United Nations

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 3:27am in

Home to what the United Nations has described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Yemen is on the brink of total disaster after five years of protracted war. Yet crucial international aid to the country has been cut this year to just 25 cents per person, per day, around half of what was given in 2019. That money translates to just 200 grams (less than half a pound) of beans, three eggs, or 200ml of cooking oil inside the country, where food prices are soaring.

The aid has been channeled primarily through the United Nations. But the organization warns that what they received is less than half of what is necessary to supply clean water, food, shelter, and medicine to the 24 million people (80 percent of the population) who need humanitarian assistance.

Much of the blame for the drop in aid can be placed at the door of the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly pressuring the U.N. to scale back humanitarian assistance to the country in an attempt to starve the rebels of aid. In March, Pompeo traveled to U.N. headquarters to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make his case.

Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey, pleaded with the international community to do more to help the country. “While the economic fallout unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the globe, in Yemen millions are on the brink of starvation. Yemenis cannot afford aid to be cut, people need more help to survive, not less,” he said.

 

Cashing in on a crisis

Furthermore, the countries that have contributed the most in aid — the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — are the very same ones directing the onslaught against Yemen, with Saudi and Emirati troops leading the fight, supported by British and American arms sales and political cover. Saudi Arabia, for example, is responsible for 49 percent of all weapons purchases, while it has committed to buying $350 billion worth of U.S. arms in the coming years. This economic power has allowed the four to play politics with international aid, directing to groups that allow them to advance their agenda instead of where it is needed most.

“Countries should stop cashing in on this appalling humanitarian crisis and instead put people’s lives above arms manufacturers’ profit,” Siddiquey said. “The Yemenis who’ve had to flee their homes, go without food and clean water, and endure outbreaks of disease need a nationwide ceasefire and inclusive peace talks to end this war so they can rebuild their lives.”

The World Bank has warned of a “famine of biblical proportions,” with over 20 million people also lacking access to clean water. Because of the lack of funds, the U.N. has had to reduce services at 300 health and food distribution centers across Yemen. These sites are already in short supply, as the Saudi-led coalition intentionally targets their Yemeni counterparts, attacking water or medical facilities once every ten days on average since the war began in 2014.

Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, the U.N. explains, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities. These include deadly outbreaks of cholera and COVID-19. Officially, the country has seen only 2,047 COVID-19 cases and cholera numbers have dropped from last year. But, as Oxfam warned, these low figures do not show that the country has the epidemics under control. Quite the opposite: it shows their embattled health systems have been completely overwhelmed and are unable to record the devastation wrought.

 

From Arab Spring to Abraham Accord

While the conflict has its origins in the 2011 Arab Spring, the war officially began three years later, when armed Shia Houthi rebels rose up against what they saw as a corrupt and undemocratic government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Hadi initially fled the country but was given strong support by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf monarchies, and Western powers, who accused Iran of arming and funding the Houthis. However, without many boots on the ground, they have been unable to dislodge the Houthis from their strongholds in the populous south and west of the country, preferring to bomb the country from above. While the official death toll of the war stands at over 100,000, most believe this is a serious underestimate.

Unfortunately, the war is unlikely to cool down in the foreseeable future. The recently signed Abraham Accord between Bahrain, the U.A.E., and Israel, for example, allows for the transfer of high-tech American and Israeli weaponry to the Gulf states, who will doubtless be keen to use it in Yemen.

“The U.A.E. is one of the central protagonists in the cataclysmic war of aggression against Yemen,” Greg Shupak of the University of Guelph, Ontario, told MintPress. “So there is a strong possibility that it will unleash these killing machines on the impoverished Yemeni population that it has already done so much to devastate…Likewise, increased intelligence sharing between Israel and the U.A.E. could entail Israel helping the U.A.E. having more, and possibly more advanced, information that it can use to maim and kill Yemenis.”

Despite promising to draw down its role in the conflict, Sudan is sending hundreds of more troops to the country via Saudi Arabia. A foreign ministry spokesperson also recently revealed that the country is in talks with Israel to normalize relations. Saudi Arabia has also recently begun building a military base in the Hawf nature reserve in eastern Yemen, a crucial oasis in the largely arid country. As always, there appears to be plenty of money for weapons, but not enough for crucial humanitarian aid.

Feature photo | A medic checks a malnourished newborn inside an incubator at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, June 27, 2020. Hani Mohammed | 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.

The post Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day appeared first on MintPress News.

Vote as if the Climate and the Future of Humanity Depend on It – Because They Do

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/09/2020 - 1:46am in

Captain Trump wants to steer us straight onto the rocks, mumbling all the while about hoaxes. If we let him do it, history won’t forgive us. Nor will the rest of the world. Continue reading

The post Vote as if the Climate and the Future of Humanity Depend on It – Because They Do appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Israel Promised to Slow Down Home Demolitions During COVID-19, It Stepped Them Up Instead

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/09/2020 - 11:34pm in

Israel destroyed nearly 90 Palestinian-owned structures last month, rendering 202 people homeless, half of them children. The demolitions mark a fourfold increase in the average number of demolitions carried out by the Israeli government in 2020.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, in spite of Israel’s promise to refrain from home demolitions during the pandemic, the government has instead has stepped up the practice. The average number of demolitions in 2020 now stands at 60, compared to 36 in 2017. The period from March to August of 2020, a period marking the height of the coronavirus pandemic, showed the highest rate in four years.

In nearly every incident during August, the reason given for the demolitions was a “lack of building permits,” a problematic allegation as it is “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to obtain permits from the Israeli government thanks to a “restrictive planning regime” that applies only to Palestinians.

 

Set up to fail

One Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem describes the typical procedure: after spending about $22,000 on pre-application requirements, Alaa Borqan applied for a building permit – a process that can take five years and cost upwards of $50,000 – but was denied. Like many who need space for a growing family or business, he decided to take his chances and build anyway.

Borqan invested all of his savings, took on $230,000 in loans, and spent four years building his four-bedroom home before Israel fined him $17,000 for building without a permit and forced him to raze it with his own hands or pay a government demolition crew to do it for him.

While Borqan now pays $800 a month for an apartment for his family, many Palestinians end up homeless or are forced to move in with relatives – which can require expanding their home, which requires a permit, and the cycle continues.

Homes and businesses all over East Jerusalem and the West Bank have been served with open-ended demolition orders; others are “illegal” but have not been tracked down yet. OCHA reports that “At least one-third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack an Israeli-issued building permit, potentially placing over 100,000 residents at risk of displacement.”

 

Israel takes a village

In what can only be described as an ongoing human rights travesty, Israeli forces razed an entire village in August, the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the Israeli desert for the 177th time in ten years. The demolition was the sixth in 2020 alone. Middle East Monitor reports that the residents of Al-Araqeeb have deeds to their land and pay taxes but Israel refuses to recognize the existence of the village, withholding services like electricity, water, and schools, in hopes of pressuring them to relocate to a place of Israel’s choosing.

The village of Wadi as Seeq also experienced demolitions in August, displacing 24 Palestinians and destroying the shelters they used to house their livestock.

A mosque in East Jerusalem faces imminent demolition after an Israeli court threw out an appeal by residents. Funded through donations, the mosque was constructed eight years ago and serves the area’s 7,000 residents.

To make matters even more daunting for would-be Palestinian builders, Military Order 1797 enables Israel to begin demolition of new structures within four days if no permit is produced, expediting a procedure that was often drawn out for months while Palestinians fought (and almost invariably lost) a court battle. The order also “virtually strips the affected residents of the right to due process and the capacity to challenge the demolition orders through legal avenues…fast-tracking the forced transfer of the occupied population” – a crime against humanity according to the International Criminal Court.

The Israel government is not opposed to all construction projects though. In March, Israel approved plans for the construction of almost 3,500 settlement housing units on Palestinian land, a move expected to cause the forcible transfer of about 3,700 Palestinian Bedouins.

 

Discriminatory deadlines

While the East Jerusalem mosque has been given a month’s notice for demolition, the situation is completely different for one Israeli outpost – illegal even by Israeli government standards – that has also been slated for destruction.

Mitzpeh Kramim, built on privately-owned Palestinian land, is one of a very few areas colonized by Israelis that has been unable to withstand the Israeli High Court – at least so far.

In contrast to the one-month warning the East Jerusalem mosque received, or the four days granted under Military Order 1797, the Israeli community has been given three years to relocate, and the Israeli government and offered to foot the bill. Israeli lawmakers have vowed to pass a law in the interim to make that court decision null and void.

Israeli settlements are illegal according to the United Nations and the International Court of Justice; the demolition of homes is also a violation of international law. Even the United States has sided with the international community on the illegality of settlements until President Donald Trump finally reversed that position. Many experts consider the practice a form of ethnic cleansing and the Israeli government’s discriminatory housing laws to be state-sanctioned apartheid.

Feature photo | Palestinians inspect a house after it was demolished by the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Jenin, Feb. 6, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | 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 Israel Promised to Slow Down Home Demolitions During COVID-19, It Stepped Them Up Instead appeared first on MintPress News.

Lobster Review of Book on the Real Reasons for Trump’s Hostility to China

The conspiracy/parapolitics magazine Lobster has put up a fascinating piece by Scott Newton, ‘The USA, China and a New Cold War?’ reviewing Jude Woodward’s The US vs China: Asia’s New Cold War?, published in 2017 by Manchester University Press. Woodward’s book is an examination of how Western attitudes towards China fell from being extremely positive in the first decade of this century to the current state of tension and suspicion. The chief causes for this, according to the pronouncements of our politicos and the media, are concern over massive human rights abuses in Sinjiang, Hong Kong and elsewhere, Chinese territorial claims to islands in the South China Sea, which threaten western strategic interests and the other neighbouring countries, and the threat to national security posed by Chinese companies, particularly in telecommunications and social media. Woodward’s book turns these assumptions upside down. She recognises that there are real concerns about Chinese human rights abuses and the persecution of the Uighurs, but argues that this situation is far more complicated. And the real reason for America’s change of attitude to China is due, not to Chinese authoritarianism, but because China represents an emerging threat to America’s status as the world’s dominant superpower and their attitude towards capitalism is very different from American neoliberalism.

Relations between China and the West were initially positive and very good because the new, capitalist China had helped prop up the global economy after the financial crash of 2008. The development of the country’s infrastructure created a huge demand for raw materials, which benefited other countries around the world, including the west. The introduction of capitalism is also transforming China. It’s gone from a largely agricultural nation to an industrial and commercial superpower. In 2013 it passed America as the world’s largest trading nation. later on this century it is expected to surpass America as the world’s most prosperous nation both as a country and in terms of per capita GDP.

China’s build up of military forces in the South China Sea is seen by Woodward as a defensive posture against the Americans. They’ve assembled a large naval force in the area, which poses a threat to Chinese access to the Straits of Malacca. 80 per cent of the oil imported by China and much of its merchant shipping pass through the Straits, hence Chinese determination to defend them. Woodward believes that China believes in a multipolar world, and has neither the economic power nor the will to establish itself as the world’s ruling nation.

Nor is China pursuing its economic and commercial interests at the expense of everyone else, as has also been alleged. Woodward argues that while western capitalism views trade as a competition between two parties, in which one party must beat and impoverish the other, the Chinese instead really do see it instead as benefiting both parties.

The oppression of the Uighurs and suppression of democracy in Hong Kong by the Chinese government are real and matters of serious concern, but the West is also covertly attempting to interfere in China’s control of these regions. This is through the National Endowment for Democracy, the non-state outfit to which the American state has given the task of regime change after it was taken away from the CIA in Hong Kong, and through sponsorship and funding of various extreme nationalist and Islamist groups in Sinjiang. Newton writes

But the picture is not clear cut. The Chinese government has
complained about unhelpful ‘foreign interference’ in Hong Kong and there
is evidence to support this. Senior US politicians such as Vice-President Mike Pence have met leading members of the opposition in Hong Kong,
and civil society organizations there have received significant financial
support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA spinoff established in 1983 to promote what later became known as ‘regime
change’. This has, of course, always been change to one committed to a
political economy characterised by neoliberalism, in other words by free
market capitalism. In Hong Kong the NED has been financing groups
since 1994. A China Daily article from 2019 stated that the NED has been
financing groups in Hong Kong since 1994 and that the Hong Kong Human
Rights Monitor received $1.9 million between 1995 and 2013. A search
of the NED’s grants database further reveals that, between 2016 and
2019, the (US-based) Solidarity Center received more than $600,000 and
the (US-based) National Democratic Institute $825,000.

As far as Xinjiang is concerned, the real story is complex. This area is
rich in oil, gas and ‘other natural resources and profoundly important to
China’s national security’. The region borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. At times of invasion and civil
war in Chinese history it has tended to fall under foreign influence: for
much of the twentieth century until the mid-1980s the Soviet Union
played a powerful role in the province’s politics, backing separatist
groups. This role has now been taken by the USA, which is funding a set
of far-right and fundamentalist Islamic organisations such as the Victims
of Communism Memorial Foundation in a bid to promote instability in
Xinjiang and perhaps even its detachment from China itself.

The efforts of these shadowy parapolitical outfits have been
supported by another NED-financed group, the World Uyghur
Congress(WUC), which is keen to promote the creation of a separate
Turkic State out of Xinjiang. WUC is linked to the extreme Right in Turkey,
notably to the Fascist Grey Wolves organization. Finally there is the East
Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) whose objective is also the
establishment of an independent state carved from Xinjiang, known as
East Turkestan. The EU, UN Security Council and indeed the US
government have all identified ETIM as a terrorist organization linked to
Al-Qaida. In addition to its activities in the Middle East, during the last
twenty years ETIM has carried out terrorist attacks in China, including in
Xinjiang. Given Xinjiang’s strategic importance to China’s security and
territorial integrity and given the nature of the externally-trained and
funded agencies at work in Xinjiang, the attitude of the Chinese State to
dissidents there cannot be called surprising, even if the taking of a
repressive line has exacerbated problems in the region. It has also
provoked increasing global disquiet and has contributed to international
tension, though it cannot be said to be the root cause of this, which stems
from changing geopolitical conditions.

Woodward also argues that current American hostility to China comes from the conviction that America really is divinely ordained to be the world’s governing nation with a particular mission to promote free market capitalism. America demands trade at the expense of privatisation, the suppression of organised labour, and the free movement of capital. The Chinese have no interest in promoting any of this. They’re solely interested in trade, not in the economic and political transformation of their partners. Newton writes

It may not seem rational for the US to pursue a confrontation here but two quotations explain the reality from Washington’s perspective. The first is the comment of former French Foreign Minister Hugo Vedrine that ‘most great American leaders have never doubted . . . that the United States was chosen by Providence as the “indispensable nation” and that it must remain dominant for the sake of humankind’. The second is a comment by Perry Anderson that the US state acts ‘not primarily as a projection of the concerns of US capital, but as a guardian of the general interest of all capitals, sacrificing – where necessary and for as long as needed – national gain for international advantage in the confidence of the ultimate pay-off’.

In other words, the US both writes and polices the rules of the game
and the rise of China represents a de facto challenge to this hegemony.
On the surface this seems a strange observation. China has engaged very
successfully and indeed supportively (shown by its reaction to the 2008-9
Crash) with global capitalism. But it does so in a qualified way, or, to
paraphrase Xi Jinping, ‘with Chinese characteristics’. Not only does the 33
Chinese economy continue to operate a large state-owned sector but its
financial system is closely regulated, with controls over the currency and
over capital movements. China does not possess the conviction that
private economic activity trumps public enterprise, that government
should be small, organised labour suppressed, trade free and
international capital flows unhindered. Its assistance for developing
nations is not accompanied by requirements that states cut spending,
privatise public industries and services and liberalise the foreign trade
sector. In short China has never, in practice, endorsed the neoliberal
norms of the ‘Washington consensus’ established during the 1980s and
there is a real prospect that, if it does become the world’s largest
economy, it will seek to re-write the rules of the game in a way that is not
compatible with free market capitalism. This is what the US fears and its
strategy is therefore directed to forcing China to accept Washington’s
leadership and ‘enter the world family of nations’ on US terms or it would
face the likelihood of pre-emptive diplomatic, economic and, if necessary,
military action to halt its rise. As Woodward points out, this approach is
designed to ensure not only protection of the interests of global capital
but to secure ‘a longer-term pay-off’ for US domestic industry and finance
‘by preventing China reaching the point of competing at US levels of productivity and technology’.

It’s very doubtful if this new policy towards China will succeed. Many of the surrounding Asian countries have embraced China as a new market for their goods, while much of the American commercial hostility comes from firms and industries threatened by Chinese competition. Newton concludes that other countries may choose not to follow America’s lead but there will be considerable pressure on Britain to do so following Brexit. He writes

There is clearly a strong push within the British establishment, coming mostly from within the Tory Party and its friends in the City and the armed
services, in favour of military deployment in support of US forces in the
Far East, even if few other nations are willing to join. This might make
sense for the complex of defence industries, banks, hedge funds and
private equity firms at the core of modern British Conservatism but it is
hard to see what benefit there is for the rest of us in the UK from
confrontation with a nation which appears to harbour no aggressive
intentions to foreign countries and seems destined to become within a
short time the world’s largest economy.

See: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster80/lob80-usa-china-cold-war.pdf

In short, the new strained relations between China and America are a result, not so much of Chinese aggression, but due to Trump’s America trying to maintain itself as the world’s dominant nation economically and militarily. In this America is determined to promote its own very predatory form of capitalism, which is challenged by the less extreme form embraced by China. And it’s a situation that may benefit the military-industrial complex and financial sector that supports to the Tories, but won’t provide it to anyone else.

A UN Vote Exposed Canada’s Blind and Unconditional Support for Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/08/2020 - 5:18am in

The notion that ‘Canada is better’, especially when compared with US foreign policy, has persisted for many years. Recent events at the United Nations have, however, exposed the true nature of Canada’s global position, particularly in the matter of its blind and unconditional support for Israel.

On June 17, Canada lost its second bid for the coveted UN Security Council seat, which, had it won, would have allowed Ottawa the opportunity to become a world leader, pushing its own agenda – and those of its allies – on the global stage.

However, this, too, was a wasted opportunity. Only 108 countries voted for Canada while 130 and 128 voted for Norway and Ireland respectively. Both these countries will be admitted to the Security Council, starting January 1, 2021.

What is striking about Canada’s missed opportunity is that it was in retribution for Canada’s bias towards Israel, at the expense of Palestine, international and humanitarian laws.  Over the last twenty years alone, for example, Canada has voted against 166 resolutions supporting Palestinian rights, says Canadian author and human rights advocate, Yves Engler.

Moreover, Canada has lobbied – and continues to lobby – against the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of war crimes in Palestine. Along with Germany, Austria and others, Canada has challenged the ICC’s jurisdiction on the matter, erroneously alleging that Palestine is not a State.

Shortly before the June vote on new Security Council members was held, a group of human rights activists circulated a letter to all UN members, detailing Canada’s poor record on Palestine.  “Despite its peaceful reputation, Canada is not acting as a benevolent player on the international stage,” the letter read.

It added, “Since coming to power, the Justin Trudeau government has voted against more than 50 UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights, even though they have been backed by the overwhelming majority of member states.”

Among the signatories of the letter were renowned American intellectual, Noam Chomsky, famed rock star, Roger Waters and former Quebec National Assembly member, Amir Khadir.

The vote against Canada at the UN was understood to be a stance against Ottawa’s position on Israel and Palestine, despite Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Marc-Andre Blanchard, going on the defensive in a desperate attempt to dissuade member states from voting against his country.

In a letter sent to all member states, Blanchard argued that an earlier document written by “a group of Canadians regarding Canada’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict  … contains significant inaccuracies and characterizes Canada’s longstanding policy positions”.

This succession of actions is unprecedented in recent years, where a country like Canada loses the respect and support of other UN member states largely due to its failure to respect the rights of the Palestinian people. To better understand the significance of this event, we spoke to Yves Engler, who played a direct role in championing the Palestinian cause and pushing for Canadian accountability at the United Nations.

Engler has also authored several books, among them “Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid” and “Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada”.

“It is important for people to realize that this anti-Palestinian position that Canada pursues today is not new. It is grounded in at least a century of Zionist policy in this country,” Engler said.

 

The UN vote

Explaining the context of the June UN vote, Engler said that “the current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who is a liberal politician, expended a lot of energy into winning that seat; he undertook a huge campaign, called dozens of leaders around the world, lobbied very hard for that seat but, on the first round of voting, Canada was defeated resoundingly by Ireland and Norway.”

Engler added, “In my mind, there was no issue that contributed more to Canada’s loss in its bid for a Security Council seat than its anti-Palestinian record. And, more specifically, its voting against UN General Assembly resolutions that almost the entire world supports, isolated Canada with the US, Israel, Micronesia, and maybe one or two other countries.”

The Canadian setback at the UN should be directly attributed to grassroots activists and intellectuals like Engler.

“Activists’ groups – that I was part of – exposed records spanning the past two decades of the Canadian government voting consistently against the UN General Assembly resolutions. It voted against 166 UN General Assembly resolutions over the past twenty years. In comparison, Ireland and Norway did not vote against a single one of those UN General Assembly resolutions.”

 

The media lobby

“But how did Canada become pro-Israel?” we asked Engler.

“There is a very well-organized, pro-Israel lobby in Canada that is able to exert its influence over the media,” Engler said. “For instance, the pro-Israel group, ‘Honest Reporting Canada’, concentrates on criticizing every media source that expresses even a hint of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”

However, compared with the dynamics of Israeli influence over Washington, Canada is quite different. Unlike the US, Engler continues, “Canada has much clearer restrictions on the funding of politicians, so there is nobody like Sheldon Adelson who gives a couple of hundred million dollars to Donald Trump which, then,  sway Trump to adopt even more extreme anti-Palestinian positions. This dynamic does not exist in Canada, but the dominant media has always been sympathetic to the Zionist movement.”

Encouragingly, pro-Palestinian sentiment in Canada has grown over the last twenty years or so, to become a large network, an organized movement in its own right, which has, according to Engler, to “some extent, countered the dominance of the Zionist narrative.”

Canadian media, however, is still unwilling to challenge Israel’s power in the country, leaving the stage open to “pro-Israel groups  … to attack pro-Palestinian activists.”  “There is an incredible amount of trepidation, even in the pro-Palestinian movement, of being labeled as anti-Jewish,” Engler said.

 

Grassroots activism

Similar to the trend in other western countries, pro-Palestine groups in Canada are small, diverse, and organized at grassroots levels. These groups “tend not to be particularly well-founded or institutionally strong, while the pro-Israel side is far better organized.”

Yet, despite the pro-Israeli influence in government and media, “polls show, repeatedly, that the public is increasingly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than what appears in the dominant media or in the official protocol. A recent poll has revealed that Canadians are very sympathetic towards boycotting Israel for violating international law.”

A March 2017 poll indicated that 78% of all Canadians believe that “BDS is reasonable”. Engler sees much hope in these numbers, referring to them and to the vote at the UN as “small victories.”

The growing pro-Palestinian sentiment is now also seeping into politics. Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent decision to annex nearly a third of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, 57 members of parliament strongly protested this decision, demanding action from their government should Tel Aviv proceed with its illegal measures.

The change is far more rewarding within labor unions in the country than in politics. “Forty years, ago… unions were aggressive in their support of Zionism; today, this is no longer the case, as many unions have passed resolutions supporting BDS campaigns.”

While Canada’s support for Israel is, to a certain extent, consistent with Canada’s own colonial past and present interventionist foreign policy, the Canadian people and the international community remain major obstacles, challenging the toxic affinity between Ottawa and Tel Aviv.

The hope is that the growing pro-Palestinian tide, predicated on respect for international law and human rights, will eventually prevail in order to sever the Canada-Israel rapport permanently, and allow Canada to earn its place as a global leader.

Feature photo | A worker prepares the Canadian flag next to the Israeli flag ahead of the arrival of Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland who meets with Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her first to Israel, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Oct. 31, 2018. Jim Hollander | Pool via 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

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

The post A UN Vote Exposed Canada’s Blind and Unconditional Support for Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

US Remains Defiant, Promises New Sanctions After UN Rejects Anti-Iran Measures

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 3:03am in

The latest chapter in the sometimes Orwellian world of Middle Eastern politics occurred this weekend, as the Trump administration, which unilaterally walked away from Obama’s Iran deal, attempted to convince the world to enact a global arms embargo on the Islamic Republic, citing the very treaty it had itself destroyed. President Trump said he was unlikely to attend any proposed multilateral meetings, while his ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, was more explicit, stating that “in the coming days, the United States will follow through” on its threat to trigger supposed “snapback” sanctions on the embattled Middle Eastern nation.

Washington’s attempts to push through a worldwide arms embargo unsurprisingly fell flat at the United Nations on Friday, with only the Dominican Republic backing Washington’s punitive proposals, and all other members of the 15-country Security Council abstaining, or voting against it. Iran had been in compliance with the treaty until the U.S. left. The deal saw Tehran give up 80 percent of its nuclear power program in exchange for sanctions relief. Instead, the sanctions only increased.

Remarking on the American attempts to further squeeze Iran, Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said that they have, “no legal ground and common sense,” and that the U.S. is “shattering its own credibility.” “Once again [this] shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail,” he concluded. Ryan Costello, Policy Director with the National Iranian American Council, agreed. “If the Trump administration’s goals were to isolate the United States, alienate close allies and have high-risk diplomatic maneuvers blow up in their face, the maximum pressure approach is delivering in spades,” he wrote, calling the White House’s attempts to appeal to a treaty it had defamed and abandoned as “preposterous and without precedent.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was happy about the result, stating, “I don’t remember the United States preparing a resolution for months to strike a blow at the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it garners only one vote. But the great success was that the United States was defeated in this conspiracy with humiliation.”

According to the State Department, it was the world that was wrong, not Washington. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the decision to reject their “reasonable resolution” and side with “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” as “inexcusable.” “We will continue to work to ensure that the theocratic terror regime does not have the freedom to purchase and sell weapons that threaten the heart of Europe, the Middle East and beyond,” the Secretary of State concluded. By “the heart of Europe,” Pompeo is presumably referring to coastal Bulgaria and the eastern part of the Greek island of Crete, some of the only European lands in range of the much-hyped Iranian missile “threat.”

While according to Pompeo, Iran alone appears to sponsor terror, he also presented Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf monarchies as forces for peace, stability and human rights in the region. In reality, Israel is currently bombing Gaza again, while Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Gulf states (backed by Washington) in prosecuting a deadly war in Yemen, leading to what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where 24 million people need humanitarian assistance and 14 million are at risk of starvation. And while an Iran equipped with nuclear weapons could make the region more dangerous, many of its neighbors, such as Pakistan and India already possess them. Meanwhile, Israel has up to 200 nuclear weapons, all “pointed at Iran,” according to leaked emails from Pompeo’s predecessor Colin Powell, with both the U.S. and Israel helping Saudi Arabia with their own nuclear weapons ambitions.

The U.S. has stepped up its efforts against Iran of late, strongly supporting the suppressed demonstrations in Tehran in November, assassinating General Qassem Soleimani in January, and appointing notorious Iran-Contra figure Elliott Abrams as the president’s new envoy to the country. With what has been invested in regime change in Iran, it is not likely that the UN ruling will mean the end of U.S. actions against Iran. In fact, it could be just the beginning.

Feature photo | A shopkeeper arranges items in a window display at the Kourosh Shopping Center in Tehran, Iran, April 20, 2020. Vahid Salemi | 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.

The post US Remains Defiant, Promises New Sanctions After UN Rejects Anti-Iran Measures 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

The post Do Hundreds of UN Resolutions Prove the United Nations has an Anti-Israel Bias? appeared first on MintPress News.

‘Financial Times’ Review of Book on Real, Modern Slavery

This is another old clipping I’ve kept in my scrapbooks from the Financial Times, from May 29/30th 1999. It’s a review by their columnist, Ben Rogers, ‘Forced into human bondage’, of Kevin Bales’ Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global  Economy. This is another book that the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol had in its library. It’s an excellent book, but obviously very, very grim reading in its truly harrowing accounts of the brutality meted out to real, enslaved people across the world. I’m posting the review here because, while Britain and America are re-evaluating the legacy of slavery following the Black Lives Matter protests, real slavery and its horrors still exist around the world and I am afraid that this is being overshadowed by the debates over historic European slavery.

Rogers begins his review with the subtitled ‘Slavery today may be illegal, but it is still rife’. The review then goes on

It is tempting to think of slavery as a thing of the past. Its legacy lives on, disfiguring relations between Black and Whites everywhere, but surely the practice itself has gone?

This sober, well-researched, pioneering study shows that this, alas, is far from the case. Bales, an American social scientist who teaches in London at the Roehampton Institute, is careful to distinguish slavery from other forms of exploitation: the Pakistani child labourer, the Burmese agricultural worker, although paid a subsistence wage, are not necessarily slaves. Nevertheless, he argues that there are still, on a conservative estimate, perhaps 27m slaves in the world today – a population greater than that of Canada.

Most are located in the Indian subcontinent where they work as bonded labourers, but they exist in almost every country in the world. Paris harbours as many as 3,000 household slaves, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states many more. In the Dominican Republic, enslaved Haitians harvest the sugar that we eat. In Brazil, child prostitutes are forced to service the miners of the metals we use.

Of course, modern slavery is different from the old variety practised in ancient Athens or the American South. But in certain respects, Bales persuasively argues, the new variety is worse. In the traditional version, slave holders owned their slaves, who were almost always of a different race or religion from their masters; slaves were relatively expensive “capital” goods and usually kept up for life. Nowadays legal ownership is outlawed in every country of the world (Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, after all, states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude”), so modern slavery is disguised and “ownership” is replaced by manipulative debt bondage or fictive long-term “contracts”. Modern slaves tend to be taken from the same ethnic group as their holders and, because they are cheap, they are often used for only months or a few years before being discarded. Another difference is the size of the profit slaves produce. Agricultural bonded labourers in India generate not 5 per cent, as did slaves in the American South, but over 50 per cent profit per year for the slave holder; a Thai brothel owner can make 800 per cent on a new teenage girl.

To illustrate the nature of the new slavery, Bales has travelled around the world to investigate five cases in detail (often at some risk to himself): that of an enslaved prostitute in Ubon Ratchitani, Thailand; a water carrier in Mauritania; charcoal burners in the camps in Matto Grosso do Sul, Brazil; brickmakers in the Punjab, Pakistan; and bonded agricultural labourers in Uttar Pradesh, India.

The cases varied in significant ways. Ironically the one that most resembles old-style slavery – that of the water carrier from Mauritania – proves perhaps to be the least vicious. Slavery in Mauritania represents a lightly disguised continuation of a centuries-old practice; there slaves are kept for life and many slave families have been working for the same masters for generations. The cruellest example, by contrast, is provided by “Siri” the Thai prostitute, who was sold into slavery by her parents aged 14. Her debts to her owners are manipulate to ensure that she will continue to work until she is too tired or ill to be profitable.

Despite the differences, however, two continuities run through all the cases Bales so  graphically describes. In every case the worker is tricked or forced into bondage; in every case he or she is provided with the barest means of subsistence and sometimes not even that. In the charcoal camps of Brazil the men are often denied medication and left to die – on the principle that it is cheaper to acquire a new worker than repair an old one.

The western world has been slow to recognise the problem of the new slavery – in part because it is carefully disguised. The slave holders hide it from their government, governments hide it from the international community. The result is that, unlike, say, torture or censorship, slavery has yet to become a major human rights issue. The main international organisation dedicated to the abolition of slavery, Anti-Slavery International, has only 6,000 members. And without grass roots pressure, the World Bank, IMF and national governments are not inclined to show much concern.

“What country,” as Bales asks, “has been sanctioned by the UN for slavery? Where are the UN inspection teams charged with searching out slave labour? Who speaks for the slaves in the International Court of Justice? Governments and business are more likely to suffer international penalties today for counterfeiting a Michael Jackson CD than for using slaves.”

Modern slaves face the same conditions as the poor of the third world – they are the victims of industrialisation, population explosion and government corruption. Where labour is abundant, wages low, bribery rife, workers often face a stark choice between enslavement and starvation. Slavery, however, calls for its own particular solutions. Bales shows how strict enforcement of existing laws combined with programmes aimed at enabling slaves to set up on their own, have had some effect in diminishing debt bondage in northern India – although, as he reminds us, unless steps are taken slavery is set to grow.

Incredibly, Bales’ study is about the first to explore slavery in its modern international guise. The picture it offers remains patchy, given the limited resources at Bales’ disposal. He makes much of the west’s role in aiding and abetting slavery, yet most of the cases he studies belongs to local economies. This remains, however, a convincing and moving book. One can only hope that it will draw some attention to the terrible phenomenon it describes.

Although this was written 21 years ago, I’ve no doubt that it’s still acutely relevant and the situation has got worse. Since then there have been a series of scandals involving the enslavement of migrant workers in Britain and eastern European women trafficked into sex slavery. And, as the book Falling Off the Edge, shows very clearly, poverty around the world and the consequent exploitation of the poor has got much worse due to neoliberalism and globalisation. One of the programmes due to be shown on the Beeb – but I can’t remember whether it’s on TV or radio – is an examination of global terrorism. One of the groups looked at are Maoist terrorists in India. They’re a horrifically violent outfit, but they’re the result, according to Falling Off the Edge, of the horrific poverty and exploitation foisted upon the agricultural workers of central India.

And then there’s the increasing poverty and mounting debts of the British poor, thanks to Thatcherite welfare cuts, wage freezes and the replacement of loans for welfare payments and services. I wonder how long before this morphs into something very much like debt bondage over here.

Anti-Diplomacy: Danny Danon Ends Five Year Legacy of Israeli Hasbara at the UN

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 5:24am in

The United States is Israel’s best friend and ally in the world. It contributes over $10 million a day in no-strings-attached military aid despite the fact that Israel’s human rights record, according to the State Department’s own admission, is deeply problematic and contravenes U.S. law. The U.S. has dropped out of or defunded a number of United Nations organizations, including the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, UNRWA, all for the sake of Israel.

Danny Danon – who once criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, a hawk’s hawk, for his “leftist feebleness” – just completed a five-year stint as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, bringing his own political flourish to the job.

Back in 2015, when Danon was first appointed, Israel expert Jonathan Cook observed, “Danon’s posting is part of a discernible pattern of recent appointments by Netanyahu that reflect a growing refusal to engage in any kind of recognizable diplomacy. Confrontation is preferred. Danon can be expected to barrack, abuse and alienate fellow ambassadors at the UN in New York.”

Cook’s prediction was right on the money.

 

Danny Danon: the early years

Before his UN appointment, Danon already showed great promise as a combative promoter of Israeli exceptionalism. That exceptionalism was on display in May 2010, when Israel killed nine Turkish citizens aboard a humanitarian aid ship en route to Gaza (a tenth victim later died). The ship, one of six in a flotilla, was in international waters when Israeli commandos attacked it in an attempt to prevent humanitarian goods from reaching Gaza. Turkey demanded that Israel apologize and a young Danny Danon, then a member of parliament, complied. “We are sorry that, due to the [Israel Defense Forces’] over-cautious behavior, only nine terrorists were killed,” said Danon.

In 2012, Danon served as chairman of Israel’s Deportation Now movement, an effort to remove tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese refugees that had entered Israel in search of asylum. He declared at a rally,

The State of Israel is at war! An enemy state of infiltrators has been established within the State…We have to put an end to this, expel all the infiltrators before it is too late… The infiltrators are a national plague…”

Danny Danon

Danon holds a poster at a UN security press conference in 2015. Loey Felipe | UN

In June 2013, Danon advocated for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank with no regard for the indigenous Palestinians that live there (a plan that is taking shape today):

The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank, but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it.”

That same month, he expressed indifference to both international law, in this case regarding illegal settlement building, and Israel’s reputation when he declared to the Times of Israel, that “[the] international community can say whatever they want, and we can do whatever we want.”

 

2014: “We must not be humiliated”

The next year, Danon landed a position in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet as Deputy Defense Minister. He lasted just over a year before his brusque manner got him in trouble.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was on its seventh day of an air invasion of Gaza. Its mission: to stop Hamas rocket fire (up to that point, projectiles from Gaza had caused 27 Israeli deaths in 13 years).

In its week-long air assault, the IDF had killed 185 Palestinians. No Israelis had been killed, and Israel had accepted a ceasefire. However, Danon criticized the Israeli government for going too easy on Hamas – especially for its delay in starting a ground offensive – and for buying into a ceasefire too soon.

We must not be humiliated. We must correct the mistake of the cabinet decision from this morning [to accept the ceasefire] and allow the army to do what it must… with Hamas we must speak in a language it understands.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu promptly fired him.

Danon released a statement that read in part, “I did not agree, and won’t agree, to this spirit of leftist feebleness by the prime minister, and I won’t sell out my ideology for an office and a driver.”

The ceasefire fell through, and two days later, Israel began a ground invasion of Gaza. By the end of the seven-week conflict, 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were dead.

Danny Danon was temporarily unemployed, but his career as a public servant was far from over: Netanyahu brought him back five months later as Minister of Science, Technology, and Space; the next year, he was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

2015: “Stop making excuses”

In the UN, Ambassador Danon hit the ground running. In his first speech to the General Assembly, he attacked the entire body for what he considered an ongoing and utter mischaracterization of the Israel-Palestine situation:

Let me make one thing clear – this is not a cycle of violence. These are simply unprovoked attacks against Israelis for no reason other than the fact that they are Jews living in their historic homeland…”

The UN must end its usual practice of calling on both sides to show restraint, and state clearly: there is one side that is instigating a wave of terror.”

Stop making excuses for the Palestinians, and start holding them accountable.”

 

2016: “Shame on you!” and “BDS has infected the UN”

In April 2016, the UN Security Council debated a possible resolution to call on Israel to halt the construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Ambassador Danon went off-script, addressing the Palestinian Ambassador, Riyad Mansour:

Danon: Shame on you for glorifying terrorism!

Mansour: Shame on you for killing Palestinian children!

Danon: I condemn all acts of terrorism’: one sentence you cannot say. Shame on you for that.

Mansour: Let my people be free! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! You are an occupier.

The next month, Danon played host to a conference called, “Building Bridges Not Boycotts,” in the United Nations headquarters. The summit sought to counter recent bad press: the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had mandated a database, which was finally published in February of this year, of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements. The list could be used to boycott the companies, most of them Israeli, as a form of economic pressure to stop the construction of illegal settlements.

Danny Danon

Danon displays what he called a Palestinian “terror doll” during a 2016 press conference at the UN. Cara Anna | AP

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement – a campaign that addresses Israel’s violations of international law in its treatment of the Palestinian. The nonviolent campaign is modeled after the South African anti-apartheid movement. Israel and the U.S. describe BDS as anti-Semitic and an attempt to delegitimize Israel.

During the conference, Ambassador Danon declared to his audience,

[BDS] has already infected the UN. When the UN opens its doors to BDS, we have to respond. This is a battle we must fight, and it is a battle we will win.

To those who boycott Israel, who want to see an end to the Jewish state; to those standing outside the UN right now screaming hateful anti-Semitic slogans against Israel: you will never win.

Our people have overcome every enemy. We stand strong; we stand together; and we  will defeat you, once and for all.”

 

2018: “Wretched collaborator,” “morally bankrupt”

In October 2018, the UNSC had a guest, one Hagai El-Ad, Director-General of B’tselem, a highly respected Israeli human rights organization. B’tselem’s goal is to document human rights violations in the Israeli-occupied territories. As part of a debate on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Bedouins, El-Ad reported on his findings, describing Israel as a state “founded on supremacy and oppression.” Ambassador Danon retorted,

You’re a wretched collaborator…IDF soldiers guard you, and you came here to defame them. Shame on you.”

In November 2018, Israel clearly undermined a ceasefire with Hamas by infiltrating Gaza. The incident ended with seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead. Hamas retaliated by firing rockets toward Israel, killing one; Israel then killed seven more Palestinians.

The UN Security Council met to discuss the situation, but could not agree on a response.

Some UNSC members blamed Israel for the flare-up – Danon accused them of being “morally bankrupt”; others diplomatically called for restraint on both sides, to which Danon proclaimed, “there is no such thing as both sides.”

 

2019: “The Bible is our deed,” “Palestinian surrender,” and more

In April 2019, Ambassador Danon – himself a secular Jew – waved a Bible in the air and declared, “This is the deed to our land.”

From the book of Genesis; to the Jewish exodus from Egypt; to receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai; to the gates of Canaan; and to the realization of God’s covenant in the Holy Land of Israel; the Bible paints a consistent picture. The entire history of our people, and our connection to Eretz Yisrael, begins right here…”

Danny Danon Bible

Danon holds a Bible aloft during a 2019 UN Security Council meeting. Photo | Israeli Embassy

In June, Danon published an editorial in the New York Times, “What’s wrong with Palestinian surrender?” In it, he criticized the Palestinians’ rejection of Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century – a “peace” plan that eliminates all hope of justice and self-determination and acquiesces to Israeli colonization. Danon concluded that Palestinian resistance,

[exposes] the uncomfortable truth about the Palestinian national identity: It is motivated not by building a better life for its people but by destroying Israel.”

In December, in what turned out to be one of his final acts of “diplomacy,” Danon announced that he’d be introducing a resolution in 2020 – one that would recognize the Jewish refugees circa 1948. He was referring to the estimated 850,000 Jews who had been exiled from Arab countries and Iran around the time that Israel was created, forced out by the Muslim majorities in those countries, angry that Jews had colonized the homeland of the Palestinians. Danon insisted, “Every time the U.N. talks about the refugees of Israel’s war of independence, they speak only of the Palestinian refugees.

The fact is there were two populations of refugees, and we must not allow that fact to be forgotten. Not only because we must honor those who lived through it, but because we must learn from it.”

He said he hoped to pass a resolution to formally recognize these refugees:

Israel took in these refugees and integrated them into our society. The international community on the other hand ignored them and built corrupt institutions that only serve so-called Palestinian refugees.”

But the State of Israel will give voice to the truth and correct the historical injustice by putting an end to the deafening silence on the part of the international community.”

 

2020: One more for the road

Ambassador Danon’s resolution recognizing Jewish refugees never materialized. He did leave a parting gift, though: an interview with BBC’s Stephen Sackur, riddled with problematic and controversial statements: “I represent not only the people of Israel, I represented [sic] the Jewish people in the U.N.”

We [Jews] do have biblical rights to the land. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jew — you read the Bible, you read the stories of the Bible — it’s all there.

This is our deed to the land. That’s biblical.”

When asked about Israel’s plan to begin formally annexing parts of the West Bank, Danon replied, “You cannot annex something that belongs to you. When you annex something you do it from a foreign territory. I do not know from whom we are annexing it…”

Danny Danon’s confrontational style of “diplomacy” grew from his belief that the United Nations carries a grudge against him and all Jews. In fact, the UN created Israel, and in return, Israel made promises – none of which it has kept. In 2015, Jonathan Cook noted, “Danon’s appointment…indicates the extent to which the Israeli right has abandoned any hope of persuading the international community of the rightness of its cause – or even of working within the rules of statecraft.”

[Israel] has no place for negotiations or compromise [and] wants only to tell the world that it is wrong and that Israelis don’t care what others think…”

Based on that job description, Mr. Danon certainly discharged his duties.

Feature photo | Israel United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon listens to a correspondent during a news conference about Israel’s violent crackdown on Palestinian protests at the Gaza border, May 15, 2018, at U.N. headquarters. Bebeto Matthews | 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 Anti-Diplomacy: Danny Danon Ends Five Year Legacy of Israeli Hasbara at the UN appeared first on MintPress News.

If You Support Black Lives Matter, Condemn China’s Genocide of the Uighurs

In case you’ve missed the news over the last couple of days, relations between China and Britain are strained due to mainland China’s insistence in suppressing democracy in Hong Kong, and the genocide of Uighur people of Xinjiang. Their only crime is to be a separate people, whose native language is related to Turkish and their traditional religion is Islam. Xinjiang is a region rich in natural resources, such as coal and iron. According to the Financial Times back in the 1990s, it was always a border region with a high degree of independence, if not actually a separate state, under the Chinese Empire. Then came the Chinese revolution and the mass influx of majority Han Chinese to exploit and develop these resources for the benefit of China. The Uighurs were and are becoming a minority in their own region. The result was increasing demands for separatism.

The War on Terror

The Chinese started to crack down on these demands in the early parts of this century, spuriously claiming they were part of Bush’s ‘War on Terror’. For nearly two decades now newspapers and news reports have been telling anyone who will listen about how far this persecution has moved into full on genocide. The Uighurs are formally forbidden from speaking their own language and practising their traditional culture. Their homes are monitored. If they break these laws, they are interned and brutalised in concentration camps. The I reported last week that the regime had engaged in the mass sterilization of Uighur women.

The UN Law on Genocide

This is real Nazism. I believe the UN resolution against genocide also includes forcible attempts to deprive a people of their culture and heritage. As for the sterilisation, this was the Nazi policy towards recidivist criminals, the insane and chronic alcoholics, who were also interned in camps. This preceded the extermination of the disabled, Jews and Gypsies by gassing, the disabled as part of the Aktion T4 programme. The Chinese haven’t moved on to that. Yet.

China’s Uighur Policy and European Extermination of Indigenous Peoples

These policies are also extremely similar to those the European powers adopted to the indigenous peoples of their expanding empires. It began with the extermination of the Amerindian peoples of the Caribbean and the dispossession of the indigenous peoples of the New World. In America and Canada indigenous Americans were placed in boarding schools to deprive them of their own culture in order to mould them into modern American and Canadian citizens. There is also bitterness and controversy surrounding the Spanish missions in the American west, which did the same in order to convert them to Christianity. Many of the children and people thus incarcerated died of starvation, brutal maltreatment and disease. Over in the Pacific, there was the genocide of the Aboriginal peoples and the scandal of the lost generation, in which mixed race children were removed from their Aboriginal families and placed with Whites. And again, indigenous children were also placed in boarding schools to stop them speaking their complex native languages and deprive them of their culture. All in the name of progress.

During the Mao Mao rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s, tens of thousands of innocent Black Kenyans were killed, imprisoned, tortured and mutilated in what has been described by a book of that name as ‘Africa’s Secret Gulags’. Aaron Bastani said in his piece attacking David Starkey’s views on race and the Empire with Michael Walker, posted on YouTube, that the White colonists were also considering and demanding their outright extermination. I think he’s speaking from experience, family if not personal as he’s too young to have experienced it himself.

And before all this started, we imposed similar laws in Ireland in the 16th century in order to eradicate that country’s Gaelic culture. Similar laws came into effect after the defeat of the 1745 rebellion, despite the fact that many Scottish clans actually joined the British in fighting the Young Pretender. And Welsh Nationalists keenly remember how the speaking of Welsh was punished in schools, with wooden notices saying ‘Welsh Not’ hung about the necks of children who persisted in using the oldest written language of the British Isles.

History of Chinese racism

There’s been a nasty strain of racism in Chinese culture for a long time. The Middle Kingdom was isolated from the rest of the world, and dominated the other nations in its region. It led the world for so long, that its defeat in the Opium Wars and then occupation by the European empires during the Boxer rebellion was a severe psychological shock, and has produced feeling of humiliation and resentment that have not dissipated to the present day. Europeans, initially confined to mercantile ghettos in a limited number of ports trading with the West, were viewed as almost alien beings. There’s a Chinese drawing from the 19th century of a western sailor, who is drawn as some kind of hairy anthropoid with a huge beak of a nose, wreathed in tobacco fumes like the smoke from some hellish demon. It’s the counterpart of western caricatures of other non-western races. The ‘Yellow Peril’ scares that spread through Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which claimed the Chinese wanted to invade the West and conquer the world actually had some basis in reality. They came ultimately from a small number of anti-western texts, although their significance was wildly and grotesquely exaggerated by racists, thus laying the foundations for the Fascist and imperialist horrors of the 20th century. I also understand that there are ideologies of Chinese racial uniqueness based on the ancient fossil finds of pre-human hominid races, like Peking Man. Chairman Mao, a man who did his best to wreck his nation’s people, history and traditional culture, was carefully anti-racist. He saw the Chinese as part of the global community of non-White races, referring to them as ‘we Coloureds’. But nearly a decade after his death, there was an anti-Black riot in one of the Chinese cities, which was reported in the Observer c. 1984/5.

19th Century Chinese Drawing of European Sailor

And with the emergence of the Coronavirus has come other forms of anti-Black prejudice and discrimination in China. The extreme Right-wing blogger, Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, put up a video about this on his vlog. It told how Black native English speakers are refused jobs teaching the language in China, because they prefer Whites. Blacks have also been refused entry to restaurants on the wholly mistaken grounds that they are more vulnerable to Coronavirus than those with paler skin. If they are admitted, they may be isolated from other guests and the area specially cleaned afterwards. Sargon wondered why no ‘SJWs’ were campaigning against this racism. Part of the answer, as Emma Maltby wrote in the I last Thursday/Friday, is that they don’t want to be deliberately distracted against their goal of combating western racism. But it is a very good question, as China is now fully integrated into the global capitalist economy. Hope Not Hate has compiled a petition, which they are asking people to sign, against buying goods from multinational companies, like Adidas, Puma, Fila, BMW and Jaguar, made from Uighur slave labour. I have absolutely no problem signing it, because the industrial use of slave labour was exactly what Stalin and the Nazis did. Under the purges, industrial combines gave the KGB lists of the type of workers they needed, and the KGB dutifully arrested them as capitalist spies and saboteurs, to work as slaves in the Gulags. The SS had a subsidiary company, staffed with Jewish artisans and craftsmen, producing luxury goods for the Nazi elite. They even brought out a catalogue. And it is notorious that America continued trading with Nazi Germany, with the banks lending them credit, even after their persecution of the Jews was well known. If we continue buying Chinese goods made using forced Uighur slave labour, we are doing exactly the same.

I am not remotely trying to demonise the Chinese as a people. I know some really great Chinese people here in Bristol and the West Country, who are vital members of the community running some of our local stores. I knew one lady who was an opera signer, or at least opera trained. I am merely stating that China, like very many nations, also has its racism and that in the case of the Uighurs it has become little short of Nazism.

Mencius – Ancient Chinese Anti-Racist/ anti-Nationalist

Way back in Chinese history there were a number of competing philosophical schools. Confucianism is the best known as it was ultimately victorious, becoming the ideology of the Chinese empire. The worst of these was Legalism, an ideology that has been compared to modern fascism in that it did believe that might was right and the rulers should have absolute power. But there was also Mencianism. Mencius, or to give him his real, Chinese name, Meng-tse, was an altogether gentler, more idealistic soul. While Confucius believed that one’s primary love should be for the country of one’s birth, Mencius argued that one should love all the world’s people’s equally. You could imagine the great sage mixing easily as a respected figure among the hippies of the ’60s.

Now as the Uighurs are being ground down and exterminated by the Chinese authorities, we need less Legalism, less racism, less totalitarianism and far more Mencianism.

And Nazism needs to be fought wherever it is, whether in Europe, America or China.

Hope Not Hate, the anti-racism organisation, has an entire section devoted to the genocide of the Uighurs, including videos of the concentration camps. It’s at:

What’s happening in Xinjiang?

It has this section on the western brands exploiting Uighur slave labour.

Brands of shame

Pages