Category Archives: The Lobby

A False Accusation of Antisemitism from Where You Would Least Expect It

I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.

— Benjamin Netayahu, 2001, quoted in Ha’aretz, July 15, 2010

It is not uncommon, of course, to be labeled “anti-Semitic” for calling attention to the inordinate power of the Israel Lobby over our political processes or suggesting that the Iraq War was launched on Israel’s behalf. The last place that I would expect to find such an allegation, however, was on the CounterPunch website to which I have contributed a number of articles on the subject over the years.

On August 2nd in an opinion piece by Ron Jacobs, headlined, “Israel—The Largest US Aircraft Carrier in the World,” those, like myself, who have described, in detail, on CounterPunch and elsewhere, the manner in which the Israel Lobby controls both Congress and the White House on issues relating to Israel, were accused of propagating “what is an essentially anti-Semitic argument concerning the nature of the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance.”

That Jacobs, a veteran of the Sixties as long of tooth as myself, a prolific writer and frequent contributor to Left publications, would make such an allegation, after what we have learned about the role of pro-Israel Jewish neocons in fomenting the Iraq War and following that, implementing crippling sanctions on Iran while agitating against the nuclear agreement with Tehran, is as mind boggling as it is insulting.

Jacobs did this under the cover of what purports to be a review of a new book by historian Stephen Gowans, Israel: A Beachhead in the Middle East, which Jacobs contends is “a necessary and forceful rebuke of those on the left and right who insist that Washington is Israeli-occupied territory.”

First, a book review it is not. One cannot do justice to any serious book in just 764 words which is the length of Jacobs’ piece, although whether Gowans’ book which amplifies the charge of antisemitism can be taken seriously is open to question.

If not a book review then, what is it? Let’s start with the title, a quote from the late general and Secretary of State Alexander Haig whose very sanity came into question following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan when Vice-President George HW Bush was away from the capital. At that point, as the New York Times described it, Haig “raced upstairs [to the press room] and went directly to the lectern before a television audience of millions. His knuckles whitening, his arms shaking, Mr. Haig declared to the world, ‘I am in control here, in the White House.’ He did not give that appearance.”

In any case, Gowans use of Haig’s quote in his book turned out to be hearsay from a dubious source.

From Jacobs’ opening sentence, it seems clear that his intention was to provide “damage control” for the plethora of predominantly Jewish organizations whose primary raison d’etre is pushing the agenda of the Netanyahu government on Capitol Hill whose activities, not to mention, existence, have been largely ignored or dismissed by others on the “Left” who share Jacobs’ aversion to blaming even a segment of American Jews for anything. (Think Noam Chomsky, Phyllis Bennis, Stephen Zunes).

“The Israeli government does not control the foreign policy of the United States.,” is how Jacobs began his article. True, but none of those he is criticizing argue that it is and Jacobs must surely know this. They affirm, with considerable evidence to back it up, that supporters of the Israeli government are largely responsible for shaping US policies in the Middle East and nowhere else. In other words, Jacobs has created a straw man.

If we restrict ourselves to this millennium, one only has to look at the appointees from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) that George W Bush brought into his administration, and particularly to the Pentagon and who became activated, like sleeper cells, after the events of September 11.

From PNAC, came a troop of 20, foremost among them, Dick Cheney, Dubya’s Vice-President, Donald Rumsfeld, (Secretary of Defense), Paul Wolfowitz, (Deputy Secretary of Defense), Richard Perle, (Defense Advisory Board), Doug Feith, (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), Lewis (Scooter) Libby (Cheney’s Chief of Staff), and John Bolton who received a recess appointment as UN ambassador when it was clear he wouldn’t get Senate approval. (Bolton would later be hailed by Israel’s UN ambassador, Dan Gillerman, as “the sixth man in our office” and last year, after replacing H.R. McMaster as Trump’s National Security Adviser, he received the “Defender of Israel” award from the Zionist Organization of America).

Launched in 1997 by neocons Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, (son of Irving Kristol, the neocon movement’s co-founder), PNAC drew attention on Capitol Hill the following year when it sent a letter to then President Bill Clinton, calling on him to overthrow Saddam. Among its signatories were Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. Legislation was passed, the Iraq Liberation Act, in 1998, which stated that it was US policy to oust Saddam but no action was taken or contemplated.

What makes the Israeli connection indisputable was that PNAC was preceded a year earlier by a policy paper prepared for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Its authors were a study group led by Perle which included Feith, David Wurmser and his Israeli wife Meyrav Wurmser and called for the removal of Saddam Hussein, highlighting Iraq’s possession of “weapons of mass destruction.” Wurmser would go on to become a Middle East Advisor for Vice President Cheney and with Feith, help set up the Office of Special Plans to produce evidence of Iraq’s WMDs when the CIA failed to come up with it.

What those who insist that the 2003 war on Iraq was just a continuation of traditional US imperialist policies refuse to acknowledge is that the invasion of Iraq marked a 180 degree break with what US Middle Eastern policy had been up to that point, namely, to maintain stability in that oil rich region.

That is why former president George HW Bush, his Secretary of State, James Baker and his National Security Advisor, former general, Brent Scowcroft, publicly opposed the war and why Bush Sr resisted demands from the neocons and Israel’s allies in the media, to have US troops march to Baghdad and remove Saddam from power after ousting Iraqi troops from Kuwait a decade earlier.

When this fact was pointed out to George W Bush by Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dubya responded, “I answer to a higher father.”

Before the war went south, Perle and Wolfowitz were competing in the media for credit for the great victory over Saddam. Both men, along with Cheney, Feith, and Bolton, were also members of JINSA’s Advisory Board, an influential but little known neocon operation that came into existence in 1976, apparently in response to President Gerald Ford having suspended a shipment of US jet fighters to Israel for six months upon Israel’s refusal to give up land in the Egyptian Sinai that it had captured in the October 1973 war.

Moreover, Ford sent a private letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warning him about a likely re-evaluation of US-Israel relations, hinting that he might call for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. Rabin made the letter public which alerted AIPAC to respond. It struck back against Ford by getting 76 senators, three-quarters of that body, to sign a letter to the president, warning him that the US-Israeli bond was sacrosanct and should not be meddled with. Ford quickly backed off and over the years, many more such letters, drafted by AIPAC, would reach the desk of our presidents.

JINSA saw its goal as making sure that the US and Israeli militaries would become so entwined that no future president would ever contemplate or be able to disentangle the armed forces of both countries. To ensure that, it created a large advisory board composed of former generals and admirals and a few police chiefs while arranging programs to take newly retiring generals and admirals on all expense paid trips to Israel. There are currently 57 former generals and admirals on the JINSA advisory board. The first and last article about JINSA in a national publication appeared in The Nation in 2002 and like PNAC, its existence has been ignored by those engaged in damage control on Israel’s behalf.

Even Colin Powell’s attribution of the war to Donald Rumsfeld’s embrace by “the JINSA crowd,” in Karen DeYoung’s biography of Powell, Soldier, did not stir any of the latter to reconsider their positions.

Going back to the first US war on Iraq, all of the sanctions put in place against governments viewed by Israel as its enemies, have largely been the work of AIPAC and its sister organizations such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. WINEP or TWI (its current acronym) was spawned by AIPAC in 1985 in order to make the step from lobbying for Israel to actually making policy itself. It has become arguably the most influential of the Beltway think tanks whose “experts” routinely appear before Congressional committees and whose op-ed pieces invariably find their way into the opinion sections of our leading newspapers and the inboxes of members of Congress.

To enforce the sanctions, after 9/11, President Bush set up a special department in the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence which, beginning with the appointment of pro-Israel zealot, Stuart Levey, became the exclusive provenance of pro-Israel Jews, the latest of whom, Sigal Mandelker, is actually an Israeli. It is this department, in essence, an arm of the Israeli government, that determines what countries and companies are adhering to or breaking sanctions on Iran and Syria and which organizations should be placed on the terrorist watch list.

When Obama took office, the Israeli press reported that Levey had made a special trip to Israel to assure Netanyahu that under the new president, nothing would change.

Were there not sanctions on Iraq and on Iran, the major US oil companies would have been more than happy to do business with both countries. The last company that tried, Conoco, was obliged to cancel a deal it had made with Tehran in March, 1995.

The only way the Obama Administration was able to sign the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Iran and the other members of the UN Security Council plus Germany was to declare it to be an agreement, not a treaty, thus avoiding having a vote on it by the Senate where it would surely have been defeated. Not to be denied, Israel’s friends in Washington had the Senate pass a bill requiring Obama and succeeding presidents to ratify US participation in the agreement every 90 days. This was the equivalent of a poison pill and a perfect set-up for Donald Trump.

There is far too much evidence of Israel’s control of Washington to include in this short article but two more items should seal the debate.

The first begins in 2015 in Las Vegas when Jewish multi billionaire Sheldon Adelson held two auditions for prospective Republican presidential candidates at his Venetian Hotel to determine which one would be the best for Israel. Adelson was at the time and still is the owner of the most widely read newspaper in Israel, Israel Hayom, which is provided free and has been seen, until recently, as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu. On the day he opened his newspaper, he apologized to his Israeli audience for having “worn the uniform of the US army and not the Israeli Defense Forces,” a clip of which can still be seen on You Tube.

Adelson’s choices after the auditions were first Ted Cruz and then Marco Rubio. When both failed to attract the voters, Adelson switched to Trump, pumping tens of millions of dollars into his campaign and, judging from Trump’s gifts to Israel, not the least of which was moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, it is safe to say that Adelson bought himself a president.

Cut now to last December, in Florida, at the annual convention of the relatively new Israeli American Council, the major funder of which happens to be Adelson. On the stage as the host was Israeli-American Haim Saban, one of the Democratic Party’s major funders who once boasted to a New Yorker writer that he was a “one issue man and that issue is Israel.”

It was shortly after the November mid-term elections and Saban was interviewing the returning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, the Senate’s top ranking Democrat. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) described it on Dec. 2:

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat who likely will be speaker of the new US House of Representatives, listed pro-Israel lawmakers she plans to name to key committee positions and said her party remained fundamentally pro-Israel.

’We have people very well placed to share our values,’ Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in addressing the final event Sunday of the annual Israeli-American Council conference, after listing planned assignments.

Pelosi said she would name Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York, to chair the Appropriations Committee; Eliot Engel, D-New York, to chair the Foreign Affairs Committee; Ted Deutch, D-Florida, to chair the Middle East subcommittee; Adam Schiff, D-California, to chair the Intelligence Committee; Alcee Hastings, D-Florida, to chair the human rights-monitoring Helsinki Committee; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, to a key Appropriations Committee position; and Lois Frankel, D-Florida, to a key Foreign Affairs Committee position.

All have longstanding pro-Israel records and all but Hastings are Jewish.”1

Pelosi’s exchange with Saban can still be viewed on You Tube but don’t look for any report on that conference outside of the Jewish press. The corporate media, like Congress, is under the thumb of the Israel Lobby.

  1. Wasserman-Schultz had been the chair of the DNC who was forced to resign after the release by WikiLeaks of the DNC’s emails exposed the DNC’s efforts to sabotage Bernie Sanders on Hillary Clinton’s behalf. Obviously, that did not hurt her in Pelosi’s eyes.

They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!

In his 22 years in Congress (1960-1982), Paul Findley achieved a sterling record for fundamental positions, proposals and breakthroughs that revealed a great man, pure and simple. He never stopped learning and applying his knowledge to advance the right course of action, regardless of political party, ideology or pressure from various groups.

Findley, a courteous, kindly, ex-World War II navy veteran passed away earlier this month at the age of 98 in his home town of Jacksonville, Illinois. The District he represented was the one Abraham Lincoln was elected from for his one term in the House of Representatives. Findley was a student of Lincoln’s life, and embraced Lincoln’s view that “a politician should be willing to reject outmoded ways of thinking that no longer fit the times.”

Findley was a thoughtful, studious legislator with a superb sense of justice. He was an early civil rights champion. His opposition to runaway Presidential war-making was reflected in his leading support for the War Powers Act of 1973, though he wanted stronger curbs on the White House’s unilateral militarism.

Having been a journalist and owner of a small-town newspaper – the Pike Press, before going to Congress in 1960, Findley used his writing skills to explain issues regarding agricultural policies, a foreign policy of diplomacy and peace, and nuclear arms controls. He was an outspoken early opponent of the Vietnam War and a critic of the Pentagon’s chronically wasteful spending. He was not a “press-release” legislator, staking out his opinions and leaving it at that. He worked hard and smart to lead, to persuade, to get down to the minute details of coalition-building, lawmaking and legislating.

Back in Jacksonville, after his Congressional career ended in 1982, Findley wrote books and articles and lectured around the country. He courageously defended Americans of the Islamic faith, after 9/11, from bias, exclusion and intimidation. He did his civic duties with local associations. He also started the Lucille Findley Educational Foundation, in memory of his beloved wife – an Army nurse – he met in war-time Guam. They had two children. He always found time to be helpful, to serve others both locally and nationally. He also played tennis daily into his mid-eighties.

Findley possessed more than a streak of mid-west populism. Agricultural subsidies disproportionately going to a few wealthy landowners upset him greatly. He got through the House, after years of rejection, and over the objections of the Republican leadership, a $20,000 yearly limit of such subsidies per farm. The measure failed in the Senate.

Once again, in 1973, he bucked his Party and introduced an impeachment resolution against Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew, who later resigned in disgrace over a bribery scandal.

It was Findley’s interest in U.S. policies and operations in the Middle East, following his 1973 successful effort to obtain the release of a constituent from South Yemen that showed his moral courage, his belief in dialogue between adversaries and his commitment to the treatment of all people with dignity and respect. It also led to his defeat by Democrat Richard J. Durbin, now Illinois’s senior Senator.

Findley learned that the dispossessed and occupied Palestinian people were being treated unfairly and deprived of their human rights and self-determination. He visited refugee camps in the region. He met with Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and he urged peaceful diplomatic resolution of that conflict. For this sensible, though rare outreach by a Congressional lawmaker, he earned the immense enmity of U.S. partisans of the Israeli government. How dare he speak out on behalf of Palestinians, even though, he continued to vote for foreign aid to a prosperous militarily advanced Israeli superpower?

As the New York Times reported: “He became convinced that the influential pro-Israel lobby known as Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had a stranglehold on American politicians that prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state and prevented rational dealings with Arab leaders in general.”

AIPAC activists, nationally and with their local affiliates, openly mobilized to defeat Findley in the 1980 election. They failed to do so. In 1982, they tried again, helping his Democratic opponent, Richard Durbin, to end Findley’s Congressional career by a margin of less than 1500 votes. AIPAC took credit for the win, raising over 80 percent of Durbin’s $750,000 in campaign funds from around the country. AIPAC’s executive director told a gathering in Texas: “We beat the odds and defeated Findley.”

Three years later, in 1985, Findley wrote and published his bold book They Dare to Speak Out, that described his efforts at peaceful advocacy for a two-state solution, which is now supported by many Israelis and Jewish Americans. In his book, he profiled other Americans who dared to speak out, and who endured intimidating slander and ostracism. Findley’s documentation of the suppression of their freedom of speech was an early precursor of what is going on now.

It was acceptable for the early patriots to boycott British tea, for civil rights leaders to boycott certain businesses in the South, for opponents of South Africa’s apartheid to launch a worldwide economic boycott. But some state governments impose sanctions on their contractors if they merely speak out in favor of the call to boycott, divest and sanction Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine and its millions of Palestinians. (Today, Palestine is only twenty two percent the size of the original Palestine).

Findley wrote his autobiography in 2011. But it will take a fuller biography to place this modest lawmaker/public citizen, and wager of peace over unlawful wars and rampant militarism, in the conforming context of his times. His career contrasts with the present big business, Wall Street over Main Street, militaristic GOP and shows that the Republican Party didn’t always demand rigid unanimity.

To his credit, Senator Durbin eulogized Paul Findley, as “An exceptional public servant and friend.” He added that the man he defeated was “an elected official who showed exceptional courage in tackling the age old controversies in the Middle East.”

Senator Durbin could not say this about a single Republican in either the Senate or the House today, nor of over 95 percent of the Democrats.

Trump vs. the Squad, or the Fascist Use of Zionism

The strategy is clear. Whether Trump confronts Sleepy Joe, Crazy Bernie, Pocahontas or some other Democratic opponent in the presidential race, he will target the “Squad” of newly elected freshman congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.

Trump has decided to (1) depict them as the real face of the Democratic Party; (2) attack them as socialists and radical leftists; (3) misrepresent their criticisms of Israel as egregious anti-Semitism, and (4) win the 2020 election by posing as the savior who revived the U.S. economy versus the party of people who hate America and Israel.

This strategy combines the racist, misogynistic, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim themes that have worked well for Trump so far, with Cold War-style red-baiting, fawning devotion to the Jewish state, and old-fashioned character assassination. “They hate our country,” Trump repeats. Why don’t they leave?

Those of us who grew up in the 60s recall the right-wing slogan, directed against critics of the Vietnam War, “America—love it or leave it!” The simple logic being that people complaining about the country didn’t belong in what should have been a solid landscape of pro-war nationalism. You’d think the stupidity of that slogan, implicitly a call for slavish devotion to the state, would be obvious in 2019. But no, it’s not. Trump has revived it, testing its resonance.

Some take comfort in the fact that Trump has walked back and stated that he did not in fact agree with the infamous chant at his June 19 rally: “Send her back, send her back, send her back!” (He just stood there frowning and nodding in apparent approval for 13 seconds.) This disavowal, they may think, somewhat mitigates the fascist threat. The president is not in fact calling for mass expulsion of dissidents, even Muslims who complain. He is not in fact encouraging the mob to demand the expulsion of an immigrant refugee who became a congresswoman.

Yet Trump stresses the innate goodness of the hateful mob–noting as always its amazing size–expressing its righteous outrage at the Squad members’ statements. Told many were unhappy with the fascistic chant, Trump blamed the victim, retorting: “I’m unhappy with the fact that a Congresswoman can hate our country.” (They started this, not me.)

The president arrogates to himself the right to define what constitutes hate speech. And racist speech, which he denies he’s ever used. What sort of hateful speech does he refer to, when he accuses Omar of anti-Semitism?

In a recent column on Mondoweiss, Philip Weiss lists the four statements for which Ilhan Omar has been faulted with that offense. (Trump implies to his followers that he has “pages and pages” of “vicious” anti-Semitic statements by the four congresswomen, but has been very vague on specifics. He is lying.)

(1) In 2012 while working as a nutritionist in the Minnesota public school system, during the Israeli assault on Gaza that killed over 100 Palestinian civilians, Omar tweeted: Israel “has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

(2) Five weeks after being elected to Congress after journalist Glenn Greenwald expressed puzzlement that Republicans in Congress would want to punish Omar and Tlaib for their criticisms of Israel Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” The Israel Lobby has plenty of money and uses it to promote uncritical support for Israel and to discourage criticism. “Benjamins” refers to $ 100 bills, which bear the image of Benjamin Franklin. It is not an anti-Semitic reference. But Trump has frowningly noted this tweet, adding, “She should never have said that!” implying that he will be using this particular tweet against her so long as it fires up his followers.

(3) Asked to explain the tweet, Omar curtly replied: “AIPAC!” The American Israel Political Affairs Committee is of course the most significant group within the Lobby, and helps insure that Israel receives near-unconditional support from the U.S. Congress. It would be naïve to underestimate its importance. But the Lobby responds to any criticism of itself with accusations of anti-Semitism designed to intimidate.

(4) At a “progressive town hall” in Washington, D.C. in February, Omar said: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” While awkwardly expressed, her point is apparently that the Israel Lobby promotes the idea that the U.S. and Israel are so closely allied and so bound together through “common values” and religious tradition that loyalty to the one cannot conflict with loyalty to the other, and that indeed to be a good American you need to support Israel. This would be an accurate depiction of the problem. Surely Trump is conflating love of Israel with Americanism as he seeks to isolate and vilify the Squad.

He wants to promote patriotic and pro-Israel outrage, posturing as both the flag-kissing nationalist and best friend of Netanyahu while wages a Hermann Göring-like campaign against his sharpest critics. As the New York Times keeps reminding us, there is no end to his lies.

In fact, none of these four brief statements by Omar attacks or disparages Jews as Jews. But she has hit nerves. Nancy Pelosi berated her for promoting “anti-Semitic tropes”–a fancy way of saying that anytime you associate support of Israel with money, you reduce the dream of the Holocaust victims for a homeland, and the Christian Zionist’s dream of the Rapture, to mere material considerations, feeding bad stereotypes. It’s just politically unwise to mention money in the same sentence as Israel. Trump and Pelosi unite in their acceptance of Zionist ideological hegemony within U.S. politics. In their view, Israel was either created out of existential necessity, or in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy; in any case, its legitimacy must never be questioned.

No U.S. politician is allowed to frankly note that Israel was created through racist violence in 1948. No one stands up in Congress reminding its members that 711,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, in part through naked terrorism, to make way for the Jewish state formed mainly by recent European settlers claiming–with U.S. Evangelicals’ support–that “God gave this land to me.” A serious critique of Zionism is not possible within the constricted U.S. political universe. Exploitation of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment is on the other hand infinitely possible, as Trump knows full well.

“They hate our country, and they hate Israel.” Trump is probably going to combine these two allegations, crudely courting Jewish support, throughout the campaign. Thus the growing U.S. fascist trend supersedes earlier anti-Semitic fascisms in upholding the expansionist Jewish settler-state (that occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem and maintains the open-air concentration camp of Gaza); its anti-Semitism consists of support for the vicious oppression of the Palestinian Arabs at the hands of their fellow (Jewish) Semites.

It makes good sense for Trump to wage an electoral campaign based on the vilification of the opposing party as radical left, socialist and anti-Semitic, its key standard-bearers angry, foul-mouthed young women of color who hate their country and Israel. It makes sense to make, for your largely moronic racist base, the terms of the battle simple: us versus them.

Real Americans, happy smiling and free, versus the angry people who don’t belong here. With all the clear logic of a 10-year-old, Trump suggests that they love it or leave it.

If Omar can accuse Israel of “evil doings” just because it killed 100 Palestinians, and suggest that money influences Congressional votes on Israel, and that dual nationals may feel dual loyalties, she arouses Trump’s keen moral indignation. He adopts the Evangelical preacher’s soaring prophetic oratorical mode, and simplistic distinction between good and evil, and actually declares (to Omar) that “You can’t talk that way about our country–not while I’m president!”

So what is he gonna do about it? Trump will use attacks on her and the other three to further normalize the political culture of schoolyard bullying that he has brought to Washington, integrating both fascistic elements and abject deference to Israel, proving there’s no inherent contradiction between the two. And he will retain a base that will seize the next chance to chant “Send her back! Send her back!” so that Trump can smile, pause, shake his head, say, no, no… then let it go on longer, saying, okay, no, no…

Trump will now walk a fine line between encouraging and harnessing the racist energies of his worst adherents. He loves to rile them up, to hear them go crazy. To think you can do that just by demanding the death penalty for the Central Park Five, or questioning Obama’s birthplace, or advocating a Muslim ban, or building a wall and abusing children and separating families to discourage Hispanic immigration, or attacking elected Congresswomen because they are not white and they don’t love U.S. imperialism and criticize Israel!

Trump must rejoice in a world in which the pure stupidities he spews receive support that must exceed his expectations. I suspect that he tests the waters, wondering: how fascist can I go and make this still work for me? The occasional call from Steve Bannon might help. The present course is to attribute hatred of the country to any who criticize it for what it is (a capitalist, imperialist country with a deeply-rooted sexist and racist culture that must be changed) and/or criticize Israel for what it is (a settler-state built on Palestinian suffering). And then to sit back and watch how society responds.

“You can’t talk that way about our country,” says Trump, “not while I’m president!” And who will rid me of this meddlesome monk? Trump is positively inviting violence against those who do not embrace his MAGA vision, deliberately exacerbating contradictions. The effort could backfire and blow up in his face; this country’s youth are generally progressive, hate Trump and are very open to interpretation that is administration is fascistic. But his steady 40% support rate, never faltering whatever he does, is frightening–in part because it is so pro-Israel, and Israel under the leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu is hell-bent on sparking a war between the U.S. and Iran.

Anti-Semitism Pandemic!

Get the kids into the house! Lock your doors! Board up the windows! Break out the gas masks and hazmat suits! According to the corporate media, we are now officially deep in the throes of a deadly anti-Semitism pandemic! And just as the threat of mind-controlling Russian influencers was finally waning! It seems the fabric of Western democracy just can’t catch a break these days.

The origins of this pernicious, panic-inducing pestilence remain shrouded in mystery, but epidemiologists now believe that it began in the Spring of 2015, shortly after the resignation of Ed Milliband as UK Labour Party leader, and went global in the Summer of 2016, right around the time of the Brexit referendum and the nomination of Donald Trump. (Although the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, to date, there exists no conclusive proof that Russian bio-weapons designers cooked up the virus in a hotel in Salisbury and sprayed it onto anyone’s doorknob.)

Virologists are working around the clock to map the genome of this scurrilous scourge, about which very little is known, other than that it has a sudden onset, and attacks the language center of the brain, causing the sufferer to express opinions about “Zionism,” “globalism,” “the Israel lobby,” “banks,” and other code words for “Jews.” Patients appear to be unaware that they are spouting these anti-Semitic code words until they are told they are by the corporate media, or their colleagues, or some random account on Twitter, at which point their symptoms alter dramatically, and they suffer a series of petit mal seizures, causing them to repeatedly apologize for unintentionally advocating the extermination of the entire Jewish people and the establishment of a worldwide Nazi Reich.

At the moment, Britain is taking the brunt of it. Despite the best efforts of the ruling classes and the media to contain its spread, several new cases of anti-Semitism have been reported throughout the Kingdom, or at least among the Labour Party, which, at this point, has been so thoroughly infected that it resembles a neo-Nazi death cult.

Jeremy Corbyn, who contracted the virus more or less the moment he assumed the leadership, is now exhibiting symptoms of late-stage disease. Reliable sources close to the party, reached for comment at a brunch in Qatar with Tony Blair and a bunch of Saudis, report that Corbyn is running around Momentum HQ in full Nazi regalia, alternately heiling Hitler and looking for journalists to apologize to.

Another Labour MP, Chris Williamson, had to be summarily quarantined after publicly apologizing for not apologizing for inciting a gathering of Labour members to stop apologizing for refusing to apologize for being disgusting anti-Semites … or something basically along those lines. Owen Jones is fiercely denying denying that the party is a hive of Nazis, and that he ever denied that denying the fact that there is zero actual evidence of that fact is essential to preserving what is left of the party, once it has been cured of anti-Semitism, or disbanded and reconstituted from scratch.

Emergency measures are now in effect. A full-scale Labour Party lockdown is imminent. Anyone not already infected is being advised to flee the party, denounce anyone who hasn’t done so as “a Hitler-loving Corbyn-sympathizer,” and prophylactically apologize for any critical statements they might have made about Israel, or “elites,” or “global capitalism,” or “bankers,” or anything else that anyone can construe as anti-Semitism (preferably in the pages of The Guardian).

Nor has the Continent been spared! What at first appeared to be a series of spontaneous protests against Emmanuel Macron, economic austerity, and global capitalism by the so-called “Yellow Vests” in France has now been officially diagnosed as a nationwide anti-Semitism outbreak. In a heroic attempt to contain the outbreak, Macron has dispatched his security forces to shoot the eyes out of unarmed women, pepper spray paraplegics in wheelchairs, and just generally beat bloody hell out of everyone. Strangely, none of these tactics have worked, so France has decided to join the USA, the UK, Germany, and the rest of the empire in defining anti-Zionism as form of anti-Semitism, such that anyone implying that Israel is in any way inherently racist, or a quasi-fascist Apartheid state, or making jokes about “elites” or “bankers,” can be detained and prosecuted for committing a “hate-crime.”

Meanwhile, in the United States (where Donald Trump, “U.S. patient zero,” had already single-handedly infected the vast majority of the American populace, and transformed the nation into an unrecognizable, genocidal Nazi Reich), the anti-Semitism virus has now spread to Congress, where Representative Ilhan Omar (reputed to be a hardcore member of the infamous “Axis of Anti-Semitism“) has apparently totally lost her mind and started talking about the Israel lobby, and the billions of dollars the U.S. government provides to Israel on an annual basis, and other Israel-related subjects one simply does not talk about (unless one writes for The New York Times and isn’t a hijab-wearing Muslim, in which case it’s completely fine to characterize support for Israel as being “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby“).

Now, this is where things get really confusing. Trump (who, let’s remember, is Literally Hitler, or was until he green-lit the attempted U.S. coup in Venezuela) and the Republicans have now united with the Democrats to denounce Ilhan Omar as a filthy anti-Semite, and possibly a full-fledged Islamic terrorist (or to condemn the existence of “hate,” or something). The corporate media, Facebook, and Twitter have been overtaken by hordes of angry anti-Semites accusing other anti-Semites of anti-Semitism. Congress is on the verge of convening a House Un-Israeli Activities Committee to investigate anyone who might have ever trafficked in “anti-Semitic tropes.” Meghan McCain was so thoroughly horrified by the hateful, anti-Semitic things that Ilhan Omar never said that she broke down blubbering on national television and begged Joy Behar to call in a Rabbi to convert her to Judaism on the spot … which some viewers found a bit unseemly.

OK, I know, you’re probably questioning the fact that this anti-Semitism pandemic just sprang up out of the ether one day, more or less in perfect synch with the Russian plot to destroy democracy that Vladimir Putin set in motion the moment the Global War on Terror seemed to be running out of steam. If you are, you need to close this essay, pull up either MSNBC or The Guardian website on your phone, and inoculate yourself against such thoughts. That conspiratorial type of thinking is one of the early warning signs that you have been infected with anti-Semitism! Unless you act now to protect yourself, before you know it, you’ll be raving about “the ruling classes,” “globalist elites,” “austerity,” “neoliberalism,” “the Israel lobby,” or even “Palestinians.”

So just put all that stuff out of your mind! This sudden anti-Semitism outbreak has nothing to do with the War on Populism that the global capitalist ruling classes have been waging for the last two years. It’s not like the establishment would stoop so low as to use anti-Semitism (and even the Holocaust!) as a cynical propaganda ploy to delegitimize their myriad opponents and critics. No, it’s much more believable that an idiopathic, worldwide anti-Semitism pandemic erupted, for no apparent reason, precisely as the capitalist ruling classes were beginning to suspect that they had a widespread “populist” insurgency on their hands.

Plus, even if our democratic leaders, and the professional journalists in the corporate media, were, in fact, a bunch of soulless, conniving, sociopathic scumbags, what purpose would it possibly serve for them to whip the public up into a series of fits of mass hysteria over anti-Semitism, or “populism,” or imaginary Russian hackers (or imminent lone-wolf terrorist attacks, possibly with homemade nuclear devices)? That wouldn’t make any sense, now would it? People would be so consumed with fear and hatred that they could hardly think. They might not even notice how they were being cynically manipulated, and were contributing to actual anti-Semitism by rendering the term devoid of any meaning.

No, the sudden anti-Semitism pandemic theory makes a lot more sense. So get out those vintage plague doctor masks, lock your critical thinking up in your anti-anti-Semitism safe room, and pull up Schindler’s List on Netflix … oh, and don’t forget to scour the Internet for any criticism of the capitalist ruling classes, or the corporate media, or neoliberalism, or any other anti-Semitic tropes!

By Any Means Necessary

Back in the chaotic collapsing scenery of the Soviet Union in the late Eighties, there occurred an event that signaled the eventual fate of the USSR, even if no one exactly knew it at the moment. A fairly unknown teacher named Nina Andreyeva published an essay in a political magazine called Sovetskaya Rossiya, or Soviet Russia. The brave Andreyeva leveled sharp criticism at Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness), a reformist agenda clandestinely aimed at dismantling the Communist Party and moving the country toward perhaps what would have been a vague form of European market-based social democracy. Andreyeva had understood where Gorbachev was headed and, as a committed communist, feared the dissolution of the workers’ struggle to build a truly communist society.

What happened next is instructive: Gorbachev and his Politburo ally Alexander Yakovlev seized the opportunity to attack Andreyeva’s essay and paint those who supported it as anti-reformist and anti-modern. But along with that depiction, the media raised the criticism that Andreyeva’s essay was anti-Semitic. It was not, according to authors Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny in their excellent Socialism Betrayed, but it hardly mattered. Gorbachev and Yakovlev printed a fierce rebuttal in the journal Pravda. The media quickly took up Gorbachev’s line and the narrative was set. Gorbachev and his fellow reformists used the artificial scandal and the hysteria it generated to isolate and disempower his Politburo rival and critic, Yegor Ligachev.

From that point, Gorbachev raced forward with his reform program and rather than become a model European welfare state, the USSR soon collapsed, disintegrating into a ‘parade of sovereignties’ that saw many of the former Soviet republics declare their independence. Millions died in the wake of the collapse, with their social supports gone, their economy in tatters, and western vulture capitalists flooding into the country. Another seminal victory for neoliberal democracy. But does that media scandal ring a bell? Because precisely the same tactic of the anti-Semitic smear is being used against another critic of power, Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar.

Two Minutes Hate

In a thinly-veiled censure of Omar, the House Democrats issued a resolution condemning “all hate”. This artificial necessity of this “resolution” is pathetic. As Adam Johnson parodied it, “We oppose an abstract noun without any political or moral context. We are the party of good things and anti-bad things. Please vote for us, the good things party.” The resolution, as you may already know, addresses various comments made by Omar, the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress along with Rashida Tlaib. Aside from comments in other public appearances, she issued a couple of tweets saying that Congressional support for Israel was, “all about the Benjamins” and later that it produced, “allegiance to a foreign country.”

Omar noted that fealty to AIPAC and Israel were stifling debate on Gaza. She noted that the Israeli lobby was demanding a loyalty to Israeli Zionists interests that compromised politicians’ loyalty to American interests. Following initial criticism, she said, “I should not be expected to have allegiance or pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country…Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic…” and later added, “I don’t how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza War, and I’m clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”

Eleven Jewish groups led by AIPAC demanded a response from Nancy Pelosi, including having Omar removed from the Foreign Relations Committee and declaring an organization she spoke at labeled a terrorist unit. She has been subjected to Islamophobia from Republicans. After some push-back from the left, the House watered down the document to roundly condemn hatred in general, including anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, and bigotry against minorities. But the weight of the document emphasized anti-Semitism, and everyone knows who the object of censure is. Her Democratic colleagues were largely silent. The bill passed 407-23. Every House Democrat voted for it, including Omar. Only Republicans voted against it.

The resolution argues that Omar’s comments conjure two anti-Semitic stereotypes. The first is the ‘dual allegiance’ ‘trope’, bringing up the Dreyfuss Affair and the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. The second was that her comments activated stereotypes about Jews controlling society with money. Of course, to say that AIPAC lobbying may make some senators and representatives more willing to do Israel’s bidding than America’s is not anti-Semitic. That is the very point of lobbying: placing a special interest’s objectives above those of the country at large. Nor is it anti-Semitic to argue that AIPAC uses money to push its goals in Congress. Every lobbyist does, regardless of color or creed. And yet these are easily conflated with the aforementioned anti-Semitic motifs, which is precisely the goal of the resolution.

But Paul Rosenberg at Salon, echoing Paul Waldman at the Washington Post, of all places, correctly noted that “Omar did not accuse Jews of holding dual loyalties. Rather, she objected to dual loyalties being demanded of her–and those who attacked her only proved her point.” And Jonathan Cook noted in his excellent review of the faux scandal, “These supporters of Israel are asking for the impossible: demanding silence from everyone else as they defend a state whose policies require not just racism but daily structural violence towards Palestinians. Whatever the anti-Semitism narrative hopes to achieve, there isn’t an exemption for anti-Palestinian racism just because it is being promoted by a section of the Jewish community.”

Not that it mattered to the hysterical cast of armchair magistrates, but the UN declared that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza during the recent border protests. The mainstream media continues its campaign to bury Omar, relentlessly pursuing and then evoking “pain and confusion” caused by the representative’s hard-hitting truths.

Fake Progress

The parallels with the Nina Andreyeva event are compelling. It isn’t antisemitism that is the real story, but the shuttering of dissent. Ruling class capitalists and their enthusiastic sympathizers will use any tactic they can to attack and disable perceived threats to their profiteering policy agenda. And make no mistake, profits are at the root of America’s support of Israel, as well as the entire project of imperialism. It makes no difference, as Cook argues, that a false charge of antisemitism is equal to actual antisemitism, what matters to elite capital and its political enablers is destroying threats and consolidating power. Nina Andreyeva was a threat to Gorbachev’s destructive reformism. Ilhan Omar is a threat to American imperialism. Both women were viciously attacked for their comments, their attackers using any means necessary to suppress the validity of their critiques. Andreyeva’s colleagues would soon, “give out her phone number with nasty glee…” She was eventually hounded into isolation. What will become of Omar remains to be seen, but the entire affair proved her point, that the Zionist lobby wields immense influence in Washington. Congressional representatives aside from the Minnesota representative and a handful of others are utterly venal sophists who themselves traffic in slander, exhibit base fealty to monied interests, and ignore American interests in favor of the ruling class constituency of white-led corporate entities that promote capitalist exploitation at home and abroad.

Precisely the same charges have been relentlessly leveled at British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his party allies. The purpose is to ensure Corbyn never sees the inside of Ten Downing Street. Watch as this narrative of progressive anti-Semitism is transferred across the Atlantic to defile the left-wing of the Democratic party going into the 2020 elections. This is yet another strain of identity politics being wielded against progressives. And without question, the socialism of the left is a far bigger threat to capitalist rule than the fascism of the right. Socialism overthrows capitalism. Fascism supercharges it. It’s important to remember that Hitler saw the conquest of the USSR as his greatest opportunity, to crush socialism and obtain a vassal colony in one fell swoop, while purging the ‘Aryan’ race at the same time. It is a pathetic irony of history that modern neoliberals falsely charge progressives with echoes of Hitler’s quest to destroy Jews as a tool to enable his plan to destroy socialism. In another regrettable paradox of recent history, it might be worth remembering that the magazine Gorbachev used to crush his rivals, Pravda, is Russian for “truth.”

By Any Means Necessary

Back in the chaotic collapsing scenery of the Soviet Union in the late Eighties, there occurred an event that signaled the eventual fate of the USSR, even if no one exactly knew it at the moment. A fairly unknown teacher named Nina Andreyeva published an essay in a political magazine called Sovetskaya Rossiya, or Soviet Russia. The brave Andreyeva leveled sharp criticism at Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness), a reformist agenda clandestinely aimed at dismantling the Communist Party and moving the country toward perhaps what would have been a vague form of European market-based social democracy. Andreyeva had understood where Gorbachev was headed and, as a committed communist, feared the dissolution of the workers’ struggle to build a truly communist society.

What happened next is instructive: Gorbachev and his Politburo ally Alexander Yakovlev seized the opportunity to attack Andreyeva’s essay and paint those who supported it as anti-reformist and anti-modern. But along with that depiction, the media raised the criticism that Andreyeva’s essay was anti-Semitic. It was not, according to authors Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny in their excellent Socialism Betrayed, but it hardly mattered. Gorbachev and Yakovlev printed a fierce rebuttal in the journal Pravda. The media quickly took up Gorbachev’s line and the narrative was set. Gorbachev and his fellow reformists used the artificial scandal and the hysteria it generated to isolate and disempower his Politburo rival and critic, Yegor Ligachev.

From that point, Gorbachev raced forward with his reform program and rather than become a model European welfare state, the USSR soon collapsed, disintegrating into a ‘parade of sovereignties’ that saw many of the former Soviet republics declare their independence. Millions died in the wake of the collapse, with their social supports gone, their economy in tatters, and western vulture capitalists flooding into the country. Another seminal victory for neoliberal democracy. But does that media scandal ring a bell? Because precisely the same tactic of the anti-Semitic smear is being used against another critic of power, Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar.

Two Minutes Hate

In a thinly-veiled censure of Omar, the House Democrats issued a resolution condemning “all hate”. This artificial necessity of this “resolution” is pathetic. As Adam Johnson parodied it, “We oppose an abstract noun without any political or moral context. We are the party of good things and anti-bad things. Please vote for us, the good things party.” The resolution, as you may already know, addresses various comments made by Omar, the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress along with Rashida Tlaib. Aside from comments in other public appearances, she issued a couple of tweets saying that Congressional support for Israel was, “all about the Benjamins” and later that it produced, “allegiance to a foreign country.”

Omar noted that fealty to AIPAC and Israel were stifling debate on Gaza. She noted that the Israeli lobby was demanding a loyalty to Israeli Zionists interests that compromised politicians’ loyalty to American interests. Following initial criticism, she said, “I should not be expected to have allegiance or pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country…Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic…” and later added, “I don’t how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza War, and I’m clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”

Eleven Jewish groups led by AIPAC demanded a response from Nancy Pelosi, including having Omar removed from the Foreign Relations Committee and declaring an organization she spoke at labeled a terrorist unit. She has been subjected to Islamophobia from Republicans. After some push-back from the left, the House watered down the document to roundly condemn hatred in general, including anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, and bigotry against minorities. But the weight of the document emphasized anti-Semitism, and everyone knows who the object of censure is. Her Democratic colleagues were largely silent. The bill passed 407-23. Every House Democrat voted for it, including Omar. Only Republicans voted against it.

The resolution argues that Omar’s comments conjure two anti-Semitic stereotypes. The first is the ‘dual allegiance’ ‘trope’, bringing up the Dreyfuss Affair and the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. The second was that her comments activated stereotypes about Jews controlling society with money. Of course, to say that AIPAC lobbying may make some senators and representatives more willing to do Israel’s bidding than America’s is not anti-Semitic. That is the very point of lobbying: placing a special interest’s objectives above those of the country at large. Nor is it anti-Semitic to argue that AIPAC uses money to push its goals in Congress. Every lobbyist does, regardless of color or creed. And yet these are easily conflated with the aforementioned anti-Semitic motifs, which is precisely the goal of the resolution.

But Paul Rosenberg at Salon, echoing Paul Waldman at the Washington Post, of all places, correctly noted that “Omar did not accuse Jews of holding dual loyalties. Rather, she objected to dual loyalties being demanded of her–and those who attacked her only proved her point.” And Jonathan Cook noted in his excellent review of the faux scandal, “These supporters of Israel are asking for the impossible: demanding silence from everyone else as they defend a state whose policies require not just racism but daily structural violence towards Palestinians. Whatever the anti-Semitism narrative hopes to achieve, there isn’t an exemption for anti-Palestinian racism just because it is being promoted by a section of the Jewish community.”

Not that it mattered to the hysterical cast of armchair magistrates, but the UN declared that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza during the recent border protests. The mainstream media continues its campaign to bury Omar, relentlessly pursuing and then evoking “pain and confusion” caused by the representative’s hard-hitting truths.

Fake Progress

The parallels with the Nina Andreyeva event are compelling. It isn’t antisemitism that is the real story, but the shuttering of dissent. Ruling class capitalists and their enthusiastic sympathizers will use any tactic they can to attack and disable perceived threats to their profiteering policy agenda. And make no mistake, profits are at the root of America’s support of Israel, as well as the entire project of imperialism. It makes no difference, as Cook argues, that a false charge of antisemitism is equal to actual antisemitism, what matters to elite capital and its political enablers is destroying threats and consolidating power. Nina Andreyeva was a threat to Gorbachev’s destructive reformism. Ilhan Omar is a threat to American imperialism. Both women were viciously attacked for their comments, their attackers using any means necessary to suppress the validity of their critiques. Andreyeva’s colleagues would soon, “give out her phone number with nasty glee…” She was eventually hounded into isolation. What will become of Omar remains to be seen, but the entire affair proved her point, that the Zionist lobby wields immense influence in Washington. Congressional representatives aside from the Minnesota representative and a handful of others are utterly venal sophists who themselves traffic in slander, exhibit base fealty to monied interests, and ignore American interests in favor of the ruling class constituency of white-led corporate entities that promote capitalist exploitation at home and abroad.

Precisely the same charges have been relentlessly leveled at British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his party allies. The purpose is to ensure Corbyn never sees the inside of Ten Downing Street. Watch as this narrative of progressive anti-Semitism is transferred across the Atlantic to defile the left-wing of the Democratic party going into the 2020 elections. This is yet another strain of identity politics being wielded against progressives. And without question, the socialism of the left is a far bigger threat to capitalist rule than the fascism of the right. Socialism overthrows capitalism. Fascism supercharges it. It’s important to remember that Hitler saw the conquest of the USSR as his greatest opportunity, to crush socialism and obtain a vassal colony in one fell swoop, while purging the ‘Aryan’ race at the same time. It is a pathetic irony of history that modern neoliberals falsely charge progressives with echoes of Hitler’s quest to destroy Jews as a tool to enable his plan to destroy socialism. In another regrettable paradox of recent history, it might be worth remembering that the magazine Gorbachev used to crush his rivals, Pravda, is Russian for “truth.”

The “Kosher Nostra” Nation

[T]the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.

– Charles Baudelaire, The Generous Gambler (1864)

The Jewish state of Israel characterizes itself as a “Jewish and democratic” state, although the latest law of the Knesset wishes to raise “Jewishness” above “democracy”. However, it must be blindingly obvious to anyone not in thrall to the ruling narratives, that when a minority of a population is regarded as hostile, is unwelcome and therefore is never part of a governing coalition, democracy must be a casualty, especially when that minority has been singled out for discriminatory and dispossessory treatment, despite the legal somersaulting of the greatest of Jewish legal minds.

– Lynda Burstein Brayer1

Brief: Having now called an election in April, it seems clear Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s rationale for the early poll is to avert possible indictment for alleged corruption. Always something of a political ‘chancer’ whom few would accuse of lacking chutzpah, even for the estimable “Bibi” this is an audacious gamble. Either way, win or lose (and we might opine, guilty or innocent), very little is likely to change for the better in the way the state of Israel comports itself on the international stage. With that in mind, this is as good a time as any to take a deeper look at this increasingly militarily aggressive and geopolitically opportunistic nation, which like its current leader, has long been a law unto itself. I paid a visit of sorts to the Wailing Wall.

Invoking the Horrors of the Past

In a speech written in late January 1970, and read on 3 February that year to an International Conference of Parliamentarians in Cairo (a day after he died), after first noting that ‘the traditional role of the imperial power [is to] to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence…’, famed English philosopher, historian and social critic Bertrand Russell had the following to say about Israel:

…[E]very new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression. The aggression…must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annex foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate….We are frequently told that we must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering. What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.’[My emphasis].

For the more detached, by any measure Russell’s critique even at the time was a damning indictment of the Middle East’s ‘only democratic state’. Though obviously appalled by its treatment of the Palestinians, much of Russell’s ire and indignation likely derived from Israel’s involvement in the hugely pivotal 1967 Six-Day War (still fresh in people’s minds), though few, if any, of his contemporaries would’ve been privy to the full picture of that “involvement” as it unfolded.

Such an appraisal is rendered even more damning when we consider the objective reality of Israel’s conduct in the intervening decades and what we’ve since come to know about it. Hardly a day has gone by where Israel has not tried to distort and corrupt said “reality”; this is especially evident in its purported desire for Middle East peace, where its key talking points on the matter are somewhat incongruent with said “reality”. Along with their intransigence on the matter of statehood for the Palestinians, in effect [it] is doing everything in its power to destabilise the region, as it has done for much of its history.

Yet that it has been remarkably successful at this endeavour is an understatement to be sure: “The Most Moral Army in the World?!” It takes some chutzpah to come up with a tagline like that! And we only need consider the number of pundits within the geopolitical ‘opinionocracy’ who’ve bought into this counterfeit narrative. Indeed, many of them—past and present—have been party to its creation, are guardians of its myths, accountable for the legacies thereof, and/or treasonable accomplices to its invention and preservation. Such is the extraordinary power of this “narrative” that, if it collapsed or was even seriously challenged, the country would probably cease to exist, at least in its present iteration. This is one reality Israel’s staunchest defenders doubtless realise, though few would wish to ever have that conversation for fear of tempting fate.

Its ‘settler-colonialist/democratic-apartheid’ status notwithstanding, by any definition Israel is a rogue state, one that routinely ignores the peremptory norms of international law. Indeed any other country that conducted itself on the world’s stage in the manner Israel sees fit to do so would, in a just world, be considered a pariah and be treated as one.

Yet such is Israel’s chokehold on public perception via its control of both the US legislature, the electoral system, and the media, most people still view it as the perennial victim, a constant target of nations, groups, organisations, and individuals who wish at the very least to deny its legitimacy (as fragile as it is), or at worst, wipe it off the map. It takes an extraordinary effort and a certain kind of collective genius, albeit of a decidedly malevolent, evil variety, in order to manipulate international public perception to such a degree, and maintain such a tight leash on that narrative over decades. To allude to the epigraph, this might be Israel’s “cleverist wile”.

Not quite convinced? Let’s go ‘shopping’ shall we? No other nation:

  1. benefits more substantively or more frequently from U.S. largesse and its alliance with America (and the West in general) or enjoys so many perks and privileges;
  2. comes close to punching so far above its own weight in having Washington’s ear and works harder at downplaying broad awareness of its influence and power;
  3. leverages its prime benefactor’s strategic and financial power so brazenly and so often in the service of its own interest and aspirations (and not always those of its benefactors);
  4. is more effective and more blatant at stifling free speech and any debate, no matter how rational or reasonable, that runs counter to those interests and aspirations;
  5. so stealthily yet pervasively controls the ‘optics’ of the global media narrative and the broad public and political discourse that forms the foundation of public perception about it;
  6. is so impervious to, indeed immune from, approbation or reproach, much less the consequences thereof, by its principal sponsor and/or the international community for its numerous and well documented criminal ‘delinquencies’;
  7. routinely spies on and regularly steals information from its benefactor of both a commercial and strategic value and even on-sells this information to U.S. rivals and potential enemies;
  8. comes more complete with more obvious contradictions between the image it portrays to the world and the reality of its behaviour, conduct and actions; and,
  9. in the absence of any serious, concerted, effective opposition can be expected based on its track record to push the envelope further in the uncompromising pursuit of these aspirations regardless of the consequences or the objections of the rules-based international community.

How Did we Get Here?

Given the Constitution-defying priority any specific U.S. administration—Democrat or Republican—attributes to Israel, it is worth recalling some Oval Office tenants whose relationships with the nation should set the mood for a deeper elucidation of the themes herein. To begin with it wasn’t always this way, certainly not until the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson (aka LBJ). It might sound like a big call at first, but few presidents of the modern era have managed to bequeath their country a legacy as consequential and enduring as that of LBJ.

Now I suspect most folks might think of the Vietnam War as the ‘crowning achievement’ of LBJ’s dubious legacy. Yet for this writer it was Johnson’s unprecedented and unequivocal support for Israel—support which amongst other things facilitated that country’s illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons whilst waiving any of the transparency and accountability provisions included in international nuclear non-proliferation treaties—from the time he came into office in November 1963, that may well be the more consequential aspect of that legacy. We’ll come back to the LBJ/Israel thing soon, but first a bit of useful history.

In 2018, 70 years after president Harry Truman finally succumbed to both internal and external pressure (he was initially opposed to the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine and for good reason), and effectively gave the nod for the Zionists to create the state of Israel—against the advice of numerous people within and across diplomatic, political and national security circles—the phenomenal power, influence and control this tiny nation has come to exert in the United States since that time is now an ineluctable, existentially dangerous reality. America is now Israel’s life-line and meal-ticket, its life insurance policy, its ‘minder’ (muscle) if one likes. The implications of this reality became manifestly obvious long ago, but the implications of maintaining that relationship going forward are becoming increasingly disconcerting.2

For his part Truman’s successor Dwight (“Ike”) Eisenhower trod a very cautious path when it came to Israel. He was not backward in reining in Israel’s imperial minded tendencies, which revealed themselves to the world at large during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Israel had invaded Egypt in tandem with, and encouraged by, the then imperial colossi of the Middle East, France and Great Britain. Eisenhower vehemently opposed this action when it was proposed, and was by all accounts ropable when they went ahead with it behind his back. Ike’s successor John F Kennedy’s (JFK) attitude towards the state of Israel is well documented, most memorably by the late Michael Collins Piper in his book Final Judgment, wherein he points the finger directly at the Israelis as amongst those involved in the planning, execution, and cover-up of JFK’s ‘Big Day Out’ in November 1963. That aside, Kennedy notably refused to entertain Israel’s ambition to build their own nuclear arsenal, and for this and other reasons kept them at arm’s length. This policy incensed former Zio-terrorist David Ben-Gurion (by then the Israeli PM after succeeding Moshe Sharat), who after JFK was murdered, then rallied his hard-core off-siders who were chomping at the bit to assert themselves as the new kids on the Middle East block. They finally had in Johnson, a real friend in the White House.

Israel then has much to thank Number 36 for “that” priceless commodity of “having Washington’s ear”, a political “access all areas” gift-card that for Israel just keeps on giving. The Israel lobby and their numerous surrogates wasted little time in ‘infiltrating’ LBJ’s administration from the top down, and they were upgraded to frequent flyer status by the Israel friendly new POTUS. It has continued uninterrupted to this day.3

And the recent passing of George HW Bush for many was probably not lamented too much by folks of a certain political or historical worldview, even for those not given to speaking or thinking ill of the dear departed. Yet according to Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, he deserves credit for at least one initiative, one that almost certainly contributed to his failed bid for reelection in 1992 as POTUS, and which by definition changed the course of history. (“It’s the Zionists, stupid!” anyone?)

In Weir’s summation, in holding up a $10 billion loan guarantee in 1991 to Israel over its continued settlement building in Palestine, Bush senior ‘won the battle, but eventually lost the war’, a lesson that presidents and political folks of all stripes have remembered ever since. Bush told Israel that the U.S. would not give it $10 billion in loan guarantees until Israel stopped building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which, of course, are illegal under international law. In his efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the intractable issue of the settlements and an overarching peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians, Bush Senior stated publicly:

I think the American people will strongly support me in this. I’m going to fight for it because I think this is what the American people want, and I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to back those members of the Congress who are forward-looking in their desire to see peace.

Noble sentiments to be sure, but Bush was way off base if he felt that such political posturing would carry him to a second term.4 It would seem that neither the Congress—bought and paid for by the Lobby in any event as much then as it is now—nor the much lauded “American people” were that “forward looking in their desire to see peace”. It was either that or the “American people” were suffering from compassion fatigue, had bigger concerns in their lives, didn’t understand the implications, or couldn’t be bothered voting. One suspects that very little has changed.

Of course, the Israel lobby, notably the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—always at the ready with a fine line in umbrage—was not unexpectedly, well, ‘umbraged’ at Bush’s gambit. He overestimated the Congress and the people they represented, and in underestimating the power of the Lobby, HW made a career limiting move of the presidential kind.

“Ye Shall Blot them out to the Last Man”

It’s worth noting that at the time the Israeli PM was (former terrorist cum Mossad chief) Yitzhak Shamir, a man who like many Israeli leaders believed that his country was both above the law and beyond moral reproach. This extended even to the point back in the day of declaring that Israel had the right to interfere in the affairs of other countries, a reality amply documented in two recently released al-Jazeera documentaries (here, and here), with one citing the outcome of the 1992 election as further evidence. Such is the sense of entitlement and righteousness, even Shamir made no bones about it:

We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: ‘Ye shall blot them out to the last man.’

When Shamir was himself ousted in July 1992, his successor Yitzhak Rabin, promised to honour the loan guarantees, after which Bush finally inked the deal. But not only were Bush’s second term ambitions scuttled; Israel under Netanyahu in 1996 subsequently reneged on the loan guarantees in any event. The settlements are a going concern to this day. (Rabin, who may or may not have been committed to the settlements issue, was in any event assassinated in 1995.)

That said, for some there are signs this elaborate and unprecedented facade it has painstakingly constructed is beginning to crack. In a recent RT interview with Rick Sanchez, Chris Hedges discussed the Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement, which seeks amongst other aims to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Israel and highlight the dire predicament of the Palestinians who are living under what is no less than an apartheid system. This system is one unilaterally imposed by Israel in complete defiance of international law and democratic principles, attended by utter indifference to the basic human rights of Palestinians, such as equality, security, justice, peace, and freedom. Indeed we might argue that Israel’s greatest public relations triumph is the degree it has managed to convince the rest of the world to subscribe to and fully embrace that same level of indifference.

Nonetheless, Hedges posited that Israel is becoming ‘frightened and desperate’, evidenced in his view by the anti-BDS legislation spreading throughout the US. This campaign by the Israeli lobby in America and their many supporters at the municipal, state and federal levels represents an all-out effort to protect Israel’s public image by derailing the movement and discrediting the people and the organisations behind it. With numerous U.S. states—attended by no small measure of sharia-like dedication to the cause it seems—having enshrined into legislation anti-BDS statutes, the first amendment rights of Americans are under attack in a manner which would have the Founding Fathers, at least those whose enthusiasm for it was genuine, spinning furiously in their eternally designated plots of land.

Moreover, Israel is attempting on a global scale to redefine the very meaning of anti-Semitism, an overused, though nonetheless utilitarian epithet serving the country well as both an impregnable force-field against criticism and a formidable attack/offensive weapon purpose-built to denigrate, discredit, even destroy, those who’d dare to challenge its behaviour. Insofar as Hedges is concerned though, Israel ‘can no longer control its narrative or hide the brutality of their apartheid system.’

For an incisive insight into some of those “controlled narratives” (or myths), it is perhaps Ilan Pappe’s Ten Myths about Israel that best serves to identify these foundational narratives (which Pappe describes as “fallacies”), how they have been created, who’s controlling them, and what the end game might be if we’re to be living in a world where these myths continue to prevail, and we are prepared or even forced to accept them. Well might we ask: How do these myths and fallacies—especially when the carefully crafted perceptions underpinning them clash with the brutal reality of the facts on the ground as it were—threaten the geopolitical order? Iraq? Libya? Syria? Yemen? Anyone?….just to give you a taste of “the brutal reality of the facts on the ground”!

The answers to these and other questions are beyond the scope of this essay but in rhetorical form are worth keeping front of mind as we go forward. Pappe identifies several “fallacies” that have sustained Israel’s image and credibility as a “moral” nation, that: it has every right to exist; it has a right to defend itself; its cause is righteous; that other nations wish to destroy it; and that unlike other nations it is not accountable under international law. The Israelis we might aver have their own ‘peculiar institution‘ vis-a-vis the Palestinians—a form of modern slavery wherein human, social, economic and other rights are routinely denied in an apartheid state to people whose land they continue to dispossess and ‘set up shop’ on, and whose property and belongings they continue to loot, misappropriate, confiscate, steal or destroy without restraint etc.5

Though it would doubtless have the world believe it, Israel’s greatest strategic threat isn’t Iran, it is the increasingly concerted efforts—as welcome as they are necessary—by numerous groups, nations, and individuals (including prominent Israeli citizens) to call out Israel so as to rein in its lawless behaviour. Israel knows this. The corollary to this is that Israel’s greatest existential fear is the erosion of support that it currently enjoys with the American electorate whether from Jews and non-Jews alike, though it would be a courageous pundit who’d opine as to how this might play out and over what period of time.

This isn’t just evidenced by their own relentless, strenuous efforts to both shut these groups and individuals down; they have infiltrated and then undermined whole nations’ legal systems and political processes in order to amongst other aims make it punishable by law to even criticise the country. If the phrase (generally attributed to Voltaire), ‘To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize’ is essentially true, it’s difficult to think of any other nation that might qualify for the ‘gig’. The recent incident where a Texas school district speech pathologist was sacked because she refused to sign an oath declaring she would never support the BDS movement is just one of the more recent and glaring examples of this draconian effort to stifle any kind of debate about Israel.

Revenge of the Mosers?

For those still with doubts about the coercive power Israel and its network of institutional, organisational and political supporters wield in the West—especially in Great Britain and the United States—then the two documentaries produced by Qatar’s al-Jazeera news network mentioned earlier surely will dispel any uncertainty. (See links above). As these films illustrate, this increasingly out of control ally of the West brooks very little opposition to its hegemonic tendencies in the Greater Middle East. Israel for its part refuses to recognise—much less respond in kind to—the boundaries defined by international law.

In doing so then, the country thumbs its nose at the fundamental tenets and principles tying the community of nations together along with the very sovereignty of individual countries, and places global security, peace and stability in even greater existential peril. In short, the more the Israelis push those boundaries, the more they’ll continue to feel it’s their God-given right to do so, and the more we will proceed, by default or by design, to let them get way with it. This is one of the most important takeaways from these two films, the first one focussing on the lobby in Great Britain, and the second one that of the United States.

From a geopolitical standpoint, this is more a nightmare in the making than [an] accident waiting to happen. Unless we’re all chomping at the bit for another World War with all the bells ‘n whistles as it were, it is high time we called time on Israel, and hold it truly accountable. If that sounds alarmist, then consider the following.

Earlier this year Colin Powell’s former Chief-of-Staff Lawrence Wilkerson declared categorically that Israel is in the process of dragging America into a war with Iran, one which could destroy what’s left of the Middle East and ignite ‘a third world war’.6 )) Wilkerson says the evidence is clear: “Israel seeks ‘a massive confrontation with the various powers arrayed against it, [one] that will suck America in and perhaps terminate the experiment that is Israel and do irreparable damage to the empire that America has become.” [My emphasis].

Wilkerson points the finger of blame at Netanyahu, whose bespoke denigrations of the Iranian Islamic republic are as strident as they are provocative. To anyone within earshot Bibi, with monotonous frequency, kvetches in full-tilt Cassandra-like mode that Iran a) represents the greatest threat facing the Jewish state and to the very stability of the Middle East; and b) is constantly fanning the flames of anti-Semitism as if they’ve somehow cornered the market on it. Wilkerson dismissed these self-serving accusations out of hand using simple logic—an argumentative tool with which far too many of Israel’s defenders appear to be unacquainted.

As Wilkerson said at the time: ‘This antisemitism bit, of course…is almost always a weapon of choice for Israeli politicians under stress hurled, in this case, at the country whose Jewish population—by the way, the largest in the Middle East outside of Turkey and Israel—lives in Iran in reasonable peace.’ [My Emphasis] Like so many of us, what Wilkerson appears to be suggesting amongst other things is that the ‘cachet’ of the anti-Semitic jibe is now not as effective as it used to be. This is part of the reason why Israel is losing control of the narrative.

And to the extent where they even exist in substantive form, Israel’s status and reach are such that countervailing forces struggle to contain this monster. To underscore this, we might consider David Sheen’s recent Lobelog piece, the unambiguously titled “Israel Crushes Resistance At Home And Abroad.” For Sheen, the Jewish-Israeli left is ‘in tatters’, a spent political force. What is interesting about his comment is that whilst it may be obvious to more clear-eyed folks, the dominance of the hard-right itself does not seem to receive much attention in the cut and thrust of public political debate, especially in the corporate media. This in itself may or may not be coincidental, as the disempowerment and marginalisation of the left in general in the West has been, we might argue, a work in progress for some time. The dismal power-political status of the Israeli left notwithstanding, it may be simply mirroring the broader political-economic reality.

Moreover, given the well documented fact that the mainstream press in the west is virtually unanimous in its unquestioning support for Israel, we cannot realistically expect this will change anytime soon. Sheen further notes the Jewish-Israeli left make up ‘a tiny fraction’ of Israel’s overall population, with ‘numbers steadily shrinking since the start of the millennium’. In Sheen’s depressing and ominous summation—one just dripping with historical irony, albeit of the truly tragic kind—the lay of the land in Israeli politics is such that:

No alliance of progressive parties can hold a candle to Israel’s hawkish governing coalitions. No liberal newspaper can pull the public away from the tabloids that back PM Netanyahu and his rivals even further to the right. And no upstart activist group has been able to sway the hearts and minds of significant numbers of young Jews, brainwashed with ever-increasing doses of Zionist propaganda…Top Israeli lawmakers openly incite against leftist figures with frightening regularity, knowing that these attacks will only increase their own popularity among Israeli voters. Even without this egging on, Israeli society is increasingly purging its leftists from positions of influence, as the Israelis who’ve lost their jobs in recent years…for their left-leaning views can attest to.

For those of us who’ve long argued that any hope for Israel’s ‘rehabilitation’ rests largely on the future efforts of left-leaning, liberal or progressive Jewish activist groups and individuals both in Israel and in the U.S. especially, to counter, then reject, the tenets of Zionism, Sheen’s observation leaves one pessimistic. With Zionism the reigning ideology in Israel and being one completely at odds with anything we might define as “liberal”, the real battle must be undertaken by a critical mass of ordinary Jews everywhere who genuinely subscribe to authentic liberal values and/or are decidedly uncomfortable with Israel purporting to act on their behalf and in their interests. I imagine also (or at least hope) there’d be quite a few Jewish folks of a more conservative hew who might be willing to embrace some liberal principles and muster up some umbrage in the cause of justice, equality and peace for the Palestinians if they were willing to inform themselves of the more grim realities that actually exist on the ground. Either way, it’s going to be a long haul.

But as Sheen has noted, such numbers are on the wane, and not just in Israel. For him the picture in the U.S. is even more gloomy. He posits the prospect that American Jews, the next-largest Jewish community in the world (interestingly one perceived to be much more liberal than Israel’s own), might be able to conjure up that “critical mass” required for the battle. However, as he notes, any hope upon the part of frustrated Israeli-based activists of soliciting the support of their American brethren is a forlorn one:

Unfortunately for those besieged Israeli leftists, it would seem that the Israeli government already has a significant head start on them, taking the fight stateside, as well. The apparent objective: Crush any US opposition [to Israel], and to those who’d build their own white ethno-states in its likeness. [My Emphasis]

In an Open Letter he penned to his fellow Israelis in 2016, journalist Jonathan Ofir struck a similar note with the following:

…my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community—whose help we need so badly—not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture. It is the vein of the “moser”—the one who “snitches” against the “Jewish nation” towards the goyim. Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.

For the objective observer of geopolitical affairs and assorted ‘reality’ purists then, the following ‘specimen’ can’t be denied easily. Along with being one that is not easily explained away, as already hinted, this peculiar “reality” has portentous implications for everyone on this planet: That Israel, allied with certain individuals, institutions and assorted ‘infiltrators’ and fifth columnists in the United States, whether Israeli or American citizens or both but all still unreservedly simpatico with [Israel], has exerted such a massively inordinate, consequential influence in the enactment and execution of U.S. foreign policy, along with being a country which routinely undermines and manipulates the American democratic system and the electoral process so pervasively. Now that’s what I’d call a robust sense of reckless entitlement.

Read that: Israel is thereby placing at risk global stability and security in ways which will surely be as unprecedented as they are unpredictable. Israel to sum up simply, is a law unto itself!

For my part I can’t recall offhand any similar episode in history where the reigning superpower of the era effectively relinquished its power to a much smaller nation and in the process, outsourced control of its own destiny —and we might add, the fate of many other nations including those it purports to ally itself with—to a self-serving cabal whose first allegiance apart from themselves and their ilk is, and has always been, to the nation which is the direct if not so deserving beneficiary of this accumulation and aggregation of power. This is perhaps the grandest gesture history has to offer of geopolitical folly, a largesse unthinkingly and it would appear, unconditionally bestowed upon one nation by another, albeit of the genuinely existentially dangerous kind……we’re breaking new ground here I suppose. What may be less obvious for most is that in the doing thereof, America has brought both itself and the World Order as we know it a whole mess o’ trouble down the mountain. And maybe that was the game-plan all along!?

Back in the day when George Bush faced off against Bill Clinton in 1992, the latter realised quite early “[it’s] the economy, stupid!” that mattered. History was to prove him right in one sense. But for the former, he presumably realised—albeit too late—that it really was the Zionists after all.

It still is.

  1. Extract from: “Zionism, Judaism and the Jewish State of Israel: Separateness, ontological uniqueness and Jewish morality are its characteristics,” The Saker Blog, November 23, 2018
  2. For an informed history of the creation of Israel and how it acquired its extraordinary influence over American political life, sans the myths and fallacies, folks should check out Alison Weir’s Against our Better Judgment. Her website <a href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=13&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiA19jVwcnfAhWKXbwKHekODukQFjAMegQIDRAB&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fifamericaknew.org%2Fabout_us%2Faccusations.html&amp;usg=AOvVaw1yTUbhDeZQv0LWLMQxUdnV”><em>If Americans Knew</em></a> is also an essential watering hole for truth-seekers on the subject of Israel, Israel/U.S. relations, Palestine and the Middle East in general.
  3. For further information surrounding the key events and people of the Johnson era, readers should seek out Phillip Nelson’s Remember the Liberty and my own two-part essay on same, here and here.
  4. In the 1988 election Bush reportedly garnered around 35 per cent of the Jewish vote, but that ‘tanked’ to less than one third of that in 1992. His campaign donations from Jewish sources also were substantially down.
  5. In the accompanying video lecture Pappe speaks about the book.
  6. ((As CoS to Colin Powell’s Secretary of State in the early years of Bush Junior’s administration, Wilkerson got suckered before by the Israels and their U.S. based neoconservative cum Zionist/PNAC brethren in the lead up the Iraq invasion in 2003. And we all know how that turned out. Insofar as one can gather, Wilkerson’s not about to let any of them forget it.

Anti-BDS Bill Defeated

Some may be happy to learn that the US Senate didn’t pass the ‘anti BDS bill’ on Tuesday. But a look at the vote reveals that America’s politicians are fully removed from the American ethos of freedom. Fifty six  mostly Republican Senators, just 4 shy of the 60 needed to pass the bill, voted to enact a law contrary to the Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech as granted by the 1st amendment. The defeated bill included a provision to allow states and local governments to punish Americans who boycott Israel. This was an astonishing and nearly successful attempt  to legislate crude government interference with freedom of speech in its most protected form: political speech. The fact that such a bill made it to the floor of the Senate confirms that the American political establishment is an occupied zone committed to silencing opposition to Israel and its lobby.

Democrats did not necessarily oppose the anti BDS bill on first amendment grounds. Instead, most Senate Democrats have vowed to block all legislation in the Senate until it votes to end the government shutdown. Trump has closed the Federal government until Congress accedes to his demand for $5.7 billion to begin to erect an Israeli style ghetto wall on the Mexican border.

If the president is so desperate to defend America’s southern border, perhaps he should consider not giving military aid to Israel, even if  just for two years. This would free $8 billion and give Trump enough cash to build his wall and then maybe he could invest the remaining $2.3 billion where it’s really needed: to make America great again.

Canadian Jewish News: Promoter of Terror Tourism?

What should we make of a media outlet that praises those who join or give money to a foreign army, which occupies territory belonging to another people, terrorizes the local population by destroying houses, restricting their movement, subjecting them to military courts and shooting unarmed protestors?

What should we call the Canadian Jewish News, an unfailing flatterer of Canadians who join or finance a military subjugating Palestinians? Would “promoter of terror tourism” be an appropriate description?

Over the past month the CJN has published at least four pieces celebrating Canadian support for the Israeli military. On November 22 it reported, “Bayli Dukes, who recently won the Israel Defence Forces’ Award of Excellence for the Southern Command of the IDF, was a biology student at York University in Toronto less than two years ago. Tired of sitting on the couch and posting on Facebook about the situation in Israel, she decided there was more she could be doing.”

A day earlier it posted an article titled “Hand-knitted  tuques – a very Canadian gift for IDF soldiers” described 80-year olds in Toronto knitting “for charitable causes, such as IDF soldiers in Israel.” Through the Hats for Israeli Soldiers initiative “more than 50,000 hats have been made for combat soldiers on Israel’s front lines”, the CJN reported. The paper quoted IDF soldier Dovid Berger’s thank you letter. “I’m currently a chayal in the 51st brigade of Golani. We are now on our way to a week-long drill in the cold and wet [occupied Syrian] Golan Heights, and last night we received our beautiful black hats you sent us. Thank you so much, some of us have been borrowing each other’s hats and now there’s enough for everyone to have at least one. It really makes a big difference to us to see how people from Canada and the U.S.A. (and everywhere in the world) are really caring about us.”

A photo in its November 14 print edition was titled “Honouring IDF veterans”. The caption read: “former Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon … makes presentation to Montrealers who served in the Israel Defence Forces…. during the Canadian Institute for Jewish research’s 30th anniversary Gala.”

An October 30 piece in the community paper reported, “former NHL player Keith Primeau was among more than 100 Canadians who cycled through Israel over five days this month, to raise funds for disabled veterans in that country. This was the 11th Courage in Motion Bike Ride, which is organized by Beit Halochem Canada.”

The CJN regularly promotes that organization. A search of its database for “Beit Halochem” found dozens of stories about fundraisers and other initiatives supporting Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel. A 2009 story titled “Israeli veterans enjoy 24th visit to Montreal” reported, “the annual visit was sponsored by the 25-year-old Beit Halochem Canada (Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel), which raises funds for Israel’s Beit Halochem, a network of centres that provide therapy and support to more than 51,000 disabled vets and victims of terror.”

Another military initiative CJN promotes is Israel Defence Forces Widows & Orphans, which is partly funded by the Israeli government. “I served three years in the Nahal Brigade. I was in Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”, Shlomi Nahumson, director of youth programs at Widows and Orphans, told the paper in advance of a Toronto fundraiser for the group.

Another military initiative popular with CJN is Sar-El, which was founded by Israeli general Aharon Davidi in 1982. “Toronto brothers volunteer for Sar-El at height of war”, “91-year-old volunteers on Israeli army base” and “Toronto artist’s mural unites Israeli army base” are a sampling of the headlines about a program in which about 150 Canadians serve each year as volunteers on Israeli army supply bases.

At least a dozen CJN stories have promoted the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada. “IDF represents all Jews, female general says” and “Community shows support for Israeli soldiers”, noted headlines about a group established in 1971 to provide financial and moral support to active duty soldiers. The later story quoted a speaker claiming, “the IDF saves lives, and not just in Israel — all over the world.”

CJN has published a series of stories sympathetic to Tzofim Garin Tzabar, which recruits non-Israeli Jews into the IDF. A 2004 article about a program supported by the IDF, Israel Scouts, Jewish Agency and Ministry of Absorption was titled “Canadian youths serve in IDF: Motivated by zionist ideals, love of Israel.” It reported, “[Canadian Yakov] Frydman-Kohl is attending tank school at an Israeli army base somewhere near the West Bank town of Jericho. He recently completed a course in advanced training before his first deployment somewhere in the Gaza Strip.”

CJN lauded Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz’ Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. “Philanthropists aid Israeli ‘lone soldiers’”, was the title of one story about the billionaire Toronto couple providing millions of dollars annually for these non-Israeli soldiers.

More generally, the paper has published numerous stories about Canadian ‘lone soldiers’. “Going in alone: the motivations and hardships of Israel lone soldiers”, “Parents of ‘lone soldiers’ discuss support group” and “Lone soldiers: young idealists and worried parents”, detailed Canadians fighting in the Israeli military. They’ve also publicized numerous books about Canadian and other non-Israelis joining the IDF. In one CJN quoted Abe Levine, an Ontarian who helped drive Palestinians from their homes in 1948, saying, “what I don’t understand is why Israelis don’t send 10 rockets back for every one fired from Gaza.”  The story continued, “during his time in the Machal [overseas military volunteers], Levine saw most Arabs as ‘the enemy.’ Though he said he had lines he would not cross – ‘I wouldn’t kill an Arab if I just saw him standing outside his house.’”

CJN promoted Nefesh B’Nefesh’s (Jewish Souls United) recruitment of Canadians to the IDF. “Nefesh B’Nefesh brings aspiring soldiers to Israel”, noted a headline about a group that facilitates “Aliyah” for those unsatisfied with their and their ancestors’ dispossession of First Nations and want to help colonize another indigenous people.

While CJN provides positive publicity to groups promoting the Israeli military, these groups (often registered Canadian charities) finance the paper. The previously mentioned story about Nefesh B’Nefesh ended with “the reporter’s trip was partly subsidized by Nefesh B’Nefesh.” More significantly, these organizations regularly advertise in the paper. “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base”, read a Sar-El ad while another noted “the Association for the soldiers of Israel invites you to show your support for the brave youth of the IDF at our gala dinner.”

Yet, while it promotes joining and financing a military actively killing Arabs, CJN accuses Palestinian Canadians of supporting terrorism. An August headline noted, “Canadian Arabic-language newspaper criticized for pro-terrorist op-ed” while a 2017 one stated, “B’nai Brith wants a Mississauga teacher fired for backing terrorists”.

The hypocrisy is glaring. While CJN accuses others, it may be this country’s biggest promoter of “terror tourism”.

Removing Billboard “Honoring the First Responders of Gaza” is Attack on Free Speech

Nearly 3 weeks into its planned 4-week run, an electronic billboard honoring first responders in the Gaza Strip was pulled November 13th because the billboard company received phone calls and email complaints calling their staff terrorists and anti-Semites, and threatening a boycott.

The Palestine Advocacy Project sponsored the billboard on Interstate 93 near Boston to highlight the desperate situation in the Gaza strip, and to emphasize the humanity and agency of the people of Gaza, who are often portrayed as terrorists or victims. The billboard included a photo of deceased Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar and text reading: “Honoring the First Responders of Gaza. Saving Lives. Rescuing Hope.” It was estimated to be viewed by over a half million motorists each week of its planned 4-week run, beginning 24 October. The billboard was met with positive media coverage.

This week, a coordinated, aggressive campaign was launched against the billboard company with accusations of anti-Semitism, intended to damage the company for hosting this billboard. Sarah Gold, a volunteer with the Palestine Advocacy Project, said, “This campaign is neither engaging us nor our perspective. Instead it is attempting through intimidation to eradicate the avenues of free speech we have endeavored to use; to silence us.”

The billboard is another casualty in an ongoing attack on free speech. Palestine Legal states in their 2017 report “The Israeli state and its proxy organizations in the U.S. are investing heavily in punitive measures to intimidate and chill the free speech of those who wish to express criticism of Israeli policies.” The report documents 308 attacks on U.S.-based Palestine-related free speech in 2017 alone.

Razan al-Najjar and other Gazan first responders were doing their best to attend to wounded civilians; yet celebrating them is construed as an act of “hate & anti-semitism.” One complaint reads in part: “A billboard glorifying those who try to kill and destroy our People and Homeland! Anti Semitism is as old as time itself, Hate of Israel is hate of Jews, completely unacceptable!” This negative campaign appears to be based on the erroneous notions that all Gazans are anti-Semites intent on murdering Jews, that Gazans are not entitled to basic human rights, and that any display of solidarity with them equates to a call for the destruction of Israel.

Richard Colbath-Hess, founder of the Palestine Advocacy Project, remarked that “The billboard was extremely positive and does not even mention Israel. Instead it was a celebration of Palestinian heroes. Apparently, there cannot be Palestinian heroes without some advocates of Israel feeling attacked.”