Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Favorable Response and Possible Turning Point The Coup d’Etat Attempt in Venezuela

from Counterpunch
FEBRUARY 24, 2015

Caracas, Venezuela.

If there were not a coup d’etat underway, someone would have to invent one to rally the masses. That may be the case for the Venezuelan government today, which is beset with so many problems, and it is one of the reasons that some people are incredulous about the latest claim of President Nicolás Maduro to be victim of a planned coup attempt. Nevertheless, there was real evidence presented two weeks ago of a conspiracy in the ranks of the Venezuelan Air Force. In fact, there are three important elements: real evidence, real informers and, fortunately, real arrests.

One of the arrests is that of Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of Metropolitan Caracas. It must be admitted that this shady right-wing politician’s ties to the Air Force conspiracy are not very clear. Moreover, the Air Force’s scheme to bomb various sites in Caracas including the Presidential palace could only be distantly linked with plans by Ledezma and other visible opposition leaders to take power through undemocratic means, since this military conspiracy is presumed to consider itself “Bolivarian” (i.e. “Chavist”) – at least that is what Maduro hinted in a nationwide television transmission on February 12.

Instead, Ledezma’s arrest is based principally on the contents of a document called the “National Transition Agreement” that he developed with two other anti-government leaders: Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado. This declaration, which was to be published on February 12, refers to the Venezuelan government as in its “terminal phase” and expresses the need to “name new authorities.” It also mentions restructuring the economy and giving amnesty to “political prisoners.” According to progovernment jurists, the “Transition Agreement” does not make sufficiently clear that it conceives political change within a constitutional, democratic framework.

Most likely the interpretation of this ambiguous text could (and will) be argued both ways. Nevertheless, regardless of how the question is resolved, the Venezuelan masses are highly satisfied with Ledezma’s arrest, as any reasonable person should be, since the mayor is responsible for huge human rights crimes in the past: most recently as a participant in the 2002 coup attempt that led to considerable bloodshed and earlier as the Federal District Governor who directed state troops which assassinated as many as 4000 civilians during the Caracazo uprising of 1989.

What about the U.S. government’s possible hand in this recently discovered plot? It should be remembered that many coups against popular, left-leaning regimes are not conceived in CIA laboratories but are rather supported opportunistically by the U.S. government and its agencies. For example, the military plot to remove Patrice Lumumba from power, conceived by Colonel Joseph Mobutu, fell into the hands of a highly relieved CIA agent Larry Devlin, who enthusiastically supported it. Devlin was the CIA station chief in Kinshasa and had been charged by Washington to poison Lumumba with doctored toothpaste, a prospect he found unattractive.

In present-day Venezuela, it is unlikely that the U.S. government could directly orchestrate a plot that calls itself “Bolivarian” and comes from the Venezuelan Air Force. Nevertheless, the White House might well be working to delicately promote such a thing and later take advantage of it. One possible scenario would involve an initial military coup by dissident Bolivarian officers, followed by a call for elections in which the legal and recognized opposition – involving such figures as Henrique Capriles, Antonio Ledezma, María Corina Machado and Julio Borges – would emerge to take charge.

The possibility of a military coup followed by hurried elections – a two-stage overthrow – could be what is behind the U.S. driven media campaign against Venezuela that has unfolded in recent weeks and involves extravagant claims about government figures running an international drug trafficking ring. Such a plan was also pointed to in words that recently escaped from Julio Borges of the opposition party Primero Justicia. When asked on Unión Radio how he would respond to a coup, Borges responded that, instead of working to restore the constitutional order, his party would “immediately call for elections.” This brings to mind the Honduras transition of 2009 in which a coup d’etat that installed a brief and unpopular military government was followed by the fraudulent election of Porfirio Lobo.

By moving against Ledezma after many months of disappointing concessions to business sectors, President Maduro has obviously scored a point with the Venezuelan masses, as he likewise scored points with the “Dakazo” interventions in electrical appliance stores (including one called Daka) that took place more than a year ago. However, this earlier move, though highly popular, proved to be of little substance since the government quickly retreated from further economic intervention following its electoral victory that November.

The present conjuncture is quite similar: if Maduro follows Ledezma’s arrest with other decisive actions that show real commitment to popular desires – increased state control of the economy, fighting corruption and smuggling on all fronts, and widening democracy in the PSUV party and Gran Polo Patriótico – the events of last week could mark an important and favorable turning point in the post-Chavez era. The alternative, which is to simply score a point and continue the government’s almost two-year-long retreat from the socialist project, would prove highly unpopular and risk producing unfavorable results in the parliamentary elections coming later this year.

Chris Gilbert is professor of political science in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Anti-What? by Uri Avnery

By Uri Avnery
February 20, 2015 "ICH" - ANTI-SEMITISM is on the rise. All over Europe it is raising its ugly head. Jews are in danger everywhere. They must make haste and come home to Israel before it is too late.

True? Untrue?


PRACTICALLY ALL the alarming incidents which have taken place in Europe recently – especially in Paris and Copenhagen – in which Jews were killed or attacked – had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

All these outrages were conducted by young Muslims, mostly of Arab descent. They were part of the ongoing war between Israelis and Arabs that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. They are not descended from the pogrom in Kishinev and not related to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In theory, Arab anti-Semitism is an oxymoron, since Arabs are Semites. Indeed, Arabs may be more Semitic then Jews, because Jews have mingled for many centuries with Gentiles.

But, of course, the German publicist Wilhelm Marr, who probably invented the term Antisemitismus in 1880 (after inventing the term Semitismus seven years earlier) never met an Arab in his life. For him the only Semites were Jews, and his crusade was solely against them.

(Adolf Hitler, who took his racism seriously, applied it to all Semites. He could not stand Arabs either. Contrary to legend, he disliked the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had fled to Germany. After meeting him once for a photo-opportunity arranged by the Nazi propaganda machine, he never agreed to meet him again.)

SO WHY do young Muslims in Europe shoot Jews, after killing cartoonists who have insulted The Prophet?

Experts say that the basic reason is their profound hatred for their host countries, in which they feel (quite rightly) that they are despised, humiliated and discriminated against. In countries like France, Belgium, Denmark and many others, their violent rage needs an outlet.

But why the Jews?

There are at least two main reasons:

The first is local. French Muslims are mostly immigrants from North Africa. During the desperate struggle for Algerian independence, almost all the Algerian Jews sided with the colonialist regime against the local freedom fighters. When all Jews and many Arabs emigrated from Algeria to France, they brought their fight with them. Since they now live side by side in the crowded ghettos around Paris and elsewhere, their mutual hatred lives on and often leads to violence.

The second reason is the ongoing Arab-Zionist conflict, which started with the mass immigration of Jews to Arab Palestine, continued with the long list of wars and is now in full bloom. Practically every Arab in the world, and most Muslims are emotionally involved in the conflict.

But what have French Jews to do with that far-away conflict? Everything.

When Binyamin Netanyahu does not miss an opportunity to declare that he represents all the Jews in the world, he makes all the world's Jews responsible for Israeli policies and actions.

When Jewish institutions in France, the US and everywhere totally and uncritically identify with the policies and operations of Israel, such as the recent Gaza war, they turn themselves voluntarily into potential victims of revenge actions. The French Jewish leadership, CRIF, did so just now.

Neither of these reasons has anything to do with anti-Semitism.

ANTI-SEMITISM is an integral part of European culture.

Many theories have been put forward to explain this totally illogical phenomenon, which borders on a collective mental disease.

My own preferred theory is religious. All over Europe, and now also in the Americas, Christian children in their formative years hear the stories of the New Testament. They learn that a Jewish mob was shouting for the blood of Jesus, the gentle and mild preacher, while the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilatus, was desperately trying to save his life. The Roman is depicted as a humane, likeable person, while the Jews are seen as a vile, despicable mob.

This story cannot be true. Roman rulers all over the Empire used to crucify potential troublemakers. The behavior of the Jewish authorities in the story does not conform to Jewish law. But the New Testament story, written long after the death of Jesus (whose real Hebrew name was Jeshua), was aimed at the Roman audience the Christians were trying to convert, in hot competition with the Jewish missionaries.

Also, the early Christians were a small, persecuted sect in Jewish Jerusalem, and their grudge lives on to this very day.

The picture of the evil Jews crying out for the death of Jesus is unconsciously imprinted in the minds of the Christian multitudes and has inspired Jew-hatred in every new generation. The results were slaughter, mass-expulsions, inquisition, persecution in every form, pogroms, and finally the Holocaust.

THERE has never been anything like this in Muslim history.

The Prophet had some small wars with neighboring Jewish tribes, but the Koran contains strict instructions on how to deal with Jews and Christians, the People of the Book. They had to be treated fairly and were exempted from military duty in return for a poll tax. Throughout the ages there were some rare anti-Jewish (and anti-Christian) outbreaks here and there, but Jews in Muslim lands fared incomparably better than in Christian ones.

If this had not been so, there would have been no "Golden Age" of Muslim-Jewish cultural symbiosis in medieval Spain. It would have been impossible for the Muslim Ottoman empire to accept and absorb almost all the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from medieval Spain, driven out by their Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella. The outstanding Jewish religious thinker, Moses Maimonides (the "Rambam") could not have become the personal physician and adviser of the outstanding Muslim sultan, Salah-al-Din al-Ayubi (Saladin).

The present conflict started as a clash between two national movements, Jewish Zionism and secular Arab nationalism, and had only slight religious overtones. As my friends and I have warned many times, it is now turning into a religious conflict – a calamity with potentially grievous consequences.

Nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

SO WHY does the entire Israeli propaganda machine, including all Israeli media, insist that Europe is experiencing a catastrophic rise of anti-Semitism? In order to call upon European Jews to come to Israel (in Zionist terminology: "make Aliya").

For a Zionist true believer, every Jew's arrival in Israel is an ideological victory. Never mind that once in Israel, new immigrants – especially from countries like Ethiopia and Ukraine – are neglected. As I have frequently quoted: "Israelis like immigration but don't like immigrants".

In the wake of the recent events in Paris and Copenhagen, Binyamin Netanyahu has publicly called upon French and Danish Jews to pack up and come at once to Israel for their own safety. The prime ministers of both countries have furiously protested against these calls, which insinuate that they are unable or unwilling to protect their own citizens. I suppose that no leader likes a foreign politician to call upon his citizens to leave.

There is something grotesque in this call: as the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz remarked, Israel is the only place in the world where Jewish lives are in constant danger. With a war every few years and violent incidents almost every day, he had a point.

But in the wake of the dramatic events, many "French" Jews – originally from North Africa – may be induced to leave France. They may not all come to Israel. The US, French Canada and Australia offer tempting alternatives.

There are many good reasons for a Jew to come to Israel: a mild climate, the Hebrew language, living among fellow Jews, and what not. But running away from anti-Semites is not one of them.

IS THERE real anti-Semitism in Europe? I assume that there is.

In many European countries there are old and new super-nationalist groups, who try to attract the masses by hatred of the Other. Jews are the Others par excellence (along with Gypsies/Roma). An ethno-religious group dispersed in many countries, belonging and not belonging to their host countries, with foreign - and therefore sinister – beliefs and rituals. All the European nationalist movements which sprang up in the 19th and 20th centuries were more or less anti-Semitic.

Jews have always been, and still are, the ideal scapegoat for the European poor. It was the German (non-Jewish) socialist August Bebel who said that "anti-Semitism is the socialism of the stupid guys".

With frequent economic slumps and a widening gap between the local poor and the multinational super-rich, the need for scapegoats is rising. But I do not believe that these marginal groups, even if some of them are not so marginal anymore, constitute a real anti-Semitic surge.

Be that as it may, the outrages in Paris and Copenhagen have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli author and activist. www.avnery-news.co.il

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Israeli Supreme Court rules Haneen Zoabi can run for reelection to the Knesset

I suppose the Israeli Supreme Court is smarter than the rabid Zionist zealots who predominate in the Israeli Knesset.

Seeing how bad it looked for the "onlydemocracyinthemiddleeast" to prohibit Palestinian representative of the Balad party Zoabi from running for public office, they stepped in and corrected the dumb action by the Knesset majority.

After all, a fig leaf has to remain a fig leaf.

European Jews moving to Israel are trading anti-Semitism for racism

French and Danish immigrants will find that Israel swallows its immigrants, but it doesn't digest them.
By Zvi Bar'el | Feb. 18, 2015 | 2:48 AM

Dusty old plans stored at the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency and its affiliates are being revived. Everyone is ready to welcome the big wave of immigrants expected to move to Israel following the terrorist attacks in France and Denmark. No country in Europe is safe for Jews anymore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, not forgetting of course to remind these future refugees that the continent remains “that same old Europe.”

Actually, not only the Jews of Europe aren't safe. The Jews of Israel have a hard time being convinced that their haven can face up to the threats in the region that Netanyahu warns them of daily. But let's assume that thousands of Jews do decide to abandon their businesses, studies, homes and livelihoods and board rescue flights to Ben-Gurion International Airport. What will they find here?

They'll see right-wing videos portraying the Israeli left as Nazi collaborators out to destroy the country. They'll learn how fortunate they are not to have come here as refugees from Eritrea or Sudan, or even as Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia.

Jews who have suffered European anti-Semitism will trade it in for Israeli racism. They'll discover they've become citizens of an occupying country, the occupation that has contributed to that same anti-Semitism that made them pack their bags in the first place.

And here are two other facts that European Jews should be aware of. Israel's murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, while in France it’s 1 per 100,000 and in Denmark 0.8. Last year, 27 people were killed in terror attacks here. In France and Denmark not a single person was.

The situation in Europe could worsen, but in Israel the risk that the situation could worsen is far greater. If European Jews come to Israel immediately, they can vote in the March 17 election and support the person who promised them a safe haven and invited them to immigrate, or more accurately ordered them to.

True, quickly enough they'll discover that their safety isn't subject to the whims of the Islamic State or Al-Qaida, and they won’t suffer murderous manifestations of anti-Semitism. But to be real Israelis, they'll have to adapt to the Israeli depression and the constant fear of war or mass destruction — or both.

Of course, Jews from Europe can respond to all this with the question: “If things are so bad in Israel, why do you Israelis stay?” The answer is implied in the question: We are Israelis. Our identity is dictated to us. Hebrew isn't only our language, it's our culture. Our solidarity is limited to ourselves; our collective memory as Israelis isn't shared.

That is, there are Palestinians in Israel, but they're the enemy at the moment. The anger that some of us feel isn't directed at the country but rather at the country’s leaders, the ones who distort the national identity and dip it in racist-religious acid. We're proudly surviving with the help of the saying “We survived Pharaoh and we’ll survive this.” Survival rather than quality of life is the linchpin of our identity.

You, the Jews of Europe, were taught to demand quality of life. In Israel, anyone seeking quality of life like that in Berlin is considered a traitor. And please don’t confuse Israeliness with Jewishness. Israelis don’t go crazy for foreigners even if they're Jewish. Just ask the Russians. About 150,000 of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union have left.

And ask the Ethiopians, the Bukharans and the Kurds, who decades after arriving are still identified by where they came from. Of course, you're entitled to immigrate, and of course you'll receive a warm welcome at the airport. But remember that Israel hastily swallows its immigrants. It doesn't digest them.

SYRIZA, PODEMOS, and the Black Rebellion in the US

Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.


SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: This is The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. Welcome to this edition of the Glen Ford report.
As you know, Glen Ford is executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, and he does a weekly report for us.
Thanks so much for joining us, Glen.


PERIES: So, Glen, off-camera we spoke about the momentum that Podemos in Spain and SYRIZA in Greece has gained, and we have noticed that there's very little coverage of both of these movements in the Western press, at least the mainstream press. So I was posing a question to you, which is: why should African Americans care about what's happening in Spain with Podemos and SYRIZA in Greece? So what have you in your notebook for me?

FORD: Well, you're right. I mean, with the left forum coming up at the end of May--and that's a gathering of--the largest, I think, gathering in the United States of people who purport to be leftists, a comparison between the rise of these left movements in Europe and what may be happening in the United States is an appropriate conversation.
I think that we have to start off by saying that this nascent movement in the United States that we can call the Black Lives Matter movement and which grew out of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, only, oh, six months ago, back in August or so, this is just one necessary step towards a situation which we could really describe the United States as being in the throes of a movement if we're going to compare it to Europe. First of all, there is no possibility of a left movement in the United States, unless black people are actively engaged and in the leadership of that movement. And I think that's been shown pretty certainly historically. And when Barack Obama was elected as the first black President of the United States and he had near-universal black support, it appeared that black politics had effectively been neutralized and that black people would not confront or even embarrass this black Democratic president. And, in fact, that was the case for about five and a half years. And it was only with the Ferguson rebellion that a new generation of young like activists set themselves on a path of confrontation with the Democratic president and with Democratic mayors across the country. That is what was required before we could even speak of any similarities between the United States and what's going on in Europe.
The Spanish and Greek movements are largely a break with the socialist parties of their countries, though socialist parties that capitulated to the capitalist bankers' austerity programs and plunged those countries into misery and huge unemployment and chaos.
And the great test for Podemos and for SYRIZA is whether they can root themselves in the fiber of the country, not only as a party, but as the governing party of that country, without capitulating to the bankers, to the finance capitalists, as the socialist parties have done in Europe.
The great test for the nascent black movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, as we call it today, is if it can avoid being co-opted by the Democratic Party, which is the place that movements go to die in the United States. And if this movement can avoid co-optation by the Democrats and create the beginnings of a revived black independent politics in this country, then there is a possibility for a larger left-wing movement in the country, involving not just blacks but folks of all colors. And then we can talk about making comparisons between Europe and United States. But it's not at that stage, not by a longshot.

PERIES: Glen, so as SYRIZA begins to lead and take control of the government and put into action anti-austerity measures, and as Podemos positions itself to run in the next election and take power in Spain, we'll be following these movements. And I hope you and your readers follow us as well.
FORD: Yes, we will. We won't be talking about victories measured by elections in the United States anytime soon. What the movement has to do is to establish itself, its credibility in the streets and in the minds of an aspiring and want-to-be active new generation of people.
PERIES: Thanks for joining me, Glen.

FORD: Thank you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention, Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite
When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by U.S. forces, Iraq War advocates boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents (Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, for instance, gleefully exploited the event to demand that Howard Dean admit his war opposition was wrong). When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August 2011 to flee Tripoli, advocates of U.S. intervention played the same game (ThinkProgress gleefully exploited the occasion to try to shame those who objected to the illegality of Obama’s waging the war even after Congress voted against its authorization: as though Gadaffi’s fleeing could render legal Obama’s plainly illegal intervention).

Once Gadaffi was brutally killed by a mob, advocates of intervention threw a giddy party for themselves, celebrating their own rightness and righteousness and declaring Libya a model for future Western interventions. Upon Gadaffi’s fleeing, The New York Times, which editorially supported the war, published a front-page article declaring: “U.S. Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.” While acknowledging that “it would be premature to call the war in Libya a complete success for United States interests,” the paper noted that events had given “Obama’s senior advisers a chance to claim a key victory for an Obama doctrine for the Middle East that had been roundly criticized in recent months as leading from behind.”

Leading war advocates such as Anne-Marie Slaughter and Nick Kristof celebrated themselves as humanitarian visionaries and chided war opponents for being blinkered and overly cynical about the virtues of American force. British and French leaders descended upon Libya to strut around like some sort of conquering heroes, while American and Canadian officials held pompous war victory ceremonies. Hillary Clinton was downright sociopathic, gloating and cackling in an interview when told about Gadaffi’s death by mob: “We came, we saw, he died.” Democratic partisans were drowning in similar bravado (“Unlike the all-hat-no-cattle types we are increasingly seeing over there, [Obama] may take his time, but he does seem to get his man”).

From the start, it was glaringly obvious that all of this was, at best, wildly premature. As I wrote the day after Gadaffi fled, the Democratic claims of vindication were redolent in all sorts of ways of war hawk boasting after Saddam was captured, and were just as irrational: “the real toll of this war (including the number of civilian deaths that have occurred and will occur) is still almost entirely unknown, and none of the arguments against the war (least of all the legal ones) are remotely resolved by yesterday’s events.”

Since 2011, Libya has rapidly unraveled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion: swamped by militia rule, factional warfare, economic devastation, and complete lawlessness. And to their eternal shame, most self-proclaimed “humanitarians” who advocated the Libya intervention completely ignored the country once the fun parts — the war victory dances and mocking of war opponents — were over. The feel-good “humanitarianism” of war advocates, as usual, extended only to the cheering from a safe distance as bombs dropped.

The unraveling of Libya is now close to absolute. Yesterday, the same New York Times editorial page that supported the intervention quoted the U.N.’s Libya envoy Bernardino León as observing: “Libya is falling apart. Politically, financially, the economic situation is disastrous.” The NYT editors forgot to mention that they supported the intervention, but did note that “Libya’s unraveling has received comparatively little attention over the past few months.” In other words, the very same NATO countries that dropped bombs on Libya in order to remove its government collectively ignored the aftermath once their self-celebrations were over.

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS, among other groups. ISIS yesterday released a new video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, which they carried out in Libya. This, in turn, led to all sorts of dire warnings about how close ISIS now is to Europe — it “established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the southern tip of Italy,” warned AP — which in turn has produced calls for re-intervention in Libya.

Yesterday, the U.S.-supported Egyptian regime bombed targets in Libya. Meanwhile, “Italy warned that ISIS is at Europe’s doorstep as France and Egypt called for the United Nations Security Council to meet over the spiraling crisis in Libya.” It’s only a matter of time before another Western “intervention” in Libya becomes conventional wisdom, with those opposed being accused of harboring sympathy for ISIS (just as opponents of Libya intervention the first time around were accused of being indifferent to Gadaffi’s repression).

What we see here is what we’ve seen over and over: the West’s wars creating and empowering an endless supply of enemies, which in turn justify endless war by the West. It was the invasion of Iraq that ushered in “Al Qaeda in Iraq” and ultimately ISIS. It has been the brutal, civilian-slaughtering drone bombing of Yemen which spawned Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in that country. As Hillary Clinton herself acknowledged, the U.S. helped create Al Qaeda itself by arming, recruiting and funding foreign “Mujahideen” to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (“the people we are fighting today, we funded 20 years ago”). And now it is the NATO intervention in Libya which has laid the groundwork for further intervention.

That the U.S. would end up intervening in Libya again as a result of the first intervention was painfully obvious. A primary argument of intervention opponents was that the same destruction sown in Iraq from “regime change” would be sown in Libya, and that the U.S. would end up empowering factions that it would later claim it was “obligated” to fight. In October 2012, as Libya was disintegrating, I wrote:

Rather obviously, this was yet another example of the “Mission Accomplished” banner being waved quite prematurely. How many times does it need be proven that merely killing a dictator does not remotely guarantee an improvement from either the perspective of US interests or the people in the country being invaded? And how many more examples do we need where the US funds and arms a fighting force to do its bidding, only to turn around and find that it now must fight that same force?

One can debate whether all of this is done by design or by “accident”: if you realize that U.S. actions create further pretexts for war, then those who do this for a living must realize it, too (their own studies say this); and how many times does something have to happen before “accident” is no longer a viable explanation (as in: oops, our bombing policies keep killing large numbers of civilians, but we keep doing it anyway, and keep claiming it’s all just a terrible “accident”)? But whatever else is true about motive, there is no question that U.S. militarism constantly strengthens exactly that which it is pitched as trying to prevent, and ensures that the U.S. government never loses its supply of reasons to continue its endless war.

Far from serving as a model, this Libya intervention should severely discredit the core selling point of so-called “humanitarian wars.” Some non-governmental advocates of “humanitarian war” may be motivated by the noble aims they invoke, but humanitarianism is simply not why governments fight wars; that is just the pretty wrapping used to sell them.

Finally, Democrats (with validity) love to demand that Iraq War advocates acknowledge their errors and be discredited for their position (unless those advocates happen to be Obama’s Vice President, his two Secretaries of State, his Pentagon chiefs, etc.). We are rapidly approaching the point, if we are not there already, where advocates of “intervention” in Libya should do the same.

another great moment in Israeli Democracy

After a half-year suspension and a campaign to remove leading Arab member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi from office, right-wing parties succeeded in disqualifying her from Israeli elections next month. Yesterday 27 of Zoabi’s peers in the Central Election Committee, a working group inside of Knesset, decided she and hardline candidate Baruch Marzel had carried out incitement against Israel. Only six members of the Arab list and the far-left party Meretz voted to keep Zoabi in the running. By contrast, Marzel was voted out by 17 members of Israel’s parliament.

Both cases will now be reviewed by Israel’s high court. Zoabi’s candidacy is presumed likely to be reinstated as the charges against her stem from a mistranslated statement made during a radio interview last summer.

With the majority of representatives against her, Zoabi’s hearing yesterday was rocky. During her testimony she was heckled by other representatives, with one crying out, “you have the blood of our soldiers on your hands,” reported Israel’s YNet News. Zoabi did not hold back in response: “Those attempting to get me banned, they are the ones who should be here. These racists need to be stopped, we should not be holding ceremonies for revenge and incitement like the ones the Arab MKs are forced to undergo on a daily basis,” she said, continuing, “You are not judging me, but the entire idea of Arab representation.”

An unexpected backer for her ouster came from the Labor-Hatuna union, dubbed the Zionist Camp. That was the tipping point against Zoabi. At the same time, the centrist group also endorsed a separate campaign to remove rightist Baruch Marzel of the formally of the banned Kach party, which under the leadership of the late nationalist rabbi Meir Kahane called for the use of vigilante violence against Palestinians. Both Zoabi and Marzel were labeled as “extremists, from opposite ends of the political spectrum,” by the the Zionist Camp. It further declared the two guilty of “incitement, racism and hatred, to the point where it threatens democracy.” The centrist Yesh Atid, headed by prime minister hopeful Yair Lapid, also supported both proposals.

Labor’s backing of the measure elicited charges of pandering to the right-wing bloc. A statement by Meretz, reported in the Times of Israel, said, “The Zionist Camp has joined the shrill right-wing chorus of Zoabi-rejecters. Hanin Zoabi pushes the boundaries of free speech with problematic statements, and yet the attorney general concluded that such statements do not constitute support for terrorism and that he consequently does not support her disqualification.”

A lone dissident in the right-wing camp came from Likud’s Dr. Anat Berko who spoke in opposition to her party’s support of the ouster. “Democracy has to also absorb people such as [Zoabi],” she said to the Knesset Channel. “Zoabi needs to be in the Knesset.”

Supporting Hamas, mistranslated

The charge sheet presented against Zoabi to the election committee Thursday was muddied with the same flaws as her temporary censure issued last June. She is accused of supporting Hamas, evidenced by a mistranslation of a statement given during a radio interview over the summer–the same statement that caused her suspension. Zoabi was thought to have celebrated the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June near Hebron by a cell with Hamas ties, eliciting calls of incitement and support to an enemy of Israel.

At the time Larry Derfner reported Zoabi did not refuse to call the abductors “terrorists,” nor did she laud their deed, as her colleagues had argued. Derfner said, rather a “media hit-job” marred with mistranslations and truncated quotes was mounted. Zoabi said of the culprits in the wake of the slayings: “They are not terrorists. Even if I do not agree with them, they are people who do not see any way open to change their reality, and they are compelled to use means like these until Israel wakes up and sees the suffering, feels the suffering of the other.”

Derfner noted Israeli dailies misreported what Zoabi had said. Yehidoth Ahronoth quoted her, “They are not terrorists. I don’t agree with you, they are people,” and Ma’ariv published, “I don’t agree with acts like these, but even if the youths are murdered, that’s not terror.” The mistranslated and truncated quotes were then re-printed throughout Israeli media with the exception of Haaretz and +972 Magazine (where Derfrner reports).

Pressure against her cooked last summer. Peers in Knesset lobbied insisted that she supported the killings of the three Israelis. For Palestinians, Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank was the most intensive period of Israeli raids since the second Intifada. In that climate, Knesset members relayed the incorrect quotes attributed to Zoabi as a manifesto from a turncoat.

“We are angry at Zuabi because in these difficult moments of solidarity,” [sic] wrote Likud’s Moshe Feiglin on his blog last June, “precisely at these intense national moments, this evil woman comes and adds insult to injury. We are furious, justifiably so.”

By the end of January the campaign against Zoabi hit a crescendo. Three petitions were filed to bar Zoabi from running in Israel’s upcoming March elections by Likud, Avigdor Lieberman’s Bayit Yehudi, and by Likud’s Danny Danon. The complaints fingered Zoabi as a Hamas supporter, which a crime in Israel. Overwhelmingly members of Knesset singed onto the call for Zoabi’s removal. But until last week the move to censure her from elections was only favored by the right-wing bloc, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Perhaps there has never been a figure in Israeli politics more controversial than Zoabi. She has protested the government, attempted to break the siege on Gaza by boarding the Mavi Marmara and encouraged Palestinian citizens of Israel to seek a “state for all of its citizens,” the platform of her Balad party, a self-described nationalist group running on a joint list with other Arab parties and Hadash, a Jewish-Arab communist union.

Speaking to Al Jazeera the day before her censure hearing, Zoabi said the campaign to disqualify her was “designed to score cheap political goals. It is not about me… [I]t is about their political maneuvering.” The Knesset member added, “From an ideological point of view, it is very crucial for Israel to persecute me as a deterrent for young vocal Palestinians.”

Zoabi has had to fight to participate in every election over the past decade. Zoabi has even been physically assaulted when speaking on the Knesset floor. In 2003, Zoabi was also disqualified from running, but ultimately Israel’s high court overturned the decision. It is expected this pattern will repeat as Zoabi intends to appeal the election committee’s ruling. “A tradition seems to be evolving in which the committee is expected to ban people from the election on the assumption the court will reverse the decision,” said high court jurist Salim Joubran.

“Legally the case to disqualify her is even weaker than what it was in the past,” Balad’s chairman Jamal Zahalka said to +972 Magazine. “There is a basis to the possibility that the court won’t disqualify her, even under the strictest legal interpretations. The biggest fear is of the politicization of the issue — that the judges will believe that it is very popular to disqualify her and will be tempted to do so.”

- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/disqualified-elections-mistranslation?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=536fa9e0c6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-536fa9e0c6-309260894#sthash.CExyUXFM.dpuf style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on">

The everyday terror we all live with

from digbyblog

by digby

I realize that terrorism is scary and I certainly hope that the US doesn't suffer any more attacks from Islamic extremists any time soon.

But this is the kind of thing that really scares the hell out of me and it's all too common in America:
After giving her 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson in the parking lot of a Las Vegas middle school last Thursday night, Tammy Meyers nearly hit another car on their drive home. That car apparently followed them home, police say, where one passenger opened fire, hitting Meyers in the head. Meyers, 44, died at University Medical Center Saturday after her family took her off life support.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, after avoiding the wreck with the other vehicle, Meyers pulled over, and got into an argument with the three people reportedly in the second car; one apparently threatened her.

The car allegedly followed the Meyers' home, and after the mother and daughter pulled in front of their house, opened fire. Tammy's husband, Robert, told the Associated Press that after hearing gunshots, the couple's adult son ran out of the house with a handgun, firing several shots. ABC News reports the daughter had run inside before the shooting started.

We live in a shooting gallery in this country. The bullet of a random armed asshole angry about a fender bender is far more likely to kill us than a terrorist:

A few more statistics:

In the combined US and European Union statistics for 2010, percentage of terrorist attacks that occurred in the US: .008

Among 23 developed OECD countries, percent of all firearm deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2003: 80

Number of 249 terrorist attacks in 2010 in European Union carried out by Muslim extremists: 3

Number of whites killed by other whites, primarily by firearms, in US, 2000-2009: 46,171

There is no ability in this country to curb the kind of random violence that occurs every day among our own people for the most mundane of reasons, even when people are mowed down in movie theatres and armed lunatics shoot 1st graders by the dozens.

And yet I hear ridiculous crapola like this all day long on cable news networks, the worst of which on Fox and CNN are basically running snuff porn as often as possible and pimping the most hysterical ideas possible. Yesterday terrorism expert Bob baer said on CNN that ISIS was "the worst pandemic of violence ever" and that it was inevitable that American lone wolves inspired by ISIS would attack us here: "I can see them coming."

Apparently if you are killed by a lone wolf ISIS misfit the death is worse than if you are killed by a miscreant with a gun who gets upset over a fender bender or a parking place. I don't know why that should be, especially since the latter is far more likely than the former.

I certainly understand why the Europeans are freaking out. They aren't used to random gun violence. And needless to say, the fact that Jews are being specifically targeted is extremely horrifying. Terrorism carries a special brand of fear due to its political motivation.

But the "lone wolf" threat in the US? Considering the threat we live with from our fellow "lone wolf" citizens every day, even from political violence, it ridiculously hysterical. Nobody bats an eye at abortion clinics being targeted for years on end. A couple of right wing lunatics gunned down police officers in Las Vegas with a political beef a few months back and we didn't launch a national crusade against it. We can't even sustain any alarm at kids shooting up kids in schools for longer than a couple of days. We hardly even report it anymore it's so old hat. If there's one nation on earth that knows how to keep calm and carry on in the face of random armed misfits gunning down strangers it's us.

Update: Paul Waldman has a good pieceup at the Plumline about the return of the GWOT:

To date, ISIS has killed four Americans, a horrible tragedy for those people and their families. But since the idea of the group’s threat to America is at this point entirely hypothetical, we should be as specific as we can when we talk about that threat. Do we think they’re going to try to hijack planes or send agents here to set off bombs? And if so, what do we need to do to counter those threats that we aren’t already doing? If we’re going to expand our military involvement in the Middle East, is there a way to do it that won’t create more problems than it solves?

Those are simple, obvious questions, but so often they’re overwhelmed by people waving their arms and shouting “We’re all gonna die!” In the days and years after September 11, Republicans repeated that al Qaeda was an “existential threat,” a notion that was utterly insane yet seldom examined. And we certainly acted as though the very existence of the United States of America was indeed in question. Congress gave the federal government a slate of new powers to spy on its citizens. We created a surveillance apparatus of gargantuan size and scope. We deployed a network of secret prisons as sites for a program of torture. And we all got used to the idea that the War on Terror is forever.

From what I gather from the comments of various law enforcement officials and terrorism experts, the threat that concerns them is the Lone Wolf scenario. I'm sure it's very scary. But again, what makes it so much scarier than Adam Lanza or James Holmes or Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold? I don't think anyone wants those kinds of killings but we haven't decided to turn ourselves into a full-blown police state to stop them. In fact, we have pretty much done nothing to stop them, even the smallest common sense measures like trying to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill kids. So all this handwringing over Muslim lone wolves seems just a bit over the top.

But it is very convenient and lucrative for certain politicians, news networks and military contractors, so there's that ...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What is the the real lesson of the Drefuss Affair?

by R Congress

In their rants about about an alleged tidal wave of anti-Semitism in France Israeli apologists often dredge up the Drefuss Affair of 1894-1906 as an example of how the French hate Jews (and all French better leave and go to their real homeland of Israel).

But what conclusions can actually be drawn from this event?

In 1894 French army Captain Alfred Drefuss was accused of passing military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. A court martial convicted him and he was sentenced to life on Devil's Island. In 1896 evidence came to light that Drefuss was innocent and that a Major Esterhazy was the actual traitor. This evidence was hastily quashed by the general staff.

Getting wind of what the military high command was doing, French socialists, secular liberals and important literary and intellectual figures began to publicize the case. Author Emil Zola wrote a famous article in a leading Paris newspaper entitled "J'accuse," which helped create a mass movement for freeing Drefuss.

This was a major moment in modern French history. The military top command, the Catholic church, bitter royalists who hated the existence of the French Republic, all insisted that Drefuss was guilty and received a fair trial.

In 1899 Drefuss was brought back to France, was retried and convicted again. However, he also was pardoned after the new guilty verdict. The public debate raged on and the forces of left and right continued to verbally clash.

Finally, in 1906 Drefuss was fully exonerated and returned to the army as an officer. He died in 1935, serving in the army during the First World War and ended his career as a Lt. Colonel.

What was the outcome of this political battle? The left won, Drefuss was cleared. It was a defeat for French anti-semites and political reactionaries. France answer with a resounding YES to the place of Jews as equal members of French society. It was a big step forward for progressive forces in France.

To hear this story from hard-line Zionists you would think that Drefuss died on Devil's Island and all Jews in France were considered to be traitors.

Actually, an accurate post script would be that right after Drefuss died, Leon Blum, of the Socialist Party, became the first Jewish Prime Minister of France.

Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam?
Instead of confronting the truth, we scrubbed the record clean—and we’re still paying for it in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

Christian Appy February 9, 2015

Napalm strike in Vietnam
A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near US troops in South Vietnam, 1966 during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo)

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

The 1960s—that extraordinary decade—is celebrating its 50th birthday one year at a time. Happy birthday, 1965! How, though, do you commemorate the Vietnam War, the era’s signature catastrophe? After all, our government prosecuted its brutal and indiscriminate war under false pretexts, long after most citizens objected, and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. More than 58,000 Americans were killed along with more than 4 million Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.

So what exactly do we write on the jubilee party invitation? You probably know the answer. We’ve been rehearsing it for decades. You leave out every troubling memory of the war and simply say: “Let’s honor all our military veterans for their service and sacrifice.”

For a little perspective on the 50th anniversary, consider this: we’re now as distant from the 1960s as the young Bob Dylan was from Teddy Roosevelt. For today’s typical college students, the Age of Aquarius is ancient history. Most of their parents weren’t even alive in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched a massive escalation of the Vietnam War, initiating the daily bombing of the entire country, North and South, and an enormous buildup of more than half a million troops.

In the post-Vietnam decades, our culture has buried so much of the history once considered essential to any debate about that most controversial of all American wars that little of substance remains. Still, oddly enough, most of the 180 students who take my Vietnam War class each year arrive deeply curious. They seem to sense that the subject is like a dark family secret that might finally be exposed. All that most of them know is that the Sixties, the war years, were a “time of turmoil.” As for Vietnam, they have few cultural markers or landmarks, which shouldn’t be surprising. Even Hollywood—that powerful shaper of historical memory—stopped making Vietnam movies long ago. Some of my students have stumbled across old films likeApocalypse Now and Platoon, but it’s rare for even one of them to have seen either of the most searing documentaries made during that war, In the Year of the Pig and Hearts and Minds. Such relics of profound antiwar fervor simply disappeared from popular memory along with the antiwar movement itself.

On the other hand, there is an advantage to the fact that students make it to that first class without strong convictions about the war. It means they can be surprised, even shocked, when they learn about the war’s wrenching realities and that’s when real education can begin. For example, many students are stunned to discover that the US government, forever proclaiming its desire to spread democracy, actually blocked Vietnam’s internationally sanctioned reunification election in 1956 because of the near certainty that Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh would be the overwhelming winner.

They’re even more astonished to discover the kind of “free-fire zone” bloodshed and mayhem the U.S. military unleashed on the South Vietnamese countryside. Nothing shocks them more, though, than the details of the My Lai massacre, in which American ground troops killed, at close range, more than 500 unarmed, unresisting, South Vietnamese civilians—most of them women, children, and old men—over a four-hour stretch on March 16, 1968. In high school, many students tell me, My Lai is not discussed.

An American Tragedy

Don’t think that young students are the only products of a whitewashed history of the Vietnam War. Many older Americans have also been affected by decades of distortion and revision designed to sanitize an impossibly soiled record. The first step in the cleansing process was to scrub out as much memory as possible and it began even before the US-backed regime in South Vietnam collapsed in 1975. A week before the fall of Saigon, President Gerald Ford was already encouraging citizens to put aside a war that was “finished as far as America is concerned.” A kind of willful amnesia was needed, he suggested, to “regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam.”

At that moment, forgetting made all the sense in the world since it seemed unimaginable, even to the president, that Americans would ever find a positive way to remember the war—and little wonder. Except for a few unapologetic former policymakers like Walt Rostow and Henry Kissinger, virtually everyone, whatever their politics, believed that it had been an unmitigated disaster. In 1971, for example, a remarkable 58% of the public told pollsters that they thought the conflict was “immoral,” a word that most Americans had never applied to their country’s wars.

How quickly times change. Jump ahead a decade and Americans had already found an appealing formula for commemorating the war. It turned out to be surprisingly simple: focus on us, not them, and agree that the war was primarily an American tragedy. Stop worrying about the damage Americans had inflicted on Vietnam and focus on what we had done to ourselves. Soon enough, President Ronald Reagan and his followers were claiming that the war had been disastrous mainly because it had weakened an American sense of pride and patriotism, while inhibiting the nation’s desire to project power globally. Under Reagan, “Vietnam” became a rallying cry for both a revived nationalism and militarism.

Though liberals and moderates didn’t buy Reagan’s view that Vietnam had been a “noble” and winnable war, they did generally support a growing belief that would, in the end, successfully supplant lingering antiwar perspectives and focus instead on a process of national “healing.” At the heart of that new creed was the idea that our own veterans were the greatest victims of the war and that their wounds were largely a consequence of their shabby treatment by antiwar protesters upon returning from the battle zone to an unwelcoming home front. Indeed, it became an article of faith that the most shameful aspect of the Vietnam War was the nation’s failure to embrace and honor its returning soldiers.

Of course, there was a truth to the vet-as-victim belief. Vietnam veterans had, in fact, been horribly ill-treated. Their chief abuser, however, was their own government, which first lied to them about the causes and nature of the war, then sent them off to fight for an unpopular, dictatorial regime in a land where they were widely regarded as foreign invaders. Finally, on their return, it failed to provide them with either adequate support or benefits.

And corporate America was also to blame. Employers were reluctant to hire or train them, in many cases scared off by crude 1970s media stereotypes about wacko, drug-addled, and violent vets. Nor did traditional veterans’ organizations like the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars provide a warm welcome to those coming home from a deeply contested and unpopular war filled with disillusioned soldiers.

The Antiwar Movement Dispatched to the Trash Bin of History

In the 1980s, however, the Americans most saddled with blame for abusing Vietnam veterans were the antiwar activists of the previous era. Forget that, in its later years, the antiwar movement was often led by and filled with antiwar vets. According to a pervasive postwar myth, veterans returning home from Vietnam were commonly accused of being “baby killers” and spat upon by protesters. The spat-upon story—wildly exaggerated, if not entirely invented—helped reinforce the rightward turn in American politics in the post-Vietnam era. It was a way of teaching Americans to “honor” victimized veterans, while dishonoring the millions of Americans who had fervently worked to bring them safely home from war. In this way, the most extraordinary antiwar movement in memory was discredited and dispatched to the trash bin of history.

In the process, something new happened. Americans began to treat those who served the country as heroic by definition, no matter what they had actually done. This phenomenon first appeared in another context entirely. In early 1981, when American diplomats and other personnel were finally released from 444 days of captivity in Iran, the former hostages were given a hero’s welcome for the ages. There was a White House party, ticker-tape parades, the bestowal of season tickets to professional sporting events, you name it. This proved to be where a new definition of “heroism” first took root. Americans had once believed that true heroes took great risks on behalf of noble ideals. Now, they conferred such status on an entire group of people who had simply survived a horrible ordeal.

To do so next with Vietnam veterans, and indeed with every soldier or veteran who followed in their footsteps, seemed like a no-brainer. It was such an easy formula to apply in a new, far more cynical age. You no longer had to believe that the missions American “heroes” fought were noble and just; you could simply agree that anyone who “served America” in whatever capacity automatically deserved acclaim.

By the time the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was opened on Washington’s Mall in 1982, a consensus had grown up around the idea that, whatever you thought about the Vietnam War, all Americans should honor the vets who fought in it, no matter what any of them had done. Memorial planners helped persuade the public that it was possible to “separate the warrior from the war.” As the black granite wall of the Memorial itself so vividly demonstrated, you could honor veterans without commenting on the war in which they had fought. In the years to come, that lesson would be repeated so often that it became a bedrock part of the culture. A classic example was an ad run in 1985 on the tenth anniversary of the war’s end by defense contractor United Technologies:

“Let others use this occasion to explain why we were there, what we accomplished, what went wrong, and who was right. We seek here only to draw attention to those who served… They fought not for territorial gain, or national glory, or personal wealth. They fought only because they were called to serve… whatever acrimony lingers in our consciousness… let us not forget the Vietnam veteran.”

Since the attacks of 9/11, ritualized support for troops and veterans, more symbolic than substantive, has grown ever more common, replete with yellow ribbons, airport greetings, welcome home ceremonies, memorial highways, honor flights, benefit concerts, and ballgame flyovers. Through it all, politicians, celebrities, and athletes constantly remind us that we’ve never done enough to demonstrate our support.

Perhaps some veterans do find meaning and sustenance in our endless thank-yous, but others find them hollow and demeaning. The noble vet is as reductive a stereotype as the crazy vet, and repeated empty gestures of gratitude foreclose the possibility of real dialogue and debate. “Thank you for your service” requires nothing of us, while “Please tell me about your service” might, though we could then be in for a disturbing few hours. As two-tour Afghan War veteran Rory Fanning has pointed out, “We use the term hero in part because it makes us feel good and in part because it shuts soldiers up… Thank yous to heroes discourage dissent, which is one reason military bureaucrats feed off the term.”

13 Years’ Worth of Commemorating the Warriors

Although a majority of Americans came to reject the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq in proportions roughly as high as in the Vietnam era, the present knee-jerk association between military service and “our freedom” inhibits thinking about Washington’s highly militarized policies in the world. And in 2012, with congressional approval and funding, the Pentagon began institutionalizing that Vietnam “thank you” as a multi-year, multi-million-dollar “50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War.” It’s a thank-you celebration that is slated to last 13 years until 2025, although the emphasis is on the period from Memorial Day 2015 to Veterans Day 2017.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the Pentagon’s number-one objective is “to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War” in “partnership” with more than 10,000 corporations and local groups which are “to sponsor hometown events to honor Vietnam veterans, their families, and those who were prisoners of war and missing in action.” Additional goals include: “to pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front” (presumably not by peace activists) and “to highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.” (It’s a little hard to imagine quite what that refers to though an even more effective Agent Orange defoliant or improved cluster bombs come to mind.)

Since the Pentagon realizes that, however hard you try, you can’t entirely “separate the warrior from the war,” it is also seeking “to provide the American public with historically accurate materials and interactive experiences that will help Americans better understand and appreciate the service of our Vietnam veterans and the history of US involvement in the Vietnam War.” However, it turns out that “accuracy” and “appreciation” can both be served only if you carefully scrub that history clean of untoward incidents and exclude all the under-appreciators, including the thousands of American soldiers who became so disgusted with the war that they turned on their officers, avoided or refused combat missions, deserted in record numbers, and created the most vibrant antiwar GI and veterans movement in our history.

The most ambitious of the “educational resources” provided on the Vietnam War Commemoration website is an “interactive timeline.” As other historians have demonstrated, this historical cavalcade has proven to be a masterwork of disproportion, distortion, and omission. For example, it offers just three short sentences on the “killings” at My Lai (the word “massacre” does not appear) and says that the officer who led Charlie Company into the village, Lt. William Calley, was “sentenced to life in prison” without adding that he was paroled by President Richard Nixon after just three-and-a-half years under house arrest.

That desperately inadequate description avoids the most obviously embarrassing question: How could such a thing happen? It is conveniently dropped onto a page that includes lengthy official citations of seven American servicemen who received Medals of Honor. The fact that antiwar Senator Robert Kennedy entered the presidential race on the same day as the My Lai massacre isn’t even mentioned, nor his assassination three months later, nor the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., just weeks after My Lai, an event that spurred bitter and bloody racial clashes on US military bases throughout South Vietnam and the world.

It should not go unnoticed that the same government that is spending $65 million commemorating the veterans of a once-reviled war has failed to provide sufficient medical care for them. In 2014, news surfaced that the Veterans Administration had left some 100,000 veterans waiting for medical attention and that some VA hospitals sought to cover up their egregious delays. Every day an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide, and among vets of Iraq and Afghanistan the suicide rate, according to one study, is 50% higher than that of their civilian peers.

The Pentagon’s anniversary commemoration has triggered some heated push-back from groups like Veterans for Peace and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee (co-founded by Tom Hayden). Both are planning alternative commemorations designed to include antiwar perspectives once so common but now glaringly absent from popular memory. From such efforts might come the first full public critical reappraisal of the war to challenge four decades of cosmetic makeover.

Unfortunately, in our twenty-first-century American world of permanent war, rehashing Vietnam may strike many as irrelevant or redundant. If so, it’s likely that neither the Pentagon’s commemoration nor the antiwar counter-commemorations will get much notice. Perhaps the most damaging legacy of the post-Vietnam era lies in the way Americans have learned to live in a perpetual “wartime” without war being part of daily consciousness. While public support for Washington’s war policies is feeble at best, few share the Vietnam era faith that they can challenge a war-making machine that seems to have a life of its own.

Last year, US Special Operations forces conducted secret military missions in 133 countries and are on pace to beat that mark in 2015, yet these far-flung commitments go largely unnoticed by the major media and most citizens. We rely on 1% of Americans “to protect our freedoms” in roughly 70% of the world’s countries and at home, and all that is asked of us is that we offer an occasional “thank you for your service” to people we don’t know and whose wars we need not spend precious time thinking about.

From the Vietnam War, the Pentagon and its apologists learned fundamental lessons about how to burnish, bend, and bury the truth. The results have been devastating. The fashioning of a bogus American tragedy from a real Vietnamese one has paved the way for so many more such tragedies, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Pakistan to Yemen, and—if history is any guide—an unknown one still emerging, no doubt from another of those 133 countries.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

surprise: Ashkenazi Jews Are Genetically European

from live science
By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer | October 08, 2013 11:00am ET

The origin of the Ashkenazi Jews, who come most recently from Europe, has largely been shrouded in mystery. But a new study suggests that at least their maternal lineage may derive largely from Europe.

Though the finding may seem intuitive, it contradicts the notion that European Jews mostly descend from people who left Israel and the Middle East around 2,000 years ago. Instead, a substantial proportion of the population originates from local Europeans who converted to Judaism, said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England.

Tangled legacy

Little is known about the history of Ashkenazi Jews before they were expelled from the Mediterranean and settled in what is now Poland around the 12th century. On average, all Ashkenazi Jews are genetically as closely related to each other as fourth or fifth cousins, said Dr. Harry Ostrer, a pathology, pediatrics and genetics professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the author of "Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People" (Oxford University Press, 2012).

But depending on whether the lineage gets traced through maternal or paternal DNA or through the rest of the genome, researchers got very different answers for whether Ashkenazi originally came from Europe or the Near East.

Past research found that 50 percent to 80 percent of DNA from the Ashkenazi Y chromosome, which is used to trace the male lineage, originated in the Near East, Richards said. That supported a story wherein Jews came from Israel and largely eschewed intermarriage when they settled in Europe. [The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological Finds]

But historical documents tell a slightly different tale. Based on accounts such as those of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, by the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in A.D. 70, as many as 6 million Jews were living in the Roman Empire, but outside Israel, mainly in Italy and Southern Europe. In contrast, only about 500,000 lived in Judea, said Ostrer, who was not involved in the new study.

"The major Jewish communities were outside Judea," Ostrer told LiveScience.

Maternal DNA

Richards and his colleagues analyzed mitochondrial DNA, which is contained in the cytoplasm of the egg and passed down only from the mother, from more than 3,500 people throughout the Near East, the Caucusus and Europe, including Ashkenazi Jews.

The team found that four founders were responsible for 40 percent of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA, and that all of these founders originated in Europe. The majority of the remaining people could be traced to other European lineages.

All told, more than 80 percent of the maternal lineages of Ashkenazi Jews could be traced to Europe, with only a few lineages originating in the Near East.

Virtually none came from the North Caucasus, located along the border between Europe and Asia between the Black and Caspian seas.

The finding should thoroughly debunk one of the most questionable, but still tenacious, hypotheses: that most Ashkenazi Jews can trace their roots to the mysterious Khazar Kingdom that flourished during the ninth century in the region between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire, Richards and Ostrer said.

The genetics suggest many of the founding Ashkenazi women were actually converts from local European populations.

"The simplest explanation was that it was mainly women who converted and they married with men who'd come from the Near East," Richards told LiveScience.

Another possibility is that Jews actively converted both men and women among local populations at this time, although researchers would need more detailed study of paternal lineages to test that hypothesis, Richards said.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitterand Google+. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScien

The Death of the Israeli Left

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gideon Levy
Feb 5 2015 / 9:42 pm

One cannot expect change to emerge from within Israeli society. (Tamar Fleishman/PC)

By Gideon Levy
The Israeli left, if it has ever existed at all, is dead. The Israeli Peace Camp, the preferred way to designate the left in the Israeli context, breathed its last breath about 15 years ago and has never been resurrected. Two main factors led to its demise back then, but even in their combination, they should have been insufficient in bringing on the clinical death that ensued.
First was the failure of the US-mediated Camp David talks between Israel and the Palestinians, concluding with the notion that “there’s no Palestinian partner,” a canard made popular by Israel’s prime minister at the time, Ehud Barak.
The other factor was the outbreak of the second Intifada – the suicide bombers exploding buses on Israeli streets and instilling a new and unprecedented level of fear. The first factor ended all hope on the Israeli left, and the second produced intense despair, and this mix gave rise to ever more widespread apathy, indifference and ignorance.
Israeli mass media enlisted in the campaign to brainwash, stupefy, repress and befog, voluntarily promoting Israeli propaganda while offering its audience trivialities and entertainment until the occupation dropped entirely off Israel’s political agenda. Peace was no longer an objective or even a dream. Israel believed itself chaste and was living in denial.
The fact that the Israeli peace camp could shatter so easily gives rise to serious, troubling questions, including: how real and how steadfast was it to begin with, if this sequence of events was enough to pulverise it almost completely?
Israel’s political map shifted far to the right following these tectonic events: the right wing’s extreme nationalism and blatant racism became legitimate. What until not long ago was considered the moderate right wing is today the centre, and what was the centre morphed into “the left” or even “the extreme left”.
On the periphery of this political landscape a few authentic leftist and peace groups still operate, but they are isolated on the margins and lack legitimacy. Courageous, steadfast groups like B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Machsom Watch, Anarchists Against the Wall, Ta’ayush and even Peace Now have no real influence on the political map in Israel and face a systematic campaign of delegitimisation.
Virtually no protest is heard in the public squares of Israel’s cities. While in 1982, 400,000 Israelis marched in protest against the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon, although those atrocities were not perpetrated directly by Israel itself; if today, heaven forfend, another such massacre were to occur, a demonstration with even 400 people would be very unlikely and protesters who did show up would probably be violently dispersed by the police.
In the outgoing Knesset, there’s not a single member (MK), and certainly not a Jewish MK, whose first priority is the struggle to end the occupation. None of the Jewish parties puts this issue at the top of its agenda, with the possible exception of Meretz, which has become a small faction without real influence.
The Arab parties in Israel are entirely excluded from the political discourse and have no real role in it. No possible coalition in the next government, even if headed by Labor or the Zionist Camp as it now terms itself, would have any intention of including Arab parties. Labor is a centrist party in every way, and indeed historically is Israel’s occupation party: its leaders were the founding fathers of the settlement enterprise, and the party is responsible for today’s situation no less and perhaps even more than is the Likud. Labor-led governments have never evacuated a single settlement in the territories. The only leader to have done so thus far was Ariel Sharon.
In a few weeks, Israelis will again go to the polls to elect a Knesset. The election will have one of three outcomes: another right-wing, religious, nationalist government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu; a government headed by the Zionist Camp and a Labor Party coalition; or a national unity government that includes both. Per the latest polls, the first is the more likely scenario, but something could still change during the weeks remaining. In any case, from the standpoint of the prospects for peace or for an agreement, for the alignment of Israeli policy with international law or for an end to the occupation, no one should harbour any expectations that such developments might occur after this upcoming election.
If the next government is led by Netanyahu, it will bring us more of the same: an Israel that callously ignores the broad global consensus obtaining today, which does not recognise the Israeli occupation and opposes its perpetuation. The ball will be in the global court where the world’s nations must decide whether to acquiesce in the continuation of the existing situation, though there’s never really a status quo in this part of the world. Israel is always intensifying the occupation, building more and more settlements and destroying the remaining prospects, if any, for a two-state solution.
If Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni are able to form a government, which in Israel will be called leftist but will be a centre-right government in every way, that government will bring no historic change either. There is no chance that a Herzog-Livni government will end the occupation. Rather the government would enter negotiations that would go on for years; Herzog has already announced that he is allocating five years for negotiating – an outrageous and unrealistic schedule – a time period for which there is no need if Israel’s intentions are honourable, and which will only destroy any remaining prospects for an agreement.
As the years of futile manoeuvring drag on, perpetuating what are already the longest-running peace negotiations in history, the world will stop doing what it had begun doing recently: applying pressure on Israel, including the first signs of real sanctions. Neither a peace agreement nor an end to the occupation will be forthcoming under such a government, and meanwhile the world will be anaesthetised into inaction once again.
A similar scenario is likely if Israel again names a unity government to include the two major parties, Likud and the Zionist Camp. Past experience demonstrates that Labor and Isaac Herzog personally would readily join such a government if they can’t form a different one. A unity government will be a Likud government in all respects, with the Zionist Camp as fig leaf. This, too, will be a government of paralysis.
Thus one cannot expect change to emerge from within Israeli society. Life is too good here and the people are too brainwashed. In the present situation, Israelis have no incentive to leave the territories. On the basis of this assumption, an end to the occupation will be forthcoming if and only if there is external pressure on Israel: in the form either of diplomatic and economic pressure like that faced by the Apartheid regime in South Africa, or of a terrible bloodbath that we must hope never occurs.
In Israel today, whether in the political sphere or elsewhere, there is no alternative leadership sufficiently courageous, determined and strong to advance a just agreement. The upcoming elections certainly will not result in such leadership. In the meantime, the right wing in Israel is becoming increasingly stronger and the ranks of the left ever weaker, while the centre transforms into a right-wing entity in disguise.
As things now stand, with the world having yet to commit to determined action, there are only two sources of hope for change in Israel: one is the thought that other evil regimes resembling Israel’s occupation have fallen by themselves, when least expected – white rule in South Africa, the former Soviet Union, the Berlin wall, the communist bloc’s iron curtain. Apart from which, there is a saying common in this part of the world, battered and bleeding as the region has been for many decades now: one must be enough of a realist to believe in miracles.
An Israeli left-wing miracle has yet to happen; that we will witness one in the foreseeable future is highly doubtful.
- Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. Levy joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996. His new book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso. (This article was first published in Middle East Eye)

An Apology from Muslims to Humanity – A Poem

Feb 9 2015 / 9:38 pm

By Amir Darwish
We are sorry for everything that we done to contribute to humanity’s suffering
Sorry for algebra and the letter X
Sorry for all the words we throw at you; amber, candy, chemistry, cotton, giraffe, hazard, jar, jasmine, jumper, lemon, lime, lilac, oranges, sofa, scarlet, spinach, talisman, tangerine, tariff, traffic, tulips, mattress (yes mattress) and the massage you enjoy on it: we are sorry for all of these.
Sorry that we replaced alcohol with coffee for the enlightenment philosophers.
Speaking of hot drinks,
We are sorry for the cappuccino the Turks introduced
Sorry for the black Arabian race horses,
For the clock
For math
For parachutes
Abdul in the US is sorry for what so and so did, he does not know him, but he is sorry anyway
Sorry that we accompanied Columbus in his journey to the States
And sorry for the Arab man with him, who was the first to touch the coast and shout ‘Honolulu’ to name the place after him
Sorry for the architecture in Spain and Al-Hambra palace
We apologise for the churches in Seville with their stars of David at the top that we built with our hands
We say sorry for every number you use in your daily life from 0 to trillion
We are sorry Obama,
We do not know Osama
We have never met him
Sorry for mercury chloride that heals wounds, please give us some as the guilt of initiating all of the above has grown a wound as big as this earth
Sorry for the guitar that used by Moriscos in Spain to ease their pain when kicked out of their homes
Sorry for the hookah as you sip on its lips and gaze into the moon hearing the Arabian nay relaxingly
Sorry for cryptanalysis and the ability to analyze information systems
To think what is at the heart of the heart of the heart and bring it to the world
Sorry for painting Granada white to evade social hierarchy
Sorry for the Arabian Nights’ stories
Every time we see a star, we remember to be sorry for astronomy
We are sorry that Mo Farah claimed Asylum here and went to become the British champion of the world
Sorry for non-representational art
Pattern and surface decoration
We are sorry for all the food we brought over from tuna
To chicken tikka masala
Donnar chicken kebab right up to the Shawrma roll and don’t forget the couscous
If we forgot to apologize for something, never mind, we are sorry for it without even knowing it
Most of all we are sorry for Rumi’s love poems,
And we desperately echo one of them to you
Oh Beloved
Take me
Liberate my soul
Fill me with your love and
Release me from the two worlds
If I set my heart on anything but you
Let fire burn me from inside
Oh Beloved,
Take away what I want
Take away what I do
Take away what I need
Take away everything
That takes me from you
Please forgive us
We are sorry and cannot be sorry enough today.
- Amir Darwish contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Fiery Cage and the Lynching Tree, Brutality’s Never Far Away


February 5, 2015
by Bill Moyers

They burned him alive in an iron cage, and as he screamed and writhed in the agony of hell they made a sport of his death.
After listening to one newscast after another rightly condemn the barbaric killing of that Jordanian air force pilot at the bloody hands of ISIS, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept roaming the past trying to retrieve a vaguely remembered photograph that I had seen long ago in the archives of a college library in Texas.

Suddenly, around two in the morning, the image materialized in my head. I made my way down the hall to my computer and typed in: “Waco, Texas. Lynching.”

Sure enough, there it was: the charred corpse of a young black man, tied to a blistered tree in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt.Sure enough, there it was: the charred corpse of a young black man, tied to a blistered tree in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt. Next to the burned body, young white men can be seen smiling and grinning, seemingly jubilant at their front-row seats in a carnival of death. One of them sent a picture postcard home: “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.”
The victim’s name was Jesse Washington. The year was 1916. America would soon go to war in Europe “to make the world safe for democracy.” My father was twelve, my mother eight. I was born 18 years later, at a time, I would come to learn, when local white folks still talked about Washington’s execution as if it were only yesterday. This was not medieval Europe. Not the Inquisition. Not a heretic burned at the stake by some ecclesiastical authority in the Old World. This was Texas, and the white people in that photograph were farmers, laborers, shopkeepers, some of them respectable congregants from local churches in and around the growing town of Waco.

Large crowd looking at the burned body of Jesse Washington, 18 year-old African-American, lynched in Waco, Texas, May 15, 1916. (Library of Congress)
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Large crowd looking at the burned body of Jesse Washington, 18 year-old African-American, lynched in Waco, Texas, May 15, 1916. (Library of Congress)

Here is the photograph. Take a good look at Jesse Washington’s stiffened body tied to the tree. He had been sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman. No witnesses saw the crime; he allegedly confessed but the truth of the allegations would never be tested. The grand jury took just four minutes to return a guilty verdict, but there was no appeal, no review, no prison time. Instead, a courtroom mob dragged him outside, pinned him to the ground, and cut off his testicles. A bonfire was quickly built and lit. For two hours, Jesse Washington — alive — was raised and lowered over the flames. Again and again and again. City officials and police stood by, approvingly. According to some estimates, the crowd grew to as many as 15,000. There were taunts, cheers and laughter. Reporters described hearing “shouts of delight.”
When the flames died away, Washington’s body was torn apart and the pieces were sold as souvenirs. The party was over.

Many years later, as a young man, I visited Waco’s Baylor University, often referred to as the Texas Baptist Vatican. I had been offered a teaching position there. I sat for a while in the school’s Armstrong Browning Library, one of the most beautiful in America, containing not only the works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the acclaimed Victorian poets, but also stained glass windows, marble columns, and elegant ceilings that bring to mind the gorgeous interior of Michelangelo’s Laurentian library in Florence.

Sitting there, I found it hard to reconcile the beauty and quiet of that sanctuary with the photograph that I had been shown earlier by a man named Harry Provence, publisher of the local newspaper. Seeing it, I realized that as young Jesse Washington was being tortured, students his own age, some of them studying for the ministry, were just finishing their spring semester. In 1905, when another black man had been lynched in Waco, Baylor’s president became a leader of the anti-lynching movement. But ugly memories still divided the town.

Jesse Washington was just one black man to die horribly at the hands of white death squads. Between 1882 and 1968 — 1968! — there were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the US. About a quarter of them were white people, many of whom had been killed for sympathizing with black folks. My father, who was born in 1904 near Paris, Texas, kept in a drawer that newspaper photograph from back when he was a boy of thousands of people gathered as if at a picnic to feast on the torture and hanging of a black man in the center of town. On a journey tracing our roots many years later, my father choked and grew silent as we stood near the spot where it had happened.

Yes, it was hard to get back to sleep the night we heard the news of the Jordanian pilot’s horrendous end. ISIS be damned! I thought. But with the next breath I could only think that our own barbarians did not have to wait at any gate. They were insiders. Home grown. Godly. Our neighbors, friends, and kin. People like us.

A Labor win will only entrench the occupation

On the most fateful issue, another term for Netanyahu would be a disaster, but a victory for Zionist Camp could be a worse disaster.
By Gideon Levy
| Feb. 1, 2015 | 3:15 AM | 6

Only one scenario is worse than the reelection on March 17 of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, and that’s the election of Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog (and his political partner Tzipi Livni). Another term for Netanyahu would be a disaster, but a victory for Zionist Camp could be a worse disaster.

Yes, it’s true there’s no comparison between Herzog and Netanyahu — or between their parties. Herzog is a moderate, modest, fair person who’s much more liked than Netanyahu; the same can be said for Livni.

And Zionist Camp’s Knesset slate is of much higher quality than Likud’s. Not only does Zionist Camp not have thugs like Likud, it doesn’t have people with nationalist and racist views inciting and agitating. The CVs of most Zionist Camp candidates are much more impressive.

Now let’s assume Zionist Camp wins. Jubilation; Netanyahu will be ousted and a new day will dawn in Israel with a Herzog-Livni government. Actually, the first and most dramatic change will come from abroad — a global sigh of relief.

Not a statesman around the world will be sorry to see Netanyahu go, other than maybe Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Khaled Meshal of Hamas. All will be pleased with the victory of the “moderates.” The world will applaud, Herzog will be invited to Washington and Livni to London — and vice versa.

And soon, as promised, the “diplomatic process,” not to say the “peace process,” will begin. Herzog will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Livni with Palestinian leader Ahmed Qurei in a series of moving photo-ops. The cheering around the world will grow louder.

This change will be happening just as it appears the world has had its fill of Israeli policy, of Israel thumbing its nose at international law, the United States and the across-the-board opposition around the world to a continuation of the occupation.

And just when it appears that sanctions against Israel — the only nonviolent way to push the country to leave the territories — are about to be introduced — then of all times Israel will be applauded. There will be no prospect of action at The Hague or at the UN Security Council, no pressure and no punishment. Quiet, they’re talking — those sacred negotiations are in progress.

Those negotiations will, of course, go on endlessly unless this time Abbas refuses to lend a hand to the farce. Herzog has already announced that he will devote five (!) years to negotiations that could be wrapped up in five weeks. In other words, Herzog has no intention of reaching an agreement. Over those five years, the world won’t put on pressure; the two sides are talking.

The occupation will become even more entrenched. Herzog has said his government will continue to build in the “settlement blocs.” And the last chance for a two-state solution — if it still exists — will be squandered. Herzog and Livni will delude the world and perhaps the Palestinians too. Those two will never achieve a just agreement.

This scenario need not surprise anyone. Herzog is at the helm of Israel’s party of occupation. The Labor Party is the founding mother of the settlement enterprise; it never considered stopping it.

Its historical responsibility for the occupation is greater than Likud’s. The Labor troika of Golda Meir, Yisrael Galili and Moshe Dayan founded it, Shimon Peres continued it, and Herzog will go down the same path. The occupation is Labor’s cursed hereditary disease, deeply embedded in its genes. Labor might occupy softly while Likud and the religious-nationalist right use violence. So what’s worse?

To some extent, Zionist Camp would halt the anti-democratic legislation, the incitement against the Arabs and maybe also the disgraceful attitude toward African asylum seekers, all of which are matters of the highest importance. But on the most fateful issue, Zionist Camp would do more harm than good. This Israeli peace party would intoxicate the world, which in its despair would again be enticed. If Netanyahu is elected for another term, that won’t happen.

Gideon Levy tweets at @levy_haaretz.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Israel and Europe’s shared anti-semitism

Jonathan Cooks's blog
18 DECEMBER 2014

Here’s a telling comment from the leader of a Swedish far-right party that throws a little light on the real reason early last century the great colonial power of the time, Britain, sponsored – through the Balfour Declaration – Israel’s creation.

Bjorn Soder, leader of the Sweden Democrats party, has demanded that Jews drop their Jewish identity and assimilate if they want to live as Swedish citizens. (I don’t speak Swedish so I can’t check the original story, but the Guardian’s headline suggests Soder’s problem is with Jews in Sweden having a religious identity, which seems improbable. The text of the story indicates that he objects to Jews in Sweden having a Jewish ethnic or national identity. In his view, presumably, this would conflict with a Swedish national identity and raise issues of dual loyalty.)

Here’s what he says to critics who accuse him of being anti-semitic: “Those who know me when it comes to Jews know I have long had a very strong commitment to both the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

I don’t think he’s being disingenuous here. This attitude towards Jews was one common in Europe last century (and, as we shall see, lingers to this day, especially among Israel’s supporters).

Soder’s concerns were shared by the European elites of the time, including the British cabinet ministers who devised the Balfour Declaration. Britain’s solution was to encourage Jews to migrate from Europe to the Middle East. To export the “problem”, as they saw it, to the colonies. Other European leaders, most notably Adolf Hitler, would eventually settle on a more extreme solution: the genocide of the Jews in Europe.

In other words, the logic of Israel’s creation and of the extermination of the Jews was intimately related – flipsides of the same deep-seated European racism. Both assumed that Jews were unassimilable, potentially disloyal outsiders who needed either to be expelled or to be killed.

The Zionists both exploited this racism for their own ends (the creation of a Jewish state) and mirrored it, adopting the same ideas as the racists of an identifiable Jewish nation (identified through blood or religion) and one that needed to live apart from other nations.

Zionism, the movement for creating a Jewish state and one that succeeded only when it agreed that such a state would be built on the Palestinians’ homeland, precisely depended on claims of chosen-ness and Biblical entitlement to territory. Where Europe’s racists believed the Jews should be contained or quarantined in the Middle East, the Zionists believed the Jews should create an ethnically pure national fortress.

This is why the idea invented by Israel of a “new anti-semitism” – one distinguishable from historical anti-semitism because it supposedly infects only the left and is marked by criticism of Israel – is so laughable. The true anti-semites have always been the devoted followers of the Zionist movement, the Israeli elites and their many diehard friends in European capitals.

Soder and his tinpot racists are small fry compared to that crowd.

A Swedish reader, Kristoffer Larsson, clarifies Soder’s thinking and makes an important additional point. In the tradition of ethnic nationalists, Soder is trying to insist on a distinction between Swedish citizenship and Swedish nationality, suggesting that there is a deeper Swedishness that one achieves only by identifying exclusively with an imagined Swedish nationality.

Larsson writes:

Björn Söder, who’s one of the leading Sweden Democrats (but not its leader), makes a distinction between citizenship and nationality. He said that Jews, Kurds, Laplanders and other minorities can hold Swedish citizenship without belonging to the Swedish “nation”. His belief is that you can hold several citizenships but only belong to one nation (e.g. Swedish, Jewish, Arab, Kurdish). Hence, if an immigrant wishes to adopt Swedish nationality he must abandon his other nationality/-ies. The problem, he argues, is when there are too many nations in one country; he says it’s preferable if the country’s geographical boundaries are in conjunction with the spread of the main group’s members.

You will, of course, note the similarity with how things work in Israel: one may be a citizen of the Jewish state without being of Jewish nationality (le’om). So the Jewish community leader mentioned in the Guardian article will condemn Söder for his statement but would adamantly defend Israel even though it has actually implemented this very distinction between nationality and citizenship (likely one of the reasons why Söder supports Israel). I say “would” because no journalist would ever ask her about it, probably because they don’t understand the situation in Israel.

In response to my post, Moshe Machover, an Israeli philosopher teaching at London University, makes a similar point more bluntly:

Note that the far-right Swedish politician not only admires Israel, but implicitly concurs with Israel’s leaders who claim that Israel is the nation state of all Jews. It would follow that Israel, not Sweden, is the nation state of Swedish Jews.

- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-12-18/israel-and-europes-shared-anti-semitism/#sthash.Om68Py8r.dpuf