Coronavirus while being out for Carnival as if no one could have seen this coming.

Infiltration has already happened in Switzerland and Austria, too. The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti refuses to consider border closures as well, arguing that such a decision would not prevent the novel Coronavirus spreading to other European nations – what?!

Do you understand this logic? To minimize the spread of the highly infectious Coronavirus, far more drastic measures are likely to be needed soon, when you look at China and what the Chinese government was willing to be doing to bring the R0 or reproductive value of this virus down to one or below that level.

Former Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, has in the meantime called for the resignation of Conte  in response to Conte’s statements, because Conte obviously seems to be “unable to defend Italy and its citizens against a great danger”.

French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari also refuses to close borders between France and Italy – not even temporarily. Germany´s Federal Minister of Health, Spahn, who has so far turned out to be a total failure in view of the crisis – and above all from a German perspective – seems to see things the same way.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides naturally sees things in the light of a common European market. Why wonder about Ms. Kyriakides being worried, when according to her own statement she sees “risks of a disinformation campaign”.

Statements like this are just echoing “concerns” over at the WHO, whose general director Dr Ghebreyesus is still not willing to declare a global pandemic by obviously keeping a close eye on the development of the so called catastrophe bonds formerly issued by the Worldbank. All these side shows seem to be more of importance than the health issues being associated with the Coronavirus outbreak. Or just name it corruption.

The question arises whether it is perhaps not just those people who are in leading political positions who, due to their ideologically coloured glasses, seem to be no longer aware of what is happening in the world. At what point will it become more important to stop a global and highly dangerous pandemic instead of putting one’s own economic ideology of open borders above the well-being of all people on our continent and the rest of the world?

A recent article in The Epoch Times, stated with reference to Deutschlandfunk, (in extracts) as follows:

Virologist criticizes “very slow” government reaction – Coronavirus “at least ten times more dangerous” than flu

The German virologist Alexander Kekulé has criticized the reactions of the European Union authorities regarding the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus. The approach of the responsible authorities would be far too “slow, relaxed, and leisurely”, Kekulé told Deutschlandfunk.

He called for “early” entry controls and “area-wide screenings” to protect populations against the epidemic, but it did not happen with the result that “infiltrations from country to country occurred”. Kekulé holds the academic Chair for Medical Microbiology and Virology at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and is Director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the University Hospital Halle.

On the occasion of the outbreak in Northern Italy, he now called for extensive testing of “every case” in Europe that can be associated with “serious respiratory infections”. The virologist had already suggested this to the European Health ministers two weeks ago. “The EU Health ministers did not agree with my suggestion, and now we observe things unfolding in Italy.”

Meanwhile, he also criticized the assessment of Germany´s Health Minister Jens Spahn and his authority in terms of the danger that is associated with the novel Coronavirus. “Above all, it is still the case that his authorities try to pretend as if the novel Coronavirus would be more harmless than flu.”

According to the virologist, the novel Coronavirus is “at least ten times more dangerous than flu” for those who get infected. In contrast to a normal flu, the risk groups being associated with the novel Coronavirus are still unknown.

“It’s a very different situation,” says Kekulé. The novel Coronavirus is not only fatal from the perspective of older or very young people, but for middle-aged people, too. On top there is no existing vaccine for the novel Coronavirus and “that’s why I do not understand why they’ve taken things so lightly thus far”.

If the German population is learning one thing these days, it is that they are alone in the face of a rapidly growing virus pandemic. At least it should be said with chancellor Merkel hiding in the shadow that the Berlin government has managed to set up a “crisis team” that includes the same government figures who have so far reportedly played down the emerging crisis and – for whatever reason – have taken things very lightly. This endangers people’s trust in the authorities.

So, my American fellows, and now look at your “crisis team”: Health Czar Mike Pence, Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow. Jikes! Similar to the German perspective, this is certainly a “dream team” to fight dangerous viruses! An ex-Goldman investment banker and a former cocaine addict whose economic assessments were often nothing more than smoke and mirrors in the past.

Have you ever wondered what these people actually know about viruses?

Good luck with that and may god be with us!!

Roman Baudzus is running his own economics blog Wirtschaftsfacts on Cashkurs.com and has been contributor to various economic or political websites such as Goldmoney.com, Goldseiten.de or Heise/Telepolis.

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

In Israel the Push to Destroy Jerusalem’s Iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque Goes Mainstream

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | June 24, 2019

The iconic golden dome of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount or Haram el-Sharif, is the third holiest site in Islam and is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. Yet, this ancient site that dates back to the year 705 C.E. is being targeted for destruction by increasingly influential extremist groups that seek to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage in pursuit of colonial ambitions and the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

Some observers may have noticed the growing effort by some Israeli government and religious officials to remove the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque from the Jerusalem skyline, not only erasing the holy site in official posters, banners and educational material but also physically removing the building itself. For instance, current Knesset member of the ruling Likud Party, American-born Yehuda Glick, was also the director of the government-funded Temple Institute, which has created relics and detailed architectural plans for a temple that they hope will soon replace Al-Aqsa. Glick is also close friends with Yehuda Etzion, who was part of a failed plot in 1984 to blow up Al-Aqsa mosque and served prison time as a result.

“In the end we’ll build the temple and it will be a house of prayer for all nations,” Glick told Israeli newspaper Maariv in 2012. A year later, Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel stated that “[w]e’ve built many little, little temples… but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.” Ariel stated that the new Jewish Temple must be built on the site where Al-Aqsa currently sits “as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation.” Since then, prominent Israeli politicians have become more and more overt in their support for the end of Jordanian-Palestinian sovereignty over the mosque compound, leading many prominent Palestinians to warn in recent years of plans to destroy the mosque.

In recent years, a centuries-old effort by what was once a small group of extremists has gone increasingly mainstream in Israel, with prominent politicians, religious figures and political parties advocating for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque in order to fulfill a specific interpretation of an end-times prophecy that was once considered fringe among practitioners of Judaism.

As Miko Peled, Israeli author and human-rights activist, told MintPress, the movement to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a reimagined Temple “became notable after the 1967 war,” and has since grown into “a massive colonial project that uses religious, biblical mythology and symbols to justify its actions” — a project now garnering support from both religious and secular Israelis.

While the push to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a physical Third Temple has gained traction in Israel in recent years, this effort has advanced at a remarkably fast pace in just the past few weeks, owing to a confluence of factors. These factors, as this report will show, include the upcoming revelation of the so-called “Deal of the Century,” the push for a war with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and the Trump administration’s dramatic lenience in regards to the activity of Jewish extremist groups and extremist settlements in Israel.

These factors correlate with a quickening of efforts to destroy Al-Aqsa and the very real danger the centuries-old holy site faces. While the U.S. press has occasionally mentioned the role of religious extremism in dictating the foreign policy of prominent U.S. politicians like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it has rarely shone a light on the role of Jewish extremism in directing Israel’s foreign policy — foreign policy that, in turn, is well-known to influence American policies.

When taken together, the threats to Al-Aqsa are clearly revealed to be much greater than the loss of a physical building, though that itself would be a grave loss for the world’s Muslim community, which includes over 1.8 billion people. In addition, the site’s destruction would very likely result in a regional and perhaps even global war with clear religious dimensions.

To prevent such an outcome, it is essential to highlight the role that extremist, apocalyptic interpretations of both the Jewish and Christian faiths are playing in trends that, if left unchecked, could have truly terrifying consequences. Both of these extremist groups are heavily influenced by colonial ambitions that often supersede their religious underpinning.

In Part I of this two-part series, MintPress examines the growth of extremist movements in Israel that openly promote the destruction of Al-Aqsa, from a relatively isolated fringe movement within Zionism to mainstream prominence in Israel today; as well as how threats to the historic mosque have grown precipitously in just the past month. MintPress interviewed Israeli author and activist Miko Peled; Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta in New York; Imam and scholar of Shia Islam, Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, of the Islamic Institute of America; and Palestinian journalist and academic Ramzy Baroud for their perspectives on these extremist groups, their growing popularity, and the increasing threats to the current status quo at Haram El-Sharif/Temple Mount.

The second part of this series will detail the influence of this extremist movement in Israeli politics as well as American politics, particularly among Christian Zionist politicians in the United States. The ways in which this movement’s goal have also influenced Israeli and U.S. policy — particularly in relation to the so-called “Deal of the Century,” President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the push for war against Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah — will also be examined.

Two centuries in the cross-hairs

Though efforts to wrest the contested holy site from Jordanian and Palestinian control have picked up dramatically in recent weeks, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound had long been targeted prior to Israel’s founding and even prior to the formation of the modern Zionist movement.

For instance, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalisher — who promoted the European Jewish colonization of Palestine from a religious perspective well before Zionism became a movement — expounded on an early form of what would later be labeled “religious Zionism” and was particularly interested in the acquisition of Haram el-Sharif (i.e., the Temple Mount) as a means of fulfilling prophecy.

As noted in the essay “Proto-Zionism and its Proto-Herzl: The Philosophy and Efforts of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher” by Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Professor of Israeli Politics and Judaic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, Kalisher sought to court wealthy European Jews to finance the purchase of Israel for the purpose of resettlement, particularly the Temple Mount. In an 1836 letter to Baron Amschel Rothschild, Kalisher suggested that the eldest brother of the wealthy banker family use his abundant funds to bring Jewish sovereignty to Palestine, specifically Jerusalem and the Temple Mount:

[E]specially at a time like this, when the Land of Israel is under the dominion of the Pasha… perhaps if his most noble Excellency pays him a handsome sum and purchases for him some other country (in Africa) in exchange for the Holy Land, which is presently small in quantity but great in quality… this money would certainly not be wasted… for when the leaders of Israel are gathered from every corner of the world… and transform it into an inhabited country, the many G-d-fearing and charitable Jews will travel there to take up their residency in the Holy Land under Jewish sovereignty… and be worthy to take up their portion in the offering upon the altar. And if the master (Ibrahim Pasha) does not desire to sell the entire land, then at least he should sell Jerusalem and its environs… or at least the Temple Mount and surrounding areas.” (emphasis added)

Kalisher’s request was met with a noncommittal response from Baron Rothschild, leading Kalisher to pursue other wealthy European Jewish families, like the Montefiores, with the same goal in mind. And, though Kalisher was initially unsuccessful in winning the support of the Rothschild family, other notable members of the wealthy European banking dynasty eventually did become enthusiastic supporters of Zionism in the decades that followed.

Kalisher was also influential in another way, as he was arguably the first modern Rabbi to reject the idea of patiently waiting for God to fulfill prophecy and proposed instead that man should take concrete steps that would lead to the fulfillment of such prophecies, a belief that Kalisher described as “self help.” For Kalisher, settling European Jews in Palestine was but the first step, to be followed by other steps that would form an active as opposed to a passive approach towards Jewish Messianism. These subsequent steps included the construction of a Third Temple, to replace the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans around the year 70 C.E., and the reinitiation of ritual animal sacrifices in that Temple, which Kalisher believed could only be placed on the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa then sat and still sits.

Kalisher wasn’t alone in his views, as his contemporary, Rabbi Judah Alkalai, wrote the following in his book Shalom Yerushalayim:

It is obvious that the Mashiach ben David [Messiah of the House of David] will not appear out of thin air in a fiery chariot with fiery horses, but will come if the Children of Israel bend to the task of preparing themselves for him.”

Though Kalisher wasn’t the lone voice promoting these ideas, his beliefs — aside from promoting the physical settlement of European Jews in Palestine — remained relatively fringe for decades, if not more than a century, as secular Jews were hugely influential in the Zionist movement after its official formation. However, prominent religious Zionists did influence the Zionist movement in key ways prior to Israel’s founding. One such figure was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who sought to reconcile Zionism and Orthodox Judaism as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine, a position he assumed in 1924.

Yet, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group based in New York that opposes Zionism, told MintPress that many religious Zionists have since latched onto Kalisher’s ideas, which were widely rejected during his lifetime, in order to justify neocolonial actions sought by secular Zionists. “This rabbi, at the time, other rabbis ‘roared’ against him and his beliefs weren’t accepted,” Rabbi Weiss stated, “But now, the ones who are talking about building this Third Temple…. these are Zionists and they have found some rabbi whose ideas benefit them that they have been using to justify Zionist acts” that are not aligned with Judaism “and make them kosher.”

Weiss further expanded on this point, noting that the participants of the modern religious Zionism movement that seek to build a new Jewish temple where Al-Aqsa currently stands are, at their core, Zionists who have used religious imagery and specific interpretations of religious texts as cover for neo-colonial acts, such as the complete re-making of the Temple Mount.

“It’s like a wolf in a sheepskin… These people who want to incorporate the teachings of this rabbi [Rabbi Kalisher] are proudly saying that they are Jewish, but are doing things Jews are forbidden from doing,” such as ascending to and standing upon the Temple Mount, which Rabbi Weiss stated was “a breach of Jewish law,” long forbidden by that law according to a consensus among Jewish scholars and rabbis around the world that continued well beyond the formation of the Zionist movement in the 19th century.

Weiss also told MintPress:

There are only a few sins in Judaism — which has many, many laws, that lead to a Jew being cut off from God — and to go up to the Temple Mount is one of them… This is because you need a certain level of holiness to ascend and… the process to attain that level of holiness and purity cannot be done today, because [aspects of and the items required by] the necessary purity rituals no longer exist today.”

Rabbi Weiss noted that, for this reason, the Muslim community that has historically governed the area where Al-Aqsa mosque stands never had any problems with the Jewish community in relation to the Temple Mount, as it has been known for centuries that Jews cannot ascend to the area where the mosque currently sits and instead prayed only at the Western Wall. He also stated that the prophetic idea of a Third Temple was, prior to Zionism, understood as indicating not a change in physical structures on the Temple Mount, but a metaphysical, spiritual change that would unite all of mankind to worship and serve God in unison.

Rabbi Weiss asserted that the conflict regarding Al-Aqsa mosque started only with the advent of Zionism and the associated neo-colonial ambition to fundamentally alter the status quo and structures present at the site as a means of erasing key parts (i.e., Palestinian parts) of its heritage. “This [the use of religion to justify ascending to and taking control of the Temple Mount] is a trap for conning other people into supporting them,” concluded the Rabbi.

Nonetheless, Kalisher’s impact can be seen in today’s Israel more than ever, thanks to the rise and mainstream acceptance within Israel of once-fringe elements of religious Zionism, which were deeply influenced by the ideas of rabbis like Kalisher and have served in recent decades as an incubator for some of Israel’s most radical political elements.

Meanwhile, as the debate within Judaism over the Temple Mount has changed dramatically since the 19th century, its significance in Islam has remained steadfast. According to Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, “Al-Aqsa is the third holiest mosque in Islam… it is considered to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and has been mentioned in the Qoran, which glorifies that mosque and identifies it as a blessed mosque. All Muslims, whether they are Sunni or Shia, revere that mosque” — a fact that has remained unchanged for over a millennium and continues to today.

Religious Zionism gains political force

The modern rise of the religious Zionist movements that promote the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque and its replacement with a Third Jewish Temple is most often traced back to the Six Day War of 1967. According to Miko Peled, who recently wrote a piece for MintPress News regarding the threats facing Al-Aqsa, “religious Zionism” as a political force became more noticeable following the 1967 war. Peled told MintPress:

After the ‘heartland’ of Biblical Israel came under Israeli control, the religious Zionists, who before then were marginalized, saw it as their mission to settle those newly conquered lands, and to be the new pioneers, so to speak. They took on the job that the socialist Zionist ideologues had in settling Palestine and ridding it of its native Arab population in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment and up to the early 1950s. They saw the “return” of Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, or Shchem and, of course, the Old City of Jerusalem as divine intervention and now it was their turn to make their mark.

It began with a small group of Messianic fanatics who forced the government – who at that point, after 1967, was still secular Zionist – to accept their existence in the highly populated areas within the West Bank. That was how the city of Kiryat Arba [illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank] was established. The government, it is worth noting, was happy to be forced into this. From a small group that people thought were fringe lunatics to a Jewish city in the heart of Hebron region.”

Peled further noted that this model, employed by the religious extremist groups that founded illegal West Bank settlements like Kiryat Arba, “has been used successfully since then and it is now used by the groups that are promoting the new Temple in place of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.” He continued, pointing out that “whereas 20-30 years ago they were considered a fringe group, this year they expect more than 50,000 people to enter the compound to support the group and their goals. Religious Israeli youth who opt out of military service and choose national service instead may work with the [Third] Temple building organizations.”

Extremist settlers escorted by Israeli after they stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on July 22, 2018. Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu

Dr. Ramzy Baroud — journalist, academic and founder of The Palestine Chronicle — agreed with Peled’s sense that the Third Temple movement or Temple Activist movement has grown dramatically in recent years and has become increasingly mainstream in Israel. Baroud told MintPress:

There has been a massive increase in the number of Israeli Jews who force their way into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to pray and practice various rituals… In 2017 alone, over 25,000 Jews who visited the compound — accompanied by thousands of soldiers and police officers and provoking many clashes that resulted in the death and wounding of many Palestinians. Since 2017, the increase in Jews visiting the compound has been very significant if compared to the previous year when around 14,000 Jews made that same journey.”

Baroud also noted:

[The Temple Activist movement] has achieved a great deal in appealing to mainstream Israeli Jewish society in recent years. At one point, it was a marginal movement, but with the rise of the far right in Israel, their ideas and ideologies and religious aspirations have also become part of the Israeli mainstream.”

As a result, Baroud asserted:

[There is] an increasing degree of enthusiasm among Israeli Jews that is definitely not happening at the margins [of society], but is very much a part of the mainstream, more so than at any time in the past, to take over the Al-Aqsa mosque, demolish the mosque in order to rebuild the so-called Third Temple.”

However, Rabbi Weiss disagreed with Peled and Baroud that this faction presents a real threat to the mosque, given that the mosque’s destruction is widely rejected by Diaspora Jewry (i.e., Jews living outside of Israel) and that destroying it would not only cause conflicts with the global Muslim community but also numerous Jewish communities outside of Israel.

As Rabbi Weiss told MintPress:

Some of the largest and most religious [i.e. ultra-orthodox] Jewish communities outside of Israel, like the second largest community of religious [ultra-orthodox] Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn [in New York], and also in Israel … are opposed to this concept of taking over the Temple Mount and other related ideas.”

Weiss argued that many of these religious Zionists in Israel that are pushing for a new Temple “do not follow Jewish law to the letter and don’t come from the very religious communities, including the settlers…They don’t go to expressly religious schools, they go to Zionist schools. Their whole view is built on Zionism and [secondarily] incorporates the religion,” as opposed to the reverse. As a result, the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque, in Weiss’ view, could greatly alienate the state of Israel from these more religious and ultra-orthodox communities.

In addition, Rabbi Weiss felt that many Jewish and secular Israelis would also reject such a move because it would create even more conflicts, which many Israelis do not want. He described the Temple Activists as “a vocal minority” that represented a “fringe” among adherents to Judaism and a group within Zionism that has tried to use the Temple Mount “in order to be able to excuse their occupation and to try to portray this [the occupation of Palestine] as a religious conflict,” with the conflict surrounding the Temple Mount being an extension of that.

Weiss believed that the push to take over the Temple Mount was a “scare tactic” aimed at securing the indefinite nature of the occupation, and noted that many Israelis did not want a spike in or renewal of conflict that would inevitably result if the mosque were to be destroyed. He also added that he did not think there was a “real threat” of the mosque being targeted because international rabbinical authorities have stood fast in their opposition to the project promoted by the Temple Activists.

“Tomorrow might be too late”

It is hardly a coincidence that the growth of Temple Activism and associated movements like “neo-Zionism” have paralleled the growth in threats to the Al-Aqsa mosque itself. Many of these threats can be understood through the doctrine developed by Rabbi Kalisher and others in the mid-19th century — the idea that “active” steps must be taken to bring about the reconstruction of a Jewish Temple at Haram El-Sharif in order to bring about the Messianic Age.

Indeed, during the 1967 war, General Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF, had told Chief of Central Command Uzi Narkiss that, shortly after Israel’s conquest of Jerusalem’s Old City, the moment had come to blow up the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. “Do this and you will go down in history,” Goren told Narkiss. According to Tom Segev’s book 1967, Goren felt that the site’s destruction could only be done under the cover of war: “Tomorrow might be too late.”

Goren was among the first Israelis to arrive at the then-recently conquered Old City in Jerusalem and was joined at the newly “liberated” Al-Aqsa compound by a young Yisrael Ariel, who now is a major leader in the Temple Activist movement and head of the Temple Institute, which is dedicated to constructing a Third Temple where Al-Asqa mosque currently stands.

Narkiss rejected Goren’s request, but did approve the razing of Jerusalem’s Moroccan quarter. According to Mondoweiss, the destruction of the nearly seven centuries old Jerusalem neighborhood was done for the “holy purpose” of making the Western Wall more accessible to Jewish Israelis. Some 135 homes were flattened, along with several mosques, and over 700 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed as part of that operation.

Following the occupation of East Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa has come under increasing threat, just as extremist movements who seek to destroy the site have grown. In 1969, a Christian extremist from Australia, Daniel Rohan, set fire to the mosque. Rohan had been studying in Israel and, prior to committing arson, had told American theology student Arthur Jones, who was studying with Rohan, that he had become convinced that a new temple had to be built where Al-Aqsa stood.

Then, in 1984, a group of messianic extremists known as the Jewish Underground was arrested for plotting to use explosives to destroy Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Ehud Yatom, who was a security official and commander of the operation that foiled the plot, told Israel’s Channel 2 in 2004 that the planned destruction of the site would have been “horrible, terrible,” adding that it could provoke “the entire Muslim world [into a war] against the state of Israel and against the Western world, a war of religions.”

One of those arrested in 1984 in connection with the bomb plot, former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion, subsequently wrote from prison that his group’s mistake was not in targeting the historic mosque, which he called an “abomination,” but in acting before Israeli society would accept such an act. “The generation was not ready,” Etzion wrote, adding that those sympathetic to the Jewish Underground movement “must build a new force that grows very slowly, moving its educational and social activity into a new leadership.”

“Of course I cannot predict whether the Dome of the Rock will be removed from the Mount while the new body is developing or after it actually leads the people,” Etzion stated, “but the clear fact is that the Mount will be purified [from Islamic shrines] with certainty…”

Upon his release from prison, Etzion founded the Chai Vekayam (Alive and Existing) movement, a group that Al Jazeera’s Mersiha Gadzo described as aimed at “shaping public opinion as a prerequisite for building a Third Temple in the religious complex in Jerusalem’s Old City where Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located.” Gadzo also notes that “according to messianic belief, building the Third Temple at the Al Aqsa compound — where the First and Second Temples stood some 2,000 years ago — would usher the coming of the Messiah.”

Six years later, another group called the Temple Mount Faithful, which is dedicated to building the Third Temple, provoked what became known as the Al-Aqsa massacre in 1990 after its members attempted to place a cornerstone for the Third Temple on the Temple Mount / Haram El-Sharif, leading to riots that saw Israeli police shoot and kill over 20 Palestinians and wound an estimated 150 more.

This was followed by the riots in 1996 after Israel opened up a series of tunnels that had been dug under Al-Aqsa mosque that many Palestinians worried would be used to damage or destroy the mosque. Those concerns may have been well-founded, given the involvement of then- and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Third Temple activist groups in creating the tunnels and in subsequent excavations near the holy site, which were and continue to be officially described as “archaeological” in nature. During the 1996 incident, 80 Palestinians and 14 Israeli police officers were killed.

Some Israeli archaeologists have argued that these tunnels have not been built for archaeological or scientific purposes and are highly unlikely to result in any new discoveries. One such Israeli archaeologist, Yoram Tseverir, told Middle East Monitor in 2014 that “the claims that these excavations aim at finding scientific information are marginal” and called the still-ongoing government-sponsored excavations under Al-Aqsa “wrong.” When those “archaeological” excavations at Al-Aqsa resulted in damage to the Western Wall near Al-Aqsa last year, a chorus of prominent Palestinians, including the spokesman for the Fatah Party, claimed that Israel’s government had devised a plan to destroy the mosque.

Since 2000, Al-Aqsa mosque has been the site of incidents that have resulted in new state crackdowns by Israel against Palestinians both within and well outside of Jerusalem. Indeed, the Second Intifada was largely provoked by the visit of the then-Likud candidate for prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who entered Al-Aqsa mosque under heavy guard. Then-spokesman for Likud, Ofir Akounis, was later quoted by CNN as saying that the reason for Sharon’s visit was “to show that under a Likud government it [the Temple Mount] will remain under Israeli sovereignty.”

That single visit by Sharon led to five years of heightened tensions, more than three thousand dead Palestinians and an estimated thousand dead Israelis, as well as a massive and still continuing crackdown on Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud told MintPress that Sharon’s provocation in particular, and subsequent provocations, are often planned and used by Israeli politicians in order to justify crackdowns and restrictions on Palestinians. He argued:

[Some powerful Israeli politicians] use these regular provocations at Al Aqsa to create the kind of tensions that increase violence in the West Bank and to [then] carry out whatever policies they have in mind. They know exaclty how to provoke Palestinians and there is no other issue that is as sensitive and unifying in the Palestinian psyche as Al-Aqsa mosque.

Not only do we need to be aware of the fact that [provocations at] Al-Aqsa mosque are being used to implement archaic, destructive plans [i.e., destruction of Al-Aqsa and construction of a Third Temple] by certain elements that are now very much at the core of Israeli politics, but also the fact that this type of provocation is also used to implement broader policies pertaining to Palestinians elsewhere.”

Drums beating loud

While there have long been efforts to destroy the historic Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, recent weeks have seen a disturbing and dramatic uptick in incidents that suggest that the influential groups in Israel that have long pushed for the mosque’ s destruction may soon get their way. This reflects what Ramzy Baroud described to MintPress as how support for the construction of the Third Temple where Al-Aqsa currently sits is now “greater than at any time in the past” within Israeli society.

Earlier this month on June 2, a religious adviser to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Al-Habbash, took to social media to warn of an “Israeli plot against the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” adding that “If the Muslims don’t act now [to save the site]… the entire world will pay dearly.”

Al-Habbash’s statement was likely influenced by a disturbing event that occurred that same day at the revered compound when Israeli police provided cover for extremist Israeli settlers who illegally entered the compound during the final days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Israeli police used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse Palestinian worshippers who had gathered at the mosque during one of Islam’s most important holidays while allowing over a thousand Israeli Jews to enter the compound. Forty-five Palestinians were wounded and several were arrested.

Though such provocative visits by Jewish Israelis to Al-Aqsa have occurred with increasing frequency in recent years, this event was different because it up-ended a long-standing agreement between Jordan’s government, which manages the site, and Israel that no such visits take place during important Islamic holidays. As a consequence, Jordan accused Israel’s government of “flagrant violations” of that agreement by allowing visits from religious nationalists, which Jordan described as “provocative intrusions by extremists.”

Less than a week after the incident, Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister, Miri Regev, a member of the Netanyahu-led Likud Party, called for more settler extremists to storm the compound, stating: “We should do everything to keep ascending to the Temple Mount … And hopefully, soon we will pray in the Temple Mount, our sacred place.” In addition, Regev also thanked Israel’s Interior Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, and Jerusalem’s police chief for guarding the settler extremists who had entered the compound.

In 2013, then-member of the Likud Party Moshe Feiglin told the Knesset that allowing Jewish Israelis to enter the compound is “not about prayer.” “Arabs don’t mind that Jews pray to God. Why should they care? We all believe in God,” Feiglin — who now heads the Zehut, or Identity, Party — stated, adding, “The struggle is about sovereignty. That’s the true story here. The story is about one thing only: sovereignty.”

In other words, Likud and its ideological allies view granting Jewish Israelis entrance to “pray” at the site of the mosque as a strategy aimed at reducing Palestinian-Jordanian control over the site. Feiglin’s past comments give credibility to Rabbi Weiss’ claim, referenced earlier on in this report, that the religious underpinnings and religious appeals of the Temple Activists are secondary to the settler-colonial (i.e., Zionist) aspect of the movement, which seeks to remove Palestinian and Muslim heritage from the Temple Mount as part of the ongoing Zionist project.

Feiglin, earlier this year in April, called for the immediate construction of the Third Temple, telling a Tel Aviv conference, “I don’t want to build a [Third] Temple in one or two years, I want to build it now.” The Times of Israel, reporting on Feiglin’s comments, noted that the Israeli politician is “enjoying growing popularity.”

Earlier this month, and not long after Miri Regev’s controversial comments, an event attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, used a banner that depicted the Jerusalem skyline with the Dome of the Rock noticeably absent. Though some may write off such creative photo editing as a fluke, it is but the latest in a series of similar incidents where official events or materials have edited out the iconic building and, in some cases, have replaced it with a reconstructed Jewish temple.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman poses with a picture of the ‘Third Temple,’ May 22, 2018. Israel Cohen | Kikar Hashabat

The day before that event, Israeli police had arrested three members of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound’s Reconstruction Committee, which is overseen by the government of Jordan. Those arrested included the committee’s head and its deputy head, and the three men were arrested while performing minor restoration work in an Al-Aqsa courtyard. The Jordan-run authority condemned the arrests, for which no official reason was given, and called the move by Israeli police “an intervention in their [the men’s] reconstruction work.” According to Palestinian news agency Safa, Israeli police have also prevented the entry of tools necessary for restoration work to the site and have restricted members of the authority from performing critical maintenance work.

In addition, another important figure at Al-Aqsa, Hanadi Al-Halawani, who teaches at the mosque school and has long watched over the site to prevent its occupation by Israeli forces, was arrested late last month.

Arrests of other key Al-Aqsa personnel have continued in recent days, such as the arrest of seven Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, including guards of the mosque, and their subsequent ban from entering the site. The Palestinians were arrested at their homes last Sunday night in early morning raids and the official reason for their arrest remains unclear. So many arrests in such a short period have raised concerns that, should the spate of arrests of important Al-Aqsa personnel continue, future incidents at the site, such as the mysterious fire that broke out last April at Al-Aqsa while France’s Notre Dame was also ablaze, may not be handled as effectively owing to staff shortages.

Soon after those arrests, 60 members of a settler extremist group entered the al-Aqsa compound under heavy guard from Israeli police. Safa news agency reported that these settlers have recently been accompanied by Israeli intelligence officials in their incursions at the site.

All of these recent provocations and arrests in connection with the mosque come soon after the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, publicly stated in late March that he had recently come under great pressure to relinquish Jordan’s custodianship of the mosque and the contested holy site upon which it is built. Abdullah II vowed to continue custodianship over Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa, and declined to say who was pressuring him over the site. However, his comments about this pressure to cede control over the mosque came just days after he had visited the U.S. and met with American Vice President Mike Pence, a Christian Zionist who believes that a Jewish Temple must replace Al-Aqsa to fulfill an end times prophecy.

In May, an Israeli government-linked research institute, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote that Abdullah II had nearly been toppled in mid-April, just weeks after publicly discussing external pressure to relinquish control over Al-Aqsa. The report stated that Abdullah II had been a target of a “plot undermining his rule,” which led him to replace several senior members of his government. That report further claimed that the plot had been aimed at removing obstacles to the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century,” which is supported by Israel’s government.

Last year, some Israeli politicians sought to push for a transfer of the site’s custodianship to Saudi Arabia, sparking concern that this could be connected to plans by some Third Temple activists to remove Al-Aqsa from Jerusalem and transfer it piece-by-piece to the Saudi city of Mecca. On Thursday, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published an article asserting that “tectonic shifts” were taking place in relation to who controls Al-Aqsa, with a Saudi-funded political group making dramatic inroads that could soon alter which country controls the historic mosque compound.

Sayyed Hassan Al-Qazwini told MintPress that, in his view, the current custodianship involving Jordan’s government is not ideal, as control over the Al-Aqsa mosque “should lie in the hands of its people, [and] Al-Aqsa mosque belongs Palestine;” if not, at the very least, a committee of Muslim majority nations should be formed to govern the holy site because of its importance. As for Saudi Arabia potentially receiving control over the site, Al-Qazwini told MintPress that “the Saudis are not qualified as they are not even capable of running the holy sites in Saudi Arabia itself. Every year, there has been a tragedy and many pilgrims have died during hajj time [annual Islamic pilgrimage].”

Once fringe, now approaching consensus

The threat to Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock compound, the third holiest site in Islam and of key importance to three major world religions, is the result of the dramatic growth of what was once a fringe movement of extremists. After the Six Day War, these fringe elements have fought to become more mainstream within Israel and have sought to gain international support for their religious-colonialist vision, particularly in the United States. As this article has shown, the threats to Al-Aqsa have grown significantly in the past decades, spiking in just the past few weeks.

As former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion had called for decades ago, an educational and social movement aimed at gaining influence with Israeli government leadership has been hugely successful in its goal of engineering consent for a Third Temple among many religious and secular Israelis. So successful has this movement been that numerous powerful and influential Israeli politicians, particularly since the 1990s, have not only openly promoted these beliefs, and the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, but have also diverted significant amounts of government funding to organizations dedicated to replacing the historic mosque with a new temple.

As the second and final installment of this series will show, this movement has gained powerful allies, not just in Israel’s government, but among many evangelical Christians in the United States, including top figures in the Trump administration who also feel that the destruction of Al-Aqsa and the reconstruction of a Jewish Temple are prerequisites for the fulfillment of prophecy, albeit a different one. Furthermore, given the influence of such movements on the Israeli and U.S. governments, these beliefs of active Messianism are also informing key policies of these same governments and, in doing so, are pushing the world towards a dangerous war.

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

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel and Arab nations discuss ‘common interests of war with Iran’ – Netanyahu

RT | February 13, 2019

Israel and Arab countries are in talks “in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, although the translation from Hebrew was later downgraded to mere “struggle.”

The promise of a major conflict in the Middle East was floated by the Israeli leader during his trip to Warsaw.

“From here I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran,” Netanyahu said as quoted by Jerusalem Post.

“What is important about this meeting – and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

The Israeli PM is in the Polish capital to take part in a two-day international forum on the Middle East, which starts on Wednesday. Representatives from the United States and the European Union are in attendance in addition to Netanyahu and ministers from Gulf kingdoms. The EU representation at the event however is less than impressive, with heavyweights Germany and France choosing not to send their foreign ministers.

The US delegation is headed by Vice President Mike Pence, who is accompanied by vocal Iran hawk Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor. The Anti-Iranian goals of Israel and the US are apparently dominating the agenda of the forum.

“We’re trying to expand the number of nations who are engaged and have a stake in the future of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, told Reuters.

The EU is on a shaky ground vis-a-vis Iran as it’s member Poland hosts the meeting. The Europeans are attempting to resist the push for confrontation with Iran coming from Washington, hoping to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. The Iranians still stick to the terms of the agreement even after US scrapped it under the Trump administration, but the promise of lucrative business opportunities with the EU, which was a major part of the incentive for Tehran to accept the deal, are nowhere near to materializing under the threat of American sanctions.

“Today, the Iranian people see some European countries as cunning and untrustworthy along with the criminal America. The government of the Islamic Republic must carefully preserve its boundaries with them,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned ahead of the gathering in Warsaw.

Israel and Iran are already engaged in a proxy war in Syria, where Israeli military regularly attack what they call Iranian military targets encroaching on Israel. Building on the foundation of common hostility with Iran, the Jewish state also entered cozy relations with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf supporters over the past decade.

Whether the regular exchange of threats grows into an open shooting war in the Middle East, as Netanyahu seems to be promising, is anyone’s guess.

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Keep Donald Trump

True believer Mike Pence could be a whole lot worse

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 30, 2018

When President Donald Trump traveled to Davos last week, the second foreign head of government he met with was Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. When the expected groveling before Bibi was concluded the rest of the world learned that Trump is right on board the Netanyahu bandwagon when it comes to making sure that the Palestinians somehow disappear. Trump flat-out lied in asserting that “I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace,” a line that comes straight out of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs playbook, but drew a frown from Bibi when he suggested there might actually have to be some concessions from both sides to reach an agreement. Netanyahu does not do concessions.

President Trump, who has no coherent Middle Eastern policy apart from abject deference to Israel, was particularly miffed because the Palestinians had “disrespected” Mike Pence on his visit to the region earlier in the week. They had refused to meet with the U.S. Vice President over the issue of Israel’s claimed sovereignty in all of Jerusalem, which the Administration endorsed and claims to have “taken off the [negotiating] table.”

In response to the Palestinian affront, Trump threatened to cut any aid going to Ramallah unless its leaders get their pathetic asses back to participate in U.S. brokered negotiations where everyone can sit around and talk while the Israelis systematically devour what is left of the West Bank. “That money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he said. Someone should have told The Donald that U.S. assistance goes largely to pay and train a Palestinian police force that works hand-in-hand with the Israeli occupiers to prevent attacks on Israelis. But hey, being president means you never have to say you’re sorry when you screw things up.

Trump has already cut in half the money going to United Nations relief efforts helping Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in camps seventy years after the Jews stole their homes. Donald Trump is right of course. Why throw money at ragheads when you can instead suck up to the infinitely more powerful and wealthy world Jewry that the sly and slimy Netanyahu claims to represent?

Meanwhile back at home multiple moves are underway to get rid of Trump, ranging from declaring him mentally incompetent to impeachment for perjury or for lack of good manners. I would like to see him go due to his sheer fecklessness, particularly if he can take Mattis, McMaster, Pompeo, Tillerson and Haley with him. But there is a serious fly in the ointment, namely what would come next? The answer is President Mike Pence.

Mike Pence caught some heat during the campaign because of some of his idiosyncrasies like “never eat[ing] alone with a woman other than his wife.” Whether that was true because of the apparently overwhelming sexual urges that seem to afflict nearly all congressmen and Hollywood producers, or because of something in the Bible, or even to avoid possible allegations of misbehavior, was not at all clear.

And speaking of the Bible, Pence is both a Christian fundamentalist and a dispensationalist, which means that he thinks every word in the Good Book is literally true and that Christianity is going through phases or dispensations that will lead to the rapture of true believers into heaven followed by the wrath of God descending on those who refuse to see the light.

The odd thing about people like Pence is that they stick like glue to their Scofield Reference Bibles but apparently rarely venture into the New Testament part with its talk of compassion and forgiveness. They much prefer the fire and brimstone in the Jewish part with Joshua smiting and Philistines (Palestines?) falling left and right. Pence and his co-believers, who are sometimes labeled Christian Zionists, consider Jews to be the Chosen People of God and Israel’s creation and survival are all part of the master plan that will lead to the end of the world as we know it. The re-creation of a Jewish state and the gathering in of as many of the world’s Jews as possible is seen as a critical step to achieve the Second Coming of Christ, which Pence and his associates fervently hope will occur soon. At that point, it is assumed that the Jews will realize that Christ is truly their Messiah and will mass-convert. If they do not they will be consumed in fire like all the other unbelievers.

Well, Pence is undeniably a true believer in the worst way, but he can choose to believe whatever he likes. The problem with him is that, given his senior role in the government, his firmly held religious beliefs are no longer a personal issue. They inevitably have political, economic and national security consequences for all Americans, not just for those who see things as he does. Only 20% of Americans actually go to church and of those only a portion are aligned with Pence on what Christianity means, suggesting that his is a minority viewpoint within a minority viewpoint.

Pence’s views on the Middle East as influenced by his particular religiosity were on full display during his recent trip to Israel, a country that he has visited eight times. The Vice President’s speech before the Knesset first required the removal of all Arab members of that body, who had loudly expressed their disapproval of what they knew was coming.

Pence was applauded frequently by those who remained, particularly when he praised Israel effusively or damned Iran. Ironically perhaps, no one in the audience seemed to be too disturbed by the ultimate meaning of his evangelical fervor in that the End of Days and battle of Armageddon that he looks forward to will also be the end for Jews who do not convert, a point that was commented on drily by the Haaretz newspaper. But the gathering was really all about Pence expressing his personal commitment to unlimited and uncritical support by Washington for Israel, so theological niceties were politely ignored.

The speech itself explains what a Pence presidency would look like in regards to the Middle East. He began with the usual sucking-up to one’s hosts that politicians are so good at, “… I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done…”

The scary thing is that Pence likely believes his own rhetoric. It would be hard to compress so much nonsense into a few sentences without looking completely ridiculous, but Pence in his zealotry seeks to convey a measure of rectitude relating to a whole basket of untruths without even breathing hard. First of all, the American people have never endorsed the relationship with Israel in any way and do not “stand with Israel” out of any conviction. Recent opinion polls suggest that most Americans are quite ambivalent about Israel and what it represents in spite of having been on the receiving end of more than fifty years of incessant propaganda extolling falsely “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

In truth, the Israeli special relationship is something that has been created and fostered by a corrupted-by-cash political class and a Jewish dominated media supported by a powerful and unscrupulous domestic Lobby backed up by an oligarchy of Jewish-Zionist billionaires. This line-up has created a national myth about Israel that could have been scripted by Leon Uris of Exodus fame.

As for values and causes, Americans would be appalled if they were to witness the misery inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis. Right over wrong? Good over evil? Where is the justice for the Palestinians in that Israel’s government is itself evil, an apartheid state that denies benefits to its own citizens if they adhere to the wrong religion. Tyranny? That’s what occurs in the West Bank and in the strangling of Gaza every single day, to include the beating and shooting of children and legless protesters.

And Pence even had a crumb to throw to the audience back at home regarding the impending move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, saying “Our president made his decision, in his words, ‘In the best interests of the American people.’” Sure Mike, shifting the U.S. Embassy was an astute move made by a completely ignorant chief executive at the urging of an Israeli citizen billionaire contributor named Sheldon Adelson, who owns lots of casinos, backed up by the president’s son-in-law and a bunch of Orthodox Jewish advisers. Lots of real American interest there. It was a move that brings absolutely no benefit to the United States, quite the contrary, and which has, pari passu, made American travelers and businessmen even more hated overseas, turning them into targets for terrorism.

And then there is Iran… “the leading state sponsor of terror… a brutal dictatorship… seeking to dominate the Arab world… devoted more than $4 billion to malign activities in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere… supported terrorist groups that even now sit on Israel’s doorstep… and, worst of all, the Iranian regime has pursued a clandestine nuclear program.” It is all another bowl of porridge. Iran has voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons program [related activities] and was fighting ISIS in Syria. It is seen as a threat by neighbors like the Israelis and Saudis who have their own hegemonic ambitions. And if the poor Israelis have terrorist groups on their doorstep it is because they invited them there through their completely cynical support of al-Qaeda and ISIS in neighboring Syria.

Regarding Iran, Pence concluded to rapturous applause that “President Trump has said that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.” So, terminating a diplomatic success story and virtually guaranteeing that Iran will go nuclear, no doubt followed by Egypt and the Saudis, is seen by Pence and the Knesset as a good outcome because it is what Israel wants. Of course, the real intention on Netanyahu’s part is to go to war with the Iranians with the United States doing the fighting, so no wonder he’s smiling. Nice one Mike.

Pence concluded with “The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.” Excuse me, but an openly racist Israel is hardly inspiring with its persistent playing of the victim card while it cynically exploits Washington to provide it with money, arms and political cover. And it is also no actual ally of the U.S., has never sent its soldiers to fight alongside Americans, and is hardly even a friend as evidenced by its record of interfering in U.S. domestic politics to receive billions of dollars annually from the American taxpayer. And nor would its recurrent theft of U.S.-developed high tech and defense secrets stand much scrutiny. But Mike was most likely not briefed on all that stuff, besides which, he probably received instructions on cherishing Israel directly from God.

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 30, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Is Trump’s Russia Policy Being Hijacked?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • August 4, 2017

In crafting the platform in Cleveland on which Donald Trump would run, America Firsters inflicted a major defeat on the War Party.

The platform committee rejected a plank to pull us deeper into Ukraine, by successfully opposing new U.S. arms transfers to Kiev.

Improved relations with Russia were what candidate Trump had promised, and what Americans would vote for in November.

Yet, this week, The Wall Street Journal reports:

“The U.S. Pentagon and State Department have devised plans to supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry and are seeking White House approval … as Kiev battles Russia-backed separatists … Defense Secretary Mattis has endorsed the plan.”

As pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine have armored vehicles, Kiev wants U.S. tank-killing Javelin missiles, as well as antiaircraft weapons.

State and Defense want Trump to send the lethal weapons.

This is a formula for a renewed war, with far higher casualties in Ukraine than the 10,000 dead already suffered on both sides.

And it is a war Vladimir Putin will not likely allow Kiev to win.

If Ukraine’s army, bolstered by U.S. weaponry, re-engages in the east, it could face a Moscow-backed counterattack and be routed, and the Russian army could take permanent control of the Donbass.

Indeed, if Trump approves this State-Defense escalation plan, we could be looking at a rerun of the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008.

Then, to recapture its lost province of South Ossetia, which had seceded in 1992, after Georgia seceded from Russia, Georgia invaded.

Putin sent his army in, threw the Georgians out, and recognized South Ossetia, as John McCain impotently declaimed, “We are all Georgians now!”

Wisely, George W. Bush ignored McCain and did nothing.

But about this new arms deal questions arise.

As the rebels have no aircraft, whose planes are the U.S. antiaircraft missiles to shoot down? And if the Russian army just over the border can enter and crush the Ukrainian army, why would we want to restart a civil war, the only certain result of which is more dead Ukrainians on both sides?

The Journal’s answer: Our goal is to bleed Russia.

“The point of lethal aid is to raise the price Mr. Putin pays for his imperialism until he withdraws or agrees to peace. … The Russians don’t want dead soldiers arriving home before next year’s presidential election.”

Also going neocon is Mike Pence. In Georgia this week, noting that Russian tanks are still in South Ossetia, the vice president not only declared, “We stand with you,” he told Georgians the U.S. stands by its 2008 commitment to bring them into NATO.

This would mean, under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, that in a future Russia-Georgia clash the U.S. could find itself in a shooting war with Russia in the South Caucasus.

Russia’s security interests there seem clear. What are ours?

Along with Trump’s signing of the new sanctions bill imposed by Congress, which strips him of his authority to lift those sanctions without Hill approval, these developments raise larger questions.

Is President Trump losing control of Russia policy? Has he capitulated to the neocons? These are not academic questions. For consider the architect of the new arms package, Kurt Volker, the new U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations.

A former CIA agent, member of the National Security Counsel, and envoy to NATO, Volker believes Russian troops in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk are all there illegally — and U.S. policy should be to push them out.

A former staffer of Sen. McCain, Volker was, until July, executive director of the neocon McCain Institute. He has called for the imposition of personal sanctions on Putin and his family and European travel restrictions on the Russian president.

In the Journal this week, “officials” described his strategy:

“Volker believes … that a change in Ukraine can be brought only by raising the costs for Moscow for continued intervention in Ukraine. In public comments, he has played down the notion that supplying weapons to Ukraine would escalate the conflict with Russia.”

In short, Volker believes giving antitank and antiaircraft missiles to Ukraine will bring Putin to the negotiating table, as he fears the prospect of dead Russian soldiers coming home in caskets before his 2018 election.

As for concerns that Putin might send his army into Ukraine, such worries are unwarranted.

Volker envisions a deepening U.S. involvement in a Ukrainian civil war that can bleed and break Russia’s Ukrainian allies and convince Putin to back down and accept what we regard as a just settlement.

Does Trump believe this? Does Trump believe that confronting Putin with rising casualties among his army and allies in Ukraine is the way to force the Russian president to back down and withdraw from Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk, as Nikita Khrushchev did from Cuba in 1962?

What if Putin refuses to back down, and chooses to confront?

Copyright 2017 Creators.com.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pence Talks with Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez over Venezuela’s ‘Dire Situation’

teleSUR | July 30, 2017

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez Friday “to address the dire situation in Venezuela,” as concern over U.S. interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs continues to grow.

In his phone conversation with Lopez, Pence praised “Mr. Lopez for his courage and outspoken defense of Venezuelan democracy,” according to the White House press statement.

Earlier this month, Lopez’s party Popular Will boycotted the dialogue process called by President Maduro to ease tensions between the government and the opposition.

Lopez also denounced Maduro’s call for the National Constituent Assembly, demanding the elections for the 545 representatives be canceled.

In the White House press statement, the vice president also reiterated, “President Trump’s pledge that if the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on Sunday, July 30, the United States will respond with strong and swift economic actions.”

Lopez has a long and sordid history in Venezuelan politics, particularly for his involvement in the deadly “guarimba” protests. He gained prominence after becoming the mayor of the wealthy Caracas district of Chacao in Venezuela between 2000 and 2008.

According to investigative journalist Eva Golinger, in 2002 Lopez began frequenting Washington, D.C., to “visit IRI (International Republican Institute) headquarters and meet with officials in the Bush administration.” The IRI is one of the three foundations of the National Endowment for Democracy, NED, and has been pumping tens of millions of dollars to the opposition groups in Venezuela, including Justice First.

In 2014, Lopez was convicted and charged with plotting and promoting the violent street blockades, also known as “guarimbas” in Venezuela. The widespread violence led to the death of 43 people while hundreds more were injured. The violence also cost billions of dollars worth of damage to public buildings and infrastructure.

Lopez was sent to jail in 2015 and given a 13-year nine-month jail sentence for his role in leading the violent protests. He was recently allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest after citing “health concerns.”

In a video published by NBC Miami Wednesday, Lopez urged the Venezuelans to continue protesting on the streets, stating that Venezuela is facing a “clear and imminent threat” to its democracy.

The phone call between the opposition leader and the U.S. vice president comes as the United States escalates its threats against Venezuela.

Earlier this week, Washington issued a travel warning telling the U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the South American country and also ordered the relatives of all its diplomats to leave Caracas.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Neocons’ Newest American Hero: Ben Sasse

By Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.03.2017

With Senator John McCain in his last term in the U.S. Congress and Senator Lindsey Graham in potential political trouble in South Carolina in 2020, the neo-conservatives have their high hopes set on freshman Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Sasse is the new face among cheerleaders in the U.S. Senate advocating further sanctions on Russia, a full investigation of alleged links between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russia, and full-throttle support for NATO and numerous free trade agreements.

Recently, Sasse has been a leading Senate critic of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the release of some 8000 classified documents detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s ability to conduct computer hacking and cyber-warfare. Sasse sent out a statement calling for Assange, who has been living under political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past five years, to be imprisoned in the United States.

Sasse’s statement wrote the following about the so-called CIA «Vault 7» leaks: «It is important to comment on the particulars of these leaks but this is dead certain; Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit. He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin. Mr. Assange has dedicated his life’s work to endangering innocent lives, abetting despots, and stoking a crisis of confidence in the West». Sasse always fails to mention that it his religious dream and that of his extremist cult for a Christian theocratic despot to take over power in the United States.

Sasse claimed his personal and government computer devices were targeted by hackers after his criticism of Assange and WikiLeaks. In a few tweets, Sasse texted that he was experiencing multiple «password reset» attempts, adding that his followers should ignore any «crazy-tweets’ from his account.

Strangely, Sasse ran for the Senate as a «Tea Party» outsider. He is anything but an outsider but a typical neo-con who was «sheep-dipped» in various mid-level jobs in the George W. Bush administration and, before that, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sasse had powerful assistance from the «deep state» in achieving his U.S. Senate seat. Sasse came from four percent name recognition before the Nebraska Republican primary to defeat three other candidates, including former Navy pilot Shane Osborn, the pilot of the U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane forced to land in Hainan island, China in 2001.

Sasse is a consummate insider who represents the dark political side of the Republican Party, namely the Christian Dominionists, also known as «Reconstructionists». This powerful cult favors the establishment of a Christian theocracy in the United States. Sasse, whose campaign cash mostly poured in from out of state, outspent Osborn by a wide margin. As a Dominionist, Sasse has like-minded allies in the Trump administration, particularly Vice President Mike Pence.

The Dominionists are largely wealthy Republicans who have been extremely active in Nebraska politics. Dominionists like Sasse and Pence are adherents of the extremist tenets of the father of Christian Reconstructionism, the late P. J. Rushdoonie.

Although Sasse does not have a law degree, he has other «credentials». Sasse received his M.A. and PhD in Philosophy from Yale, his M.A. from St. John’s College in Annapolis, and B.A. in History from Harvard. These non-legal degrees were considered sufficient for Sasse to work under U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in the Bush administration as chief of staff in the Office of Legal Policy. There, Sasse worked with the CIA to draft the infamous torture memos.

The «torture memos», which gave legal justification to President George W. Bush to carry out «enhanced interrogations» of prisoners and detainees, tainted both the Bush and Barack Obama administrations. From the Department of Justice, Sasse was somehow able to parlay his religious academic credentials to serve as an adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in 2005 and as assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services under Secretary Michael Leavitt from 2006 to 2007.

Sasse also served as chief of staff to Nebraska Republican Representative Jeff Fortenberry, who has a post-graduate degree in theology. While Sasse was earning additional Washington «insider» points working for Fortenberry, another rising GOP staffer, Ryan Loskarn, was honing his political skills under Republican Representatives Wally Herger of California and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. In early 2014, Loskarn, the chief of staff for Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, allegedly committed suicide after he was arrested in December 2014 for possession and distribution of child pornography.

It is inconceivable that Sasse, whose degrees were more in keeping with those of an aspiring theologian, would have been involved with career attorneys in the Justice Department. However, Sasse had already punched the right career «tickets.» From 1994 to 1995, Sasse worked for the Boston Consulting Group, Mitt Romney’s and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s old firm. From 1996 to 1998, Sasse was a tutor and proctor for the pederasty-plagued U.S. House of Representatives page program. It was Sasse’s responsibility to protect the underage teen House pages from, among other threats, predatory members of Congress. Sasse failed miserably.

One of the members of the House Page Board while Sasse served as a tutor and proctor was Republican Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona. In 1996, while Sasse was a proctor and tutor for the pages, Kolbe, a member of the oversight House Page Board, took two 17-year old male pages on a three-day Independence Day camping trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Kolbe revealed that he was aware of then-Republican Representative Mark Foley’s inappropriate e-mails to underage male pages as early as 2000. However, Foley’s indiscretions with the pages reportedly began as early as 1998, while Sasse was still a proctor/tutor. Foley, a Florida Republican, later resigned after it was publicly revealed that he had made sexual advances toward male pages, including attempts to coax them from their dormitory on Capitol Hill. One of the members of the House leadership who helped cover up for Foley as long as he possibly could, was the Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. It was later revealed that Hastert paid hush money to underage males he was accused of having sex with while he was a high school wrestling coach in Illinois. Hastert is now serving a prison term for hiding his hush money transactions.

Kolbe eventually stepped down as chairman of the House Page Board after questions were raised about his camping trip with the pages. Sasse, as a proctor and tutor for the pages, had the responsibility of stopping Kolbe from taking the pages out of state for possible illegal purposes. Sasse’s closeness to the «House Page Sex Scandal» begs the fabled Washington scandal question: «What did Sasse know and when did he know it?» If Sasse was unaware of the activities of Kolbe and Foley with House pages between 1996 and 1998, why did he not know? As a proctor and tutor, it was Sasse’s job to know. If Sasse was aware of the activities of Kolbe and Foley and chose not to report them to the House leadership, that makes Sasse an accessory to criminal behavior.

Neo-con Republicans like Sasse are now fond of conjuring up «conspiracy theories» around deaths they link to some nefarious foreign plot to control Donald Trump and his administration. However, Sasse’s time in the House coincided with a dead body, a very important one. The chair of the House Page Board in 1998, Sasse’s final year as proctor/tutor, was Republican Representative Tillie Fowler of Florida. Fowler died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage on March 2, 2005, shortly after allegations about Foley’s sexual abuse of pages first hit the front pages.

Sasse is well-funded by the Club for Growth, an extremist capitalist group that favors shrinking government and eliminating regulation of the private sector, including parochial schools and child protective services, just the places where child sexual abuse is usually found to be rampant.

Sasse’s doctoral dissertation at Yale took on American atheist leader Madalyn Murray O’Hare. The dissertation was titled: «The Anti-Madalyn Majority: Secular Left, Religious Right, and the Rise of Reagan’s America.» Sasse’s dissertation postulated that a conservative Protestant alliance could take over political power in the United States. That rhetoric, coupled with Sasse’s belief in the «just war», is strikingly similar to the Dominionist beliefs of P. J. Rushdoonie and his adherents. Sasse’s fellow Dominionist, Pence, is now a mere heartbeat away from the U.S. presidency.

March 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Kaine, Pence and Their VP Debate Fact-Checkers Are All Wrong on Iran

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | October 6, 2016

If anything was made clear during the Vice Presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence it’s that neither man knows much about the Iranian nuclear program. And neither do the fact-checkers tasked with judging the candidates’ own statements about it.

During the course of 90 excruciating minutes, Tim Kaine accused Iran of “racing toward a nuclear weapon” and repeatedly boasted that his running mate Hillary Clinton was responsible for “stopping” that “nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s veep pick Mike Pence kept insisting that the Iran deal, signed by six world powers and Iran in July 2015, effectively guaranteed that “Iran will someday become a nuclear power because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.”

None of these claims is even remotely true.

Obviously, claims put forth by both Kaine and Pence rest on a wholly false presumption: that Iran is/was desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons and has/had an active “nuclear weapons program” to achieve that goal.

As I have written endlessly:

International intelligence assessments have consistently affirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. What Iran does have, however, is a nuclear energy program with uranium enrichment facilities, all of which are under international safeguards, strictly monitored and routinely inspected by the IAEA. No move to divert nuclear material to military or weaponization purposes has ever been detected. This is consistently affirmed by U.S., British, Russian, and even Israeli intelligence, as well as the IAEA. In fact, the IAEA itself has said there is “no concrete proof” Iran’s nuclear program “has ever had” a military component.

Eventually, due to the distinct and consistent lack of evidence for any nuclear weapons program, the United States echo chamber sidelined accusations of an active militarization program in favor of the round-about, jargon-laden claim that Iran was “intending to obtain the capability” to make nukes, rather than actually trying to make nukes. This, conveniently, put Iran in the position of having to prove a negative, despite being under the strictest IAEA inspection regime in history and providing access to its facilities above and beyond what was required by law.

The rhetorical bait-and-switch was plain for all to see when Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted in 2012, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” For good propagandistic measure, however, he added, “But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.”

Around the same time, an unnamed U.S. intelligence official told the Washington Post that no decision had even been made in Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, explaining, “Our belief is that they are reserving judgment on whether to continue with key steps they haven’t taken regarding nuclear weapons.”

Early the following year, Panetta begrudgingly reaffirmed this assessment on Meet The Press. “What I’ve said, and I will say today,” Panetta told Chuck Todd, “is that the intelligence we have is they have not made the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon. They’re developing and enriching uranium. They continue to do that.” He added, “I think– I think the– it’s a clear indication they say they’re doing it in order to develop their own energy source.” The NPT guarantees signatory states the right to enrich uranium for nuclear energy production. There is nothing illegal or sinister about this and Iran has operated its enrichment program openly and under IAEA safeguards.

Panetta, in response to Todd’s repeated goading, eventually disputed the entire premise so often repeated by politicians and pundits: “I can’t tell you they’re in fact pursuing a weapon because that’s not what intelligence says we– we– we’re– they’re doing right now,” he said.

U.S. intelligence assessments have consistently affirmed this. In 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Congressional committee, “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” This finding has been repeated year in and year out.

Even the final report on outstanding allegations made by the United States and Israeli governments by the IAEA, released last December, was sensationalized to the point of absurdity. At most, the agency found, the “Possible Military Dimensions” of its nuclear energy program or the “Alleged Studies” that Iran had long been accused of conducting turned out to be merely “feasibility and scientific studies”(of nuclear and non-nuclear technology that has proven civilian uses), not active procedures or policies directed at making atomic bombs.

Moreover, and more importantly, this supposed research involved absolutely no diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses, and therefore were not violations of either Iran’s commitments under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA or a breach of the NPT itself.

By actually assessing the facts, it is beyond clear that, despite decades of alarmism, hype and hysteria, Iran never violated the NPT, and there has never been any evidence of the existence of an “Iranian nuclear weapons program.”

Beyond this, Tim Kaine’s claims that Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind diplomacy with Iran are absurd. Quite the contrary, the breakthrough for talks – that is, the Obama administration deciding to drop the “zero enrichment” demand that had soured diplomatic efforts since 2005 – occurred despite Clinton’s insistence that Iran be denied their inalienable nuclear rights. This shift in policy was due primarily to the efforts of John Kerry, both as Senate Foreign Relations Chair during Obama’s first term and then as Secretary of State after Clinton left the office.

But Kaine wasn’t alone in his mistakes. Even fact-checkers didn’t get their facts straight.

For instance, in response to Kaine’s claim that Clinton “worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot,” PBS National Security Correspondent Mary Louise Kelly wrote this:

The deal slowed but does not eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium enriched uranium, to dramatically cut its stockpile of low enriched uranium, and to allow international inspectors to visit nuclear facilities — in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Again, Iran didn’t have a nuclear weapons program for anyone to eliminate. Furthermore, there is no such thing as “medium enriched uranium,” according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. There’s only low and high – Iran has never, ever, enriched uranium close to weapons-grade levels. Also misleading is Kelly’s assertion that the deal allowed “international inspectors to visit nuclear facilities,” considering that IAEA inspectors already had access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure long before the deal was struck.

Other fact-checkers – from ABC to the New York Times – were similarly wrong on the facts, as noted by longtime Iran watcher Ali Gharib:

Hillary Clinton didn’t help to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program because the talks weren’t about eliminating Iran’s nuclear weapons program because Iran didn’t have a nuclear weapons program at that time to eliminate. Kaine, therefore, did exaggerate Clinton’s role: he credited her with participating in talks that didn’t actually do what he said they did.

Pence’s insistence that the Iran deal failed at its primary mission was also wholly false. “The goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear [ambitions],” said Pence, adding, “They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. When the deal’s period runs out, there is no limitation on them obtaining weapons.”

Everything about this is wrong. Iran has publicly, repeatedly and consistently renounced any and all interest in acquiring nuclear weapons on legal, strategic and moral grounds for literally decades. Therefore, the phrase “their nuclear ambitions,” which Pence uses as a dog whistle for “pursuit of nuclear weapons,” doesn’t mean what Pence thinks it does.

As Gharib has also pointed out, Iran’s commitment not to obtain nukes goes well beyond the stipulations of the Iran deal. Even after the terms expire (and some of the most important ones never do), “having a nuclear weapons program will still be prohibited not only by Iran’s signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but also by express promises the country made as part of the nuclear deal itself. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran deal’s formal name) says, ‘Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.’ It’s plain as day, right there in the first paragraph. And there’s no sunset clause on that pledge; it stays in force forever.”

The facts are plain, and are essential when discussing issues like this. But when it comes to Iran and American politics, there is no depth to which the propaganda won’t sink, with fact-checkers being dragged down with it.

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mike Pence: The Leading Member of the “Israel, What Nuclear Weapons?” Flat Earth Society

By Sam Husseini | July 20, 2016

Last night, Pence addressed the Republican Convention: “And if the world knows nothing else, it will know this: America stands with Israel.”

I’ve heard him say that before.

Being a journalist based in the Washington, D.C. area, I try to ask tough questions of political figures when I can. Perhaps my favorite question is some variation of “do you acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons?” I’ve asked this of many political figures and virtually none have given me a straightforward response.

But the most surreal — almost comical — response came from Donald Trump’s VP pic, Mike Pence, in 2011. At the time, he was a congressman and vice-chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia:

Question: You’ve also served on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons?

Pence: [long pause, looks down] I’m — I am aware that Israel is our most cherished ally. And I strongly support Israel’s right of self defense and to take such actions as are necessary to secure their homeland as much as we take actions to secure ours.”

Question: “Do you think it increases or decreases U.S. credibility around the world when U.S. government officials can’t even acknowledge that Israel has a massive nuclear arsenal?”

Pence: “The American people support Israel. I call Israel our most cherished ally and I will continue to stand — without apology — for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and strong cooperation with our most cherished ally in a very volatile part of the world.”

He was utterly incapable of engaging on the issue. The passionate attachment has become a mantra and no inconvenient facts need enter the equation.

Some other responses from political luminaries: “The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial“.

Since my questioning these figures, information has come out about gag orders on the subject. As Grant Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy wrote in 2015: “Under two known gag orders — punishable by imprisonment — U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program. GEN-16 is a ‘no-comment’ regulation on ‘classified information in the public domain.’ ‘DOE Classification Bulletin WPN-136 on Foreign Nuclear Capabilities’ forbids stating what 63.9 percent of Americans already know — that Israel has a nuclear arsenal.'”

Thanks to Matt Bradley and Chris Belcher for help with the Washington Stakeout project, which questioning Pence was a part of: @dcstakeout and on YouTube.

July 21, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments