Friday, March 31, 2017

J Street attends rightwing anti-BDS summit– and gets called ‘anti-Semitic’

from mondoweiss
US Politics Philip Weiss on March 30, 2017 9 Comments

In an era of polarization, there is very little middle ground; and yesterday the liberal Zionist group J Street offered an object lesson about this reality. Early yesterday morning the group’s student arm, J Street U, proudly tweeted that they would be attending a global summit against BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign aimed at Israel) at the United Nations that day.

To be sure, J Street opposes the Israeli occupation and the Israeli rightwing government. The students were affixing their own special message to their chests:

J Street U attends anti-BDS event at United Nations

They were certainly taking a risk. The sponsors of the summit were rightwing pro-Israel groups who love the occupation. They included the feverish groups StandWithUs, the Zionist Organization of America, Camera, the Israel Project, and ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice).

Ambassadors Against BDS sponsors included many rightwing groups

And sure enough, yesterday afternoon, when J Street reps said they were against the occupation, South Carolina State Rep. Alan Clemmons, a longtime opponent of BDS, called out from the stage, “You’re anti-Semitic.”

This accusation elicited a stream of protest from J Street U and its parent organization. The head of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, called the treatment of the student group “shocking“. He writes today:

Every day, estab Jew ldrs tell me J Street shd do more re BDS. When @jstreetu attends UN Summit, gets called anti Semitic, where’s estab?

And he points out the sorry political company:

Seems @RepAlanClemmons who called @jstreetu “anti-Semitic” at UN claim to fame is limiting voting in SC. He’s Jewish estab choice as ally?

Brooke Davies of J Street U wrote a post for J Street with the title that the summit empowered “fringe voices,” calling on Hillel and the Jewish Federations and other sponsors of the summit to “condemn the smear of J Street and J Street U.” She said why she went:

I was part of a delegation of J Street U student leaders who attended today’s anti-BDS Summit at the United Nations to engage with fellow pro-Israel advocates and to talk about effective strategies for countering the Global BDS Movement…

While we appreciated many of the perspectives that were shared at the summit, we were alarmed to see a platform given to a Republican state legislator who leveled a hateful attack on J Street, accusing J Street U’s pro-Israel, pro-peace students like us of supporting an “anti-Semitic” organization. At the same time, we were alarmed to see other speakers with long records of hateful rhetoric directed at Palestinians, Muslims and liberal American Jews given prominent roles at the summit.

These voices from the political fringes are the worst possible “Ambassadors Against BDS,” virtually guaranteed to alienate anyone with progressive values or real concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

The only result of such an approach will be more and more young people giving up on Israel’s future.

What is fascinating to me is that if you watch the webcast of the morning plenary yesterday– hours before J Street was smeared to such outrage– Arab human rights leaders were smeared (as Davies acknowledges).

Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, calls Rima Khalaf an “anti-Semite.” Khalaf is a a former minister in the Jordanian government, and former head of a UN agency who resigned after submitting a report documenting an Israeli “apartheid regime.”

The great human rights activist Bassem Tamimi of Nabi Saleh, was denounced by Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ as a “terrorist” who encourages his children to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers.

Tamimi lives in a village whose lands and spring have been stolen by a Jewish settlement, Halamish. Tamimi is the hero of the wonderful new book on the Palestinian resistance to occupation, The Way to the Spring, by Ben Ehrenreich. Tamimi has toured the U.S. as a guest of Jewish Voice for Peace and Amnesty International. From JVP’s report:

Mr. Tamimi, who has been recognized as a human rights defender by the European Union in 2011, and declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in 2012…

He relayed that despite everything he has endured – prison, paralysis, deaths of family members, and continuing brutal occupation – he believes and teaches his children that all people must love each other in order to bring about a world where there is peace and safety for all people.

In short, Tamimi is a John Lewis of the nonviolent resistance movement to occupation in Palestine. J Street’s friends are calling him a terrorist. Is this really the side they want to be on?

J Streets wants to fight BDS its own way. But this is what it means to fight BDS these days: going to an event with CAMERA and the Israel Project and Nikki Haley, heroine of AIPAC. Who else will they find for their coalition? Jeremy Ben-Ami warns the anti-BDS folks that if they don’t acknowledge the occupation, they’re going to lose. But those groups have defiantly made their choice on that question, and so has the Israeli government.

We have been saying that the polarization of the discourse in the Trump era has put the crunch on liberal Zionists. The rightwing Israeli government is more committed to the settlement project than ever, the 50th anniversary of the occupation is upon us, the U.S. government is only encouraging Israel; and meantime the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aimed at Israel has been gaining strength; and Israeli leaders are crying out against it. There is less and less middle ground. There is a feeling that you’re either with Israel or against it.

P.S. I must say I was encouraged watching the Webcast. Advertised as Ambassadors against BDS, there were only two ambassadors there, Nikki Haley and Danon, and the whole event had a Soviet Politburo officialese alternative-fact feeling to it. We are alienated from world opinion but we’re gonna just keep carrying on. I imagine events in South Africa and the Jim Crow South had a similar atmosphere.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

BDS co-founder: Israel’s arrest and interrogation of Omar Barghouti next step in ‘war against BDS movement’

from mondoweiss

(Image: Carlos Latuff)

Palestinian society has condemned Israel’s arrest and interrogation of Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the next step in Israel’s fight against the BDS movement as a whole.

Israel arrested Barghouti on Sunday, raided his family home in Acre, Israel, held him for 16 hours and released him — however the BDS co-founder has been subjected to daily interrogations with Israeli authorities since then, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Israeli tax authorities are accusing Barghouti of tax evasion on the sum of $700,000 in alleged hidden income from National Computing Resources, a business he heads in Ramallah, which sells ATM machines and other equipment in the occupied West Bank, as well as income from his book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights and money he received as speaking fees for speeches.

The BNC on Wednesday released a statement challenging the charges.

“Omar Barghouti, has for years been subjected to intense threats, intimidation and repression by various arms of the far-right Israeli government, particularly after it considered the movement a ‘strategic threat’ to its entire system of injustice against Palestinians,” the movement said in a statement.

In March 2016, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Dery threatened to revoke Barghouti residency in Israel. Barghouti, born in Qatar, gained permanent residency through marriage to his wife, a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

“I received information that his life is in Ramallah and he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner,” Israeli Daily Haaretz quoted Dery as saying.

“He was given rights similar to those of a citizen and he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world,” said Dery.

During the same conference, Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence, meaning to tarnish one’s reputation and character among civil society.

The Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information, Gilad Erdan, also described BDS activists and leaders as threats and called for them to “pay the price” for their work, which he clarified did not mean “physical harm.”

A month later, Amnesty International released a statement, calling on Israel to “cease intimidation of human rights defenders and protect them from attacks.”

“Amnesty International is concerned for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti and other [BDS] activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers,” the report read.

“Barghouti is a founding member and a prominent spokesperson of the BDS movement. He campaigns to hold Israel accountable for human rights and other international law violations and advocates for the use of non-violent means in doing so. He was personally attacked in comments and statements by conference participants including ministers, including by describing him as a threat who should be stopped,” the report continued.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Knesset passed a controversial law barring BDS activists from entering the country. The law banned people who call for BDS against Israel, as well as its settlements.

A fellow co-founder of the Palestinian BDS movement, Adnan Ramadan, told Mondoweiss that Barghouti’s arrest and interrogation was just another step in Israel’s strategy against the BDS movement.

“All of this tax evasion business is just an excuse to pressure the BDS movement as a whole, Ramadan said. “In general, it’s part of their war against the campaign, but it won’t work. They can arrest whoever they want, they can do more than that, but that won’t prevent people from continuing to use BDS as a tool in the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”

“This kind of targeting won’t work simply because the BDS campaign isn’t one person or two people or ten people, it’s an organized movement of hundreds of thousands of people, if not more than that, who feel strongly about their fight against the occupation and feel strongly about their motivations in resistance,” Adnan continued.

Adnan stressed that this move against Barghouti is not the first time Israel has targeted particular BDS activists for their work.

“They have been arresting people since the beginning, and it’s all to pressure the people, but the people won’t be silent,” he said. “Palestinians have been resisting for more than 60 years, Israel can kill people, they can assassinate and detain leaders, but it won’t and can’t stop the struggle. All they are doing is holding the body of someone inside a wall, but they can’t hold ideas, or souls of people who believe in the importance of their role of humanity against occupation and injustice.”

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About Sheren Khalel
Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.
Other posts by Sheren Khalel.
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rachel Maddow Just Kicked The Gaslighting Campaign Against Berners Into Fifth Gear

Caitlin Johnstone
23 Mar 2017 16,002 views

#Politics #RachelMaddow #BernieSanders #BernieOrBust #Berniecrats #Gaslighting

I’m noticing a pattern here. It goes like this: First, some pro-establishment corporate media outlet publishes an unsubstantiated claim featuring a headline that is designed to make that unsubstantiated claim sound factual. The claim gets some traction but isn’t picked up by other mainstream outlets that want to preserve their appearance of journalistic integrity. Second, Rachel Maddow picks up the fact-free story, reports it as fact, and then proceeds to jack those unfounded claims as far out into the stratosphere as she can throw them, far beyond the original baseless claims' wildest ambitions. Third, once Maddow has reported the false claim as fact, it is absorbed as doctrine by the rest of the mainstream media, who now feel comfortable reporting on the claim as though it is something factual and not a complete fabrication, and before long you’ve got Democratic leaders regurgitating the establishment lies on national television.

We saw this pattern reemerge recently with Maddow putting a massive spin on an unsubstantiated Buzzfeed article featuring the completely groundless claim that WikiLeaks selectively curated its DNC leaks in a way to make the DNC look bad, and now we’ve got people like former DNC head Donna Brazile going around repeating the claim as though it has some basis in reality. We saw it again when Maddow spun the hell out of an already heavily-spun article by the CIA-funded Washington Post claiming the Trump camp “gutted” the GOP’s position on protecting Ukraine from Russia, when in reality the change made to the Republican platform regarding Ukraine was actually more aggressive in its language than its predecessor and expanded possible actions to be taken against Russia beyond merely arming the Ukrainian military. It was a complete fabrication by WaPo and Maddow, but Congressman Adam Schiff even repeated the claim as though it was factual in his statement at Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing. Schiff also made use of Christopher Steele’s embarrassingly error-riddled and uncorroborated Pissgate dossier in his statement, which Maddow has been telling her viewers provides evidence that Trump was blackmailed into pushing for the entirely fictional gutting of the GOP’s anti-Russia platform.

And now she appears to be ramping things up again, this time using a porous Huffington Post story built on nothing but anecdotal evidence which I won’t spend any time on because it’s already been thoroughly debunked here by progressive powerhouse Michael Sainato. According to Maddow’s delusional tirade, online communities for Bernie Sanders supporters were inundated with anti-Hillary fake news articles from places like Macedonia and Albania, which she says “turned social media into brainless anti-Clinton mush during the campaign.” Maddow argues that this "information warfare" from Russia deliberately hurt public opinion of Hillary Clinton, the implication being, of course, that it couldn't possibly have been because Clinton was a corrupt warmongering ghoul queen with no redeeming characteristics.

Employing her trademarked Gish Gallop fallacious argument tactic, Maddow then snowed her viewers with another completely separate report about the Russian government using bots (which she horrifyingly labeled “international warfare against our country") to circulate articles from Infowars, Breitbart, RT and Sputnik, without ever explaining how that in any way relates to the troll-circulated Macedonian clickbait referenced in the other article. Maddow uses this tactic constantly, by the way, overwhelming her viewers with rapid-fire arguments that are weak in themselves, but strung together with an authoritative tone and generous lashings of her famous Resting Smug Face to confuse the viewer into thinking they just listened to a persuasive case. That’s why you encounter so many people online who are extremely confident about the evidence for Russiagate, for example, but when questioned, they even seem to surprise themselves with their inability to articulate a solid line of thought to clearly back up that initial surge of confidence with facts.

Since Maddow’s spin on the HuffPo article is premised entirely on anecdotal evidence, I can counter with anecdotal evidence of my own. I was deeply involved in the Bernie groups on Facebook, and while I remember there being an abundance of clickbait articles, the majority of them were not fake news stories about Hillary Clinton. I remember seeing the clickbait pieces on Clinton having a body double after she collapsed at the 9/11 memorial, but I also remember seeing tons of clickbait with headlines promising readers that there was a way Bernie Sanders could still become president long after that door had closed, only to bombard them with ads for dick pills and toe fungus cures once they clicked. Most of the Macedonian clickbait that was designed to target Bernie Sanders supporters was, believe it or not, about Bernie Sanders. There were some about Trump and some about Clinton, but the Bernie ones enjoyed the widest circulation.

Gaslighting is a textbook tactic utilized by abusers all over the world in which the victim is convinced over time that they are unable to trust their own interpretation of reality due to some mental deficiency. If an abuser can convince his wife that she is misremembering and misinterpreting events, for example, he can get away with doing anything he wants to her and she’ll wind up not only staying, but apologizing for things she doesn’t remember ever doing. This is what is happening when Sanders supporters, after being used like toilet paper by the political establishment throughout the entire presidential election cycle, are told by a multimillionaire establishment pundit that the disdain they feel for the candidate who was illicitly forced upon them is just something fake that they were deceived into feeling.

How great will it be for the Democratic establishment if they can pull this one off, though? If they can convince rank-and-file Democrats that they didn’t just run an unbelievably incompetent campaign using a historically despised candidate they illicitly installed as their nominee, but rather acted perfectly only to be thwarted by the hypnotic allure of Russian propaganda? How much of a boon would it be to the Democratic party if they can convince their disenfranchised progressive base that their experience of being lied to, cheated, exploited and used by the party and its loyalists really was just the “brainless anti-Clinton mush” that Rachel Maddow says it was? They’d never have to change. Never have to risk losing any of their cozy power positions to progressive newcomers or displeasing their corporatist donors with a shift to the left on economic justice. Everything could go right back to how it was before that annoying Sanders character came along and rocked the boat.

What’s infuriating is that we know from the emails that Hillary Clinton had virtually every mainstream media outlet at her beck and call. Podesta and his team were so confident of their maestro-like orchestration of the media they would casually note that they would “tell the press” to do their bidding. It was nothing for them to call in this journalist, give them an angle on a story and have them write it up, and then the journalist would check back with them before even giving it to their editor. Hillary Clinton’s team played the media like a cathedral organ, hitting whatever note they liked, whenever it suited them. They treated the media like it was Hillary’s own public relations team. That’s not a Maddow fact; that’s a real fact, documented in the emails.

For Maddow to turn that around and now say that all of that power was nothing in the face of some Macedonian clickbait belting around the internet clogging up people’s screens with pop-ups, well… that’s a stretch even Jake the Dog would shy from.

Sanders appealed because he spoke from his gut like a real human about real things that real people wanted. Hillary’s undoing was her sheer lack of policy, personality, integrity and humanity. Every tweet sounded like it was created by a team of thirty-something bespectacled and bearded hipsters, because it was. Every speech sounded empty of meaning and devoid of policy, because it was. Every appearance felt contrived, every spontaneous photo opportunity looked staged, every question asked from every audience member looked as phony as a Dance Moms’ group hug, because it was. And it all culminated in that ghastly Hunger Games-esque convention where half the audience of delegates were drowned out by white noise machines and hidden by large security guys holding Hillary signs while those on stage pulled every tragedy-vulture trick in the book to wring Munchausen levels of emotion out of every labored civil rights sequence.

And none of that had anything to do with Macedonian clickbait. We hated Hillary because she fucking sucked.

Opinion: A Light Unto The Nations How right-wingers in West wish they could shut their states to citizens of Muslim countries and suspect anyone who has an Arabic last name – like Israel is doing.

from Haaretz

Gideon Levy Mar 23, 2017 1:16 AM

In Israel, a dead Arab evokes just one big yawn

Israel has resumed its biblical role as a light unto the nations in recent years. To increasingly larger groups in the West it is a source of inspiration and a subject of imitation. Israel is the model, the forerunner, the pillar of fire, the lighthouse. It is also the defensive shield. When the world charges to the right, Israel once again shines brightly, like in those beautiful days of pony tails, the kibbutz and the Six-Day War.
When the world wages war on the Muslims, it remembers that Israel was there first, the vanguard of the sons of light in their war on the sons of darkness. When they talk about the ways to fight them, Israel is the most tried and tested training field. When they talk about the influence of Donald Trump’s election on the Israeli right, we should also pay attention to the opposite, much more significant influence – how Israel has become the legitimacy source for the American radical right.
Dutch far-right Party of Freedom leader Geert Wilders came to Israel 40 times. He also lived here for two years. What exactly did he see in it? A source of inspiration for his racial doctrine and a shelter to launder his views. “Nowhere in the world do I feel that feeling of friendship like in Ben-Gurion Airport,” he once said. What more can we ask? Just like its predecessor, South Africa, which the West saw as its front outpost against the savages and the Communists, Israel is now seen as the West’s front outpost in its war on the Islamic darkness.

“Thanks to parents in Israel, who send their children to the army and don’t sleep at night, the parents in Europe and the United States can sleep peacefully,” said Wilders, the Israel enthusiast.
Indeed, Israel started all this. It was the first to identify the Arab menace and wage war on it. It brought back colonialism. The right will not forget that. It built the separation fences and walls, realizing the global right’s dreams. If only they could surround Europe with a wall like in the West Bank, if only they could build a fence on the Mexico border, like the one on the Egyptian border. Israel has proved it’s possible. It has proved that a country can be both a democracy and apartheid – something the global right is dreaming of.
Israel has proved that it’s OK to flout international law and exist without the High Court of Justice and human rights groups. Trump would swell with pleasure. Wilders’ eyes would glitter to see the routine executions of girls with scissors and boys throwing stones in the West Bank. They can only envy their friends from Israel.

They can only envy the Israelis, who are not ashamed to hold millions of Arabs as subjects without rights for 50 years and still be part of the enlightened world; to legitimize every abomination under cover of “the war on terror.” How the rightists in the West wish they could close their countries to all the asylum-seekers and not recognize anyone as a refugee, as Israel does. How they would love to thumb their noses at international conventions and international institutions’ resolutions – it’s so 2017. How they wish they could shut their states to citizens of Muslim countries and suspect anyone who has an Arabic last name – like Israel is doing; to hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners, most of them political prisoners, some of them without trial.
From Marine Le Pen to the far-right “Sweden Democrats,” they would all want to implement that in their countries.
Israel was the one that started all this, and now the West is imitating it – they’re already banning computers on flights from Muslim states and you can feel the Israeli inspiration in the air. Not only drip irrigation has Israel contributed to the world, but profiling, too. Not only cherry tomatoes, but detention without trial.
It has shown the world how to incite against minorities – and the Wilders were impressed and amazed. It is showing how to fight critics, human rights NGOs, the media and the courts – a model Le Pen would gladly adopt. It is demonstrating theocracy in the West – and the evangelists in America are full of admiration.
Please show a hand of applause the old-new chosen people; please welcome Israel.

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How Zapatistas Will Help Trump Victims with 'Fuck You' Coffee

from Truthdig
Published 18 March 2017

“Always remember that we must resist, we must rebel, we must fight and we must organize."
Mexico’s Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN, announced Saturday that it will begin selling organic coffee from Chiapas in order to help migrants persecuted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Zapatistas Demand 'Grassroots Resistance' Against Trump's Walls

Working alongside allied international distributors, the EZLN will use coffee sale funds to provide financial assistance to U.S. deportees in Mexico. They will also use funds to support pro-immigrant resistance groups around the world protesting anti-immigrant governments.

The project is part of the group’s “Global Campaign Against the Walls of Capital,” which calls for worldwide immigrant solidarity against detentions and deportations.

“It's 100 percent Zapatista coffee, cultivated in Zapatista lands by Zapatista hands,” EZLN insurgent subcommanders Moises and Galeano wrote in a statement.

“We hope that with this support they will be able to initiate work of support for all persecutions and discriminations of the world.”

The EZLN insurgent subcommanders signed their statement with the words “fuck Trump.”

Since Trump’s election, the radical Mexican group has worked with its international support group, the Sixth Commission, to “support the resistance and rebellion of those who are persecuted.” This includes calling for boycotts of pro-Trump commercial and media organizations while providing free legal assistance to those in need.

The Zapatistas Are Building The World We Ask For

The EZLN has also announced plans to present an Indigenous female candidate in Mexico’s 2018 election. Their proposed candidate, who has yet to be named, is described as someone who will “call for Trump’s wall to be torn down.”

Despite the EZLN’s participation in fundraising and electoral politics, the group continues to advocate for mass civil resistance as its primary form of struggle.

“Always remember that we must resist, we must rebel, we must fight and we must organize,” Moises and Galeano also wrote in the statement.

“We must fight for those people who today are persecuted simply for having a certain skin color, culture, belief, origin, history and life.”

The EZLN, inspired by Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, became active in 1994 after Mexico joined the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then, the group has declared war against the Mexican government and its allied multinational corporations.


This article originally claimed the Zapatistas were founded in 1994. The group were actually founded in the early 1980s, but became public much later, on Jan. 1, 1994, when NAFTA officially came into force.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry, RIP a greater man than any president I can think of

The Splitting Up of the Democratic Party: Why It's Probably Coming Sooner Than You Think

OpEdNews 3/15/2017 at 15:27:41

By Ted Rall

Before the election, some pundits were predicting that a Trump defeat would cause the Republican Party to split into at least two discrete new parties -- one representing the old GOP's business establishment, the other for the populist firebrands of the Tea Party. As the fight over gutting Obamacare reveals, those factions are in an uncomfortable marriage. But a full-fledged rupture doesn't appear imminent.

A bigger story, one the corporate political writers aren't focused on, is on the left. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Democratic Party split in two.

In my imagined scenario, the liberal Democratic base currently represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren file for divorce from the party's center-right corporatist leadership caste. What next? Led by Sanders/Warren or not (probably not), prepare to see a major new "third" party close to or equal in size to a rump Democratic one.

I even have a name for this new 99%er-focused entity: the New Progressive Party, or simply the Progressive Party. Since this is ahistorical America, no one remembers the Bull Moosers.

Today's Democratic Party is evenly divided between the Bernie Sanders progressives who focus on class issues and the Hillary Clinton urban liberals who care more about identity politics (gender, race, sexual orientation and so on).

In the short run, a Democratic-Progressive schism would benefit the GOP. In a three-way national contest I guesstimate that Republicans could count on the roughly 45% of the electorate who still approve of Trump after two months of hard-right rule. That leaves the new Progressives and the old Democrats with roughly 27.5% each -- hardly a positive outlook for the left in the first few post-schism elections.

But as the cereal box warning goes, some settling may -- in this case will -- occur...and sooner than you'd think.

First, some "Republicans" in the Trump coalition -- those Obama and Sanders voters who switched to Trump -- will migrate left, attracted to a Progressive left-nationalist economic message that puts working-class Americans first minus the racism and nativism of the anti-NAFTA Trump right. Doesn't feel like it this second, but bigotry is finding fewer adherents.

Second, demographic trends favor any left-of-the-Democrats party. Slightly more than half of Americans age 18 to 29 oppose capitalism in its current form. Some Millennials will move right over time, John Adams style -- but most will not, mainly because the capitalist economy isn't likely to reward them with better-paying jobs as they age. A strong Progressive Party -- and 27.5% of the vote is strong, guaranteeing access all the way down the ballot to minor races and a spot on the national presidential debate stage -- would be the natural home for America's long-disenfranchised political left.

Third, the Progressives would attract sustained media attention. Excitement generates enthusiasm.

Finally, it isn't a stretch to imagine that some mainstream Republicans disgusted by a Trump/Tea Party-dominated Republican Party might scoot over to the old Democrats -- whose current politics are Republican Party circa 1980, so it's not like it would be an uncomfortable fit -- adding to their numbers.

Granted, this is all very back of the envelope. But my instincts tell me we'll probably wind up with three surprisingly evenly matched parties before too long.

To be clear, a Democratic split isn't inevitable. It may not even be more likely than not, not in the next few years anyway. But 10 or 20 years out? The further you extend the timeline, I'd bet a tidy sum that the left will finally hear what the Democratic Party leadership has been telling them for half a century -- we don't need you, we don't owe you, we won't do anything for you -- and walk.

Why am I so convinced that today's Dems will go the way of the Whigs?

Still controlled by center-right Clintonistas, the Democratic National Committee continues to snub progressives and leftists despite the fact that Bernie could have beaten Trump.

Throughout the campaign, polls showed Bernie would outperform Hillary in the fall. Still, the DNC cheated on her behalf. And they sleazily lined up the superdelegates for her.

She never considered him for veep. She didn't even promise to appoint him to the cabinet. Big mistake.

She didn't adopt any of his signature platform planks.

After the debacle Democratic leaders blamed everyone but themselves: WikiLeaks, Russia, the FBI, the media, even Bernie voters. They didn't think they did anything wrong.

In the race for DNC chair and thus for the soul of the party, they picked the establishment choice over the progressive.

If you're a Bernie Sanders Democrat, you have to be a complete idiot to believe that the Democratic Party has learned the lesson of 2016: lean left or go home. Even after it became clear that Trump was putting together the most right-wing administration in American history, Democrats were still voting in favor of Republican appointees.

I can't predict how the great split-up of the former Democratic Party will play out. But given the escalating rage of the party's progressive base in the Age of Trump and the absolute refusal of the DNC leadership to grant them concessions, it's hard to imagine this restive crowd staying calm and keeping Democratic.

The tsunami is coming. Lefties have a choice: get washed away, or grab a surfboard.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

US and Israeli Codependent Relationship is Not Just about Money

from Palestine Chronicle

By Ramzy Baroud
"We must look back twenty-five years to realize how far Israel has fallen in world support," wrote famed Jewish scholar, Harvard sociologist, Nathan Glazer in 1976.
In the last forty years since Glazer wrote his piece, which was uncovered and transmitted by Philip Weiss, Israel's global support has fallen much further. The country that once appealed to both United States' capitalism and the Soviet Union's socialism is now militarily powerful but, otherwise, politically isolated on the international stage.
The misleading perception that Israel is a 'beacon of light' among nations has worn off. Worse, the last time this phrase was uttered at an international level, it was made by Geert Wilders, a Dutch populist right-wing politician perceived by many to be a racist and an Islamophobe.
Yet, the more isolated Israel became, the more its dependency on the United States grew.
"Supporting Israel is not in America's interests," Weiss wrote. "In fact, Israel is a strategic liability for the US. That makes American Jewish influence the ultimate pillar of Israel's survival."
Although Zionists often speak of a historical bond between the US and the Jewish people, nothing could be further from the truth.
On May 13, 1939, a boat carrying hundreds of German Jews was not allowed to reach American shores and was eventually sent back to Europe.
That was not a foreign policy fluke. Three months earlier, in February 1939, members of Congress rejected a bill that would allow 20,000 German Jewish children to come to the US to escape the war and possible extermination at the hands of the Nazis.
Not only did Congress shoot it down but the public had no interest in the matter either, as allowing Jews into the US was quite unpopular at the time.
Fast forward nearly eight decades, things have changed in name only.
While most American Jews continue to support Israel, they are opposed to the administration of Donald Trump, which they rightly perceive to be dangerous and hostile to all minorities, Jewish included.
However, Israel does not seem to have much qualms with the new administration. On the contrary, the most ardent Israeli Zionists are particularly pleased by Trump's clique of reviled politicians.
Mere days after Trump won the US Presidential election, American Zionists moved quickly to ensure Israeli interests were fully guarded by the new administration.
The Zionist Organization of America wasted no time, either, by fraternizing with individuals accused of having anti-Jewish agendas. ZOA's annual gala on November 20 hosted none other than Steve Bannon, a leader in the so-called 'alt-right', otherwise known as white supremacy in the US.
Under his leadership, Breitbart, seen as a major platform for the alt-right, fueled anti-Semitism (needless to say, racism of all shades), argued Alex Amend and Jonathan Morgan in AlterNet.
Watching top Israeli officials and leaders of the Jewish community in the United States hosting - ever so enthusiastically - Bannon at ZOA's annual gala appeared perplexing to some.
But Bannon's ties with Zionists go back to well before the rather surprising Trump election victory.
In an article entitled: "Steve Bannon's web of weirdness: Meet the bizarre billionaires behind the president-elect's chief strategist," Heather Digby Patron named a few of these 'bizarre billionaires'.
They included, Sheldon Adelson, a right-wing billionaire with a gambling empire, who is 'singularly focused on the state of Israel.'
Adelson's relationship with Bannon (and Trump) has well preceded Trump's victory, and seemed to take little notice of the fact that Bannon and his ilk were viewed by many American Jews as frightening, racist, anti-Semites with a menacing agenda.
Adelson, however, cares little for the true racists. His obsession to shield Israel's militant Zionist agenda trumped all other seemingly little irritants.
But the gambling mogul is not the exception among powerful Zionists in the US, and, despite official Israeli rhetoric, Israel does not make political decisions based on the collective good of the Jewish people.
Writing in 'Mondoweiss', the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network explained: "From Russian Tzars to the Nazis to Mussolini to the colonial British Empire to the Christian Right - Christian Zionists; (The Zionists') embracing of Trump and renowned reactionary political strategist, Steve Bannon, is no exception."
Israeli commentator Gideon Levy agrees.
In an article published by 'Haaretz' on November 21, Levy wrote, "When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the Occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists."
Thus, it is no surprise that Adelson is funding a massively rich campaign and lavish conferences to combat the influence of the civil society-powered Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), while plotting against Palestinians using the same American elements that consider the word 'Jew' a swear word in their own social lexicon.
By putting Israel and Zionism first, these rich individuals, powerful lobby groups, hundreds of think- tanks, thousands of networks across the country and their allies among the religious right, are now the main wheelers and dealers in any matter concerning US foreign policy in the Middle East and Israel's political and security interests.
With no empirical evidence, however, Israel still insists on linking American interests to US support of Israel.
Speaking in the White House on February 15 at a joint press conference with President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cordially thanked Trump for his hospitality, then uttered these words: "Israel has no better ally than the United States. And I want to assure you, the United States has no better ally than Israel."
But it was only half true. The US has indeed been a stalwart supporter of Israel, offering it over $3.1 billion in financial assistance each year over the last a few decades, an amount that dramatically increased under President Barack Obama to $3.8 billion. Coupled with hundreds of millions more in all kinds of financial, military assistance and 'loans' that were mostly unaccounted for.
The cost of Israel is not only financial, but strategic as well.
Since World War II, the US has vied to achieve two main foreign policy objectives in that part of the world: control the region and its resources and prop up its allies, while maintaining a degree of 'stability' so that the US is able to conduct its business unhindered.
Nevertheless, Israel remained on the war path. Wars that Israel could not fight on its own, required American intervention on Israel's behalf as was the case in Iraq. The outcome was disastrous for US foreign policy. Even hardened military men began to notice the destructive path their country had chosen in order to defend Israel.
In March 2010, General David Petraeus, then Head of the US Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a testimony that Israel had become a liability for the US and that it has become a challenge to the 'security and stability', which his country aimed to achieve.
Although recent polls have shown that younger Americans - especially among Democratic party supporters and young Jewish Americans - are losing their enthusiasm for Israel and its Zionist ideology - the battle for the US to reclaim its foreign policy and a sense of morality regarding Palestine and the Middle East is likely to be long and arduous.
- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include "Searching Jenin", "The Second Palestinian Intifada" and his latest "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story". His website is

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fake news about Venezuela: a simple recipe

07 Mar 2017 RICARDO VAZ

“Journalists” who want to write fake news about Venezuela, or about any other country or group that dares to stand up to US imperialism, only need to follow this simple recipe:

Choose one or more countries/groups opposed to US imperialism
If available, have a former official, now being paid by the US government, make the accusations
Season well with doses of “war on terror” and/or “war on drugs”
Sprinkle with opinions of “experts” who work in DC think tanks or US-funded NGOs

While this looks like a very unsavoury mix, the results last very long and can be reheated with no problems.

This recipe has been used and re-used plenty of times, either by US officials to justify policies or by media outlets. But given how the media critically accepts everything when it comes to foreign policy, there is hardly a distinction to be made here.

A classical example were the fabricated connections between Chávez/Venezuela and al-Qaeda . Other variants involve dealings with the FARC (1), Mexican cartels, and the favourite dance partner is Hezbollah. On one hand, the US’ relation with al-Qaeda is now a bit more complicated, as extremists may get bombed if they are in Iraq but supported if they cross into Syria. On the other, Hezbollah is the biggest obstacle to Israeli hegemony and the colonisation of Palestine. This kind of propaganda is reminiscent of the effort to fabricate connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Some outlets would even have us believe North Korea was supplying arms to Hamas!

The most recent story involves the newly-appointed vice-president, Tareck El Aissami, who is a perfect ingredient because of his Middle Eastern ancestry. Even though he was born and lived all his life in Venezuela, his parents are Druze immigrants from Lebanon. The storm started with a CNN “story” about the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq selling passports to dangerous people, including members of Hezbollah, who would then use them to attack the US or its allies. This operation was claimed to be directed by El Aissami. This story was directly quoted by Marco Rubio during a renewed push by US lawmakers for more sanctions against Venezuela. These came later from the Department of the Treasury, this time linking El Aissami to Mexican cartels. With a little more effort even the North Koreans might have been added to the party.

Tareck El Aissami with an incriminating Palestinian scarf

All in all, there are many things that do not add up. First of all there is the issue of Hezbollah plotting terror attacks the US, but we will not go into detail here. It suffices to say that the evidence of Hezbollah involvement in terror attacks abroad is, at best, very thin. Then there is the sectarian issue. Western media, at the behest of western allies in the Middle East, keep stirring up this supposedly grave Shia threat, with Iran and Hezbollah even conspiring to reshape demographics and create an all-Shia corridor in the Middle East. And yet their man in Venezuela is a Druze. Equally ludicrous are claims that there are Venezuelan training camps in Lebanon and vice-versa. Hezbollah’s main foe is right next door, but somehow it would need training camps halfway around the world! The links to the drug trade presented by the Treasury are equally flimsy, and were picked apart masterfully by Larissa Costas.

The “star witness” of CNN’s expose, Misael López, has since been revealed to be a close associate of Ana Argotti, who is in turn very close to Lilian Tintori and Leopoldo López, the hard-right politician jailed for his role in the violent activities during the 2014 guarimbas that resulted in over 40 deaths. Argotti has defended several members of the opposition charged with violent crimes during this period. As for Misael López, he is also under investigation for alleged sexual harassment and attempting to withdraw funds from the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad.

Elusive cartels and double standards

Another high-profile fake story, followed by sanctions, involved Diosdado Cabello, an important figure in the ruling PSUV and head of the National Assembly at the time. Based on the account of a former bodyguard turned star-witness, now living comfortably in the US, Cabello was accused of being the boss of the elusive Cartel de los Soles. This is supposedly a very important Latin American drug cartel run by the Venezuelan military. The problem is that, unlike the stories we hear of cartels violently making themselves known and marking territory, here we have a drug cartel run from the highest levels of the Venezuelan state operating without anyone really noticing it. It is like the Illuminati version of drug cartels.

Diosdado Cabello next to President Nicolás Maduro

Venezuela is often presented as an obstacle in the war on drugs, but the truth is that the main actor in the cocaine trade is neighbouring Colombia, the empire’s best friend and largest recipient of aid in the hemisphere. Any list of officials connected to the drug trade has to start with (former Colombian president) Álvaro Uribe if it is to be taken seriously. We are talking about the country where the para-politics scandal broke, revealing that dozens of elected officials had links to paramilitary groups, the heart and soul of the drug trade. And yet we never hear stories of Colombian politicians or military officials, who cooperate closely with the US military, being involved in illegal activities, nor have sanctions ever been imposed on them.

This double standard is only outrageous if we believe that the war on drugs is actually designed to eradicate the drug trade. Rather, it is supposed to manage it. In fact, drugs have been very useful for US agencies, for instance to pacify black communities and derail the black liberation movement in the 1970s. Coupled with draconian legislation and harsh sentences, today they serve to feed the very lucrative prison industry. In any case, large amounts of cocaine are consumed in the very place where the drug money is laundered – Wall Street. Even when a massive drug money laundering scheme is uncovered at a major US bank, a mild slap on the wrist and a fine worth a few days’ profit is all that can be expected.

Fake news as background

None of this is intended as an endorsement or an exoneration of El Aissami, Cabello, or anyone else. But these news and unproven accusations, as well as others targeting lower-profile officials such as Néstor Reverol, are not meant to prove anything or to lead to any judicial prosecution. They are simply thrown out there and blindly echoed by an uncritical media, they are meant to create background. From now on, whenever Tareck El Aissami appears in the news we will read that he has links to terrorism and the drug trade, and thus whatever he says or does will build on this background.

For the past two decades, Venezuela has been the biggest thorn in the US’ side, a real nuisance in Washington’s “backyard”, striving for an independent course (a “second independence”) and leading the efforts for a regional integration which is not subjected to the interests of the Northern empire. The US responded with its traditional regime-change operation, destabilising at every turn, funding opposition groups, imposing a de-facto financial blockade on Venezuela, even working to lower oil prices. Their natural allies, the Venezuelan elites, have also been outraged that the country they used to own has been taken away from them, and coup-plotting has become their way of life.

And therefore these fake news are pre-emptive justification for a future coup or foreign intervention. Should one of these take place, the media will be ready with plenty of hyperlinks to these fake stories that present Venezuela as a failed, rogue state, connected to terrorism and the drug trade. The coup/foreign intervention would then look like the benign empire saving the world from this threat.

What the empire, the local elites and the media keep underestimating is the power of the masses that were awakened by this project, chavismo, that for the first time sees them placed front and centre. There is now a political conscience, a firm belief that the people should write their own history, and it will take a lot more than fake stories from propaganda outlets to restore Venezuela’s former neo-colonial status. In the words of Chávez:

“Aquí nadie se rinde, carajo!”

(translation: "nobody surrenders here, ...carajo is an explective that could be translated many ways in English: "motherfucker," "SOB," or "asshole," or similar ways.
--my note R. Congress


(1) While the FARC have been involved in the drug trade, it has mostly been at the lowest levels of the chain, levying a tax on sales of coca crops. Associating them, and only them, to the Colombian drug trade, is incredibly dishonest and exonerates those who profit the most out of it.

Source: Investig’Action

- See more at:

Can Liberal Zionism Survive Israel’s New Travel Ban?

from The Nation

Israel’s new anti-BDS law is antagonizing some of the state’s most loyal supporters, rewriting a decades-old relationship.

By Mairav ZonszeinYESTERDAY 1:09 PM

Israel ramped up its fight against the global boycott movement last week, when the Knesset passed its own travel ban—a new law barring entry to any noncitizen or non–permanent resident who has publicly called for a boycott of Israel. While it has yet to be seen how the law will be implemented, the language applies broadly to any person, organization, or body that has called for a boycott of Israel in any public media or has “committed to participate in such a boycott.” Although the law appears primarily to be targeting foreign nationals who seek to enter the West Bank (which requires approval by Israeli border officials), it is likely to have the most direct effect on Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza who seek to enter Israel for a variety of personal and humanitarian reasons.

The law is essentially an extension of a 2011 anti-boycott law, which seeks to penalize Israelis who try to oppose the occupation by refusing to buy products made in the settlements or to attend cultural or academic events in the settlements. As with that law, this new one not only targets people who call for a boycott that applies to all of Israel but also to those who call for a boycott targeted solely at the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

By making no distinction between someone who opposes the post-1967 configuration of Israel and someone who challenges the framework of the state that was created in 1948, the Israeli government is lumping together progressive Zionists, non-Zionists, and anti-Zionists. Israel has itself been doing this for a long time internally by implementing policies that erase the Green Line and that discriminate against Palestinians regardless of whether they live in a Bedouin village inside Israel or a Palestinian village inside the West Bank, as well as by trying to limit the activities of Israeli human-rights activists. The difference with this law is that now Israel is turning this approach outward as part of its foreign policy.

How this new approach will play out politically—whether it will energize the BDS movement or scare off potential supporters—remains to be seen. But of one shift there is little doubt: The new law will necessarily redefine relations with diaspora Jews. By reconfiguring alliances based not on whether a person is Jewish but on whether a person is sufficiently “pro-Israel”—which Israel has made clear means being pro-settlement, pro-Occupation, and anti-Palestinian—Israel has indicated that it is no longer interested in the ingathering of Jews simply because they are Jewish. What matters is whether a person toes the government line, regardless of whether they are Jewish or not.

While the new law sent shock waves throughout the diaspora community, one group that has been particularly rattled are American liberals, and specifically American Jewish liberals. These are men and women who strongly oppose settlements and occupation while remaining loyal to the faded possibility of Israel as Jewish and democratic state; who have continued to promote the idea of a two-state solution with vigor even as Israel has undermined and renounced it. They are people who condemn the BDS movement, often stridently, even as some have come to advocate for a modified, settlement-based boycott. And they are people who time and again have gone to bat for Israel even as it has spat in their faces. In short, they are some of the most invested and engaged Israel supporters, true believers who grapple with it and are critical of it because they care. Now, with this law, Israel is pushing them into a corner where they must choose once and for all which side they are on: the side of universal values and human rights, or the side of Jewish nationalism, perennial military occupation, and inequality.

Already, leading American Jewish liberals have come out against the law, among them Peter Beinart, who publicly called for a boycott of settlements in 2012, and Letty Cotty Pogrebin, a veteran American Jewish leader and founder of Ms. magazine, who wrote in Haaretz, “If supporting a non-violent boycott of the settlements makes me an enemy of the Israeli state, so be it.” Meanwhile, over one hundred Jewish studies scholars, including “those who oppose the BDS movement, those who oppose BDS but support a settlement boycott, and those who support BDS,” have threatened to not visit Israel in protest, and have announced a petition opposing the law on grounds it is bad for Israel, bad for democracy, and bad for free speech. And several American Jewish organizations, including J Street and Americans for Peace Now, are sponsoring an open letter to Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, entitled “Democracies don’t punish dissent,” which advises that “it’s time for Israel to stop using political litmus tests.”

As new law threatens to upend these old relations, it’s worth recalling an earlier moment in Israeli and American Jewish history. After Israel was established, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion quickly pushed for American Jews to fulfill the Zionist mission and move to Israel. This idea, however, generated considerable consternation in some circles, particularly among some of the Jewish American leadership, who rejected the claim that American Jews were in exile and, wary of accusations of split loyalty, instead asserted their place firmly in the United States. As tension mounted, Ben-Gurion and Jacob Blaustein, the leader of the American Jewish Congress, which was then an unabashedly non-Zionist organization, engaged in 1950 in a series of exchanges known as the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein Agreement, in which Israel made clear it did not expect Jews to move to Israel, that “They owe no political allegiance to Israel.” Nonetheless, American Jews formulated a functional consensus of support for Israel from afar, eventually building a strong political and emotional allegiance that became known as being “pro-Israel.”

In some ways, this new anti-boycott law takes us back to that landmark moment and redefines the agreement by freeing American Jews of any expectations. Israel is sending the message that it in fact does not want or need American Jewish involvement if that involvement takes the form of pitched criticism or dissent, and that the cultural or historical connection is just not that important to them. Now that there is a robust pro-Israel base in the United States comprised of Islamophobic Republicans, messianic Christian Evangelicals, and right-wing Jews who unconditionally support Israel, the government no longer feels the need to deal with critical American liberal Jews.

Most Americans—not just Jewish ones—have over the decades supported Israel on the basis that it provided a safe haven for Jews following the centuries of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. But in practice, Israel’s policies of dispossession and discrimination have long overshadowed its raison d’être, creating increasing dissonance with American “pro-Israel” liberals. In the face of its diminishing legitimacy, Israel has gone on the offensive by attacking the legitimacy of criticism and dissent. It has been doing so for years by attempting to quash Palestinian nonviolent resistance and, more recently, by silencing Israeli human-rights activists and organizations. Now it is turning this policy outwards against its greatest allies abroad. It has made clear that being pro-Israel has nothing to do with being Jewish, or liberal, or supporting democratic values, human rights, or critical thinking. By trying to fend off criticism of its democratic infractions, it has doubled down its anti-democratic policies, declaring war on American liberals and, specifically when it comes to the Jewish community, turning Israel’s greatest allies into its greatest nemese

How Much of the Globe’s Humanitarian Crisis Is the United States’ Fault?

from Truthdig
Posted on Mar 12, 2017

By Juan Cole / Informed Comment

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned Saturday that the globe is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II.

2016 set post-war records in misery.

* More than 76 million persons from 31 countries needed assistance.

* More than 51 million persons were displaced (i.e. kicked out of their homes and made homeless). That is the highest number since WW II.

*There were more than 400 natural disasters in the most recent year for which there is a full count (2014)

* In these 400 disasters, 17,000 people died

* The disasters caused $82 billion in damages.

That’s in general. There were 6 “Level 3” emergencies in particular countries. Level 3 is the most severe category the UN has, implying large-scale humanitarian crises.

In 2016 the Level 3 emergencies were: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Philippines, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

What strikes me is how up to its neck the United States is in creating these crises.

Iraq’s death spiral was kicked off when George W. Bush invaded and occupied it under false pretenses. From 2003 to the present, Iraq has never had a chance to get back to normal. The US invasion led to 4 million people being displaced. Likely hundreds of thousands died.

Then the US is up to its neck in the Yemen War, wherein Washington supports the mad Saudi-led bombing raids on backward little Yemen. It helps the jet fighters refuel and the Pentagon even helps choose targets for the forces of the coalition, which is mostly led by Saudi Arabia.

The US has prolonged the Syrian Civil War by strongly backing, via the Saudis and Turkey, one side– the fundamentalist rebels. Half of the 22 million Syrians are displaced.

The US pushed for the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, but then appears, typically, to have done nothing about nation-building. Tribal feuds have riven the new country. In the old days, the Khartoum regime could at least intervene to broker a deal but now it is irrelevant and the US hasn’t substituted.

As for the Philippines, its crisis is because of unusually powerful typhoons, which are caused by the Pacific Ocean becoming warmer. The US, by putting billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, has created the possibility of climate change on steroids.

So at the very time when the Trump administration wants to turn its back on the world’s migrants, the globe’s worst crises have accelerated.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Steve Bannon’s Judeo-Christian ‘Camp of the Saints’

US Politics Jonathan Ofir on March 11, 2017

The Camp of the Saints, the novel Steve Bannon favors

“Everywhere, rivers of sperm, streaming over bodies, oozing between breasts, and buttocks, and thighs, and lips, and fingers.”

This is not a description of a hard-core porn-film. This is an excerpt from Jean Raspail’s 1973 French novel, “Camp of the Saints”.

The description is that of a fictional Indian ‘armada’ of 800,000 “wretched creatures” consisting of “scraggy branches, brown and black” with “fleshless Gandhi-arms”, who have come to take over France – that is white Europe – the ‘camp of the saints’.

The title is derived from St. John’s Revelation (20:9):

“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

Now get this: This rabidly racist novel is Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon’s model of perception.

Last week, the Huffington Post ran a piece, noting the numerous times (recorded in quote and audio) Bannon has referred to the white-supremacist cult favorite ‘Camp of the Saints’ as a model. It is noted that upon the novel’s release in the United States in 1975, the influential book review magazine Kirkus Reviews wrote:

“The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”

Since October 2015, Bannon is on record for numerous references to the novel:

“It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe” (October 2015).

“The whole thing in Europe is all about immigration. It’s a global issue today — this kind of global Camp of the Saints” (January 2016)

“It’s not a migration. It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.” (January 2016)

“When we first started talking about this a year ago, we called it the Camp of the Saints. … I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn’t it?” (April 2016)

I can’t help doing a pun, and calling this one Bannon’s “My Camp”.

The narrative is perfect for Bannon and the Alt-Right, in that it mocks the left-wing and humanistic liberals who welcome the refugees. They too are tramped upon by the careless, selfish and cultureless savages.

The implication of the Christian-white-supremacist notion in the term ‘camp of the saints’ is not merely a demonization of the non-European and non-white ‘others’, but also a parallel aggrandization and sanctification of ‘us’ – the white, the western, the Christian… But wait, something doesn’t quite fit. Bannon’s “Judeo-Christian” narrative.

Bannon has regularly invoked a Judeo-Christian identity. An exchange between Bannon and now Attorney-General Jeff Sessions from last year, goes:

Bannon: “Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian west to actually win this war?”

Sessions: “I’m worried about that….They’re eroding, regularly it seems to me, classical American values that are so critical to our success”.

Bannon gave a speech in 2014 at the Vatican. He said:

“If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian west struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. [….] They were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind”.

That should scare people, really it should – the notion of a fundamentalist ‘Judeo-Christian’ holy-war by the west, as a bulwark against a supposedly barbaric, uncivilized Islam.

But wait, where have we heard this before?

“For Europe, we would form part of a bulwark against Asia there [Palestine], we would serve as the advance post of civilization against barbarism.” – Theodore Herzl, Der Judenstaat.

Bannon’s racism is hardly worth discussing. But what about anti-Semitism? Could he be anti-Semitic even if he says ‘Judeo-Christian’? Ostensibly, the ‘Judeo-Christian’ narrative cancels that option out – I mean, Jews are in the ‘camp of saints’, right?

As Shane Burley noted in a coverage of the Alt-Right, when Richard Spencer was asked about the very essence of the Alt-Right, he answered it first with one word: Inequality. He then elaborated that the Alt Right was built on the truth that “all men were created unequal.”

Essentially then, for the Christian white supremacists, in the more liberal case, Jews could well be described as ‘separate but equal’.

Three months ago, when Spencer was challenged by Texas Hillel Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, the rabbi said:

“My tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion and love. Will you sit down and learn Torah with me, and learn love?”

Spencer left Rosenberg speechless when he answered him:

“Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel? And by that I mean radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East could go move in to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?”, Spencer said.

It was as if Spencer had stuck a knife straight into Rabbi Rosenberg’s Jewish-Zionist heart, and Rosenberg kept losing that debate, because he really couldn’t reconcile those values of ‘radical inclusion and love’ with his other pet – Zionism.

Spencer makes no secret of his appreciation for Jews, when they are exclusivist. “Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate,” Spencer went on. “That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future. It’s because you had a sense of yourselves. I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves.” This is why Spencer calls his white-supremacy a kind of “white-Zionism”.

Usage of Jews in order to rebuff allegations of anti-Semitism can reach an appalling degree, as when President Trump last month (February 15th) dodged a question regarding a wave of anti-Semitic incidents, by using his family as human shields. He was asked:

“Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic — anti- Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder, what do you say to those among the Jewish community in the states and in Israel and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?”

After dodging the question with a long boast of his electoral victory, Trump turned to dodge it using his family: his Jewish son-in-law (and advisor) Jared Kushner, as well as his ‘beautiful [Jewish] grandchildren’.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even backed him in that. He simply injected more schmaltz to aid Trump:

“If I can respond to something that I know from personal experience, I’ve known President Trump for many years, and to allude to him or to his people, his team, some of whom I’ve known for many years too — can I reveal, Jared, how long we’ve known you? … There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest.”

But Trump had never addressed the central question: the wave of anti-Semitic incidents. A day later (February 16th), a Jewish-Orthodox reporter made a sincere effort to clarify that this was NOT just personal to Trump:

“So, first of all, my name is Jake Turx. I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren — you are their zayde [granfather in Yiddish]. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven’t being heard addressed is how the government is planning to take care of it. There are reports that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to—”

But to no avail. Trump dodged it again, this time by attacking Turx for being a ‘liar’ (because the question wasn’t as ‘straight and simple’ as it was supposed to be, according to Trump), as well as attacking the ‘press’ as a whole.

“He said he was going to ask a easy question — okay sit down, I understand the rest of your question. So here’s the story folks, number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person. We did relatively well — quiet, quiet, quiet — see he lied about what was going to be a very straight simple question. I hate the charge. I find it repulsive, I hate even the question because people that know me and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him, Bibi, he said I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and said forget it so you should take that instead of getting up and asking a very insulting question like that. Just shows you about the press but that’s the way the press is.”

Thus, again, Trump uses ‘Bibi’s’ endorsement of him. If ‘Bibi’ said ‘forget it’, then everyone should forget it.

Former Anti-Defamation League chair Abraham Foxman is also running the same line about the anti-semitic incidents, as noted by The Forward last week:

“I’m telling them: ‘Cool it, cool it. But it’s very tough. People are very emotional.”

The Forward further notes that

“even though Foxman believes Trump empowered haters with his appeals to far right wing white nationalists, he does not think the president himself is a bigot. “He legitimized it, but he did not create it,” Foxman said. “Trump is not an anti-Semite.”

Oh boy. Read that sentence again: “He legitimized it, but he did not create it”. Neither did Foxman create Trump – but he just legitimized his empowering of far right wing nationalist haters.

Larry Solov, the Israeli-Jewish co-founder of Breitbart News, says in his own article that

“a lot of people don’t realize this but Breitbart News Network really got its start in Jerusalem”… “One night in Jerusalem, when we were getting ready for dinner, Andrew [Breitbart, ed.] turned to me and asked if I would de-partner from the 800-person law firm where I was practicing and become business partners with him. He said he needed my help to create a media company. He needed my help to “change the world.”

The cover photo for the article portrays what appears to be the founding group, with Netanyahu at the front.

The senior editor of Breitbart is Joel Pollak, an Orthodox Jew. Appearing a couple of weeks ago on the ABC program The View, Pollak was asked by Joy Behar to explain “the rise of anti-Semitism,”

Pollak framed the issue as an exclusively left-wing matter (which would conveniently conflate it with Palestinian solidarity and popular protests against Israel), saying:

“I’m really glad the media finally woke up to this phenomena. It started quite a long time ago, long before Donald Trump ran for president, particularly in California where I live, on college campuses, there’s been a rising tide of anti-Semitism linked to far left-wing criticism of Israel. It’s very tough to be a Jewish student on some of these campuses nowadays.”

Pollak did the same Jewish-human-shielding trick here:

“And I think that I feel very proud that Donald Trump not only is one of the most pro-Israel presidents that we’ve ever had, but his daughter Ivanka tonight will light the Sabbath candles just like my wife will, and bring in the Sabbath. To me, that is something extraordinary in America history”, he said.

Behar didn’t give up:

“But you know that phrase, one of my best friends is Jewish, it’s meaningless really. You can still be an anti-Semite and have Jewish relatives.”

Pollack, recovering from Behar’s near-knock-out, still tries to save his soul:

“I agree with you. When people say my friends are Jewish, it doesn’t cut it”.

Behar: “Or I have a black friend”.

Pollak: “But when your in-laws are Jewish, you have a little more credibility.”

Now isn’t that interesting? The ‘some of my best friends are Jewish’ thing doesn’t really cut it – but to be married in with Jews – that’s something. That gives credibility.

I think there’s something very central to be understood here:

The old-fashioned anti-Semitism from before Israel’s existence, has historically had a predominantly Christian-white constituency, which applied hate of Jews as a general religious-ethnic target. With the rise of Zionism, and particularly with the establishment of Israel, Zionists have found common cause with anti-Semites (even with Nazis), in the notion of an exclusivist nation-state (which would dovetail with anti-Semitic wishes to concentrate the Jews elsewhere as well as act against the notion of assimilation). With the growth of Israel’s military capacity, and particularly so from 1967, the Jewish State also proved as a military power asset (nuclear no less), serving as that “advance post of civilization against barbarism” as Herzl had envisioned. So the new white-supremacists have found a model that happened to be created by a certain stream of Jews – the ‘strong Jews’ of Zionism. And the advantage that this alliance creates is far more substantial in realpolitik terms for those power-seeking white-supremacists, than the redundant old anti-Semitism. Because the ‘new Jews’ (if to make analogy to 1930’s Europe) are now predominantly the Muslims.

We therefore need to make this shift in our notions. Many Jews are colluding with the most vile racists today, because although the ‘back yard’ of these racists is full of people who are more unabashed about hating Jews, the more savvy leaders manage to keep their front lawn ‘Jew friendly’, and this brings advantages to both sides. The ‘collateral’ of actual anti-Semitism, is carefully downplayed by Jews who see Zionism as a key element in their identity and ideology.

In the glorification of white supremacy and the ‘Judeo-Christian camp’, the Jews get to enjoy a ‘sainthood’ endowed upon them by Saint Bannon – they get to be in the ‘camp of the saints’, against those black and brown savages, whose resemblance of Gandhi is apparently beyond appalling, not only in the physical sense, but also in the ideological sense. Thus, the case is insidiously made, that left-wing ‘tolerance’ and ‘multi-culturalism’ is merely a naiveté, opening a gate to the destruction of the ‘camp’. The alignment of the administration of Trump and Bannon with Jews who seek Jewish exclusivity at the expense of Palestinians is thus no accident. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is a major fundraiser for the Jewish settlement of Beit El, which is built entirely on stolen Palestinian private property. Friedman is on record for considering the liberal Jewish-American J Street (which generally hold liberal-Zionist positions) as “far worse than kapos” (‘Kapos’ meaning prisoners of Nazis who were assigned as guards over other prisoners – the term is used colloquially to refer to Jews who have no loyalty to ‘their own’).

Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and White House Advisor Jared Kushner sits on the board of directors for the family Kushner Foundation, which for years has been funding rabidly violent settlements and radical religious settlement institutions, such as the radical Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar. This particular yeshiva was banned from funding in 2011 by the Israeli Government, as it has served as a base for launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinians villages and Israeli security forces, as well. The Yeshiva published the book Torat Hamelech in 2009, advocating that babies and children of Israel’s enemies may be killed since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”The Yitzhar rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur further opined in the book, that the prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’ applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew,”, and that non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks on them “curb their evil inclination”.

These are the Jews who serve as part of the administration, of which Steve Bannon is Chief Strategist. The ‘shared values’ here are not to be missed. They are all about a walling out of the “barbarians from the east”, who have come to defile the Camp of the Saints. It is not clear how long Jews will retain their noble status as ‘separate but equal’ under this ideological arrangement, but it would appear that as long as they can offer the ‘Christian Whites’ that “advance post of civilization against barbarism”, then all will be well for them – at least that’s what some seem to believe. Meanwhile, the other ‘saints’ can go a bit wild back in the ‘camp’. But let’s not make a fuss. “Cool it, Cool it”, says Abe Foxman.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Get Used to It, America: Brown People Are Here to Stay

from Truthdig
Posted on Mar 9, 2017

By Sonali Kolhatkar

Chief strategist Steve Bannon, right, looms large in Donald Trump’s White House. (Evan Vucci / AP)

There might be a new favorite novel among American conservatives these days. No, it’s not Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” which extolled the virtues of selfishness as a justification for free-market capitalism and once held pride of place on right-wing bookshelves. Rand’s book may well be displaced by one often referred to by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon: “The Camp of the Saints” written in 1973 by French writer Jean Raspail.

Raspail paints a vivid and terrifying picture of white Europeans being overrun by hordes of savage, brown-skinned Indian migrants. In his paranoid and overtly racist novel, liberal sentiments about tolerance and diversity pave the way for territorial takeover. The book, which succumbs to every imaginable ugly stereotype of Indians, has seen a recent resurgence in sales and is favored by white supremacists and an increasing number of conservatives.

Bannon, Donald Trump’s most trusted adviser, seems to fear that Raspail’s xenophobic dystopian vision offers an appropriate warning for the contemporary world. The Huffington Post cites numerous references Bannon has made to the novel over the past few years, most often with respect to Europe’s refugee crisis. For example, in 2015 he said, during an interview with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, “It’s been almost a ‘Camp of the Saints’-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe.”

It is hardly a leap to draw links between Bannon’s references to the horrifically racist “Camp of the Saints” and his authorship of Trump’s “Muslim ban.” Bannon clearly fears nonwhite immigrants taking over the spaces inhabited by white Americans. He has said as much, stating in an inaccurate rant that there are too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley. Recent attacks on South Asians in the U.S. suggest that this fear is being acted upon by angry, resentful whites.

Bannon’s paranoia is reminiscent of the dark era of American McCarthyism, when fear of communists infiltrating every aspect of American government and society led to witch hunts, baseless accusations and ruined lives. Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, who led the aggressive attacks, has been rightly judged by history to be a villain. But Bannon appears to think McCarthy should have been vindicated. In 2013, during an interview with a conservative author Diane West, Bannon said, “The place was infested with either traitors that were on the direct payroll of Soviet military intelligence or fellow-travelers who were kind of compliant in helping these guys get along. I mean, there’s absolutely no question of it.” Referring to McCarthy being seen as a villain today, Bannon asked, “How has pop culture so changed it that white is black and black is white?”

It is highly ironic that in a series of bizarre and baseless rants on Twitter on Saturday, Trump invoked the idea of McCarthyism in claiming President Obama wiretapped his phones. But it is a habit of this administration to depict the opposite of truth as reality.

Bannon’s fear of immigrants taking over the U.S. is reflected in the politics of racial resentment that drove Trump’s election. Whiteness as the default identity of the nation is threatened by demographic shifts toward a browner country, and the backlash has taken the form of President Trump.

But even if Trump succeeds in restricting people from some Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S., and even if he tries to round up and deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible, it is too late to stop the demographic manifestation of whiteness from shrinking in the U.S. The year 2011 was the first time more nonwhite babies were born in the U.S. compared with white babies, and 2050 is projected to be the year when the nation as a whole will become a “majority minority” state.

This inevitable trend frightens many white Americans. A 2014 psychology study showed as much, reporting that white respondents reacted negatively to ideas of diversity and multiculturalism when presented with graphics of this trend. One reviewer concluded that the study proved that “when white people sense their special status is threatened, it changes how they view politics and the world.” He added, quite presciently, “Certainly worth keeping an eye on as American politics adapt to a changing demographic landscape.”

We may imagine that young whites are more progressive than their elders. It is an often-expressed sentiment that racism in the U.S. will simply die out along with older, white Americans. A look at those who voted for Trump in last November’s election reveals otherwise. Forty-eight percent of white Americans ages 18-29 voted for Trump, compared with 43 percent who voted for Hillary Clinton. Studies confirm that youthfulness among whites does not tame racist sentiments. Bannon, Trump and their ilk are desperately trying to save the sinking ship of white supremacy and are counting on white Americans, young and old, to back them.

What they may not have realized is how dependent the U.S. economy is on immigrant labor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 26 million foreign-born workers contribute to the U.S. economy, which amounts to close to 17 percent of the entire workforce. Nearly half of those workers are listed as “Hispanic,” and about a quarter are Asian. The agency also found that “[f]oreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations; natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; and production, transportation, and material moving occupations.” While foreign-born workers earned, on average, significantly less than their U.S. citizen counterparts, that wage gap closed for workers with higher levels of education.

Foreign-born doctors in particular fill a serious need in the U.S., especially in poor communities. The newly launched Immigrant Doctors Project points out that 7,000 doctors in the U.S. hail from the countries targeted by Trump’s ban. “Cardiology and neurology are two of the three specialties with the highest share of doctors from the six targeted countries,” according to the group’s website. Unless Trump has a plan to promote medical education among native-born Americans, it is unclear who will fill this crucial need if the president has his way.

In taking their highly unethical and unconstitutional actions to preserve whiteness, Trump’s team has unleashed cruelty on the very people it accuses of plotting and enacting violence. But those targeted people won’t back down. In thinking about the petty, jealousy-driven, paranoid rage we face from the Trump administration and its supporters, I am heartened by the sentiment of Elisa Chavez’s powerful poem, “Revenge,” published in the Seattle Review of Books in January. The entire poem is worth reading (out loud if possible), but the lines that stand out most to me are:

We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder
the longer they spend burning us,
we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?

If Bannon is worried about a “ ‘Camp of the Saints’-type invasion” of the U.S. by the brown masses, we can only remind him, as Chavez’s poem does (“… you didn’t stop the future from coming. / You just delayed our coronation.”), that he’s too late. We are here, we are not going anywhere, and he’d better get used to it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Opinion I Would Be Happy to Live on an Israeli Yasser Arafat St.

Every nation’s heroes are stained with blood. Some of the heroes for whom Israeli streets are named have a lot more blood on their hands than Yasser Arafat did.

from Haaretz Gideon Levy Mar 09, 2017 2:43 AM

Yasser Arafat with Palestinian security forces in Gaza in 1995. AP
Arab town in Israel removes 'Arafat' street signs under government order
The Arab lawmaker vying to be prime minister of a utopian Israeli-Palestinian state
Ten tourist hot spots in the West Bank (where the only thing missing is actual tourists)
I would be happy to live on Yasser Arafat Street in Ramat Aviv. It would be inspiring to live on a street named for a Nobel Peace Prize winner; it would instill hope to live on a street named for a former enemy and the founding father of the neighboring nation, members of which lived in the village on whose ruins the neighborhood was built and who himself tried to make peace with Israel.

The gesture of a street named for the destroyed village, Sheikh Munis, would also be a high honor for the neighborhood and the country. If Israel only had a little more confidence in the justice of its path, the idea wouldn’t be so far-fetched.
But I live on a street that bears the name of an Anglo-Jewish statesman, the viceroy of India, Rufus Daniel Isaacs, the Marquess of Reading. I doubt that there’s a single person living on the street who knows who he was or why a main street is named for him.

Our streets are generally named for Zionist activists and rabbis, which is certainly acceptable. Less acceptable is to use such names for streets where Arabs live. Dov of Mezeritch, Besht (Baal Shem Tov), Zalman Meisel, Shivtei Yisrael and Avodat Yisrael are streets in Arab Jaffa. In some mixed cities the provocation is even more brazen. The main street in Ramle of course bears the name of Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl, while Hapalmach, Ha’etzel, Beitar and Yitzhak Sadeh are streets where at least some of the residents are Arabs. In Lod the situation is similar; Tzahal Boulevard near the Al Omari mosque, and Eliyahu Golomb, Exodus and Aliya Bet streets near the market and Khan el-Hilu.

There are almost no Arab street names and certainly no sensitivity. The entrance bridge to Nazareth is named for IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, one of the greatest Arab-haters, who compared them to drugged cockroaches. Since the bridge was built, his legacy echoes for every Nazareth driver who crosses it. That’s how an Israeli minority is treated.

But that’s not enough. The Arab town of Jatt decided a few months ago to name a street after the father of its nation. The existence of an Arafat Street in the State of Israel came to the authorities’ attention belatedly, but it’s never too late to cause a scandal and oppress a minority. The prime minister said he would not agree for the country to have “streets named after the enemies of Israel.” The interior minister was told to act, the local council chairman capitulated and the name of the street was removed. There is no Arafat, his name has been erased. Maybe the street will instead be named after Elor Azaria. That would be amusing if the effort to delete, overwrite and choke off any national sentiment wasn’t so shocking. Only Jews may be remembered.
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Palestinian state has always been a fiction for Zionists

from mondoweiss
Jonathan Ofir on March 5, 2017

From the Israeli leadership perspective, a Palestinian state in any true capacity has always been a ‘Never-Never Land’ that should remain in the realms of fiction. When Israel and the Palestinians embarked upon the famous ‘peace process’ in Madrid in 1991, Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir coined the ‘teaspoon policy’: endless negotiating sessions at which countless teaspoons amounting to mountains of sugar would be stirred into oceans of tea and coffee, but no agreement would ever be reached. For Israel, with or without a ‘peace process’, this continues to be policy: the more it draws out the time, the more opportunity it gets to annex, the more it shrinks Palestinian enclaves into Bantustans and open air prisons.

Israel has no intention of realizing a real Palestinian state, and it never had.

Let me review the history. Israel took over four-fifths of historical Palestine in 1948 and ethnically cleansed five-sixths of the Palestinian population therein, and then 19 years later it ‘completed the job’ territorially, ethnically cleansing another roughly 250,000 Palestinians as well as over 100,000 Syrians. So in 1967, Israel was left with a ‘greater Israel’ territorially – yet it had now further taken under its control roughly the same number of Palestinians it had expelled in 1948.

Thus the ‘Palestinian demographic problem’ was not solved.

The preferred option for Israelis was to forget Palestine altogether. Prime Minister Golda Meir said that Palestinians didn’t exist, and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said that “there is no more Palestine – finished.” But that was wishful thinking on behalf of the Zionists. Palestinians were not completely ‘finished off’, and even if Israel wanted to provide itself the genocidal prospect of erasing them conceptually, it had to continue its campaigns to make them shrink demographically.

So this time, 1967, Israel would be cautious not to annex the conquered territory, as it would entail a large Palestinian population. While saving the option for slow-motion ethnic cleansing, Israel had to make sure that the ‘limbo’ territory under the status of ‘belligerent occupation’ would not be claimed by anyone, to challenge Israel’s effective sovereignty. In the 1948 paradigm, the ‘existential threat’ to the Jewish State was related to the demographic issue of the refugees, and denial of their return was essential to avert this ‘threat’. In 1967 nonetheless, the ‘existential threat’ tripled: not just the refugees, but the new ‘demographic problem’, as well as the need to avoid future ‘foreign’ claim to the territory.

Israel sought to solve the territorial issue by settlement – creating ‘facts on the ground’. Such ‘facts’ also facilitate the eviction of the population, on claims of ‘security’ (although nowadays outright theft of Palestinian land via Israeli law does not seem to require the ‘security’ alibi at all).

The Palestinian PLO position before the mid-1970’s was comfortable for Israel, in that it sought a liberation of the whole of historical Palestine, and Israel could claim it was an untenable zero-sum claim, which it would fight as a wholesale existential threat. But in mid-1970’s, the PLO was making steps which very seriously approximated the international consensus on Israeli withdrawal to June 4, 1967 lines, proposing a Palestinian state within the remaining 22% of historical Palestine.

Israel thus stepped up its belligerence to avert this Palestinian ‘peace offensive’ as Israeli strategic analyst Avner Yaniv called it (see 1981-2 Fez plan). The averting of this ‘peace offensive’ meant of course Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, in an attempt to destroy the PLO’s political power (the PLO leadership was exiled in Lebanon). From the next exile in Tunisia, PLO leader Yasser Arafat came to Geneva in 1988 for a special UN gathering, due to the USA’s refusal to grant him an entry visa. There he spoke and said that

“The PLO will seek a comprehensive settlement among the parties concerned in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the State of Palestine, Israel, and other neighbors, within the framework of the international conference for peace in the Middle East on the basis of resolutions 242 and 338 and so as to guarantee equality and the balance of interests, especially our people’s rights, in freedom, national independence, and respect the right to exist in peace and security for all.”

No one was expecting Israel to agree to this without pressure, as it would destroy its plans for the takeover of entire historical Palestine. The 1st Intifada was already on its way, a predominantly unarmed civil uprising– met with bone-breaking policy by Defense minister Yitzhak Rabin. But the popular resistance was not quashed, and continued into the 1990’s.

Israel was beginning to appear as the rejectionist, and so a semblance of willingness to ‘negotiate’ had to be provided.

Thus Israel and the Palestinians embarked upon the famous ‘peace process’ which started in Madrid in 1991, hence Shamir’s mentioned ‘teaspoon policy’. Although many around the world thought that the Oslo accords (1993 and 1995) meant a Palestinian state, even Rabin, just before his assassination in 1995, assured the Knesset that it would be “less than a state”. The ‘temporary’ Oslo division of the West Bank, appropriating Israel more than 60% full control of the West Bank, became permanent, and a means to assure that whatever Palestinians would eventually get, their lands would effectively be a set of Bantustans, with Israel controlling them from all sides.

While portraying the ‘conflict’ as the competing claims to the land of two sides, Israel maintains the powerful position in all aspects, demanding that Palestinians remain surrounded and disempowered even after an ‘agreement’ is reached.

The illusion of the Palestinian Never-Never Land is maintained not only by denial of Palestinian statehood, but also by the denial of the colonialist paradigm that governs the Zionist venture, hence the Jewish State. Denial of this paradigm aids in the creation of the illusion of the ‘two more-or-less-equal parties’, and suggests that this is a mere territorial dispute that can be likened to Israel vis-á-vis Egypt, over the Sinai. But this is not a dispute between two states. It is a matter of colonialist control by a one state, over a disempowered native population.

The Palestinian state does not arrive, because Israel doesn’t intend, and never has intended, for the Palestinian dream to come true, as pragmatically tailored as it has become. Palestine is anathema to Zionism, and this is why Israel will not recognize Palestine. It will pay lip service to political correctness and go as far as saying ‘Palestinian authority’ and ‘Palestinians’ as long as they are committed to Bantustans – but it will not go beyond that.

So the left Zionist Union leader Herzog provides us with a 10-point plan, which entails a 10-year ‘waiting period’ for that dreamed-of Palestinian state– only after which ‘negotiations’ may begin. He ends his presentation saying:

“This is how we’ll save the settlement blocs and keep them under Israel’s sovereignty. It will be Zionism’s real victory. A new reality of security and mutual trust will ultimately forge a peace process and prevent disaster.”

Journalist Gideon Levy suggests an 11th point, to perfect the plan:

“The parties should announce a 10-year period during which Isaac Herzog will remain in a cage. During this time, they will move toward realizing the two-state vision. At the same time, the economic development of the cage will be accelerated dramatically, among other things through regional and international assistance. Pieces of bread will be thrown into Herzog’s cage from time to time, and over the years the addition of various spreads will be considered. The parties will work to renovate the cage, including building a seesaw (subject to strict security arrangements). If his behavior conforms to expectations, Herzog will be entitled to declare his cage a state with temporary borders. At the end of the 10-year period (if Herzog is still alive), and on condition that he has behaved properly, the jailors will begin direct negotiations with the cage’s occupant, backed by the countries of the region and the international community, with no preconditions, as equals, seriously and resolutely, while moving toward a full and final peace agreement.”

The liberal Zionists seem to love these sorts of dreams more, whilst the rightists irritate them by being more unabashed about annexation and injuring Israel’s global image. Theodor Herzl’s “if you will it, it is no dream” (the famous claim ending his 1902 novel Altneuland), means that Palestine and a Palestinian state must remain in the realms of fiction. Palestine must remain a fairy-tale, whilst Jews return to the promised land.

Who cares if it’s a legend. What matters is only if we, the Jews, wish it to be true. As to Palestinian wishes – their wishes are consigned to Never-Never Land.

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