Category Archives: Benjamin Netanyahu

Limiting Israel: Russia Deploys the S-300 to Syria

Relations between Russia and Israel have been those of an estranged couple punctuated by occasional breakouts of tense understanding.  As with other such couples, a public row does not necessarily reflect the more placid, if stern, discussion that might happen behind closed doors.

On the public side of things, Russia’s decision to deploy the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria has made Israeli officials apoplectic.  That said, Israel’s security establishment were privy to prospects of a possible Russian deployment of the modern, more discriminating air-defence system.  The former head of the Israeli Defence Force’s Strategic Division, Brigadier General Assaf Orion at the Institution for National Security Studies, was reflective.  “However one may keep in mind that for the last twenty years Israel was preparing for this to appear in theatre.”

In April, Amos Yadlin, the country’s retired Military Intelligence chief stuck his head out to issue a warning: should Russia supply Syria with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Israel’s air force would retaliate.  Israel Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman also upped the ante, suggesting that Israel would destroy any S-300 targeting Israeli aircraft.  Would Russia call Israel’s bluff?

Any indecision on Russia’s part evaporated in the aftermath of the downing of a Russian Il-20 surveillance plane by Syrian government forces on September 17, leading to the death of 15 personnel.  The Syrian action had been prompted by attacks from Israeli F-16 jets on facilities in the province of Latakia.

In the words of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, “It is a system which is defensive in nature rather than offensive, and is intended for the defence of the Syrian airspace.” Russian Defence  Minister Sergei Shoigu has only praise for the batteries, which are “capable of intercepting aerial attacks at the distance of over 250 kilometres, and simultaneously countering several targets”. Deploying it was a necessary “retaliatory” measure.

The tone, at this point, has become far more reserved on Israel’s part.  While Moscow “made a move, the playing field is very large,” came an unnamed Israeli official’s view.  Israel was “dealing” with the aftermath of the decision made by President Vladimir Putin, but would “not necessarily” attempt “to prevent the delivery” of the anti-aircraft system.  This stands to reason: the presence of other Russian missile systems in the Syrian conflict – the S-400, for instance – did not deter Israel’s previous strikes; nor did it cause much by way of open remonstration. Symbolism is everything.

Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, was impressed by Moscow’s move.  Israel’s regional bullying would finally, at least in some fashion, be contained.  “For the first time in years another state is making it clear to Israel that there are restrictions to its power, that it’s not okay for it to do whatever it wants, that it’s not alone in the game, that America can’t always cover for it and there’s a limit to the harm that it can do.”

Like other players, Russia and Israel will continue to be careful in avoiding any undue engagements.  Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has made various utterances to that effect, though the deployment has put him on notice that the Israeli action in Syria can no longer take place with brazen impunity.

Then comes the issue as to which outfits will be manning the batteries.  Netanyahu, pushing the familiar line that certain weapons systems are only appropriate in the right hands, sees the S-300 finding its way to “irresponsible players”.  Orion fears those “incompetent and reckless” hands fidgeting and firing.  On that score, it is unlikely that the Russians intend giving their Syrian recipients full leverage in using the system.  At this stage of the conflict, it is clear that Moscow is calling many of the shots in the field, having, for instance, restrained Syrian government forces in launching a blood-soaked offensive on rebel forces in Idlib in favour of an accord with Turkey.

Moves such as the S-300 announcement say less about a conflict that has killed with remorseless drive than it does about the pieces of furniture that keep being moved in one of the most atrocious wars in recent memory.  A weapons system is deployed in one place to discourage another “player” from overconfidence and bellicosity; airstrikes are undertaken against the forces of another group or state to nip any growing influence.  Brief agreements are brokered, short-term understandings reached.  Israel gazes wide-eyed upon the influence of Iran and any umbilical cord to Hezbollah; Turkey watches warily the influence of the Kurds and any overly patriotic tendencies. Syrian soil becomes the staging ground for amoral plays of power.

The critics and observers add to this, using sterile terms that give the impression that states are participants in a robust conversation free of blood, a gentlemen’s dispute rather than a murderous fight to the finish.  Syria remains a carcass swarmed over by various enthusiasts, pecking it into cruel oblivion.

Where is the Hope?

Situated on a coastal location on the outskirts of Tripoli, with golden sands and an expansive view of the Mediterranean Sea, the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Nahr al-Bared could be a beautiful environment in which to raise a child… It isn’t.

Nahr al-Bared Beach location

The sense of despair is as dark as I have known it during these past three years of visiting and listening to camp residents. The US Government, under the Trump administration, has cut all UNWRA funding to Palestinian Refugee Camps. Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps in Lebanon are not allowed to work, own property or have Lebanese citizenship. It is only from being recognized as refugees and the international law of ‘right of return’ (resolution-194) that prevents them from being stateless. Although UNWRA funding keeps them trapped in a state of dependancy, it is also what keeps them alive. UNWRA heavily supports the funding required for medical, educational and social care. Without the contribution of the US, the over strained resources in the camps will reach breaking point. (We are already witnessing a slow, calculated genocide taking place in Gaza.) Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have offered to pick up the short fall left by the loss of the US contribution, but there are conditions…. conditions that are impossible for Palestinians to accept.

Youngsters in the Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Netanyahu is claiming that there are no longer any Palestinian refugees. It’s been stated by Israeli officials that only those Palestinians who were born and fled the 1948 NAKBA (Catastrophe) qualify as refugees. Under this edict the five generations of descendants born in dismal, impoverished refugee camps, would not, therefore, qualify as refugees. Trump, no doubt persuaded by deep state policy directives, would appear to agree.

‘Right of Return’ is enshrined in human rights law. This contrived political move to try to take the ’Right of Return’ away is not only a violation of international law, it makes a mockery of all that is decent and human. Although UNWRA is mandated to support refugees, without proper funding its services are calculated to collapse.

Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Already medical services have been cut so that besides the limited availability of drugs and medical supplies, a single doctor is responsible for around 5,000 patients. In the UK the ratio is less than 400, and in other European countries the ratio is significantly lower. With poor nutrition and salty, undrinkable tap water the strain on doctors is likely to be even more demanding in Palestinian refugee camps.

As was stated by one of the Palestinian elders at Nahr al-Bared:

All this flies in the face of human rights. This is a fake deal made to bring about our destruction. They keep us busy just trying to survive so there is no time to plan around the crucial matters. Are we to become a non-people, who, by no fault of our own, are to be cast out of the human race without rights or the means to protect the lives of our children?

Rubble remaining from the 2007 attack by the terrorist group Fatah al Islam

UNWRA was never set up to be a permanent source of funding but with political intransigency with regard to the recognition of human rights law, Palestinians have been trapped in limbo for over seventy years. It’s only been the hope of returning to their homeland that has sustained them – (Awad Sumud – steadfastness). ‘Right of return’ is the corner stone of the Palestinian Struggle. The US in alliance with the UK and France, along with (Saudi Arabia aka Israel) and the Gulf States, are likely to herald any refusal on the part of Palestinians to give up ‘hope of return’ as a refusal to negotiate peace. The authors of this Machiavellian manoeuvre will know this to be a lie. With truth thrown into the  trash bin of fake news, the message of ‘the fault’ being placed on the Palestinians may ‘yet again’ be widely believed. The convenient label of Palestinian terrorists by subservient – cut and paste ‘mainstream’ journalism, allow those who actually do initiate terror to act with an impunity that defies credible belief. Any criticism by right thinking people that Israel is actually the aggressor here, is labelled as anti-semitic.

Palestinian leaders fear for the youth in the camp. Deprived of a future they are vulnerable to outside corruption or worse. “We are trapped by circumstances. We don’t want to be used to support anyone’s terrorism.”

Youngsters in Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp

The elders’ fears are fully justified. In 2007 the terrorist group Fatah Al Islam fled into Nahr al-Bared after robbing a bank and were pursued by the Lebanese Army. The resulting conflict resulted in a number of deaths and forced Palestinians to flee the camp. Their homes and what little they did possess were bombed to rubble. The evidence of the widespread bombing is still present today. At the time Seymour Hersh reported that the funding for the group had originated from the US through Saudi Arabia and had Lebanese connections through Saad Hariri.

Rubble from the 2007 terrorist attack

However, other sources consider that funding came from groups in Syria or Al Qaeda. Why they chose to flee to Nahr al-Bared does raise interesting questions. Nahr al-Bared was the refugee camp where the PLO financial centre was located. Whether the camp being situated on prime real estate has any relevance, one can only speculate. Whatever the truth behind Fatah Al Islam, Palestinians remain anxious about such groups ever gaining any kind of foothold in the camps among their dispossessed youth.

Today the camp is slowly being re-built and around two-thirds of the population have been able to return. Compared to many of the other camps the roads are wide, the sky is visible and fresh air is able to enter. However it was pointed out that the roads are wide so that tanks can enter. Not withstanding the impact of visual space there is in reality little room for family expansion. Families are not permitted to built beyond four floors and moving out horizontally is also prohibited. Some of the bombed buildings of 2007 have yet to be cleared. With families moving into their fifth and sometimes the sixth generation, crowding is a serious problem. This has been compounded in part by a section of the camp being allocated to Palestinian refugees fleeing terror groups in Syria.

Section of Nahr al-Bared where Palestinian refugees from Syria are housed

Security around entry into the camp is high. For foreigners, passports have to be submitted well in advance so that the intelligence services can check out anyone who wishes to enter. Does this make Palestinians safer? It’s debatable. While it might keep the likes of terror groups like ‘Fatah Al Islam’ out, it also keeps  Palestinians in a ‘prison camp’  like environment. One only has to remember how Israeli forces surrounded the entrances to Sabra and Shatilla in September 1982 and sanctioned the Christian Phalange massacre of over 3,000 undefended Palestinians to feel a chill at the thought of not being totally free to pass though the entrance unchecked

Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Palestinians cannot achieve justice alone. It will require a huge awakening on the part of all people everywhere to recognize that injustice for one is injustice for all. To be silent is to be complicit.

• All photos by Heather Stroud

Where is the Hope?

Situated on a coastal location on the outskirts of Tripoli, with golden sands and an expansive view of the Mediterranean Sea, the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Nahr al-Bared could be a beautiful environment in which to raise a child… It isn’t.

Nahr al-Bared Beach location

The sense of despair is as dark as I have known it during these past three years of visiting and listening to camp residents. The US Government, under the Trump administration, has cut all UNWRA funding to Palestinian Refugee Camps. Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps in Lebanon are not allowed to work, own property or have Lebanese citizenship. It is only from being recognized as refugees and the international law of ‘right of return’ (resolution-194) that prevents them from being stateless. Although UNWRA funding keeps them trapped in a state of dependancy, it is also what keeps them alive. UNWRA heavily supports the funding required for medical, educational and social care. Without the contribution of the US, the over strained resources in the camps will reach breaking point. (We are already witnessing a slow, calculated genocide taking place in Gaza.) Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have offered to pick up the short fall left by the loss of the US contribution, but there are conditions…. conditions that are impossible for Palestinians to accept.

Youngsters in the Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Netanyahu is claiming that there are no longer any Palestinian refugees. It’s been stated by Israeli officials that only those Palestinians who were born and fled the 1948 NAKBA (Catastrophe) qualify as refugees. Under this edict the five generations of descendants born in dismal, impoverished refugee camps, would not, therefore, qualify as refugees. Trump, no doubt persuaded by deep state policy directives, would appear to agree.

‘Right of Return’ is enshrined in human rights law. This contrived political move to try to take the ’Right of Return’ away is not only a violation of international law, it makes a mockery of all that is decent and human. Although UNWRA is mandated to support refugees, without proper funding its services are calculated to collapse.

Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Already medical services have been cut so that besides the limited availability of drugs and medical supplies, a single doctor is responsible for around 5,000 patients. In the UK the ratio is less than 400, and in other European countries the ratio is significantly lower. With poor nutrition and salty, undrinkable tap water the strain on doctors is likely to be even more demanding in Palestinian refugee camps.

As was stated by one of the Palestinian elders at Nahr al-Bared:

All this flies in the face of human rights. This is a fake deal made to bring about our destruction. They keep us busy just trying to survive so there is no time to plan around the crucial matters. Are we to become a non-people, who, by no fault of our own, are to be cast out of the human race without rights or the means to protect the lives of our children?

Rubble remaining from the 2007 attack by the terrorist group Fatah al Islam

UNWRA was never set up to be a permanent source of funding but with political intransigency with regard to the recognition of human rights law, Palestinians have been trapped in limbo for over seventy years. It’s only been the hope of returning to their homeland that has sustained them – (Awad Sumud – steadfastness). ‘Right of return’ is the corner stone of the Palestinian Struggle. The US in alliance with the UK and France, along with (Saudi Arabia aka Israel) and the Gulf States, are likely to herald any refusal on the part of Palestinians to give up ‘hope of return’ as a refusal to negotiate peace. The authors of this Machiavellian manoeuvre will know this to be a lie. With truth thrown into the  trash bin of fake news, the message of ‘the fault’ being placed on the Palestinians may ‘yet again’ be widely believed. The convenient label of Palestinian terrorists by subservient – cut and paste ‘mainstream’ journalism, allow those who actually do initiate terror to act with an impunity that defies credible belief. Any criticism by right thinking people that Israel is actually the aggressor here, is labelled as anti-semitic.

Palestinian leaders fear for the youth in the camp. Deprived of a future they are vulnerable to outside corruption or worse. “We are trapped by circumstances. We don’t want to be used to support anyone’s terrorism.”

Youngsters in Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp

The elders’ fears are fully justified. In 2007 the terrorist group Fatah Al Islam fled into Nahr al-Bared after robbing a bank and were pursued by the Lebanese Army. The resulting conflict resulted in a number of deaths and forced Palestinians to flee the camp. Their homes and what little they did possess were bombed to rubble. The evidence of the widespread bombing is still present today. At the time Seymour Hersh reported that the funding for the group had originated from the US through Saudi Arabia and had Lebanese connections through Saad Hariri.

Rubble from the 2007 terrorist attack

However, other sources consider that funding came from groups in Syria or Al Qaeda. Why they chose to flee to Nahr al-Bared does raise interesting questions. Nahr al-Bared was the refugee camp where the PLO financial centre was located. Whether the camp being situated on prime real estate has any relevance, one can only speculate. Whatever the truth behind Fatah Al Islam, Palestinians remain anxious about such groups ever gaining any kind of foothold in the camps among their dispossessed youth.

Today the camp is slowly being re-built and around two-thirds of the population have been able to return. Compared to many of the other camps the roads are wide, the sky is visible and fresh air is able to enter. However it was pointed out that the roads are wide so that tanks can enter. Not withstanding the impact of visual space there is in reality little room for family expansion. Families are not permitted to built beyond four floors and moving out horizontally is also prohibited. Some of the bombed buildings of 2007 have yet to be cleared. With families moving into their fifth and sometimes the sixth generation, crowding is a serious problem. This has been compounded in part by a section of the camp being allocated to Palestinian refugees fleeing terror groups in Syria.

Section of Nahr al-Bared where Palestinian refugees from Syria are housed

Security around entry into the camp is high. For foreigners, passports have to be submitted well in advance so that the intelligence services can check out anyone who wishes to enter. Does this make Palestinians safer? It’s debatable. While it might keep the likes of terror groups like ‘Fatah Al Islam’ out, it also keeps  Palestinians in a ‘prison camp’  like environment. One only has to remember how Israeli forces surrounded the entrances to Sabra and Shatilla in September 1982 and sanctioned the Christian Phalange massacre of over 3,000 undefended Palestinians to feel a chill at the thought of not being totally free to pass though the entrance unchecked

Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Palestinians cannot achieve justice alone. It will require a huge awakening on the part of all people everywhere to recognize that injustice for one is injustice for all. To be silent is to be complicit.

• All photos by Heather Stroud

WTF? Why Adulate This Warmonger?

For days we have been informed—indeed, relentlessly reminded, instructed, lectured, preached to, told matter-of-factly (as though the whole universe knows it), bestowed with the transcendent wisdom—that the late Sen. John McCain was a true American hero.

Wow! What a man! Suddenly, we learn that he was one of the Greatest Americans of All Time. “How to hold him in reverence?” asks an African-American Democratic congressman on CNN. It is (at least on cable news) an unchallenged truth. On CNN Sunday morning “America pays tribute to a hero”—-as his old friends Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman do so.

McCain served his country, we are taught. He was shot down over North Vietnam—just one of those sad things that happens to some people sometimes. So sad he had to parachute into a lake where the people he’d been bombing rescued him. Of course, he was imprisoned, as any bomber captured over any country would be imprisoned.

We are told (by his huge unpaid unthinking posthumous groupie corporate media staff) that this person (McCain), was tortured but never broke (except that one time he signed a statement about bombing civilians).

And he refused early release out of loyalty to his fellow POWs. Heroic!

He (for some reason less noticeable in other people) loved his family (although he divorced his long-suffering first wife, who’d been injured in an accident during his captivity, to marry a wealthy heiress). That is impressive.

Of course (we are told) he loved God, and even served as unit chaplain in Hanoi. He was an unquestioned paragon of virtue, we’re told, even as his quirks and temper tantrums are mentioned—in passing—as endearing minor flaws. He’s described as “hawkish” and often, as a responsible advocate for a powerful military and defender of U.S. “national interests” (versus Russia and Iran in particular).

The Establishment consensus on McCain is truly impressive. Everyone has queued up for the gangbang on humanity, intelligence and morality.

The public funeral featuring eulogies by George W. Bush and Barack Obama was designed to reflect the bipartisan celebration of a legacy—which, unconscionably—the “Democratic Socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Chavez tweets “represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service.”

WTF, Alexandria?

Bernie Sanders adds to the adulation. “John McCain,” he tells his supporters, “was an American hero, a man of decency and honor and a friend of mine. He will be missed not just in the US Senate but by all Americans who respect integrity and independence.” WTF, Bernie?

Joe Lieberman, teary-eyed, calls him a “national treasure.”  The CNN anchor has to add, “Well said!” as though we all surely agree on this, right?

The McCain funeral, like Caesar’s, became a political statement against the new political leadership. Mark Anthony praised the dead, while targeting the living Brutus. Meghan McCain praised her father, while targeting President Trump. “America has always been great” is her—and much of the whole system’s—response to Trump’s hollow pledge to “make America great again.”

Questioning the timeless greatness of America is heretical—as heretical as questioning the heroism of John McCain.

Among Trump’s more “controversial” remarks are his statement, “I like people who weren’t captured” and his declaration, “He’s not a war hero. He was a hero because he was captured.” Of all the comments Trump has made—racist, stupid, bigoted comments about women, African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, etc.—these on McCain constitute his greatest sin. At least, it has been seized on as such by his vast range of political enemies who want him down.

The dying McCain carefully planned his final rites. (Or those around him did. My father died of the same glioblastoma brain cancer that killed Edward Kennedy and John McCain; I know how rapidly it progresses and how little the human mind functions in the final few months. I find it hard to believe the senator composed some of the statements attributed to him towards the end.) The point was to shame Trump, so that the media coverage would focus on the contrast between the two men, one recklessly straying off course, the other a rock of integrity.

However moving this spectacle is, it is fundamentally sick. That this particular man, with his particular history, gets suddenly thrust into the public face and promoted as national icon even by the likes of Sanders and Ocasio-Chavez is a virtual declaration of national moral bankruptcy.

John McCain, son of an admiral, was a poor student at the U.S. Naval Academy who went on to bomb Vietnam during that war in the 1960s and 70s that—some of us recall—was a horrific, vicious ongoing atrocity that killed two million people.

I ask my amazing son, born 23 years after the end of the Vietnam War, if he understands how horrible that war was. (He knows the military family history, my dad’s involvement in Southeast Asia, my opposition from my teens). He does. Both my son and my daughter a few years older know this history and, of course, naturally revile this person.

McCain was shot down over Hanoi for the same reason you or me might shoot someone down: again, he was bombing people in their country for no good reason and with utterly no concern for “gook” lives. (This human actually stated in 2000, “I hate the gooks” responding to criticism by repeating the slur.) A Spanish psychiatrist, Fernando Barral, who met him in Hanoi in 1970, reported:

He (McCain) showed himself to be intellectually alert during the interview. From a morale point of view he is not in traumatic shock. He was able to be sarcastic, and even humorous, indicative of psychic equilibrium. From the moral and ideological point of view he showed us he is an insensitive individual without human depth, who does not show the slightest concern, who does not appear to have thought about the criminal acts he committed against a population from the absolute impunity of his airplane, and that nevertheless those people saved his life, fed him, and looked after his health and he is now healthy and strong. I believe that he has bombed densely populated places for sport. I noted that he was hardened, that he spoke of banal things as if he were at a cocktail party.

That’s your hero, CNN. That’s your hero, MSNBC. And Fox. All of you following your talking points assigned by your news editors.

The fact that Vietnam (specifically, bombing North Vietnam over 23 times, for over 10 hours) is never an issue—that it is indeed a positive, an instance of heroic “service” in which the future politician showed moral strength—should shock people. The fact that volunteering to bomb Vietnamese in an illegal, immoral war is being praised—-while Trump’s draft deferments  are mocked as reflecting lack of courage or patriotism—-should disturb conscious humans. (Shall we not honor the Luftwaffe pilots shot down on the Eastern Front in World War II? All they were doing was bombing Soviets, to conquer Russia, while serving their country, their German Fatherland, their Homeland. Patriots, right?)

McCain never saw a war he didn’t like. He regretted not winning the war in Vietnam—like some Nazi pilots no doubt regretted their failure to destroy Stalingrad in their 30,000 (heroic?) sorties over the city in 1942. He advocated U.S. intervention in any number of conflicts as a matter of imperialist entitlement; he shameless articulated American Exceptionalism—but then so did Obama and all this unified cohort rallying to glorify this thug.

After the U.S. engineered regime change in Georgia (in 2003) and sought to bring Georgia into NATO a few years later, emboldening the pathetic puppet president to provoke Russia by attaching South Ossetia, Russia briefly invaded Georgia. McCain was prepared to go to war with Russia over that. When neofascists plotted a coup in Ukraine in 2014, he had his photo taken with them. He advocated the bombing of Iran. (Remember how he with his famed sense of humor so charmingly recalled the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” altering the lyrics to “Bomb bomb bomb Iran”? Such a sense of humor! So delightful. So charming.)

This person supported and enthused about the bombings of Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Libya…and advocated it elsewhere (Nigeria?). Remember, this person’s early career after his proudly lackluster academic career was in doing what he was trained for: bombing!

The adulation of this mass-murdering unrepentant dead man is voiced by those who, just as they contrast the hero to the villain, ask whether the Vietnam War was a “noble cause” (as McCain believes)—or a “mistake” (as friend John Kerry believes)? Those are the only two options that can be publicly discussed. To say it was a colossal crime would be unpatriotically honest and doom any political campaign. But it’s easy to gather together those who agree to forgive and forget (due to a “mistake”). Gosh we all make mistakes…

But the whole point of the cult of St. John of Arizona (whom could I suppose be beatified if two miracles can be proved) is to say: He is the man, the responsible adult, the anti-Putin stalwart, the unapologetic warrior, the guy who has the balls to tell his colleagues “Give Netanyahu everything he wants.”

This is to counter-pose him to the unmanly, childlike, Putin-dupe, wimp (who also happens to give Netanyahu everything he wants, because that is standard practice for the U.S. polity—although his allegiance to Israel in itself does not insure his continued presidency).

The contradictions within the polity are obviously mounting; the mourning rituals for this praised monster show the division. The question posed is: Which do you prefer? McCain’s beautiful patriotic blood-smeared legacy? Or Trump’s continued status as the un-impeached U.S. president surrounded by semi-autonomous generals itching to bomb Iran?

My 32-year-old daughter, who happens to be a member of the Democratic Socialist Party and conditional Bernie supporter, responded to Ocasio-Chavez’s tribute to the happy bomber with an emphatic “Ugh.” May all her comrades confront Alexandria on this issue!

An idiot on CNN just now concludes his program: “As John McCain always reminded us, freedom is worth fighting for.” The day remains devoted at McCain, and his wonderful legacy, and to a new (tendentiously presented) poll showing Trump’s support declining. No mention of the heroic reconquest of more and more Syrian territory by the Syrian national forces, or apparent U.S. plans to support a false-flag operation in Idlib province involving chemical weapons that might justify another U.S. strike.

A strike that should not be supported by anybody in this country with any moral sense and critical reasoning capacity. But one that would be supported by Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb St. John, surely. Where, as a people—-if , in fact, we are a people—heading?

Iran, Sanctions and Moral Authority

For over two decades, US neo-cons have been pushing for an attack on Iran on the pretext that it was developing nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been a key player in this effort, exerting as much pressure as he and the Israeli lobby can for an US attack. Netanyahu also often threatens that Israel might attack Iran. Note these are the same people who pushed for the illegal US attack on Iraq based on the bogus claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Fortunately, the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concluded that Iran did not have an active nuclear weapons program. This finding undercut President George W. Bush’s campaign for an attack. Furthermore, this NIE conclusion opened the door for diplomacy.

In 2015, President Obama, despite intense opposition by Netanyahu and many of his ardent supporters in Congress, committed the US to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This deal among Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US was designed to prevent the creation of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Key to achieving this goal was the intrusive monitoring of Iranian facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even many former Israeli military and intelligence officials supported this agreement. All the nations involved in the JCPOA, including the US, agree with the IAEA that Iran is fully complying with the accord.

However, in May 2018 President Trump violated the agreement by withdrawing the US and re-implementing harsh US sanctions against Iran. This violation did tremendous damage to US credibility and made future negotiations more difficult since the US clearly cannot be trusted to honor its commitments.

Following Trump’s decision, the other participants initially said they would still honor their word. However, since then, the US has been attempting to coerce Britain, France and Germany as well as other nations to go along with the sanctions by threatening them with the choice between trade with Iran or with the US. The goals of these sanctions, economic warfare, seem to be the destruction of the Iranian economy that will inflict sufficient hardship on the Iranian people and lead to the overthrow of their government. Dream on.

In addition, Secretary of State Pompeo recently announced the formation of the Iran Action Group to coordinate US policy towards Iran. Its focus is on the 12 unrealistic demands Pompeo made of Iran in his speech in May. That speech was not diplomacy but, essentially, a demand for Iran to surrender its sovereignty. If these sanctions, economic warfare, don’t work, there’s always the military option.

It appears as if the Trump administration did not learn anything from the disaster President George W. Bush created in Iraq and it subsequently spread to the entire Middle East. Trump is following the same script that the Bush administration used and is risking creating an even larger catastrophe than Iraq possibly leading to a confrontation with Russia.

Unfortunately, the US has a long record of imposing sanctions on other nations. It claims that it uses sanctions to support democracy and human rights or in fighting terrorism. These stated reasons are often simply a palliative cover for advancing the interests of US banks and other corporations. Despite what a propagandized US public believes, an examination of the US record of human rights violations and war crimes shows that the US lacks the moral legitimacy to judge any other nation.

For example, the US was founded based on two original sins – the genocide of American Indians and slavery of Blacks. Both these groups were and still are denied fair and just treatment. In the international arena, the US has overthrown or supported the overthrow of governments in this hemisphere and elsewhere. A few better known examples of the many, many US staged or supported coups are Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, and Ukraine in 2014. Two major US war crimes can be included — millions killed in and the devastation of Vietnam and Iraq.

In addition, the US is the country: 1) most widely viewed as a threat to world peace in 2013; 2) that besides using torture carries out assassinations by drones; and 3) that is a long-term violator of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That the US thinks it has the moral credibility to judge other nations demonstrates its incredible hubris. Shamefully other Western nations go along with this insanity.

Is Israel’s Hidden Hand behind the Attacks on Jeremy Corbyn?

Has Israel been covertly fueling claims of an “anti-Semitism crisis” purportedly plaguing Britain’s Labour Party since it elected a new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, three years ago?

That question is raised by a new freedom of information request submitted this week by a group of Israeli lawyers, academics and human rights activists.

They suspect that two Israeli government departments – the ministries of foreign affairs and strategic affairs – have been helping to undermine Corbyn as part of a wider campaign by the Israeli government to harm Palestinian solidarity activists.

The Israeli foreign affairs ministry employs staff of the country’s embassy in London, which was at the centre of suspicions of meddling in UK politics provoked by an Al Jazeera undercover documentary aired last year.

Eitay Mack, an Israeli lawyer, has written to both ministries requesting information on Israel’s contacts and possible funding of anti-Corbyn activities by pro-Israel lobby groups in the UK. The letter specifically seeks information on possible ties with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Community Security Trust, Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel.

It also requests information on any efforts by the two Israeli ministries and the Israeli embassy to influence journalists and civil society groups in the UK.

The move follows an outburst by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on social media last week, in which he accused Corbyn of laying a wreath at a cemetery in Tunisia in 2014 for a Palestinian faction that took hostage Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Eleven Israelis were killed during a bungled rescue bid by the German security services.

Netanyahu’s high-profile intervention followed days of similar claims in the British media against Corbyn.

The Labour leader has insisted that the wreath was laid for Palestinian and Tunisian victims of an Israeli attack on Tunisian soil in 1985, an operation that was denounced by most Western leaders at the time.

‘War against the Jews’

The suggestion that Corbyn supported Palestinian terrorists is an escalation in long-running allegations of a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism in the Labour Party since he became leader. Such claims have been rife despite statistics showing that the party has less of a problem with anti-Semitism than both the ruling Conservative Party and British society generally.

While initial charges of anti-Semitism in the party targeted mostly Corbyn supporters, the focus has increasingly shifted to the Labour leader himself.

This week Labour MP Joan Ryan, who heads Labour Friends of Israel, wrote a commentary in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper directly blaming Corbyn for the party’s so-called anti-Semitism crisis. She said the party’s problems had grown out of his “past associations with ‘Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites’”.

Fellow MP Margaret Hodge had earlier called Corbyn “an anti-Semite and racist”.

Marie Van Der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, appeared this week on i24, an Israeli English-language channel, to berate Corbyn: “It’s like Jeremy Corbyn has declared war on the Jews. … We as the Jewish community are spending our time fighting the leader of the opposition.”

A recently created British group, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, solicited testimony this week from British Jews in a case it has submitted to the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission alleging “institutional racism” in the Labour Party.

Meddling by Israel

Netanyahu’s tweet is far from the first example of public meddling by Israel in Labour politics. Last December Gilad Erdan, Israel’s strategic affairs minister and a close ally of Netanyahu’s, all but accused Corbyn of being an anti-Semite.

He was reported saying: “We recognise and we see that there are anti-Semitic views in many of the leadership of the current Labour Party.”

An Israeli app developed by Israel’s strategic affairs ministry was reportedly used this month to amplify erroneous criticism of Corbyn on social media for making supposedly anti-Semitic comments at a 2010 meeting.

A “mission” issued to Israel lobbyists urged them to spread claims that Corbyn had compared Israel to Nazi Germany, based on a misreading of a report in Britain’s Times newspaper. In fact, Corbyn had attended an anti-racism event at which a Holocaust survivor, Hajo Meyer, made such a comparison.

But while these interventions have angered Corbyn and many of his supporters, there are suggestions that, behind the scenes, Israel has been playing a much larger role in helping to stoke the party’s “anti-Semitism crisis,” as the freedom of information request suggests.

Dirty tricks unit

The main source of Labour’s current woes looks to be Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, which has been headed by Erdan since 2015.

It was set up in 2006, mainly as a vehicle to prevent far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman from breaking up the governing coalition. Lieberman and his successors used it chiefly as a platform from which to stoke concerns either about Iran building a nuclear bomb or about a supposed problem of “Palestinian incitement”.

But more recently, Netanyahu has encouraged the ministry to redirect its energies towards what he terms “delegitimisation”, chiefly in response to the growing visibility of the international BDS movement, which promotes boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

As a result, the strategic affairs ministry has moved from being a relative backwater inside the government to playing a starring role in Israel’s struggle on the world stage against “enemies” damaging its image.

It is hard to determine precisely what the ministry is up to, so sensitive is its work. Even the names of many of its staff are classified.

In the summer of 2016, it advertised a position for an intelligence operative to head a “tarnishing” – or dirty tricks – unit. Its role, according to Amir Oren, a commentator on Israel’s security services, was to “establish, hire or tempt nonprofit organisations or groups not associated with Israel, in order to disseminate the sullying material”.

The ministry now has an annual budget of tens of millions of dollars, and there are clues aplenty that it is playing a leading, if covert, role in shaping public perceptions of Israel around the world.

‘Civil targeted eliminations’

Erdan’s number two, Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former military intelligence officer, told a parliamentary committee in 2016 that most of the ministry’s activities had to stay “under the radar” because of “sensitivities”.

“I can’t even explain in an open forum why there are such sensitivities,” she said.

The ministry’s job, she added, was to build a “community of warriors”.

Yossi Melman, a veteran Israeli analyst who has spent decades covering Israel’s intelligence services, reported at the time that the ministry was receiving help from a “special unit” of military intelligence to run “black ops” that might include “defamation campaigns” and “harassment”.

The ministry’s underhand methods were alluded to two years ago, at a conference in Israel against BDS. A colleague of Erdan’s, intelligence minister Yisrael Katz, called for “targeted civil eliminations” of high-profile proponents of BDS.

That could be achieved, he suggested, by drawing on information provided by the Israeli intelligence services he oversees.

Katz used language intended to play on the term “targeted assassinations” – how Israel describes its extrajudicial execution of Palestinian leaders. Katz appeared to be calling for “black ops” designed to character-assassinate Israel’s leading critics.

Plan to marginalise critics

If Israel regards it as necessary to go to such lengths against BDS activists, it seems reasonable to ask: what is it prepared to do to undermine Corbyn, who heads the largest political party in Europe and was in sight of winning last year’s British general election?

If Corbyn eventually becomes prime minister, he would be the first European leader to prioritise the cause of justice for Palestinians over Israel’s continuing occupation.

Clues are provided in a report written last year by two prominent pro-Israel lobby groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the Reut Institute, in collaboration with Israeli government “experts” and endorsed by the ministry of strategic affairs. The report was leaked to the Electronic Intifada website.

It warned that solidarity with Palestinians had “migrated into mainstream left-wing parties in Europe”. The damage could be curtailed, according to the report, by “driving a wedge” between what it termed “harsh critics” and “soft critics” of Israel.

It proposed “professionalising” the existing network of pro-Israel lobby groups and improving “information-gathering” to target Palestinian solidarity activists – or what it called a “delegitimisation network”. Such work needed to be done “covertly” and “uncompromisingly,” the authors stated.

Harsh critics, the report concluded, could then be “marginalised to a point where it [their criticism] is considered socially inappropriate”.

The report praises the Israeli ministry of strategic affairs for having “inserted a great degree of sophistication and creativity to the pro-Israel network”.

Vaknin-Gil, the ministry’s director-general, is quoted in the document as endorsing its findings: “I am glad to see that we share a very similar point of view regarding the challenge and desired strategy.”

‘Sowing divisions’

Whether connected or not, much of the report reads like a playbook for what Israel lobbyists have been doing to promote the idea of an “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour Party. The issue has indeed driven a wedge between “harsh critics” of Israel – Corbyn and his supporters – and much of the rest of the party bureaucracy.

Asa Winstanley, an investigative journalist who has extensively covered the claims of an anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party for the Electronic Intifada, argues that Corbyn is viewed by Israel as effectively the “figurehead of the delegitimisation network”.

“They hope that by taking action against him, they can decapitate what they see as the most powerful figure in this network,” he told Middle East Eye. “By making an example of him, they can sow division, spread fear and suppress speech on Israel.”

Certainly, Israel’s fingerprints look to be present in the current claims of an anti-Semitism crisis supposedly revolving around Corbyn.

Active interference by the Israeli government in British politics was highlighted last year in a four-part undercover documentary produced by the Qatari channel Al Jazeera. It secretly filmed the activities of an operative in Israel’s embassy in London named Shai Masot.

The Al Jazeera investigation provoked numerous complaints that it breached broadcasting rules relating to anti-Semitism, bias, unfair editing and invasions of privacy. However, Ofcom, the British broadcasting regulator, cleared the programme of all charges.

What little coverage there was of the documentary in the British media focused on Masot’s meetings with pro-Israel activists in the Conservative Party. Masot is shown plotting to “take down” a junior foreign office minister, Alan Duncan, who was seen by Israel as too sympathetic to the Palestinians.

But the documentary itself concentrated on Masot’s much more extensive meetings with pro-Israel activists in the Labour Party. One of his main efforts was to establish a front organisation, a youth wing of Labour Friends of Israel that would have been opposed to Corbyn.

Complaints of bias

Masot was also filmed collaborating with two key Israel lobby groups within the party, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Labour Friends of Israel – membership of the latter includes dozens of Labour MPs.

Winstanley, of the Electronic Intifada, observed that the JLM had in recent years become a largely defunct organisation until it was revived in February 2016 – just as claims of an anti-Semitism crisis in Labour took off.

Those who have tried to investigate how the JLM expanded its operations so rapidly say its funding sources are “completely opaque”.

Shortly after the JLM became more active, a new director, Ella Rose, was appointed. It was Winstanley who revealed that Rose had been recruited straight from Israel’s London embassy, where she worked as its public affairs officer.

Although the JLM has argued it represents the diversity of Jewish opinion in the Labour Party, that has come under challenge since the Al Jazeera investigation. A new faction, Jewish Voice for Labour, has since been established with a declared intention to show that many of the party’s Jewish members are supportive of Corbyn.

“It looks suspiciously like the JLM has become a proxy of the Israeli state,” Winstanley said.

“It is not an organic grassroots movement, as it likes to claim. And it is no accident that it has been the driving force behind the claims of an anti-Semitism problem under Corbyn.”

Both Ella Rose and the JLM were contacted for comment on these allegations, but neither had responded at the time of publication.

Turf war in London

Who was Masot working for? Perhaps not surprisingly, Israeli officials and the Israeli media have downplayed his significance, portraying him as a minor player at the embassy who pursued a rogue, personal policy.

That view appeared to be accepted by the British government and the British media, which allowed the controversy to quickly die down after Masot was sent back to Israel.

But there is considerable evidence that Masot’s collaborative work with British pro-Israel organisations against Corbyn was being carried out at the direction of the Israeli ministry of strategic affairs.

In September 2016, as Al Jazeera was filming its undercover documentary, Haaretz reported on a growing turf war in Britain between the Israeli foreign ministry and the ministry of strategic affairs, the two groups targeted in the freedom of information request.

In a leaked cable sent to the Israeli foreign ministry and obtained by Haaretz, its senior staff at the London embassy complain that Erdan’s strategic affairs ministry is “operating” British Jewish organisations behind the embassy’s back.

The embassy’s apparent concern is that such operations are likely to break British law and could have “dangerous” repercussions for the embassy’s work. “Britain isn’t the US!” the cable states.

Haaretz explained the concern behind the cable: “The potential legal problem stems from the fact that most British Jewish organisations are defined as charities. As such, they are barred from activity of a political nature unless it is directly connected to the organisation’s charitable goals.”

According to the Haaretz report, strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan had visited Britain two weeks earlier to try to iron out differences. His advisers in the UK had promised “not to pose as the embassy,” though the cable identifies an incident shortly afterwards when one such adviser did so.

Was Masot another of Erdan’s “advisers” in the UK, operating out of the embassy? His covert operations – caught on camera – are of precisely the kind his own embassy was complaining about.

At one point during Al Jazeera’s many weeks of secret filming, Masot dramatically changes direction. He announces to the undercover reporter that he can no longer be directly involved in creating a Labour youth movement and must remain in the background. He is seen winking at the reporter.

His sudden change of tune appears to coincide with the spat between the embassy staff and the strategic affairs ministry.

Problems over anti-Semitism

One Labour activist, who did not wish to be named given the purges taking place inside the party, told MEE: “Corbyn is up against an unholy, ad hoc alliance of right-wing MPs in both the Labour and Tory parties, the Israeli government and its lobbyists, the British security services and the media.

“They have settled on anti-Semitism as the best weapon to use against him because it is such a taboo issue. It’s like quicksand. The more he struggles against the claims, the more he gets sucked down into the mire.”

That has been all too evident in months of wrangling inside Labour about how to define anti-Semitism. Under pressure from Corbyn’s critics, the party approved a new code of conduct in July based on a highly controversial “working definition” drafted in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The adoption of the IHRA definition, however, did nothing to placate Jewish leadership organisations, such as the Board of Deputies, or the JLM. They objected because Labour’s code of conduct excluded four of the IHRA’s 11 possible “examples” of anti-Semitism – the main ones that relate to Israel.

Labour officials feared that including them would severely curtail the party’s ability to criticise Israel.

Experts agree. David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Birkbeck College, London University, has warned of “a danger that the overall effect will place the onus on Israel’s critics to demonstrate they are not anti-Semitic”.

Under pressure from pro-Israel groups, however, Labour looks close to adopting all of the IHRA examples.

Creating a new definition

Israel’s fingerprints are evident in these recent efforts to redefine anti-Semitism in a way that moves the centre of gravity away from hatred of Jews towards criticism of Israel.

That shift inevitably ensnares any political leader who, like Corbyn, wishes to express solidarity with Palestinians.

The IHRA’s definition is itself based on one proposed in 2004 – and discarded after much criticism – by a now-defunct European Union body called the Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).

That definition was derived from the work of Israeli academics such as Dina Porat, who was part of an Israeli foreign ministry delegation to an anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. At that time Israel was facing a barrage of criticism for its use of lethal force to put down a Palestinian uprising.

Nathan Thrall, an analyst in Jerusalem with the International Crisis Group, has noted that the aim of Porat and others was to create “a new definition of anti-Semitism that would equate criticisms of Israel with hatred of Jews”. They were largely responsible for the way the EUMC’s “working definition” was formulated.

But Israel and its lobbyists were frustrated by the definition’s failure to gain traction. That began to change in 2015.

A conference in Jerusalem sponsored by the Israeli foreign affairs ministry, the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, recommended that year that the working definition of anti-Semitism “be reintroduced into the international arena with the aim of giving it legal status”.

The task was taken up by a senior pro-Israel lobbyist, Mark Weitzman, of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre. As chair of the IHRA’s committee on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, he lobbied on behalf of the discredited EUMC definition. The IHRA formally adopted it in 2016.

In a new book, Cracks in the Wall, analyst Ben White points to an Israeli government document that approved the change of emphasis in the definition. The document states: “The main innovation in the working definition is that it also includes expressions of anti-Semitism directed against the state of Israel, when it is perceived as a Jewish collective.”

‘Open season’ on Corbyn

A tool originally intended to suppress student debates about Israel and block Israel anti-apartheid week on campus has now been successfully pressed into service against the leader of a major British political party.

According to Winstanley, if the full IHRA definition is approved by Labour: “It will be open season on Corbyn and his supporters in the party.”

He added that the strategy outlined in the report by the Anti-Defamation League and the Reut Institute was being closely followed. “Well-tested disinformation strategies are being used to isolate Corbyn from his base of support,” he said.

The Israeli academics and lawyers seeking access to information on the activities of the two Israeli ministries – foreign affairs and strategic affairs – believe that official documents could help to expose a role played by Israel in fomenting the current problems facing Corbyn.

The foreign ministry has demonstrably been at the centre of efforts to expand the definition of anti-Semitism from hatred of Jews into a catch-all for criticism of Israel – a definition that Corbyn and his supporters are bound to fall foul of.

The role of the strategic affairs ministry, given its covert nature, is harder to assess. But the existence of a “dirty tricks” unit points towards a strategy to vilify and isolate high-profile Palestinian solidarity activists such as Corbyn.

There is evidence that, in cooperation with the foreign affairs ministry, it has run at least one agent out of the London embassy assisting and possibly directing pro-Israel lobby groups to amplify a supposed anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour party.

Given his long track record of being at the forefront of anti-racism initiatives that have emphasised Palestinian solidarity and criticism of Israel, Corbyn may find there is an endless supply of readily mined “scandals” the two ministries can keep digging up.

• First published in Middle East Eye

Russiagate conceals Israeli Meddling and Coming War with Iran

Since taking office a year-and-a-half ago, the allegations of ‘collusion’ between U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign and the Russian government have buried nearly all other substantive issues in regards to his administration. This hasn’t been limited to marginalizing reportage of destructive domestic legislation or the escalation of endless war abroad. It has successfully diverted attention away from other foreign governments shaping U.S. policy and elections. The media has even downplayed Trump’s sycophantic behavior towards other heads of state in favor of their pathological obsession with his perceived obsequiousness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is largely because “Russiagate” is not based on facts or evidence, but a psychological operation conducted by the intelligence community through mass media disseminating suggestive and pre-selected disinformation about Trump and Russia. Not only has it enabled the national security state and political establishment to neutralize the anti-Trump “resistance”, it has become a smokescreen for the ‘collusion’ between Trump and the state of Israel which continues to guide his decision making.

One month after his shocking victory and before his inauguration, one of the top members of Trump’s transition team, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, directly contacted members of the UN Security Council and urged them to block a draft resolution that condemned illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. General Flynn corresponded with diplomats from several foreign governments (including Russia) to learn their stance on the resolution and tried to persuade them to vote against it. Flynn would later plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his discussions with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. The Israeli government candidly admitted to seeking help from Trump’s transition team and it was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who put Flynn up to the task. However, it is not unusual for foreign officials to communicate with an incoming administration and Flynn lobbied envoys from other nations in addition to Russia.

None of this prevented the media from neglecting the substance of Flynn’s guilty plea to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which is that he likely gave the FBI incomplete information about his communication with Kislyak only because the Trump campaign was already under inquiry for ties to the Kremlin. In a mindless frenzy, the media have presumed this correspondence between Flynn and a Russian official was evidence of a diabolical plot between Trump and the Kremlin that occurred during the election. The fact that the transition team did collude with Israel or the actual content of his talks with the Russian Ambassador was reduced to a footnote. It is not that the double-dealing between Israel and Trump has been unreported, but rather it is normalized and deemed completely acceptable because relations with Israel are unquestionable.

If there is a foreign country which routinely interferes in U.S. elections , it is the state of Israel through its immeasurably powerful lobbying groups. Its most influential organization is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is not forced to register as a foreign agent as its tentacles permeate into all aspects of the democratic process. AIPAC closely monitors American elections at every level, blackmailing the support of the entire U.S. congress to deliberately ignore Israel’s reckless violation of international law, its ever-expanding illegal occupation of Palestine, and war crimes in Gaza and Lebanon. For the same reason, the media continues to whitewash the IDF’s ongoing massacres on the Gaza strip, while the mantra of “Putin kills journalists!” is chanted as Israeli snipers murder Palestinian journalists on camera wearing “PRESS” across their chests. In turn, the Zionist lobby manipulates the bias of major news outlets and infiltrates the rosters of the Washington elite think tank community. Israel disrupts U.S. elections and impacts the media far and away more than any other country, but even mentioning this fact can relegate a journalist to marginal publications or risk being publicly smeared as an anti-Semite.

Recently, it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr. and Blackwater founder Erik Prince had met with an Israeli private intelligence firm called PSY-Group offering social media manipulation services in August 2016. Most of the mainstream media coverage minimized the significance that the firm is an Israel-based company, whose ominous motto is to “Shape Reality.” Instead, coverage of the Mueller probe has focused exclusively on the Russian-based Internet Research Agency indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” The premise that an internet marketing and clickbait scam company owned by a ex-hot dog salesman could have swayed the election of the most powerful country in human history simply by sharing memes and buying Facebook ads through phony social media accounts is beyond comprehension.

While blame for election interference has been squarely placed on Russia, Israel has managed to escape free from any scrutiny despite the disclosures about PSY-Group. Meanwhile the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, founded by Breitbart CEO/White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon and pro-Trump billionaire Robert Mercer, became the center of controversy when it was exposed for illegally mining the data of millions of Facebook users as it worked for the Trump and Brexit campaigns. Yet according to a whistleblower, the firm had also employed the Israeli private security firm Black Cube to hack an election in Nigeria. Black Cube is the same agency formed by ex-Mossad agents implicated in the Harvey Weinstein scandal that sparked the #MeToo movement. Why has this revelation has aroused little to no interest from the Mueller team or the media?

If an analysis were based on Trump’s actual policies, there would be no clearer front-runner for impact on his governance than Israel. It goes beyond his plans for a border wall being modeled after the West Bank and Egypt-Sinai barrier fences. As President, he has surpassed each of his predecessors in out-and-out support for the Jewish state and hostility towards the Palestinians. The controversial decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, approved by 90 out of 100 Senators, has irreparably damaged any remaining belief that the U.S. was ever a neutral peace broker in seventy years of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The move to recognize Jerusalem as the ‘undivided’ capital of Israel has been his most bipartisan measure — coastal elite liberals and the Bible Belt may like to appear worlds apart, but on fanatical support for Israel they too are ‘undivided.’ The Israel lobby has long held sway over both major parties and it was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who led the applause of Trump’s Jerusalem decision, the same fanatical Zionist who has sought to make boycotting of Israel a felony crime.

Israel has also determined much of Trump’s other foreign policy moves, especially those towards its sworn enemy — the Islamic Republic of Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adamantly opposed the nuclear deal framework even though spy cables revealed that his own intelligence agency contradicts his claims about their nuclear capabilities. The motive for Iran to agree to the nuclear deal was primarily to alleviate the damage done from decades of economic sanctions by the U.S. The crisis itself is engineered — in actuality Iran long ago ended its nuclear program but its wounded economy forced it into accepting the terms of the now abandoned Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As if this weren’t enough, a recently leaked clip of Benjamin Netanyahu bragging about convincing Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal was made public but was buried in the headlines during the Helsinki summit with Putin. This collusion didn’t bother Democrats one bit as both parties just unanimously approved a $38-billion aid package to Israel for the next ten years.

It was Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State delisted the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (People’s Mujahideen of Iran) from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations in 2012. The militant organization (abbreviated MEK, MKO or PMOI) is a cult-like group in exile which advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian government and was officially designated a terror group for 15 years by the U.S. It was removed by the Obama administration after aggressive lobbying by its political wing based in France, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Two of Trump’s top associates — war hawk National Security Advisor John Bolton and his lawyer representing him in the Mueller probe, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — have repeatedly met with the MEK in recent years giving highly paid speeches at their events advocating regime change in Iran.

Founded in 1965, the MEK committed terrorist attacks throughout the Shah’s reign which killed thousands of Iranians and also included several plots that took the lives of U.S. personnel. The group today claims the attacks which killed Americans were committed by a breakaway Marxist faction of the group during a period when the Shah imprisoned its founder, Massoud Rajavi, but the evidence of its violent past (and present) is overwhelming. This is yet another instance of the U.S. re-branding terrorism when it suits its interests while simultaneously conducting a vaguely defined war against it. The decision to remove the group from the blacklist was a politicized move as the criminal activity of the MEK has never ceased. Another motive has been the group’s close ties with Israel, whose intelligence agency Mossad has trained MEK operatives in committing assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists.

In 1979, the MEK participated in the Islamic Revolution which overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah. Persian royalty had been in power for more than 2,000 years, but the Pahlavi monarchy had been re-installed as a U.S. puppet following a CIA/MI6 coup d’etat in 1953 green-lighted by Winston Churchill and the Eisenhower administration. The illegal putsch ousted the first ever democratically-elected President of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had nationalized the Iranian oil industry and thrown out foreign oil companies like the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later known as British Petroleum (BP), recently known for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Shah ruled brutally over Iran serving Western oil interests until the Islamic Revolution which was a huge loss for U.S. hegemony that it has sought to regain ever since. After the popular uprising, Ayatollah Khomeini consolidated power and pushed out the leftist participants, liberal elements and rival Islamists like the MEK. The group was then outlawed and went into exile after a failed insurrection.

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein (then supported by the U.S.) allowed the MEK to operate in Iraq, providing weapons and funding to carry out terrorist attacks against Tehran. When the U.S. invaded Baghdad in 2003, the remaining MEK and its nearly 3,000 Iranian exiles were given protection status by the Bush administration in U.S. military facilities. Massoud Rajavi disappeared during the U.S. invasion and to this day his whereabouts are still unknown. His wife, Maryam Rajavi, has led the group since and continued the cult of personality that existed around her husband’s leadership, purging critics and assassinating defectors while rebranding the terror cult as a ‘pro-democracy’ organization. The new Iraqi government began to develop close relations with Iran during the period which saw the rise of ISIS and the MEK were suddenly no longer welcome. Iraqi security forces raided their base in Camp Ashraf killing dozens of MEK members, a sign of waning U.S. influence in post-Saddam Iraq. The Rajavi cult have since been evicted and relocated to Albania and NATO-occupied Kosovo where the group has strong Islamist supporters. In Albania’s capitol Tirana, the exiled opposition group is currently based in a compound known as ‘Ashraf 3’.

The group is also known by the CIA to have aligned itself with ISIS against the Iranian-backed government in Iraq that expelled them. ISIS and MEK even likely coordinated terrorist attacks in June 2017 in Iran just as the Trump administration increased the economic sanctions. In addition to Ashraf 3, the MEK is allegedly being trained at the NATO military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, possibly for a regime change operation in Iran. Concurrently, Trump is reported to be preparing to strike Tehran as early as this month according to the Australian Geo-Spatial Intelligence Organization, just as he tweeted threats at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The decision to use Kosovo as a base of operations for the MEK is consistent with the protectorate’s history — it was established after seceding from Serbia when the Clinton administration supported another de-listed Islamist terror group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), in NATO’s bombing campaign against Belgrade in 1999.

Trump rhetorically has been a harsh critic of NATO and the media has used this as further ‘evidence’ of his secret allegiance to the Kremlin, but an examination of his actual courses of action show the contrary. NATO has already expanded to include Montenegro in its membership and Trump is sending arms to Ukraine in its war against pro-Russian separatists. The National Security Council added an additional $200 million worth in support immediately following the Helsinki summit in a move the Obama administration had opted against. Even a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a NATO-funded think tank, assessed that Trump has taken a very hard-line stance on Russia despite the photo opportunity with Putin. After all, the summit did not result in the lifting of sanctions or the recognition of Crimea as Russian territory as some predicted. Apart from his rhetoric, what policies has Trump enacted that appease Russian interests?

If his statements and policies diverge, what remains a mystery is the intention behind his dialogue with Russia. Many speculate it is an effort to realign Washington with Moscow to halt the ascent of China while driving a wedge between Iran and Russia. While Putin may have rebuilt the Russian economy, the claim that Moscow has become a rival ‘superpower’ is greatly exaggerated — Washington’s main geopolitical challenger is China. Obama’s “pivot to Asia” turned out to be a catastrophic failure, as did the attempt to oust Assad in Syria and desperation move to covertly back the failed Gülenist coup in Turkey. Regardless of whether Trump’s motive is to reset U.S. foreign policy or the unlikely possibility Putin would ever agree to an alliance against China, the imaginary Russian collusion narrative is subterfuge which benefits Israel. It is either inadvertently or purposefully concealing the principal guilty party in meddling in the U.S. election — Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel.

The 2016 election was a contest over how best to arrange the deck chairs of the Titanic — either way the empire has overplayed its hand and the ship was going down no matter the outcome. We are told that American voters, specifically the “white working class”, were too stupid to think for themselves. They did not follow orders from the “polls” predicting a 90% chance of a Clinton victory, which really were belittling instructions as to how to vote. We are led to believe they chose to elect a populist demagogue instead of Wall Street’s darling because they were brainwashed by ‘Russian interference’, not the collusion on the part of the DNC to rig the primaries in Clinton’s favor. Apparently, this same logic does not apply when Israel interrupts US elections — their interference doesn’t rob Americans of their agency in the voting process.

Israel is also directly supporting the ascendancy of the far right in the West that the same liberals have raised the alarm about while pointing the finger at Moscow. In the EU, Israel has close ties with Hungary’s anti-Semitic President Viktor Orban and the other nations of the Visegrád 4 Group in the grip of anti-immigrant hostility. It is even providing military aid to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine fighting pro-Russian separatists. The links between the U.S. far right and Zionist organizations is also no secret, with Steve Bannon having spoken at ZOA galas despite being an alleged anti-Semite. Israel controversially just passed the “Jewish nation-state” law that mirrors Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Race laws, inscribing ethno-nationalism and the complete exclusion of Arabs into its very definition as a state. At the same time, the definition of anti-Semitism has been conflated into being synonymous with criticism of Israel, which is the exact sentiment that is causing the media to disregard Trump’s collusion with Netanyahu in favor of Russiagate. It is also the same schizophrenic logic that enables Israel to align itself with the far right.

If history is any indicator, when an empire is in decline it will seek out scapegoats to place blame for its downfall. It is no coincidence that while the far right expresses hostility towards immigration and the demise of the nation state by globalism, the political establishment is inculpating the rising power of Russia for the end of America’s full spectrum dominance. When all is said and done, the Democratic Party will only have itself to blame for its utterly failed strategy of atomizing the working class on cultural issues while neglecting to address the collapsing global economy. We can only hope that its defeat will open new political space for those who wish to confront it.

Uri Avnery, Israeli Activist for a Palestinian State, Dead at 94

Uri Avnery, a self-confessed former “Jewish terrorist” who went on to become Israel’s best-known peace activist, died in Tel Aviv on Monday, following a stroke. He was 94.

As one of Israel’s founding generation, Avnery was able to gain the ear of prime ministers, even while he spent decades editing an anti-establishment magazine that was a thorn in their side.

He came to wider attention in 1982 as the first Israeli to meet Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. At the time, Arafat and the PLO were reviled in Israel and much of the west as terrorists.

Famously, Avnery smuggled himself past the Israeli army’s siege lines around Beirut to reach Arafat. The pair were reported to have maintained close ties until the Palestinian leader’s much speculated upon death in 2004.

Avnery founded Israel’s only significant – if small – peace movement, Gush Shalom, in 1993.

He and his followers tried to build political pressure in Israel and abroad, seeking to convert the lip service paid to a two-state solution in the Oslo peace process into a concrete Palestinian state.

A harsh critic of Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government until the end, Avnery filed his final weekly column two weeks ago, lambasting Israel’s new Nation-State Basic Law as “semi-fascist”.

For Israel’s currently besieged peace bloc, Avnery’s passing is a significant blow.

Despite tributes from Israeli opposition politicians on Monday, his voice had long ago become marginalised at home. He was the last major public figure still visibly fighting to bring about a two-state solution.

His unyielding positions in support of an Oslo-style peace had begun to appear to many on the Israeli right and left as obsolete, especially after Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House. Since then, Israel has barely veiled its intention to annex parts of the West Bank, destroying any hope of a Palestinian state.

Avnery publicly rejected a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a shared, single state for Israelis and Palestinians.

He also opposed a general boycott of Israel, as advocated by the growing international BDS movement. Gush Shalom, however, did support boycotts restricted to the settlements.

Avnery arrived in what was then British-ruled Palestine in 1933, aged 10, emigrating with his family from Germany as the Nazis rose to power.

At 15, he was an young recruit to the Irgun, an underground Jewish militia the British classified as a terrorist organisation. But increasingly disenchanted with its attacks on Palestinian civilians, he quit a few years later.

Avnery fought with the Haganah – later to become the Israel Defence Forces – during the 1948 war that founded a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland. In later books and articles, he referred to his unit’s role in committing war crimes against Palestinians in the Negev region, in modern Israel’s south.

During the fighting, he was seriously wounded. His dispatches from the battlefront, later compiled as a book, briefly made him a national hero.

But his popularity soon waned. In his memoir, he described his convalescence as a period of dramatic change in his thinking: “The war totally convinced me there is a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them.”

It was then, he added, that he became a committed advocate for a Palestinian state.

Through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Avnery was best known for publishing his weekly magazine Haolam Hazeh (This World). Its mix of ground-breaking investigations, political muckraking and dissident opinion made him many enemies in the ruling Labour party.

The head of Israel’s domestic intelligence service of the time described Avnery as “Government Enemy No 1”. The magazine’s offices were bombed several times, and Avnery was seriously assaulted. The publication only closed when Avnery started Gush Shalom. The movement on Monday described him as “a far-seeing visionary who pointed to a way which others failed to see”.

Though a dissident figure, Avnery had been popular enough on the left to launch a separate political career, winning seats in Israel’s parliament in the 1965, 1969 and 1977 elections.

When he made a speech in the parliament to relinquish his seat in 1981, he caused an uproar by being the first legislator to wave the Palestinian and Israeli flags alongside each other.

But it was in 1982 that he established a reputation outside Israel. He was smuggled into Beirut to meet Arafat, as Israeli forces encircled the city in an effort to remove the PLO from Lebanon.

It later emerged that Israeli soldiers had been tracking Avnery in a bid to locate Arafat’s hideout and assassinate him. Avnery’s Palestinian escorts managed to elude them.

In his columns, Avnery often credited himself with using the trust he built with Arafat over the next few years to persuade the Palestinian leader to change the PLO’s political direction.

In 1988 Arafat renounced a long-standing Palestinian commitment to a single secular democratic state in historic Palestine, and formally accepted the idea of partitioning the territory into two states.

It was a concession that paved the way to the Oslo accords, signed between Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in 1993.

That same year Avnery founded Gush Shalom, or “peace bloc”, to build on that momentum as Arafat and the PLO were allowed to return to parts of the occupied territories from which Israel had withdrawn.

As well as believing in the right of Palestinians to freedom, Avnery argued strongly that Israel’s Jewish demographic majority would be under threat unless it separated from the large Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

There were suspicions that some of Arafat’s more misguided assumptions about Israeli society – especially regarding the strength of the peace bloc and the public’s receptivity to the Oslo process – were informed by Avnery.

When the peace process effectively collapsed with the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000 and the eruption of a Palestinian uprising, Avnery again found his message of reconciliation out of favour in Israel.

But in his late seventies, he found a new international audience, as his translated columns were disseminated online.

Avnery hoped through his writings to resurrect what was left of his political legacy. But more often his columns were sought out for the light he could shed on current controversies, drawing on insights gained from his knowledge of historical episodes now largely overlooked.

At the height of the second intifada, Avnery and Gush Shalom were often alongside Palestinians protesting against abuses by the Israeli military or the settlers. They also demonstrated to stop Israel’s building of a “separation barrier” that subsequently ate up large chunks of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

In 2003, Avnery joined Arafat in his besieged presidential compound in Ramallah, serving as a “human shield” – to foil an expected Israeli assassination attempt. After Arafat died in mysterious circumstances a year later, Avnery was among those arguing that Israel was behind his poisoning.

His last column explored one of his enduring concerns: Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. It was provoked by the recent passage of the Nation-State Basic Law, which confers on Jews around the world privileges in Israel that are denied to the country’s large minority of Palestinian citizens.

For many years Avnery had been among those warning that Israel could not be a democracy if it did not treat all citizens as equal, but instead allocated key rights based on differing Jewish and Arab nationalities.

In 2013 he and other Israelis appealed to the supreme court to recognise for the first time an Israeli nationality shared by all citizens. The judges rejected their arguments.

• First published in The National

Uri Avnery, Israeli Activist for a Palestinian State, Dead at 94

Uri Avnery, a self-confessed former “Jewish terrorist” who went on to become Israel’s best-known peace activist, died in Tel Aviv on Monday, following a stroke. He was 94.

As one of Israel’s founding generation, Avnery was able to gain the ear of prime ministers, even while he spent decades editing an anti-establishment magazine that was a thorn in their side.

He came to wider attention in 1982 as the first Israeli to meet Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. At the time, Arafat and the PLO were reviled in Israel and much of the west as terrorists.

Famously, Avnery smuggled himself past the Israeli army’s siege lines around Beirut to reach Arafat. The pair were reported to have maintained close ties until the Palestinian leader’s much speculated upon death in 2004.

Avnery founded Israel’s only significant – if small – peace movement, Gush Shalom, in 1993.

He and his followers tried to build political pressure in Israel and abroad, seeking to convert the lip service paid to a two-state solution in the Oslo peace process into a concrete Palestinian state.

A harsh critic of Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government until the end, Avnery filed his final weekly column two weeks ago, lambasting Israel’s new Nation-State Basic Law as “semi-fascist”.

For Israel’s currently besieged peace bloc, Avnery’s passing is a significant blow.

Despite tributes from Israeli opposition politicians on Monday, his voice had long ago become marginalised at home. He was the last major public figure still visibly fighting to bring about a two-state solution.

His unyielding positions in support of an Oslo-style peace had begun to appear to many on the Israeli right and left as obsolete, especially after Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House. Since then, Israel has barely veiled its intention to annex parts of the West Bank, destroying any hope of a Palestinian state.

Avnery publicly rejected a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a shared, single state for Israelis and Palestinians.

He also opposed a general boycott of Israel, as advocated by the growing international BDS movement. Gush Shalom, however, did support boycotts restricted to the settlements.

Avnery arrived in what was then British-ruled Palestine in 1933, aged 10, emigrating with his family from Germany as the Nazis rose to power.

At 15, he was an young recruit to the Irgun, an underground Jewish militia the British classified as a terrorist organisation. But increasingly disenchanted with its attacks on Palestinian civilians, he quit a few years later.

Avnery fought with the Haganah – later to become the Israel Defence Forces – during the 1948 war that founded a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland. In later books and articles, he referred to his unit’s role in committing war crimes against Palestinians in the Negev region, in modern Israel’s south.

During the fighting, he was seriously wounded. His dispatches from the battlefront, later compiled as a book, briefly made him a national hero.

But his popularity soon waned. In his memoir, he described his convalescence as a period of dramatic change in his thinking: “The war totally convinced me there is a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them.”

It was then, he added, that he became a committed advocate for a Palestinian state.

Through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Avnery was best known for publishing his weekly magazine Haolam Hazeh (This World). Its mix of ground-breaking investigations, political muckraking and dissident opinion made him many enemies in the ruling Labour party.

The head of Israel’s domestic intelligence service of the time described Avnery as “Government Enemy No 1”. The magazine’s offices were bombed several times, and Avnery was seriously assaulted. The publication only closed when Avnery started Gush Shalom. The movement on Monday described him as “a far-seeing visionary who pointed to a way which others failed to see”.

Though a dissident figure, Avnery had been popular enough on the left to launch a separate political career, winning seats in Israel’s parliament in the 1965, 1969 and 1977 elections.

When he made a speech in the parliament to relinquish his seat in 1981, he caused an uproar by being the first legislator to wave the Palestinian and Israeli flags alongside each other.

But it was in 1982 that he established a reputation outside Israel. He was smuggled into Beirut to meet Arafat, as Israeli forces encircled the city in an effort to remove the PLO from Lebanon.

It later emerged that Israeli soldiers had been tracking Avnery in a bid to locate Arafat’s hideout and assassinate him. Avnery’s Palestinian escorts managed to elude them.

In his columns, Avnery often credited himself with using the trust he built with Arafat over the next few years to persuade the Palestinian leader to change the PLO’s political direction.

In 1988 Arafat renounced a long-standing Palestinian commitment to a single secular democratic state in historic Palestine, and formally accepted the idea of partitioning the territory into two states.

It was a concession that paved the way to the Oslo accords, signed between Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in 1993.

That same year Avnery founded Gush Shalom, or “peace bloc”, to build on that momentum as Arafat and the PLO were allowed to return to parts of the occupied territories from which Israel had withdrawn.

As well as believing in the right of Palestinians to freedom, Avnery argued strongly that Israel’s Jewish demographic majority would be under threat unless it separated from the large Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

There were suspicions that some of Arafat’s more misguided assumptions about Israeli society – especially regarding the strength of the peace bloc and the public’s receptivity to the Oslo process – were informed by Avnery.

When the peace process effectively collapsed with the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000 and the eruption of a Palestinian uprising, Avnery again found his message of reconciliation out of favour in Israel.

But in his late seventies, he found a new international audience, as his translated columns were disseminated online.

Avnery hoped through his writings to resurrect what was left of his political legacy. But more often his columns were sought out for the light he could shed on current controversies, drawing on insights gained from his knowledge of historical episodes now largely overlooked.

At the height of the second intifada, Avnery and Gush Shalom were often alongside Palestinians protesting against abuses by the Israeli military or the settlers. They also demonstrated to stop Israel’s building of a “separation barrier” that subsequently ate up large chunks of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

In 2003, Avnery joined Arafat in his besieged presidential compound in Ramallah, serving as a “human shield” – to foil an expected Israeli assassination attempt. After Arafat died in mysterious circumstances a year later, Avnery was among those arguing that Israel was behind his poisoning.

His last column explored one of his enduring concerns: Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. It was provoked by the recent passage of the Nation-State Basic Law, which confers on Jews around the world privileges in Israel that are denied to the country’s large minority of Palestinian citizens.

For many years Avnery had been among those warning that Israel could not be a democracy if it did not treat all citizens as equal, but instead allocated key rights based on differing Jewish and Arab nationalities.

In 2013 he and other Israelis appealed to the supreme court to recognise for the first time an Israeli nationality shared by all citizens. The judges rejected their arguments.

• First published in The National

In detaining Peter Beinart, Israel has declared Millions of Jews Enemies of the State

There are few places in Israel where its apartheid character is more conspicuous than the imposing international airport just outside Tel Aviv, named after the country’s founding father, David Ben Gurion.

Most planes landing in Israel have to circle over the West Bank before making their descent. Below, more than two million Palestinians living under cruel Israeli occupation are barred from using the airport. Instead, they depend on capricious decisions from military officers on whether they will be allowed to cross a land border into Jordan.

They are comparatively better off than nearly two million more Palestinians in besieged Gaza, who are denied even that minimal freedom.

Meanwhile, a similar number of Palestinians living ostensibly as citizens inside Israel have to run a gauntlet of racial profiling checks before they can board a flight.

Armed security guards at the perimeter entrance listen for Hebrew spoken with an Arab accent. Passports are branded with barcodes that can entail humiliating interrogations, delays, strip searches and security escorts on to planes.

Security alone could never have justified the arbitrary and sweeping nature of these decades-old practices against Israel’s largely quiescent Palestinian minority.

Racial profiling at the airport was always chiefly about controlling and intimidating Palestinians, collecting information on them and ghettoising them. Palestinians struggled to get out while Arabs and Muslims struggled to get in.

But these efforts to “lock in” Palestinians have become all but futile in recent years as globalisation has shrunk the world. Prevent a Palestinian attending a conference in New York or Paris and they will deliver their talk via Skype instead.

But the controls long endured by Palestinians and Arabs are now being turned more aggressively against other kinds of supporters. With escalating criticism worldwide and the rapid growth of an international boycott movement, the circle of people Israel wishes to “lock out” is growing rapidly.

For foreigners, Ben Gurion airport is the gateway not only to Israel but to the occupied territories. It is the main way they can witness firsthand the appalling conditions Israel has imposed on many millions of Palestinians.

There is an ever-growing list of academics, lawyers, human rights groups, political advocates for ending the occupation and boycott supporters detained by Israel on arrival and subjected to questioning about their political views. Afterwards they are denied entry or required to keep out of the occupied territories.

In an ever more interconnected world, Israel can identify those it wants to exclude simply by scouring Twitter or Facebook.

The problem for Israel is that increasingly those most critical of it include Jews.

That should be no surprise. If Israel argues that it represents Jews everywhere, some may feel they have a right to speak out in protest. Recent polls suggest that an ideological gulf is opening up between Israel and many of the Jews overseas it claims to speak for.

The latest victim of Israel’s political profiling is Peter Beinart, a prominent American-Jewish commentator. He regularly appears on CNN, contributes to prestigious US publications and is a columnist for the Jewish weekly Forward.

Last week Mr Beinart revealed that he had been detained on landing at Ben Gurion, separated from his wife and children and “interrogated about my political activities” for an hour. After repeated assurances that he was simply attending a family bar mitzvah, officials allowed him in.

Mr Beinart is no Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, dissident Jewish thinkers who have harshly criticised Israel’s policies – and been denied entry as a result.

His views echo those of many liberal American Jews no longer willing to turn a blind eye to Israel’s systematic abuses of Palestinians. In detaining him, Israel effectively declared that it no longer represents millions of Jews overseas. It made clear that the core message of Zionism – that Israel was created as a sanctuary for all Jews – is no longer true.

The right-wing government of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants fealty from Jews overseas – public support, donations, lobbying on domestic governments – but not their opinions.

Further, Mr Netanyahu’s Israel wants Jewry divided, with Israel determining which Jews are considered good and which bad. The measure of their virtue is no longer their support for a Jewish state but blind allegiance to the occupation and a Greater Israel lording it over Palestinians.

That divide is increasingly apparent inside Israel too, with growing numbers of dissident Israeli Jews reporting that they have been pulled aside for questioning on landing at Ben Gurion. They are being explicitly warned off political activism, in a setting intended to imply that their continued citizenship should not be taken for granted.

After an outcry over Mr Beinart’s detention, Netanyahu made a formulaic apology, calling his treatment an “administrative error”.

Few believe him. Israel’s liberal daily Haaretz called it the latest “systematic error”. The paper argued that in the “best tradition of benighted regimes”, Israel had drawn up “blacklists to silence criticism and to intimidate those who don’t toe the line”.

Certainly, the current questioning and bullying – not as passengers prepare to board a flight but as they arrive in Israel – has little to do with security, any more than it does when Palestinians and other Arabs are abused at the airport.

Rather, Mr Netanyahu wants to send a loud message to progressive Jews in Israel and abroad: “You are no longer automatically considered part of the Zionist project. We will judge whether you are friend or foe.”

That is intended to have a chilling effect on progressive Jews and send the message that, if they want to visit family in Israel or attend a wedding, funeral or a bar mitzvah, they should stay loyal or keep quiet. From now on, they must understand that they are being monitored on social media.

These are just the opening salvos in the Israeli right’s war against Jewish dissent. It is a slope liberal Jews will find gets ever more slippery.

• First published in The National