Category Archives: United Nations

On Trumpism and Netanyahu-ism: How Benjamin Netanyahu Won America and Lost Israel 

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is as much American as he is Israeli. While other Israeli leaders have made their strong relationship with Washington a cornerstone in their politics, Netanyahu’s political style was essentially American from the start.

Netanyahu spent many of his formative years in the United States. He lived in Philadelphia as a child, graduated from Cheltenham High School and earned a degree in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He then opted to live in the US, not Israel, when he joined the Boston Consulting Group.

Presumably for familial reasons, namely the death of his brother Yonatan, Netanyahu returned to Israel in 1978 to head the ‘Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute’. This did not last for long. He returned to the US to serve as Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988. At the time, Israel was ruled by a coalition government, which saw the rotation of two different prime ministers, Labor Party leader, Shimon Peres and Likud leader, Yitzhak Shamir.

Then, terms like ‘Labor’ and ‘Likud’ meant very little to most American politicians. The US Congress was, seemingly, in love with Israel. For them, Israeli politics was a mere internal matter. Things have changed in the following years, in which Netanyahu played a major role.

Even in the last three decades when Netanyahu became more committed to Israeli politics, he remained, at heart, American. His relationship with US elites was different from that of previous Israeli leaders. Not only were his political ideas and intellect molded in the US, he also managed to generate a unique political brand of pro-Israel solidarity among Americans. In the US, Netanyahu is a household name.

One of the successes attributed to Netanyahu’s approach to American politics was the formation of deep and permanent ties with the country’s burgeoning Christian fundamentalist groups. These groups, such as John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, used the support for Israel – based on messianic and biblical prophecies – as a point of unity and a stepping stone into the world of politics. Israel’s Netanyahu used them as reliable allies who, eventually, made up for the growing lack of enthusiasm for Israel among liberal and progressive circles across the US.

The Israel-evangelical connection may have seemed, at the time, a masterful stroke that could be attributed to the political ‘genius’ of Netanyahu. Indeed, it looked as if Netanyahu had guaranteed American loyalty to Israel indefinitely. This assertion was demonstrated repeatedly, especially as the fundamentalists came to Israel’s rescue whenever the latter engaged in war or faced any threat, whether imagined or fabricated.

As American politics shifted towards more populist, demagogic and conservative ideologies, the evangelicals moved closer to the centers of power in Capitol Hill. Note how Tea-party conservatism, one of the early sparks of the chaotic Trumpism that followed, was purportedly madly in love with Israel. The once marginal political camps, whose political discourses are driven by a strange amalgamation of prophecies and realpolitik, eventually became the ‘base’ of US President Donald Trump. Trump had no other option but to make the support for Israel a core value to his political campaign. His base would have never accepted any alternative.

A prevailing argument often suggests that Netanyahu’s mortal error was making Israel a domestic American issue. Whereas the Republicans support Israel – thanks to their massive evangelical constituency – the Democrats have slowly turned against Israel, an unprecedented phenomenon that only existed under Netanyahu. While this is true, it is also misleading, as it suggests that Netanyahu simply miscalculated. But he did not. In fact, Netanyahu has fostered a strong relationship with the various evangelical groups, long before Trump pondered the possibility of moving to the White House. Netanyahu simply wanted to change the center of gravity of the US relationship with Israel, which he accomplished.

For Netanyahu, the support of the American conservative camp was not a mere strategy to simply garner support for Israel, but an ideologically motivated choice, linking Netanyahu’s own beliefs to American politics using the Christian fundamentalists as a vehicle. This assertion can be demonstrated in a recent headline from The Times of Israel: “Top evangelical leader warns: Israel could lose our support if Netanyahu ousted.”

This ‘top evangelical leader’ is Mike Evans who, from Jerusalem, declared that “Bibi Netanyahu is the only man in the world that unites evangelicals.” Evans vowed to take his 77 million followers to the opposition of any Israeli government without Netanyahu. Much can be gleaned from this but, most importantly, US evangelicals consider themselves fundamental to Israeli politics, their support for Israel being conditioned on Netanyahu’s centrality in that very Israeli body politic.

In recent weeks, many comparisons between Netanyahu and Trump began surfacing. These comparisons are apt, but the issue is slightly more complex than merely comparing political styles, selective discourses and personas. Actually, both Trumpism and Netanyahu’s brand of Likudism – call it Netanyahu-ism – have successfully merged US and Israeli politics in a way that is almost impossible to disentangle. This shall continue to prove costly for Israel, as the evangelical and Republican support for Israel is clearly conditioned on the latter’s ability to serve the US conservative political – let alone spiritual – agenda.

Similarities between Trump and Netanyahu are obvious but they are also rather superficial. Both are narcissistic politicians, who are willing to destabilize their own countries to remain in power, as if they both live by the French maxim, Après moi, le déluge – “After me, the flood”. More, both railed against the elites, and placed fringe political trends – often marred by chauvinistic and fascist political views – at center stage. They both spoke of treason and fraud, played the role of the victim, posed as the only possible saviors, and so on.

But popular political trends of this nature cannot be wholly associated with individuals. Indeed, it was Trump and Netanyahu who tapped into, and exploited, existing political phenomena which, arguably, would have taken place with or without them. The painful truth is that Trumpism will survive long after Trump is gone and Netanyahu-ism has likely changed the face of Israel, regardless of Netanyahu’s next step.

Whatever that next step may be, it will surely be situated in the same familiar base of Netanyahu’s angry army of Israeli right-wing zealots and Christian fundamentalists in the US and elsewhere.

The post On Trumpism and Netanyahu-ism: How Benjamin Netanyahu Won America and Lost Israel  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

On “Conflict”, “Peace” and “Genocide”: Time for New Language on Palestine and Israel

On May 25, famous American actor, Mark Ruffalo, tweeted an apology for suggesting that Israel is committing ‘genocide’ in Gaza.

“I have reflected and wanted to apologize for posts during the recent Israel/Hamas fighting that suggested Israel is committing ‘genocide’,” Ruffalo wrote, adding, “It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful and is being used to justify anti-Semitism, here and abroad. Now is the time to avoid hyperbole.”

But were Ruffalo’s earlier assessments, indeed, “not accurate, inflammatory and disrespectful”? And does equating Israel’s war on besieged, impoverished Gaza with genocide fit into the classification of ‘hyperbole’?

To avoid pointless social media spats, one only needs to reference the ‘United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’. According to Article 2 of the 1948 Convention, the legal definition of genocide is:

“Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part …”

In its depiction of Israel’s latest war on Gaza, the Geneva-based human rights group, Euro-Med Monitor, reported:

The Israeli forces directly targeted 31 extended families. In 21 cases, the homes of these families were bombed while their residents were inside. These raids resulted in the killing of 98 civilians, including 44 children and 28 women. Among the victims were a man and his wife and children, mothers and their children, or child siblings. There were seven mothers who were killed along with four or three of their children. The bombing of these homes and buildings came without any warning despite the Israeli forces’ knowledge that civilians were inside.

As of May 28, 254 Palestinians in Gaza were killed and 1,948 were wounded in the latest 11-day Israeli onslaught, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Though tragic, this number is relatively small compared with the casualties of previous wars. For example, in the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 17,000 were wounded. Similarly, entire families, like the 21-member Abu Jame family in Khan Younis, also perished. Is this not genocide? The same logic can be applied to the killing of over 300 unarmed protesters at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel between March 2018 and December 2019. Moreover, the besiegement and utter isolation of over 2 million Palestinians in Gaza since 2006-07, which has resulted in numerous tragedies, is an act of collective punishment that also deserves the designation of genocide.

One does not need to be a legal expert to identify the many elements of genocide in Israel’s violent behavior, let alone language, against Palestinians. There is a clear, undeniable relationship between Israel’s violent political discourse and equally violent action on the ground. Potentially Israel’s next prime minister, Naftali Bennett, who has served the role of Defense Minister, had, in July 2013, stated: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

With this context in mind, and regardless of why Ruffalo found it necessary to back-track on his moral position, Israel is an unrepentent human rights violator that continues to carry out an active policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the native, indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.

Language matters, and in this particular ‘conflict’, it matters most, because Israel has, for long, managed to escape any accountability for its actions, due to its success in misrepresenting facts, and the overall truth about itself. Thanks to its many allies and supporters in mainstream media and academia, Tel Aviv has rebranded itself from being a military occupier and an apartheid regime to an ‘oasis of democracy’, in fact, ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’.

This article will not attempt to challenge the entirety of the misconstrued mainstream media’s depiction of Israel. Volumes are required for that, and Israeli Professor Ilan Pappé’s ‘Ten Myths about Israel’ is an important starting point. However, this article will attempt to present some basic definitions that must enter the Palestine-Israel lexicon, as a prerequisite to developing a fairer understanding of what is happening on the ground.

A Military Occupation – Not a ‘Conflict’

Quite often, mainstream Western media refers to the situation in Palestine and Israel as a  ‘conflict’, and to the various specific elements of this so-called conflict as a ‘dispute’. For example, the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ and the ‘disputed city of East Jerusalem’.

What should be an obvious truth is that besieged, occupied people do not engage in a ‘conflict’ with their occupiers. Moreover, a ‘dispute’ happens when two parties have equally compelling claims to any issue. When Palestinan families of East Jerusalem are being forced out of their homes which are, in turn, handed over to Jewish extremists, there is no ‘dispute’ involved. The extremists are thieves and the Palestinians are victims. This is not a matter of opinion. The international community itself says so.

‘Conflict’ is a generic term. Aside from absolving the aggressor – in this case, Israel – it leaves all matters open for interpretation. Since American audiences are indoctrinated to love Israel and hate Arabs and Muslims, siding with Israel in its ‘conflict’ with the latter becomes the only rational option.

Israel has sustained a military occupation of 22% of the total size of historic Palestine since June 1967. The remainder of the Palestinian homeland was already usurped, using extreme violence, state-sanctioned apartheid, and, as Pappé puts it, ‘incremental genocide’ decades earlier.

From the perspective of international law,  the term ‘military occupation’, ‘occupied East Jerusalem’, ‘illegal Jewish settlements’ and so forth, have never been ‘disputed’. They are simply facts, even if Washington has decided to ignore international law, and even if mainstream US media has chosen to manipulate the terminology as to present Israel as a victim, not the aggressor.

‘Process’ without ‘Peace’

The term ‘peace process’ was coined by American diplomats decades ago. It was put to use throughout the mid and late 1970s when, then-US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, labored to broker a deal between Egypt and Israel in the hope of fragmenting the Arab political front and, eventually, sidelining Cairo entirely from the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’.

Kissinger’s logic proved vital for Israel as the ‘process’ did not aim at achieving justice according to fixed criteria that has been delineated by the United Nations for years. There was no frame of reference any more. If any existed, it was Washington’s political priorities which, historically, almost entirely overlapped with Israel’s priorities. Despite the obvious American bias, the US bestowed upon itself the undeserving title of ‘the honest peace broker’.

This approach was used successfully in the write-up to the Camp David Accords in 1978. One of the Accords’ greatest achievements is that the so-called ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ was replaced with the so-called ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’.

Now, tried and true, the ‘peace process’ was used again in 1993, resulting in the Oslo Accords. For nearly three decades, the US continued to tout its self-proclaimed credentials as a peacemaker, despite the fact that it pumped – and continues to do so – $3-4 billion of annual, mostly military, aid to Israel.

On the other hand, the Palestinians have little to show for. No peace was achieved; no justice was obtained; not an inch of Palestinian land was returned and not a single Palestinian refugee was allowed to return home. However, American and European officials and a massive media apparatus continued to talk of a ‘peace process’ with little regard to the fact that the ‘peace process’ has brought nothing but war and destruction for Palestine, and allowed Israel to continue its illegal appropriation and colonization of Palestinian land.

Resistance, National Liberation – Not ‘Terrorism’ and ‘State-Building’

The ‘peace process’ introduced more than death, mayhem and normalization of land theft in Palestine. It also wrought its own language, which remains in effect to this day. According to the new lexicon, Palestinians are divided into ‘moderate’ and ‘extremists’. The ‘moderates’ believe in the American-led ‘peace process’, ‘peace negotiations’ and are ready to make ‘painful compromises’ in order to obtain the coveted ‘peace’. On the other hand, the ‘extremists’ are ‘Iran-backed’, politically ‘radical’ bunch that use ‘terrorism’ to satisfy their ‘dark’ political agendas.

But is this the case? Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, many sectors of Palestinian society, including Muslims and Christians, Islamists and secularists and, notably, socialists, resisted the unwarranted political ‘compromises’ undertaken by their leadership, which they perceived to be a betrayal of Palestinians’ basic rights. Meanwhile, the ‘moderates’ have largely ruled over Palestinians with no democratic mandate. This small but powerful group introduced a culture of political and financial corruption, unprecedented in Palestine. They applied torture against Palestinian political dissidents whenever it suited them. Not only did Washington say little to criticize the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority’s dismal human rights record, but it also applauded it for its crackdown on those who ‘incite violence’ and their ‘terrorist infrastructure’.

A term such as ‘resistance’ – muqawama – was slowly but carefully extricated from the Palestinian national discourse. The term ‘liberation’ too was perceived to be confrontational and hostile. Instead, such concepts as ‘state-building’ – championed by former Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and others – began taking hold. The fact that Palestine was still an occupied country and that ‘state-building’ can only be achieved once ‘liberation’ was first secured, did not seem to matter to the ‘donor countries’. The priorities of these countries – mainly US allies who adhered to the American political agenda in the Middle East – was to maintain the illusion of the ‘peace process’ and to ensure  ‘security coordination’ between PA police and the Israeli army carried on, unabated.

The so-called ‘security coordination’, of course, refers to the US-funded joint Israeli-PA efforts at cracking down on Palestinian resistance, apprehending Palestinian political dissidents and ensuring the safety of the illegal Jewish settlements, or colonies, in the occupied West Bank.

War and, Yes, Genocide in Gaza – Not ‘Israel-Hamas Conflict’

The word ‘democracy’ was constantly featured in the new Oslo language. Of course, it was not intended to serve its actual meaning. Instead, it was the icing on the cake of making the illusion of the ‘peace process’ perfect. This was obvious, at least to most Palestinians. It also became obvious to the whole world in January 2006, when the Palestinian faction Fatah, which has monopolized the PA since its inception in 1994, lost the popular vote to the Islamic faction, Hamas.

Hamas, and other Palestinian factions have rejected – and continue to reject – the Oslo Accords. Their participation in the legislative elections in 2006 took many by surprise, as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was itself a product of Oslo. Their victory in the elections, which was classified as democratic and transparent by international monitoring groups, threw a wrench in the US-Israeli-PA political calculations.

Lo and behold, the group that has long been perceived by Israel and its allies as ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’, became the potential leaders of Palestine! The Oslo spin doctors had to go into overdrive in order for them to thwart Palestinian democracy and ensure a successful return to the status quo, even if this meant that Palestine is represented by unelected, undemocratic leaders. Sadly, this has been the case for nearly 15 years.

Meanwhile, Hamas’ stronghold, the Gaza Strip, had to be taught a lesson, thus the siege imposed on the impoverished region for nearly 15 years. The siege on Gaza has little to do with Hamas’ rockets or Israel’s ‘security’ needs, the right to ‘defend itself’, and its supposedly ‘justifiable’ desire to destroy Gaza’s ‘terrorist infrastructure’. While, indeed, Hamas’ popularity in Gaza is unmatched anywhere else in Palestine, Fatah, too, has a powerful constituency there. Moreover, the Palestinian resistance in the Strip is not championed by Hamas alone, but also by other ideological and political groups, for example, the Islamic Jihad, the socialist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and other socialist and secular groups.

Misrepresenting the ‘conflict’ as a ‘war’ between Israel and Hamas is crucial to Israeli propaganda, which has succeeded in equating Hamas with militant groups throughout the Middle East and even Afghanistan. But Hamas is not ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Taliban. In fact, none of these groups are similar, anyway. Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic nationalist movement that operates within a largely Palestinian political context. An excellent book on Hamas is the recently published volume by Daud Abdullah, Engaging the World. Abdullah’s book rightly presents Hamas as a rational political actor, rooted in its ideological convictions, yet flexible and pragmatic in its ability to adapt to national, regional and international geopolitical changes.

But what does Israel have to gain from mischaracterizing the Palestinian resistance in Gaza? Aside from satisfying its propaganda campaign of erroneously linking Hamas to other anti-American groups, it also dehumanizes the Palestinian people entirely and presents Israel as a partner in the American global so-called ‘war on terror’. Israeli neofascist and ultranationalist politicians then become the saviors of humanity, their violent racist language is forgiven and their active ‘genocide’ is seen as an act of ‘self-defense’ or, at best, a mere state of ‘conflict’.

The Oppressor as the Victim

According to the strange logic of mainstream media, Palestinians are rarely ‘killed’ by Israeli soldiers, but rather ‘die’ in ‘clashes’ resulting from various ‘disputes. Israel does not ‘colonize’ Palestinian land; it merely ‘annexes’, ‘appropriates’, and ‘captures’, and so on. What has been taking place in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, for example, is not outright property theft, leading to ethnic cleansing, but rather a ‘property dispute’.

The list goes on and on.

In truth, language has always been a part of Zionist colonialism, long before the state of Israel was itself constructed from the ruins of Palestinian homes and villages in 1948. Palestine, according to the Zionists, was ‘a land with no people’ for ‘a people with no land’. These colonists were never ‘illegal settlers’ but ‘Jewish returnees’ to their ‘ancestral homeland’, who, through hard work and perseverance, managed to ‘make the desert bloom’, and, in order to defend themselves against the ‘hordes of Arabs’, they needed to build an ‘invincible army’.

It will not be easy to deconstruct the seemingly endless edifice of lies, half-truths and intentional misrepresentations of Zionist Israeli colonialism in Palestine. Yet, there can be no alternative to this feat because, without proper, accurate and courageous understanding and depiction of Israeli settler colonialism and Palestinian resistance to it, Israel will continue to oppress Palestinians while presenting itself as the victim.

The post On “Conflict”, “Peace” and “Genocide”: Time for New Language on Palestine and Israel first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Land Governance: Future

The third video in the “Land governance” series explores potential paths toward just systems of land management that honor Indigenous rights and responsibilities, including implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, inclusion of Indigenous systems of governance and stewardship, potential mechanisms to recognize Indigenous land ownership and the need for meaningful relationships to serve as a foundation for moving forward.

See:

  • Land Governance: Past
  • Land Governance: Present
  • The post Land Governance: Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Israel is Ethnically Cleansing Gaza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So has Israel.

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

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

    Unity at Last: The Palestinian People Have Risen  

    From the outset, some clarification is needed regarding the language used to depict the ongoing violence in occupied Palestine, and also throughout Israel. This is not a ‘conflict’. Neither is it a ‘dispute’ nor ‘sectarian violence’ nor even a war in the traditional sense.

    It is not a conflict, because Israel is an occupying power and the Palestinian people are an occupied nation. It is not a dispute, because freedom, justice and human rights cannot be treated as a mere political disagreement. The Palestinian people’s inalienable rights are enshrined in international and humanitarian law and the illegality of Israeli violations of human rights in Palestine is recognized by the United Nations itself.

    If it is a war, then it is a unilateral Israeli war, which is met with humble, but real and determined Palestinian resistance.

    Actually, it is a Palestinian uprising, an Intifada unprecedented in the history of the Palestinian struggle, both in its nature and outreach.

    For the first time in many years, we see the Palestinian people united, from Jerusalem Al Quds, to Gaza, to the West Bank and, even more critically, to the Palestinian communities, towns and villages inside historic Palestine – today’s Israel.

    This unity matters the most, is far more consequential than some agreement between Palestinian factions. It eclipses Fatah and Hamas and all the rest, because without a united people there can be no meaningful resistance, no vision for liberation, no struggle for justice to be won.

    Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could never have anticipated that a routine act of ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah could lead to a Palestinian uprising, uniting all sectors of Palestinian society in an unprecedented show of unity.

    The Palestinian people have decided to move past all the political divisions and the factional squabbles. Instead, they are coining new terminologies, centered on resistance, liberation and international solidarity. Consequently, they are challenging factionalism, along with any attempt at making Israeli occupation and apartheid normal. Equally important, a strong Palestinian voice is now piercing through the international silence, compelling the world to hear a single chant for freedom.

    The leaders of this new movement are Palestinian youth who have been denied participation in any form of democratic representation, who are constantly marginalized and oppressed by their own leadership and by the relentless Israeli military occupation. They were born into a world of exile, destitution and apartheid, led to believe that they are inferior, of a lesser race. Their right to self-determination and every other right were postponed indefinitely. They grew up helplessly watching their homes being demolished, their land being robbed and their parents being humiliated.

    Finally, they are rising.

    Without prior coordination and with no political manifesto, this new Palestinian generation is now making its voice heard, sending an unmistakable, resounding message to Israel and its right-wing chauvinistic society, that the Palestinian people are not passive victims; that the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah and the rest of occupied East Jerusalem, the protracted siege on Gaza, the ongoing military occupation, the construction of illegal Jewish settlements, the racism and the apartheid will no longer go unnoticed; though tired, poor, dispossessed, besieged and abandoned, Palestinians will continue to safeguard their own rights, their sacred places and the very sanctity of their own people.

    Yes, the ongoing violence was instigated by Israeli provocations in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. However, the story was never about the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah alone. The beleaguered neighborhood is but a microcosm of the larger Palestinian struggle.

    Netanyahu may have hoped to use Sheikh Jarrah as a way of mobilizing his right-wing constituency around him, intending to form an emergency government or increasing his chances of winning yet a fifth election. His rash behavior, initially compelled by entirely selfish reasons, has ignited a popular rebellion among Palestinians, exposing Israel for the violent, racist and apartheid state that it is and always has been.

    Palestinian unity and popular resistance have proven successful in other ways, too. Never before have we seen this groundswell of support for Palestinian freedom, not only from millions of ordinary individuals across the globe, but also from celebrities – movie stars, footballers, mainstream intellectuals and political activists, even models and social media influencers. The hashtags #SaveSheikhJarrah and #FreePalestine, among numerous others, are now interlinked and have been trending on all social media platforms for weeks. Israel’s constant attempts at presenting itself as a perpetual victim of some imaginary horde of Arabs and Muslims are no longer paying dividends. The world can finally see, read and hear of Palestine’s tragic reality and the need to bring this tragedy to an immediate end.

    None of this would be possible were it not for the fact that all Palestinians have legitimate reasons and are speaking in unison. In their spontaneous reaction and genuine communal solidarity, all Palestinians are united from Sheikh Jarrah to all of Jerusalem, to Gaza, Nablus, Ramallah, Al-Bireh and even Palestinian towns inside Israel – Al-Lud, Umm Al-Fahm, Kufr Qana and elsewhere. In Palestine’s new popular revolution, factions, geography and any political division are irrelevant. Religion is not a source of divisiveness but of spiritual and national unity.

    The ongoing Israeli atrocities in Gaza are continuing, with a mounting death toll. This devastation will continue for as long as the world treats the devastating siege of the impoverished, tiny Strip as if irrelevant. People in Gaza were dying long before the Israeli airstrikes began blowing up their homes and neighborhoods. They were dying from the lack of medicine, polluted water, the lack of electricity and the dilapidated infrastructure.

    We must save Sheikh Jarrah, but we must also save Gaza; we must demand an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and, with it, the system of racial discrimination and apartheid. International human rights groups are now precise and decisive in their depiction of this racist regime, with Human Rights Watch – and Israel’s own rights group, B’tselem – joining the call for the dismantlement of apartheid in all of Palestine.

    Speak up. Speak out. The Palestinians have risen. It is time to rally behind them.

    The post Unity at Last: The Palestinian People Have Risen   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Indigenous Fisheries vs. Mob Rule

    Suspicious fire destroys Potlotek First Nation cabins. CTV.news

    On September 17, 2020, the Sipekne’katik First Nation of Nova Scotia opened its independent fishery, affirming the Band’s rights under Canada’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 (the Marshall Decision), which allowed the Band to fish for a moderate living under its own regulations. On the 17th and in following days from 80 to 200 fishing boats of the commercial fishing industry came to St. Mary’s Bay to protest the new fishery. There were boat rammings, flare guns, intimidation, and destruction of lobster traps and gear. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the DFO Conservation and Protection Divison, the RCMP, the Coast Guard, were there but provided the Band no protection.1

    This began two months of intimidation, burnings, assaults, destruction and confiscation of lobster traps and gear, with mob actions by commercial fishermen unhampered by the few police on hand.

    The Sipekne’katik First Nation requested and received from Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court a temporary injunction assuring protection from attacks until mid-December 2020. Canadian law was not protecting them. The Band was faced with mobs of men understood to represent commercial fishing interests but under the colors of conserving lobster stock. The commercial seafood industry is known for the near extinction of several Atlantic species of fish. If the non-Indigenous fishermen of Nova Scotia who attacked the Sipekne’katik First Nation were free men, why wouldn’t they form worker-owned fishing cooperatives similar to the Indigenous fisheries?

    Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government said the violence was a terrible thing and although military intervention was suggested by the Sipekne’katik First Nation, the number of RCMP officers was increased. While the RCMP was not able to intervene when a mob of over two hundred commercial fishermen torched a Sipekne’katik fisherman’s van and destroyed his catch, eventual arrests of over 20 participants resulted in a court date March 29th. As of mid-May reports of their trial aren’t available in the media.

    Then, instead of de-escalating, the government aggressively pursued its policies of licensing restrictions and seasonal limits affecting Indigenous fisheries, despite the serious doubts of the government’s right to interfere in the Indigenous self-regulatory process. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, using the same argument of the commercial fishermen that the variant Indigenous lobster season (with its tiny catch) endangered the lobster stock, is legitimizing mob rule and the crimes of November and December 2020.

    The Potlotek First Nation of Cape Breton is one of several bands self-regulating its native fishery. Durng this past April 37 lobster traps belonging to a Potlotek fisherman were seized by the DFO2 which has steadily confiscated the Band’s lobster traps since last October.3  To continue to assert its fishing rights the Potlotek Band has had to bring suit against Canada, May 10th at the Halifax Supreme Court.4

    The DFO confiscates lobster traps of the Sipekne’katik First Nation as well, asserting regulations requiring conformity with the commercial industry’s season; the restrictions are imposed without Sipekne’katik’s consultation and permission as required. As a law unto itself the DFO also confiscates crab traps protected by Section 35 of the Constitution and the Sparrow Decision.5  The regulations risk closing and bankrupting native fisheries and stripping them of their Supreme Court guaranteed rights to fish for a “moderate livelihood.” The expense of proving that the government has exceeded its legal authority is placed on the First Nations.

    Lack of visible prosecution of the primary crime here – terrorizing of a selected ethnic group, encourages the perpetrators.

    From the perspective of the Convention on Genocide the concern is whether Canada’s government is intentionally continuing policies which lead to the extermination of Indigenous people. To limit discussion here to fishing rights, an indication of the controls on First Peoples is available in DFO licensing policy (as of November 2020); as revealed in response to a suit by Sipekne’katik First Nation against the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance: the Alliance revealed that the seafood buyers were only permitted by the DFO to buy from fisheries licensed by the DFO, and these purchases had to be within the DFO defined seasons.6  These government regulations exclude the Sipekne’katik First Nation and other newly formed Indigenous fisheries from the right to market their small catches of seafood.

    Divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples serve those who control both for profit. I tend to see current adversarial anti-Indigenous actions, with their similarities to KKK tactics and controls in the U.S. during the last century or so, as the result of corporate interests facilitated by the government. The criminal controls don’t really benefit the often desperate commercial fishermen who effect the terrorizing. While Prime Minister Trudeau’s government expressed horror at the violence dealt the Sipekne’katik fishery, his government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans increased the dissent by confiscating Sipekne’katik’s lobster traps — much as boats from the commercial fleet had stolen them. The government failed to protect an Indigenous community requesting protection.1  Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Sack suggested military intervention to protect his people but was refused.7  (The government was able to deploy sixty Canadian Armed Forces members to assist at Nova Scotia centres testing for COVID-19.8

    The Sipekne’katik First Nation has given every indication that it will pursue justice under the law, and that this would include appeals to the U.N.. Canadian political science Professor John McGarry, described by the CBC as “an international expert on conflict management,” has assured Canadians the U.N. wouldn’t provide “peacekeepers” since the Canadian government would have to approve of any intervention. By this, Professor McGarry acknowledges the seriousness of acts against the Sipekne’katik First Nation as possibly requiring the armed military intervention of ‘peacekeepers.’9

    The U.N. has refused to leave the Sipekne’katik First Nation to the promises of the Canadian State when faced by its commercial fishing industry. An April 30th letter from the head of the U.N.’s Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Yanduan Li, asks Canada to answer the allegations made by Sipekne’katik First Nations band: “According to the information received during September and December 2020, especially between 13th and 17th October, Mi’kmaw people, and in particular Mi’kmaw fishers, have been subject to escalating racist hate speech, violence, including with firearms, intimidation, burning and destruction of their property, including lobster traps, lobster processing facilities and work vehicles.” Also noted: “It is further alleged that, despite being aware of the high risks of violence, the competent Canadian authorities – in particular the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) – failed to take appropriate measures to prevent these act of violence and to protect the Mi’kmaw fishers and their properties from being vandalized.” The three page letter challenges the government’s inaction and asks for a thorough investigation. It verifies the need to ask the Canadian government to “respect, protect and guarantee the rights of Mi’kmaw peoples in relation to their fishing activites and territories,” among other guaranteed rights.10 The deadline for response is July 14th.

    1. DFO, RCMP knew violence was coming but did nothing to protect Mi’kmaw lobster harvester: Documents,” Brett Forester, February 10, 2021, aptn.
    2. Traps seized by DFO in first day of Potlotek’s moderate livelihood lobster fishery,” Ardelle Reynolds, April 30, May 1, 2021, Saltwire.
    3. Potlotek chief says band losing patience with DFO over fishery,” Tom Ayers, October 23, 2020, CBC News.
    4. Potlotek First Nation seeks injunction against DFO over self-regulated fishery,” Erin Pottie, May 11, 2021, CBC News.
    5. Mi’kmaw fisherman has crab traps seized by DFO during food fishery,” Angel Moore, April 14, 2021, aptn.
    6. Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance says licences only let them buy from DFO-authorized fisheries,” Paul Withers, Novemher 17, 2020, CBC News.
    7. ’We’re being targeted now’: Mi’kmaq chief wants military called in to N.S. lobster clashes, attacks,” Greg Mercer, October 18, 19, 2020, Globe and Mail.
    8. Canadian Armed Forces deploying personnel for Nova Scotia COVID-19 response,” April 27, 2021, CBC News.
    9. UN peacekeepers won’t monitor Sipekne’katik fishery, says expert,” Paul Withers, April 30, 2021, CBC News.
    10. Letter to H.E. Ms. Leslie Norton, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Office, Geneva, from Yanduan Li, Chair, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” Reference CERD/EWUAP/103rd Session/2021/MJ/CS/ks, 30 April 2021, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, Geneva Switzerland.
    The post Indigenous Fisheries vs. Mob Rule first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Denis Halliday: A Voice of Reason in an Insane World

    Photo credit: indybay.org

    Denis Halliday is an exceptional figure in the world of diplomacy. In 1998, after a 34-year career with the United Nations—including as an Assistant Secretary-General and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq—he resigned when the UN Security Council refused to lift sanctions against Iraq.

    Halliday saw at first hand the devastating impact of this policy that had led to the deaths of over 500,000 children under the age of five and hundreds of thousands more older children and adults, and he called the sanctions a genocide against the people of Iraq.

    Since 1998, Denis has been a powerful voice for peace and for human rights around the world. He sailed in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza in 2010, when 10 of his companions on a Turkish ship were shot and killed in an attack by the Israeli armed forces.

    I interviewed Denis Halliday from his home in Ireland.

    Nicolas Davies:   So, Denis, twenty years after you resigned from the UN over the sanctions on Iraq, the United States is now imposing similar “maximum pressure” sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, denying their people access to food and medicines in the midst of a pandemic. What would you like to say to Americans about the real-world impact of these policies?

    Denis Halliday:   I’d like to begin with explaining that the sanctions imposed by the Security Council against Iraq, led very much by the United States and Britain, were unique in the sense that they were comprehensive. They were open-ended, meaning that they required a Security Council decision to end them, which, of course, never actually happened – and they followed immediately upon the Gulf War.

    The Gulf War, led primarily by the United States but supported by Britain and some others, undertook the bombing of Iraq and targeted civilian infrastructure, which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and they took out all electric power networks in the country.

    This completely undermined the water treatment and distribution system of Iraq, which depended upon electricity to drive it, and drove people to use contaminated water from the Tigris and the Euphrates. That was the beginning of the death-knell for young children, because mothers were not breast-feeding, they were feeding their children with child formula, but mixing it with foul water from the Tigris and the Euphrates.

    That bombing of infrastructure, including communications systems and electric power, wiped out the production of food, horticulture, and all of the other basic necessities of life. They also closed down exports and imports, and they made sure that Iraq was unable to export its oil, which was the main source of its revenue at the time.

    In addition to that, they introduced a new weapon called depleted uranium, which was used by the U.S. forces driving the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait. That was used again in southern Iraq in the Basra area, and led to a massive accumulation of nuclear debris which led to leukemia in children, and that took three, four or five years to become evident.

    So when I got to Iraq in 1998, the hospitals in Baghdad, and also, of course, in Basra and other cities, were full of children suffering from leukemia. Meantime adults had gotten their own cancer, mainly not a blood cancer diagnosis. Those children, we reckon perhaps 200,000 children, died of leukemia. At the same time, Washington and London withheld some of the treatment components that leukemia requires, again, it seemed, in a genocidal manner, denying Iraqi children the right to remain alive.

    And as you quoted 500,000, that was a statement made by Madeleine Albright, the then American Ambassador to the United Nations who, live on CBS, was asked the question about the loss of 500,000 children, and she said that the loss of 500,000 children was “worth it,” in terms of bringing down Saddam Hussein, which did not happen until the military invasion of 2003.

    So the point is that the Iraqi sanctions were uniquely punitive and cruel and prolonged and comprehensive. They remained in place no
    matter how people like myself or others, and not just me alone, but UNICEF and the agencies of the UN system – many states including France, China and Russia – complained bitterly about the consequences on human life and the lives of Iraqi children and adults.

    My desire in resigning was to go public, which I did. Within one month, I was in Washington doing my first Congressional briefing on the consequences of these sanctions, driven by Washington and London.

    So I think the United States and its populus, who vote these governments in, need to understand that the children and the people of Iraq are just like the children of the United States and England and their people. They have the same dreams, same ambitions of education and employment and housing and vacations and all the things that good people care about. We’re all the same people and we cannot sit back and think somehow, “We don’t know who they are, they’re Afghans, they’re Iranians, they’re Iraqis. So what? They’re dying. Well, we don’t know, it’s not our problem, this happens in war.” I mean, all that sort of rationale as to why this is unimportant.

    And I think that aspect of life in the sanctions world continues, whether it’s Venezuela, whether it’s Cuba, which has been ongoing now for 60 years. People are not aware or don’t think in terms of the lives of other human beings identical to ourselves here in Europe or in the United States.

    It’s a frightening problem, and I don’t know how it can be resolved. We now have sanctions on Iran and North Korea. So the difficulty is to bring alive that we kill people with sanctions. They’re not a substitute for war – they are a form of warfare.

    ND: Thank you, Denis. I think that brings us to another question, because whereas the sanctions on Iraq were approved by the UN Security Council, what we’re looking at today in the world is, for the most part, the U.S. using the power of its financial system to impose unilateral sieges on these countries, even as the U.S. is also still waging war in at least half a dozen countries, mostly in the Greater Middle East. Medea Benjamin and I recently documented that the U.S. and its allies have dropped 326,000 bombs and missiles on other countries in all these wars, just since 2001 – that’s not counting the First Gulf War.

    You worked for the UN and UNDP for 34 years, and the UN was conceived of as a forum and an institution for peace and to confront violations of peace by any countries around the world. But how can the UN address the problem of a powerful, aggressive country like the United States that systematically violates international law and then abuses its veto and diplomatic power to avoid accountability?

    DH:  Yes, when I talk to students, I try to explain that there are two United Nations: there’s a United Nations of the Secretariat, led by the Secretary-General and staffed by people like myself and 20,000 or 30,000 more worldwide, through UNDP and the agencies. We operate in every country, and most of it is developmental or humanitarian. It’s good work, it has real impact, whether it’s feeding Palestinians or it’s UNICEF work in Ethiopia. This continues.

    Where the UN collapses is in the Security Council, in my view, and that is because, in Yalta in 1945, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, having noted the failure of the League of Nations, decided to set up a United Nations that would have a controlling entity, which they then called the Security Council. And to make sure that worked, in their interests I would say, they established this five-power veto group, and they added France and they added China. And that five is still in place.

    That’s 1945 and this is 2021, and they’re still in power and they’re still manipulating the United Nations. And as long as they stay there and they manipulate, I think the UN is doomed. The tragedy is that the five veto powers are the very member states that violate the Charter, violate human rights conventions, and will not allow the application of the ICC to their war crimes and other abuses.

    On top of that, they are the countries that manufacture and sell weapons, and we know that weapons of war are possibly the most profitable product you can produce. So their vested interest is control, is the military capacity, is interference. It’s a neocolonial endeavor, an empire in reality, to control the world as the way they want to see it. Until that is changed and those five member states agree to dilute their power and play an honest role, I think we’re doomed. The UN has no capacity to stop the difficulties we’re faced with around the world.

    ND:   That’s a pretty damning prognosis. In this century, we’re facing such incredible problems, between climate change and the threat of nuclear war still hanging over all of us, possibly more dangerous than ever before, because of the lack of treaties and the lack of cooperation between the nuclear powers, notably the U.S. and Russia. This is really an existential crisis for humanity.

    Now there is also, of course, the UN General Assembly, and they did step up on nuclear weapons with the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which has now officially entered into force. And every year when it meets, the General Assembly regularly and almost unanimously condemns the U.S. sanctions regime against Cuba.

    When I wrote my book about the war in Iraq, my final recommendations were that the senior American and British war criminals responsible for the war should be held criminally accountable, and that the U.S. and the U.K. should pay reparations to Iraq for the war. Could the General Assembly possibly be a venue to build support for Iraq to claim reparations from the U.S. and the U.K., or is there another venue where that would be more appropriate?

    DH:   I think you’re right on target. The tragedy is that the decisions of the Security Council are binding decisions. Every member state has got to apply and respect those decisions. So, if you violate a sanctions regime imposed by the Council as a member state, you’re in trouble. The General Assembly resolutions are not binding.

    You’ve just referred to a very important decision, which is the decision about nuclear weapons. We’ve had a lot of decisions on banning various types of weapons over the years. Here in Ireland we were involved in anti-personnel mines and other things of that sort, and it was by a large number of member states, but not the guilty parties, not the Americans, not the Russians, not the Chinese, not the British. The ones who control the veto power game are the ones who do not comply. Just like Clinton was one of the proposers, I think, of the ICC [International Criminal Court], but when it came to the end of the day, the United States doesn’t accept it has a role vis-a-vis themselves and their war crimes The same is true of other large states that are the guilty parties in those cases.

    So I would go back to your suggestion about the General Assembly. It could be enhanced, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be changed, but it requires tremendous courage on the part of member states. It also requires acceptance by the five veto powers that their day has come to an end, because, in reality, the UN carries very little cachet nowadays to send a UN mission into a country like Myanmar or Afghanistan.

    I think we have no power left, we have no influence left, because they know who runs the organization, they know who makes the decisions. It’s not the Secretary-General. It’s not people like me. We are dictated to by the Security Council. I resigned, effectively, from the Security Council. They were my bosses during that particular period of my career.

    I have a lecture I do on reforming the Security Council, making it a North-South representative body, which would find Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa in situ, and you’d get very different decisions. You’d get the sort of decisions we get in the General Assembly: much more balanced, much more aware of the world and its North and South and all those other variations. But, of course, again, we can’t reform the Council until the five veto powers agree to that. That is the huge problem.

    ND:   Yes, in fact, when that structure was announced in 1945 with the Security Council, the five Permanent Members and the veto, Albert Camus, who was the editor of the French Resistance newspaper Combat, wrote a front-page editorial saying this was the end of any idea of international democracy.

    So, as with so many other issues, we live in these nominally democratic countries, but the people of a country like the United States are only really told what our leaders want us to know about how the world works. So reform of the Security Council is clearly needed, but it’s a massive process of education and democratic reform in countries around the world to actually build enough of a popular movement to demand that kind of change. In the meantime, the problems we’re facing are enormous.

    Another thing that is very under-reported in the U.S. is that, out of desperation after twenty years of war in Afghanistan, Secretary Blinken has finally asked the UN to lead a peace process for a ceasefire between the U.S.-backed government and the Taliban and a political transition. That could move the conflict into the political realm and end the civil war that resulted from the U.S. invasion and occupation and endless bombing campaign.

    So what do you think of that initiative? There is supposed to be a meeting in a couple of weeks in Istanbul, led by an experienced UN negotiator, Jean Arnault, who helped to bring peace to Guatemala at the end of its civil war, and then between Colombia and the FARC. The U.S. specifically asked China, Russia and Iran to be part of this process as well. Both sides in Afghanistan have agreed to come to Istanbul and at least see what they can agree on. So is that a constructive role that the UN can play? Does that offer a chance of peace for the people of Afghanistan?

    DH:   If I were a member of the Taliban and I was asked to negotiate with a government that is only in power because it’s supported by the United States, I would question whether it’s an even keel. Are we equally powerful, can we talk to each other one-to-one? The answer, I think, is no.

    The UN chap, whoever he is, poor man, is going to have the same difficulty. He is representing the United Nations, a Security Council dominated by the United States and others, as the Afghans are perfectly well aware. The Taliban have been fighting for a helluva long time, and making no progress because of the interference of the U.S. troops, which are still on the ground. I just don’t think it’s an even playing-field.

    So I’d be very surprised if that works. I absolutely hope it might. I would think, in my view, if you want a lasting relationship within a country, it’s got to be negotiated within the country, without military or other interference or fear of further bombing or attacks or all the rest of it. I don’t think we have any credibility, as a UN, under those circumstances. It’ll be a very tough slog.

    ND:  Right. The irony is that the United States set aside the UN Charter when it attacked Yugoslavia in 1999 to carve out what is now the semi-recognized country of Kosovo, and then to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. The UN Charter, right at the beginning, at its heart, prohibits the threat or use of force by one country against another. But that is what the U.S. set aside.

    DH:   And then, you have to remember, the U.S. is attacking a fellow member state of the United Nations, without hesitation, with no respect for the Charter. Perhaps people forget that Eleanor Roosevelt drove, and succeeded in establishing, the Declaration of Human Rights, an extraordinary achievement, which is still valid. It’s a biblical instrument for many of us who work in the UN.

    So the neglect of the Charter and the spirit of the Charter and the wording of the Charter, by the five veto members, perhaps in Afghanistan it was Russia, now it’s the United States, the Afghanis have had foreign intervention up to their necks and beyond, and the British have been involved there since the 18th century almost. So they have my deepest sympathy, but I hope this thing can work, let’s hope it can.

    ND:  I brought that up because the U.S., with its dominant military power after the end of the Cold War, made a very conscious choice that instead of living according to the UN Charter, it would live by the sword, by the law of the jungle: “might makes right.”

    It took those actions because it could, because no other military force was there to stand up against it. At the time of the First Gulf War, a Pentagon consultant told the New York Times that, with the end of the Cold War, the U.S. could finally conduct military operations in the Middle East without worrying about starting World War III. So they took the demise of the Soviet Union as a green light for these systematic, widespread actions that violate the UN Charter.

    But now, what is happening in Afghanistan is that the Taliban once again control half the country. We’re approaching the spring and the summer when the fighting traditionally gets worse, and so the U.S. is calling in the UN out of desperation because, frankly, without a ceasefire, their government in Kabul is just going to lose more territory. So the U.S. has chosen to live by the sword, and in this situation it’s now confronting dying by the sword.

    DH:   What’s tragic, Nicolas, is that, in our lifetime, the Afghanis ran their own country. They had a monarchy, they had a parliament – I met and interviewed women ministers from Afghanistan in New York – and they managed it. It was when the Russians interfered, and then the Americans interfered, and then Bin Laden set up his camp there, and that was justification for destroying what was left of Afghanistan.

    And then Bush, Cheney and a few of the boys decided, although there was no justification whatsoever, to bomb and destroy Iraq, because they wanted to think that Saddam Hussein was involved with Al Qaeda, which, of course, was nonsense. They wanted to think he had weapons of mass destruction, which also was nonsense. The UN inspectors said that again and again, but nobody would believe them.

    It’s deliberate neglect of the one last hope. The League of Nations failed, and the UN was the next best hope and we have deliberately turned our backs upon it, neglected it and distrusted it. When we get a good Secretary General like Hammarskjold, we murder him. He was definitely killed, because he was interfering in the dreams of the British in particular, and perhaps the Belgians, in Katanga. It’s a very sad story, and I don’t know where we go from here.

    ND:   Right, well, where we seem to be going from here is to a loss of American power around the world, because the U.S. has so badly abused its power. In the U.S., we keep hearing that this is a Cold War between the U.S. and China, or maybe the U.S., China and Russia, but I think we all hopefully can work for a more multipolar world.

    As you say, the UN Security Council needs reform, and hopefully the American people are understanding that we cannot unilaterally rule the world, that the ambition for a U.S. global empire is an incredibly dangerous pipe-dream that has really led us to an impasse.

    DH:   Perhaps the only good thing coming out of Covid-19 is the slow realization that, if everybody doesn’t get a vaccine, we fail, because we, the rich and the powerful with the money and the vaccines, will not be safe until we make sure the rest of the world is safe, from Covid and the next one that’s coming along the track undoubtedly.

    And this implies that if we don’t do trade with China or other countries we have reservations about, because we don’t like their government, we don’t like communism, we don’t like socialism, whatever it is, we just have to live with that, because without each other we can’t survive. With the climate crisis and all the other issues related to that, we need each other more than ever perhaps, and we need collaboration. It’s just basic common sense that we work and live together.

    The U.S. has something like 800 military bases around the world, of various sizes. China is certainly surrounded and this is a very dangerous situation, totally unnecessary. And now the rearming with fancy new nuclear weapons when we already have nuclear weapons that are twenty times bigger than the one that destroyed Hiroshima. Why on Earth? It’s just irrational nonsense to continue these programs, and it just doesn’t work for humanity.

    I would hope the U.S. would start perhaps retreating and sorting out its own domestic problems, which are quite substantial. I’m reminded every day when I look at CNN here in my home about the difficulties of race and all the other things that you’re well aware of that need to be addressed. Being policeman to the world was a bad decision.

    ND:   Absolutely. So the political, economic and military system we live under is not only genocidal at this point, but also suicidal. Thank you, Denis, for being a voice of reason in this insane world.

    The post Denis Halliday: A Voice of Reason in an Insane World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Hope

    There is hope that we may come to grips with this covid-chaos – worldwide deliberate systematic destruction of social systems and economies, country by country. The rendering of hundreds of millions of unemployed people, extreme poverty, abject famine and death – millions and millions of people died from this invisible enemy, the corona hoax in the past 15 months, mind you not from corona or covid-19, or SARS-CoV-2, but from the covid fraud’s collateral damage.

    There is hope that we may regain our senses, our freedom, maybe even our sovereignty as humans and sovereignty as nations – as independent individual nations. No One World Order (OWO), no Global Reset, and the disappearance for good of the nefarious World Economic Forum (WEF). And no longer a forced masquerade and social distancing and prohibition of meeting with family and friends, and with people in general, senseless and harmful quarantines; rules unconstitutionally imposed by most every government and if not obeyed, punishable with hefty fines and even prison. The regaining of long-lost solidarity.

    Elite-made misery is what the last 13 months, since about March 2020, have brought us, people of the entire globe. It came as a shock, and the shock waves are still noticeable… by fear, a tremendous fear – fear from death, fear from an enemy, a virus which nobody has seen, but which is said to be mortal, yet, true science, which is not listened to and censured throughout the western world, determined that mortality from this so-called corona virus is between 0.03% to 0.08 %, about equivalent to the common flu (See Dr. Antony Fauci “Covid-19 – Navigating the Uncharted NIAID/NIH 28Febr2020 in NEJM” ).

    The shock, even according to the Shock Doctrine (Naomi Klein, 2008) – will ebb off – and HOPE will surface and will grow. That’s what is happening these days. And this even as the Dark Cabal intends to dismantle Human Rights, the long and elaborate work of HRs organizations, abolish HRs with the stroke of an arbitrary judgment by a bought or threatened court, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), allowing nations to legally impose vaccination for the “common good of the people”. Thereby, they are setting a precedent for other basic HRs being outright killed. See “Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination and the SPARS 2025-2028 Simulation?  A Plan to Launch a New Pandemic?

    Hope emanates from the relentless work of doctors for the truth around the world and foremost of lawyer Dr. Reiner Füllmich, leader of the independent German Corona Investigative Committee. Dr. Füllmich is advancing his agenda of one or several Class Action Suits in the US and Canada, as well as lawsuits against individuals and institutions in Europe and the US. He warns that the current geopolitical changes in the world are to be regarded as crimes against Humanity, since they are not based on science nor reason. See:  “Dr. Reiner Fuellmich warns for Crimes Against Humanity“.

    Since March 2020, the world is in the grip of a small, extremely wealthy demonic cabal. Their names must not be mentioned. Those concerned know who they are and with what genocidal pleasure they are tyrannizing the entire globe – all 193 UN member countries – and, of course, first of all, the entire UN system. The very world system that was created after WWII to preserve peace on earth, to fight for Human Rights, equality among races, cultures, religions, geographic regions and countries – though not easy – it is a noble task that only people with integrity in their veins can tackle.

    There is no shortage of people with leadership capacity and integrity. But they are unfortunately not suitable for the (mostly western) corrupt system that has been growing exponentially during the past couple of hundred years.

    All good intentions aside, many of the leaders of the UN and its sub-organizations got their jobs through nepotism or corruption. Or they were corrupted once in their office. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for a small so-called, self-declared elite, a materially rich and morally dirt-poor group of decadent monsters to take over the command of the world.

    At the same time they corrupt, coerce or threaten all 193 UN member governments into following their dictate: creating an OWO, abolishing differences in culture, races, history, languages, colors, and well, beliefs, religious or non-religions, and finally forging a fully digitized world, where humans are implanted with electromagnetic fields, so they can be surveyed and manipulated by this elite and its servants, and, thus, transform humans into “transhumans” (Klaus Schwab in the 4th Industrial Revolution and The Great Reset) to the point of eliminating them, if they become inconvenient – hélas – RIP.

    A key premise to reach this objective is a much smaller world population which can be easier manipulated. Natural and especially unrenewable resources would be lasting longer for the elite, so that they may maintain their exquisite lifestyle a bit longer, sharing “their” stolen resources with fewer people.

    If the principal eugenists that are part of this diabolical cabal have their way, world population should be reduced to maximum one third of what it is today, and ideally to about 10%. On the way to this murderous objective, for which they have set themselves a ten-year goal; i.e., the UN Agenda 2030, they plan to transfer the remaining people’s resources and assets from the bottom to the top. Again, the UN body is in the forefront. They – their leaders – acquiesce to these demands.

    This agenda was born during the first so-called environmental conference in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, officially called the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the ‘Earth Summit’, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3-14 June 1992. Everybody with a name in international diplomacy and international organizations, financial institutions and corporate interests was present, to grab a piece of the pie. The conclusions of this conference were planned decades in advance by numerous interim conferences and summits.

    The ultimate conclusions were environmental concerns, like in the fake “Global Warming”, Climate Change, Overpopulation and an invisible enemy, a virus-strike at once the entire planet – all merged to give us the horror scenario we are living now.

    After a year the first shock waves have passed, even though the corrupted governments, particularly in the Global North, steamroll over any evidence that this is all a criminal swindle. In the long-run to no avail, as truth will prevail. Those politicians – and leaders (sic) – of the participating 193 Governments, they are all aware of the game and the massive crime being perpetrated on humanity, on the very people who elected them and pay for their salaries and social benefits. These politicians must be called to justice as the truth will surface and prevail.

    Hope manifests itself also on a more modest, but nonetheless convincing and encouraging scale. People want to live, they want their stolen lives back, they want to enjoy living, being again their sovereign selves. They want to dance again, with even the police participating – see this encouraging 6 min You Tube of people randomly coming together in the Gare de l’Est of Paris on 8 April 2021 to dance and sing to a spontaneously appearing band, manifesting resolutely for the almost lost “Joie de vivre”. Encouraging. To be repeated throughout the world.
    Le Retour ! “DANSER ENCORE” – Flashmob – Gare de l’Est – 8 Avril 2021
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN5B27zT29Y&feature=youtu.be

    The post Hope first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Let’s end the insanity of colossal military spending during a global health emergency

    Imagine what could be achieved if just a portion of the money spent on military expenditures were pooled into a global fund, and redirected towards ending hunger and massively investing in public health systems. 

    *****

    If nations had a referendum, asking the public if they want their taxes to go to military weapons that are more efficient in killing than the ones we currently have, or if they would prefer the money to be invested in medical care, social services, education and other critical public needs, what would the response be?

    Probably the majority of people would not have to think long and hard, since for many life has become an endless struggle. Even in wealthy countries, the most basic social rights can no longer be taken for granted. Social services are increasingly being turned into commodities, and instead of helping ordinary people they must serve shareholders by providing a healthy profit margin.

    The United States is a prime example, where seeing a dentist or any medical doctor is only possible if one has health insurance. Around 46 million Americans cannot afford to pay for quality healthcare—and that is in the richest country of the world.

    In less developed nations, a large proportion of people find it hard to access even the most basic resources to ensure a healthy and dignified life. One in nine of the world’s population go hungry. And the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis of poverty amid plenty, with the number of people facing acute hunger more than doubling.

    There are now 240 million people requiring emergency humanitarian assistance, while over 34 million people are already on the brink of starvation.

    But the United Nations’ funding appeals are far from being met, condemning thousands to unnecessary deaths from hunger this year. With aid funding falling as humanitarian needs rise, aid agencies are being forced to cut back on life-saving services.

    Does it make any sense for our governments to spend billions on defence while fragile health systems are being overwhelmed, and the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in generations?

    Outrageously misplaced priorities

    Global military spending continued to reach record levels in 2020, rising almost 4 percent in real terms to US$1.83 trillion, even despite the severe economic contractions caused by the pandemic. The United States spends two-fifths of the world’s total, more than the next ten countries combined, and still cannot afford to prevent 50 million of its own citizens suffering from food insecurity. Most shamefully, the United Kingdom is massively boosting its arms budget—the largest rise in almost 70 years, including a vast increase to its nuclear weapons stockpile—while cutting aid to the world’s poorest by 30 percent.

    Consider what a fraction of military budgets could achieve if that public money was diverted to real human needs, instead of sustaining the corrupt and profitable industry of war:

    • Meeting Goals 1 and 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals— ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ and ‘Zero hunger’—would barely exceed 3 percent of global annual military spending, according to the UN’s Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
    • With the U.S. military budget of $750 billion in 2020, it could feed the world’s hungry and still spend twice as much on its military than China, writes peace activist Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK.
    • The annual nuclear weapon budget worldwide is 1,000 percent—or 10 times—the combined budget of both the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to the Global Campaign on Military Spending.
    • Just 0.04 percent of global military spending would have funded the WHO’s initial Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, according to Tipping Point North South in its Transform Defence report.
    • It would cost only 0.7 percent of global military spending (an estimated $141.2 billion) to vaccinate all the world’s 7.8 billion inhabitants against Covid-19, according to figures from Oxfam International.

    These opportunity costs highlight our outrageously misplaced priorities during an unprecedented global health emergency. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed just how ill-prepared we are to deal with real threats to our societies, and how our ‘national security’ involves a lot more than armies, tanks and bombs. This crisis cannot be addressed by weapons of mass destruction or personnel prepared for war, but only through properly funded healthcare and other public services that protect our collective human security.

    It’s time to reallocate bloated defence budgets to basic economic and social needs, as long enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Article 25 points the way forward, underscoring the necessity of guaranteeing adequate food, shelter, healthcare and social security for all.

    There is an imperative need for global cooperation to support all nations in recovering and rebuilding from the pandemic. The United Nations and its frontline agencies are critically placed to avert a growing ‘hunger pandemic’, and yet are struggling to receive even minimal funding from governments.

    Imagine what could be achieved if just a portion of the money spent on military expenditures were pooled into a global fund, and redirected towards ending hunger and massively investing in public health systems, especially in the most impoverished and war-torn regions.

    The common sense of funding ‘peace and development, not arms!’ has long been proclaimed by campaigners, church groups and engaged citizens the world over. But it will never happen unless countless people in every country unify around such an obvious cause, and together press our public representatives to prioritise human life over pointless wars.

    In the words of arms trade campaigner Andrew Feinstein:

    Perhaps this is an opportunity. Let’s embrace our global humanity, which is how we’re going to get through this crisis. Let’s put aside our obsession with enemies, with conflict. This is an opportunity for peace. This is an opportunity to promote our common humanity.

    The post Let’s end the insanity of colossal military spending during a global health emergency first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Propaganda By Omission: Libya, Syria, Venezuela And The UK

    We live in a war-like society; one that supports, and is in league with, the world’s number one terrorist threat: the United States of America. Corporate media propaganda plays a key role in keeping things that way.

    Ten years ago this month, the US, UK and France attacked oil-rich Libya under the fictitious cover of ‘humanitarian intervention’. The bombing was ‘justified’ by Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy by the supposed imminent massacre of civilians in Benghazi by forces under Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. As we have documented previously, the propaganda claims were fraudulent.

    Libya, previously a wealthy state with free health care and education, was essentially destroyed. An estimated 600,000 Libyans were killed. Many more were displaced from their homes. In the barbarous conditions of the failed state, black people have been ethnically ‘cleansed’, lynched and auctioned off as slaves, illicit arms transfers and terrorism have become rife, and many Libyans have attempted to flee to better lives across the Mediterranean, thousands of them drowning en route.

    As Jeremy Kuzmarov, managing editor of CovertAction Magazine and author of four books on US foreign policy, pointed out recently, the powerful Western perpetrators of this human calamity have never been brought to justice. He added:

    In hindsight, it is clear that the U.S. was completing a 40-year regime change operation targeting Colonel Qaddafi for which media disinformation was pivotal.

    It is important today as such to revisit the 2011 war so that U.S. citizens can learn from the history and not be duped again into supporting an intervention of this kind.

    The Stunning Silences Over Syria And Venezuela

    But, when it came to Syria several years later, media disinformation was once again pivotal in unleashing Western firepower. As we have described in numerous media alerts, the corporate media declared with instant unanimity and certainty that Syria’s President Bashar Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma on 7 April, 2018. One week later, the US, UK and France attacked Syria in response to the unproven allegations. Since then, there has been a mounting deluge of evidence that the UN’s Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has perpetrated a massive cover-up to preserve the Western narrative that Assad gassed civilians in Douma.

    Earlier this month, five former OPCW officials joined a group of prominent signatories to urge the UN chemical weapons watchdog to address the controversy. Aaron Maté, an independent journalist with The Grayzone website, has been following developments closely since the beginning (see his in-depth article, ‘Did Trump Bomb Syria on False Grounds?’).

    He noted that:

    Leaks from inside the OPCW show that key scientific findings that cast doubt on claims of Syrian government guilt were censored, and that the original investigators were removed from the probe. Since the cover-up became public, the OPCW has shunned accountability and publicly attacked the two whistleblowers who challenged it from inside.

    In an interview, Maté pointed out the remarkable silence from the corporate media:

    The western media, across the spectrum, has buried this story – which is pretty incredible. You have extraordinary allegations of a cover-up, you have whistleblowers; and not only…do you have allegations, you have documents – a trove of documents released by WikiLeaks.

    We have observed a similar shameful silence in the UK, including BBC News; even after initial interest in the ‘important story’ had been expressed by Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent.

    But Western violence against other nations, and the ‘justifications’ trotted out to defend ‘our’ crimes, or simply ignoring them, has become normalised in ‘mainstream’ journalism.

    Consider the case of Venezuela, harbouring one of the largest oil reserves on the planet, and which, as a left-leaning democracy, has long been targeted by the US for regime change. This was seen very clearly when the late Hugo Chávez was the Venezuelan president – temporarily deposed in a failed US-supported coup in 2002, and who was often wrongly described by corporate media as a ‘dictator’ – and continues today under Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.

    As John McEvoy observed in a piece for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, a recent UN rebuke of crippling US and European sanctions on Venezuela has been met with ‘stunning silence’.

    McEvoy wrote:

    The report laid bare how a years-long campaign of economic warfare has asphyxiated Venezuela’s economy, crushing the government’s ability to provide basic services both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    According to Alena Douhan, the UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, the Venezuelan government’s revenue was reported to have shrunk enormously, ‘with the country currently living on 1% of its pre-sanctions income,’ impeding ‘the ability of Venezuela to respond to the Covid-19 emergency.’

    Douhan urged US and European governments:

    to unfreeze assets of the Venezuela Central Bank to purchase medicine, vaccines, food, medical and other equipment.

    The US-led campaign to overthrow the Venezuelan government, Douhan added, ‘violates the principle of sovereign equality of states and constitutes an intervention in domestic affairs of Venezuela that also affects its regional relations’.

    Almost exactly two years ago, we noted in a media alert that the US-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, a respected think-tank, had published a study showing that US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August 2017 had since caused around 40,000 deaths. With the exception of a single piece in the Independent, there was zero coverage in the national UK press, and no BBC News coverage at all, as far as we could ascertain.

    McEvoy wrote:

    By omitting the devastating impact of sanctions, corporate media attribute sole responsibility for economic and humanitarian conditions to the Venezuelan government, thereby using the misery provoked by sanctions to validate the infliction of even more misery.

    He continued:

    Loath to abandon belief in the fundamentally benign nature of Western foreign policy, corporate scribes have typically presented the devastating effects of sanctions as a mere accusation of Nicolás Maduro.

    This is a pattern of deception seen over and over again. For example, in 2002-2003, the ‘mainstream’ media repeatedly attributed claims that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. Doing so buried the evidence-backed testimony of senior UN weapons inspectors concluding that Iraq had been ‘fundamentally disarmed’ of 90-95 per cent of its weapons of mass destruction by December 1998.1

    McEvoy noted that the Guardian’s reporting of Venezuela sticks to the Washington script:

    Often, they fail to mention sanctions at all. In June 2019, for instance, the Guardian’s Tom Phillips reported that “more than 4 million Venezuelans have now fled economic and humanitarian chaos,” citing would-be coup leader Juan Guaidó’s claim that the country’s economic collapse “was caused by the corruption of this regime,” without making any reference to Washington’s campaign of economic warfare.

    Keeping with tradition, Douhan’s damning report has been met with stunning silence by establishment media outlets. Neither the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post nor BBC reported on Douhan’s findings.

    Imagine if Russia had been responsible for imposing sanctions on another country, violating that country’s sovereignty, with tens of thousands dead and many more lives at risk in the months to come. Imagine, moreover, that Russia had been condemned in a hard-hitting UN report for engaging in economic warfare, described as ‘a violation of international law’ that was causing a serious ‘growth of malnourishment in the past 6 years with more than 2.5 million people being severely food insecure.’ Imagine that such a report pointed to the ‘devastating effect of unilateral sanctions on the broad scope of human rights, especially the right to food, right to health, right to life, right to education and right to development.’ The headlines and in-depth coverage in the West would be incessant. The Russian ambassador in London would be given a stern dressing-down by the UK Foreign Secretary. MPs would address Parliament, condemning Putin in the strongest possible terms. There would be global demands for the UN to intervene.

    The ideological discipline required to ignore such crimes under Western policy is remarkable, but it is standard in the corporate media system. Propaganda by omission, routinely carried out by BBC News and the rest of the ‘mainstream’ news media, is a crucial tool enabling Washington and London to pursue their aims; whether that be ‘regime change’, exploitation of oil and other natural resources, and geopolitical domination.

    ‘Grand Wizards’ And Client Journalism

    Occasionally, the strict enforcement of ideological purity imposed on corporate journalists is laid bare when they step out of line by the merest millimeter. Thus, for example, BBC television presenter Naga Munchetty had to issue an apology on Twitter for ‘liking’ tweets that mocked Tory government minister Robert Jenrick for appearing on a BBC Breakfast interview with a Union Jack prominently displayed behind him.

    She tweeted:

    I “liked” tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning. I have since removed these “likes”. This do [sic] not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken. Naga

    This read like a statement that had been dictated from lofty levels within the BBC hierarchy. When you are a high-profile BBC figure, you are obliged to tweet out an apology for daring to question the trappings of ‘patriotism’. But when have BBC journalists ever apologised for catastrophically platforming government propaganda on Iraq, Libya, Syria, the NHS, ‘austerity’, militarism, the royal family? The list is endless.

    On Twitter, tweets from the broadcaster RT are flagged with the warning, ‘Russia state-affiliated media.’ Rather than apologise for broadcasting Western propaganda, it is far more likely that a senior client journalist working for the UK state-affiliated media known as ‘BBC News’ will send out whitewashing tweets to minimise or deflect any challenges to the government. Take BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, a prime example of this key propaganda function. On the National Day of Reflection on 23 March, the anniversary of the start of the first UK Covid-19 lockdown, Boris Johnson had boasted during a private meeting of Tory MPs:

    The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.

    There was a huge outcry on social media. Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor who has been outspoken in her criticism of the government during the pandemic, tweeted in response to Johnson’s crassly insensitive and smug comment:

    But he’s wrong.

    ‘Human nature is bigger & better & bursting with more grace & decency than he’ll ever know.

    Wise and compassionate words.

    By contrast, Kuenssberg went into full damage-limitation mode, tweeting:

    More on PM’s “greed” comments – one of those present says Johnson was having a crack at Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, who was gobbling a cheese + pickle sandwich while he was talking about the vaccine, “it was hardly Gordon Gekko”, “it was banter” directed at the Chief, it’s said

    It is a fair point: probably not even Gordon Gekko would have joked about the virtue of capitalism and greed on a day when his very clear responsibility for the deaths of 149,000 people was at the forefront of many people’s minds.

    Newspaper cartoonist Dave Brown depicted brilliantly what the day of reflection should have meant: Johnson reflected in the mirror as the Grim Reaper carrying a scythe with the number 149,000 engraved on it.

    Kam Sandhu, head of advocacy at the independent think tank Autonomy, reminded her Twitter followers that, in 2019, Kuenssberg had brushed off the revelation that Brexiteer MPs visiting Chequers, the prime minister’s 16th century manor house, had called themselves  “the Grand Wizards“. The BBC political editor had tweeted:

    just catching up on timeline, for avoidance of doubt, couple of insiders told me using the nickname informally, no intended connection to anything else

    Presumably the use of an infamous Ku Klux Klan term of white supremacy was to be considered mere ‘banter’. There are countless other examples of Kuenssberg deflecting criticism of Tories, while echoing and amplifying their propaganda. You may recall that she acted to defend the government when it belatedly went into the first lockdown one year ago. She misled the public, as Richard Horton, editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet noted last March:

    Laura Kuenssberg says (BBC) that, “The science has changed.” This is not true. The science has been the same since January. What has changed is that govt advisors have at last understood what really took place in China and what is now taking place in Italy. It was there to see.

    Her insidious role in endlessly propping up the government narrative on any given topic is a ‘courtesy’ conspicuous by its absence when it came to the ‘impartial’ BBC political editor’s reporting of Jeremy Corbyn and, in particular, the manufactured crisis of supposedly institutional antisemitism in the Labour party.

    On 26 November 2019, just prior to the general election on 12 December, Kuenssberg tweeted about Tory-supporting chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ suggestion that Corbyn should be ‘considered unfit for office’, 23 times in 24 hours. This at a time when journalistic impartiality was obviously never more essential.

    Kuenssberg is not an exception within BBC News, although given her very high-profile position, it is not always as blatant with other BBC journalists. Take BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale, for instance: another serial offender. An item that he presented on BBC News at Ten on 16 March added to the ever-rising steaming pile of ‘impartial’ journalism scaremongering about Official Enemies that must be countered by the peace-loving West.

    In line with a new UK government report on ‘defence’, Landale depicted China and Russia as threats that required this country to ‘show Britain can project force overseas’. As part of the strategy, the new £6.1 billion aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will hold joint operations with allies in the Indo-Pacific later this year. ‘But will it be enough?’, intoned Landale, ‘impartially’ cheerleading the UK’s ‘projection of force’ across the globe.

    Continuing his virtually government spokesperson role, Landale added:

    And the cap on Britain’s stockpile of nuclear warheads will be lifted because of what the report says is “the evolving security environment”.

    The likely increase in the UK’s nuclear weapons was just slipped out, almost as an after-thought. There was no mention that nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law after the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was ratified earlier this year. The Treaty includes:

    A comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities. These include undertakings not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.

    In July 2017, over 120 countries voted to adopt the Treaty. In October 2020, the 50th country ratified the Treaty which meant it became international law on 22 January, 2021. Where were the BBC News headlines?

    As Double Down News observed:

    Boris Johnson set to expand Nuclear Warheads by 40%

    No money for Nurses but money for Armageddon.

    But all this must have slipped Landale’s mind. Or perhaps there was no time to include information deemed unimportant by him or his editors. There was, however, ample room for a major item on that evening’s BBC News at Ten titled, “Duke leaves hospital“. This covered Prince Philip’s return to Buckingham Palace after one month in hospital for heart treatment. And why was this a major ‘news’ headline on the BBC? Because BBC News is staunchly royalist, fervently establishment and an upholder of the unjust UK class system.

    All of this just goes to show that BBC News really is the world’s most refined state propaganda service. As BBC founder John Reith confided in his diary during the 1926 General Strike:

    They [the government] know they can trust us not to be really impartial.2

    The same holds true today.

    In this era of Permanent War, potential nuclear Armageddon and climate breakdown, the enormous cost to victims of UK and Western state-corporate policy around the world is incalculable.

    1. Scott Ritter and William Rivers Pitt, War On Iraq, Profile Books, 2002, p. 23.
    2. The Reith Diaries, edited by Charles Stewart, Collins, 1975; entry for 11 May, 1926.
    The post Propaganda By Omission: Libya, Syria, Venezuela And The UK first appeared on Dissident Voice.