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The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 5:15am in

On August 4, hours before a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital, Beirut, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued an ominous warning to Lebanon.

“We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. I suggest to all of them, including Hezbollah, to consider this,” Netanyahu said during an official tour of a military facility in central Israel.

Netanyahu’s warning did not bode well for Israel when, hours later, a Hiroshima-like blast devastated entire sectors of Beirut. Those who suspected Israeli involvement in the deadly explosion had one more reason to point fingers at Tel Aviv.

In politics and in war, truth is the first casualty. We may never know precisely what transpired in the moments preceding the Beirut blast. Somehow, it may not matter at all, because the narrative regarding Lebanon’s many tragedies is as splintered as the country’s political landscape.

Judging by statements and positions adopted by the country’s various parties and factions, many seem to be more concerned with exploiting the tragedy for trivial political gain than in the tragedy itself. Even if the explosion was the unfortunate outcome of an accident resulting from bureaucratic negligence, sadly, it is still inconsequential. In Lebanon, as in much of the Middle East, everything is political.

What is almost certain about the future, however, is that the political discourse will eventually lead back to Israel versus Hezbollah. The former is keen at undermining the group’s influence in Lebanon, while the latter is insistent on thwarting Israel’s plans.

But what is Israel’s plan anyway? After decades of trying to destroy the Lebanese group, the Israeli government is keenly aware that eradicating Hezbollah militarily is no longer feasible, certainly not in the foreseeable future. The Lebanese group has proven its prowess on the battlefield when it played a major role in ending the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in May 2000.

Subsequent Israeli attempts at reasserting its dominance on Lebanon’s southern border have, thus far, proven futile. The failed war of 2006 and the more recent conflagration of September 2019 are also two cases in point.

Hezbollah is uninterested in inviting another Israeli war on Lebanon, either. The country is on the verge of economic collapse, if it has not already collapsed.

While Lebanon has always been in the throes of political division and factionalism, the divisiveness of the current political mood in the country is more destructive than it has ever been. Losing hope in all political actors, the Lebanese people have taken to the street demanding basic rights and services, an end to the endemic corruption and a whole new social and political contract – unsuccessfully.

While stalemates in politics are somewhat ordinary occurrences, political deadlocks can be calamitous in a country on the brink of starvation. The Hiroshima-like cloud of explosives that shocked the world was a perfect metaphor for Lebanon’s seemingly endless woes.

Former Israeli Knesset member, Moshe Feiglin, was among many jubilant Israelis who celebrated the near-demise of the Arab city. Feiglin described the horrendous explosion as a ‘day of joy’, giving a ‘huge thank you to God. “If it was us,” meaning Israel being involved in the deadly explosion, “then we should be proud of it, and with that we will create a balance of terror.”

Regardless of whether Feiglin is speaking from a position of knowledge or not, his reference to ‘balance of terror’ remains the basic premise in all of Israel’s dealings with Lebanon, and Hezbollah, in particular.

The convoluted war in Syria has expanded Israel’s war of attrition, but has also given Israel the opportunity to target Hezbollah’s interests without registering yet another aggression on Lebanese territories. It is much easier to target war-torn Syria and escape unscathed rather than to target Lebanon and pay a price.

For years, Israel has bombed many targets in Syria. Initially, it was unforthcoming about its role. Only in the last year or so, it has begun to openly brag about its military conquests, but for a reason.   The embattled Netanyahu is desperate to gain political credits, as he is dogged by multiple corruption charges, which have tarnished his image. By bombing Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, the Israeli leader hopes to garner the approval of the military elite, a critical constituency in Israeli politics.

Netanyahu’s comments before the Beirut explosion were in reference to a series of incidents that began on July 21, when Israel bombed an area adjacent to the Damascus International Airport, killing, among others, a senior Hezbollah member, Ali Kamel Mohsen.

This incident placed Israel’s northern borders on alert. The state of emergency was coupled with massive political and media hype, which helped Netanyahu by distracting ordinary Israelis from his ongoing corruption trial.

But Israel’s strategic interests in the Syria conflict go beyond Netanyahu’s need for a cheap victory. The outcome of the Syria war has the potential of yielding a nightmare scenario for Israel.

For decades, Israel has argued that an ‘axis of terror’ – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – had to be dismantled, for it represented Israel’s greatest security threat. That was long before pro-Iran forces and militias began operating overtly in Syria, as a result of the ongoing war.

While Israel argues that its recurring bombardment of Syria is aimed largely at Hezbollah targets – the group’s military cache and Iranian missiles on their way to Lebanon via Syrian territories – Israel’s war in Syria is largely political. As per Israeli logic, the more bombs Israel drops over Syria, the more relevant a player it will become when the conflicting parties engage in future negotiations to sort out the fate of that country.

However, by doing so, Israel also risks igniting a costly military conflict with Lebanon, one that neither Tel Aviv nor Hezbollah can afford at the moment.

Israeli policymakers and military planners must be busy trying to analyze the situation in Lebanon, to understand the best way to exploit Lebanon’s tragedy in order to advance Israel’s strategic interests.

The future of Lebanon is, once more, in the hands of war generals.

Feature photo | Israeli soldiers drive military vehicles during an exercise in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, Aug. 4, 2020. Ariel Schalit | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria? appeared first on MintPress News.

Starmer Returning Labour to Blairite Corporatism, Cronyism and Corruption

On Monday Mike put up a piece commenting on a report in the Groan that after corporate donations to the Labour party had almost dried up under Corbyn’s leadership, the fat cat rich were once again giving their cash to the party. This was welcomed by former Blairite fundraiser, Lord Michael Levy, who declared that it was important that the party should be funded by people, who believe in the cause.

As Mike and the various peeps he cites from Twitter, like Jackie Walker, Tory Fibs, Ian Byrne MP, Kam Sandhu and James Foster point out, Corbyn’s leadership proved that big money donations weren’t needed. The party was funded by its members’ subscriptions and it became the biggest socialist party in Europe. And it was in the black. This is an achievement to be proud of. Now all this is imperilled, as Mike points out. The party is haemorrhaging members at the rate of 2,000 a day. Corbyn’s party was about the people, but the influx of the corporate donors threatens this. Mike asks the obvious question of whether they’re doing this because they ‘believe in the cause’ or whether they’re seeking to influence party policy.

He concludes:

It also indicates that “big money” wants to support Starmer’s appeasement of those staffers who are accused of sabotaging the Corbyn project, of racism, misogyny and in some cases anti-Semitism. Because it makes Corbyn look bad without actually proving anything either way?
This is a very bad look for Starmer’s new New Labour.
We already have evidence that indicates around 2,000 people are leaving the party every week.
This may multiply that outward flood into a deluge.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/08/09/is-keir-starmer-re-installing-corruption-into-the-labour-party-with-the-wealth-of-private-donors/

There’s no question about any of this, and the return of Michael Levy as fundraiser says much, all of it negative. Blair met Levy at a meeting at the Israeli embassy, and Levy was instrumental in getting Blair’s office funding from pro-Zionist Jewish businessmen. This allowed Blair to be independent of union funding, and so pursue his modernisation agenda of turning Labour into the Tory party mark 2. It was also a major factor in the creation of viciously persecutory pro-Israeli establishment within the Labour party that has seen critics of Israel’s barbarous maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians smeared and purged as anti-Semites simply for reasoned criticism of a racist, colonialist state.

As for these donors wanting to influence party policy, of course they do. New Labour was corporatist through and through. In return for donations from big business, the corporations were allowed to influence government decisions at every level, with senior management advising and serving in government boards and departments. This is extensively described by George Monbiot in his book, Captive State, and by the satirists and impressionists Rory Bremner, John Bird and John Fortune in their book, You Are Here. These were the same corporations that donated to the Tories, and Blair’s Labour was also sponsored and hosted the same think tanks that advised them.

As the peeps from Twitter have pointed out, it was government for the few, not the many.

As a result, Blair’s Labour party became a byword for sleaze and corruption, far in excess of John Major’s government, which had also been notorious for this. And it is utterly disgraceful, but deeply symptomatic, of the Guardian to try to present the return of private corporations in such a positive light. As for Lord Levy’s words, the corporate donors don’t believe in the cause. Or if they do, it’s simply the Blair project of giving them more power. The Labour party was not founded for them. It was founded as a coalition of trade unions and socialist groups and societies to represent ordinary people – the labouring poor. And their interests were not being served by the other parties. The Tories represented the interest of the Anglican aristocracy, while the Liberals were definitely middle class. More democratic, certainly, than the Tories  – the first working class members of parliament were the ‘Lib-Labs’, trade unionists who entered parliament as members of the Liberals, but ultimately committed to free trade and business at the expense of working class interests.

And corporativism is actively harming democracy, both here and in America. A report by Harvard University a few years ago concluded that the USA was no longer a functioning democracy but a corporate plutocracy because of the corporate funding of parties and political candidates. And even some Republicans are fed up with it. One Republican businessman in California wanted to have a law passed that would force politicos to wear the names of the corporations that had sponsored them on their jackets, like sportsmen. The left-wing surge in the Democrat party was also at the beginning very much a revolt against the corporate corruption represented and led by the Clintons.

But Trump is now in the White House, representing the cesspool of corporate politics over the other side of the Pond. And the Blairites have had their way, toppled Corbyn, sabotaged Labour’s elections and are back to reinstalling the corporations they admire at the centre of government.

Which means more privatisation, including that of the NHS, frozen wages, attacks on the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS. It means mass starvation and more grinding poverty. 

But never mind: the corporations will be in power, exploiting welfare to work schemes, and Israel won’t have to worry about any more pesky criticism about its crimes against the Palestinians.

 

Christian Nationalists and Christian Zionists March Lockstep to Secure Another Four Years for Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 3:21am in

Two thousand years ago, Jesus taught an oppressed, occupied people the ways of mercy and nonviolent resistance. In the intervening centuries, some strains of Christianity have transformed themselves from these humble roots into dominant, imperial forces.

Their “Christian” voices speak the language of the Bible, but their ideologies have little to do with the Bible’s message. Their followers – knowingly or unknowingly – encourage authoritarianism and racism with a stamp of approval from God.

These groups – Christian Nationalists and their cousins, Christian Zionists – have made their way into the halls of power, and may be the key to another four-year term for arguably the most catastrophic president in history.

 

The ideologies

Nationalism, according to the Oxford Dictionary and “Political Ideologies,” is “identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations,” which “aims to build and maintain a single national identity.”

Christian Nationalism, then, promotes the interests (and perhaps, doctrines) of a particular strain of Christians, and aims to build a single Christian national identity – to the exclusion of the interests of other Christian groups in the nation and the interests of other nations.

Christians Against Christian Nationalism, a broad coalition of faith groups, adds:

Christian Nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation.

Christian Zionism is a Christian movement that similarly promotes the interests of certain types of Jews in Israel, aiming to support them as they build a single, privileged Jewish national identity – to the exclusion of the interests of other groups in Israel and the interests of other nations.

Christians United for Israel

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks at the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit, July 23, 2013. Charles Dharapak | AP

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), an international movement seeking a just peace for Palestinians, opposes Christian Zionism. Jonathan Brenneman, the communications coordinator for FOSNA, described Christian Zionism to MintPress as:

An ideology which uses Christianity in the name of hate. Their mission is to increase their “Christian” influence on U.S. policy…upholding U.S. and Christian supremacy in its support of Israel’s worst practices.”

Christian Zionists see themselves as the only people who understand God’s plan, and they have the duty to implement it at any cost.”

Sounds crazy? These groups are not fringe. They are plentiful and powerful, to the point that they may have won Trump the election in 2016, and may do so again in 2020.

As Pew Research reported in March 2020, half of Americans hold the Christian Nationalist belief that the Bible should have a “great deal” or “some” influence over U.S. laws (though they might not label it as such). Some 28 percent believe that “if and when the Bible conflicts with the will of the American people, the Bible should have more influence on the laws of the land.”

In addition, roughly 70 million Americans profess the Christian Zionist beliefs that “God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was for all time,” and that the creation of modern Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy leading to the return of Jesus Christ.

 

MAGA and Israel

As the U.S. has become more diverse and secular, the relative numbers of Christians – especially white Christians –  has been declining. White Christians have “lost their perceived standing as the country’s decision-makers amid their declining status,” driving many to Christian Nationalism as a path back to power.

Many of these Christian Nationalists heard in Candidate Trump’s MAGA slogan a promise to return America to its former greatness – the good old days when we “didn’t need no welfare state, everybody pulled his weight.”

Trump also promised to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, pull out of the treaty with Iran, and support Israeli settlements on Palestinian land – all wildly popular with Christian Zionists.

Some 80 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump – either to save America or to usher in the second coming of Christ.

 

The awkward issue of (Trump’s) sin

Trump’s evangelical fan club had a dilemma on its hands as his skeletons kept tumbling out of the closet. He was a hot mess, but they needed him.

In a piece for Salon, Paul Rosenberg goes so far as to suggest that a righteous candidate would have been a bad idea, writing that “When push comes to shove, the more vicious the leader, the better. The moral restraints of the deeply pious are the last thing you want for the job.”

Every day brought a new crisis – and a new rationalization: “Only God knows what is in Trump’s heart.” “Democrats have baggage too.” “He is the spirit of Cyrus.” “We’re all sinners.”

Under the new, Trump-inspired Christianity, some leaders portrayed him as “God’s choice,” and instructed followers to stand with him no matter what. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the oldest megachurch in the U.S., demonstrated this just before the 2016 election when he quite literally contradicted the words of Jesus in defense of Trump:

I don’t want some meek and mild leader or somebody who’s going to turn the other cheek. I’ve said I want the meanest, toughest SOB I can find to protect this nation.”

 

From Bible to policy

The Trump campaign, and then administration, has always included a large number of evangelical leaders – including Christian Zionists. They were not there only to pray, but according to Trump advisor Mike Evans, to have “a seat at the table.” Christian Zionists in Trump’s inner circle use their access to present their interpretation of scripture as potential foreign policy. And Apparently Trump listens.

Mike Evans Donald Trump

Evangelical Trump advisor Mike Evans, left, poses with the President. Photo | White House

Evans has been part of that inner circle. He was in on private briefings with the president before the unveiling of the so-called Deal of the Century – Trump’s “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine, which heavily favors Israel. “Israel just got kissed by God,” Evans said of the plan. “I am not referring to Donald Trump as God, but I am saying he has Divine inspiration.”

Trump’s actions on behalf of Israel, which are often reckless and violations of international law and human rights, are understood as obedience to Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you [Abraham], and whoever curses you I will curse.”

 

Meet CUFI

The most powerful guest at the table has to be CUFI – Christians United For Israel – an organization boasting eight million members, and the quintessential mechanism of Christian Zionism.

At the CUFI’s helm is John Hagee, who teaches as fact his dispensationalist interpretation of the situation in Israel and Palestine. As Hagee puts it, “Israel exists because of a covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 3,500 years ago – and that covenant still stands,” and “From a biblical, historical, and legal perspective, Israel owns, and does not occupy, the Holy Land. And one can not be an occupier on land it owns.” (The global community almost unanimously disagrees with the second statement, based on international law.)

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo themselves self-identify as Christian Zionists and Pence has even visited Israel on CUFI’s dime. Both have spoken at CUFI’s annual summit. At least three other high-level members of the Trump administration attended as well.

The organization is effective. The Hill listed at least five congressional seats and one governor that CUFI helped flip from blue to red in 2018. Their millions of members are ready to “show up at the polls and cast their ballot for the candidate that is best for the Jewish state.”

How? According to Sandy Hagee Parker of the CUFI Action Fund, “With approximately 50 events nationally per month, CUFI’s field staff is in constant education mode…”

“CUFI members don’t see Israel as a political issue, but as an exercise in their faith – and that will never change,” Hagee Parker boasts.

CUFI members can be mobilized as needed to support legislative action, visit a Congress member, attend a town hall meeting – whatever is needed to keep the agenda moving forward. Bottom line, in John Hagee’s own words:

We’re not another paper-shuffling, hand-clapping group of Christians…We are 4.5 million people who are organized in every state, every city, every voting district.”

 

War with Iran

Iran is public enemy number one to Christian Zionists, who believe that the end times must be preceded by war and bloodshed. Iran is more than just a geopolitical enemy – it is, as religious historian Diana Butler Bass explains, “sort of a prophetic dog whistle to evangelicals…they’re eager for Christ to return and they think that this war with Iran and Israel has to happen for their larger hope to pass.”

And so John Hagee – a pastor, mind you – has repeatedly called for Iran to be hit with a “maximum pressure campaign,” including at one point a preemptive strike.

Mike Pence, John Hagee

Vice President Pence, left, greets Hagee at CUFI’s annual summit, July 8, 2019, in Washington. Patrick Semansky | AP

In 2017, Christian Zionists pestered Trump to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. According to the Christians United For Israel website:

CUFI has made moving the embassy to Jerusalem a central focus of its 2017 agenda…Pastor John Hagee, has used White House audiences with Pres. Trump and Vice Pres. Mike Pence to urge them to move the embassy.

Days before Pres. Trump’s inauguration, the CUFI Action Fund held a Washington fly-in during which more than 260 leaders representing 49 states urged that the embassy be moved. And CUFI members have sent more than 137,000 emails to the White House in support of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

The embassy move took place in May 2018 amid peaceful protests that resulted in dozens of Palestinian deaths by Israeli sniper fire.

 

The only side of the story?

Just 40 percent of Jews living in Israel believe that God gave them the land; meanwhile, 82 percent of white American evangelicals believe it. How is that possible?

Brenneman explained that because there is no visible counter-argument against the damaging narrative of Christian Zionism, “Most people don’t even realize that they hold a Christian Zionist perspective.”

Like all extremist ideologies, it is built upon ignorance and insularity to perpetuate a warped perspective about Palestinians and what is happening in Palestine…

People passively hold these views because they are shielded from seeing devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences of their beliefs.

Christian Zionism [presents a binary construct in which] Israelis are good and barbaric Palestinians are bad, [and] places good “Western” Israelis against evil “Eastern” Muslims.”

 

The concealed truth

While mainstream media will never give a completely accurate picture of world events, it does manage to contradict Trump on a regular basis. He deals with these inconvenient truths by delegitimizing them as “fake news” and, as Kellyanne Conway famously gave us, the phrase “alternative facts.” His flock follows suit.

In the arena of accurate news on Israel and Palestine, many sources committed to rigorous reporting and educating are routinely denounced as “anti-Semitic” for daring to show Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians. Most Americans are thus not exposed to the truth about the injustice that Christian Zionism is inflicting on Palestinians through its support of Israel.

 

What about 2020?

As determined as progressives are to make Trump a one-term president, evangelicals and conservatives are resolute about winning him four more years. They are also well-organized and well-funded.

Data analysts are scouring statistics nationwide, looking for new conservative voters to register and recruit. Thousands of conservative, and also often evangelical radio stations, sing Trump’s praises; tens of millions of churchgoers are faithful to him.

Mike Evans, a Trump advisor, pointed out that the evangelical bloc “gave” Trump the presidency because of his pro-life stance and his support for Israel – and that same group has the power to “fire” him if he does not continue to toe the line. The current test will be if Trump endorses Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the Palestinian West Bank, a move deemed illegal under international law.

When asked about Trump’s re-election prospects, Evans explains how pro-Israel policy translates into votes:

I have 68 million Facebook followers. When the president blesses Israel, they feel strongly that God is going to bless us – He won’t get 90 percent; he will get 100 percent of this base.”

In fact, according to a 2019 Public Religion Research Institute poll of Trump supporters, 31 percent of white evangelicals said there is essentially nothing he could do that would lose their vote.

Stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody”? Apparently he can do no wrong.

Feature photo | Attendee sing worship songs during a President Donald Trump campaign event courting devout conservatives by combining praise, prayer and patriotism, July 23, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga. John Amis | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.

The post Christian Nationalists and Christian Zionists March Lockstep to Secure Another Four Years for Trump appeared first on MintPress News.

US, Israeli Media Scramble to Blame Hezbollah for Deadly Beirut Explosion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 12:45am in

The narrative that puts Hezbollah in the hot seat for the devastating explosion of ammonium nitrate, allegedly stored by the thousands of tons in one of the busiest ports in the eastern Mediterranean and which killed over two hundred people has a few holes in it, to say the least.

As the mainstream U.S.-led international media beats the drums of war with commercial breaks in between, they are relying on a few key stories to hang Lebanon’s most popular political body and lock mainstream news consumers’ sights squarely on Hassan Nasrallah, the third leader of Lebanon’s anti-Zionist party, Hezbollah, as the ultimate target of the next modern-day crusade in the Middle East.

The through-line of the stories is the insinuation that Hezbollah has been “stockpiling” the explosive agent for years, ascribing the jurisprudential concept of “opportunity” to the grassroots militant Lebanese resistance movement in the imaginary courtroom melodrama unfolding in the minds of cable news junkies.

A May report from The Times of Israel spotlighted a local TV news segment about a “months-long delicate operation” by Mossad to expose a supposed Hezbollah-linked group’s “operations in Germany,” which resulted in a raid on warehouses with stashes of ammonium nitrate tied to an “Iranian-backed… Shiite terrorist organization.” The raids concentrated on four mosque associations in Berlin, Dortmund, Bremen, and Münster with alleged allegiance to Hezbollah. The details of Mossad’s role in the raids were made public only after the Teuton state officially banned “all Hezbollah activities” from the country on April 30, 2020.

According to a German newspaper, however, the order for the raid of the suspected mosques was a preemptive move meant to “secure evidence before it could [be] destroyed” as a result of the announcement. Actual evidence about alleged Hezbollah-related activities has yet to surface. When a member of the local parliament of the German state of Bavaria – where the alleged cold packages containing ammonium nitrate had been stored – asked for confirmation from the Bavarian interior ministry, the ministry’s spokesperson denied having any information on the matter.

Other stories being propagated in the interest of framing Hezbollah for the blast in Beirut are much older and even more ephemeral. Such is the case of Atris Hussein; a Lebanese-Swedish citizen who was convicted in 2013 for “possessing a large amount of fertilizer that could be used to make explosives.” Hussein had been accused of hiding about three tons of ammonium nitrate for nefarious purposes. The 49-year old man had been arrested at the Bangkok airport just after a “terror warning” in the Thai capital had been issued by the U.S. and claims of a “possible attack by Hezbollah” from Israeli officials. Hussein, who denied any links to terrorist organizations, was eventually sentenced to two and a half months for illegal possession of fertilizer materials. The court found no evidence “to back the authorities’ claims that Hussein had ties to Hezbollah.”

 

Flagship propaganda

The main piece at the center of the Hezbollah blame game is one that covers the actual stash of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that ignited earlier this month in the Port of Beirut. The 2,750 tons of NH4NO3 said to be stored at the port was the result of a curious chain of events that occurred in 2013. According to Eurasianet.org, a ship flying a Moldovan flag called Rhosus was on its way to Mozambique with the tons of ammonium nitrate when it had to make an emergency call on the port of Beirut. The ship is owned by a “rough-and-tumble businessman” from Russia named Igor Grechushkin who conducts business from the notorious tax-havens of Cyprus and the Marshall Islands.

After Lebanese authorities inspected Grechushkin’s vessel and deemed it unseaworthy, the Russian abandoned the boat and its contents in the Port of Beirut, leaving tons of the explosive material behind, material which was subsequently stored at a port warehouse where it reportedly “languished” for years without proper maintenance. The ammonium nitrate cargo, itself had been produced by the largest manufacturer of nitrogen-based fertilizers in the South Caucasus region; a company called Rustavi Azot in the Republic of Georgia.

Rustavi Azot has received substantial support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) over the years, including a $155 million financing package in 2016. The EBRD is a loan and equity finance institution formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union to help Eastern bloc countries “transition away from centrally-planned economies” and serves as a conduit for “EU accession” for Eurasian countries like Georgia, which also houses the Lugar Center; a DoD-funded facility exposed as a cauldron for U.S. biological and chemical weapons experimentation.

Israeli TV, meanwhile, is riling up the Jewish state with claims that the tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port were being stockpiled for a “Third Lebanon war” against Israel. Former Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, added fuel to the fire by claiming that he had “been aware of the material’s presence there and [that Hezbollah] had control over the port” and that the explosion of a “Hezbollah weapons depot” at the port had preceded the igniting of the ammonium nitrate.

But skeptics point out that the location of the port, which is in a Christian neighborhood, would preclude Hezbollah from operating any kind of weapons depot in the area. Doubts about whether ammonium nitrate had any role at all have also emerged. A renowned Italian explosives expert told Corriere Della Sera that he doesn’t believe the claimed amount of ammonium nitrate was present at the port and favors military weaponry as the real cause of the blast.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has categorically denied having any knowledge of stockpiling ammonium nitrate at the port of Beirut and a Lebanese intelligence official has outright blamed Israel for the conflagration.

 

An old tall tale

“For 37 years, Hezbollah has been murdering innocent people,” wrote U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell in a 2019 editorial published in Die Welt. The diplomat targeted mosques as the places where “Hezbollah sympathizers meet” and “tolerate terrorist propaganda in support of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime.” Grenell repeatedly called for the proscription of Hezbollah’s presence in the European nation. But his insistence had so far failed to overcome the lack of political will to do so.

That changed when the opportunity to justify the ban materialized with mosque raids in April 2020, in an operation with eerie similarities to the events that preceded a ban on Hezbollah by the UK government in January, when it officially classified the Lebanese political organization as a terrorist organization. Just as was the case in Germany, it was the Mossad who provided British officials with the “intelligence” leads.

At the end of the day, the consistent pressure by the U.S. and Israel on other nations to demonize Hezbollah and discredit them in the eyes of their supporters may well be the only provable fact surrounding the tragic incident that took place in Beirut last week. Unfortunately, it is also clear that the U.S. and Israel will stop at nothing – even lies – to perpetuate a geopolitical paradigm that is guaranteed to produce even more tragedy.

Feature photo | Women stand in their damaged house as they look at the aftermath of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 10, 2020. Bilal Hussein | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post US, Israeli Media Scramble to Blame Hezbollah for Deadly Beirut Explosion appeared first on MintPress News.

Cole Morton Names the MPs and Lords Describing Desperate Channel Migrants as ‘Invaders’

The Tory campaign to divert us all from the horrific mess they’ve made of Britain and their mass killing of its people continues. Once again, it’s all about illegal immigrants. Mike and Zelo have put up several excellent articles this hate campaign, with Zelo Street pointing out that the number of these asylum seekers coming to this country is trivial: 4,000 compared to 40,000 applications for asylum last year, and 677,000 people immigrating to the UK in 2019. Nevertheless, the Tories are describing it as an invasion. Zelo Street today has posted an excellent Tweet from the author Cole Moreton, who has named these disgraceful bigots. Moreton writes

Here are the names of 23 MPs and Lords who claim the desperate men, women and children risking their lives to cross the Channel in tiny rubber boats in search of peace are “invading”. Anyone here on the coast who has met them knows how obscenely ludicrous that is.

They are

Sir John Hayes CBE MP, South Holland and the Deepings

Sir David Amess MP, Southend West

Lee Anderson MP, Ashfield

Gareth Bacon MP, Orpington

Scott Benton MP, Blackpool South,

Rob Blackman MP, Harrow East

Philip Davies MP, Shipley

Nikc Fletcher MP, Don Valley,

Sally-Ann Hart MP, Hastings and Rye,

Tom Hunt MP, Ipswich,

David Jones MP, Clwyd West,

Daniel Kawczynski MP, Shrewsbury and Atcham

Pauline Latham, OBE MP, Mid-Derbyshire

Jonathan Lord MP, Woking,

Sir Edward Leigh MP, Gainsborough

Karl McCartney JP MP, Lincoln,

Stephen Metcalfe MP, South Basildon and East Thurrock,

Craig McKinley MP, South Thanet,

Lia Nici MP, Great Grimsby,

Andrew Rosindell MP, Romford

Alexander Stafford MP, Rother Valley,

Henry Smith MP, Crawley,

Martin Vickers MP, Cleethorpes

Lord Horam

Lord Lilley,

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/08/migrant-row-wheres-mark-francois.html

And Mike’s also named a few names in a piece in his blog.

Mike notes that Priti ‘Vacant’ Patel was told back in November that her policy was forcing migrants to use more dangerous routes into the UK. She ignored the report because it recommended establishing more legal routes into the UK, as well as doing something about the reasons they were leaving their home countries in the first place. Patel’s innate ruthless caused her to reject all this. She just wants to stop them, and so is determined to make this route unviable. Mike notes that she uses the word ‘shameful’ in her Tweet about this, to divert attention from the fact that the real disgrace here is her.

Mike then goes to cite a Beeb report on one of the boats, where they were forced to use a plastic container to bail it out. When asked where they came from, the migrants replied ‘Syria’. In 2018 the UK voted to bomb Syria following reports that its government had bombed its own people. But the materials used to manufacture the bomb were supplied by Britain. Mike writes

Now, I don’t know the personal situations of the people on that boat, but it seems entirely likely that the UK is the reason they have been fleeing their own country.

If you approve of this behaviour by your country’s leaders then you are a jingoistic, sabre-rattling racist.

Fortunately, the evidence I’ve seen suggests that few people do. Most of us appear to have reacted with disgust – both at the government and at the BBC. 

He then provides a few tweets by people disgusted with this contemptible hate-mongering.

One of them is by Richard Murphy, who points out

We can apparently put the RAF over the Channel today to needlessly spot dinghies but have only allocated £5 million for emergency relief for Beirut. In terms of humitarian crisis management haven’t we got almost everything wrong?

Kerry-Ann Mendoza:

I’d like to say “I can’t believe England is calling for the extra-judicial murder of displaced people in dinghies” but I can believe it. There are great & compassionate communities in England. But others seem bent on regressing it into a spiteful, cold, grim little island.

Zarah Sultana MP:

People fleeing war, famine and persecution shouldn’t be confronted by gunships and hostility, but instead offered safe, legal routes to asylum. Our common humanity demands nothing less.

Carole Hawkins contrasted the attitude with Lebanon, which has accepted 1.5 million refugees

Lebanon with all its problems has accepted 1.5 MILLION REFUGEES & Spaffer/Patel going loopy over a few hundred so much so that Spaffer wants to change or make new laws. This is Trump politics – executive directives which Spaffer is also doing. Totally non democratic.

Mike points out that this demonisation may not stop if you vote for Labour, because of the right-wingers who voted to bomb Syria. According to Ben, they were

Stella Creasy

Liz Kendel

Yvette Cooper

Neil Coyle

Hilary Benn

Margaret Hodge

Margaret Beckett

Maria Eagle

Angela Eagle

Lucy Powell

Harriet Harmen

Bridget Phillipson

Alison McGovern

He concludes ‘This lot chose to destroy these migrants homes’. Yes, yes, they did. Not because they were outraged at a government killing its own people, but because they’re bog-standard Blairite neocons. The Likud-Republican alliance has a list of seven countries, whose governments they want overthrown because they’re a threat to Israel and an obstacle to American imperial interests. One of these is Syria, because the ruling class and government are a Shi’a sect and allied with Iran.

And he starts his piece with this brilliant meme:

Wise words from Tony Benn. And its exactly right. Food banks originally appeared under New Labour, when Blair and Brown passed legislation forbidding illegal immigrants from claiming benefits. Then the Tories decided that it would be a wizard system to inflict on the native, British population – by which I mean all Brits, who have been here for generations, Black and Asian as well as Brown – as they cut away the welfare state. The result is mass starvation.

Counterpunch and the late critic of the American empire, William Blum, have published several articles pointing out that what the west does to the rest of the world supporting Fascist dictators ultimately comes back home. Those same governments then set about militarising the police force and stripping back people’s civil rights, all in the name of protecting us from terrorism, of course.

After Patel has finished rounding up desperate men, women and children fleeing real war and violence in their countries of origin, she will try to turn to the guns on us. And scumbags like Hillary ‘Bomber’ Benn, Margaret ‘F***ing Anti-Semite’ Hodge, Angela ‘Gentler, Caring Politics’ Eagle and the rest will help her.

What did Orwell say the future was? ‘A jackboot stamping on a human face. Forever’. It’s in 1984. And Patel, the 23 Tory MPs and their New Labour collaborators are all ready to polish it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akila Hughes Loses Vindictive Court Case against Sargon. Obviously.

There was an interesting bit of legal news last week. Akila Hughes, a left-wing Black American activist, lost her lawsuit against Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, the man who broke UKIP. I’ve blogged about Sargon many times already. He’s a libertarian, Trump-supporting, Tory Brexiteer, so I really don’t share his politics. They’re closer to Hughes. But this time, I think Sargon was actually right and that Hughes has only herself to blame for her defeat. Sargon was the better person.

The dispute goes back to the American presidential election campaign between Trump and Clinton. Hughes was a supporter of Killary, and put up a video supporting her. Sargon disagreed, and in order to show that millions of Americans didn’t share her views, took clips from it and turned it into a YouTube poop intended to satirise her. YouTube poops, if you are blissfully unaware of them, are videos where the makers take clips of certain celebrities or personalities and edit them to make them look ridiculous. There have been any number directed against mad conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, which I find hilarious. And the peeps on YouTube regularly take videos and clips of material by others and include them in their own to critique or comment upon this. This is allowed under the copyright laws as fair use.

Hughes didn’t see it that way, however, and decided that Sargon was infringing her copyright. So she sued him for $150,000. She also showed just how personally vindictive she was by declaring on YouTube that she didn’t care if this bankrupted Sargon and took food away from his children, because Sargon himself should have thought of that. But this personal spite has backfired on her. Judge Sullivan founded in Sargon’s favour, and has ordered Hughes to pay the Sage of Swindon $38,000 in costs. The other day Sargon received a copy of the lawman’s judgement, and posted a video about it on YouTube. And it’s not only interesting in itself, but I’d say it was also relevant for other, similar vindictive legal actions. Like those, in my opinion, brought by Rachel Riley and Tracey Ann Oberman.

The judge decided against Hughes because of her suit’s ‘objective unreasonableness’. I don’t think she had been able to show how Sargon had harmed her through the video, but had shown instead her own personal spite against him by stating that she didn’t care about taking food away from his children. He also ruled that she had acted from improper motivations. While many such litigants are able to keep theirs hidden, she had displayed hers by boasting about her intentions to her many followers on Twitter and social media. Hughes had previously led a campaign to have Sargon thrown off Twitter, and when this succeeded, claimed it was due to her. Having received a message from YouTube that the company supported Black creators, she took this as a sign that she should go ahead and try to get Sargon deplatformed from there as well. She also told her followers she wanted to bankrupt Sargon, stymie his attempts to crowdfund his defence and use copyright law to silence her personal critics and opponents. The judge also ruled that she was also seeking to publicise her suit in order to enrich herself. He therefor found against her. Sargon isn’t out of the woods, as Hughes has 38 days to appeal the decision. But it looks very damning.

I have to say that while I dislike Sargon’s opinions, I don’t believe that he is personally racist or a White supremacist as Hughes and his opponents allege he. He has spoken on his channel to Black activists, and shares their concern about the breakdown of the Black family. Not that family breakdown hasn’t devastated White and other communities as well. Some of his criticisms of Black anti-racism are, in my opinion, entirely fair. In one of his videos he criticised a group of Black activists, who were complaining because the Equalities Commission were compiling statistics on anti-White incidents. He called them racists, which they are. He has also criticised Black Lives Matter and the demands for redressing historic western slavery, when real slavery has re-emerged in Africa. He has quoted a recent article from a paper, which stated that there are now three times more slaves around the world than were transported from Africa to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. This is grotesque and horrific, but you hear very little about it. Emma Maltby took issue in the pages of the I a few weeks ago to attack right-wing critics of anti-racism movements like Black Lives Matter for trying to use the issue to distract on the real problems of racism and racial inequality in the west. She’s right, but so is Sargon, and I don’t believe that the real slavery that is experiencing a resurgence would have quite the same exposure without Sargon and Conservative critics like him. My sympathies in this case are with Sargon, not Hughes.

And I also note certain similarities between Hughes’ case and that of Rachel Riley and Tracey Ann Oberman to sue Mike and other bloggers for posting a piece about their maltreatment of a schoolgirl. They accused the girl of being an anti-Semite and told her they wanted to re-educate her, simply because she put up a piece supporting Jeremy Corbyn. Shaun Lawson put up an article about this, which other people, including Mike, reblogged and/ or commented upon. Riley and Oberman therefore took it upon themselves to sue Mike and others, including Jane Heybroek in a related case, for libel.

Now Riley and Oberman certainly haven’t gone on social media and revealed their improper motives, but the circumstances of these lawsuits are very suspicious and, in my opinion, certainly look every bit as vindictive and spiteful as Hughes’. Riley and Oberman are rich celebs. Riley is able to afford the expense of a QC, and has insurance against her losing legal suits. Mike, like Sargon, has had to crowdfund his defence. Riley, like Hughes, has attempted to stymie Mike’s defence. Her lawyer argued that the difficulty Mike was having obtaining a lawyer to act for him during the summer months was clogging up the legal system, in what looks suspiciously to me like an attempt to stop Mike raising any more money to defend himself. Despite her own claims that she is not doing it for the money, she did not proceed against Shaun Lawson, who creator the original article. He lives in Uruguay, and apparently doesn’t have much in the way of money so it apparently isn’t worth suing him. Her suit against Jane Heybroek was abandoned when her insurers decided that they would no longer fund her suit, and she would have to start using her own money. In addition, Riley also appealed to her followers to suggest people she should sue, as the charities she supported needed money. This, as Zelo Street pointed out, comes close to the very definition of grifting. And so it does look very much to me – and I stress this is my own personal opinion – that Riley is using the lawsuit and its publicity to enrich herself.

And I am absolutely convinced that she is, like Hughes, abusing the legal system to shut down her personal critics. Riley and Oberman like to present themselves as crusaders against anti-Semitism. But their interpretation of anti-Semitism seems to be the perversion used by the Zionist fanatics: criticism or opposition to Israel. Israel, it needs to be stressed, is a country. And like all-too many nations, it commits atrocities. In the case of Israel, these are against the indigenous Palestinians. It is not by any means anti-Semitic to criticise Israel for its crimes. Despising Israel’s atrocities does not mean that one hates its citizens, still less the wider Jewish community. However, Israel and pro-Israel groups have and are using claims of racism and anti-Semitism to silence critics and opposition groups, such as the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign against goods produced in the occupied territories. The misuse of such legislation to silence such criticism is termed ‘lawfare’. And it looks to me very much exactly what Riley and Oberman are doing in their lawsuit against Mike.

As I said, I don’t share Sargon’s opinions, but I’m glad he won. Just as I hope Mike and the others will similarly be vindicated when Riley’s and Oberman’s suit comes to trial. I hope the judge also finds their case vexatious and vindictive. Because it certainly seems that way to me.

Susan Abulhawa Embodies the Spirit of Palestinian Resistance in Her New Book: Against the Loveless World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 12:57am in

Book Review — My friend, author Susan Abulhawa, just published a new novel titled, “Against the Loveless World. She is the author of the international bestseller, “Mornings in Jenin,” as well as “The Blue Between Sky and Water,” and a collection of poems titled, “My Voice Sought the Wind.” Personally, I found her new novel to be daring, honest, and unaccommodating. Her writing has many qualities, one of them is that reading her novel feels a lot like listening to her talk. 

 

Unaccommodating

One of the most painful aspects of any foreign occupation, including that of Palestine of course, is that of occupied people accommodating their occupiers. It is done because of the false belief that accommodating the beast will calm it down. It is done because people living under occupation rely on their oppressors, their occupiers for everything and oppressive regimes take advantage of the weaknesses of their subjects and use these weaknesses to get information or whatever else they may need to maintain their oppression. This has been going on since time immemorial. 

Because Palestinians need a permit from the State of Israel for almost everything, there is a serious problem of informers. Be it due to greed or necessity – having never lived under an oppressive occupation myself I will be the last to judge – many Palestinian cooperate, collaborate, and sometimes just accommodate the Israeli authorities.

There naturally exists a conflict between those who fall into the vicious cycle of accommodating the regime and those who demand resistance. We know that throughout history this has led nations to bloodshed and fratricide. This is why it is particularly telling that very early on in the story, Nahr, the lead character in the novel, says, “I don’t care to be accommodating.” 

As the pages of the novel turn and the story of Nahr’s life unfolds, we go through the ups and downs of this Palestinian woman’s unpredictable life. Then slowly, as we find ourselves gripped by the power of her story, we come to realize that Nahr’s unwillingness to be accommodating runs like a thread throughout the entire book. It is admirable but it comes at a heavy price. 

 

A cube and a language

Nahr is an inmate held in solitary confinement at an Israeli prison and she tells us her story from her tiny cell, which she calls, “The Cube.” This is no ordinary cell, the Israeli authorities placed Nahr in a highly sophisticated cell where everything is automated: the light and the shower turn on and off on their own; the toilet flushes at set times and Nahr needs to accommodate herself to their schedule. She is unable to tell if it is day or night or what time of day it is.

Nahr is not permitted to have visitors of her choice but from time to time an international observer, a journalist, or a prison guard come into the cell. During these random visits, Nahr expresses her unwillingness to be accommodating. 

From her solitary cell in an Israeli prison, Nahr recalls Ghassan Kanafani and James Baldwin, two great writers, who, like her, were unwilling to be accommodating. They suffered greatly because of who they were, one a Palestinian, the other a Black American. They both wrote and spoke with unmatched courage and clarity, and although dead for decades, (Kanafani was murdered by Israel in 1972, Baldwin died of cancer in 1987), they remain icons of the struggle against racism, oppression, and colonialism.

Abulhawa’s book is in English of course, but Nahr uses the Arabic language to release us and her from her tiny cell. The novel takes place in the Arab world, a world that exists outside of Nahr’s cell. The cell, the prison, and the entire State of Israel are artificial creations that were forced upon Palestine. None of them are organic and each of them – to varying degrees – is used to imprison Palestinians. 

Nahr speaks to us from within the cell using as much Palestinian Arabic as possible. Her Arabic takes us out of the cold artificial cell, out of the prison and even out of Israel – as much as one can while remaining in Palestine – and places us in the heart of the world in which the story takes place. 

Nahr uses Arabic for names of people and places, for names of Arabic dishes, for nicknames and for wherever else she sees fit. The first and maybe most striking example of how Nahr uses Arabic is the way she writes the name, Muhammad. It is without a doubt the most common male name in the world, and in Arabic, it is pronounced Mhammad, which is exactly the way Nahr writes it for us. 

 

Tatreez

Nahr’s story brings to mind two metaphors. The first is a piece of Tatreez, or Palestinian embroidery. The characters in the story are the colors and designs that represent the various towns, villages, and regions of Palestine. It is embroidered over a black cloth, which is Palestine. The novel displays both the immense beauty and unspeakable tragedy of Palestine. 

Against the Loveless World A Novel By Susan AbulhawaThe second metaphor is a cluster of vines that twist and grow around the trunk of a large tree. In Palestine, one sees this often. It is particularly beautiful when the fines are in bloom, wrapping around large trunks of tall trees. The stories of Nahr and the people around her are the vines wrapping around a y tree with a thick trunk. That tree is Palestine.

Nahr is surrounded by strong characters who represent the breadth of the Palestinian experience. Their stories are told through Nahr’s story and together they evoke powerful emotions, which we experience together with her. They include innocence, passion, love, and hate, sadness, and anger as well as delicately threaded tenderness, yearning, and compassion. Abulhawa seamlessly weaves Nahr’s personal story and the stories of the other characters into the greater story of Palestine. 

The story takes us into two of the largest Palestinian refugee communities in the world, Kuwait and Jordan. We come face to face with Palestinians who became refugees in 1948, and then again in 1967, and then brutally kicked out of Kuwait and turned into refugees again as a result of the first Gulf War. Each time they think they can finally rest, something happens and they are forced to move again. Yet throughout this painful and seemingly endless odyssey their anchor continues to be Palestine. Nahr tries to talk to these people, to hear about their experience, but she is met with silence. Silence of a generation of Palestinians who cannot bear to talk about their loss.

 

A story of love

Nahr’s experiences are perhaps not unlike other women living under oppressive regimes. But in one aspect her experience is truly universal – she experiences the full scope of cruelty meted out to women by men, by the patriarchy. Men’s brutality towards women is not unique to a particular race, nationality, or culture, making her experience universal. But still, although she suffers greatly at the hands of men, Nahr is capable of feeling and expressing a deep, sincere love for a man.

Though she speaks to us from a cold, lonely cell in which she is held by Israel, Nahr is able to relay feelings towards the one man who she truly loves and who loves her completely. She describes it as “a sexual yearning made insatiable by love so vast, as if a sky.”

In one scene Nahr watches this man whom she loves so deeply, and what she sees is, “the guilt, the impotence of seeing those settlements, the anguish over his brother, his mother, the years in prison, the torture, the inability to move.” Then, reflecting on her own sense of helplessness she says, “I wanted to take him in my arms and fix everything,” but, “all I could do was help carry the tea glasses.”

Palestine, for those who were torn away from her and for those who care for her, is like a loved one dying of terminal cancer. Hard as we may try, all we can do for her as she is being eaten away by the cancer of Zionist brutality, is make her comfortable.

Nahr’s pain is deep and real and reading this novel one often forgets that it is, in fact, fiction. She experiences pain as a woman, as a Palestinian, and as a human being. In Nahr’s own words, it is “a cloistered, unreachable, immutable ache.” 

 

The spirit of resistance

Nahr describes what she sees in Palestine, and which few if any dare to admit: “the epic fabrication of a Jewish nation returning to its homeland.” She says that the deceit, “had grown into a living, breathing narrative that shaped lives as if it were truth.” The epic fabrication, the deceit is one and the same: the Zionist myth upon which the State of Israel was created. Israel is an enormous prison that separates Palestinians from each other and from their land. To enforce its oppressive existence on Palestine the State of Israel created a brutal war machine. 

Nahr describes the Jewish-only settlements that she sees spreading like cancer all over Palestine. Entire cities, neighborhoods, and homes, including ones that belonged to people who she knows and loves and who were forced to flee their homeland, taken over by Jewish settlers. 

But the spirit of resistance is alive in Palestine and Nahr will not stand idly by as others prepare to act. She is enraged by the ruthlessness of settlers and soldiers, tucked away safely in their exclusive, Arab-free colonies. She sees how they live on land stolen from Palestinians, how they come out periodically to attack Palestinians, how they act with impunity, and she, like many others, wants to see justice.

As soon as Nahr senses that people around her are engaged in acts of resistance she wants in on the action. But she is an outsider, she grew up in exile in Kuwait and it isn’t clear if she can be trusted. It is not clear whether or not she is an informant herself, in which case letting her in will be disastrous. Here, once again, Nahr is unaccommodating, fierce, and willing to face the consequences of her actions.

 

Feeling the pulse

Along with Ghassan Kanafani and Ibrahim Nasrallah, Susan Abulhawa’s writing has the rare quality of allowing us to hear the sound, taste the flavor, smell the fragrance, and feel the pulse of Palestine. She offers a rare insight and we would be foolish not to accept it.

Editor’s Note | An earlier version of this article was amended to add more information.

Feature photo | A Palestinian woman enjoys the Mediterranean during the Eid al-Adha holiday, Aug. 2, 2020. Oded Balilty | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Susan Abulhawa Embodies the Spirit of Palestinian Resistance in Her New Book: Against the Loveless World appeared first on MintPress News.

Do Hundreds of UN Resolutions Prove the United Nations has an Anti-Israel Bias?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 7:25am in

The U.S. government is in a love affair with Israel, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the halls of the United Nations. Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley once asserted, “Nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than its bias against our close ally Israel.”

Indeed, since 1949, that state has been the subject of many hundreds of United Nations General Assembly (General Assembly) resolutions – nearly every one of them critical of Israel, “the Occupying Power.” Each year the General Assembly agenda includes a dozen or more discussions about Israeli injustice toward Palestinians, but rarely the reverse.

Many Israel supporters agree with Haley that this indicates an anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic tendency in the UN. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) suggests that “Arab member states of the UN have used the General Assembly (GA) as a forum for isolating and chastising Israel.” The ADL speculates that “third-world nations” add their votes to those of hostile Arab states to pass measures against Israel.

This analysis is both implausible and ahistorical.

 

The UN agenda

Subjects matter in the General Assembly emerge not from personal animus, but the priorities of the UN and geopolitical facts. The UN strives to promote economic growth, maintain peace, support developing countries, and promote human rights, justice, and international law. The items on the General Assembly agenda involve complex issues. Most topics are automatically revisited every year until they are resolved; occasionally, a new one is added, or one is dropped or merged with another.

Resolutions grow not from hearsay or opinion, but from fact-based eyewitness reports, many of them UN-commissioned. Experts and members of UN committees regularly contribute carefully researched reports. Starting in the late 1960s, for example, the UN passed resolutions concerning South Africa, calling for an end to apartheid and encouraging all justice-loving countries to boycott, sanction, and isolate the country. UN member states overwhelmingly supported the efforts to end apartheid – not from an anti-South-African bias, but from a passion for justice. The topic: Policies of Apartheid of the Government of South Africa, came up year after year until 1994 when the issue was resolved.

Israel, on the other hand, has not made any of the changes the international community has called for. While it’s not surprising that Arab countries support Palestine in the UN, they are not numerous enough to accomplish anything on their own. Member States from all over the world vote in favor of resolutions that censure Israel – delegates look at facts and recommendations and decide whether they are compelling.

The fact that General Assembly passes a dozen or more resolutions addressing the Palestinian issue each year owes not to a bias against Israel (or Jews), but to the enormous scale and long history of the problem. The Palestinian plight has been before the organization for decades and has grown in scope – not just because the number of Palestinians has grown, but because Israel’s brutality has intensified.

It is worth taking time to trace the roots of the General Assembly’s supposed preoccupation with Palestine and determine whether it is malicious or constructive.

 

1948 refugees and UNRWA

At least 750,000 Palestinians fled or were exiled from their homes and villages as the state of Israel emerged in 1948 on 78 percent of historic Palestine. The UN passed a resolution expressing its expectation that the refugees would be allowed to return. Israel refused to comply.

In 1949, the UN created UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and gave it the mandate to care for those refugees and help them return home. And because the Palestinian refugees from 1948 are still in exile, UNRWA is still at work, providing health care, education, and social services to the refugee population of the Palestinian territories.

Every year since 1952, UNRWA has reported to General Assembly on its work, and has been commissioned via resolution to continue its efforts – that’s 67 resolutions in 67 years while waiting for Israel to grant the refugees their right of return. Every year, some Palestinians leave the refugee camps and emigrate to countries around the world, but the majority stay, either because they can’t afford to leave, or in hopes of returning home. The number of refugees has grown from 750,000 to around 3 million – and the costs to UNRWA have increased exponentially.

In 1970, the General Assembly created the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA to address the Agency’s financial crisis. Every year since, the Working Group has pursued new ways to finance UNRWA’s work, and produced a report on its efforts; every year, the UN passes a resolution for the continuation of those efforts – 49 years, 49 resolutions.

 

1967 refugees

About 200,000 Palestinians were displaced during the so-called Six-Day War in June of 1967 (some of these had already been displaced in 1948) when Israel occupied what was left of Palestine. Again, Israel refuses to let them return.

In 1983, General Assembly began addressing this issue individually, demanding that not just the refugees from 1948, but also those from 1967, be allowed to return. Because Israel has steadfastly refused to give them this right, the topic: Persons Displaced as a Result of the June 1967 and Subsequent Hostilities, has prompted resolutions every year since 1975 – 44 years in a row.

UN History Palestine

Displaced by the Six Day War, Refugees wait for food rations from UNRWA in an almost deserted refugee camp near Jericho, Feb. 6, 1968. Photo | AP

 

Settlements: land theft

As soon as Israel began its occupation in 1967, it began to build settlements – pockets of Israeli citizens living illegally on Palestinian land. In yet another affront to justice and international law, settlement construction includes the demolition of entire Palestinian villages, the confiscation of Palestinian property, and the expulsion of Palestinians.

By 1972, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories had brought this to the attention of the General Assembly, which began tracking Israel’s settlement-building and passing resolutions condemning the practice, asking the Special Committee to follow up – 47 resolutions in 47 years. (Until 2019, the United States agreed with the rest of the world that these settlements are illegal.)

Because Israel has persistently ignored the UN’s demands, at least 600,000 Israelis now live illegally in the Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem.

 

Human rights abuses

The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People is also fighting for Palestinian rights. The committee was formed in 1968 to specifically address Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that arose in the wake of the occupation.

Every year, the Committee conducts a fact-finding mission in the region, and every year, the Israeli government refuses to participate or even allow the members to enter the occupied Palestinian territories. Through investigation, independent research, and interviews with members of relevant UN committees and reputable NGOs, the Committee puts together a report in keeping with their mandate. Various groups use these reports to carry on advocacy work.

Every year since 1971, General Assembly has passed a resolution directing the Committee to continue its valuable work. That’s 48 resolutions in 48 years. (Here is the 2019 report.)

 

Inalienable rights

By 1975, the General Assembly was “gravely concerned” that Palestinian refugees still lacked their inalienable rights to self-determination, sovereignty, and the ability to return home. The body stated:

the United Nations has a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy.

The General Assembly created the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in hopes of finding a solution.

Starting in 1976, and every year since, the Committee has worked with other organizations around the world that are advocating for a just solution. They have reported every year, and every year General Assembly has passed a resolution – 43 in total – recognizing the work and authorizing it to continue.

UN History Palestine

Reem Hassan holds items that belonged to a child killed by an Israeli landmine during a 2002 U.N. Children’s summit in New York. Stephen Chernin | AP

 

Self-determination

The UN Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee has also taken on the Palestinian issue, with an emphasis on “the development of friendly relations among nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” This Committee has been working and reporting since 1995; each year, the General Assembly passes a resolution reaffirming these efforts: 24 resolutions in 24 years.

 

Stealing natural resources

Beginning in July 1996, General Assembly joined with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to highlight (among other things) Israeli settlements’ devastating impact on Palestinians’ access to their own natural resources.

For years, Israel’s government and illegal settlers have been confiscating or destroying agricultural land and orchards, water pipelines and sewage networks, and diverting water resources from Palestinian towns to illegal settlements.

The Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources Committee tracks and reports these actions in an effort to hold Israel accountable for its exploitation and destruction of Palestinian natural resources.

Israel has refused to take appropriate action. The General Assembly has, therefore, continued to pass resolutions to keep the Committee on the job – 23 resolutions in 23 years.

 

The Holy City of Jerusalem

Ever since 1947, before the State of Israel was created on Palestinian land, Jerusalem has been a focal point of the United Nations. Resolution 181 declared,

The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.

In support of Israel’s application for UN membership, the Israeli delegate Abba Eban assured the General Assembly that the Jewish state agreed with Resolution 181.

In the more than seventy years since, Israel never put the UN plan into motion. Israel controlled much of the city beginning in 1948 and officially – illegally – annexed the rest in 1980 – an act which the United Nations has deemed “null and void” (but which the current U.S. administration supports).

The topic of Jerusalem has come up in 38 General Assembly sessions and resolutions as the body has attempted again and again to pressure Israel to submit to international law and the UN’s own declarations – as well as Israel’s own promises.

 

Israel created an economic crisis

The Economic and Social Council of United Nations works with various UN bodies to identify “economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people,” and has been working for over four decades to coordinate and deliver needed assistance. Consequently, the topic of “Assistance to the Palestinian People” has spawned 40 resolutions.

 

United Nations as a myth-buster

As General Assembly saw, year after year, Israel’s impunity for egregious human rights violations, the body turned to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) to ramp up the pressure. The DPI had been established in 1946, “to promote global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations …[to build] support for peace, development and human rights for all.

The General Assembly instructed DPI to build close contact with the media, organize conferences and meetings with NGOs, publish newsletters and articles, and organize trips for journalists “in order to heighten awareness of the facts relating to the question of Palestine.” Each year since 1996, General Assembly has passed resolutions renewing DPI’s mandate – 23 years in a row.

The effort may be paying off in the one country that stands most resolutely by the side of Israel: polls are beginning to indicate that Americans are becoming less supportive of Israel and of U.S. government policies that favor the “Jewish State.”

UN History Palestine

UNRWA’s Peter Hansen speaks to the media during a tour of Nablus following Israeli helicopter and tank attacks in 2002. Greg Baker | AP

 

Numbers speak volumes

Palestine has been a prominent UN topic since 1949 and has been the subject of at least seven hundred resolutions – only a fraction of which are discussed here.

The list of committees and working groups toiling over the Palestinian issue is long. General Assembly indeed spends a great deal of time discussing and debating this topic. Their work attests, not to an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic culture in the United Nations, but to the tenacity of this global body – and the shameless belligerence of Israel.

It also speaks volumes that the United States remains one of only a handful of allies of this rogue state. Until this changes, there is no reason to expect that Israel’s behavior will improve.

Feature photo | A United Nations aid agency car lies destroyed by shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza, July 29, 2014. Lefteris Pitarakis | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org

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Backed by Millions from Pro-Israel Interests, Antone Melton-Meaux Takes Aim at Ilhan Omar

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 5:06am in

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News, Israel

Some of the most committed pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian groups are flooding the Democratic primaries in an attempt to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar.

On the surface, there are five candidates Democrats vying to be the congressional representative for Minnesota’s 5th district. But, in reality, it is a two-horse race, with two candidates raising millions, mostly from out of state, in this unusually hotly contested primary. One’s presence is perfectly understandable; in two short years, Ilhan Omar has risen to be a highly visible (and controversial) progressive champion. According to polls, she is more known to the American public than prominent Democrats like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine and presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

The other is more surprising: Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer by trade and a political neophyte has been the unlikely recipient of millions of campaign dollars. If you live in Minneapolis and turn on the television or radio, you will very likely hear a well-produced ad extolling Melton-Meaux or criticizing Omar. The challenger has raised over $4 million in his quest to unseat the Somali-born politician, a huge sum for a congressional primary. And while Omar has now closed the funding gap, their monies come from very different sources. The majority of Omar’s funds come from small donations, with under two percent from political action committees (PACs). In contrast, Melton-Meaux has received huge sums from pro-Israel groups and from wealthy individuals eager to see Omar unseated. The number one zip code for donations to his campaign is in Beverly Hills, CA. And according to Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, his average donation on Democratic fundraising website ActBlue is $650 (Omar’s is $18).

Much of his money comes from pro-Israel PACs. America PAC, for instance, has given around $382,000. Strongly conservative group NORPAC raised over $100,000 for Melton-Meaux in fundraisers in May and June, with AIPAC generating three times that amount for him. “Together, we have the privilege of accomplishing a dual objective. Supporting a deserving candidate, Antone Melton-Meaux, who has communicated a genuine desire to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and bring honor to his country and party while at the same time replacing Ilhan Omar, a highly divisive member of Congress who has proven to be unfairly and repeatedly critical of Israel,” explained NORPAC.

Ilhan Omar

Omar speaks at a rally at the U.S. Capitol during a house vote to limit Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran, Jan. 9, Jose Luis Magana | AP

Omar has been a vocal critic of Israel and a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against it. One of the only Muslims in Congress, she has also criticized the $3.8 billion in yearly aid the U.S. gives Israel, arguing that Washington should be leveraging the aid to stop the illegal settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians. “We must end [the occupation of Palestine],” she said. Last year the Netanyahu government denied her entry into Israel or Palestine, where she was to meet with members of the Knesset and the United Nations. Pro-Israel critics have constantly described her criticism of the state as anti-semitic.

Some in Minnesota have worried about the implications of such an influx of money to the race. “[We] need to ask where is this mountain of money coming from and why are they doing it and what do they expect for it,” said Keith Ellison, Omar’s predecessor as Congressional Representative for the 5th district.

Melton-Meaux himself has been rather vague with his campaign, running primarily on a message of unity and of being an alternative to Omar. There are zero policies mentioned in the “why I am running” section of his website, promising only to end hyper-partisanship in Washington and work with others — presumably Republicans — to get things done.

On key issues, he has serious disagreements with Omar. He opposes Medicare-For-All, calling only for better “access” to “affordable” healthcare, and has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. While Omar supported Minneapolis’ decision to dismantle their police force and start from scratch, Melton-Meaux has condemned the idea, presenting police as peacekeepers. “We’ve seen what happens when the police aren’t present and there’s been a lot more violence since then in Minneapolis, separate and apart from the civil unrest,” he said.

For all his talk of ending divisiveness, Melton-Meaux has certainly had a divisive career as a partner in Jackson Lewis, a law firm that specializes in union-busting. As the Huffington Post noted, in at least three cases, he represented large corporations that were fighting lawsuits from workers who claimed they were discriminated against or had their wages stolen by their employers. “It’s troubling to see somebody who’s running as a Democrat have that sort of record,” said Chris Shields, a spokesperson for the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

In many respects, the Minnesota primary resembles the Democratic presidential nomination, with a fierce but silent struggle between more radical grassroots figures and well-sponsored “moderate” opponents. Residents of the 5th district will have the opportunity to choose between the candidates on August 11 and decide whether the Minnesotan Pete Buttigieg will get further than just the primaries.

Feature photo | Fifth Congressional District candidate, Democrat Antone Melton-Meaux, answers questions during an interview in his Minneapolis office, July 22, 2020. Jim Mone | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 12:21am in

What will it take for the idea of a two-state solution, which was hardly practical to begin with, to be completely abandoned?

Every realistic assessment of the situation on the ground indicates, with palpable clarity, that there can never be a viable Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

Politically, the idea is also untenable. Those who are still marketing the ‘two-state solution’, less enthusiastically now as compared with the euphoria of twenty years ago, are paralyzed in the face of the Israeli-American onslaught on any attempt at making ‘Palestine’ a tangible reality.

The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas is still busy compiling more symbolic recognition of a state that, at best, exists in the dusty files of the United Nations. Arabs and Europeans, too, still speak of a two-state, rhetoric that is never followed with practical steps that may enforce international law and hold Israel accountable to it.

The fate of Palestine seems to be entirely dependent on the aggressive and violent actions of Israel alone – not only through the policies of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but all previous Israeli governments.

This trajectory of aggression and violence is likely to continue for as long as Israel is held hostage to the ideology of Zionism which remains committed to territorial, colonial expansion and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population.

These two factors – colonialism and ethnic cleansing – can never coexist with the principles of justice and peace. For Zionism to remain relevant, Israel and Palestine must remain in the throes of a protracted, interminable war.

Therefore, it was encouraging to read comments made by Jordanian Prime Minister, Omar Razzaz, in an interview with the British Guardian newspaper on July 21.

“You close the door to the two-state solution, I could very well look at this positively, if we’re clearly opening the door to a one-state democratic solution,” Razzaz said.

Razzaz was referring specifically in the context of Netanyahu’s decision to annex nearly a third of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The senior Jordanian official referred to Israel’s annexation policies as the “ushering in (of) a new apartheid state.”

An apartheid state was, practically, ushered in a long time ago. Israel’s so-called Nation-State Law of 2018 merely confirmed an existing reality.

The Law left no doubt regarding Israel’s exclusionist ‘Jewish identity’, formulated at the expense of the Palestinian people, their historic rights in Palestine, and the internationally-enshrined Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

On July 29, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) callously rejected a draft amendment to make the unmistakably racist Nation-State Law slightly less racist. The amendment had called for the inclusion of a clause that guarantees equality for all of Israel’s citizens, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity.

In its current form, Israel represents the very essence of apartheid.

Razzaz knows this, as do many politicians and leaders throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and across the world. Unlike his counterparts elsewhere, however, the Jordanian Prime Minister had the courage to imagine a future in Palestine and Israel that is not inundated by empty clichés of ‘solutions’ that were never fair, to begin with.

Razzaz’s positive and upbeat tone of words is notable.

“I challenge anybody from Israel to say yes, let’s end the two-state solution, it’s not viable,” he said. “But let’s work together on a one-state democratic solution. That, I think, we will look at very favorably. But closing one and wishful thinking about the other is just self-deception.”

Other Arab officials, prior to Razzaz, alluded to the one-state possibility, but largely in a negative context. Palestinian Authority officials, in particular, have waved this card before, often threatening Israel that, if illegal settlement expansion was not frozen, for example, Palestinians would have no alternative but to demand one state.

What Razzaz is saying is quite different, if not radical, as Jordan, which signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994, has remained the most visible Arab advocate for the two-state solution for many years. Razzaz’s words bring that ‘self-deception’ to an end.

Of course, political necessity will compel Jordan, and others, to continue to pay lip service to a political ‘solution’ that will, unlikely, ever materialize. Israelis and Palestinians are now conjoined in such a way that physical separation between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews is impossible. Additionally, speaking of a two-state solution while Israel is cementing a one apartheid state reality is a waste of precious time that should be used to foster equality, accountability, and just peace.

Ordinary Palestinians, too are beginning to realize the futility of the two-state paradigm. According to a February poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 61 percent of all Palestinians no longer believe that ‘a two-state solution’ is viable. The same poll suggests that 37 percent support the idea of a single state solution. Judging by previous poll numbers, it seems that, before long, the majority of Palestinians will embrace the latter as the most rational and achievable objective.

It will take time because the establishment of an independent Palestinian state has been the only rallying cry by the Palestinian leadership for nearly three decades.

However, even prior to the 1960s, the Palestinian national movement adopted a political strategy that was predicated on the establishment of one democratic state for Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Alas, political expediency impelled late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to shift tactics, settling for a Palestinian state that would, in theory, be incrementally established in disconnected parts of the occupied territories – Gaza, Jericho, Area A, B, and so on.

Even the latter idea, which was most unfair to Palestinians, was still rejected by Israel, and Netanyahu’s latest annexation scheme is proving to be the final nail of the two-state coffin.

Since the two-state solution is no longer workable, Palestine and Israel are now left with one of two options: a protracted, racist, and violent apartheid or coexistence in a modern, democratic, and secular state, for all of its people.

The democratic and sustainable choice should be obvious, even to politicians.

Feature photo | Jordanians yell slogans during a protest against Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century in the center of Amman, Jordan, Jan. 31, 2020. Raad Adayleh | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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