Category Archives: Joe Biden

Unwise to Expect Anything Substantial from Biden-Putin Meeting This Week

This Wednesday, the United States president Joe Biden will meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva in the first meeting of the two since Biden came to power in January 2021. It would be unwise to expect too much from this meeting. There are a number of reasons for advancing this view.

The first of these reasons relates to American motives for the meeting. It is clear that the Americans have decided that the greatest threat to their position in the world comes from the Chinese. Their policy is plainly to try and isolate the Chinese. In this endeavour they are employing a number of tactics. One of these tactics is to negatively portray Chinese behaviour. Hence the constant use of pejorative terms such as “aggressive” or “one-sided” in their attempts to negatively portray Chinese interaction with its neighbours and international trading partners. That this tactic is blatantly obvious, not to mention untrue, has not deterred Americans from its relentless pursuit.

A second tactic is to try and set up an alternative system of international trade to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This is laughable. The BRI has already signed up more than 140 nations, including 12 members of the European Union. Australia is one of the few nations that have bought into the American propaganda about the BRI. Partial evidence for this is the treatment of the State of Victoria which signed memorandum of understanding with China.

This was bitterly opposed by the Morrison government, although it is impossible to find a rational basis for their opposition. A number of Australia’s neighbours, including New Zealand, have signed into the BRI and there is no evidence that they see themselves as victims of some Chinese plot to subvert their economies.

A third reason the talks will be unlikely to achieve anything of substance is history. The Americans have not ceased their economic and political warfare on Russia. The fact that the United States appears to have withdrawn its opposition to the Russian pipeline to Germany has more to do with a recognition that the Germans see it as essential to their economic well-being than anything else.

The Americans have been prepared to sacrifice the Ukrainians on this point, which is a measure of the importance to United States interest in Europe of keeping the Germans on side. In pursuit of this they are prepared to sacrifice the Ukrainians. This latter fact has come as a rude shock to the Ukrainians who faced the twin humiliation of a visit from United States secretary of state Antony Blinken followed by a blatant refusal by Biden to support Ukrainians when the latter made a telephone call to the White House.

The Americans continue in their demands that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine, which tells one more about the American grasp of geopolitical reality than it does about the likelihood of Crimea ever becoming part of Ukraine again. History is not the least of the reasons why Crimea will remain part of Russia. Australia has bought into the rubbish that Crimea is part of Ukraine. They would do well to remember their own history, including the fact that the Australians fought the Russians in Crimea in the 1850s.

Putin is also well aware of American efforts to destabilise countries on its borders, including a coup attempt last year to overthrow the government of Georgia. This is on top of ongoing destabilisation by the Americans on Russia’s other neighbour Belarus. Biden’s faux friendliness to Russia has not stopped any of these destabilisation efforts.

Part of the problem the Americans have in dealing with Russia is that the upper echelons of power in Washington are appallingly ignorant of Russia. They have fallen into the trap of believing their own propaganda. Their mainstream media is no better. The Russian writer Andrei Martyanov, an American resident and one of the most clearsighted analysts around, is particularly scathing of the quality of United States “analysis” of Russia.

In his latest book, Disintegration, (2021) Martyanov argues that the United States is “non-agreement capable.” Anything that the Americans sign is worthless as they cannot be relied upon to honour that in the longer term. He argues most recently (June 13) that the forthcoming summit between Biden and Putin is primarily for United States domestic consumption and for the benefit of the United States’ vassal states in Europe, designed to prove that “America is back.” Back to what exactly remains an open question.

Another of the real reasons for Biden wanting the summit is the gap that has broken out between Russian and United States weaponry. The United States is currently about 10 years behind the Russians in military technology and Biden is desperate to pin the Russians into some form of treaty that could limit the effects of this devastating gap. Russian weaponry such as the 3M 22 Zircon and the 3M 14 Khalibr are overwhelmingly superior to anything the Americans have. Putin is highly unlikely to agree to anything that will lessen the Russian advantage in these areas.

Biden will be making a desperate attempt to peel the Russians away from the effect of their alliance with China. His motives are obvious. The Americans want to be left with a clear field to refine and expand their attack upon China. That attack could quickly degenerate into a real shooting match given the constant provocation in the South China Sea that the United States (with their British and Australian allies) are constantly engaging in.

The Russia – China allegiance is now 20 years old and has never been stronger. American ambitions about luring the Russians away from the Chinese embrace are doomed to failure.

In short, it would be extremely unwise to expect any achievements from the Biden – Putin summit this week. There will be polite noises and many smiles, but the odds against a serious achievement run into the brick wall of the United States’ profound belief in its mission as “leaders of the free world.” As long as they maintain that delusion the chances of a serious degree of agreement are practically zero.

The post Unwise to Expect Anything Substantial from Biden-Putin Meeting This Week first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Public Money Used to Increase Segregated Charter Schools

It is well-documented that charter schools intensify segregation on the basis of ability, language, race, and socioeconomic status. Charter school demographics frequently do not reflect the demographics of public schools in their communities. This is because privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools routinely engage in selective enrollment practices even though they are “schools of choice” ostensibly “open to all.” Families may “choose” a charter school but the charter school ultimately decides who is admitted, who stays, and who doesn’t. Public schools, on the other hand, accept all students at all times. They are also more accountable and transparent than privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools.

The latest report on federally-funded segregation in the charter school sector comes from the award-winning veteran educator Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education (NPE). Carol has produced several well-researched reports in the past couple of years on extensive fraud, waste, and abuse in the crisis-prone charter school sector. She has focused mainly on the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) which annually funnels hundreds of millions of public dollars to charter schools operated by unelected individuals. The program is authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Despite many attempts, the federal government has largely ignored multiple public demands to end this state-organized corruption to pay the rich. This is despite the fact that president Joe Biden promised to ban for-profit charter schools and support efforts to bring more accountability to charters. Instead, the Biden administration has stuck to spending $440 million on the Charter Schools Program this year, which is a default win for privately-operated charter schools. Since 1994 the federal government has funneled about $4 billion in public funds to these segregated contract schools through the Charter School Program. Through her previous work, Carol showed that millions of dollars were sent to many charter schools that either never opened or operated only for a few years and then closed, leaving many families high and dry.

In her latest investigation, Carol shows how public money from the federal Charter Schools Program is being used in North Carolina to strengthen segregation through the mechanism of charter schools. These are alternatively known as “white-flight academies.” Among other things, Carol notes that the justification for the use of many grant monies from the federal Charter Schools Program is often weak and makes no sense. Many disturbing details and cases can be found here. For example, 11 charter schools in North Carolina that received CSP funds “have significant overrepresentation of White students or a significant underrepresentation of Black students compared with the population of the public school district in which they are located.” So much for the worn-out assertion by charter school advocates that charter schools are about the civil rights of minority students.

Sadly, there is no shortage of such examples in many cities across the country. It is not easy to find charter schools that are diverse and integrated. In Rochester, New York, for example, the Genesee Community Charter School is not only known for being predominantly white and wealthy, but also for resisting any attempts to diversify and integrate. The New York State Board of Regents has repeatedly criticized the privately-operated charter school for maintaining a student body that is much wealthier and whiter than the Rochester City School District. The same can be said about the notorious Success Academies charter school chain in New York City. Many of these charter schools, it should also be noted, rely heavily on anachronistic Skinnerian behaviorist practices to enforce student obedience.

Another troubling twist in the evolution of privately-operated charter schools is the growing use by religious organizations, churches, Catholic schools, and private schools of the charter school mechanism to further segregate communities. This is another expression of the accelerated neoliberal restructuring of state arrangements by powerful private interests to seize public funds in the context of a continually failing economy. In the neoliberal period, public authority is increasingly being usurped to serve privileged private interests in the sphere of education. Private entities of various kinds are eager to fund their operations through the seizure of public funds that belong to the public sector. This parasitic appropriation of public funds by non-transparent and non-diverse private or religious entities usually goes hand in hand with offering fewer services and programs as well (e.g., transportation services and food programs). And more often than not, to make-up for “cost reductions,” parents are pressured or required to donate time and/or money to these private entities.

Privatized education arrangements are rarely about serving all students, let alone equally. More than anything else, such arrangements reflect and fortify the stratification found in society. They reinforce various inequalities. They do not reduce exclusion and segregation. They are the opposite of unitary public school systems that have emerged around the world to educate all students as part of a modern nation-building project.

Modern societies based on mass industrial production cannot survive without large, public, free, universal, school systems. Modern societies should not reduce a social necessity and public good like education to a commodity or treat parents and students as consumers who fend-for-themselves in an increasingly chaotic and anarchic education marketplace. A system of winners and losers ensures inequality and belongs in the past.

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Thomas Friedman’s last gasp

Thomas Friedman’s recent column in the New York Times reflecting on Israel’s 11-day destruction of Gaza is a showcase for the delusions of liberal Zionism: a constellation of thought that has never looked so threadbare. It seems that every liberal newspaper needs a Thomas Friedman – the UK’s Guardian has Jonathan Freedland – whose role is to keep readers from considering realistic strategies for Israel-Palestine, however often and catastrophically the established ones have failed. In this case, Friedman’s plea for Joe Biden to preserve the ‘potential of a two-state solution’ barely conceals his real goal: resuscitating the discourse of an illusory ‘peace process’ from which everyone except liberal Zionists has moved on. His fear is that the debate is quietly shifting outside this framework – towards the recognition that Israel is a belligerent apartheid regime, and the conclusion that one democratic state for Palestinians and Jews is now the only viable solution.

For more than five decades, the two-state solution – of a large, ultra-militarized state for Israel, and a much smaller, demilitarized one for Palestinians – has been the sole paradigm of the Western political and media class. During these years, a Palestinian state failed to materialize despite (or more likely because of) various US-backed ‘peace processes’. While Americans and Europeans have consoled themselves with such fantasies, Israel has only paid them lip-service, enforcing a de facto one-state solution premised on Jewish supremacy over Palestinians, and consolidating its control over the entire territory.

But in recent years, Israel’s naked settler-colonial actions have imperiled that Western paradigm. It has become increasingly evident that Israel is incapable of making peace with the Palestinians because its state ideology – Zionism – is based on their removal or eradication. What history has taught us is that the only just and lasting way to end a ‘conflict’ between a native population and a settler-colonial movement is decolonization, plus the establishment of a single, shared, democratic state. Otherwise, the settlers continue to pursue their replacement strategies – which invariably include ethnic cleansing, communal segregation and genocide. These were precisely the tactics adopted by European colonists in the Americas, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Friedman’s function in the Western media – conscious or not – is to obfuscate these historical lessons, tapping into a long legacy of unthinking colonial racism.

One of the central pillars of that legacy is an abiding fear of the native and his supposedly natural savagery. This has always been the unspoken assumption behind the interminable two-state ‘peace process’. A civilized and civilizing West tries to broker a ‘peace deal’ to protect Israel from the Palestinian hordes next door. But the Palestinians continuously ‘reject’ these peace overtures because of their savage nature – which is in turn presented as the reason why Israel must ethnically cleanse them and herd them into reservations, or Bantustans, away from Jewish settlers. Occasionally, Israel is forced to ‘retaliate’ – or defend itself from this savagery – in what becomes an endless ‘cycle of violence’. The West supports Israel with military aid and preferential trade, while watching with exasperation as the Palestinian leadership fails to discipline its people.

Friedman is an expert at exploiting this colonial mentality. He often avoids taking direct responsibility for his racist assumptions, attributing them to ‘centrist Democrats’ or other right-minded observers. Coded language is his stock in trade, serving to heighten the unease felt by western audiences as the natives try to regain a measure of control over their future. In some cases the prejudicial framing is overt, as with his concern about the threat of an ascendant Hamas to women’s and LGBTQ rights, couched in an identity politics he knows will resonate with NYT readers. But more often his framing is insidious, with terms like ‘decimate’ and ‘blow up’ deployed to cast Palestinians’ desire for self-determination as violent and menacing.

Friedman’s promotion of the two-state model offers a three-layered deception. First, he writes that the two-state solution would bring ‘peace’, without acknowledging that the condition for that peace is the Palestinians’ permanent ghettoization and subjugation. Second, he blames the Palestinians for rejecting just such ‘peace plans’, even though they have never been seriously offered by Israel. And finally, he has the chutzpah to imply that it was the Palestinians’ failure to negotiate a two-state solution that ‘decimated’ the Israeli ‘peace camp’.

Such arguments are not only based on Friedman’s dehumanizing view of Arabs. They are also tied to his domestic political concerns. He fears that if Joe Biden were to acknowledge the reality that Israel has sabotaged the two-state solution, then the President might disengage once and for all from the ‘peace process’. Of course, most Palestinians would welcome such an end to US interference: the billions of dollars funnelled annually to the Israeli military, the US diplomatic cover for Israel, and the arm-twisting of other states to silently accept its atrocities. But, Friedman argues, this withdrawal would carry a heavy price at home, setting off a civil war within Biden’s own party and within Jewish organizations across the US. God forbid, it might ‘even lead to bans on arms sales’ to Israel.

Friedman reminds us of Israeli businessman Gidi Grinstein’s warning that in the absence of a ‘potential’ two-state solution, US support for Israel could morph ‘from a bipartisan issue to a wedge issue’. The columnist writes that preserving the two-state ‘peace process’, however endless and hopeless, is ‘about our national security interests in the Middle East’. How does Friedman define these interests? They are reducible, he says, to ‘the political future of the centrist faction of the Democratic Party.’ A ‘peace process’ once designed to salve the consciences of Americans while enabling the dispossession of Palestinians has now been redefined as a vital US national security issue – because, for Friedman, its survival is necessary to preserve the dominance of foreign policy hawks in the Democratic machine. The argument echoes Biden’s extraordinarily frank admission made back in 1986 that ‘were there not an Israel the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region’.

Friedman then concludes his article with a set of proposals that unwittingly expose the true consequences of a two-state settlement. He insists that Biden build on his predecessor’s much ridiculed ‘peace plan’, which gave US blessing to Israel’s illegal settlements on vast swaths of the occupied West Bank, penning Palestinians into their Bantustans indefinitely. Trump’s plan also sought to entrench Israel’s control over occupied East Jerusalem, remake Gaza as a permanent battlefield on which rivalries between Fatah and Hamas would intensify, and turn the wealth of the theocratic Gulf states into a weapon, fully integrating Israel into the region’s economy while making the Palestinians even more dependent on foreign aid. Polite NYT opinionators now want Biden to sell these measures as a re-engagement with the ‘peace process’.

The US, writes Friedman, should follow Trump in stripping the Palestinians of a capital in East Jerusalem – the economic, religious and historic heart of Palestine. Arab states should reinforce this dispossession by moving their embassies from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem. Neighbouring countries are encouraged to pressure the Palestinian Authority, via aid payments, to accede even more cravenly to Israel’s demands. (Of course, Friedman does not think it worth mentioning that Palestine is aid-dependent because Israel has either stolen or seized control of all its major resources.)

Once this subordinate position is guaranteed, divisions within the Palestinian national movement can be inflamed by making Hamas – plus the two million Palestinians in Gaza – dependent on the PA’s patronage. Friedman wants the Fatah-led PA to decide whether to send aid to the Gaza Strip or join Israel in besieging the enclave to weaken Hamas. For good measure, he also urges the Gulf states to cut off support to the United Nations aid agencies, like UNRWA, which have kept millions of Palestinian refugees fed and cared for since 1948. The international community’s already feeble commitment to the rights of Palestinian refugees will thus be broken, and the diaspora will be forcibly absorbed into their host countries.

Such proposals are the last gasp of a discredited liberal Zionism. Friedman visibly flounders as he tries to put the emperor’s clothes back on a two-state solution which stands before us in all its ugliness. The Western model of ‘peace-making’ was always about preserving Jewish supremacy. Now, at least, the illusions are gone.

• First published in New Left Review

The post Thomas Friedman’s last gasp first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A People’s Vaccine Against a Mutating Virus and Neoliberal Rule

Photo credit: UNICEF Teachers and students were able to return to school in Lao Cai, Viet Nam, in May 2020

A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that worries about the COVID pandemic in the United States are at their lowest level since it began. Only half of Americans are either “very worried” (15%) or “somewhat worried” (35%) about the virus, while the other half are “not very worried” (30%) or “not worried at all” (20%).

But the news from around the world makes it clear that this pandemic is far from over, and a story from Vietnam highlights the nature of the danger.

Vietnam is a COVID success story, with one of the lowest rates of infection and death in the world. Vietnam’s excellent community-based public health system prevented the virus from spreading beyond isolated cases and localized outbreaks, without a nationwide lockdown. With a population of 98 million people, Vietnam has had only 8,883 cases and 53 deaths.

However, more than half of Vietnam’s cases and deaths have come in the last two months, and three-quarters of the new cases have been infected with a new “hybrid” variant that combines the two mutations detected separately in the Alpha (U.K.) and Delta (India) variants.

Vietnam is a canary in the pandemic coal-mine. The way this new variant has spread so quickly in a country that has defeated every previous form of the virus suggests that this one is much more infectious.

This variant must surely also be spreading in other countries, where it will be harder to detect among thousands of daily cases, and will therefore be widespread by the time public health officials and governments respond to it. There may also be other highly infectious new variants spreading undetected among the millions of cases in Latin America and other parts of the world.

A new study in The Lancet medical journal has found that the Alpha (U.K.), Beta (South Africa) and Delta (India) variants are all more resistant to existing vaccines than the original COVID virus, and the Delta variant is still spreading in countries with aggressive vaccination programs, including the U.K.

The Delta variant accounts for a two-month high in new cases in the U.K. and a new wave of infections in Portugal, just as developed countries ease restrictions before the summer vacation season, almost certainly opening the door to the next wave. The U.K., which has a slightly higher vaccination rate than the United States, had planned a further relaxation of restrictions on June 21st, but that is now in question.

China, Vietnam, New Zealand and other countries defeated the pandemic in its early stages by prioritizing public health over business interests. The United States and Western Europe instead tried to strike a balance between public health and their neoliberal economic systems, breeding a monster that has now killed millions of people. The World Health Organization believes that six to eight million people have died, about twice as many as have been counted in official figures.

Now the WHO is recommending that wealthier countries who have good supplies of vaccines postpone vaccinating healthy young people, and instead prioritize sending vaccines to poorer countries where the virus is running wild.

President Biden has announced that the United States is releasing 25 million doses from its stockpiles, most of which will be distributed through the WHO’s Covax program, with another 55 million to follow by the end of June. But this is a tiny fraction of what is needed.

Biden has also agreed to waive patent rights on vaccines under the WTO’s TRIPS rules (the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), but that has so far been held up at the WTO by Canada and right-wing governments in the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Australia, Japan and Colombia. People have taken to the streets in many countries to insist that a WTO TRIPS Council meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 8-9, must agree to waive patent monopolies.

Since all the countries blocking the TRIPS waiver are U.S. allies, this will be a critical test of the Biden administration’s promised international leadership and diplomacy, which has so far taken a back seat to dangerous saber-rattling against China and Russia, foot-dragging on the JCPOA with Iran and war-crime-fueling weapons-peddling to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Ending international vaccine apartheid is not just a matter of altruism, or even justice. It is a question of whether we will end this pandemic before vaccine-resistant, super-spreading and deadlier variants fuel even more toxic new waves. The only way humanity can win this struggle is to act collectively in our common interest. 

Public Citizen has researched what it would take to vaccinate the world, and concluded that it would cost only $25 billion – 3% of the annual U.S. budget for weapons and war – to set up manufacturing plants and distribution hubs across the world and vaccinate all of humanity within a year. Forty-two Progressives in Congress have signed a letter to President Biden to urge him to fund such a plan.

If the world can agree to make and distribute a People’s Vaccine, it could be the silver lining in this dark cloud, because this ability to act globally and collectively in the public interest is precisely what we need to solve so many of the most serious problems facing humanity.

For example, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) is warning that we are in the midst of a triple crisis of climate change, mass extinction and pollution. Our neoliberal political and economic system has not just failed to solve these problems. It actively works to undermine efforts to do so, granting people, corporations and countries who profit from destroying the natural world the freedom to do so without constraint.

That is the very meaning of laissez-faire, to let the wealthy and powerful do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences for the rest of us, or even for life on Earth. As the economist John Maynard Keynes reputedly said in the 1930s, “Laissez-faire capitalism is the absurd idea that the worst people, for the worst reasons, will do what is best for us all.”

Neoliberalism is the reimposition of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism, with all its injustices, inequality and oppression, on the people of the 21st century, prioritizing markets, profits and wealth over the common welfare of humanity and the natural world our lives depend on.

Berkeley and Princeton political theorist Sheldon Wolin called the U.S. political system, which facilitates this neoliberal economic order, “inverted totalitarianism.” Like classical totalitarianism, it concentrates ever more wealth and power in the hands of a small ruling class, but instead of abolishing parliaments, elections and the superficial trappings of representative government as classical totalitarianism did, it simply co-opts them as tools of plutocracy, which has proved to be a more marketable and sustainable strategy.

But now that neoliberalism has wreaked its chaos for a generation, popular movements are rising up across the world to demand systemic change and to build new systems of politics and economics that can actually solve the huge problems that neoliberalism has produced.

In response to the 2019 uprising in Chile, its rulers were forced to agree to an election for a constitutional assembly, to draft a constitution to replace the one written during the Pinochet dictatorship, one of the vanguards of neoliberalism. That election has now taken place, and the ruling party of President Pinera and other traditional parties won less than a third of the seats. So the constitution will instead be written by a super-majority of citizens committed to radical reform and social, economic and political justice.

In Iraq, which was also swept by a popular uprising in 2019, a new government seated in 2020 has launched an investigation to recover $150 billion in Iraqi oil revenues stolen and smuggled out of the country by the corrupt officials of previous governments.

U.S.-backed former exiles flew into Iraq on the heels of the U.S. invasion in 2003 “with empty pockets to fill,” as a Baghdad taxi driver told a Western reporter at the time. While U.S. forces and U.S.-trained Iraqi death squads destroyed their country, they hunkered down in the Green Zone in Baghdad and controlled and looted Iraq’s oil revenues for the next seventeen years. Now maybe Iraq can recover the stolen money its people so desperately need, and start using its oil wealth to rebuild that shattered country.

In Bolivia, also in 2019, a U.S.-backed coup overthrew its popular indigenous president, Evo Morales. But the people of Bolivia rose up in a general strike to demand a new election, Morales’ MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) Party was restored to power, and Luis Arce, Morales’ former Economy Minister, is now Bolivia’s President.

Around the world, we are witnessing what can happen when people rise up and act collectively for the common good. That is how we will solve the serious problems we face, from the COVID pandemic to the climate crisis to the terminal danger of nuclear war. Humanity’s survival into the twenty-second century and all our hopes for a bright future depend on building new political and economic systems that will simply and genuinely “do what is best for all of us.”

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Biden Should Make Normalizing Relations with Cuba “A Priority”

Waiting in line for food in Cuba. Photo credit: UPI.com

Silvia from Miami, Eduardo from Hialeah, Abel from Lakeland. The names pour in on the donations page for “Syringes to Cuba” as Carlos Lazo promotes the campaign on his popular Facebook livestream. An energetic Cuban-American high school teacher in Seattle, Lazo created a group called Puentes de Amor, Bridges of Love, to unite Cuban Americans who want to lift the searing U.S. blockade that is immiserating their loved ones on the island.

Puentes de Amor is the latest addition to the Syringes to Cuba initiative, which was started by the Saving Lives Campaign and the humanitarian organization Global Health Partners to help Cuba vaccinate its people against COVID-19. With the help of two other groups, The People’s Forum and CODEPINK, the campaign has raised over $350,000 and has already placed an order for four million syringes. Two million will arrive in June and the balance in July.

This initiative is in response to the dire economic situation in Cuba, where the economy shrank by 11 percent last year—Cuba’s worst economic downturn since the early 1990s when the country was left reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc. The present economic meltdown is largely a result of the COVID-induced shutdown of the tourist industry and a tightening of the embargo under Trump. Reversing the gains made by the Obama-Biden administration in normalizing relations with Cuba, Trump added over 200 restrictive measures, including limiting remittances Cuban Americans can send to their families, stopping U.S. flights to every city but Havana, and prohibiting cruise ships from docking in Cuban ports. As a final stab in his parting days, Trump took the completely bogus step of adding Cuba to a U.S.-created list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that discourages investments and substantially limits the entry of foreign currency.

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden pledged to “promptly reverse the failed Trump policies that have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.” Early in the Biden administration, the White House announced that it was undertaking a review of Cuba policy. But to the surprise and disappointment of many Cuba watchers, and despite the fact that most of Trump’s policy changes could be reversed with a single executive order, Biden has not moved an inch. Questioned about this at an April 16 press conference, Press Secretary Jen Psaki callously claimed that changing U.S. policy towards Cuba was “currently not among the president’s top foreign policy priorities.”

On May 25, the State Department even announced that it would continue Trump’s determination that Cuba does not cooperate with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs fired back, calling this action “irresponsible and shameful” and reminding U.S. officials that Cuba itself has been “the victim of 713 terrorist attacks, in their majority organized, financed and executed by the U.S. government or individuals and organizations that are protected and act with impunity in U.S. territory.”

On June 23, the U.N. General Assembly will hold its yearly vote calling for the U.S. to lift its embargo on Cuba. Every year since 1992, the world’s nations overwhelmingly reject the embargo, leaving the U.S. and one or two of its allies, like Israel and Brazil, clinging to this unpopular and anachronistic policy. In 2016, the Obama administration broke with 25 years of U.S. opposition to the UN resolution by abstaining. A new lobby group ACERE (Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect), with the support of over 100 organizations, is calling on Biden to follow President Obama’s lead by not opposing this year’s resolution, and instead using the occasion to announce the measures that his administration will take to provide relief for the Cuban people and a return to the path of normalization.

A push for action has also come from the grass roots, through creative and growing anti-blockade car and bicycle caravans held on the last Sunday of every month. The largest of the nation’s caravans winds through the heart of the pro-blockade world: Miami. In the most recent May 30 Miami caravan, over 200 people participated, most of them Cuban-Americans. “We’ve had 10 of these caravans so far,” said organizer Jorge Medina (a.k.a. El Proteston Cubano on YouTube). “Each one is bigger than the last and the energy is fantastic.” But so far, the media — and the Biden administration — have ignored them.

Congress has been pushing Biden as well. In March 2021, 80 representatives, led by Congressman Bobby Rush, sent a letter to Biden urging him to take swift executive action to reverse the Trump administration’s draconian policies and return to the diplomatic path charted by the Obama–Biden administration, and Congressman Rush later introduced a bill to that effect. On May 21, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the bipartisan Freedom to Export to Cuba Act that would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba, a move that would be particularly popular with farm and business groups interested in trade and export opportunities.

Unfortunately, Biden seems more concerned about catering to right-wing Cuban Americans in southern Florida, where the Democrats, failing to stand up to Trump’s red-baiting, lost the state and two congressional seats in the last election. Despite the talk that his administration is guided by human rights concerns, Biden ignores what the humanitarian group OXFAM, in its detailed report on the devastating effects of U.S. policy, called “The Right to Live Without a Blockade.”

But Biden ignores the crisis in Cuba at his own peril. The dire food and medicine shortages may well spark a migration crisis that will exacerbate the rush of Central American asylum seekers at the Mexican border that the Biden administration is already unable to cope with. Cuba expert Bill LeoGrande predicts “a mass exodus of desperate people” if Biden doesn’t act soon.

Biden would do well to heed the warning and with the stroke of a pen, lift trade and travel restrictions and allow unrestricted remittances. These measures would quickly infuse more money into Cuba’s economy and alleviate the needless suffering Cubans are experiencing at the hands of an administration that does not consider the well-being of 11 million Cubans “a priority.”

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From BLM to Palestine: Only a Marriage of Movements can Counter a Marriage of Empires

On this one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I’m thinking about settler colonial nations who routinely spend great amounts of capital to militarily and politically repress indigenous and popular uprisings led by the most historically oppressed peoples of the world.

The United States and Israel—two settler-colonial nation states whose drive to exterminate and replace indigenous peoples with settler colonists has led to unending repression and brutality for decades (in the case of Israel) and centuries (in the case of the United States). These two inherently genocidal projects also happen to be financially, materially, logistically and geopolitically intertwined. They depend on each other.

As President Biden so aptly put it in his Congressional speech in 1986, “We look at the Middle East. I think it’s about time we stop, those of us who support, as most of us do, Israel in this body, for apologizing for our support for Israel. There’s no apology to be made. None. It is the best $3 billion investment we make. Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region. The United States would have to go out and invent an Israel.”

Israel is described as “the most militarized nation in the world” by the Global Militarization Index. The US provides Israel $3.8 billion a year in cash and weapons, to make sure it is so. The marriage of these two settler empires makes it such that any US Congressional attempts to thwart Israel’s ongoing brutality against Palestinians are probably about as likely to be effective as Hamas’ rockets launched at Israel’s Iron Dome.

The US also provides Israel massive state-sponsored propaganda, backed by incredibly powerful Israeli lobbying groups like AIPAC, to make sure this funding stays in place and is not ever ideologically challenged inside the United States or Israel. These lobbying groups picked up steam and recruited more right-wing backers during Trump’s tenure, enhanced by his extreme support of Zionism, Netanyahu, the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and further funding for Israel’s settler colonial projects. But to be clear, US support for Israel is a bipartisan project, and it has been for decades. Even so-called progressive Democrats like Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York and Rep. Ro Khanna of California, have just signed onto an AIPAC letter, whose aim is to prevent any cuts in funding to Israel, in response to Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum’s new bill, HR2590, designed to “block Israel from using U.S. military aid to demolish Palestinian homes, arrest Palestinian children, and annex Palestinian land.”

AIPAC and its bipartisan allies have also, for decades, functioned to make sure that anyone who dares question “Israel’s right to self-defense” loses all political credibility, career opportunity, and is unilaterally smeared by Democrats and Republicans alike. From AP Press writers who get fired because they used to support Palestine in college, to US Congress members who joke about “the Benjamins,” criticizing Israel in any form has become a form of political suicide inside the United States. Recent attempts to criminalize anyone who supports the BDS movement have become clear violations of the First Amendment according to the ACLU, and yet, US states are moving ahead with these measures, despite legal challenges in the courts. Now that is one powerful international propaganda apparatus.

So it is against this David-and-Goliath-style backdrop that we see the beginnings of the US-Israeli-military-public-relations façade beginning to crumble inside the realm of US public opinion, as decades of organizing work on behalf of Palestinian human rights begin to slowly trickle up into the halls of Congress. According to a new Gallup poll, there’s a “53 percent majority of Democrats favor pressuring Israel—a 10-point jump since 2018—and progressive figures are clearly betting that the broader electorate is more willing to hear critics out than ever before.

This is a significant shift, especially inside a country where both major parties’ unilateral support for Israel has gone unquestioned for decades. And in the last few weeks, we’ve also seen some of the most progressive US Congressional members take courageous stances on Palestinian human rights: Rashida Tlaib’s impassioned speech on the House floor, AOC’s reference to Israel as an “apartheid state,” Bernie’s “resolution of disapproval” and other attempts to block an increased $735 million in additional weapons package.

These rhetorical shifts are tremendous acts of resistance inside the proverbial belly of the beast. And they certainly represent a broader shift in US public opinion, which we also see shifting internationally, given the massive Palestine solidarity protests throughout the United States, Europe and Australia, over the last few weeks. But make no mistake—these rhetorical shifts inside the US halls of power are not the same thing as fundamentally shifting US policy, which is deeply invested in maintaining and supporting its own economic, geo-political and military interests inside what UC Barbara Sociologist William I. Robinson calls the “global police state.” The following is an excerpt from Robinson’s book, Global Police State:

The Occupied Palestinian Territory has been transformed into probably the most monitored, controlled, and militarized place on earth. It epitomizes the dream of every general, security expert and police officer to be able to exercise total bio-political control. In a situation where the local population enjoys no effective legal protections or privacy, they and their lands become a laboratory where the latest technologies of surveillance, control, and suppression are perfected and showcased, giving Israel an edge in the highly competitive global market. Labels such as ‘Combat Proven,’ ‘Tested in Gaza,’ and ‘Approved by the IDF’ (Israeli Defense Forces) on Israeli or foreign products greatly improves their marketability.

These methods of control and repression fine tuned against the Palestinians have been exported by Israel to racist police in US inner cities, Brazilian security forces that patrol the impoverished residents of the Rio favelas, Colombian and Guatemalan military and paramilitary forces in their battles against social movements, Central Asian intelligence officers monitoring human rights activists and journalists, Chinese Army agents developing domestic systems of social control, and corporate clients and repressive states and police agencies the world over.

Indeed, many Palestinian activists who have found solidarity with indigenous rights activists in the United States have noted, as recently as Standing Rock in 2016:

Many of the law enforcement officers at Standing Rock have been trained in Israel. The weapons and tactics are identical. The use of high pressure water cannons, rubber bullets, rubber coated steel bullets, the use of attack dogs, and sound grenades are the same in both places.

And over the last few years, Amnesty International and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), have published reports detailing how Israeli training of US police officers has resulted in systematic brutality. Amnesty International’s report cites “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement and a culture of retaliation” within the Baltimore Police Department. JVP’s report went on to say, “Police brutality of the kind that led to the death of George Floyd is both deeply embedded in American policing and also reinforced by the exchange of the ‘best practices’ and expertise in counter-terrorism techniques taught to US law enforcement officials during their training in Israel. Thousands of these officials from across the US have been sent to Israel for training, and thousands more have participated in conferences and workshops with Israeli personnel.”

The Middle East Monitor writes:

George Floyd’s killing is the latest, but probably not the last, example of classic American policing to mirror Israel’s ‘best law enforcement practice.’ It is being put to deadly use on the streets of America. If black lives really do matter in 21st century America, then the ‘deadly exchange programmes’ with Israel should be brought to an end without delay.

So this is the fundamental barrier for our movements trying to stop US aid to Israel. For decades, we’ve watched US Presidents offer Israel and Palestine peace deal after peace deal. We’ve seen an inordinate number of trips from Washington to Israel to host diplomatic talks about “two-state solutions.” Throughout all of these duplicitous negotiations, the US government has pretended to be an honest broker in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is not. It never has been. It never will be. And while there may be much-welcomed symbolic efforts coming down the pike to pass resolutions condemning Israeli violence as a sort of symbolic offering to human rights groups, the United States will not cut off aid to Israel any time soon. Nor will it ever be able to broker an honest peace deal, as long as its geopolitical, economic and military interests are fundamentally tied to those of Israel.

Both Israel and the United States are settler-colonial projects whose very existence is based on oppressing and replacing its indigenous peoples, as well as repressing popular resistance movements that emerge within their national borders. Both states now exist within a new global context described by Bill Robinson — a transnational capitalist project of building a global police state against ever-increasing popular uprisings. This is the current political moment in which we find ourselves. These well-intentioned measures from even the most progressive US Congress members are definitely worth celebrating for their rhetorical and symbolic progress. They are not, however, likely to become law, nor result in any fundamental reduction in military aid or support to Israel. We are going to need a lot more to break up the geopolitical marriage of these two capitalist, settler empires. Only relentless, intersectional and international solidarity movements against white supremacy, transnational capitalism, and settler colonialism have the power to do that.

The post From BLM to Palestine: Only a Marriage of Movements can Counter a Marriage of Empires first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Biden: End Your Co-Belligerent Backing of Israeli War Crimes

As Senator, Vice President, and now President, your self-promoted/displayed empathy has a problem. You can’t seem to connect the Israeli military powerhouse’s occupation to the oppression and destruction of innocent Palestinian civilians, illegal seizure of Palestinian land/water, and daily violations of U.S. and international law. Israel’s military is deliberately bombing these families, the offices of American media, international medical facilities, and many local hospitals and water and electricity facilities with fighter jets and missiles made in America.

To know about what is happening daily, you do not need to rely on the evidence compiled by the U.S. mainstream media or foreign reporters on the ground in Gaza or your own intelligence agencies, just take it from the Israeli media and Israelis themselves.

Stop repeatedly mumbling the usual mantra to escape your presidential responsibilities for the military weaponry and political cover, including the U.S. Veto at the U.N. By your failure to act you have backed this Israeli-initiated aggression, as you have invariably favored prior illegal Israeli military attacks against U.S. ally Lebanon, and Syria and Iran in recent decades.

Although the Netanyahu regime prohibits Israeli journalists from entering Gaza or the West Bank to report reality, enough of the Israeli media carries the horrific devastation in Gaza with casualties and critical property destruction hundreds of times greater than that inflicted by the primitive Hamas rockets, 90% of which are shot down by the U.S.-funded “iron dome” anti-missile systems. The rest, with very few random exceptions, fall onto the desert floor, sometimes back into Gaza.

Israel needs these feeble, homemade rockets as the pretext for its massively greater attacks again and again against the civilian population during the past fifteen years. How else can it engage in such slaughter of entire extended families asleep in their crowded homes, destruction of schools, health clinics, media offices – against what the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has called a wholly defenseless, captive people? Israel is just defending itself, you keep saying, ignoring the imperial racist premise in that statement.

As Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) declared this week: “These atrocities are being funded by billions of our own American tax dollars while communities like mine in St. Louis are hurting and are in need of life-affirming investment here at home.”

The expanding Jewish Voice for Peace, whose views represent a larger polling of American Jews than does AIPAC, joined over 70 U.S. advocacy groups in support of a Congressional resolution opposing your latest $735 million weapons shipment to Israel. You know federal law prohibits U.S. weapons delivered to a foreign country from being used for offensive purposes – a law continually and openly violated by Israel with impunity.

Having such precision instruments of war, and because it has Gaza under the strictest, most intrusive surveillance of any encircled, besieged territory in history, Israeli destruction of critical civilian infrastructure – electricity, water, sewage, and medical facilities – can be considered deliberate. The Israeli military knows about every street, home, apartment building, business, and government site, including who moves inside this tiny enclave. They have embedded spies, informants, a 24/7 electronic watch, and even updated Palestinian DNA samples. Indeed, Israeli government spokespersons boast about giving warnings to the occupants of some of the targets, such as those in the 14-story building housing AP, Al Jazeera, many residential apartments, and doctors’ offices, before turning it into rubble. They know exactly what they are striking – warnings or no warnings. So far, half of the fatalities are children, women, and those sick from the raging, Covid-19 pandemic, who have little or no access to vaccines.

You have two dozen Democratic Senators demanding a ceasefire and you still will not come out strongly for a transition toward a vigorous peace process leading to your stated two-state solution. You have none of President Eisenhower’s steadfastness who in 1956 declared a firm stop to the aggressive Israeli, French, and British bombing of Suez in Egypt.

You know full well what started this latest round of hostilities. Read this excerpt from the New York Times:

…it was the outgrowth of years of blockades and restrictions in Gaza, decades of occupation in the West Bank, and decades more of discrimination against Arabs within the state of Israel, said Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli Parliament and former chairman of the World Zionist Organization. ‘All the enriched uranium was already in place,’ he said. ‘But you needed a trigger. And the trigger was the Aqsa Mosque.’

Mr. Burg was referring to the Israeli police invasion of the 8th century Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – during Ramadan, tear gassing and wounding over 300 praying faithful with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Together with Israeli street gangs in East Jerusalem and the intensifying displacement of Palestinian families there, the provocations proved to be the tipping point for panicked Palestinians.

You know this and much more from your confidential briefings. Still, you are hesitating. You are intimately aware of why Prime Minister Netanyahu timed and choreographed these bloody, brutal assaults. It is to position himself more successfully in forming a governing coalition of extremists to avoid a fifth election and ward off an ongoing prosecution for corruption by Israeli law enforcers. He provoked, for his political ambitions, the terrifying of the country he leads.

I am attaching an open letter I sent to President Obama on December 19, 2016, asking him to adopt Jimmy Carter’s urgent plea for you to take “the vital step – to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.” As you know, Mr. Carter negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. He referenced President Obama’s support of the long-standing United Nations Resolution 242, which called for a “complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.” In 2011, President Obama also made clear that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” as two states.

In dire contrast, your Administration has been signaling a diplomatic withdrawal from this conflict to focus on China and East Asia. You’d be well advised to generate some residual fortitude, and empathy, and uphold the legal responsibility to reverse your total support for whatever Israel has done since you began your Senate career in 1973.

Enclosed: An Open Letter to President Obama: Decision Time For Israeli-Palestinian Peace – December 19, 2016.

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Israel is Ethnically Cleansing Gaza

This started becoming clear on May 12th, and has become increasingly confirmed by events since then.

On May 12th, Al-Arabia, CBS News, and other media, reported Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz as promising that “The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet.” And, “Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce.” Britain’s Guardian reported his speech as having said that “Israel vows not to stop Gaza attacks until there is complete quiet.” Britain’s The Express reported him as saying that “There is no end date and we will not receive moral sermons from any organization on our right to protect the citizens of Israel. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce.”

In other words, Israel is promising that until Gazans are totally conquered, there will be no “truce”: Israel will continue this until total victory is achieved — conquest, surrender by all Gazans.

Throughout the conflict, U.S. President Joe Biden has said that America’s policy is to request that there be a truce. However, ever since at least May 12th, Israel has made clear that a “truce” will occur only when the Gazans are totally defeated, so that there is, in Gaza, “a total, long-term quiet.” Does that differ from Israel’s announcing that they are ethnically cleansing Gazans from Gaza?

The difference would be equivalent to the difference between offering Gazans a choice ultimately between remaining quiet in the world’s largest-ever open-air prison, versus becoming totally exterminated by their enemy. What type of choice is that, actually?

On 15 April 2018, Elliott Gabriel reported from Gaza City, that

Palestinians confined to Gaza have faced several devastating onslaughts by the Israelis, as well as a crippling blockade by Tel Aviv and Cairo that has resulted in the collapse of the coastal strip’s economy. Monitors and advocates across the world have decried the grave humanitarian crisis prevailing in Gaza that has resulted directly from its being deprived of needed goods including construction material, electricity, food, water and medicine.

In a report on Gaza last November, local human rights monitor B’Tselem noted:
“Israel used its control over the crossings to put Gaza under a blockade, turning almost two million people into prisoners inside the Gaza Strip, effecting an economic collapse and propelling Gaza residents into dependency on international aid.”

On 15 May 2019, the Guardian bannered “One million face hunger in Gaza after US cut to Palestine aid,” and noted that,

The UNRWA, created in 1949 to provide short-term relief for Palestinian refugees after the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, runs schools, hospitals and social services in five areas including the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

It is largely propping up Gaza, subject to a total blockade by air, land and sea since 2007. Political stalemate, conflict with Israel and divisions among Palestinian factions have left the territory an economic ruin, without health and social services and with almost no access to clean water and only four or five hours of electricity a day.

With no peace in sight, a generation is growing up in Gaza who have only known the fenced-in territory and never met an Israeli.

So, if that is the reality there, then how is this ‘choice’ anything other than an ethnic cleansing of Gaza, turning it into a prison that’s designed for its inhabitants to be “quietly” exterminated until Israelis can then ultimately take over that land and make it a new land for settlement by Israelis?

On 14 May 2021, U.S. Professor Juan Cole, an internationally recognized expert on the Middle East, headlined “Shooting Fish in a Barrel: Israel bombs Palestinian Refugees from Israel in Gaza, 50% of them Children,” and he wrote:

At one point in the zeros the Israeli military made a plan to only allow enough food into Gaza to keep the population from becoming malnourished, but nothing more. No chocolate for the children. It was one of the creepiest moments in the history of colonialism.

The unemployment rate in Gaza is 50%, the highest in the world. Half the population depends on food aid. The aquifer is polluted and increasingly salty from rising seas owing to climate change, so truly clean water is available to only about 5 percent of the population. Israel has several water purification plants. The Palestinians of Gaza do not.

There is no equivalence between Israel and Gaza. Israel has the best-equipped military in the Middle East and has several hundred nuclear bombs, Its gross domestic product (nominal) per capita is on the order of $42,000 per year.

The nominal GDP per capita in Palestine is $3000, and those who live in Gaza earn less yet.

On 19 May 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin who was selected because he is both a Black and a neoconservative, headlined at the ‘Defense’ department, “Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s Phone Call With Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin ‘Benny’ Gantz,” and here is the entirety of that news-report:

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke today with Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin “Benny” Gantz.  Secretary Austin underscored his continued support for Israel’s right to defend itself, reviewed assessments of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, and urged de-escalation of the conflict.

The United States Government has ‘urged de-escalation’ but “underscored [its] continued support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” while exterminating Gazans.

Also on May 19th, the White House issued a statement about the phone conversation that day between Biden and Netanyahu, “The president conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.”

However, on the morning of Thursday, May 20th, CNBC reported that, “Israel launched a fresh wave of airstrikes over the Gaza strip early Thursday in what it says are continued operations to take out Hamas targets.” That action by Netanyahu — a flagrant disregard for what U.S. President Biden had publicly instructed him to do (and the United States Government donates annually $3.8 billion to Israel for purchase of U.S.-made weapons) — was very embarrassing for Biden. However, Biden had not publicly threatened Netanyahu, but had only instructed him. Therefore, the question, at this point, was whether Netanyahu’s disobedience would be publicly punished (such as by means of applying U.S. sanctions against Israel and against Netanyahu personally). Which was the master, and which was the slave, in the U.S.-Israel relationship? Absent a public punishment of Israel for its disobedience, Israel would appear to be the master, and the U.S. its slave.

Also on May 20th, Al Jazeera, a news-operation that represents the royal family of Qatar, headlined “Death, destruction in Gaza as Israel defies truce call: Live”, and reported that, “Israeli fighter jets continued to pound the Gaza Strip on Thursday, … as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied calls for a de-escalation.” This was specific public recognition that Israel was defying the publicly announced policy of the U.S. Government.

It’s good to know what America stands for, and has been standing for, at least after the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, if not ever since Harry S. Truman became America’s President in 1945. The United States has certainly been like this, continually, for a very long time.

So has Israel.

It is now out in the open. If Biden will retaliate strongly against Israel, he will change U.S. foreign policy since 1945. If he fails to retaliate at all, he will be profoundly embarrassed. If he continues to try to walk the fence on this matter, then, since it’s all out in the open now, the United States itself will be profoundly embarrassed. No matter what he does, the future will not be like the past. This juncture is a historical turning-point, whichever way he might turn.

The post Israel is Ethnically Cleansing Gaza first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How the United States Helps To Kill Palestinians

Photo credit: Stop the War Coalition

The U.S. corporate media usually report on Israeli military assaults in occupied Palestine as if the United States is an innocent neutral party to the conflict. In fact, large majorities of Americans have told pollsters for decades that they want the United States to be neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But U.S. media and politicians betray their own lack of neutrality by blaming Palestinians for nearly all the violence and framing flagrantly disproportionate, indiscriminate and therefore illegal Israeli attacks as a justifiable response to Palestinian actions. The classic formulation from U.S. officials and commentators is that “Israel has the right to defend itself,” never “Palestinians have the right to defend themselves,” even as the Israelis massacre hundreds of Palestinian civilians, destroy thousands of Palestinian homes and seize ever more Palestinian land.

The disparity in casualties in Israeli assaults on Gaza speaks for itself.

  • At the time of writing, the current Israeli assault on Gaza has killed at least 200 people, including 59 children and 35 women, while rockets fired from Gaza have killed 10 people in Israel, including 2 children.
  • In the 2008-9 assault on Gaza, Israel killed 1,417 Palestinians, while their meagre efforts to defend themselves killed 9 Israelis.
  • In 2014, 2,251 Palestinians and 72 Israelis (mostly soldiers invading Gaza) were killed, as U.S.-built F-16s dropped at least 5,000 bombs and missiles on Gaza and Israeli tanks and artillery fired 49,500 shells, mostly massive 6-inch shells from U.S.-built M-109 howitzers.
  • In response to largely peaceful “March of Return” protests at the Israel-Gaza border in 2018, Israeli snipers killed 183 Palestinians and wounded over 6,100, including 122 that required amputations, 21 paralyzed by spinal cord injuries and 9 permanently blinded.

As with the Saudi-led war on Yemen and other serious foreign policy problems, biased and distorted news coverage by U.S. corporate media leaves many Americans not knowing what to think. Many simply give up trying to sort out the rights and wrongs of what is happening and instead blame both sides, and then focus their attention closer to home, where the problems of society impact them more directly and are easier to understand and do something about.

So how should Americans respond to horrific images of bleeding, dying children and homes reduced to rubble in Gaza? The tragic relevance of this crisis for Americans is that, behind the fog of war, propaganda and commercialized, biased media coverage, the United States bears an overwhelming share of responsibility for the carnage taking place in Palestine.

U.S. policy has perpetuated the crisis and atrocities of the Israeli occupation by unconditionally supporting Israel in three distinct ways: militarily, diplomatically and politically.

On the military front, since the creation of the Israeli state, the United States has provided $146 billion in foreign aid, nearly all of it military-related. It currently provides $3.8 billion per year in military aid to Israel.

In addition, the United States is the largest seller of weapons to Israel, whose military arsenal now includes 362 U.S.-built F-16 warplanes and 100 other U.S. military aircraft, including a growing fleet of the new F-35s; at least 45 Apache attack helicopters; 600 M-109 howitzers and 64 M270 rocket-launchers. At this very moment, Israel is using many of these U.S.-supplied weapons in its devastating bombardment of Gaza.

The U.S. military alliance with Israel also involves joint military exercises and joint production of Arrow missiles and other weapons systems. The U.S. and Israeli militaries have collaborated on drone technologies tested by the Israelis in Gaza. In 2004, the United States called on Israeli forces with experience in the Occupied Territories to give tactical training to U.S. Special Operations Forces as they confronted popular resistance to the United States’ hostile military occupation of Iraq.

The U.S. military also maintains a $1.8 billion stockpile of weapons at six locations in Israel, pre-positioned for use in future U.S. wars in the Middle East. During the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, even as the U.S. Congress suspended some weapons deliveries to Israel, it approved handing over stocks of 120mm mortar shells and 40mm grenade launcher ammunition from the U.S. stockpile for Israel to use against Palestinians in Gaza.

Diplomatically, the United States has exercised its veto in the UN Security Council 82 times, and 44 of those vetoes have been to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes or human rights violations. In every single case, the United States has been the lone vote against the resolution, although a few other countries have occasionally abstained.

It is only the United States’ privileged position as a veto-wielding Permanent Member of the Security Council, and its willingness to abuse that privilege to shield its ally Israel, that gives it this unique power to stymie international efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for its actions under international law.

The result of this unconditional U.S. diplomatic shielding of Israel has been to encourage increasingly barbaric Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. With the United States blocking any accountability in the Security Council, Israel has seized ever more Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uprooted more and more Palestinians from their homes and responded to the resistance of largely unarmed people with ever-increasing violence, detentions and restrictions on day-to-day life.

Thirdly, on the political front, despite most Americans supporting neutrality in the conflict, AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbying groups have exercised an extraordinary role in bribing and intimidating U.S. politicians to provide unconditional support for Israel.

The roles of campaign contributors and lobbyists in the corrupt U.S. political system make the United States uniquely vulnerable to this kind of influence peddling and intimidation, whether it is by monopolistic corporations and industry groups like the Military-Industrial Complex and Big Pharma, or well-funded interest groups like the NRA, AIPAC and, in recent years, lobbyists for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

On April 22, just weeks before this latest assault on Gaza, the overwhelming majority of congresspeople, 330 out of 435, signed a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee opposing any reduction or conditioning of US monies to Israel. The letter represented a show of force from AIPAC and a repudiation of calls from some progressives in the Democratic Party to condition or otherwise restrict aid to Israel.

President Joe Biden, who has a long history of supporting Israeli crimes, responded to the latest massacre by insisting on Israel’s “right to defend itself” and inanely hoping that “this will be closing down sooner than later.” His UN ambassador also shamefully blocked a call for a ceasefire at the UN Security Council.

The silence and worse from President Biden and most of our representatives in Congress at the massacre of civilians and mass destruction of Gaza is unconscionable. The independent voices speaking out forcefully for Palestinians, including Senator Sanders and Representatives Tlaib, Omar and Ocasio-Cortez, show us what real democracy looks like, as do the massive protests that have filled U.S. streets all over the country.

US policy must be reversed to reflect international law and the shifting US opinion in favor of Palestinian rights. Every Member of Congress must be pushed to sign the bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum insisting that US funds to Israel are not used “to support the military detention of Palestinian children, the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank, or further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law.”

Congress must also be pressured to quickly enforce the Arms Export Control Act and the Leahy Laws to stop supplying any more U.S. weapons to Israel until it stops using them to attack and kill civilians.

The United States has played a vital and instrumental role in the decades-long catastrophe that has engulfed the people of Palestine. U.S. leaders and politicians must now confront their country’s and, in many cases, their own personal complicity in this catastrophe, and act urgently and decisively to reverse U.S. policy to support full human rights for all Palestinians.

The post How the United States Helps To Kill Palestinians first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Second Stage Terror Wars

We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.

– William Casey, CIA Director, February. 1981

It is well known that the endless U.S. war on terror was overtly launched following the mass murders of September 11, 2001 and the linked anthrax attacks.   The invasion of Afghanistan and the Patriot Act were immediately justified by those insider murders, and subsequently the wars against Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.  So too the terrorizing of the American people with constant fear-mongering about imminent Islamic terrorist attacks from abroad that never came.

It is less well known that the executive director of the U.S. cover story – the fictional 9/11 Commission Report – was Philip Zelikow, who controlled and shaped the report from start to finish.

It is even less well known that Zelikow, a professor at the University of Virginia, was closely associated with Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Dickey Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Brent Scowcroft, et al. and had served in various key intelligence positions in both the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. In 2011 President Obama named him to his President’s Intelligence Advisory Board as befits bi-partisan elite rule and coverup compensation across political parties.

Perhaps it’s unknown or just forgotten that The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission repeatedly called for Zelikow’s removal, claiming that his appointment made a farce of the claim that the Commission was independent.

Zelikow said that for the Commission to consider alternative theories to the government’s claims about Osama bin Laden was akin to whacking moles.  This is the man, who at the request of his colleague Condoleezza Rice, became the primary author of (NSS 2002) The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, that declared that the U.S. would no longer abide by international law but was adopting a policy of preemptive war, as declared by George W. Bush at West Point in June 2002.  This was used as justification for the attack on Iraq in 2003 and was a rejection of the charter of the United Nations.

So, based on Zelikow’s work creating a magic mountain of deception while disregarding so-called molehills, we have had twenty years of American terror wars around the world in which U.S. forces have murdered millions of innocent people.  Wars that will be continuing for years to come despite rhetoric to the contrary.  The rhetoric is simply propaganda to cover up the increasingly technological and space-based nature of these wars and the use of mercenaries and special forces.

Simultaneously, in a quasi-volte-face, the Biden administration has directed its resources inward toward domestic “terrorists”: that is, anyone who disagrees with its policies.  This is especially aimed at those who question the COVID-19 story.

Now Zelikow has been named to head a COVID Commission Planning Group based at the University of Virginia that is said to prepare the way for a National COVID Commission.  The group is funded by the Schmidt Futures, the Skoll Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Stand Together, with more expected to join in.  Zelikow, a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program Advisory Panel, will lead the group that will work in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Stand together indeed: Charles Koch, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, the Rockefellers, et al. funders of disinterested truth.

So once again the fox is in the hen house.

If you wistfully think the corona crisis will soon come to an end, I suggest you alter your perspective.  Zelikow’s involvement, among other things, suggests we are in the second phase of a long war of terror waged with two weapons – military and medical – whose propaganda messaging is carried out by the corporate mainstream media in the pursuit of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset. Part one has so far lasted twenty years; part two may last longer. You can be certain it won’t end soon and that the new terrorists are domestic dissidents.

Did anyone think the freedoms lost with The Patriot Act were coming back some day?  Does anyone think the freedoms lost with the corona virus propaganda are coming back?  Many people probably have no idea what freedoms they lost with the Patriot Act, and many don’t even care.

And today?  Lockdowns, mandatory mask wearing, travel restrictions, requirements to be guinea pigs for vaccines that are not vaccines, etc.?

Who remembers the Nuremberg Codes?

And they thought they were free, as Milton Mayer wrote about the Germans under Hitler.  Like frogs in a pot of cold water, we need to feel the temperature rising before it’s too late.  The dial is turned to high heat now.

But that was so long ago and far away, right?  Don’t exaggerate, you say.  Hitler and all that crap.

Are you thankful now that government spokespeople are blatantly saying that they will so kindly give us back some freedoms if we only do what they’re told and get “vaccinated” with an experimental biological agent, wear our masks, etc.? Hoi polloi are supposed to be grateful to their masters, who will grant some summer fun until they slam the door shut again.

Pfizer raked in $3.5 billion from vaccine sales in the first quarter of 2021, the first three months of the vaccine rollouts, and the company projects $26 billion for the year.  That’s one vaccine manufacturer.  Chump change?  Only a chump would not realize that Pfizer is the company that paid $2.3 billion in Federal criminal fines in 2009 – the largest ever paid by a drug company – for being a repeat offender in the marketing of 13 different drugs.

Meanwhile, the commission justifying the government’s claims about COVID-19 and injections (aka “vaccines”) will be hard at work writing their fictive report that will justify ex post facto the terrible damage that has occurred and that will continue to occur for many years.  Censorship and threats against dissidents will increase.  The disinformation that dominates the corporate mainstream media will of course continue, but this will be supplemented by alternative media that are already buckling under the pressure to conform.

The fact that there has been massive censorship of dissenting voices by Google/ YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc., and equally massive disinformation by commission and omission across media platforms, should make everyone ask why.  Why repress dissent?  The answer should be obvious but is not.

The fact that so many refuse to see the significance of this censorship clearly shows the hypnotic effects of a massive mind control operation.

Name calling and censorship are sufficient.  Perfectly healthy people have now become a danger to others.  So mask up, get your experimental shot, and shut up!

Your body is no longer inviolable.  You must submit to medical procedures on your body whether you want them or not.  Do not object or question. If you do, you will be punished and will become a pariah.  The authorities will call you crazy, deviant, selfish. They will take away your rights to travel and engage in normal activities, such as attend college, etc.

Please do not recall The Nuremberg Code.  Especially number 7: “Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability or death.” (my emphasis)

“Now is the time to just do what you are told,” as Anthony Fauci so benevolently declared.

I am not making a prediction.  The authorities have told us what’s coming. Pay attention.  Don’t be fooled.  It’s a game they have devised.  Keep people guessing.  On edge.  Relieved.  Tense.  Relaxed.  Shocked.  Confused.  That’s the game.  One day this, the next that.  You’re on, you’re off.  You’re in, you’re out.  We are allowing you this freedom, but be good children or we will have to retract it.  If you misbehave, you will get a time out.  Time to contemplate your sins.

If you once thought that COVID-19 would be a thing of the past by now, or ever, think again.  On May 3, 2021 The New York Times reported that the virus is here to stay.  This was again reported on May 10.  Hopes Fade for Global Herd Immunity.  You may recall that we were told such immunity would be achieved once enough people got the “vaccine” or enough people contracted the virus and developed antibodies.

On May 9, on ABC News, Dr. Fauci, when asked about indoor mask requirements being relaxed, said, “I think so, and I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along, and as more people get vaccinated.”  Then he added: “We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated.”

But then, in what CNN reported as a Mother’s Day prediction, he pushed the date for “normality” out another year, saying, “I hope that [by] next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now. I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.  We’ve got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated. When that happens, the virus doesn’t really have any place to go. You’re not going to see a surge. You’re not going to see the kinds of numbers we see now.”

He said this with a straight face even though the experimental “vaccines,” by their makers own admissions, do not prevent the vaccinated from getting the virus or passing it on.  They allege it only mitigates the severity of the virus if you contract it.

Notice the language and the vaccination meme repeated three times: “We get more people vaccinated.” (my emphasis) Not that more people choose to get vaccinated, but “we get” them vaccinated.  Thank you, Big Daddy. And now we have another year to go until “we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.”  Interesting phrase: as we can.  It other words: we will never return to normality but will have to settle for the new normal that will involve fewer freedoms.  Life will be reset, a great reset.  Great for the few and terrible for the many.

Once two vaccines were enough; then, no, maybe one is sufficient; no, you will need annual or semi-annual booster shots to counteract the new strains that they say are coming.  It’s a never-ending story with never-ending new strains in a massive never-ending medical experiment.  The virus is changing so quickly and herd immunity is now a mystical idea, we are told, that it will never be achieved.  We will have to be eternally vigilant.

But wait.  Don’t despair.  It looks like restrictions are easing up for the coming summer in the northern hemisphere. Lockdowns will be loosened.  If you felt like a prisoner for the past year plus, now you will be paroled for a while. But don’t dispose of those masks just yet.  Fauci says that wearing masks could become seasonal following the pandemic because people have become accustomed to wearing them and that’s why the flu has disappeared. The masks didn’t prevent COVID-19 but eliminated the flu.  Are you laughing yet?

Censorship and lockdowns and masks and mandatory injections are like padded cells in a madhouse and hospital world where free-association doesn’t lead to repressed truths because free association isn’t allowed, neither in word nor deed.  Speaking freely and associating with others are too democratic. Yes, we thought we were free.  False consciousness is pandemic.  Exploitation is seen as benevolence. Silence reigns.  And the veiled glances signify the ongoing terror that has spread like a virus.

We are now in a long war with two faces.  As with the one justified by the mass murders of September 11, 2001, this viral one isn’t going away.

The question is: Do we have to wait twenty years to grasp the obvious and fight for our freedoms?

We can be assured that Zelikow and his many associates at Covid Collaborative, including General Stanley McChrystal, Robert Gates, Arnie Duncan, Deval Patrick, Tom Ridge, et al. – a whole host of Republicans and Democrats backed by great wealth and institutional support, will not be “whacking moles” in their search for truth.  Their agenda is quite different.

But then again, you may recall where they stood on the mass murders of September 11, 2001 and the endless wars that have followed.

The post Second Stage Terror Wars first appeared on Dissident Voice.