Category Archives: Palestine

colour revolution or not: with protests in Catalonia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Haiti and Hong Kong, what are the tests of authenticity?

When the Ukrainians gathered in the square in 2014, the stage had been set for a bloody coup. Today ‘the Maidan’ or ‘Euromaidan’ is seldom if ever mentioned and a false impression is often given that the subsequent Ukrainian civil war was sparked by a Russian invasion of Donbass and its annexation of Crimea. However, at the time of the Maidan, western media featured the Ukraine’s fascist-led colour revolution on a nightly basis: the use of catapaults to launch rocks at the police then applauded by BBC and C4 correspondents alike, as more judiciously were the Molotov cocktails laced with polystyrene for extra adhesion.

Even as it became abundantly clear that leading perpetrators of the violent disorder were neo-Nazi brown-shirts Svoboda and their paramilitary comrades Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector), who were engaged in arson attacks on union buildings and ultimately shooting live ammunition into the square, our media maintained the official charade that this was all part of a ‘pro-democracy demonstration’.

In Venezuela we have been presented with a different fictional account by the same media outlets as once again the US ramped up its repeated efforts to overthrow the elected President, Nicolás Maduro; on this occasion, manoeuvring to replace him with the hand-picked puppet Juan Guaidó. Thus, during another ‘popular uprising’ horrifically violent acts by anti-government thugs that included the burning of opponents alive, went unreported as the corporate media once again parroted the official line that consistently portrayed the perpetrators of these crimes as ‘pro-democracy demonstrators’ fighting against ‘a regime’ and ‘a dictator’.

Today we have the so-called ‘pro-democracy demonstrators’ in Hong Kong who are again lauded for their commitment, courage and ingenuity; even when it comes to smashing up buildings, and hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police lines. And when considering the authenticity of any uprising, our media’s characterisation of rioting as ‘protesting’ must always be considered a red flag. But besides the one-sided media coverage that quickly prioritises and magnifies the events on the ground (numbers, or rather the perception of numbers matters greatly) and makes this its nightly headline, there are further clues we can look for that help with spotting colour revolutions and distinguishing them from authentic uprisings.

By definition, colour revolutions are driven and directed by outside interests that steer the movement both by means of financial support and by way of official legitimisation (hence the unduly favourable media coverage). And whenever the US State Department issues statements that acknowledge its backing of any protest movement – but especially protests that destabilise states labelled hostile or ‘rogue’ – it is more than likely meddling directly in events on the ground.

In former decades it was left to the CIA to foment uprisings to topple unwanted governments or otherwise unfavourable ‘regimes’, but that role has today been passed over to its soft power agencies USAID and the GONGOs – government-organised non-governmental organisations. Amongst today’s prime movers we find the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which describes itself as “a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world” and that, in turn, funds think tanks and private NGOs. In their 2012 report, NED indicated that it spent more than $3 million on programmes in the Ukraine alone. It had previously spent millions more in US attempts to destabilise Chevez in Venezuela. As author and historian William Blum writes:

How many Americans could identify the National Endowment for Democracy? An organization which often does exactly the opposite of what its name implies. The NED was set up in the early 1980s under President Reagan in the wake of all the negative revelations about the CIA in the second half of the 1970s. The latter was a remarkable period. Spurred by Watergate – the Church committee of the Senate, the Pike committee of the House, and the Rockefeller Commission, created by the president, were all busy investigating the CIA. Seemingly every other day there was a new headline about the discovery of some awful thing, even criminal conduct, the CIA had been mixed up in for years. The Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name, and it was causing the powers-that-be much embarrassment.

Something had to be done. What was done was not to stop doing these awful things. Of course not. What was done was to shift many of these awful things to a new organization, with a nice sounding name – The National Endowment for Democracy. The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.

It was a masterpiece. Of politics, of public relations, and of cynicism.1

Click here to read the full piece which provides details of NED’s meddling in elections across the world on William Blum’s official website.

Alongside the dirty hands of in-house agencies USAID and NED there is also the closely aligned and US government-funded NGO Freedom House which claims to be “an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world” and “a catalyst for greater political rights and civil liberties”. Habitually too, we will find the involvement of similarly deceptive ‘independent’ ‘pro-democracy’ organisations more than likely funded by or closely associated with billionaire George Soros.

As the Guardian’s Ian Traynor wrote at the time of America’s first soft coup in Ukraine, the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, in an article entitled “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev”:

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.

Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

That one failed. “There will be no Kostunica in Belarus,” the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.

But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.

The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.

He continues:

In Ukraine, the equivalent is a ticking clock, also signalling that the Kuchma regime’s days are numbered.

Stickers, spray paint and websites are the young activists’ weapons. Irony and street comedy mocking the regime have been hugely successful in puncturing public fear and enraging the powerful.

Last year, before becoming president in Georgia, the US-educated Mr Saakashvili travelled from Tbilisi to Belgrade to be coached in the techniques of mass defiance. In Belarus, the US embassy organised the dispatch of young opposition leaders to the Baltic, where they met up with Serbs travelling from Belgrade. In Serbia’s case, given the hostile environment in Belgrade, the Americans organised the overthrow from neighbouring Hungary – Budapest and Szeged.

In recent weeks, several Serbs travelled to the Ukraine. Indeed, one of the leaders from Belgrade, Aleksandar Maric, was turned away at the border.

The Democratic party’s National Democratic Institute, the Republican party’s International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros’s open society institute. 2

Click here to read Ian Traynor’s full article.

Applying these criteria, it is possible to test the ongoing protests around the world to ascertain the likelihood and scale of outside interference. In the following sections I provide a brief overview region by region. In summary, those pursuing anti-austerity objectives are almost certainly the least susceptible to external manipulation; these include the mass uprisings in Chile, Ecuador, France and Haiti. The unrest in Catalonia is a consequence of a different form of state repression with historical roots and the mainly peaceful protests are the spontaneous response of a mostly genuine pro-democracy grassroots movement. The situation in Hong Kong is more complicated and compelling evidence of western interference is presented below.

Update:

Press TV compares western media coverage of the protests in Hong Kong, the Gilets Jaunes in France, and the Great March of Return in Gaza:

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Hong Kong

As the initially peaceful protests and mass demonstrations rapidly turned into riots and highly coordinated pockets of violent resistance, it also became increasingly clear that contrary to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s, and US government denials, the unrest had indeed been actively fomented by agencies acting on behalf of American foreign policy agenda. The following extended extract is taken from an assiduously referenced investigative piece written by geopolitical researcher and writer Tony Cartalucci:

US policymakers have all but admitted that the US is funnelling millions of dollars into Hong Kong specifically to support “programs” there. The Hudson Institute in an article titled, “China Tries to Blame US for Hong Kong Protests,” would admit:

A Chinese state-run newspaper’s claim that the United States is helping pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong is only partially inaccurate, a top foreign policy expert said Monday. 

Michael Pillsbury, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland the U.S. holds some influence over political matters in the region.

The article would then quote Pillsbury as saying:

We have a large consulate there that’s in charge of taking care of the Hong Kong Policy Act passed by Congress to insure democracy in Hong Kong, and we have also funded millions of dollars of programs through the National Endowment for Democracy [NED] … so in that sense the Chinese accusation is not totally false.

A visit to the NED’s website reveals an entire section of declared funding for Hong Kong specifically. The wording for program titles and their descriptions is intentionally ambiguous to give those like US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plausible deniability.

However, deeper research reveals NED recipients are literally leading the protests.

The South China Morning Post in its article, “Hong Kong protests: heavy jail sentences for rioting will not solve city’s political crisis, former Civil Human Rights Front convenor says,” would report:

Johnson Yeung Ching-yin, from the Civil Human Rights Front, was among 49 people arrested during Sunday’s protest – deemed illegal as it had not received police approval – in Central and Western district on Hong Kong Island.

The article would omit mention of Johnson Yeung Ching-yin’s status as an NED fellow. His profile is – at the time of this writing – still accessible on the NED’s official website, and the supposed NGO he works for in turn works hand-in-hand with US and UK-based fronts involved in supporting Hong Kong’s current unrest and a much wider anti-Beijing political agenda.

Johnson Yeung Ching-yin also co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post with Joshua Wong titled, “As you read this, Hong Kong has locked one of us away.”

Wong has travelled to Washington DC multiple times, including to receive “honors” from NED-subsidiary Freedom House for his role in leading unrest in 2014 and to meet with serial regime-change advocate Senator Marco Rubio.

It should also be noted that the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum also sits on the NED board of directors.

This evidence, along with extensively documented ties between the United States government and other prominent leaders of the Hong Kong unrest reveals US denial of involvement in Hong Kong as yet another wilful lie told upon the international stage – a lie told even as the remnants of other victims of US interference and intervention smolder in the background.

The direct ties and extreme conflicts of interest found under virtually every rock overturned when critically examining the leadership of Hong Kong’s ongoing unrest all lead to Washington. They also once again reveal the Western media as involved in a coordinated campaign of disinformation – where proper investigative journalism is purposefully side-stepped and narratives shamelessly spun instead to frame Hong Kong’s ongoing conflict in whatever light best suits US interests.

What’s worse is big-tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google purging thousands of accounts attempting to reveal the truth behind Hong Kong’s unrest and the true nature of those leading it. If this is the level of lying, censorship, and authoritarianism Washington is willing to resort to in order for Hong Kong’s opposition to succeed, it begs one to wonder what this so-called opposition is even fighting for. Certainly not “democracy” or “freedom.” 3

Click here to read Tony Cartalucci’s full article.

Here to read a follow up piece in which Cartalucci explains how Twitter “not only has taken no action to expose and stop US interference in Hong Kong, but is actively aiding and abetting it” by “target[ing] accounts within China itself to disrupt any effort to expose and confront this US-backed unrest unfolding in Hong Kong.”

And here to read an earlier post which provides further background to the current uprising in Hong Kong.

Note that: on Wednesday 23rd, HK’s security chief John Lee announced that the bill that had triggered the initial demonstrations by allowing for the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China – legislation that protesters feared Beijing may use to target dissidents – was officially withdrawn. In response, several opposition lawmakers tried to heckle Lee’s speech, demanding his resignation:

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Haiti

Mass demonstrations demanding the resignation of the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, began in July 2018 following disclosure of the embezzlement of $2 billion in Venezuelan oil loans when “former Presidents René Préval and Michel Martelly, declared states of emergency, allowing their respective prime ministers — Jean-Max Bellerive and Laurent Lamothe —to approve projects using PetroCaribe funds”:

Prior to the earthquake, Haiti had accumulated more than $396 million in debt to Venezuela, which the South American nation forgave. But in the last seven years, it has wracked up [sic] almost $2 billion in new debt as Martelly’s government ministers traveled the globe promoting a new image of a post-quake Haiti while reconstruction projects languished and tens of thousands continued to live in camps. As of October, more than 37,000 Haitians still lived in 27 camps, the International Organization for Migration said. 4

Click here to read the full report published in the Miami Herald.

Although it was the PetroCaribe scandal that sparked the initial unrest, there are many related concerns about government corruption that continue to fuel the protests:

But the anger isn’t just over squandered money. It’s also directed at Haitian politicians and their privileges in a country where two out of three people live on less than $2 a day and concerns are increasing over the potential for more social unrest.

During recent political mudslinging, the president of the Haitian Senate and an opposition senator accused each other of corruption. Sen. Ricard Pierre said Haiti’s cash-strapped government was paying $115,500 to rent a residence for the head of the body, Sen. Joseph Lambert. Lambert in turn accused Pierre of stealing the chamber’s generator.

Pierre denied the accusation. Lambert announced that the Senate would cancel the lease and curtail lawmakers’ privileges. The damage, however, was already done.

“They were not even ashamed,” K-Lib, 37, [whose real name is Valckensy Dessin] said, adding that it’s time for Haitians to stop accepting “corruption and impunity” as normal.

“After the last events that happened to Haiti, the Haitian population understands the necessity for them right now to take part in everything that is happening in the country,” he said. “What’s happening is a movement of massive collective consciousness.” 5

Click here to read the full report published in the Miami Herald.

On Valentine’s Day Al Jazeera reported the deaths of “at least” nine people and “dozens of others injured”. 6 The deaths received very little coverage in either the corporate or alternative media.

Here is a report uploaded by The Real News Network on October 22nd, featuring political economist Keston Perry, who says the Trump administration is propping up the Haitian regime:

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France

Many thousands of Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) anti-austerity protesters will once again peacefully take to the streets in Paris and other cities across France tomorrow for the fiftieth consecutive weekend.

Last weekend’s ‘Acte 49’ protests took place in Clermont-Ferrand, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille and Bordeaux and looked like this:

And like this – met by a very heavy-handed police response which includes the deployment of water-canon, flash grenades and tremendous quantities of teargas (some dropped from helicopters), while the corporate media generally ignores these protests altogether:

One of the first political commentators to understand the significance of the Gilets Jaunes movement was American author Diana Johnstone, who is based in Paris and wrote in early December:

Initial government responses showed that they weren’t listening. They dipped into their pool of clichés to denigrate something they didn’t want to bother to understand.

President Macron’s first reaction was to guilt-trip the protesters by invoking the globalists’ most powerful argument for imposing unpopular measures: global warming. Whatever small complaints people may have, he indicated, that is nothing compared to the future of the planet.

This did not impress people who, yes, have heard all about climate change and care as much as anyone for the environment, but who are obliged to retort: “I’m more worried about the end of the month than about the end of the world.”

After the second Yellow Vest Saturday, November 25, which saw more demonstrators and more tear gas, the Minister in charge of the budget, Gérard Darmanin, declared that what had demonstrated on the Champs-Elysée was “la peste brune”, the brown plague, meaning fascists. (For those who enjoy excoriating the French as racist, it should be noted that Darmanin is of Algerian working class origins). This remark caused an uproar of indignation that revealed just how great is public sympathy for the movement – over 70% approval by latest polls, even after uncontrolled vandalism. Macron’s Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, was obliged to declare that government communication had been badly managed. Of course, that is the familiar technocratic excuse: we are always right, but it is all a matter of our “communication”, not of the facts on the ground.

Maybe I have missed something, but of the many interviews I have listened to, I have not heard one word that would fall into the categories of “far right”, much less “fascism” – or even that indicated any particular preference in regard to political parties. These people are wholly concerned with concrete practical issues. Not a whiff of ideology – remarkable in Paris! 7

Click here to read Johnstone’s full article entitled “Yellow Vests Rise Against Neo-Liberal ‘King’ Macron”.

And here to read my own assessment of the Gilets Jaunes movement from an article published on March 25th entitled “Gilets Jaunes, Avaaz, Macron & Facebook (or when grassroots ‘populism’ meets controlled opposition”.

It is difficult to find up-to-date figures of casualties for the full year of Gilets Jaunes protests but as of July, Spiked online magazine was reporting:

The gilets jaunes have been protesting in France – week in, week out – for over six months. They have had to run the gauntlet of tear gas, police batons and rubber bullets every weekend. And yet there has been barely any coverage of the police’s actions – let alone condemnation.

As of this week, the French police stand accused of causing 861 serious injuries to yellow-vest protesters: one woman has been killed, 314 have suffered head injuries, 24 have been permanently blinded, and five have had their hands blown off. Police have attacked disabled people and the elderly. 8

Click here to read the full report published by Spiked online.

On February 23rd, French lawyer and former gendarme, Georgia Pouliquen, produced and uploaded an impassioned video testifying to the brutal treatment meted out against Yellow Vest protestors by President Macron’s French government. In May, Pouliquen travelled to England for the first time in order to help spread the truth about Macron’s assault on the French people. The following upload begins with her original video and afterwards features an extended interview she gave to Brian Gerrish of UK Column News:

Update:

Images from Gilets Jaunes Acte 50 on Saturday Oct 26th:

On the same day, Afshin Rattansi interviewed Priscillia Ludosky, one of the founders of the Gilets Jaunes movement, on RT’s ‘Going Underground’. They discussed the French police’s use of flash-ball riot control guns against protesters, the massive amount of injuries recorded among the Gilets Jaunes protesters, as well as the European Commission’s role in permitting state repression:

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Ecuador

In common with the Gilets Jaunes protests in France, it was the raising of fuel prices that ultimately sparked the ongoing crisis in Ecuador, in this case following President Lenín Moreno’s announcement that his government was intending remove subsidies on petrol. However, the underlying reason for the protests traces back to just a few days earlier when on October 1st, Moreno was quick to capitulate to IMF demands for the imposition of severe austerity measures and a raft of neo-liberal conditionalities following the acceptance of a $4 million loan:

Protests began on October 3 when President Lenin Moreno cut petrol subsidies that had been in place in the country for 40 years. The cuts saw the price of diesel more than double and petrol increase by 30 percent, overnight.

The government also released a series of labour and tax reforms as part of its belt-tightening measures it was forced to undertake when it agreed to a $4.2bn loan with the IMF.

Some of the more controversial reforms include a 20 percent cut in wages for new contracts in public sector jobs, a requirement that public sector workers donate one day’s worth of wages to the government each month, and a decrease in vacation days from 30 to 15 days a year. 9

Click here to read the full report published by Al Jazeera.

At the height of the protests, Moreno decided to relocate his government to the coastal city of Guayaquil before sending armoured cars onto the streets of the capital Quito in desperate attempts to quell the disturbances:

Tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of people participated.

They were massively disruptive, and the government response was fierce. Security forces killed at least seven people, arrested about 1,000, and injured a similar number. Moreno had declared a “state of exception,” a curfew beginning at 8 pm, and yet still had to flee the capital—temporarily moving it from Quito to the port city of Guayaquil.

writes Mark Weisbrot in The Nation magazine, adding:

Amnesty International had demanded “an immediate end to the heavy-handed repression of demonstrations, including mass detentions, and…swift, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment.” The level of police repression shocked many in a country where security forces are not known for the use of excessive force.

The government also raided homes to arrest political allies of former president Rafael Correa, including Paola Pabón, the governor of the province where the capital, Quito, is located. This continues a disturbing crackdown, which has included trumped-up charges against Correa himself and a number of former officials and the abuse of pretrial detention to force them into exile. On Monday, the Mexican embassy in Quito offered protection to a number of pro-Correa political dissidents, including legislators. 10

Click here to read Mark Weisbrot’s full report entitled “Ecuador Reaches a Deal – but Unrest May Return” published in The Nation magazine.

In the midst of Moreno’s state of emergency crackdown on October 11th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an official statement that begins:

“The United States supports President Moreno and the Government of Ecuador’s efforts to institutionalize democratic practices and implement needed economic reforms.” 11

On October 10th, The Real News Network spoke to representatives of two of the largest indigenous organizations CONAIE and CONFENAIE:

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Chile

Protest in Chile erupted a fortnight ago, again in response to unsustainable increases in the cost of living but also with charges of government corruption hovering in the background. In response last Friday [Oct 18th], President Sebastián Piñera announced a state of emergency, and began sending in troops to disperse the demonstrations. As in Ecuador, a curfew was soon put in place. CBS News has since confirmed “at least 18 dead and thousands arrested”:

Approximately 20,000 soldiers are patrolling the streets. Nearly 200 people have been injured, and some 5,000 have been arrested.

Human rights groups expressed concerns about how security forces have handled the protests after the government ordered a military curfew. It was the first such curfew — other than for natural disasters — imposed since Chile returned to democracy in 1990 following a bloody 17-year dictatorship.

“We’re worried,” José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press. “The images that we’ve received from credible sources, trustworthy sources, show that there has been an excess of force both by police as well as some soldiers.” 12

Click here to read yesterday’s full report published by CBS News.

Al Jazeera‘s Manuel Rapalo reported from Santiago on October 23rd:

And this is footage of protests that took place yesterday:

Update:

Scenes from Chile’s capital Santiago on Friday [Oct 25th] with police firing tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators:

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Catalonia

On October 6th, author, political activist and commentator Chris Bambery, published an extended piece that put into historical context the rise of the Catalan independence movement and the likelihood of heightened protests in the coming weeks. His piece begins:

Catalonia awaits the verdict in the trial at the Spanish Supreme Court of 12 political and civic leaders charged with ‘rebellion’ and ‘sedition’ for their part in the 1 October 2017 referendum on Catalan independence. That verdict will be delivered before 17 October, the judges say. Brace yourself for a wave of non-violent direct action in response across Catalonia.

Continuing:

In Catalonia hundreds of mayors and councillors face trial for crimes such as keeping council buildings open on Spanish holidays or not flying the Spanish flag on those days, while others face trial for ripping up pictures of the King.

However offensive or outrageous you find such things it is hard to imagine them reaching the courts in Germany, France, the UK or other Western European states. The UK is no paragon of liberty and its democracy is flawed but its handling of the Northern Ireland peace process stands out well in comparison to Spain’s dealings with ETA and the offer of peace. Why are things different in Spain? 13

Click here to read Chris Bambery’s full article.

A few days later the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and EuroMed Rights issued a joint report accusing Spain’s Supreme Court of “serious irregularities” in the trial of the Catalan independentists:

The two organizations alleged that judges didn’t do enough to ensure that lawyers could shed light on the alleged facts—for instance, when they prevented defense teams from contrasting the testimony of some witnesses with actual footage from the scenes they were describing.

Observers from the two organizations, who attended the Supreme Court hearings in person, said that prosecutors called witnesses whose testimonies offered “stereotypical” narratives and didn’t guarantee the right to defense. 14

Click here to read the full report in Catalan News.

In light of the Supreme Court verdict and the imprisonment of nine independentist leaders, protesters then took to the streets of Barcelona:

By late afternoon, thousands of protesters had answered a call from the Tsunami Democràtic movement designed to bring the airport to a standstill.

Thousands set off by car, train and metro. When police closed the station, even more made the three-and-a-half hour journey on foot. Several people were injured as police baton-charged protesters on the concourse of Terminal 1, the main international terminal. Foam bullets were reported to have been fired and video emerged of national and the regional Catalan police beating demonstrators and attacking journalists.

Thirteen people received medical attention and more than 60 flights were cancelled. 15

Click here to read the full Guardian report.

However, the real struggle for independence in Catalonia had already reached its crisis point two years ago on October 1st 2017 when, as eyewitness reporter Kevin Buckland testified:

[A]ll across Catalunya ballot boxes were ripped from people’s hands by masked police and a dangerous violence was unleashed, at random, upon some of the 2,262,424 people who stood in long lines to cast their vote. The repression dealt by the Spanish State to prohibit the Catalan Referendum, in every bloodied baton and ever rubber bullet, transformed the day from a question of independence to a question of democracy. People were voting for the right to vote. 16

Click here to read more from my October 4th post entitled “reflections on October 1st 2017: the day when tyranny returned to Catalonia”.

As a friend living in Barcelona reported on the eve of the Catalan elections just a few weeks later:

Things are rather complicated at the moment. We’ve had a “coup d’etat” by the Spanish state (government and lawcourts working together; no independent judiciary here), although of course from their point of view, it is the Catalan side that have staged one of those.

Whichever way, I don’t think the Catalan leaders deserve to be in custody (this could mean up to four years before trial), and even less go to prison for up to thirty years if found guilty (which they might well be). To me this means that anybody, not just them, can be put in prison for their political ideas, whether they’re peacefully demonstrating, or striking, or whatever. Anything can be judged as “sedition” these days.

Something else that has happened is that Catalan self-government, which is in fact older the Spanish constitution, has been suspended, and we may not get it back after the election. The Spanish government have made it clear that it all depends on whether the “wrong” side win or not. Rigging is definitely on the cards.

In the meantime, freedom of expression is being curtailed, sometimes in bizarre ways: for example, yellow lights in public fountains have been banned, because they evoke the yellow ribbons that independentists wear as a protest against the arrests. And school teachers who dared hold debates in class about the police violence on October 1st have been taken to court for it. What gets to me is that many people refuse to see how worrying these things are. I suppose normalizing it all is a survival strategy, since the alternative, i.e. being aware of what’s going on, makes one anxious and afraid.

Click here to read more of my original post “notes from Catalonia on the eve of tomorrow’s elections” published on December 20th, 2017.

But the struggle over Catalonian independence cannot be understood without considering the broader historical context including concessions made following the death of Franco in 1975 and Spain’s transition to democracy. As Chris Bambery explains:

The European Union is very proud of Spain’s Transition and held it up as a model, for instance in the former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe. That in part explains its silence on what Spain has done in Catalonia, even its moves to stop three Catalan prisoners and exiles being able to take their seats in the European Parliament after they were elected this year.

When Franco died in 1975 a mass movement of anti-fascist resistance had grown up, strongest in the Basque Country, Catalonia and Madrid. The May events of 1968 had set in motion a chain of events where the left seemed to be in the ascendant.

In ruling circles in Bonn, Paris, London and Washington there was concern that Franco’s death might unleash a mass movement moving in a revolutionary direction. Many on the revolutionary left confidently predicted that the regime could not be reformed but must be toppled.

In Portugal that is precisely what had happened.

Bambery concludes as follows:

It is very clear that the limits imposed on Spanish democracy during the Transition of the late 1970s need to be addressed. But that is something which is near impossible in the current atmosphere in Spain. A conviction for the Catalan 12 will only increase the alienation of that nation from the Spanish state. 17

Moreover, one of the side-effects of the 2008 financial crisis was that it opened up old wounds.

Back in October 2012, I reposted an article by journalist and pro-independentist Esther Vivas entitled “When will we see tanks in Barcelona”. She begins:

“Independent Catalonia? Over my dead body and those of many other soldiers”. It was with these words that on August 31, retired infantry lieutenant-colonel Francisco Alaman Castro referred to the possibility of an independent Catalonia.

Continuing with tremendous prescience:

The current crisis is not only an economic and social crisis, but really an unprecedented regime crisis that calls into question the state model that came out of the Transition, its “pacts of silence” and the very shaky democratic system that we have today.

In the middle of this mess, we must support all democratic demands that come up against the monarchical corset of the Transition, starting with the right of the Catalan people to decide its own future. Who is afraid of such a referendum in Catalonia? Those who are not willing to accept its result.

And concluding:

Infantry lieutenant-colonel Francisco Alaman Castro said that “the current situation resembles that of 1936”. That is quite a declaration of intent. Today, as then, our democracy, our rights and our future are threatened. What is at stake is important. When will we see tanks in the streets of Barcelona? It would not be the first time. But there is one thing I am sure of: the people will not remain silent.

Appended to Esther Vivas’ piece I added my own “words of caution” that begin:

The situation Esther Vivas describes is obviously a very troubling one and I fully appreciate that recent history makes the political situation in Spain more complex than in other luckier regions of our continent – Franco having died in 1975, and thus fascism in Spain lasting well within living memory. However, and in view of what is currently happening across Europe and the rest of the world, I feel it is important to also consider the issue of Catalan independence within a more global context.

The break-up of states into micro-states is a process that has long served as a means for maintaining imperialist control over colonised regions. This strategy is often called Balkanisation, although in general only by its opponents.

Click here to read to read all parts of the post entitled “on the struggle for an independent Catalonia”

In short, what is happening today in Catalonia is the almost inevitable consequence of multiple misguided actions by the Spanish state in its attempts to repress the independentist cause which has deep historical roots and was reignited by the austerity measures imposed during the 2008 debt crisis. The decision two years ago to crush a referendum on the spurious grounds that any vote on independence immediately violates the constitution and the draconian sentences issued to pro-independence leaders meant to quell support for the movement has instead emboldened opposition to Madrid and set in motion a potentially unstoppable revolt.

It is curious that some pro-independence sections of the Catalan protests have begun reaching out to pro-western Union Jack waving protesters in Hong Kong given how the colonial ties are in effect reversed, but the fact that tactics employed in Barcelona have copied those tried in HK does not mean the two movements share anything else in common. It is a mistake to confuse these movements.

Update:

Live feed of peaceful protests taking place on Saturday 26th in Barcelona calling for Catalan independence leaders to be freed:

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Final thoughts

There are mass demonstrations in two states that I have avoided discussing for quite different reasons: Palestine (specifically Gaza) and Lebanon.

In the case of Lebanon, where demonstrations began little more than a week ago, I am as yet disinclined to discuss the movement until I have a clearer understanding of its background and goals. Regarding Palestine, on the other hand, the case is absolutely open and shut and I have already posted many articles in support of the Palestinian struggle for recognition and full right to return to their land.

The Great March of Return protest that began in Gaza in March 2018 is the single longest running of all the uprisings in the world today. It is also the most dangerous and the most underreported. Dozens are wounded every single week and a great many of the victims are innocent bystanders and children, while our western governments remain impassive and the corporate media maintains an almost unbroken silence.

The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR) has documented 214 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 46 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics and 2 journalists. Additionally, 14,251 have been wounded, including 3,501 children, 380 women, 245 paramedics and 215 journalists – it also notes that many of those injured have sustained multiple injuries on separate occasions. 18

Today marks the 81st Friday of the mass demonstrations in Gaza. If we wish to hold up a standard against which all other popular uprisings might be gauged then it must surely be the Palestinian Great March of Return. If there is any flag to be waved today and any cause to stand firmly in solidarity with, it is for the freedom of the Palestinian people, and most especially those trapped within the open air prison of Gaza.

Update:

Palestinians gathered in the east of the blockaded Gaza Strip for the 80th consecutive Friday [Oct 25th] to demand the right of return to their ancestral homes. They also called for an end to the illegal Israeli blockade on the enclave, which according to the United Nations amounts to collective punishment:

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1 From an article entitled “Trojan Horses and Color Revolutions: The Role of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)” written by William Blum, published in Global Research on August 7, 2017. https://www.globalresearch.ca/trojan-horses-and-color-revolutions-the-role-of-the-national-endowment-for-democracy-ned/5515234

2 From an article entitled “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev” written by Ian Traynor, published in the Guardian on November 26, 2004. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/26/ukraine.usa

3 From an article entitled “US is Behind Hong Kong Protests Says US Policymaker” written by Tony Cartalucci, published in New Eastern Outlook on September 9, 2019. https://journal-neo.org/2019/09/09/us-is-behind-hong-kong-protests-says-us-policymaker/ 

4 From an article entitled “Haiti owes Venezuela $2 billion – and much of it was embezzeled, Senate report says” written by Jacqueline Charles, published in the Miami Herald on November 15, 2017. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article184740783.html

5 From an article entitled “’Where did the money go?’ Haitians denounce corruption in social media campaign” written by Jacqueline Charles, published in the Miami Herald on August 23, 2018. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article217110220.html

6 “Death toll rises in Haiti protest crackdown” published by Al Jazeera on February 14, 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/death-toll-rises-haiti-protest-crackdown-190214174428945.html

7 From an article entitled “Yellow Vests Rise Against Neo-Liberal ‘King’ Macron” written by Diana Johnstone, published in Consortium News on December 5, 2018. https://consortiumnews.com/2018/12/05/yellow-vests-rise-against-neo-liberal-king-macron/ 

8 From an article entitled “So now you care about France’s brutal treatment of protesters?” published by Spiked magazine on July 2, 2019. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/07/02/so-now-you-care-about-frances-brutal-treatment-of-protesters/ 

9 From an article entitled “Ecuador unrest: What led to the mass protests?” written by Kimberley Brown, published in Al Jazeera on October 10, 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/ecuador-unrest-led-mass-protests-191010193825529.html

10 From an article entitled “Ecuador Reaches a Deal – but Unrest May Return” written by Mark Weisbrot, published in The Nation magazine on October 16, 2019. https://www.thenation.com/article/ecuador-protests-imf/

11 https://www.state.gov/united-states-response-to-protests-in-ecuador/ 

12 From an article entitled “At least 18 dead and thousands arrested in Chile protests” published by CBS News on October 24, 2019. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chile-news-santiago-at-least-18-dead-and-thousands-arrested-in-chile-protests-2019-10-24/ 

13 From an article entitled “Flawed transition: why the Spanish state is repressing the Catalan independence movement” written by Chris Bambery, published in Counterfire on October 6, 2019. https://www.counterfire.org/articles/history/20589-flawed-transition-why-the-spanish-state-is-repressing-the-catalan-independence-movement

14 From a report entitled “Human rights groups denounce ‘serious irregularities’ in Catalan trial” published by Catalan News on October 9, 2019. https://www.catalannews.com/catalan-trial/item/human-rights-groups-denounce-serious-irregularities-in-catalan-trial

15 From an article entitled “Violent clashes over Catalan separatist leaders’ prison terms” written by Sam Jones and Stephen Burgen, published in the Guardian on October 14, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/14/catalan-separatist-leaders-given-lengthy-prison-sentences

16 From an article entitled “Disobeying Spain: the Catalan Referendum for Independence” written by Kevin Buckland, published in Counterpunch on October 3, 2017. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/03/disobeying-spain-the-catalan-referendum-for-independence/ 

17 From an article entitled “Flawed transition: why the Spanish state is repressing the Catalan independence movement” written by Chris Bambery, published in Counterfire on October 6, 2019. https://www.counterfire.org/articles/history/20589-flawed-transition-why-the-spanish-state-is-repressing-the-catalan-independence-movement

18 https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=13019

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Sheffield City Council to formally recognise the state of Palestine

The following is a press release by Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine published on 01.09.19

On Wednesday 4th September, Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, will present a motion that if passed will make Sheffield the first UK council to formally recognise the state of Palestine. This follows a petition presented to the Council in July. The Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, will be present to mark this historic event.

At 1 p.m. there will be a flag raising event in front of the Town Hall conducted by the Ambassador with senior Councillors in attendance. From 2 p.m. the motion will be debated by the full council.

Palestinians live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, under siege in Gaza, and 5 million are living as refugees, many within their ancestral lands. Appalling human rights abuses take place under the occupation, including the incarceration of 500-700 Palestinian children per year. Schools and homes are regularly demolished as acts of collective punishment and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have no citizens’ rights. Gaza has been under siege since 2007 and has experienced prolonged blanket bombing on several occasions, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries. The UN has declared that Gaza, with two million people crammed on this tiny strip of land, will be unfit to support human life by 2020. Unarmed protests against being forced to live in ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of mutilations from Israeli live fire.

From the end of World War 1 to 1948, Britain occupied Palestine, paving the way for the establishment of the state of Israel. Our country has a particular responsibility to make amends for great harms done in the process. Many of the abuses carried out by the Israeli state today were originally introduced under the British ‘Protectorate’. British governments have continued to give military, economic and diplomatic support to Israel despite its violations of countless UN resolutions calling for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees and for the right to Palestinian self-determination.

Recognition has huge symbolic meaning to a people denied their homeland and their identity. The announcement that Sheffield City Council would be taking this step and the image of the Palestinian flag raised in front of the Town Hall on 3rd July led to great rejoicing and media coverage in Palestine. Formal recognition by the Council has strong support within the city, which has a historic tradition of standing up for human rights and justice. It is to be hoped that other councils will follow Sheffield’s leadership and that a strong show of solidarity up and down the country will persuade the UK government to enact a policy it says it supports.
Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign also welcome the fact that Sheffield City Council is taking this step, commenting:

“Sheffield PSC welcomes the Council drawing attention to the continuing denial of self-determination to the Palestinian people. We know from our campaigning activities that most people in the city will welcome the Council’s position. We hope that this initiative will be followed by measures aimed at ending British military and economic collusion with Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land.”

For more information contact Julie Pearn, chair@slfp.org.uk

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Notice of Motion Regarding “Recognising Palestine as a Full State”: Given by Councillor Julie Dore and to be seconded by Councillor Adam Hurst

That this Council:-

(a) believes that there must be recognition of the rights of Palestinians to their own state, and thanks the petitioners for bringing this important issue to Full Council in July;

(b) notes that 138 nations of the UN, out of 193 (71.5%), recognise Palestine as a state and in 2012 the UN General Assembly moved to do so – though this was blocked from full UN membership by the Security Council;

(c) notes that the current UK Government appears to have no intention of recognising Palestine, and notes that this is in contrast to the Labour Party’s commitment to recognise Palestine as a full state as part of the United Nations and under UK law;

(d) believes that the recognition of Palestine as a state is one step towards a genuine two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict;

(e) believes there has to be a peace process and there has to be a right of the Palestinian people to live in peace and security as well as the right of Israel;

(f) believes that whilst Sheffield is just one city, it is important to make this symbolic gesture to formally recognise Palestine as a full state, and hope that this will increase pressure on the UK Government to do likewise; and

(g) requests that this Motion is submitted to the Foreign Office, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Click here to read the same press release at the Sheffield Friends of Palestine official facebook page

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Update:

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Jonathan Cook on the Labour witch hunt and the “McCarthyite campaign to destroy Corbyn”

Reprinted below are extracts from two excellent articles by independent journalist Jonathan Cook.

In the first, published by Counterpunch on March 1st and entitled “Britain’s Witchfinders are Ready to Burn Jeremy Corbyn”, Cook begins:

“McCarthyism” is a word thrown around a lot nowadays, and in the process its true meaning – and horror – has been increasingly obscured.

McCarthyism is not just the hounding of someone because their views are unpopular. It is the creation by the powerful of a perfect, self-rationalising system of incrimination – denying the victim a voice, even in their own defence. It presents the accused as an enemy so dangerous, their ideas so corrupting, that they must be silenced from the outset. Their only chance of rehabilitation is prostration before their accusers and utter repentance.

McCarthyism, in other words, is the modern political parallel of the witch hunt.

In an earlier era, the guilt of women accused of witchcraft was tested through the ducking stool. If a woman drowned, she was innocent; if she survived, she was guilty and burnt at the stake. A foolproof system that created an endless supply of the wicked, justifying the status and salaries of the men charged with hunting down ever more of these diabolical women.

And that is the Medieval equivalent of where the British Labour party has arrived, with the suspension of MP Chris Williamson for anti-semitism.

Cook then cross-examines the case against Chris Williamson in order to elucidate the McCarthyite modes of prosecution:

[But] The witchfinders were never interested in the political reality. They wanted a never-ending war – a policy of “zero tolerance” – to root out an evil in their midst, a supposed “hard left” given succour by Corbyn and his acolytes.

This is the context for understanding Williamson’s “crime”.

Despite the best efforts of our modern witchfinder generals to prove otherwise, Williamson has not been shown to have expressed hatred towards Jews, or even to have made a comment that could be interpreted as anti-semitic.

One of the most experienced of the witchfinders, Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, indulged familiar McCarthyite tactics this week in trying to prove Williamson’s anti-semitism by association. The MP was what Freedland termed a “Jew baiter” because he has associated with people whom the witchfinders decree to be anti-semites.

Shortly before he found himself formally shunned by media commentators and his own parliamentary party, Williamson twice confirmed his guilt to the inquisitors.

First, he dared to challenge the authority of the witchfinders. He suggested that some of those being hounded out of Labour may not in fact be witches. Or more specifically, in the context of constant claims of a Labour “anti-semitism crisis”, he argued that the party had been “too apologetic” in dealing with the bad-faith efforts of those seeking to damage a Corbyn-led party.

In other words, Williamson suggested that Labour ought to be more proactively promoting the abundant evidence that it was indeed dealing with what he called the “scourge of anti-semitism”, and thereby demonstrate to the British public that Labour wasn’t “institutionally anti-semitic”. Labour members, he was pointing out, ought not to have to keep quiet as they were being endlessly slandered as anti-semites.

As Jewish Voice for Labour, a Jewish group supportive of Corbyn, noted:

“The flood of exaggerated claims of antisemitism make it harder to deal with any real instances of antisemitism. The credibility of well-founded allegations is undermined by the less credible ones and real perpetrators are more likely not to be held to account. Crying wolf is dangerous when there are real wolves around the corner. This was the reality that Chris Williamson was drawing attention to.”

As with all inquisitions, however, the witchfinders were not interested in what Williamson actually said, but in the threat he posed to the narrative they have created to destroy their enemy, Corbynism, and reassert their own power.

So his words were ripped from their context and presented as proof that he did indeed support witches.

He was denounced for saying what he had not: that Labour should not apologise for its anti-semitism. In this dishonest reformulation of Williamson’s statement, the witchfinders claimed to show that he had supported anti-semitism, that he consorted with witches.

Second, Williamson compounded his crime by publicly helping just such a readymade witch: a black Jewish woman named Jackie Walker.

He had booked a room in the British parliament building – the seat of our supposed democracy – so that audiences could see a new documentary on an earlier Labour witch hunt. More than two years ago the party suspended Walker over anti-semitism claims.

The screening was to inform Labour party members of the facts of her case in the run-up to a hearing in which, given the current atmosphere, it is likely she will be expelled [as subsequently happened – read my previous post]. The screening was sponsored by Jewish Voice for Labour, which has also warned repeatedly that anti-semitism is being used malevolently to silence criticism of Israel and weaken Corbyn.

Although Jewish and black, Jackie Walker, a co-founder of the grassroots pro-Corbyn group Momentum, was one of the first to be victimised by an orchestrated campaign to defame leftist party members – something I have discussed at greater length in an extended post.

Cook continues:

First, she produced a one-woman show about her treatment at the hands of the Labour party bureaucracy – framed in the context of decades of racist treatment of black people in the west – called The Lynching.

And then her story was turned into a documentary film, fittingly called Witch Hunt. It sets out very clearly the machinations of the Blairite wing of MPs, and Labour’s closely allied Israel lobby, in defaming Walker as part of their efforts to regain power over the party.

For people so ostensibly concerned about racism towards Jews, these witchfinders show little self-awareness about how obvious their own racism is in relation to some of the “witches” they have hunted down.

But that racism can only be understood if people have the chance to hear from Walker and other victims of the anti-semitism smears. Which is precisely why Williamson, who was trying to organise the screening of Witch Hunt, had to be dealt with too.

Walker is not the only prominent black anti-racism activist targeted. Marc Wadsworth, another longtime ally of Corbyn’s, and founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance, was “outed” last year in another confected anti-semitism scandal. The allegations of anti-semitism were impossible to stand up publicly, so finally he was booted out on a catch-all claim that he had brought the party “into disrepute”.

Jews who criticise Israel and support Corbyn’s solidarity with Palestinians have been picked off by the witchfinders too, cheered on by media commentators who claim this is being done in the service of a “zero tolerance” policy towards racism. As well as Walker, the targets have included Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover, Martin Odoni, Glyn Secker and Cyril Chilson.

Cook then questions fellow Momentum founder Jon Lansman’s recently stated call for “making Labour a safe space”. He writes:

First, it is impossible to be a home to all Jews in Labour, when the party’s Jewish members are themselves deeply split over key issues like whether Corbyn is a force for good and whether meaningful criticism of Israel should be allowed.

A fanatically pro-Israel organisation like the Jewish Labour Movement will never tolerate a Corbyn-led Labour party reaching power and supporting the Palestinian cause. To pretend otherwise is simple naivety or deception. […]

Further, if a proportion of Jewish Labour party members have such a heavy personal investment in Israel that they refuse to countenance any meaningful curbs on Israel’s abuses of Palestinians – and that has been underscored repeatedly by public comments from the JLM and Labour Friends of Israel – then keeping them inside the party will require cracking down on all but the flimsiest criticism of Israel. It will tie the party’s hands on supporting Palestinian rights.

In the name of protecting the “Israel right or wrong” crowd from what they consider to be anti-semitic abuse, Labour will have to provide institutional support for Israel’s racism towards Palestinians.

In doing so, it will in fact simply be returning to the status quo in the party before Corbyn, when Labour turned a blind eye over many decades to the Palestinians’ dispossession by European Zionists who created an ugly anachronistic state where rights accrue based on one’s ethnicity and religion rather than citizenship.

Those in Labour who reject Britain’s continuing complicity in such crimes – ones the UK set in motion with the Balfour Declaration – will find, as a result, that it is they who have no home in Labour. That includes significant numbers of anti-Zionist Jews, Palestinians, Muslims and Palestinian solidarity activists.

If the creation of a “safe space” for Jews in the Labour party is code, as it appears to be, for a safe space for hardline Zionist Jews, it will inevitably require that the party become a hostile environment for those engaged in other anti-racism battles.

Stripped bare, what Lansman and the witchfinders are saying is that Zionist Jewish sensitivities in the party are the only ones that count, that anything and everything must be done to indulge them, even if it means abusing non-Zionist Jewish members, black members, Palestinian and Muslim members, and those expressing solidarity with Palestinians.

This is precisely the political black hole into which simplistic, kneejerk identity politics inevitably gets sucked.

In a more recent article published on March 7th by Middle East Eye and entitled “Labour’s civil war on Israel has been a long time coming”, Cook returns to this point:

Threats by a Jewish group to split from Labour is not evidence of anti-semitism, but of the party’s long indulgence of anti-Palestinian racism.

An announcement this week by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) that it is considering splitting from the British Labour Party could not have come at a worse moment for Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader is already besieged by claims that he is presiding over a party that has become “institutionally anti-semitic”.

The threats by the JLM should be seen as part of concerted efforts to oust Corbyn from the leadership. They follow on the heels of a decision by a handful of Labour MPs last month to set up a new faction called the Independent Group. They, too, cited anti-semitism as a major reason for leaving.

On the defensive, Corbyn was prompted to write to the JLM expressing his and the shadow cabinet’s “very strong desire for you to remain a part of our movement”. More than 100 Labour MPs, including members of the front bench, similarly pleaded with the JLM not to disaffiliate. They apologised for “toxic racism” in the party and for “letting our Jewish supporters and members down”.

Their letter noted that the JLM is “the legitimate and long-standing representative of Jews in the Labour party” and added that the MPs recognised the importance of “calling out those who seek to make solidarity with our Jewish comrades a test of foreign policy”.

That appeared to be a swipe at Corbyn himself, who is the first leader of a British political party to prioritise Palestinian rights over the UK’s ties to an Israeli state that has been oppressing Palestinians for decades.

Only this week the Labour leader renewed his call for Britain to halt arms sales to Israel following a UN report that said the Israeli army’s shooting of Palestinian protesters in Gaza’s Great March of Return could amount to war crimes.

He concludes his criticism of JLM, an organisation he lambasts as “a relic of a period when it was possible to claim to be anti-racist while turning a blind eye to the oppression of the Palestinian people”, as follows:

Under Corbyn and a much-expanded membership, these prejudices are being challenged in public for the first time – and that is justifiably making the party an “unsafe” space for groups such as the JLM and Labour Friends of Israel, which hang on to outdated, hardline Zionist positions.

The JLM’s claim to speak for all Jews in Labour has been challenged by anti-racist Jews like those of the Jewish Voice for Labour. Their efforts to defend Corbyn and Labour’s record have been widely ignored by the media or, encouraged by JLM, dismissed as “downplaying” anti-semitism.

The JLM’s discomfort may be unfortunate, but it cannot be avoided. It is the price to be paid for the continuing battle by progressives to advance universal rights and defeat racism. This battle has been waged since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was published in 1948 – paradoxically, the year Israel was established by violating the core principles of that declaration.

Israel’s racism towards Palestinians has been indulged by Labour for too long. Now history is catching up with Israel, and with groups such as the JLM.

Labour MPs have a choice. They can stand on the wrong side of history, battling the tide like some modern King Canute, or they can recognise that it is time to fully enter the modern era – and that means embracing a programme of anti-racism that encompasses everyone, including Jews and Palestinians.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s full article entitled “Labour’s civil war on Israel has been a long time coming” on his official website.

The conclusion to Cook’s Counterpunch article is more worrisome for supporters of Corbyn. As he writes:

Right now, the establishment – represented by Richard Dearlove, a former head of the MI6 – is maliciously trying to frame Corbyn’s main adviser, Seumas Milne, as a Kremlin asset.

While the witchfinders claim to have unearthed a “pattern of behaviour” in Williamson’s efforts to expose their smears, in fact the real pattern of behaviour is there for all to see: a concerted McCarthyite campaign to destroy Corbyn before he can reach No 10.

Corbyn’s allies are being picked off one by one, from grassroots activists like Walker and Wadsworth to higher-placed supporters like Williamson and Milne. Soon Corbyn will stand alone, exposed before the inquisition that has been prepared for him.

Then Labour can be restored to the Blairites, the members silenced until they leave and any hope of offering a political alternative to the establishment safely shelved. Ordinary people will again be made passive spectators as the rich carry on playing with their lives and their futures as though Britain was simply a rigged game of Monopoly.

If parliamentary politics returns to business as usual for the wealthy, taking to the streets looks increasingly like the only option. Maybe it’s time to dust off a Yellow Vest.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s full article entitled “Britain’s Witchfinders are ready to Burn Jeremy Corbyn” published by Counterpunch on March 1st.

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Additional:

  1. “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby” | Jeff Cohen

The following extract is taken from an article written by Jeff Cohen, former director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and co-founder of the online activism group RootsAction.org, in which he discusses the case of Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar and the furore that was sparked over two of her tweets. Cohen, who describes himself as “a proud Jew raised in a liberal family that supported civil rights and human rights”, titles his piece “This Jew Tells Speaker Pelosi: ‘You May Well Prove Ilhan Omar Correct’”. It was originally published in ‘Counterpunch’ on March 7th.

The initial media frenzy in February over two of Omar’s tweets was so huge that it obscured the fact that the uproar was sparked by a total of seven words – and six of those words are the refrain of a famous Puff Daddy song.

It began when Omar retweeted Glenn Greenwald’s comment about GOP congressional leader Kevin McCarthy’s “attacking the free speech rights” of Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib for criticizing Israel – to which Omar, a known critic of money in politics, simply added the Puff Daddy refrain:  “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” (Benjamins refer to $100 bills.) When a tweeter asked her who Omar thinks is funding politicians to defend Israel, Omar responded with a one-word tweet: “AIPAC!”

The feeding frenzy over these two flippant but truthful tweets forced Omar to apologize (something Trump has not been forced to do over hundreds of dishonest, racist and/or threatening ones).

Yet if you spend a day on Capitol Hill and talk (off-the-record) with a member of Congress about this topic, you’ll hear plenty about AIPAC’s awesome clout and its ability to unleash “Benjamins”  to bully Congress.  Books and articles have documented this truism.

Click here to read more of Jeff Cohen’s defence of Ilhan Omar and why the campaign against her has so badly backfired.

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  1. “Criticizing Israel isn’t Anti-Semitic, Here’s What Is” | Sarah Gertler

The following article is another written in defence of Ilhan Omar. Sarah Gertler shares, like Cohen, a Jewish background, and tells us that in her formative years:

Like most American Jewish youth, I grew up knowing Israel. During holidays, I sang prayers about Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. In Hebrew school, I learned about the country’s culture, its cities, its past prime ministers. At my Jewish summer camp, we started every day with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.

My image of Israel was a rosy one. When I finally visited it in college, I was spellbound by the lush landscapes and sparkling cities, certain I would one day move to this golden ancestral home myself.

All this emotional buildup made it all the more sickening when, in the years that followed, I learned the realities of the Israeli occupation.

 Published by ‘Counterpunch’ on March 8th, her full article (with the paragraph above replaced by ellipsis) is reprinted below:

Weeks ago, when the first accusations of anti-semitism were being leveled against Representative Ilhan Omar, I was deeply agitated.

Not long ago I saw her address these accusations at a local town hall. She reminded the world that, as a Black Muslim woman in America, she knows what hate looks like — and spends her life laboring against it. Her words were clear, bold, and unflinching.

When members of Congress not only continued to gang up and falsely smear Omar as anti-semitic, but even created a House Resolution painting her words as hateful, I wasn’t just agitated. I was absolutely disgusted.

Omar has criticized the U.S. government’s support for Israeli actions that break international law. And she’s spoken out against the role money in politics plays in shoring up that support.

Neither is anti-semitic.

What is anti-semitic is the cacophony of mainstream media and politicians saying that criticizing U.S. policy toward the state of Israel is the same as attacking Jewish people. […]

The modern state of Israel was established by Zionists — a nationalist movement started by European Jews with the aim of creating a “Jewish state” as a refuge for persecuted Jews.

It’s true that Jews have faced centuries of brutal persecution in Europe. But the Zionists’ project shared unmistakably European colonialist roots.

In 1948, Israel’s war of independence led to the Nakba, an invasion driving 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. These Palestinians were never allowed to return, creating a massive refugee population that today numbers over 7 million.

While I was able to travel freely up and down Israel, the Palestinians who once lived there are legally barred from returning. While I wandered the marketplaces trying stews and shawarmas, Palestinians in Gaza can’t afford even the gas to cook their food because of the Israeli blockade.

Zionism didn’t create an inclusive Jewish refuge either. In fact, the diverse Mizrahi — or Arab — Jewish population that was already thriving in Palestine was pushed out of Israeli society as Ashkenazi — or European — Jews became the elite class.

What it did create is an imperialist stronghold that continues to break international law by building settlements deeper and deeper into Palestinian territory, giving Jewish Israelis superior legal status to Arab Israelis and Palestinians, and attacking all who protest.

Since Israel’s origin, the U.S. has supplied tens of billions of dollars of military aid and ardent political support. Congress consistently ignores dozens of UN resolutions condemning Israeli abuses, and year after year gives it more resources to violently oppress impoverished Palestinians.

Pro-Israel lobbying groups’ considerable political influence has even pushed Congress to consider bills punishing Americans who support Palestinian rights. (Around half of all states already have such laws.)

More broadly, they rely on villainizing critics with false claims of antisemitism — especially when the criticism comes from a person of color, as we’ve seen with Angela Davis, Marc Lamont Hill, and Michelle Alexander before Rep. Omar.

I, along with an increasing number of young American Jews, want to discuss U.S. support of Israel. Talking foreign policy is not anti-semitism.

What is anti-semitic — always — is saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism.

Click here to read Sarah Gertler’s article in its original form at Counterpunch.

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  1. “Anti-Semitism Pandemic!” | CJ Hopkins

CJ Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. In this climate of stifling ‘political correctness’ and suffocating insincerity, I find his writing is a breath of fresh air. The following excerpts are taken from his latest piece in which he locates the origins of the “deadly anti-Semitism pandemic”:

The origins of this pernicious, panic-inducing pestilence remain shrouded in mystery, but epidemiologists now believe that it began in the Spring of 2015, shortly after the resignation of Ed Milliband as UK Labour Party leader, and went global in the Summer of 2016, right around the time of the Brexit referendum and the nomination of Donald Trump…

Virologists are working around the clock to map the genome of this scurrilous scourge, about which very little is known, other than that it has a sudden onset, and attacks the language center of the brain, causing the sufferer to express opinions about “Zionism,” “globalism,” “the Israel lobby,” “banks,” and other code words for “Jews.” Patients appear to be unaware that they are spouting these anti-Semitic code words until they are told they are by the corporate media, or their colleagues, or some random account on Twitter, at which point their symptoms alter dramatically, and they suffer a series of petit mal seizures, causing them to repeatedly apologize for unintentionally advocating the extermination of the entire Jewish people and the establishment of a worldwide Nazi Reich.

At the moment, Britain is taking the brunt of it. Despite the best efforts of the ruling classes and the media to contain its spread, several new cases of anti-Semitism have been reported throughout the Kingdom, or at least among the Labour Party, which, at this point, has been so thoroughly infected that it resembles a neo-Nazi death cult.

Jeremy Corbyn, who contracted the virus more or less the moment he assumed the leadership, is now exhibiting symptoms of late-stage disease. Reliable sources close to the party, reached for comment at a brunch in Qatar with Tony Blair and a bunch of Saudis, report that Corbyn is running around Momentum HQ in full Nazi regalia, alternately heiling Hitler and looking for journalists to apologize to.

Another Labour MP, Chris Williamson, had to be summarily quarantined after publicly apologizing for not apologizing for inciting a gathering of Labour members to stop apologizing for refusing to apologize for being disgusting anti-Semites … or something basically along those lines. Owen Jones is fiercely denying denying that the party is a hive of Nazis, and that he ever denied that denying the fact that there is zero actual evidence of that fact is essential to preserving what is left of the party, once it has been cured of anti-Semitism, or disbanded and reconstituted from scratch.

Emergency measures are now in effect. A full-scale Labour Party lockdown is imminent. Anyone not already infected is being advised to flee the party, denounce anyone who hasn’t done so as “a Hitler-loving Corbyn-sympathizer,” and prophylactically apologize for any critical statements they might have made about Israel, or “elites,” or “global capitalism,” or “bankers,” or anything else that anyone can construe as anti-Semitism (preferably in the pages of The Guardian).

Click here to read CJ Hopkin’s full piece as reprinted by OffGuradian.

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, Israel, Palestine, USA

Israelgate disclosure: Al Jazeera’s censored “The Lobby – USA” now released in full

Introduction

“You would think that since the United States has this special relationship with Israel and gives it so much largesse and protects it diplomatically at every turn and gives this assistance unconditionally, that the Israelis would do less spying here than other countries do, but on the contrary what we see is that Israelis are probably at the top of the list when it comes to foreign countries spying inside the United States.” — John Mearsheimer, Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago 1

“If China was doing this, if Iran was doing it, if Russia was doing it, there would be uproar. You would have Congress going after them. You would have hearings. You would have prosecutions. The question is how does Israel get away with this?” — Ali Abunimah, author of The Battle for Justice In Palestine. 2

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This extended post has been constructed as an augmented synopsis for Al Jazeera’s “The Lobby – USA”. It is also a companion piece to my overview published two years ago of Al Jazeera’s original investigative series about the Israel lobby and its machinations inside the UK.

As I wrote in March 2017:

The investigation came to wider public attention following the release of shocking footage of “Israeli diplomat” Shai Masot speculating about how to “take down” Deputy Foreign Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, and other senior politicians less than “solid on Israel”. After the story broke, the press were of course compelled to report on it: it was impossible to ignore such serious allegations that a foreign power was trying to subvert Britain’s democracy. Yet reaction both from the media and the government has been remarkably tepid since. There have been no sustained investigations and we see no push for an official inquiry – this in defiance of Labour demands that the government launch an immediate inquiry into what it rightly calls “a national security issue”. […]

The altogether miserly extent and scope of British media coverage of a plot to subvert our democracy can be usefully measured against the unlimited column inches and headline space given over to unfounded allegations of Russian hacking of the DNC in America. But no less importantly, the plot against Tory ministers occupies a mere ten minutes of one episode of what in full amounts to two hours over four parts of broadcast material. The revelation is damning in the extreme but it should not have been allowed to totally overshadow the real focus of the documentary: a dirty tricks campaign against pro-Palestinian Labour party members and other efforts to subvert the party’s elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This chicanery against Corbyn in the interests of a foreign power is something the media has helped to bury.

Click here to read my full post entitled “Shai Masot, the Israel lobby, and its part in the ongoing coup against Jeremy Corbyn.”

I urge all readers, but most especially the supporters of the British Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, to watch both series of these powerful documentaries in their entirety.

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Israel first

“The settler agenda is defining the future of Israel, and their stated purpose is clear: they believe in one state: Greater Israel. In fact, one prominent minister declared just after the US election, and I quote, ‘the era of the two-state solution is over’. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both.” — John Kerry. 3

“The activism has to be very provocative and attention-getting and total no f—ks given. We’re going to be more pro-Israel than you can even imagine. Just to provoke everyone… The majority of Americans are pro-Israel. Whereas you take a poll of Israel in the UK, it’s just pure hatred of Israel. Your country basically let half of f—king Pakistan move in. So you have a different problem than we do here— Noah Pollak, the Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. 4

One month ago, on Friday January 11th, Amal al-Taramsi, a 43-year-old Palestinian woman, was shot in the head by an IDF sniper. She is just the latest victim of more than 240 Palestinians who have been killed close to the Gaza fence since the Great March of Return protests that began in March last year:

At least 25 other Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire on Friday, including two members of the media and one paramedic, according to al-Qedra.5

Click here to read a full report by Al Jazeera.

Amal Mustafa at-Taramisi, 43, from Sheikh Radwan, north of Gaza city.

On the same day, Israeli missiles and artillery shells were fired into three sites in proximity to Gaza city and Khan Younis inside the Gaza strip. 6

And on the very same day, Israel also illegally launched unprovoked airstrikes on Damascus international airport as Prime Minister Netanyahu afterwards confirmed, citing warehouses containing Iranian arms as the pretext. 7

None of this is abnormal for Israel, of course. The IDF murders unarmed civilians as a matter of routine, maiming for life thousands of others who have committed no greater crime than hurling stones. They demolish houses even with the residents trapped inside in order to collectively punish the Palestinians and annex their land and water. Periodically Israel also “mows the grass” in the open air prison of Gaza; a policy of ethnic cleansing that is as brazen as it is ruthless. Back in 2012, the UN issued its “most comprehensive report on the Palestinian enclave” warning that, as Reuters reported:

Gaza will no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling…

“Action needs to be taken now if Gaza is to be a liveable place in 2020 and it is already difficult now,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard told journalists when the report was released on Monday. 8

The action called for was never taken and 2020 is now less than twelve months away.

Meanwhile in America, on the same day Amal al-Taramsi was murdered, and as 25 other Palestinians were seriously wounded (among the casualties two members of the press and one paramedic), and as it rained down missiles over Gaza and Damascus, the US Congress was busy passing H.R.221 – Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act: “to monitor and combat anti-Semitism globally, and for other purposes.” The US House of Representatives in fact voted 411 to 1 in favour of the bill; Republican Justin Amash of Michigan, the single dissenting congressman.

Under this new legislation, a special envoy who is tasked to monitor criticism of Israel will be appointed to the rank of ambassador:

The Special Envoy shall serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States Government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries. 9

The appointee will be able to pursue offenders in accordance with the full IHRA definition (as codified under The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act) and under the guise of defeating the “new antisemitism” – the falsehood that equates any criticism of Israel to racism against Jews – to curtail open debate about Israel’s constant violations of international law and crimes against humanity.

Moreover, on both Tuesday 8th and Thursday 10th, the US Senate voted to further protect Israeli interests in the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, S. 1. In violation of First Amendment rights to boycott, it provides federal support and protection for state anti-BDS laws, and was only very narrowly defeated:

[But] In the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered — S.1 — is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision — with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor — to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

From an article entitled “U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in the Midst of the Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts” written by Ryan Grim and Glenn Greenwald, Published by The Intercept. The same piece continues:

These are the Israel-defending, free speech-punishing laws that Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen. Although Rubio is the chief sponsor, his bill attracted broad bipartisan support, as is true of most bills designed to protect Israel and supported by AIPAC. 10

Click here to read the full article.

On January 28th, Senator Mitch McConnell brought the bill back to be voted on for a THIRD time and it was passed: 11

The bill was adopted by the Senate in a vote of 74 in favor to 19 against, with seven abstentions. The bill had previously been blocked by Senate Democrats by a 56-44 vote as part of their objection to acting on legislation during the government shutdown. However, many of those Democratic senators who had previously blocked the bill ultimately voted in support of the measure. In order to become law, the measure would still need to pass the Democrat-run House of Representatives. However, given the amount of support for the measure among Democrats and the power of the Israel lobby, the bill stands a considerable chance of passing the House.

writes Whitney Webb in an article entitled “The US Senate Just Quietly Advanced A Free Speech Busting Anti-BDS Bill”. The article continues:

The bill includes several measures that were promoted by the Israel lobby last year but did not make it through the previous Congress. These include the “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2019” which would give a record-breaking $38 billion to Israel over the next 10 years, and which ultimately failed to pass after Sen. Paul threatened a filibuster against it. That bill also requires Congress to give at least $3.8 billion to Israel every subsequent year after the initial 10 years.

Other measures in the bill include the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019”  — which imposes more sanctions on Syria and has been described as a “rebuttal” to President Trump’s proposed Syria troop withdrawal, which Israel also opposes – and the “The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act,” which would also give money to Israel. Some analysts have long asserted that U.S. security assistance to Jordan and other regional countries such as Egypt is aimed at securing regional support for Israeli and American geopolitical objectives in the Middle East.

Yet, the most controversial part of the bill by far is the “Combating BDS Act of 2019,” which would authorize state and local governments to retaliate commercially against entities that support BDS, such as by halting business with or refusing to contract or hire companies or individual citizens who either actively participate in or support the movement. A previous version of the bill included possible jail time as punishment for supporting a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements, their violation of international law notwithstanding. 12

Click here to read the full article published by Mint Press News on Jan 29th.

So why does the US Congress expend such Herculean efforts to bend over backwards for the benefit of Israel? The short answer is the lobby…

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The Lobby – USA

“The big media companies will tell you – well, maybe they won’t tell you this – but they have been harassed. If they had Palestinian journalists who knew the ins and outs of the Palestinian authority, for example, they were blatantly told to get rid of them. That they weren’t trustworthy journalists.” — Jim Clancy, former correspondent and presenter with CNN (1982–2015) 13

“AIPAC has moved so far to the right that it’s losing the young people. By the time of the next presidential election, Democrats will not glibly in a debate, say, ‘I’m running for President and I love Israel…’ The terrain has changed dramatically.” — MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 14

“The foundation that AIPAC is sat on is rotting. There used to be actually widespread public support for Israel in the United States. So I don’t think that AIPAC is going to remain as influential as it is. I don’t think AIPAC is the tip of the spear anymore, which is worrisome because who is?” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 15

As a sequel to its damning investigation into the Israel lobby’s activities inside Britain (released two years ago), Al Jazeera’s Director of Investigative Journalism, Clayton Swisher, announced in October 2017 that a different undercover journalist James Kleinfeld (under the pseudonym ‘Tony’) was likewise embedded within the US Israel lobby:

Swisher made the announcement soon after the UK’s broadcast regulator dismissed all complaints against Al Jazeera’s film The Lobby.

That documentary, broadcast in January 2017, exposed Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK’s ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties. The film revealed an Israeli embassy agent plotting with a British civil servant to “take down” a government minister seen as too critical of Israel.

Although Swisher promised the US film would come out “very soon,” nearly five months later it has yet to be broadcast.

In fact it was not until November 2018 before a complete copy of the 4-part documentary series was finally released, and then not officially by Al Jazeera, whose director-general claimed there were outstanding legal issues with the film – assertions flatly contradicted by his own journalists – but leaked instead by the Electronic Intifada and simultaneously by France’s Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, (versions subtitled respectively in French and Arabic).

On November 13, 2018, ‘The Real News’ discussed with Ali Abunimah, editor and co-founder of ‘The Electronic Intifada’, the documentary’s explosive revelations:

What is revealed is a highly sophisticated psychological operation with close ties to Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, directed at spying on, smearing and sabotaging the Palestine solidarity movement. However, in spite of tremendous resources and assiduously cultivated networks of Zionist sympathisers, we learn that support for Israel is haemorrhaging.

Even in America, where the Israel lobby is at its most influential, it has been losing the battle for hearts and minds, as remaining pockets of support are reduced to the ever more extreme right wing margins. For this reason, the attack on outspoken opponents of Israel, and most especially the leading advocates for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), is being intensified.

Read more about Al Jazeera’s investigation into Israel’s meddling in British politics as well as Qatar’s subsequent censorship of its twin investigation in the US in a post published September 21st entitled forget ‘Russiagate’, why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’…?

Each of the four parts is embedded below in sequence. Here is the first, which is subtitled “The Covert War”:

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Israel’s secret war: the smoking gun

“We are a different government working on foreign soil and we have to be very, very cautious. We have three different sub-campaigns, which are very, very sensitive. Regarding data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organisations, money trail. This is something that only a country with its resources can do the best.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 16

“Think tanks are the folks that used to work in government, have PhDs, and decided not to become professors… In the Middle Eastern studies field academics have failed. That’s why people like me are considered useful at least to some.” — Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. 17

Speaking at the Israeli American Council (IAC) conference, Sima Vaknin-Gil tells delegates:

“Ambiguity is part of our guidelines, that’s why I’m not going to say too much about each one of the legs. The first one is intel, intelligence, or data, or information. What we’ve done is mapped and analysed the whole phenomena globally. Not just the United States, not just campuses, but campuses and intersectionality and labour unions and churches. We started to establish a project called ‘Israel Cyber Shield’. This project is actually a civil intelligence unit that collects, analyses and acts upon the activists in the BDS movement. If it’s people, organisations or events… we are using the most sophisticated data system, intelligence system in the Israeli market. Let’s take the defence activity that we’re doing, and make it into proactivity and offence activity.” 18

In response, Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement told Al Jazeera: “Israel has used cyber sabotage. We suffered from intense denial of service attacks, hacking attacks, on our website. Israel decided to go on cyberwar against BDS publicly – they said we shall spy on BDS individuals and networks, especially in the West. We have not heard a peep from any western government complaining that Israel is admitting that it will spy on your citizens. Imagine Iran saying it will spy on British or American citizens. Just imagine what could happen.” 19

Sima Vaknin-Gil also told delegates at the conference:

“Everybody out there who has to do anything with BDS should ask themselves twice, do I want to be on this side, or do I want to be on the other side? If I’m submitting to BDS what would be the effect? We’ve got the budget. We can bring things to the table that are quite different. We have three different sub-campaigns. Data gathering, working on activist organisation, money trail. We have FDD. We have others working on this.” 20

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) is officially “a nonpartisan policy institute” and yet by the admission of the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Sima Vaknin-Gil, it is also a foreign agency working on behalf of a foreign power, running covert operations to spy on American citizens.

As Asa Winstanley points out, the FDD operates in complete violation of US law:

Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, commonly known as FARA, US organizations and individuals who work on behalf of foreign governments are required to register with the counterintelligence section of the Department of Justice.

A search on the FARA website shows that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies is not registered.

The same piece continues:

Soon after she was appointed to lead the ministry at the start of 2016, Vaknin-Gil promised to “create a community of fighters” who would “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda that would be publicly distanced from the government.

Adding:

As well as getting funding from Sheldon Adelson, the anti-Palestinian billionaire and number one donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has close ties to the United Arab Emirates.

In hacked emails last year the Emirati ambassador in Washington encouraged the foundation to push for moving a US military base from Qatar to his own country. 21

Click here to read the full article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on the US Israel Lobby?” published in March 2018 by the Electronic Intifada.

As John Mearsheimer, Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), tells Al Jazeera: “They try to ‘educate’ people to understand that Israel is effectively a western, liberal democracy in the sea of terrorist states, which is the Arab world. The other goal is to intimidate and to smear people.” 22

Here is the second episode of “The Lobby – USA”, which is subtitled “Managing Elites”:

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‘Information superiority’

“In the air force when you want to win, you have to have aerial superiority. If you want to win a campaign, you must have information superiority. And this is exactly the added value of Israel’s capabilities, technological and otherwise, we can bring to the game and we are working on that very hard.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 23

“For years we are trying to defeat the BDS and the delegitimisation movement. We are all on the defensive. I think we should move to the offensive. Using especially cyber and internet tools to try and defeat this ugly movement.Sagi Balasha, former CEO of the Israeli-American Council (2011–2015) who works with cyber-intelligence organisations. 24

“An American should not be spied on by a foreign government that is able to access all this information and possibly undermine their ability to exercise their democratic rights in this country. So we’re not dealing with amateurs, this is not an amateur work, we’re dealing with a government that has a ministry… engaged in the systematic targeting of activists outside of its sovereign borders.” — Hatem Bazian, founder of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). 25

Jacob Baime is the Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). He tells ‘Tony’: “The research operation is very hi-tech. When I got here a few years ago the budget was $3,000. Today it’s like a million and a half or more. Probably it’s two million at this point. I don’t even know it’s huge. It’s a massive budget.” 26

Baime continues: “We’ve got major political consulting firms on retainer that are here all the time. We have our own opposition researchers. We have a lot of communications capabilities and what’s most interesting about it, I think, is that 90% of the people who pay attention to this space very closely have no idea what we’re actually doing, which I like.” 27

Adding: “There’s a company called Sensus. It’s very pricey though you know. We had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just for it. It’s going to increase our discovery rate. We’re discovering just about everything we need. It’s also going to bring new sources online that we weren’t able to access in an automated fashion. Like message boards and… we have ways to crawl message boards right now and to monitor them but it’s disconnected from the event and activity discovery mechanism, so we want that system to be all integrated. We just signed a contract yesterday for them to start that work. They’ve actually already started it. Good friends in Israel that are helping us with that.” 28

‘Tony’ also learns from Baime that, “It’s modelled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. We’ve copied a lot from that strategy that has been working really well for us actually. And one of the pieces is this Operations and Intelligence Brief. We’re using social media intelligence. A tool called Radian 6. We’re phasing that out over the next year and we’re bringing on more sophisticated technology that is developed in Israel.” 29

I shall return to Jacob Baime and the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) in later sections.

In episode 3, ‘Tony’ also speaks to Eric Gallagher, a former Director (2010–2015) at AIPAC, who confirms to him that: “there’s a group of anonymous people who have a very sophisticated digital strategy for exposing these people [anti-Israel campaigners] and making sure the stuff stays with them.”

Gallagher adds reassuringly: “There’s no one on their side doing it so you don’t have to worry about your reputation.” 30

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Influencing Washington

“I know that getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did. That’s what I’m proud to have been a part of for so long… Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress. Congress is where you have leverage. So you can’t influence the President of the United States directly but the Congress can.” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 31

“The Ministry of Strategic Affairs brings together this group called the Global Coalition for Israel, and it’s leading pro-Israel advocacy groups around the world. My view and the view of Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, which we co-ordinate with sometimes, we communicate with sometimes, is Europe is lost and it’s basically over and they’re turning a lot of attention now to the US because they feel we’re on your path.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC).  32

“[W]e don’t ask a goddamn thing about the f—king Palestinians. You know why? Because it’s a tiny issue, that’s why. It’s a small insignificant issue. The big issue is Iran. We want everything focused on Iran.” — David Ochs, the founder of Ha Lev 33

In part 2, David Ochs, the founder of Ha Lev, an organisation that pays for young people to attend the AIPAC conference, invites reporter ‘Tony’ to attend a fundraiser held in a wealthy suburb of Washington. He emails ‘Tony’ with a list of the people the group supports. Those named on the list which Ochs describes as “the biggest ad hoc political group and definitely the wealthiest in DC” include:

Senators: Mark Kirk, Democrat from Illinois; Richard Burr, Republican from North Carolina; Kelly Ayotte (“she’s fantastic!”), Republican from New Hampshire on the Arms Committee; Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey; Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio; Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland.

And Congressmen: Ted Deutch, Democrat for Florida; Barbara Comstock, Republican for Virginia; David Scott, Democrat for Georgia; Joe Heck, Republican for Nevada [now retired after he stood and was defeated in 2016 race for the Senate]; Chris van Hollen, Democrat for Maryland; Steny Hoyer, Democrat for Maryland too. 34

Och then fills in the picture and tells ‘Tony’: “They’ll walk into the room and say, ‘Everything here is off the record.’ Then they’ll say, ‘Here’s a little bit about me’ and people will ask very specific questions.” 35

Continuing: “It’s the AIPAC group. It makes a difference, it really, really does. It’s the best bang for your buck and the networking is phenomenal… Congressmen and Senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them. The only way to do that is with money.” 36

The fundraiser event was for Anthony Brown, the former Lieutenant Governor of the state of Maryland, who in 2016 was running for Congress. “Brown is going to use that £30,000 to do ad campaigns”, Ochs tells ‘Tony’ adding:

“[W]e want the Jewish community to go face to face in this small environment: 50, 30, 40 people, and say ‘This is what’s important to us.’ We want to make sure, if we give you money that you’re going to enforce the Iran deal. That way, when they need something from him or her, like the Iran deal, they can quickly mobilise and say ‘look, we’ll give you $30,000.’”  37

Ochs also talks about a more impressive fundraising event held in New York which included donors from Wall Street, one of whom was hedge fund manager, Jeff Talpins:

“What happens is Jeff meets with the congressmen in the backroom, tells them exactly what his goals are – and by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million. Basically they hand him an envelope with 20 credit cards and say, ‘You can swipe each of these credit cards for $1,000 each.’” 38

Asked by ‘Tony’ the name of the group behind the event, Ochs says:

“It doesn’t have a name. There’s no name. It’s an ad hoc political group. For all the legal reasons, people pool their money.” 39

Al Jazeera showed their evidence to Craig Holman from the campaign group Public Citizen who explained that although individual campaign contributions are limited by law to no more than $2,700, this can be circumvented (legally or illegally) when a group of fifty or so bundle these already considerable donations together. It becomes illegal once any of the donors begin pooling resources in such a way that one who can afford more than the maximum $2700 passes on extra money to someone who is unable to. Holman told Al Jazeera:

“He’s actually saying we’re buying these office holders and that’s the point. We’re chipping in all this money so we can hand over $100,000 or £200,000 to the office holder so we can buy him.” 40

Adding:

“There is a disclosure law that is designed to highlight whether there may be potential money-laundering going on in events like this. And that is if the funds are earmarked and that means the organisation has to disclose who showed up at their events and how much each individual will chip in and what they handed over to the lawmaker… What this specific group is doing to try to avoid that disclosure requirement: it isn’t taking money and then putting it in its own account and then handing it over to the office holder, [instead] it’s just collecting credit card information and then turning that over directly to the candidate. Therefore it’s not violating the earmarking law and they’re not reporting this. All we would see on the campaign finance reports are the individuals who contributed. But there will be no record on those campaign finance reports [showing] that they worked together as a bundling group.” 41

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“They have questionnaires. Anyone running for Congress is expected to fill out a questionnaire. And they evaluate the depth of your commitment to Israel on the basis of that questionnaire. And then you have an interview… If you get AIPAC support then more often or not you’re going to win. You realise it’s not just the money, it’s the number of concerned activists: they’ll send out postcards; they’ll make phone calls; they’ll organise. That’s the democratic process – they understand the democratic process.” — Jim Moran, member of Congress from 1991–2015 42

“We made sure there were people in every single congressional district and then you’d call them up and say I’m calling from AIPAC in Washington. I did these calls: ‘We hear you’re good friends with congressman so-and-so.’ ‘Oh, my God yes! We’ve been friends since elementary school.’ ‘Well what does he think about Israel?’ ‘I never talked to him about Israel.’ ‘Well, can I come down and talk to you and help you figure out a way to talk to him about Israel?’ ‘No, just tell me. What should I say? I’ll just tell him.’ MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 43

AIPAC is by far the most prominent and important of all the hundreds of pro-Israel lobby groups in America and every year it hosts a stadium-sized gathering of delegates. The power of the Israel lobby, and of AIPAC in particular, can perhaps best be judged during election years.

In 2016, nearly 20,000 delegates attended the annual AIPAC conference and of this number some 4,000 were students. Also in attendance were many high ranking Republicans and Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan; also shoulder-to-shoulder with presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and all equally eager to the please the crowds with rousing speeches about America’s enduring and unbreakable friendship with Israel and its Lukidnik leadership. They come because the lobby is powerful and in search of backers:

Money is an important part of the equation. AIPAC is not a political action committee, and the organization itself doesn’t give a dime in campaign contributions. But its Web site, which details how members of Congress voted on AIPAC’s key issues, and the AIPAC Insider, a glossy periodical that handicaps close political races, are scrutinized by thousands of potential donors. Pro-Israel interests have contributed $56.8 million in individual, group and soft money donations to federal candidates and party committees since 1990, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

AIPAC helps to steer American foreign policy in other ways too:

For overstretched members of Congress and their staffs, who don’t have the time or resources to master every subject in their domain, AIPAC makes itself an essential tool. It briefs. It lobbies. It organizes frequent seminars on subjects such as terrorism, Islamic militarism and nuclear proliferation. It brings experts to the Hill from think tanks in Washington and Tel Aviv. It provides research papers and offers advice on drafting legislation on foreign affairs, including the annual foreign aid bill. And behind it is a vast network of grass-roots activists in each House district who make a point of visiting individual members of Congress, inviting them to social events and contributing to their reelection campaigns. 44

Click here to read the full Washington Post article entitled “A Beautiful Friendship?”

Here is the third episode of “The Lobby – USA”, which is subtitled “The Witch Hunt”:

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In principle, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 45 prohibits lobbyists from providing gifts or travel to Members of Congress, limiting reimbursement for trips to one-day maximum. But that was before a loophole was inserted, widely known as “the AIPAC loophole”, a clause excluding ‘educational trips’ arranged by a charity that doesn’t itself hire lobbyists. AIPAC happens to be affiliated to the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which is just such a charity. Created in 1990 the AIEF “funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials”. Its own mission statement continues:

These AIEF-sponsored trips help educate political leaders and influentials about the importance of the U.S. – Israel relationship through firsthand experiences in Israel, briefings by experts on Middle East affairs, and meetings with Israeli political elite. 46

Every year they fly hundreds of members of Congress to Israel. Jim Moran, who as a member of Congress from 1991–2015 actually visited Israel on one of these lavish all-expenses paid trips, told Al Jazeera: “You are told that Israel continues to be under siege from hundreds of millions of its neighbours who are Muslim and who hate Israel. Who hate Jewish people. You are told that Israel survives because of the United States and because of American politicians like you, who support us” 47

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“They threaten. They immediately threaten. Even if they know that AIPAC can’t defeat them, AIPAC can make their lives more difficult. They can make sure that at their next town meeting or something, some members of the Jewish congregation jump up and say ‘But you’re anti-Israel!’” — MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 48

“The executive director of AIPAC said that his most important accomplishment was his securing the authorisation of the use of US military forces in Iraq. AIPAC was pushing very hard… the United States getting involved in wars in the Middle East is ultimately in Israel’s interest. They have a stake in the region.” — Jim Moran. 49

Along with inducements, AIPAC also has the power to strike out against candidates who wander off the reservation as Jim Moran was to discover later. In 2002, AIPAC was lobbying him to vote in favour of the invasion of Iraq. When Moran refused, a sequence of events took place beginning with a single question asked at a public meeting:

“A Jewish woman actually stood up in the town hall and she said ‘Why aren’t more Jews involved in the marches against the war?’ I said ‘If leaders in the Jewish community were opposed to the war that would make a difference.’” 50

The lobby reacted saying that Moran was perpetuating an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Israel was leading America to war:

“There was a conservative rabbi in my district who was assigned to me, I assume, by AIPAC. And he had warned me that if I voice my views about the Israeli lobby that my career would be over and implied that it would be done through The Post – and sure enough The Washington Post editorialised brutally; everybody ganged up.” 51

The initial hit piece was written by Marc Fisher and bluntly titled “Sorry, Mr Moran, You’re Not Fit For Public Office”. It begins:

Jim Moran is very sorry. The congressman from Northern Virginia is often sorry. He is sorry about the things he says, the money he takes, the people he insults.

And continues:

It doesn’t matter whether you think this war would be right or wrong: What we have here is a United States congressman endorsing and spreading one of the oldest and most pernicious myths in the annals of ethnic hatred: It’s those all-powerful Jews. 52

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Fighting the infowar

“We are in charge of fighting this phenomenon and to this end we have four legs. Warning, deterrence, attack and public relations. If you want to win a campaign your actions must be as vague as possible. Just as I worked… as an intelligence officer, we didn’t go to the other side and tell him what we intend to do. We left him in the dark.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 53

“We are giving them data, for example, one day Sima’s deputy is sending me a photo. Just a photo on Whatsapp. It’s written ‘Boycott Israel’ on a billboard. In a few hours our systems and analysts could find the exact organisation, people and even their names, where they live. We gave it back to the ministry [of Strategic Affairs] and I have no idea what they did with this. But the fact is, three days later there were no billboards.” — Sagi Balasha, former CEO of the Israeli-American Council (2011–2015) 54

Having passed through a training course in pro-Israel advocacy, undercover reporter ‘Tony’ got a placement as a volunteer working inside what they call the ‘war room’ at The Israel Project (TIP) where media and communications are monitored. Staff said they forged friendships with reporters who worked at numerous media outlets. One claimed that during talks on the Iran nuclear deal, TIP had applied pressure to the Associated Press news agency to alter a headline. TIP’s admitted aim according to its annual report is to build an echo chamber for pro-Israel information as well as “neutralizing undesired narratives”. 55

This approach was afterwards confirmed by David Hazony, Managing Director at TIP, who explained how: “They’re not things we do loudly. A lot of them are things we do behind the scenes… You can get a lot more done by making questions get asked by journalists. And if you create it from multiple directions at the same time through multiple journalists, then you create a kind of sense of crisis… We develop relationships. A lot of alcohol to get them to trust us.” 56

Such chaos is purposefully exacerbated by ostensibly non-partisan ‘think tanks’ such as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) which spuriously links pro-Palestinian groups to Hamas. Such unsubstantiated and false allegations then permit prominent voices within the Israel lobby to smear opponents and to coerce the US government. On the back of such claims, Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) told delegates attending the Israeli-American Council IAC:

“We should promote the fact that according to Jonathan Schanzer [Senior Vice President at the FDD], who knows terrorism… He said a group of people who were actively funding Hamas, have now formed a group, American Muslims for Palestine. Schanzer testified and said they were leading driver of the BDS campaign, they were the most important sponsor and organisers of SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine]. We have to make it clear in every way possible, that they’re being funded and trained by vicious lovers of Hamas.” 57

A research associate working at TIP, Amanda Botfeld, confided to ‘Tony’: “The stuff we produced, I felt was like bigoted. It would be like pictures of Palestinian kids with a knife. Those videos of kids going to stab people. You would need to put this on Facebook and then have me make memes, so there could be graphics about that… I was embarrassed to be associated with it.” 58 She later alleged that her boss at another pro-Israel group, StandWithUs, had instructed her to label BDS a “‘racist hate group’ as often as possible because it polls well”. 59 Botfeld also claims StandWithUs included a “covert group” who would slander others as antisemites.

Asked by ‘Tony’ whether she believed there had been “well-intentioned activists on American campuses who have found themselves in very difficult situations because of these pro-Israel groups have tarnished them as antisemites?” she replied “Oh, absolutely.” 60

Here is the final episode of “The Lobby – USA”, which is subtitled “Marketing Occupation”:

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Killing the messenger

“If we want to win, we have to change our ways. We have to think differently. And this is waging a holistic campaign against the other side. Take him out of his comfort zone. Make him be on the defensive.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 61

“Antisemitism has come to mean anti-Israel. The AIPAC crowd doesn’t really care very much about whether or not a person likes Jews or wants one to move in next door. All they care about is what their position is on Israel.” — MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 62

“I think we need to worry. The polling isn’t good and all you probably know that if you look at the polls, the younger you get on the demographic scales, the lower support for Israel is.” — David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, speaking at the annual conference of the IAC. 63

Although the Israel lobby has the US Congress mostly in its pocket, it is at the same moment losing the battle for hearts and minds at a grassroots level in America as elsewhere. As awareness of the cruel illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the daily atrocities carried out under its apartheid system grows, so support for Israel amongst progressives and liberals has waned. As mainstream America slowly turned their backs on Israel, the residue of support is today strongest amongst Christian Zionists who believe in the end time prophecy that for Christ to return it is necessary for Israel to control all of historical Palestine. Meanwhile, as the Palestinian solidarity movement steadily rises, Israel and its dwindling base of supporters is making ever more concerted efforts to put a stop to the threat posed by BDS.

As Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President of FDD, confides to ‘Tony’: “BDS has taken everybody by surprise. It’s come up behind everyone’s back and bit them on the ass. Yeah, that’s a complete mess. I can tell you that I don’t think anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a good job. We did some good research but we haven’t figured out how to do anything with it… Personally I think antisemitism as a smear is not what it used to be.” 64

Likewise, David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, tells delegates at the annual conference of the IAC: “When you get to the millennials and the students, it’s a bad situation. And it’s getting to the point now where the majority is more favourable towards the Palestinians than the Israelis.” 65

The younger generation of Jews in America are also drifting away from Israel and have increasingly joined the ranks of BDS supporters. As Sima Vaknin-Gil explains: “Today we haven’t only lost the millennial generation of Jews. I hear this from their parents who come and explain to me what a hard time they’re having with their kids at Friday dinners. They don’t recognise the State of  Israel and don’t see us as an entity to be admired.” 66

The response from some in the Israel lobby is summed up neatly in the words of David Hazony, the editor of The Tower magazine and also a Managing Director at TIP:

“They’re all crazy liberals. As far as I’m concerned American Jews had one job, which was to preserve Jewish identity from one generation to the next. They failed. So I don’t think they have any place to be telling Israel what’s what. If they choose to stop giving money to Israel, Israel will find money elsewhere.” 67

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The Algemeiner, which claims to be the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America, pays special attention to events on college campuses. In Part 2 of Al Jazeera’s investigation, undercover reporter ‘Tony’ is unwittingly recruited by the Algemeiner to help carry out a covert investigation inside the Palestinian Solidarity movement. Rachel Frommer, Algemeiner’s Senior Campus Correspondent tells him:

“We’re working on a project now about ranking US universities and colleges in terms of their antisemitic and anti-Israel [attitudes]. We have a campus bureau that monitors this sort of behaviour and these incidents and these campaigns all day long, all week long.” 68

She continues: “The language that comes from those arenas move into that sphere of the new antisemitism, which is anti-Israelism. That’s a big focus at the campus bureau, looking at the blurring of those lines and where those boundaries have eroded.” 69

Then, in Part 3, ‘Tony’ is informed by Editor in Chief of the Algemeiner, Dovid Efune, “There’s a long history of crime affiliated with the BDS movement that have been judged as such by US courts. For example, the Holy Land Foundation… Are these people still active and present within the movement? Who seem to be the people running the show here? Is there any acknowledgement of any sponsors?” 70

Likewise, Rachel Frommer tells him: “This is an incestual business. You know, they’re all interconnected. This is not just me spouting off because I’m paranoid. There have been actual cases like the Holy Land case that happened a few years ago… A lot of these guys had worked with those people, and they themselves have not yet been indicted but they’re all interconnected. Part of the reason why that is so crucial is because when you’re making lines from one organisation to the other, eventually you make a line to Hamas. To Hezbollah. To Iran.” 71

The trope of pro-Palestinian activist ties to terrorist groups is a narrative that serves interests of the Israel lobby and one that is repeated by Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, Noah Pollak, who states during a panel discussion at George Mason University:

“There is an actual direct between the people who were raising money for Hamas and people who are involved in BDS activism on American campuses today… You’ll notice their name is Students for Justice in Palestine. You don’t hear the word ‘Islamic’, don’t hear the word ‘Muslim’ in that name. You hear the word ‘justice’ which is kind of a buzzword on campuses today. Everyone’s for justice, right? You’re not for injustice.” 72

The irony of sharing the same platform with Jonathan Schanzer of the so-called Foundation for Defense of Democracy is somehow lost on everyone. But Pollak then goes on to let the cat out of the bag altogether:

“If you actually get into the weeds on SJP they’ve aligned with groups that are for the… not just the destruction of Israel, the destruction of America… [advising the audience] When you talk about SJP and when you talk about BDS, you talk about them as a hate group, as a movement that absolutely endorses violence against civilians – not military conflict – but violence against civilians, aka terrorism. You discredit the messenger as a way of discrediting the message.” 73

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For the record the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was run by Palestinian-Americans and had been the largest Islamic charity working inside the United States. However, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the HLF was accused by John Ashcroft, then-Attorney General better remembered for his advocacy of the USA Patriot Act, of sponsoring terrorism.

By December 2001, the Bush administration had designated HLF a terrorist organisation, frozen its assets, and closed it down. Then in 2004, a federal grand jury in Dallas charged HLF and five former employees with providing material support to Hamas and related offenses. An Al Jazeera article entitled “The Holy Land Five” picks up the story:

The claims made were that the charity was a front for an illegal money-laundering operation, diverting funds to Hamas via zakat committees in the Occupied West Bank. Hamas, in turn, had been designated “a terrorist organisation” by the US government.

“It was a huge record that the government created, an administrative record – and it was basically garbage. It was newspaper articles, interviews that were translated from Arabic to Hebrew to English,” says Nancy Hollander, one of the lawyers defending Shukri Abu Baker, a founder of the foundation.

“And we discovered when we did our own translations that their translations were completely wrong, that the government was relying on information that was completely false. But it didn’t matter.”

The five foundation founders were charged with providing “material support” to Hamas. During the first trial in 2007, their defence team struggled to deal effectively with two secret expert witnesses called by the prosecution whose “evidence” was not shared in advance. Nonetheless, the jury failed to agree on the charges brought against them and the judge declared a mistrial.

“More than 8,000 documents and the United States government didn’t have a single American document that condemns the Holy Land Foundation. They might have had circumstantial evidence or doubts, but the only evidence was Israeli. And these documents were forged,” says journalist Osama Abu Irshaid.

“More than 8,000 documents and the United States government didn’t have a single American document that condemns the Holy Land Foundation. They might have had circumstantial evidence or doubts, but the only evidence was Israeli. And these documents were forged,” says journalist Osama Abu Irshaid. […]

Just as the Five were celebrating their apparent acquittal, the judge asked the prosecution if they would be prepared to bring a second case against the men. They were re-charged and faced a year-long battle against evidence which has since been criticised for being ‘untested, untestable, hearsay and prejudicial’. In the second trial a year later, the men were convicted of providing ‘material support’ to Hamas and in 2009, were sentenced to between 15 and 65 years in prison. 74

Click here to read the full report on the Al Jazeera website.

In October 2016, Al Jazeera also released two documentaries entitled “The Holy Land Five” about the case:

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Israel’s covert campus army

“[BDS] seems to be achieving its goals and I think it threatens future American support for Israel. Younger people are leaving college less sympathetic to Israel than when they entered.” — David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, speaking at the annual conference of the IAC. 75

“If one of these terrorists on campus wants to disrupt a pro-Israel lecture or something and unfurl a banner or whatever else, we’re going to investigate them and look into the bad stuff they’ve done. That stuff becomes very useful in the moment and there are any number of ways to push it out. The only thing is that we do it securely and anonymously and that’s the key.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 76

“So nobody really knows what we’re doing. But mainly it’s been a lot of research, monitoring BDS things and reporting back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs… When they talk about it in the Knesset, we’ve usually contributed to what the background information is. I’m not going to campuses. It’s more about connecting organisations and I guess campuses, providing resources and strategies if students need it.” — Julia Reifkind, Director of Community Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. 77

AIPAC has an established network across American high schools and universities and closely allied to the umbrella organisation Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) against BDS.

In Episode 3, Lila Greenberg, who is Senior National Field Organiser for AIPAC, tells ‘Tony’: “So in AIPAC we focus on the political. We have one very specific, very effective angle for combating BDS. But the ICC pools resources from all the campus organisations, so that they’re tapped in on all angles.” 78

He also interviews Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), Jacob Baime, who says: “There are about 100, maybe 120 professionals working for a dozen national ICC partner organisations like AIPAC, Hasbara Fellowships [HF], StandWithUs, Hillel, Chabad [on Campus] and AEPi [the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (ΑΕΠ)]” 79

Baime tells ‘Tony’: “We’re working so closely with StandWithUs and we have such a tight partnership with them today, that it’s totally seamless.” 80

And he adds: “We should stand behind our work, not in front of it. It’s not helpful for StandWithUs to say to a pro-Israel student or The Israel Project to say to a pro-Israel student, “Oh sure we’ll help you, but you have to put our logo on it.” 81

According to Ben Brownstein who is employed by StandWithUs and works in the ICC’s office “The Israel on Campus Coalition… oversee the whole movement.” 82 Brownstein illustrates their overarching relationship with an example: “Let’s say next week a BDS resolution comes to campus. So the ICC will be the ones, they’ll organise a conference call with all the partners. So they might say, ‘Okay StandWithUs, we need a little more of your help because we need something regarding a BDS resolution. The campus newspaper wants us to write an op-ed, can you guys help us write the op-ed?” 83

Sumayyah Din is a student at University of California Berkeley who stood for the university senate as an independent candidate. She had decided to pun on her surname which means ‘faith’ or ‘governance’ and inspired by the Palestinian cause, launched her campaign with catchword #Dintifada. The word ‘intifada’ is Arabic for ‘uprising’. When this upset StandWithUs, they retaliated with a social media assault both on her campaign and her character.

At their annual conference in Los Angeles, one of the delegates is Joshua Cahn who tells ‘Tony’: “We had StandWithUs attack this girl in an article released on their Facebook. They shared the screenshots and stuff and talk about how ‘This isn’t okay’.” 84

In pursuing their offensive, StandWithUs had effectively redefined ‘intifada’ to mean, as Din puts it, “the killing of all Jews”, and in consequence she received a barrage of abuse calling her “sexually repressed” and “scum” as well as inevitably “a terrorist”. There were even demands for Din to be expelled from the country. Din says: “I would go out and I would be walking on campus, everyone would be looking at me. I felt like I needed to hide. 85

As Joshua Cahn tells ‘Tony’: “They [StandWithUs] have all sorts of followers and some of those people are a little crazy. We have people that are saying, ‘That person should die.’ This girl was getting death threats.” 86

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The new antisemitism

“Right now the challenge is that there are people who say, ‘You know what, anti-Israel politics have nothing to do with antisemitism.’ What you’ve got to show is that they’re not the same, but they’re not entirely different either.”  — Kenneth Marcus, Founding President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law. 87

“We’re basically messaging on the following. BDS is essentially a kind of hate-group targeting Israel. They’re anti-peace. We try not to even use the terms, because it builds their brand. We just reference to ‘boycotters’… The goal is to actually make things happen. And to figure out what are the means of communication to do that.” — David Hazony, Managing Director at TIP. 88

Despite its name, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law is primarily a pro-Israel lobby group. Founding President Kenneth Marcus tells ‘Tony’: “The goal is to have the federal government to establish a definition of antisemitism that is parallel to the State Department definition.” 89

The US State Department adopted the so-called “three Ds” test or 3D test in 2010. The three Ds stand for Delegitimization of Israel; Demonization of Israel; and subjecting Israel to Double standards, each of which, according to the test, indicates antisemitism.

Joseph Berman, a rabbi and campaigner to Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) told Al Jazeera: “There have been attempts by some to try to define antisemitism in such a way that conflates actual antisemitism with completely legitimate criticism of Israel or Israeli government policies. They are overly broad and vague to the point where any kind of criticism of Israel or of Israeli government policy can be labelled as antisemitic.” 90

John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at University of Chicago and an outspoken critic of Israel adds, “One of the major tactics that the lobby uses to defend Israel – and it’s done this for a long period of time, but it’s using it more and more these days – is to identify people who criticise Israel as an antisemite.” 91

Al Jazeera also spoke to The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah who pointed to the inherent inconsistencies in these definitions of the new antisemitism: “According to their definition, if I say to you that I believe that instead of separate Israeli and Palestinian states there should be a single state, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, everyone has full equal rights they way they do under the constitution of the United States, that would make me an antisemite because I’m denying Israel’s right to be a Jewish state… They have created this perverse version where calling for everyone in Palestine-Israel to have equal rights is somehow an attack on Jews. And they’re trying to get this pushed into official definitions and this has been a key goal of people like Kenneth Marcus and the Brandeis Center. So that they can then go after people who are advocating for equality and bring them up on charges that they are actually antisemitic bigots.” 92

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Fake news and ‘troll farms’: The Israel Project

“TIP changes the way thousands of media reports appear every year and then we add platforms of our own, getting people talking, taking command of the situation…” — from a promotional video for The Israel Project. 93

“We exist to articulate the reasons that the notion of a Jewish state is a good thing for us as Americans, and it’s a good thing for Jews, and a good thing for Israel, and a good thing for the West, and a good thing for everybody.” — Josh Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project (TIP). 94

“You’ve got the lobbying and the politics, and you’ve got the ideas and the think tanks. But you can’t define the meaning of those ideas, other people are doing it for you. Then the third leg of the stool isn’t there and it falls over.” — Josh Block. 95

Speaking about Josh Block, ‘Tony’s boss, Eric Gallagher, tells him, “He’s brilliant in a mad scientist sort of way. He was AIPACs spokesman. He was the troublemaker, always breaking the rules and always getting s—t done. He’s very effective at strategic communications and dealing with journalists.” 96

Gallagher continues: “At AIPAC he was the man. I mean he could get anything onto the front page of the Washington Post.” 97

Block, who is in the habit of brainstorming every conversation, tells ‘Tony’ “The most effective thing you can do in Washington is both explain your point of view and explain why other people disagree with it. Everyone knows that people come with perspectives. You know reporters are people… We live in a sophisticated world, but the question is: ‘are you credible?’” 98

He continues: “People aren’t reading as much, they’re not interested in fact, history is a little bit bunk, you know. A lot of people come up now, and there’s this notion of postmodernism and nothing is true anymore. We are at this interesting moment in time where we need to understand what it is that affects people’s understanding and perceptions about what’s right and what’s wrong… All these visual stimulus and stuff, how are people learning things?” 99

David Hazony is the editor of The Tower magazine and also a Managing Director at The Israel Project. He explains to ‘Tony’ that, “Every month we do a national poll exactly looking for the kinds of messages that work. We know that people get their news mostly through scanning headlines. So the headlines are very carefully messaged.” 100

Hazony says, “We don’t have any reporters, we just have three people who churn out carefully crafted headlines, with article texts that convince you that the headline is true.” 101

Understanding how the headline alone carries the story enables The Israel Project to maximise the propagandistic impact of this kind of pseudo-journalism. The point is never to get to the real debate.

“You can send me the greatest article on you want about the Iran deal,” Hazony tells ‘Tony’, “but I promise you that a ten second video will get a thousand times as many views.” 102

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“The visual media is trumping words. More imagine, more visual, more accessible, non heavy thinking stuff.” — Josh Block.  103

“Kittens are easy to sell; apartheid is a much harder product to get people to buy.” — Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada. 104

Jordon Schachtel, another employee at TIP, tells ‘Tony’: “We’re putting together a lot of pro-Israel media through various social media channels that aren’t The Israel Project’s channels.” 105

He adds: “So we have a lot of side projects that we are trying to influence the public debate with. That’s why it’s a secretive thing. Because we don’t want people to know that these side projects are associated with The Israel Project.” 106

An article published by The Electronic Intifada based on leaked footage from the documentary was first to disclose the operation of (what should properly be called) ‘troll farms’ operating under the cover of The Israel Project (TIP), with sockpuppet accounts to sway public opinion and disseminate propaganda on the social media platform Facebook:

 The Israel Project, a major advocacy group based in Washington, is running a secret influence campaign on Facebook.

The video above, exclusive to The Electronic Intifada, shows the latest excerpts to leak from the documentary.

Earlier leaked footage published by The Electronic Intifada and the Grayzone Project has already revealed underhanded tactics by anti-Palestinian groups planned and executed in collusion with the Israeli government.

In the newest clips, David Hazony, the managing director of The Israel Project, is heard telling Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter: “There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar. We work together with a lot of other organizations.”

“We produce content that they then publish with their own name on it,” Hazony adds. 107

A major part of the operation is the creation of a network of Facebook “communities” focused on history, the environment, world affairs and feminism that appear to have no connection to pro-Israel advocacy, but are used by The Israel Project to spread pro-Israel messaging.

The same piece continues:

One of these Facebook pages, Cup of Jane, has almost half a million followers.

Cup of Jane’s “About” page describes it as being about “Sugar, spice and everything nice.”

But there is no disclosure that this is a page run for the purpose of promoting Israel.

The “About” page does identify Cup of Jane as being “a community launched by TIP’s Future Media Project in DC.”

There is however no direct and explicit mention of Israel or indication that “TIP” stands for The Israel Project.

The Electronic Intifada understands that even this vague acknowledgment of who is behind the page was only added after The Israel Project learned about the existence of the Al Jazeera undercover documentary and presumably anticipated being exposed.

The Israel Project also added an acknowledgment on its own website that it runs the Facebook pages. However its website is not linked from the Facebook pages themselves.

There is no evidence in the Internet Archive of the page existing before May 2017 – months after “Tony’s” cover was blown.

According to [former employee Jordan] Schachtel, The Israel Project is putting considerable resources into producing Cup of Jane and a network of similar pages.

“We have a team of like 13 people. We are working on a lot of videos, explainers,” he tells Tony in Al Jazeera’s documentary. “A lot of it is just random topics and then maybe like 25 percent of it would be like Israel or Jewish-based.”

“Cup of Jane” is just one of many such fake websites:

Other pages identified by the censored Al Jazeera documentary as run by The Israel Project include Soul Mama, History Bites, We Have Only One Earth and This Explains That.

Some have hundreds of thousands of followers.

History Bites does not reveal its affiliation with The Israel Project, not even with the vague formula used by Cup of Jane and the other pages.

History Bites simply describes itself as conveying “The awesome of History in bite-sized chewable pieces!”

That page re-posted Cup of Jane posts presenting Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister who implemented racist and violent policies against indigenous Palestinians, and viewed Palestinian women giving birth as an existential threat, as a feminist hero.

A 2016 This Explains That video spreads false Israeli claims that the UN cultural agency UNESCO “erased” Jewish and Christian reverence for holy sites in Jerusalem.

History Bites reposted the video last December stating that it “seems to support President Trump’s declaration today that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state of Israel.”

The video has received almost five million views.

Another video posted by History Bites attempts to justify Israel’s June 1967 surprise attack on Egypt, launching the war in which Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The video describes Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem as the city being “reunified” and “liberated.”108

Click here to read the full article at The Electronic Intifada.

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Dirty tricks on the campus – Part I

“We use all sorts of technology. We use corporate-level, enterprise-grade social media intelligence software. Almost all of this happens on social media so, we have custom algorithms and formulae that acquire this stuff immediately… Generally within about 30 seconds or less of one of these things popping up on campus, whether it’s a Facebook event, whether it’s the right kind of mention on Twitter, the system picks it up, it goes into a queue, alerts our researchers and they evaluate it. They tag it, and if it rises to a certain level, we issue early-warning alerts to our partners.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 109

“In terms of information sharing, we did add the Ministry of Strategic Affairs to our operations and  intelligence brief. Which kind of goes back to how we get information about what’s going on on America college campuses” — Ian Hersh, Director of Operations for the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 110

In August 2016, the Algemeiner reported that:

“A ring of anti-Israel students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) has created a “cesspool” of antisemitism and racist behaviour…” 111

The allegations were based on monitoring carried out by a secretive organisation called ‘Canary Mission’ and they quickly caused a stir not just within Washington’s pro-Israel circles but also further afield. In Britain, the Daily Mail reported the same story under the title “University of Tennessee is a ‘cesspool’ of anti-Semitic and racist behaviour, anonymous watchdog group claims”. Interestingly the Daily Mail’s own version is likewise anonymous, the byline merely crediting ‘Dailymail.com reporter’. 112

Undercover reporter ‘Tony’ met up with Aviva Vogelstein, the Director of Legal Initiatives at the pro-Israel group Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law. She told him:

“The thing that I’m working on you might have seen in the news recently about a cesspool of antisemitism at the University of Tennessee. So the exposé was on these antisemitic tweets. They uncovered 14 current students, five recent graduates at the University of Tennessee that had tweeted all these horribly anti-Semitic things.” 113

Continuing: “They’re called Canary Mission. Nobody really knows who they are. They expose antisemitism, anti-Israelism and anti-Americanism in the US on college campuses. They study it and then release these exposé reports, but they’re secret, they don’t reveal who they are.” 114

Later Vogelstein drafts a letter on behalf of the Louis D. Brandeis Center calling for the University of Tennessee to take a stand. It says antisemitism is “a long-standing problem on the UTK campus” and asks the university to adopt a definition such as the 3D test used by the State Department. 115

Vogelstein tells ‘Tony’:

“We’re telling them that basically they need to issue a stronger statement. They need to investigate the students that were involved. They need to offer education and training… The problem right now I think, on universities is that administrations don’t realise that anti-Israel statements or anti-Zionist statements often are also antisemitic.” 116

Adding:

“We’re trying to get universities to adopt a uniform definition, whether it’s the State Department’s definition or a similar version of it. Because then we think that the administrators would be able to understand antisemitism better and discipline students for hateful and discriminatory actions.” 117

The Brandeis Center also called for the university to screen what it described as a “path-breaking film” entitled Unmasked Judeophobia: The Threat to Civilisation. Made by Gloria Z. Greenfield, the Honorary Artist in Residence at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville, the film includes interviews with Alan Dershowitz, John Bolton, Jonathan Sacks, Melanie Phillips, and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alonalso amongst others. It also prominently features President of the Brandeis Center, Kenneth Marcus. The central claim made by the film is the ‘clash of civilisations’ notion that Muslims have adopted Nazi-like antisemitism and are going to lead the next holocaust. It was duly screened at UTK on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In formal testimony given before the Tennessee State Assembly, former Jewish Society President, Jordan Shipowitz, later states on record: “When people say things like we are facing antisemitism, it hits us pretty hard. When we were told that this was being said about our university… we were really confused because we had never heard about any form of antisemitism happening on our campus… so if we’re the students who are supposed to have been affected by this climate you would think we would know about it…” 118

*

Psychological warfare

“With the anti-Israel people, what’s most effective, what we found at least in the last year is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads… Every few hours you drip out a new piece of the opposition research. It’s psychological warfare. It drives them crazy… They either shut down or they spend time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel. So that’s incredibly effective.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 119

“Canary Mission is highly, highly effective to the extent that we monitor the Students for Justice in Palestine and their allies.” — Jacob Baime. 120

Professor of American Studies at Purdue University, Bill Mullen had been an active campaigner in the BDS movement for many years. He was targeted by a more elaborate smear campaign that started when his wife was sent a link to a website. On the website was a letter purportedly written by a former student that accused her husband of sexual harassment. Soon he found other accounts making similar allegations. Mullen says: “Within about 48 hours we were able to establish that these multiple sites that we had found attacking me had been taken out almost at the same time, and that they were clearly the work of the same people… one of the accounts said that in the process of putting my hand on her [Mullen’s accuser], I had invited her to a Palestine organisational meeting. I thought well you’re sort of putting your cards on the table there, whoever you are…” 121

A student at Purdue who Mullen worked with and a former activist with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had also been targeted by one of the sites. Speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera, she said: “It said that I would get drunk and go and have sex with multiple guys and that was just a huge attack on my character and a massive lie… My parents were very upset, they immediately told me to quit my involvement with SJP… The main focus was to attack my reputation and my character. Pretty much to mess with me so that I don’t want to continue my involvement with SJP.” 122

Bull Mullen says: “It was really an attempt by people who didn’t know us to think well maybe I can destroy this marriage at the very least. Maybe I can cause them tremendous personal suffering. The same letter… used the name of our daughter. I think that was the worst moment. I think we thought these people will do anything – they’re capable of doing anything.” 123

*

BDS = terrorism

“Quite a few among the BDS leaders hold ties… financial, organisational ties and other ties with hostile elements to the State of Israel. Our role is using intel to expose these ties. And by exposing that, we will know how to act against them, to isolate them, to transfer information to different intelligence agencies around the world. Israel must carry out a targeted civil thwarting of the leadership of BDS activists.” — Yisrael Katz, Israeli Minister of Intelligence. 124

“Just stay on message. And what is that message? BDS is a hate movement.” — Yeal Lerman Mazar, the Director of Legal Affairs for StandWithUs. 125

“When you talk about SJP and when you talk about BDS, you talk about them as a hate group, as a movement that absolutely endorses violence against civilians – not military conflict – but violence against civilians, aka terrorism. You discredit the messenger as a way of discrediting the message.” — Noah Pollak, Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. 126

While it was true that a handful of the tweets posted by students at UTK were unpardonably vile and antisemitic, the main aim of pro-Israel campaigners was to construct a far larger blacklist of students and to spuriously accuse the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole of sympathising with terrorism. Soon afterwards, posters appeared that linked BDS supporters to Hamas.

Similar posters appeared on campuses across America and the David Horowitz Freedom Center sent out a press release claiming responsibility as “part of the Freedom Center’s campaign, ‘Stop the Jew Hatred on Campus,’ which seeks to confront the agents of campus anti-Semitism and expose the financial and organizational relationship between the terror group Hamas and Hamas support groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine”:

On the night of October 4th, 2016, the David Horowitz Freedom Center launched a campaign to combat the terrorist support groups on college campuses across the country. UCLA was chosen as the first campus for this effort where dozens of posters linking Students for Justice in Palestine to their terrorist heroes were placed on campus. Posters have subsequently been placed on 9 other campuses including UC-Irvine, UC-Berkeley, Brooklyn College, Vassar College, San Francisco State University, San Diego State University, Tufts University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Chicago. 127

In response to the campaign, Mondoweiss reported:

Palestinian rights activists on American college campuses have become the target of posters that attempt to smear them as supporters of violence, with a new round of posters calling out students and teachers by name.

“Do you want to show your support for HAMAS TERRORISTS whose stated goal is the elimination of the Jewish state?” one poster asks. Then, posing as the national Palestinian rights group, says “Join us! Students for Justice in Palestine.” The poster drives home its point with a cartoon of a man wearing a kaffiyeh, pointing at the viewer like Uncle Sam. 128

Click here to read the full article entitled “New campaign uses racist posters to target Palestinian campus activists by name”.

As The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah told The Real News on September 10th:

‘Canary Mission’ is part of a much bigger effort, effectively orchestrated by the Israeli government, in which groups like the ‘Israel on Campus Coalition and ‘The Foundation for Defense of Democracies are acting as agents, or front groups, for the Israeli government, helping it to gather information on US citizens; to harass US citizens; and other activities – without being registered as foreign agents of the State of Israel.

Click here to read more in an earlier post entitled “forget ‘Russiagate’, why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’”

*

Divide and conquer: anti-apartheid and Black Lives Matter

 “Martin Luther King will turn in his grave if he saw the anti-Israel tendencies or policies that are starting to emerge with Black Lives Matter.” — Andy David, the Israeli Consul General in San Francisco. 129

“What’s the model for the BDS movement? The model is South Africa, so was that a bad thing to do?” — Keith Weissman, a former analysis with AIPAC (1993 – 2004). 130

One of the latest strategies developed by The Israel Project (TIP) in efforts to halt BDS has been to co-opt African-American activists by means of a manufactured campaign titled “Stop stealing my apartheid”. The idea is to drip-feed articles by black South Africans into the mainstream press with claims that BDS is subverting their cause.

This appeal to prominent black campaigners has been surprisingly successful as Andy David, the Israeli Consul General in San Francisco, explained to delegates at the annual conference of the IAC:

“Dr Clarence B Jones who wrote the draft speech for Martin Luther King, ‘I have a dream’. He was his lawyer. He was his close friend. He’s somebody that I reached out to, he became a very close and personal friend. Because of that relationship, he published three articles in the Huffington Post, explaining why their agenda was hijacked.” 131

David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, also confirmed that this approach can be effective: “Black South Africans who were apartheid activists, who were brought to Israel, saw the reality, came home angry with BDS. They felt lied to, they felt someone had tried to steal their narrative… This is an effective tool. Bringing these black South African former BDS supporters, now Israel supporters, to America campuses.” 132

In their efforts to cultivate a new generation of black leaders that are pro-Israel, the lobby is today inviting black delegates to AIPAC conferences as well as on all-expenses paid trips to Israel. Another speaker at the annual IAC conference, Judith Varnai Shorer, the Israeli Consul General in Atlanta, gave delegates an example of her own:

“I had last week a sit-down dinner at my house for 40 people, which I considered the leadership of the black community. Many very important people. They can be part of our doing and activities.” 133

Along with the usual carrots, the Israel lobby also carries a big stick as Black Lives Matter discovered soon after it declared support for BDS. One New York nightclub was forced to cancel a fundraising event. Eric Gallagher, ‘Tony’s boss, told him that The Israel Project had been behind that decision: “I don’t know if you saw this club ditched a Black Lives Matter event. It was one of our donors, we just put in a call to him and he put in a call to the place.” 134

As Khury Petersen-Smith, an activist with Black Lives Matter, told Al Jazeera: “If you’re disgusted by segregation in this country. If you’re disgusted by South African apartheid, then you should also be disgusted by Israeli apartheid.” 135

Adding: “There’s something on the one hand laughable about it, but there’s something also really insidious about this. You’re using the credibility of a freedom struggle to try to oppose another freedom struggle. And I think that’s appalling.” 136

Keith Weissman told Al Jazeera: “They’re worried that the BDS movement will get to the stature that the South Africa boycott got to, and they’re trying to stop it now. Imagine if the apartheid regime of de Klerk was able to have a lobby in America that made it a crime to support that boycott. Imagine that.” 137

*

Dirty tricks on campus – part II

“We are for example in the process of creating a comprehensive picture of the campuses. If you want to defeat a phenomenon you must have the upper hand in terms of information and knowledge.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 138

“We built up this massive national political campaign to crush them, and to fight back and to fight fire with fire… What we saw was a growing global movement to destroy Israel that was manifesting on American college campuses. It makes sense that they would try to poison our next generation.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 139

Back in episode 1, ‘Tony’ asked Julia Reifkind, Director of Community Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, to describe a typical day. She told him: “It’s mainly gathering intel, reporting back to Israel. That’s a lot of what I do. To report back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and make sure they have the right information, it’s in The Knesset, of what’s going on here. So that’s why I do a lot of reporting. I talk to people from tons of organisations. Just trying to get the information that I could to report back. Kind of like just talk through some of the issues with those people, see what their plan was, tell them maybe some ideas we’ve had, give them our support in that behind the scenes way. ” 140

However, Reifkind has no contact with her handlers in Israel. Instead, she writes her intelligence briefs and then awaits their instructions: “I write a report and give it to my boss, who translates it. It’s really weird. We don’t talk to them on the phone or email. There’s a special server that’s really secure, that I don’t have access to because I’m an American. You have to have clearance to access the server. It’s called ‘Cables’. It’s not even the same in Hebrew, it’s like literally ‘Cables’. I’ve seen it, it looks really bizarre. So I write reports that my boss translates into the ‘Cables’ and sends them. Then they’ll send something back and he’ll translate it and tell me what I need to do.” 141

Reifkind had also been president of the Pro-Israel group Aggies for Israel at University of California Davis (‘Aggies’ being the collective nickname for all students of UC Davis which was formerly an agricultural college):

“I came to UC Davis, which had a reputation of being really pro-Israel. Now it’s in the top five most anti-Israel schools in the US.” 142

Asked by ‘Tony’, “Is the embassy is trying to leverage faculty?” Reifkind replies flatly, “yeah.” She then adds: “We’re working with several faculty advocacy groups that kind of train faculty, so we are helping them a little bit with funding, connections, bringing them to speak, having them to speak to diplomats and people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that need this information.” 143

In early 2015, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) brought a BDS motion before the student senate. Marcelle Obeid, who was then President of SJP at UC Davis, read out a statement denouncing her university “for supporting apartheid and genocide of my people in Palestine”.144 She says: “I was very, very nervous. The entire room was filled. I think we had about 600 students and people from the community coming in to witness this vote… I ended the speech with something along the lines of being on the right side of history and for the university to end its unethical ties with these corporations which were doing brutal things to Palestinians.” 145

Reifkind tells ‘Tony’: “We knew they were going to win because our entire student senate was all pro-BDS. They ran for that purpose and won for that purpose and we had been pushed out of student government for months.” 146 In response, and following on from Obeid’s statement in favour of the motion, Reifkind had issued a very carefully rehearsed address to the senate 147. Then, and not wishing to enter into any actual debate, a pro-Israel student faction staged a walkout; all of which was filmed for later purposes:

“We went into it knowing we were going to lose, so our strategy was how to ultimately win while losing the vote.” 148

Although the BDS motion was resoundingly passed, the campaign waged by the Israel lobby was next stepped up a gear:

“That day all of us released 50 op-eds in major news sources, so that when people made a hashtag [and it was trending] when people opened their Facebook, it wouldn’t be them celebrating their victory, it would be us sharing our stories. Once it blew up, then random people like the Huffington Post contacted me and it was like, ‘Do you have anything to say?’ And I was like, ‘Conveniently I wrote an op-ed two weeks ago just in case.” 149

The op-ed entitled “My 16-Day Journey Confronting Divestment at UC Davis” reads not unlike a personal statement. It begins:

Fifteen days.

I only had 15 days in office before my university faced the Divestment, Boycott and Sanctions Resolution. […] Fifteen days to plan, strategize and act. Fifteen days to delegate, collaborate and struggle. Fifteen days to lose sleep. Fifteen days to gain the trust of a whole community and empower them to believe in me, as a leader, and to believe in themselves.

But those 15 days don’t define me.

And continues:

This past year, I have been involved with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, otherwise known as AIPAC.

After attending two AIPAC Saban Leadership Seminars within the last year, I have learned valuable leadership skills that have taught me how to mobilize, lobby and educate others about the importance of the American-Israel relationship. Now, as the AIPAC Campus Liason for UC Davis, I believe it is very important to take this positive pro-Israel message and be proactive. 150

Reifkind tells ‘Tony’: “We had a ‘Davis Faculty for Israel’ group, and they were hugely helpful to us. Some of them were retired lawyers, so they’d write legal documents for us. They knew the administration. They were tenured. They had pull.” 151

Muslim student Azka Fayyaz was another committed pro-Palestinian activist at UC Davis who the pro-Israel group chose to single out. On the basis of a mischievous Facebook post by Fayyaz in which she had written tongue-in-cheek that “Hamas & Sharia have taken over UC Davis. Brb crying over the resilience” they accused her of political violence: “They just came up to me and said ‘you’re a terrorist’, ‘are you a terrorist?’, ‘are you going to bring terrorism to the student government?’ And things of that nature.” 152

Then, when Fox News picked up the story, they linked footage of the walkout to Fayyaz’s Facebook post. As the story went viral, the course of events was now significantly altered to lend the impression that rather than leaving willingly, the pro-Israel protesters had been forced out of the meeting by baying Islamic extremists. The following dialogue is from Fox News:

“Reports say when the Israel supporters tried to object to this vote, the pro-Palestinian students you just saw tried to shout them down with cries of Allahu Akbar… and what does that represent? The subjugation of women, the torture of homosexuals, the torture of Christians, the crucifixion of Christians, that’s what it has come to represent and that’s what they’re shouting.” 153

Demonisation of the pro-Palestinian cause was then given another tremendous shot in the arm after someone anonymously defaced the Jewish fraternity house by painting it with obscene antisemitic graffiti. The news media arrived at the scene within hours to report on how SJP’s victory in the senate was the trigger for campus hate crimes. Roseanne Barr tweeted: “I hope all the Jews leave UC Davis & it [sic] then it gets nuked!”

Speaking with ‘Tony’, Julia Reifkind confides:  “I was dealing with news outlets, the media, and it was the day after, there were some swastikas on campus and it was like… it all blew up… We don’t even know [who did them]. We just think it was some random white supremacist type people who just came, did it and left. We don’t think it was students.  ” 154

“That’s very surprising”, says former President of SJP, Marcelle Obeid, who had been at the centre of the storm, “because it was very clear from their behaviour towards us and their attitude towards us that we had done some heinous crime to them and now we deserved to pay for it.” 155

Azka Fayyaz told Al Jazeera: “Students who were part of the divestment movement painted swastikas on the fraternity: that’s what she was hinting, that’s what she was trying to imply.” 156

And nor do Reifkind’s remarks to ‘Tony’ accord with her statement reported given to the Jewish Journal which reads:

Reifkind said she is “grateful” for the UC Davis administration’s condemnation of the swastika incident, but she also expressed disappointment that school leaders have not drawn a more direct and public “connection between the divestment resolution itself and anti-Semitism.” 157

“Why would we act against our interests” asks Marcelle Obeid, “and do that at a moment when we were victorious? The fact that [this crime] was so quickly tossed on to us… was damaging. It was hugely damaging.” 158

And if the antisemitic attack was in fact a hoax then if would not be the only instance:

Reflecting on events, Marcelle Obeid told Al Jazeera: “Wow, it looks like the State of Israel is employing little spies and you can’t take a breath without Israel hearing about it… They actually were found to have put cameras in the rooms where there were meetings going on – I liked meeting outside where there are no rooms, and no possible cameras under the chairs or wherever they may have put them.” 159

“Every single event that I put on you would have these pro-Israel groups coming out before our guests even got there with their cameras videotaping….” 160

“After looking back on everything I feel a little creepy because of what happened after the vote. People that were affiliated with the group were smeared and had to deal with these very personal crises of the world calling us terrorists and the world thinking that we were this spiteful hate group.” 161

She adds: “It’s pretty unequivocal how organised they were. How brutal and ruthless that narrative was and how it affected us in the end.” 162

*

 Canary Mission and the new McCarthyism

“Ensure that today’s radical’s are not tomorrow’s employees” — from Canary Mission promotion video. 163

They are terrified of Canary Mission and it’s about time.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 164

Finding her name on the Canary Mission site, Marcelle Obeid says, “It was shattering to me because I had to look for a job… and now I had this website smearing my name before I even got a chance to really make a name for myself.” 165

Summer Awad was another pro-Palestinian activist who discovered her name was listed. She told Al Jazeera: “Somebody did contact my employer and asked for me to be fired based on my profile and my pro-Palestinian activism. They said you know that if they continued to employ me that their values are antisemitic… It can be really scary at first. I was mostly harassed on Twitter. They were tweeting me every two to three days. They take screenshots even way back to my Facebook pictures that don’t even look like me anymore. Just digging and digging through my online presence.” 166

Another pro-Palestinian activist and member of SJP, Mohammed Abou Ghazala, said: “We had always been afraid of ending up on there. It was very personal. They see us as such a threat that they have to twist and turn and delve into our personal lives as if they are trying to scare us into stopping our work. Their Twitter campaign is relentless.”167

Drost Kokoye is another member of SJP who was blacklisted by Canary Mission. She told Al Jazeera: “Every picture that I post on Facebook, it goes on to one of their websites. With every tweet that I put out, every hashtag that I post on to Instagram, goes into one of their files.” 168

At the end of the first half of episode 3, we are reminded of Jacob Baime’s somewhat incriminatory denial. Regarding the dirty tactics employed by Canary Mission to smear and blacklist activists, he tells ‘Tony’: “F—k them, we’re doing it back.” Before quickly inserting, “I mean, not ‘we’, just some anonymous group.” 169

*

The man behind Canary Mission: Adam Milstein

“There’s a guy named Adam Milstein who you might want to meet, he’s a convicted felon. That’s a bad way to describe him. He’s a real-estate mogul.” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 170

“It is very important that we are proud Jews. We’re not, ‘Oh you know, I was born Jewish, but I’m really not Jewish and I’m not sure. We are proud Jews, we are proud about our history. We have a strong connection to the land of Israel. So this Israeli identity is now all over the world.” — Adam Milstein. 171

Adam Milstein, the son of a real estate developer Hillel Milstein, was born in Haifa. In 1971, he was conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He then moved to the United States with wife Gila in 1983 and became the co-founder and Chairman of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) in 2007. Two years later in 2009 he was convicted of tax evasion. Gallagher tells ‘Tony’ that when he was at AIPAC and working with Milstein: “I was literally emailing back and forth with him while he was in jail.” 172 He adds, “But he’s loaded. I mean he’s close to half a billion dollars.” 173

In 2000, Milstein founded the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, which today funds a plethora of pro-Israel campaign organisations, while he personally sits on the board of AIPAC’s National Council, Hasbara Fellowships, StandWithUs and (unsurprisingly) the ICC. In 2015, he collaborated with Trump’s largest campaign donor Sheldon Adelson, and Israeli-American media proprietor Haim Saban, as one of the organizers of the Campus Maccabees Summit, an anti-BDS event held in Las Vegas that had involved more than fifty major pro-Israel groups gathered to promote the concept of a “boycott of boycotters” as advocated by hardline Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett. 174

He told Arutz Sheva TV:

“We are going to boycott the boycotters once we understand clearly who the boycotters are, what groups they are comprised of, who are the individuals behind them, where is the funding coming from. We will boycott them and we will make them illegal on campuses and in the United States.” [from 2:10 mins] 175

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate, financially backed Milstein’s Israeli-American Council and transformed it into a major force within the lobby. 176 He attended the 2016 IAC conference with another of Trump’s most prominent campaign backers and current advisor, Rudy Giuliani. In the official video from the conference, Milstein and Adelson discuss their partnership. Milstein says: “You said ‘you see the vision’ and you tell us ‘go and do it’ and we took your orders and we made it happen… and we took your money!” 177 Adelson replies: “Is there somebody else around who can give you $50 million?”

When ‘Tony’ finally meets up with Adam Milstein at IAC conference, he asks how Milstein believes they should deal with Israel’s critics. Milstein replies: “First of all, investigate who they are. What’s their agenda? They’re picking on the Jews because it’s easy, because it’s popular. We need to expose what they really are. And we need to expose the fact that they are anti- everything we believe in. And we need to put them on the run. Right now they can do whatever they like, terrorise us… We’re doing it by exposing who they are, what they are, the fact that they are racist, the fact that they are bigots, they’re anti-democracy.” 178

‘Tony’ then asks: “Do you think there is a good role to just name them as antisemites?” And Milstein replies: “Not just antisemites, it’s too simple. We need to present them for what they really are. They’re anti-freedom, they’re anti-Christian. They are anti-democracy. That’s what we need to do.” 179

At the end of episode 3, ‘Tony’ speaks again to Eric Gallagher, who tells him: “In this country you have these billionaire types who are starting to realise… I don’t need to participate in the Republican or Democratic Parties, I can build my own apparatus and have influence in Los Angeles or Detroit. Adam Milstein is one of those guys. He funds The Israel Project. He does a lot of great work.” 180

‘Tony’ then asks who is behind Canary Mission, to which Gallagher replies, “It’s him, it’s him – Yeah, I don’t know who he hired to oversee it. Adam Milstein, he’s the guy who funds it.” 181

*

Dirty Tricks on campus – Part III

“The one thing every member of Congress and president and ambassador and newspaper editor has in common is by and large they spent a little bit of time on a college campus and probably those were formative years.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 182

“It’s a chance to shout at Arabs” — an unnamed pro-Israel ‘protester’ on his way to the SJP event. 183

In episode 4, ‘Tony’ joined a protest organised by Noah Pollak that aimed to disrupt the national conference for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) taking place at George Mason University. ‘Tony’ soon discovered that all of the other ‘protesters’ were on a fellowship programme run by the Hoover Institution, a right-wing ‘think tank’.

Marshall introduced himself to ‘Tony’ on the coach and told him, “The whole fellowship strategy is like, ‘You have to be foot soldiers of the conservative movement.’” 184

He admitted to ‘Tony’ that the protest had been poorly planned: “It’s a very fly-by-the-pants procedure. It was basically just Noah Pollak coming in and being like, ‘Look, there are these jihadhis who basically support suicide bombing and they’re on a campus and you have to stop them.” 185

Adding: “They did a really s—ty job of getting me excited to show up and protest.” 186

Eventually Marshall confesses to ‘Tony’ that protesting was just one of the duties expected on the fellowship, telling him: “As we’re leaving, we mentioned to our boss yesterday that we’re going. She was like, ‘Oh, that’s mandatory, you need to go.’” 187

As further proof that the protest has been entirely staged, Marshall then jokes, “Do you know what my worst nightmare is? I’m actually not kidding, it’s a photo of Dion and I together and we’re clearly identifiable. And they’re like, ‘Oh, who are these traitors who sold out to the Jewish conspiracy for money?’” 188

Much to the amusement of his fellow ‘protesters’ on the bus, and relishing his spot in the limelight, Marshall then replies his imaginary interlocutor, saying, “I’m like we did, we cost $50,000 plus benefits.” 189

As the laughter dies down, the ‘protesters’ then have a prolonged discussion over whether or not the protest is actually worth doing. Marshall says, “If I were a high-level Jewish donor I would be a whole lot more realistic about the expectations… I’d continue to do what you’re actually doing which is focussing on the actual power structures and the power structures in and of themselves. The reality is there is not a single college president in this country that would actually sign BDS.” 190

When ‘Tony’ puts it to him that this whole protest appears like astroturfing, Marshall replies, “No, no, no, this is astroturfing… [But] it’s not that astroturfing is wrong. It’s just that Astroturf has to be committed.” 191

The escapade then gets even more farcical as the ‘protesters’ realise they are unable to locate the venue. One says, “We should pull over and ask, ‘Hey, where are the jihadhis?’” 192

Having finally arrived, the ‘protesters’ reconvene with Noah Pollak and legal advisor Yeal Lerman Mazar, the Director of Legal Affairs for StandWithUs. Mazar warns them to behave as “guests of the university” and to avoid types of behaviour that may result in them being accused of disrupting a school-sponsored activity. She ends her briefing with a reminder to “stay on message”, asking: “And what is that message? SJP is a… hate movement.” 193

She ends her briefing on the advice: “The only thing you probably want to mention is that SJP endorses violence, terrorism, things like that.” 194

Afterwards, Al Jazeera spoke to Mohammad Abou Ghazala, who is a member of SJP at George Mason University about the incidents that followed. Ghazala told them: “We start seeing groups of people coming towards us who don’t seem familiar. And they’re brandishing Israel flags and posters and signs…” 195

He continues: “… How do you respond to such wild accusations? It takes a lot to hear this and not respond… Our content is grounded in human rights, morality, ethics and international law.” 196

Although the protest against SJP had had little direct impact on the day, once again the idea was use it to plant and promote what would soon become a much bigger story online and across social media.  The story of the day as it would be told on these platforms was prescripted: that advocates for BDS are antisemitic supporters of terrorism. For instance, this is from a report of the event as it was afterwards portrayed in the Washington Free Beacon, a neoconservative website whose publisher, Michael Goldfarb, has also served as an advisor to Pollak’s Emergency Committee 197:

SJP organizers instructed their members not to acknowledge the [pro-Israel] protest, but that didn’t stop some from speaking out. One SJP member was calling the protestors “Zionist terrorists” before he was scolded to return to his workshop room. Others remarked that “Zionists are so ugly.” Another repeated numerous times that he “can’t even.” One waved his middle finger at the protesters before being escorted away by other anti-Israel activists. 198

The article was provocatively titled “Anti-Israel Hate Group Met With Protests” and carried the deliberately misleading strapline “Hamas-linked activists create student blockade to keep protesters out of annual conference”. Another article, this time published in The Tower was entitled “Why Is George Mason U. Hosting Anti-Israel Activists Who Bully Students and Excuse Terror?” It begins with an appeal to re-evaluate the First Amendment:

As a law student at George Mason University, I can certainly appreciate and defend the First Amendment rights to which all Americans are entitled. Yet we should all be deeply concerned that our university is hosting Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) national convention this weekend. SJP disguises itself as an organization promoting social justice and the Palestinian cause — yet in reality, SJP promotes war, hate, and destruction, with numerous SJP leaders, members, and guest speakers going so far as to endorse terrorism. The GMU student body deserves to know who is using our university as a place to spread extremism and lies. 199

Which is always the point, of course. Not to engage in debate, but to stifle it.

*

Final thoughts

Founded upon a Zionist conviction that denies absolutely the existence of an extant Palestinian people as encapsulated in the slogan, “a land without a people for a people without a land”, last July, The Knesset passed the so-called “nation state law” with a vote of 62-55 in favour, thereby instituting a fully-fledged apartheid system across Israel and the occupied territories. Indeed, the charity War on Want provides a factsheet that details why Israel is an apartheid state:

Under Israeli law, and in practice, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians are treated differently in almost every aspect of life including freedom of movement, family, housing, education, employment and other basic human rights. Dozens of Israeli laws and policies institutionalise this prevailing system of racial discrimination and domination.

Segregation is carried out by implementing separate legal regimes for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living in the same area. For example, Jewish Israeli settlers living in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law, while Palestinians also living in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli military law.

Israel carries out various acts that are prohibited by the UN Apartheid Convention including:

  • Forcible transfer of  Palestinians to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.
  • Preventing Palestinians from returning to their homes and lands.
  • Systematic and severe deprivation of fundamental human rights of Palestinians based on their identity.
  • Denying Palestinians their right to freedom of movement and residence.
  • Murder, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, especially of Palestinians living in Gaza.
  • Persecution of Palestinians because of their opposition to Apartheid.

Click here to read more at the War on Want website.

Israel can no longer defend its position on the basis of human rights, morality or international law, and having already forfeited the argument, falls back instead on a strategy that thwarts debate. The main tactics involve deflecting attention onto other rogue regimes, pleading for special privilege and immunity on the basis of the sui generis historical precedent set by The Holocaust, and lastly, most importantly, falsely accusing all opponents of the very crimes it itself commits. Anti-Israel criticism becomes antisemitic; pro-Palestinian organisations are labelled “hate movements”; and BDS supporters are blasted as “terrorist sympathisers”.

Meanwhile, as pro-Israel organisations lend financial support to brown-shirted agitator Tommy Robinson, a latter-day Oswald Mosley, as well as anti-Islam Dutch politician, Geert Wilders; and while Prime Minister Netanyahu is glad-handing his Hungarian counterpart, welcoming the ultra-nationalist Nazi sympathiser Viktor Orbán, on a state visit as a “true friend of Israel”, in Ukraine ultra-right factions of the National Guard are being supplied with Israeli weapons:

Surely then, every friend of Israel should begin asking its government this one deeply serious question. Why would a nation established as a sanctuary and homeland for Jews; one that invests multiple millions in surveilling and blacklisting supporters of BDS on the spurious grounds of antisemitism; simultaneously, be working in league with the SS-wearing Azov Battalion?

Click here to read an earlier post published last September.

*

Update:

On Monday 4th, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed in April 2016 by the Louis D. Brandeis Centre against the American Studies Association’s (ASA), the oldest scholarly organisation devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, over its resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions:

The ruling is a significant victory for human rights campaigners and a blow to efforts by Israel lobby groups to use courts to harass, intimidate and silence supporters of Palestinian rights in U.S. universities – a tactic known as lawfare. It’s also a major boost for Americans sacked from their jobs on the back of anti-BDS legislation, denounced by critics as unconstitutional. […]

In the court’s 20-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote that the pro-Israeli group had “danced around key issues” and was unable to show that they had suffered enough monetary damages to warrant a federal case.

The judge found that at most, the individual plaintiffs could seek damages of a few hundred dollars to cover membership dues they allege were misappropriated, but they would have to find some other venue to pursue their claims.

Radhika Sainath, senior attorney with the civil rights group Palestine Legal, summed up the court’s judgment saying that “the court basically said, in no uncertain words, that the plaintiffs suing ASA lied when they claimed to have ‘suffered significant economic and reputational damage’.”

“But, as the court explained, ‘nowhere’ in the lawsuit could the plaintiffs explain what that damage was. It didn’t pass the smell test,” she added.

Click here to read the full report written by Middle East Monitor and reposted by Mint Press News on Thurs 7th.

*

Additional: Quotes on Israel’s press relations & Trump’s campaign

“In my job I get to work with every major news network, and I don’t even do media. I do academic affairs. Every university president takes our calls, takes our meetings, works with us because we’re a legitimate government organisation… There are so many organisations focussed on BDS. For the most part when it comes to BDS, we are very behind the scenes. I’m meeting with university presidents, faculty, students. What they’re doing is building relationships with local politicians, making sure politicians know to turn to them when Israel-sensitive things come to the table. ” — Jackie Retig, Director of Academic Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York. 200

“One of the reasons why Israel is covered disproportionately is the overwhelming majority of journalists covering the Middle East are based in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a place where you know after a four o’clock deadline, you can get drunk in a bar and meet beautiful women.” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 201

“When there’s a terror attack in Israel, our staff usually gets to the scene before the press does… They have bulletproof vests, they have cameras, and as soon as there’s… Twitter… an attack, we have like four guys at the scene. [Lior Weintraub, Director of The Israel Project’s Jerusalem office] has this rapid response team where he has people strategically placed around the country. So if there’s an attack… like the Sarona attack on Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. They take pictures and they get testimonies and by the time the press gets there, we do their jobs for them. They need a quote, they need information, they need… a picture, or a video clip, the full-service shop, you know we just give it to them. By the time the press got there, we were able to help affect the narrative because you know they’re all scrambling, they need to get this stuff to their editors immediately on what happened, back in Brussels or Washington. We’re able to get them information.” — Eric Gallagher. 202

“I was one of the first employees on the [Jeb] Bush campaign. The first time Trump came up in a conversation was when we were going to solicit him for Jeb. And we were like, ‘Why isn’t he writing a cheque?’ We would joke, this is the donor who went nuts… I hope the Justice Department doesn’t make an example out of Bush, because we were operating in a real grey zone. We raised enough money. We figured, ‘Let them come at us, we’ll defend ourselves’. We thought he was going to be the Republican nominee, everyone did at that stage.” — Eric Gallagher. 203

“The 200 families whose giving constitutes 90% of all political giving, are not giving because they want a government contract or because it’s good for their business. They’re doing it because they actually care. In my view, it’s obscene how much money there is.” — Eric Gallagher. 204

“Whatever a journalist reports, if it’s not liked by TIP or people within the government, they will put pressure on the media houses, the big networks.” — Jim Clancy, former correspondent and presenter with CNN (1982–2015). 205

‘Tony’: “So what are the main outlets that TIP work with?”

Eric Gallagher: “Washington Post is the biggest one.” 206

*

1 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 40:35 mins

2 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 38:40 mins

3 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 6:45 mins and 7:20 mins.

4 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 13:35 mins and 14:00 mins.

5 From an Al Jazeera report entitled “Israeli forces kill Palestinian woman during Gaza protests” published on January 11, 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2019/01/israeli-forces-kill-palestinian-woman-gaza-protests-190111154925517.html

6 Read more at the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) http://imemc.org/article/israeli-army-bombards-gaza/

7

The strike Netanyahu was referring to occurred on Friday night.

Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source saying on Friday that Syrian air defences had shot down Israeli missiles, but a warehouse had been hit.

Most of the missiles fired by “Israeli military planes” were intercepted at around 11:00pm (2100 GMT), the source said.

“Only a ministry of transport warehouse at Damascus international airport was hit,” SANA cited the military source as saying.

From a report entitled “Netanyahu confirms air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria” published by France 24 with AFP, Reuters on January 13, 2019. https://www.france24.com/en/20190113-israel-claims-air-strike-iran-target-syria

8 From a report entitled “Gaza not ‘liveable’ by 2020 barring urgent action: U.N” written by Nidal al-Mughrabi, published in Reuters on August 27, 2012. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-un/gaza-not-liveable-by-2020-barring-urgent-action-u-n-idUSBRE87Q0OE20120827

9 https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/221/text

10 From an article entitled “U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in the Midst of the Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts” written by Ryan Grim and Glenn Greenwald, Published by The Intercept on January 5, 2019. https://theintercept.com/2019/01/05/u-s-senates-first-bill-in-midst-of-shutdown-is-a-bipartisan-defense-of-the-israeli-government-from-boycotts/

11 Hat Tip to The Last American Vagabond  broadcast January 13, 2019:

12 From an article entitled “The US Senate Just Quietly Advanced A Free Speech Busting Anti-BDS Bill” written by Whitney Webb, published in Mint Press News on January 29, 2019. https://www.mintpressnews.com/the-senate-just-quietly-passed-a-free-speech-busting-anti-bds-bill/254408/

13 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 31:10 mins

14 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 42:20 mins

15 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 48:05 mins

16 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 4:50 mins. Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, was speaking to a gathering of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

17 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 30:20 mins and 30:35 mins.

18 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 36:10 mins

19 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 37:20 mins

20 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 28:15 mins and 28:50 mins.

21 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’a undercover film on the US Israel lobby?” written by Asa Winstanley, published by the Electronic Intifada on March 5, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/whats-al-jazeeras-undercover-film-us-israel-lobby/23496

22 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 35:35 mins.

23 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 5:50 mins.

24 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 34:45 mins

25 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 39:15 mins

26 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 22:15 mins

27 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 22:30 mins

28 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 39:55 mins

29 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 38:55 mins

30 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 49:15 mins

31 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 6:00 and 6:20 mins.

32 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 37:55 mins

33 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 12:45 mins.

34 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 9:30 mins.

35 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 10:15 mins

36 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 10:25 mins

37 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 11:40 mins.

38 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 13:05 mins.

39 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 13:55 mins.

40 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 12:20 mins.

41 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 13:25 mins and 14:05 mins.

42 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 7:55 mins.

43 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 8:40 mins.

44 From an article entitled “A Beautiful Friendship? In Search of the Truth about the Israel Lobby’s Influece on Washington” written by Glenn Frankel, published by The Washington Post on July 16, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/12/AR2006071201627_pf.html

45 Pub.L. 110–81, 121 Stat. 735, enacted September 14, 2007

46 Taken from the current American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) mission statement. http://www.aiefdn.org/

47 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 17:40 mins.

48 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 20:25 mins.

49 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 20:50 mins.

50 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 21:30 mins.

51 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 21:50 mins.

52 From an article entitled “Sorry, Mr Moran, You’re Not Fit For Public Office”, written by Marc Fisher, published in The Washington Post on March 11, 2003. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2003/03/11/sorry-mr-moran-youre-not-fit-for-public-office/f87b84d3-1564-45fd-8653-cb87196b4097/?utm_term=.d04f16ceb5c3

53 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 15:55 mins.

54 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 6:15 mins.

55 Source: The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 12:55 mins.

56 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 13:15 mins.

57 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 37:50 mins and 38:15 mins.

58 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 6:15 mins and 7:00 mins.

59 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 7:40 mins

60 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 8:40 mins

61 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 5:25 mins.

62 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 23:05 mins.

63 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 34:10 mins

64 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 40:20 mins and 41:10 mins.

65 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 5:05 mins

66 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 46:55 mins

67 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 45:05 mins

68 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 26:15 mins.

69 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 16:45 mins.

70 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 38:40 mins.

71 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 39:05 mins.

72 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 45:20 mins and 45:35 mins.

73 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 45:50 mins and 47:00 mins.

74 From an article entitled “The Holy Land Five” published by Al Jazeera on October 5, 2016. https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2016/10/holy-land-foundation-hamas-161004083025906.html

75 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 33:25 mins

76 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 15:35 mins.

77 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 18:00 mins.

78 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 3:55 mins.

79 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 5:05 mins.

80 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 15:20 mins.

81 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 15:05 mins

82 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 5:25 mins.

83 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 5:35 mins.

84 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 12:15 mins

85 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 13:45 mins

86 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 14:15 mins

87 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 33:00 mins.

88 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 13:45 mins.

89 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 33: 25 mins.

90 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 33: 50 mins.

Although a Jewish organisation, JVP is also pilloried by the Israel Lobby: “Jewish Voice for Peace or as I call it Jewish Voice for Hamas… It would be like having a group called ‘African Americans for Slavery’. It’s crazy right? A lot of the JVP people are not Jewish. They’ve had a real problem of people basically pretending to be Jews because the anti-Israel activism sounds – it’s a little more sexy.” — Noah Pollak, Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel.

An accusation that Joseph Berman, a rabbi and campaigner with JVP, described as “an absurd claim”

From The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 46:25 mins

91 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 34: 10 mins.

92 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 40: 00 mins and 41:10.

93 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 31:50 mins

94 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 32:05 mins

95 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 32:30 mins

96 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 32:45 mins

97 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 33:00 mins

98 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 33:05 mins

99 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 35:55 mins

100 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 34:20 mins

101 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 34:55 mins

102 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 35:45 mins

103 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 39:40 mins

104 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 39:55 mins

105 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 37:30 mins

106 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 37:35 mins

107 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 37:00 mins

108 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on the US Israel Lobby?” written by Asa Winstanley, published in The Electronic Intifada on March 5, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/whats-al-jazeeras-undercover-film-us-israel-lobby/23496

109 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 6:55 and 7:40 mins.

110 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 7:20 mins.

111 From an article entitled “EXCLUSIVE: ‘Cesspool’ of Anitsemitic, Anti-Israel, Racist Behavior at U of Tennessee Uncovered by Covert Watchdog Group” written by Lea Speyer, published in the Algemeiner on August 4, 2016. https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/08/04/exclusive-cesspool-of-antisemitic-anti-israel-racist-behavior-at-u-of-tennessee-uncovered-by-watchdog-group/

112 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3730310/University-Tennessee-cesspool-anti-Semitic-racist-behavior-anonymous-watchdog-group-alleges.html

113 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 27:15 mins.

114 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 27:55 mins.

115 From The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 34: 30 mins.

116 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 32:00 mins and 32:25 mins.

117 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 34: 45 mins.

118 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 44: 15 mins.

119 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 16:40 mins, 17:05 mins and 18:10 mins.

120 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 19: 05 mins.

121 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 16:50 mins and 17:15 mins.

122 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 17:50 mins and 18:20 mins.

123 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 18: 25 mins.

124 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 16:45 mins. Yisrael Katz, Israeli Minister of Intelligence speaking at the International Convention Center, Jerusalem.

125 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 20:35 mins

126 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 47:00 mins.

127 http://www.stopthejewhatredoncampus.org/news/images-freedom-center-posters-targeting-hamas-and-bds-supporters-fall-2016

128 From an article entitled “New campaign uses racist posters to target Palestinian campus activists by name” written by Wilson Dizard, published in Mondoweiss on October 27, 2016. https://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/campaign-palestinian-activists/

129 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 11:50 mins

130 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 5:30 mins

131 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 11:20 mins

132 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 7:55 mins

133 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 9:30 mins

134 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 12:40 mins

135 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 8:40 mins

136 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 12:00 mins

137 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 5:50 mins

138 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 17:30 mins.

139 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 4:25 mins and 4:35 mins.

140 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 41:20 mins

141 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 44:45 mins

142 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 19:25 mins.

143 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 18:40 mins.

144 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 20:20 mins.

145 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 20:00 mins.

146 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 20:35 mins.

147

“We have been ignored and disrespected year after year, but we have never been silenced. We are a beacon of peace and inclusion on a campus plagued by anti-Semitism… The intolerance that spawned this resolution is the same kind of intolerance that has spawned anti-Semitic movements throughout history.”

Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 21:10 mins.

148 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 22:10 mins.

149 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 24:20 mins.

150 From an op-ed entitled “My 15-Day Journey Confronting Divestment at UC Davis” written by Julia Reifkind, published by the Huffington Post on February 12, 2015. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/my-15day-journey-confront_b_6669890

151 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 32:40 mins

152 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 25:40 mins.

153 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 28:10 mins

154 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 30:20 mins

155 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 30:40 mins

156 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 31:05 mins

157 From an article entitled “UC Davis Community, ADL respond to hate-crime graffiti, written by Ryan Torok, published in the Jewish Journal on February 4, 2015. https://jewishjournal.com/news/nation/154873/

158 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 31:10 mins

159 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 41:55 mins and 43:45 mins

160 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 44:25 mins

161 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 33:10 mins

162 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 33:30 mins

163 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 20:30 mins

164 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 21:30 mins

165 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 20:40 mins

166 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 20:55 mins

167 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 21:35 mins

168 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 22:00 mins

169 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 23:25 mins

170 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 24:35 mins

171 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 26:50 mins

172 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 24:50 mins

173 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 24:55 mins

174 http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196406

175 From an article entitled “We Will Boycott the Boycotters” written by Yoni Kempinski, published in Arutz Sheva on June 9, 2015.  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196465#.VZtjehNVikp

176 IAC activities are funded by its board of directors, its members, and donors within the Israeli-American and the Pro-Israel American communities, including Sheldon and Miri Adelson, Haim and Cheryl Saban, Beny and Adele Alagem, Leo and Ruth David and David Wiener. In addition, the organization receives support from several Jewish-American foundations in the U.S.

From a report entitled “Israeli American Council Announces Major U.S. Expansion Plan” published by eJewishPhilanthropy.com on September 11, 2013. http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/israeli-american-council-announces-major-u-s-expansion-plan/

177 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 26:05 mins

178 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 27:15 mins

179 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 27:50 mins

180 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 47:50 mins

181 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 48:15 mins

182 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 4: 45 mins.

183 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:40 mins

184 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 14:55 mins

185 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:25 mins

186 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 17:25 mins

187 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:40 mins

188 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:55 mins

189 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 16:05 mins

190 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 16:55 mins

191 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 17:35 mins and 18:00 mins.

192 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 18:25 mins

193 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 20:35 mins

194 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 20:45 mins

195 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 21:15 mins

196 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 21:50 mins, 22:45 mins and 23:20 mins

197 https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/08/28/leaked-scenes-from-censored-documentary-expose-israel-lobbyist-noah-pollak-astroturfing-an-anti-palestinian-protest/

198 From an article entitled “Anti-Israel Hate Group Met With Protests” written by Brent Schler, published in the Washington Free Beacon on November 11, 2016. https://freebeacon.com/culture/anti-israel-hate-group-protests/

199 From an article entitled “Why Is George Mason U. Hosting Anti-Israel Activists Who Bully Students and Excuse Terror” written by Jessie Nejberger, published in The Tower on November 6, 2016. http://www.thetower.org/why-is-george-mason-u-hosting-anti-israel-activists-who-bully-students-and-excuse-terror/

200 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 3:20 mins and 3:45 mins

201 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 24:55 mins

202 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 26:25 mins, 26:40 mins and 27:15 mins

203 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 16:35 mins.

204 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 17:00 mins.

205 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 31:30 mins

206 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 22:30 mins.

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Filed under did you see?, Israel, Palestine, USA

Trump and Netanyahu seal the deal on the fate of Palestine, as Israel’s critics are silenced

Update: The article as it was originally posted follows the first asterisk.

Shortly after I posted this article I came across an Al Jazeera interview broadcast in May 2012 featuring ultra-orthodox Rabbi Yisrael Dovid Weiss who explains to Teymoor Nabili why the state of Israel has no legitimacy and how Israelis are responsible for “rivers of blood” in Palestine. Asked by Nabili whether he is anti-Semitic himself, Weiss replies:

“That is the beautiful ploy of Zionism, that they can intimate anyone who stands in opposition to their blatant inhumane treatment of the Palestinians”

[from 14:10 mins]

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The Likud Party founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon has remained the predominant force in Israeli politics since its landslide victory in 1977. Dragging the country ever further to the extreme right, the centrepiece to its ethno-nationalist policies is its rigid determination to push the Palestinians off their land with the “building of settlements”, and by episodically “mowing the lawn” – their own preferred euphemism for carrying out population reducing acts of genocide.

These constant moves to secure a Greater Israel are now reaching completion, symbolically thanks to the illegal move of the US embassy to Jerusalem – the occupied city becoming Israel’s de facto capital – and more directly at the end of the decades long, slow motion annexation of Palestine, with just the fractured bantustans of the West Bank and Gaza remaining, and Gaza all the while subjected to a blockade that has rendered it close to uninhabitable.

One obstacle does remain, however: what to do with the millions of indigenous Palestinians who fled during the period of ethnic cleansing at the time of Israel’s formation. This diaspora of refugees and their descendants still have a right of return under international law. 1 But this headache for Netanyahu is also about to be eradicated thanks to another initiative on the part of the ever-obliging Trump administration (discussed in detail below).

Meanwhile, to divert attention from the seventy year long struggle for Palestinian liberation, precisely as the cause is gathering strength, Israel is also engaged in a second offensive. The target here is free speech and the tactic is an old one: to marginalise and weaken its opponents, Israel accuses all of them of “antisemitism”. Most aggressively under assault in Britain is Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn – arguably the most prominent pro-Palestinian politician in the world today.

Michael Walker of ‘Novara Media’ digs beneath the latest bs of British news after a week in which Corbyn was branded a fascist and Theresa May a freedom fighter!

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The enemies Corbyn faces are many and varied, of course, but in all cases this false charge of “antisemitism” is now wielded as the handy stick to beat him and his supporters with. To these ends, a loose alliance has been formed.

There are the Blairites, determined to get rid of Corbyn before – as they see it – he can entirely wreck the ‘New Labour’ project. This diminishing gaggle of MPs and old guard Labour insiders are still intent to stop Corbyn at any cost and even if it means Labour’s defeat in elections. It has become abundantly clear that they care little about inflicting irrevocable damage to the party they reputedly support. Instead, day in day out, they plot to topple Corbyn using every trick in the book, including set-piece resignations, lies about imaginary attacks by his supporters, and just straight out defamation. Calling him “a f–king antisemite” is just the latest and most excessive outburst in a campaign of hatred that actually started prior to his first leadership election.

Then there is the Israel lobby in Britain, which happens to share a broadly overlapping outlook when it comes to Middle East foreign policy with many on the Labour right-wing, and which was caught red-handed recently meddling in Labour Party affairs in clandestine attempts to undermine Corbyn. This subversion by a foreign power represents a genuine national security threat – something the media and government have shown no interest whatsoever in pursuing.

Added into the already toxic mix, we are also in the midst of a last-ditch attempt to stall Brexit with growing calls for a second referendum; a strategy that is completely stymied by Corbyn’s stated refusal to call for such a vote. Hammering Corbyn potentially weakens him on all fronts with the broader aim of cultivating anti-Corbyn sentiment within the Labour Party (although this has totally backfired) and to galvanise the media which is hugely anti-Corbyn to begin with and where both pro-EU and pro-Israel sentiment tends to run highest.

The sad irony to all of this is that, as a strategy, the slurs have been effective because, and only because, Corbyn is a committed anti-racist who feels obliged therefore to treat each accusation with extreme seriousness. Nor is it in his nature to call out phoneys and liars as most others in his position would have done.

For this assortment of reasons, the Labour Party has finally been frogmarched into ratifying the full IHRA definition of antisemitism, which means a witch-hunt can now begin in earnest to whittle away at Corbyn’s huge (and still growing) base of supporters within the membership. In principle, just like many hundreds of thousands of others, I have effectively been made persona non grata.

This latest conflation of antisemitism with views hostile to Israel is nothing new of course. It is a tried and tested formula for stifling resistance to the illegal occupation of Palestine. What is new, however, is the manner in which the notion of the “new antisemitism” to close down support for the Palestinian struggle has been so dramatically escalated. As Palestinian barrister, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, put it in a recent interview (video is embedded below):

“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my lifetime, whereby there seems to be a full-fledged political campaign to assert that denying the Jewish right to self-determination – in other words, what they really mean is denying there should be an Israel, which is a majority Jewish state in Palestine – is a form of racism. So that’s the assertion: that it’s antisemitic and therefore racist. So that accusation is levelled that you are being racist if you say you’re opposed to Israel in its current form let’s say, however, clearly, what Israel is doing and all that it embodies in our [Palestinian] view, is deeply racist against us. So we the victims of racism are being painted as the perpetrators of racism. And the perpetrators are being painted as the victims.”

[from 30:45 mins]

In fact, there is a coordinated effort underway. What is happening in Britain and especially within the Labour Party, is also happening in America, where a similar restriction to free speech is about to be applied across college campuses and more widely. Writes Sheldon Richman in an article entitled “Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism: the Invidious Conflation” published by Counterpunch on Tuesday 4th:

I and others have warned that enactment of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act now before Congress would threaten free speech and free inquiry on America’s college campuses and beyond. As I’ve explained, this bill incorporates a conception — a “definition” plus potential examples — of anti-Semitism that conflates criticism of Israel’s founding and continuing abuse of the Palestinians with anti-Semitism for the purpose inoculating Israel from such criticism. Anti-Zionist Jews and others have objected to this conflation for over 70 years. 2

In the same piece, Richman quotes Dima Khalidi, founder and director of Palestine Legal, who writes in The Nation:

If this definition [of anti-Semitism] were adopted and implemented as [Trump’s assistant secretary of education for civil rights, Kenneth L.] Marcus would like, the DOE [US Department of Education] would be empowered to conclude that universities nurture hostile, anti-Semitic environments by allowing the screening of a documentary critical of Israel’s 50-year military occupation of Palestinian lands such as Occupation 101, a talk critical of Israeli policy by a Holocaust survivor, a mock checkpoint enacted by students to show their peers what Palestinian life under a military occupation is like, a talk on BDS [boycott-divestment-sanctions] campaigns for Palestinian rights, or student resolutions to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s human-rights abuses.

These aren’t hypotheticals. These speech activities were the subject of real legal complaints, filed or promoted by Marcus and his Brandeis Center against Brooklyn College (2013), University of California Berkeley (2012), and University of California Santa Cruz (2009). The complaints were filed to the same DOE office which Marcus has been nominated to head [and to which he has since been confirmed].

Crucially, all of these complaints were dismissed. Both a federal court and the DOE made clear that the activities at issue were not harassment against a protected group but constituted speech on matters of public concern, and therefore were protected by the First Amendment. 3

At the heart of Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is the same IHRA definition of “antisemitism” recently adopted in full by the Labour Party – a definition that caused its own lead author Kenneth Stern to write to the House Judiciary Committee in 2016, when a similar bill was under consideration.

Stern cautioned at the time:

“I write as the lead author of the EUMC’s [European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia] “Working Definition on Antisemitism,” to encourage you not to move “The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016,” which essentially incorporates that definition into law for a purpose that is both unconstitutional and unwise. If the definition is so enshrined, it will actually harm Jewish students and have a toxic effect on the academy.” 4

Moreover, in testimony he gave before the committee, Stern said:

“[D]espite the fact that some outside groups allege that antisemitism on campus is an epidemic. Far from it. There are thousands of campuses in the United States, and in very few is antisemitism – or anti-Israel animus – an issue.” 5

Please note that extended versions of the quotes above can be read in Sheldon Richman’s Counterpunch article from where they were originally drawn.

With serious debate about Palestine rights suddenly on the verge of being shutdown both in Britain and America, Israel is also putting the final pieces of the jigsaw together at home. The latest move by Netanyahu’s close ally Donald Trump to end its $360 million annual contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) deprives the organisation of a full third of its budget.

Independent reporter Jonathan Cook outlines the likely repercussions in a recent article entitled “There is a deeper, darker agenda afoot as the US cuts UNRWA funding”:

Over the past 25 years, peace talks have provided cover for Israel’s incremental takeover of what was supposed to be a future Palestinian state. In the words of Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarazi, while Israel and the Palestinians were discussing how to divide the pizza, Israel ate it all.

So Mr Trump’s team has, in effect, reverse-engineered a “peace process” based on the reality on the ground Israel has created.

If Israel won’t compromise, Mr Trump will settle the final-status issues – borders, Jerusalem and the refugees – in the stronger party’s favour. The only hurdle is finding a way to bully the Palestinians into acceptance.

In an indication of how synchronised Washington and Israel’s approaches now are, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, made almost identical speeches last week.

In an address to American Jewish leaders, Mr Friedman noted that a “different way of thinking” prevailed in the Middle East. “You can’t talk your way, you just have to be strong,” he said.

The next day, Mr Netanyahu reiterated that message. He tweeted: “The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive.”

That sounded uncomfortably like a prescription for the Palestinians’ future.

As Cook then explains this signals closure to what the Lukidniks see as the last stumbling block to securing the Greater Israel:

Israel has already carved out its borders through the ethnic cleansing campaigns of 1948 and 1967. Since then, it has mobilised the settlers and its military to take over almost all of the remnants of historic Palestine. A few slivers of territory in the West Bank and the tiny coastal ghetto of Gaza are all that is left for the Palestinians.

A nod from the White House and Israel will formalise this arrangement by gradually annexing the West Bank.

As far as Jerusalem is concerned, Mr Trump recognised it as Israel’s capital by moving the US embassy there in May. Now, even if it can be born, a Palestinian state will lack a meaningful capital and a viable economy.

The final loose end are the refugees.

On Monday 3rd, ‘Novara Media’ livestreamed a discussion featuring Palestinian barrister Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, who spoke to Ash Sarkar and Michael Walker about the US withdrawal of funding for UNRWA and the Labour Party’s adoption of IHRA definition [from 4:30 mins]:

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Cook concludes his excellent piece:

In a leaked email reported by Foreign Policy magazine this month, Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, wrote that it was time to “disrupt UNRWA”. He added that “sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there”.

Central to that disruption is stripping millions of Palestinians of their status as refugees. The Trump administration is due to publish a report later this month, according to Israeli media, that will propose capping the Palestinian refugee population at 500,000 – a tenth of the current number.

Mr Kushner has reportedly been leaning on Jordan to revoke the status of its two million Palestinian refugees, presumably in return for US compensation.

When UNRWA’s mandate comes up for renewal in two years’ time, it seems assured Washington will block it.

If there is no UNRWA, there is no Palestinian refugee problem. And if there are no refugees, then there is no need for a right of return – and even less pressure for a Palestinian state.

Israel and the US are close to their goal: transforming a political conflict governed by international law that favours the Palestinians into an economic problem overseen by an array of donors that favours Israel. 6

In summary, the far-right in Israel demand their lebensraum and to hasten completion are now employing the weaponisation not only of the very definition of “antisemitism” but, as Cook accurately points out, the aggressive weaponisation of aid too. That the noose is tightening both on the Palestinians and their supporters, and that this is happening concurrently, with dramatic moves occurring within America and Britain, is surely not a coincidence.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s full article.

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1 Under the United Nations Resolution 194 which was passed on December 11, 1948 the Palestinian refugees were granted the right of return. Article 11 of the resolution reads:

(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

https://www.unrwa.org/content/resolution-194

2 From an article entitled “Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism: the Invidious Conflation” written by Sheldon Richman, published by Counterpunch on September 4, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/04/anti-israelism-and-anti-semitism-the-invidious-conflation/

3 From an article entitled “Students Beware: This Trump Nominee Doesn’t Believe in Your Civil Rights” written by Dima Khalidi, published in The Nation on January 10, 2018. https://www.thenation.com/article/students-beware-this-trump-nominee-doesnt-believe-in-your-civil-rights/ 

4 http://jkrfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/letter-sent-to-house-members-120616.pdf

5 https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Stern-Testimony-11.07.17.pdf

6 From an article entitled “There is a deeper, darker agenda afoot as the US cuts UNRWA funding”, written by Jonathan Cook, published on September 2, 2018. https://www.jonathan-cook.net/2018-09-02/us-cuts-unrwa-funding/ 

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, Israel, Palestine, USA

Norman Finkelstein calls out Dame Hodge and speaks to “the crucifixion of Corbyn”

Here is a brief summary of Margaret Hodge’s role in the campaign against Jeremy Corbyn – for a fuller account read the addendum to this post which also includes an interview with Palestinian scholar Ghada Karmi:

Having defamed Corbyn by calling him “a f—ing racist and antisemite” deliberately within earshot of journalists, Margaret Hodge was rightly called to a disciplinary hearing by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC). Following that hearing she then gave an interview to Sky News in which she compared her own treatment to how it felt to be a Jew in Nazi Germany. A transcription of the most relevant section of the Sky News interview and the interview itself are below:

“On the day that I heard that they were going to discipline me and possibly suspend me, it felt almost like – I kept thinking what did it feel like to be a Jew in Germany in the Thirties?

“Because it felt almost as if they were coming for me. And it’s rather difficult to define, but there’s that fear, and it reminded me of what my Dad used to say. He always said to me as a child, “You’ve gotta keep a packed suitcase at the door, Margaret, in case you ever have to leave in a hurry. When I heard about the disciplinary [action], my emotional response resonated with that feeling of fear that clearly was at the heart of what my father felt when he came to Britain.”

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And here is Norman Finkelstein’s response in full:

“Dame Hodge hasn’t a clue what it means to talk about deportations, having a suitcase and being prepared to flee. My parents, both of them, were in the Warsaw Ghetto from 1940s until the repression by the Nazis of the uprising in 1943. They were deported at the Umschlagplatz. If you go there now there’s a monument to the deportees, and my mother’s name Maryla and my father’s name Zacharias; they’re on that monument.

“You haven’t a clue, Ms Hodge, Dame Hodge, you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. You know the suffering? You know the death? My mother used to talk about how she walked the streets of the ghetto and there were dead bodies all around her. She lost both of her parents, all of her family: her sisters, her brother were deported. But unlike you Dame Hodge they weren’t deported to a summer home, they were deported to a death camp. My parents ended up in Auschwitz and Majdenek, and slave labour camps. Where are you going Ms Hodge? To Switzerland? To your chalet? And you have the gall, the brass, the audacity to compare your life with what my parents endured.

“You felt it was like 1930s, when you got a letter from the disciplinary committee. I wonder Dame Hodge when you were in sixth grade and your principal called you down to his office, did it bring back memories of the Holocaust? Or maybe you got a letter from the tax office, and they called you down, did that remind you of the Holocaust? What’s the point… What’s the relevance… What’s the pertinence of dragging in the suffering, the death, the martyrdom of what Jews endured during World War II in this context, except to cheapen and exploit the memory of Jewish suffering, as you carry on a blackmail and extortion racket against Jeremy Corbyn.

“It’s disgusting, it’s revolting, and if any of the rules that are now being implemented in the Labour Party have any meaning whatsoever, if they have any content whatsoever, the first person who should be booted out of the Labour Party is Dame Hodge, for trivialising the memory the Nazi Holocaust and for making wretched, disgusting, repulsive comparisons between herself and what Jews endured during World War II.

“Speaking of bags and suitcases, Dame Hodge, it’s time now to pack your bags, pack your suitcase, and get the hell out of the Labour Party.”

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Norman Finkelstein later spoke with George Galloway on his ‘TalkRadio’ show about “the crucifixion of Corbyn and how to combat it”:

*

Addendum: the fuller background story and a Palestinian’s response

The smear campaign that falsely accuses Jeremy Corbyn of antisemitism on the basis of guilt by association goes back all the way to the period of his first election as Labour leader, but this latest episode involving Margaret Hodge comes at a time when the party has been considering the adoption of the full IHRA definition of “antisemitism”: a change to the rules that if implemented will curtail the freedom speech of party members to openly speak out against Israel.

On August 13th, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu waded into this debate after he provocatively accused Corbyn of laying a wreath on the grave of “a terrorist”. Margaret Hodge was one of a number of Labour MPs who seized upon the opportunity to further tighten pressure on Corbyn. As the Guardian reported on August 14th:

The Labour MP Margaret Hodge said the only way “Jeremy Corbyn can put this issue to bed” is to “adopt the internationally agreed definition of antisemitism in full”. She said: “Until he does that, incidents such as his presence at the laying of wreaths at the graves of those responsible for torturing and murdering innocent Jewish Israeli athletes in Munich will continue to emerge.”

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Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian scholar and doctor of medicine who lives in England and teaches at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in the University of Exeter; she is also a member of the Labour Party. On August 21st, Marc Steiner of The Real News interviewed Karmi to hear the viewpoint of a Palestinian on the “antisemitism” campaign against Corbyn. Transcribed below is part of her interview – the complete interview is embedded within:

“I mean that is so ludicrous it makes one laugh. First of all the [laying of the wreath] incident took place in 2014, now you’ve got to ask yourself why do they wait till 2018 to make such a fuss if it was so offensive, it should have been pointed out in 2014. However, they’ve waited four years because, of course, it’s not about whatever happened in Tunis, it’s about attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

Now the event was very simply this. Corbyn and some other British political leaders were invited by the Tunisian government to a conference whose subject was Israeli aggression and its effect on the Palestinian people: that’s actually what the conference was. Now the ceremony was to commemorate and lay a wreath on the graves of Tunisians and Palestinians together, who perished in an Israeli bombing attack in 1985. Now that’s what actually happened. It’s not my perspective; it’s what happened. Now Netanyahu, who has joined the pack of Corbyn hunters for his own reasons, came into this and outrageously really – he’s a foreign leader, he’s the leader of a foreign state; he has no business interfering in a domestic issue, however he barged in – and he accused Corbyn of laying a wreath on the graves of quote “terrorists”. Now there were no terrorists amongst the victims of the Israeli bombing attack.

So the problem is that he has joined the side of the people who want to discredit Corbyn so he never becomes a Prime Minister – and I can’t stress this too strongly – that the idea of a pro-Palestinian, a pro-justice British Prime minister is anathema to certain groups of people, Israel and its friends most prominently.”

[from 5:20 mins]

 “The issue really is that the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been subjected to an unprecedented attack, by members of his own party, by a lobby of people claiming to hunt anti-Semites, and by some parts of the British press. It is an unprecedented and very bad attack which he does not deserve. Now, in terms of what he has actually done, the answer is nothing. What has he done to offend these people – the thing he really has done to offend them, is that he supports Palestine, and the rights of Palestinians, and he has supported that all of his political life. That is something that is an anathema to certain Jewish groups in Britain, friends of Israel, and members of his own party who don’t want him to become Prime Minister. That is the reality of the position. It’s very depressing and very wrong, but that aspect of it has not been put forward often enough and strongly enough. This is about Palestine and it’s about Israel’s maltreatment of the Palestinian people and it’s about the desire of defending of Israel to attack people who support the Palestinians because they want to defend Israel.”

[from 3:05 mins]

“We as a Palestinian group are very, very anxious that our voice is heard and that our point of view is taken into account because far too often the media, the political elite, is held hostage to a lobby that does not hesitate to use the “antisemitism” smear because they know it’s effective, and it discredits the people whether it’s true or not. Now we as Palestinians have found it almost impossible to persuade people who are so devoted to Israel that they can’t see straight to try to explain to them there is a whole story there which is not simply a question of being anti-Jewish when you criticise Israel. You have to criticise Israel because it behaves in ways which are illegal and very aggressive. And if you don’t feel able to criticise a state that does that and not be labelled as some kind of racist then you know it’s a terrible world we’re living in.”

[from 10:20 mins]

“But you know it’s very, very serious to allow groups of people with their own agendas to use antisemitism as a tool – to weaponise it, to use a popular term – to weaponise it in order to defend certain behaviours on the part of Israel. It’s very, very serious. People should take it seriously. I mean it’s not a joke to try to discredit any political person… discredit what they’re saying by accusing them of being Jew-haters. The term “anitsemitism” by the way is not very useful any more. It’s very emotive. We need to talk about Jew-hatred. Is it really the case that if you criticise the policies of the Israeli state and its army that this is hatred of Jews? Of course not. When you put it like that you know very well it’s nonsense. But, it’s weaponised, it’s used cynically by people who want to defend Israel.”

[from 14:45 mins]

Please note that all transcriptions are my own.

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, Israel, Palestine

Bilderberg’s ‘post-truth’ world in context: was Turin 2018 ‘a council of war’?

[The Great Western Narrative] divides the world into a hierarchy of “peoples”, with different, even conflicting, virtues and vices. Some humans – westerners – are more rational, more caring, more sensitive, more fully human. And other humans – the rest – are more primitive, more emotional, more violent. In this system of classification, we are the Good Guys and they are the Bad Guys; we are Order, they are Chaos. They need a firm hand from us to control them and stop them doing too much damage to themselves and to our civilised part of the world.

The Great Western Narrative isn’t really new. It is simply a reformulation for a different era of the “white man’s burden”.

The reason the Great Western Narrative persists is because it is useful – to those in power. Humans may be essentially the same in our natures and in our drives, but we are very definitely divided by power and its modern corollary, wealth. A tiny number have it, and the vast majority do not. The Great Western Narrative is there to perpetuate power by legitimising it, by making its unbalanced and unjust distribution seem natural and immutable. 1

— Award-winning British journalist, Jonathan Cook based in Nazareth, Israel.

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Introduction: the ‘post-truth’ world

“The Gulf War did not take place” — Jean Baudrillard

In January 1991, as coalition forces gathered in preparation, French postmodernist Jean Baudrillard penned an essay in which he boldly predicted that the Gulf War (or First Iraq War) would not take place. Within weeks, however, air strikes did herald the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. Undeterred Baudrillard swiftly published a follow-up essay in which he loudly declared that the war on our TV screens was not in reality taking place. Doubling down, he then produced a third and final essay shortly after the conflict had ended in late February in which he proclaimed no less assertively that “the Gulf War did not take place”.

Given this sequence of publications, Baudrillard’s final and now very famous declaration might appear to have been an intellectual face-saving exercise. But the beauty of assuming the role of a celebrated postmodernist is never having to say you’re sorry – or indeed anything half so straightforward as sorry.

I shall attempt to translate his ideas as honestly and concisely as I can.

If historical and political awareness in the modern world is inherently a media construction, and if that construction is a false one, as it plainly is, who can say what truly exists beyond the simulacrum? Given how the real and the fictional are thereby blended together to form a “hyperreality”, void of any distinction between them, and given this new type of representation bears no relationship to reality whatsoever, it then becomes a truth in its own right.

You see what he did there…? A single leap from since we cannot discern a difference between fiction and reality, there is none. But then, within this world of consumerist ideology, presumably he still offers us the choice of whether or not “to buy it”. I do not.

That said, in fairness Baudrillard is addressing an extremely serious issue, though in making a case his obscurantism is as plain as it is provocative.

*

Today’s world is awash with screens. The cinema screen, television screens, screens on ipads, ibooks and smart phones, not forgetting the screen directly in front of me. My life, very probably like yours, involves endless interaction with such screens large and small.

The media amplifies this with constant reference to our screens within its own reconstructions of modernity. In dramas the characters are constantly checking their phones and computers. Likewise, most interviewees on our news programmes are interrogated via separate screens. On sports programmes this divorce from reality is even starker with analysis carried out on interactive screens – the pundits propping themselves awkwardly next to a screen and still more comically walking across the studio to find one. Today’s screens within screens are ubiquitous.

There is an unspoken message here. The message that screens are the must-have portals to our information age and, implicit in the same message, that information provided through our screens can be relied upon. Not that all information on screens is equally reliable, of course, but assuredly when screened by trustworthy purveyors of truth it is the go-to source.

Moreover, the screen is presented as a larger window on reality; one enhanced by means of composition, editing and overlaid content. Yet in many respects the screen becomes a window akin to the windows in my house and car, but just highly maneuverable. But naked reality in all cases obviously exists beyond the screen and so the screen is in fact screening us from it. It is intervening. It is directing our attention. It is coercing us.

Not that this situation is as novel as it may seem. Before the screen we had the wireless, before the wireless the printed word, and even before print, there was oratory. All were capable of coercing us and manipulating reality. Propaganda takes many forms, and the propagandist is nearly as old a profession as whoring.

What has altered is the constancy and the intensity of modern propaganda. And in the twenty-first century we become more totally immersed by virtue of having screens all around and at all times. This is Baudrillard’s “hyperreality” again, perhaps.

But Baudrillard’s approach employs the tiresome postmodernist ploy of wanting your cake and eating it: in this instance making his perverse case that the “Gulf war did not take place” whilst at the very same moment declaring the “hyperreality” in which this non-war was witnessed, an ersatz reality. Contradictory points that leave the solid question of ‘what is reality’ deliberately suspended.

In truth, the Gulf War certainly did happen whether or not our news of it was composed of little more than repeated images of ‘surgical bombing’ and related lies that helped to sustain the carnage. The point is to be mindful of when the news on our screens conceals and distorts events, for in that concealment the truth is buried. Firm recognition of this puts a lie to Baudrillard’s postmodern conundrum that “hyperreality” amounts to a truth in its own right. His paradox is a fraud.

*

On the brink (again)?

Today American centrists (who only get to call themselves that because plutocratic media control has made Orwellian neoliberal neoconservatism the dominant ideology in the US) are deeply, profoundly concerned that Donald f—ing Trump is insufficiently hawkish.

This would be the same Donald Trump whose administration just facilitated the bombing of Yemen’s new cholera treatment center. The same Donald Trump who has increased US troops in Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. The same Donald Trump who is openly pursuing regime change in Iran. The same Donald Trump whose administration committed war crimes in Raqqa. The same Donald Trump who has made many dangerous cold war escalations against Russia. The same Donald Trump whose administration has voiced a goal of regime change in Damascus and the intention of remaining in Syria indefinitely. The same Donald Trump whose air strikes are killing far more civilians than the drone king Obama’s did.

Centrist pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle are saying that this very man is being too soft and cuddly toward North Korea. These would be the same centrist pundits and politicians who loudly cheered both of the times this administration bombed the Syrian government, effectively sending the message that the only way this narcissistic president can win praise by the manufacturers of the mainstream narrative is by rejecting peace and embracing war. Thanks guys. 2

— independent “rogue journalist” Caitlin Johnstone.

*

The pressure for war is building again. We feel its sickly intensity in the air, yet it still remains remote and unthreatening like the rumble of distant thunder. Casual talk of war abounds but somehow exceeds our imaginations: speculation about the coming WORLD WAR is bound to be semi-detached. I wouldn’t ordinarily descend to the use of exclamatory capitals but once in a while screaming is the only purposeful thing to do!

Happily most of us have no physical memory of any actual war, although we can and probably do watch it 24/7 on our TV screens which puts us at an extremely safe distance. The fear on TV is attenuated and can be turned off in an instant, and we trust the cameras not to dwell too long on all the bloated rotting corpses. The ‘theatre of war’ is aptly named. On the ground however it becomes a theatre of the most obscene cruelties: “war is hell” is a literal truth.

Of course, the more wars there are, the less time each war features in news coverage anyway. And the more war we see, the more inured we seem to be to the next and the less we feel empowered to stop it anyway. Libya happened years ago, Iraq is just one war after the next, Afghanistan will presumably always be at war, and Yemen, although fresher in our minds, is hardly mentioned by anyone at all most days.

The anti-war movement was marginalised a decade ago and today the war party have stolen into government like thieves in the night. Quite literally they are thieves: pirates and bandits who come up with perfect apologies in hand to back the latest campaign in the newest instalment of the never-ending war.

Although the twin targets highlighted in this year’s Bilderberg agenda – Iran and Russia – offer a somewhat different proposition: the potential for war on a new and previously unimagined scale. Will we buy into this war too? A war that leaps out from the normal confines of the TV newsroom with slavering jaws and spills absolutely viscerally into our safe and comparatively comfortable lives. Hence the semi-detached speculation about the coming WORLD WAR: a prospect too terrifying to face squarely. (Sorry to shout again.)

*

Of course, threats of an attack on Iran have risen and fallen like the price of oil ever since the 9/11 attacks that ignited the money-spinning and usefully racist “global war on terror”. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran had no involvement whatsoever in those attacks and yet, as notoriously outlined by General Wesley Clark, was cued up behind six other “rogue states”, designated to be the last war in America’s sequence of regime change operations against the dastardly “axis of evil”. In short, the threat of war on Iran has always been real, but suddenly the danger looms larger than ever before.

We see this with Trump’s latest neo-con appointments: John Bolton as National Security Advisor; Mike Pompeo at the State Department; and confirmed torturer “Bloody Gina” Haspel as Head of CIA. The swamp in and around the White House is more fetid than ever. Only under George Bush Jr has it accommodated quite such a nest of warmongering vipers.

Meantime, to judge from his presidency so far, the art of Trump’s deal-making means the ability to always say one thing and do another: capriciousness that is backed up by incendiary if expungeable Twitter-diplomacy. It all adds to the sense that Trump doesn’t have a clue what he’s actually doing – besides looking after his own billionaire-moneyed interests obviously – that he just says stuff of the cuff and afterwards official policy has to be redrafted accordingly. This too is perfectly befitting our age of distraction and amnesia.

Upon reaching international crisis points – and we have entered a phase of history when the world seems to be repeatedly poised on the brink on an approximately bimonthly cycle – Trump’s one saving grace has been his failure to follow through on threats. However, the arrivals of Bolton and Pompeo signal a decisive change. Trump’s madcap commitments to AIPAC, overlooked and widely ignored throughout the election campaign by political commentators and rivals alike, have since been enacted. He has thereby committed the US to tearing up the Iran nuclear deal (Obama’s sole but singular achievement) and has recklessly pushed ahead with relocating the US embassy to the occupied city of Jerusalem. Both initiatives bolster his credentials when it comes to making Israel great again.

In response to Israel’s latest massacre of Gazans, US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, enflamed tensions vetoing the human rights of Palestinians caught in the hail of IDF ‘butterfly bullets’ that explode on impact to maximise injuries. Of course, no-one was in the least surprised by America’s brazen support for Israel’s “right to defend itself” or by Ambassador Haley’s total lack of decorum.

However, renewed sanctions against Iran are certain to damage European business interests. This combined with Trump’s crass decision to move the US embassy may already be opening a rift in transatlantic relations: relations that appear all the more strained following Trump’s tantrums at the G7 summit. But how much of this is political theatre? It is hard to tell. That America’s ‘partners’ remain largely onboard was surely indicated by Netanyahu’s tour of the major European capitals where he was warmly received by all concerned. No surprise there either.

*

To quote a little more of Jonathan Cook’s excellent recent article on the “Great Western Narrative”:

Gaza is slowly sinking into the sea, but who cares? Those primitive Palestinians live like cavemen amid the rubble of homes Israel has repeatedly destroyed. Their women are hijabbed and they have too many children. They don’t look like us, they don’t speak like us. Doubtless, they don’t think like us. They cannot be us.

Even those young Palestinian demonstrators, with their faces covered with strange scarves, launching flaming kites and throwing the odd stone, look different. Can we imagine ourselves standing in front of a sniper to protest like that? Of course not. We cannot imagine what it is like to live in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, in an open-air prison over which another nation serves as jailers, in which the water is becoming as saline as seawater and there is no electricity. So how can we put ourselves in the demonstrators’ shoes, how can we empathise? It is so much easier to imagine being the powerful sniper protecting the “border” and his home.

But al-Najjar undermined all that. A young, pretty woman with a beautiful smile – she could be our daughter. Selflessly tending to the wounded, thinking not of herself but of the welfare of others, we would be proud to have her as our daughter. We can identify with her much better than the sniper. She is a door beckoning us to step through and see the world from a different location, from a different perspective.

Which is why the corporate media has not invested al-Najjar’s death with the emotional, empathetic coverage it would if a pretty young Israeli female medic had been gunned down by a Palestinian. It was that double standard in his own newspaper, the Guardian, that outraged cartoonist Steve Bell last week. As he noted in correspondence with the editor, the paper had barely covered the story of al-Najjar. When he tried to redress the imbalance, his own cartoon highlighting her death – and its oversight – was censored.

The Guardian’s editors argued that his cartoon was anti-semitic. But the truth is that al-Najjar is dangerous. Because once you step through that door, you are unlikely to come back, you are unlikely ever again to believe the Great Western Narrative. 3

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s full piece entitled “How the Corporate Media Enslave US to a World of Illusions”.

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Bilderberg v. democracy

“There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.”

— Arthur Jensen, Chairman of the corporation in the film Network (1976) 4

*

You will know them by the words they use, and by the words they do not use. Anybody using words like “globalist,” “global capitalism,” or “neoliberal,” or suggesting that anyone voted for Trump or Brexit for any reason other than racism, you can pretty much rest assured that they’re Nazis. Also, anyone writing about “banks” or the “deep state.” Absolutely Nazis. Oh yeah, and the “corporate media,” naturally. Only Putin-Nazis talk like that. Oh, and definitely anyone who hasn’t spent the last two years attacking Trump (as if there has been anything else to focus on), or has implied that “the Russians” aren’t out to destroy us, or that the historical moment we are living through might be just a bit more complex than that … well, you know what they’re really saying. They’re saying, “we need to exterminate the Jews.”

Look, I could go on and on with this, but I don’t think I really need to. Remember, I’m a Nazi thought criminal now. So just go back and read through some of my essays and make note of all the coded Nazi messages, or check with the Anti-Defamation League, or the SPLC, or the corporate media, or … well, just ask the good folks at Google. 5

— Award-winning playwright, novelist, and political satirist, C.J. Hopkins.

*

Due to its isolation and concealment it is all-too easy to think that Bilderberg exists inside some kind of a rarefied and hermetically-sealed bubble, when this is about as far from the case as it is possible to be. Rather Bilderberg serves as the hub to a deeply influential network of Atlanticist think tanks and sister organisations. A nexus that brings into contact, on the one hand, corporate heads and willing academics with, on the other, powerbrokers from Nato, the European Commission, heads of intelligence services and national political leaders.

As Bilderberg notes in its own Charity Commission report (yes – Bilderberg is a registered charity!):

“[T]he conferences facilitate the development of a network of personal relationships to be formed between individuals of responsibility and influence; relationships which can be leveraged in subsequent interactions at important moments.” 6

‘Leveraged’ is an interesting word isn’t it…?

Arguably the best-connected political lobbying group on the planet, Bilderberg is nowadays also fully interfaced with the leading tech giants, most notably Google, who can (and do) manipulate the flow of information on a global scale by simply adjusting their search algorithms. Meantime this same tech cartel is openly harvesting data on all of us thanks to their hold on what Julian Assange once aptly described as “the worldwide wiretap”. These tech links to Bilderberg have been totally hardwired, giving it a central role in the expanding control grid. Scientia est potentia: knowledge is power.

At the more visible level, Bilderberg are long-established kingmakers as the following list (put together and posted in a previous article) proves beyond a shred of doubt:

Gerald Ford attended Bilderberg 1964, 1966 appointed as US President 1974

Margaret Thatcher attended Bilderberg (at least 1975, 1977, 1986) became Prime Minister 1979

Bill Clinton attended Bilderberg 1991 became US President 1993

Tony Blair attended Bilderberg 1993 became Prime Minister 1997

Paul Martin attended Bilderberg 1996 became Prime Minister of Canada 2003

Stephen Harper attended Bilderberg 2003 became Prime Minister of Canada 2006

Angela Merkel attended Bilderberg 2005 became Chancellor of Germany (Nov) 2005

Emmanuel Macron attended Bilderberg 2014 became French President 2017 7

(Quite how influential Bilderberg is in terms of policymaking, I will come back to nearer the end.)

*

Remarkably, this year’s Bilderberg coincided with no less than two parallel transnational meetings. So at the very same moment Henry Kissinger was glad-handing Dominique Anglade, Deputy Premier of Quebec; over the pond in Toronto, Trump was glowering at Justin Trudeau, this year’s host of the G7 summit. Interestingly, Justin is the eldest son of former Canadian PM and Bilderberg attendee Pierre Trudeau. (Pierre assumed office in 1968 just months prior to his invite to Bilderberg.)

Others in attendance at this year’s G7 included heads of state May, Merkel, Macron, Shinzō Abe, recently installed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Juncker and Tusk from the EU. Meanwhile in Brussels, an overlapping geopolitical event involved Nato’s defence ministers in a meeting chaired by Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who later flew to Turin to join the Bilderberg gathering.

Given this unusually heavy schedule for high-powered get-togethers (it may indeed be unprecedented for Bilderberg and G7/8 to be scheduled on the same weekend) it is worth noting that the Bilderberg cohort was prestigious nonetheless, comprising no less than four current Prime Ministers (from Holland, Belgium, Serbia and Estonia); two Deputy Prime Ministers (from Spain and Turkey); Andrea Ecker, the Secretary General, Office Federal President of Austria; and Bernard Cazeneuve, the last Prime Minister of France. More ominously, others in attendance included Bernard Émié, Director General of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces; Ursula von der Leyen, German Minister of Defence; and, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference.

As Charlie Skelton writes in his second and final instalment of this year’s somewhat curtailed ‘Bilderblog’ reports:

This year’s Bilderberg summit is a council of war. On the agenda: Russia and Iran. In the conference room: the secretary general of Nato, the German defence minister, and the director of the French foreign intelligence service, DGSE.

They are joined in Turin, Italy, by a slew of academic strategists and military theorists, but for those countries in geopolitical hotspots there is nothing theoretical about these talks. Not when the prime ministers of Estonia and Serbia are discussing Russia, or Turkey’s deputy PM is talking about Iran.

The clearest indication that some sort of US-led conflict is on the cards is the presence of the Pentagon’s top war-gamer, James H Baker. He is an expert in military trends, and no trend is more trendy in the world of battle strategy than artificial intelligence.

Click here to read Skelton’s full report which carries the strapline: “This year’s summit is all about war”.

Note and clarification: In my previous post I accidentally included the name of James H Baker under the heading “familiar faces” mistaking him for the shamelessly hawkish James Baker III who served under Bush Sr as Chief of Staff at the time of the Gulf War and shortly afterwards swivelled through the revolving doors to become a consultant for Enron.

*

Russia, meantime, has become the readymade scapegoat for every political mishap and cock up. From Brexit to the election of Trump, Russia, and specifically Vladimir Putin, is accused of plotting it all. On each occasion, albeit with the limited resources of a struggling economy, he somehow manages to fool us anyway.

So let us pause for a moment to remember the tragic death of Arkady Babchenko. It’s okay you can look at the gore because none of it is real:

In fact, it turned out that all news of his death had been greatly exaggerated!

Come to think of it, that blood doesn’t even look real. But in spite all the phoniness our ‘reputable’ media outlets lapped up the whole sorry saga.

Likewise, without a scintilla of credible evidence, the same reporters working for the same media outlets warn of the Kremlin’s diabolic war by social media and of Putin’s unstinting efforts to push the West backwards into a “post-truth” world. Spreading chaos is his preferred mode of attack apparently. Endless repetition of this maddeningly fact-free conspiracy theory (for details read earlier posts here and here) bypasses your rational mind like the advertising jingle it is…

Usefully it also draws the public gaze far away from our own domestic cover-ups and media failings. Western propaganda is denied outright of course – as propaganda always has to be. Likewise our Western ‘intelligence services’ never lie: they are pure as the driven snow! (Please note that I highlighted ‘services’ because if these were run by foreign operatives they would be known instead as ‘agencies’ – names matter.)

Besides the condemnation of alleged Russian ‘meddling’ listen out for the call, as yet sotto voce, to counter enemy lies with lies of our own: for an injection of “persuasive (dis)information” to save the gullible masses from outside manipulation. The following extract is drawn from a research paper published by the RAND Corporation in 2016:

[O]ur fourth suggestion for responding to Russian propaganda: Compete! If Russian propaganda aims to achieve certain effects, it can be countered by preventing or diminishing those effects. Yet, the tools of the Russian propagandists may not be available due to resource constraints or policy, legal, or ethical barriers. Although it may be difficult or impossible to directly refute Russian propaganda, both NATO and the United States have a range of capabilities to inform, influence, and persuade selected target audiences. Increase the flow of persuasive information and start to compete, seeking to generate effects that support U.S. and NATO objectives. 8

[Italicised as in original]

Thus, under the pretext of ‘defending the free world’, we are now in the midst of an absurd information Blitzkrieg. Ostensibly against Russia, the real and ultimate purpose is a clampdown on dissident voices at home; a remorseless attack on free speech in which the key strategy is the filtering out of unwanted, since antithetical, alternative narratives. Any truth in the ‘post-truth world’ must be the truth endorsed by the state authorities and sanctified by the corporate media. Importantly, the internet genie must be forced back inside its bottle and fast. Google and Facebook to the rescue!

Soon all dissenting voices will be unmasked as ‘Russian bots’ – just ask British Twitter-user Ian Shilling (@Ian56789):

This Sky News interview with ‘UK government priority target’ Twitter-user Ian56 broadcast live in April would be simply hilarious if the connotations were not so sinister. The interrogation begins at 3:15 mins.

As C.J. Hopkins writes in his latest satirical blast:

I could go on and on with this. Have you heard the the one about the Putin-Nazis conspiring with the NRA? How about the one where Emmanuel Macron, in order to protect the French from “fake news,” and division-sowing Putin-Nazi memes, wants the authority to censor the Internet? Or have you read the column in which David Brooks, without a detectable trace of irony, laments the passing of international relationships “based on friendship, shared values, loyalty, and affection” … seriously, he used the word “affection” in reference to the Western alliance, one of the most ruthless, mass-murdering empires in the history of ruthless, mass-murdering empires? Oh,yeah, and I almost forgot … MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is reporting that the North Korea summit was also orchestrated by Putin!

I’m not sure how much more bizarre things can get. This level of bull goose loony paranoia, media-generated mass hysteria, and mindless conformity would be hysterically funny … if it weren’t so f—king horrifying in terms of what it says about millions of Westerners, who are apparently prepared to believe almost anything the authorities tell them, no matter how nuts. That famous Voltaire quote comes to mind … “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities,” he wrote. Another, more disturbing way of looking at it is, people willing to believe absurdities, to switch off their critical thinking faculties in order to conform to an official narrative as blatantly ridiculous as the Putin-Nazi narrative, are people who have already surrendered their autonomy, who have traded it for the comfort of the herd. Such people cannot be reasoned with, because there isn’t really anyone in there. There is only whatever mindless jabber got injected into their brain that day, the dutiful repetition of which guarantees they remain a “normal” person (who believes what other normal persons believe), and not some sort of “radical” or “extremist.”

These people are the people who worry me … these “normal” people who, completely calmly, as if what they are saying wasn’t batshit crazy, explain how Trump is just like Hitler, and how Putin is trying to take over the world. I sit there and listen and smile at these people, some of whom are friends and colleagues, people who I genuinely like, and who genuinely like me in return, but who, under the right set of circumstances, would stand by and watch me marched into prison, or worse, and not utter a word in protest. 9

Click here and here to read C.J. Hopkins articles in full.

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All of which in a roundabout way brings me back to Bilderberg…

Skelton was, as usual, alone amongst mainstream journalists, and his annual Bilderblog column inches stand as a token gesture. Along with a handful of intrepid reporters – all, besides Skelton, independently funded – he relates how the lockdown had been exceptionally tight this year and that police harassment and intimidation were virtually non-stop from day one. How very differently the mainstream reporters attending G7 were treated: ‘treated’ being the operative word, such are the ample rewards for recycling official press releases. So what journalist in their right mind would choose instead to suffer the indignities of being pushed around and harried outside the main entrance to the Lingotto Hotel in Turin?

Each year the rough treatment meted out to all reporters at Bilderberg is simply the price paid for the not having a genuinely free press. Moreover, Skelton’s denial of access is the direct fault of the self-same media who passed up the opportunity to drill down into Bilderberg two decades ago when it was publicly outed by Jim Tucker courtesy of Channel 4’s Jon Ronson. But why expect the press follow up with demands for closer scrutiny and deeper analysis? Ever since Bilderberg was first convened and for more than three decades prior to Ronson’s limited exposé, the corporate media has been devoted instead to the task of covering up its excessively heavy tracks. The ‘corporate media’ is labelled ‘corporate’ with good reason.

Skelton says that “this year’s Bilderberg summit is a council of war” and he is being characteristically deliberate in his choice of words: the hint at a literal meaning is loud and clear. So oughtn’t this to send a shudder through each of us? Especially once we know – as we should – that leaked minutes from the Bilderberg conference held in Chantilly 2002 in the months prior to the illegal invasion of Iraq reveal how the pretext for a war was discussed at length.

This is what neo-con attendee Richard Perle said during one of the sessions at the meeting:

But the United States (unlike most of its allies) has the ability to take the war against terrorism to the terrorists, and it may be forced to go it alone in exercising this ability. It will be much quicker if we all do it together. Saddam has invaded his neighbours. He possesses chemical weapons. He is feverishly working to become a nuclear power. His ties to terrorist organisations force us to consider the possibility that he will distribute those weapons to terrorists. Can we wait for this to happen? The United States has no choice but to deal with Saddam: the right to self-defence must include the right to preventative action. 10

Words thereafter echoed by Colin Powell during his infamously false testimony to the UN Security Council. If Turin follows this precedent, then we will soon be at war with Iran.

So are we truly living in a “post-truth” world? Yes no doubt. How else could Bilderberg maintain its cloak of invisibility when the press is not just fully aware of its existence, but deeply embedded within its rank and file? And we might reasonably ask what else the ‘free press’ avoids mentioning out of cosiness or habit. This is perhaps the most urgent question. For wherever political power is permitted to operate above scrutiny, democracy atrophies.

Dan Dicks of ‘Press For Truth’ reveals leaked documents from previous meetings going back to 1950s including discussion of Saddam’s WMDs in 2002.

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Additional: Bilderberg the charity gig

According to Bilderberg itself, the conference is working for the “public good” by enabling participants to address “political, economic and social problems.” These are the exact phrases used in the annual report of the Bilderberg Association, the U.K.-registered charity that enables corporate donors like BP and Goldman Sachs to cover conference costs.

What this requires, on the part of an assenting public and press, is a Bilderburgian leap of faith. You have to believe, honestly and sincerely, that the chairman of Goldman Sachs International is at Bilderberg to do “public good.”

It’s as simple as that. If you think it’s ok (perhaps even preferable) that our elected officials should secrete themselves away to discuss global economic and social policy with all these brilliant financiers, media barons and billionaire industrialists, then you have to believe—truly believe—that the CEOs of Royal Dutch Shell, Ryanair and the Titan Cement Company have come to Bilderberg to do “public good.”

You have to believe—say it out loud—that Brian Gilvary, the Chief Financial Officer of BP (the world’s 12th biggest company, by revenue), has come to Bilderberg at the invitation of a director of BP, Sir John Sawers, in order to do “public good.”

You have to believe—give me an amen!—that David Petraeus, the former director of the CIA and now a Wall Street investor, is trying to solve the problems of the world on our behalf. And not on behalf of KKR and his boss, Henry Kravis. He’s in it for the love of fellow man.

And if you believe that Henry Kravis is at Bilderberg to do good, then fine, I’ll see your Kravis and raise you a Kissinger.

And if you’re still happy, then you’ve accepted the technocratic bargain. Let the technocrats reign: Let them quietly get on with running our societies, sorting out our problems, shaping our future, and telling us what’s what in our “post-truth” world, and we can get on with watching Netflix. Because quite frankly, that’s a full-time job. 11

Click here to read Charlie Skelton’s full report in Newsweek.

Luke Rudkowski of ‘WeAreChange’ speaking with journalist Charlie Skelton about Turin 2018

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1 From an article entitled “How the Corporate Media Enslave US to a World of Illusions” written by Jonathan Cook, published in Counterpunch on June 15, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/15/how-the-corporate-media-enslave-us-to-a-world-of-illusions/ 

2 From an article entitled “Centrists are very concerned that Donald F—ing Trump isn’t Hawkish enough” written by Caitlin Johnstone, published on June 13, 2018. https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/06/13/centrists-are-very-concerned-that-donald-fucking-trump-isnt-hawkish-enough/ 

3 From an article entitled “How the Corporate Media Enslave US to a World of Illusions” written by Jonathan Cook, published in Counterpunch on June 15, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/15/how-the-corporate-media-enslave-us-to-a-world-of-illusions/ 

4 Excerpt from Chairman of Communications Corporation of America (CCA) Arthur Jensen’s (Ned Beatty) “corporate cosmology” soliloquy to news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch):

“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it! Is that clear? You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.”

5 From an article entitled “Then They Came for the Globalists” written by CJ Hopkins, published in Counterpunch on March 23, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/23/then-they-came-for-the-globalists/

6 From The Bilderberg Association (Charity Registration Number 272706) Annual Report and Financial Statements, “Activities, Specific Objectives and Relevant Policies”, p 3, published March 31, 2016. http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends06/0000272706_AC_20160331_E_C.PDF

7 All dates published by wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bilderberg_participants#United_Kingdom

8 From a paper entitled “The Russian ‘Firehose of Falsehood’ Propaganda Model” written by Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews, p 10. https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE198.html

9 From an article entitled “Awaiting the Putin-Nazi Apocalypse” written by CJ Hopkins, published in Counterpunch on June 15, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/15/awaiting-the-putin-nazi-apocalypse/

10 From the official minutes to the Bilderberg meeting at Chantilly from May 30 – June 2, 2002, Ch 1”The Consequences of the War against Terrorism”, p 16. https://info.publicintelligence.net/bilderberg/BilderbergConferenceReport2002.pdf

11 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2018: Welcome to the Super Bowl of Corporate Lobbying” written by Charlie Skelton, published in Newsweek on June 8, 2018. http://www.newsweek.com/bilderberg-2018-welcome-super-bowl-corporate-lobbying-opinion-966871

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join protests to stop the killing in Gaza – Saturday April 7th

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (literally “catastrophe”) when nearly a million Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes during the ethnic cleansing of 1948. Palestinians still have the keys to the buildings their families fled from all those years ago, kept as symbols of hope, of yearning and of resistance. The return march is part of 45 days of action leading up to this anniversary.

Last Friday [March 30th] was the 42nd anniversary of Land Day. On that day in 1976, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian protestors killing six people. This year live bullets have once again been fired on unarmed protesters by Israeli snipers at the Gaza border. To date 17 people are dead and more than 1500 people injured. The protest is the first of a series of events that will continue until Nakba day on May 15th.

By selling arms and in other ways supporting the right-wing Netanyahu government, Britain is complicit in the Israeli state’s war crimes against Palestinians. As part of an extended Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) actions have been taking place around the world since February – an international series of events to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

This Saturday Stop the War Coalition is helping to organise protests across Britain. #GreatMarchOfReturn

In London:

When: Saturday 7 April, from 1pm – 3pm.
Where: opposite Downing Street, SW1A 2AA.
Nearest Station: Westminster.

The details above can also be found on the Protest for Gaza: Stop the Killing facebook page.

In Sheffield:

When: Saturday 7 April from noon
Where: outside Town Hall

An earlier protest is also taking place to target HSBC, calling on them to stop supporting the arms trade with Israel. This will begin after a meet up in the Winter Gardens at 11.00 am for a short briefing about the action. Those who cannot make the meeting at 11:00 am are encouraged to join the protest at 11:30 am outside HSBC.

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Update:

Voices of some of the thousands who took to the streets of London:

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“Gaza is a big lie composed of tiny lies” – Norman Finkelstein lambasts the international community for its blind spot on Israel

Following the announcement that Israel is facing a possible International Criminal Court war crimes probe over its 2014 assault on Gaza, Democracy Now! invited Finkelstein into their studio to give an extended interview.

Click here to watch the first section of the interview and read the full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

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Norman Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors. A leading scholar on Israel-Palestine and veteran political activist, Finkelstein is the author of many books, including The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Human Suffering and Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End. His latest book is titled Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.

The full interview lasts more than 90 minutes and was broadcast in two parts [January 10th and 19th] – it is embedded below with all sections kept in the original sequence. For the purposes of clarity, however, I have decided to republish a selection of what Finkelstein said under three separate headings: criticisms of human rights organisations, of the UN and Ban Ki-moon in particular, and of recent US administrations. For the same reason, sections from the interview are cut and pasted not always in the original sequence. I very much encourage readers to watch to the full interview.

Click here to watch the second section of the interview and read the full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

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The big lies

The Big Lie about Gaza is that it’s an aggressor, that Gaza is aggressing against Israel, and Israel is reacting in self-defense. It’s a double lie. The first lie is, most of the Israeli attacks on Gaza don’t even have anything to do with Gaza. So, if you take Operation Cast Lead, in 2008, ’09, why did Israel attack Gaza? Not because of Gaza. Not because of anything Gaza did. The Israelis were very honest. This is revenge for Lebanon. In 2006, Israel suffered a major defeat in Lebanon against the Hezbollah, the Party of God. And then Israelis began to panic. They’re losing what they call their deterrence capacity. And their deterrence capacity simply means—it’s a fancy, technical term for the Arabs’ fear of us. […]

The second big lie is, what does Gaza consist of. When you read the official reports, even when you read the human rights reports, they talk about this big arsenal of weapons that Hamas has accumulated. Number one, how do you know how many weapons they have? If you knew how many weapons they had—have, then you must know where they are. And if you know where they are, then Israel would preemptively strike. If it’s not preemptively struck, it’s because it doesn’t know anything about the weapons. Israel plucks numbers out of thin air, and then all the official media, and even the critical human rights organizations, repeat these numbers. They talk about Grad missiles and Fajr missiles.

What is Gaza? What are its weapons? What is its arsenal? Let’s take the last attack. We have exactly—we know exactly how much damage was done by these weapons. There were 5,000 so-called rockets and 2,000 mortars fired at—mortar shells fired at Israel. So, altogether, that’s 7,000 projectiles. You know the damage done? Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it had a diary, listing all the damage done each day. Five thousands rockets, 2,000 mortar shells. One house was destroyed. One house. How is it possible that 5,000 rockets and 2,000 mortar shells can only destroy one house? Because they’re not rockets. They’re fireworks. They’re enhanced fireworks.

Click here to watch the third section of the interview and read the full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

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On justifications for the 2014 military offensive

Well, Benjamin Netanyahu says two things: Number one, Israel had no option, and, number two, that it used the minimum amount of force. Well, let’s look quickly at those two points.

Point number one, everybody agreed that the reason they went—once the fighting began, Hamas had one goal. The goal was to end the siege of Gaza, to lift the siege. Under international law, that siege is illegal. It constitutes collective punishment, which is illegal under international law. The siege has been condemned by everybody in the international community. He had an option. He didn’t have to use force. He simply had to lift the siege. And then there wouldn’t have been a conflict with Gaza.

Number two, he claims he used minimum force. There’s a lot to say about that. You can decide for yourself whether it’s minimum force when Israel leveled 18,000 homes. How many Israeli homes were leveled? One. Israel killed 550 children. How many Israeli children were killed? One. Now, you might say, “Well, that’s because Israel has a sophisticated civil defense system, or Israel has Iron Dome.” I won’t go into that; I don’t have time now. But there’s a simple test. The test is: What did the Israeli combatants themselves see? What did they themselves say?

We have the documentation, a report put out by the Israeli ex-service—ex-combatant organization, Breaking the Silence. It’s about 110 pages. You couldn’t believe it. You know, I’ll tell you, Amy, I still remember when I was reading it. I was in Turkey. I was going to a book festival. I was sitting in the back of a car and reading these descriptions of what the soldiers did. My skin was crawling. I was like shaking. Soldier after soldier after soldier. Now, bear in mind, you want to say they’re partisan, the soldiers? Read the testimonies. They’re not contrite. They’re not remorseful. They’re just describing what happened. There’s no contrition. These aren’t lefties, supporters of BDS. What do they describe? One after another after another says, “Our orders were shoot to kill anything that moves and anything that doesn’t move.” One after another after another says, “Israel used insane amounts of firepower in Gaza. Israel used lunatic amounts of firepower in Gaza.”

Click here to watch the final section of the first part of the interview and read the full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

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Human rights organisations

In my opinion, Israel has a problem, has always had a problem. The problem is, it keeps getting bad press, because when it keeps carrying out these massacres or these shootings, it gets bad press. And so, obviously, what’s the solution? Eliminate the press, eliminate the witnesses. So, during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, ’09, they prevented any reporters from coming in. So, for three weeks, it was a free-for-all. Then, after Operation Protective Edge, they didn’t let any human rights organizations in, so they couldn’t see what was the damage done. So, then the human rights organizations, what they did was, in my opinion, crazy. They said, “If Israel doesn’t let us in, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t commit the war crime.” But that just incentivizes Israel not to let human rights organizations in. You get an agnostic verdict rather than a guilty verdict. […]

There were no human rights reports. Human Rights Watch published—for Operation Cast Lead in 2008, ’09, it published seven quite substantial reports. After Operation Protective Edge, it published one tiny report, one tiny report of 15 pages. Amnesty International was the only major human rights organization that published major reports, but they were all whitewashes of Israel. They were a disgrace. I go through them systematically. The Amnesty chapter is one of the longest chapters in the book. Just going through it, as I said, Gaza is a big lie composed of tiny lies.

Blame on both sides? Look at the numbers…

And the main propaganda, even—or especially by the human rights organizations, is the pretense that there’s blame on both sides, there’s blame—there’s death and destruction on both sides. But when you look at the numbers, I mean, it’s just ridiculous to put them in the same category. I gave you a chart, you know, to illustrate the numbers in Operation Protective Edge. Civilians killed, roughly 1,600—1,600 to six, civilians killed. Houses destroyed, 18,000 to one. Children killed, 550 to one. You go down the list. How can you create balance out of a balance sheet like that? You know? Out of a grotesquely imbalanced balance sheet like that? And what the human rights organizations do is they simply inflate what happened on the Israeli. So, for example, you take Amnesty International. One child was killed. One child was killed. They describe the child’s death over two pages. So, you say, “OK, you know, it’s a child’s death. What’s wrong with two pages?” Well, then let’s have balance. Five hundred fifty Palestinian children were killed. Did you give that 1,100 pages? […]

You take Operation Protective Edge. Again, there is no evidence. I’ve read through all the human rights reports. None of them finds any evidence of human shielding. What they do claim they find is—there’s a technical term under international law that when you’re engaging in a military combat, you have to take feasible precautions to protect civilians, and that if you fighting in the vicinity of civilians, you are then guilty of a violation of international law. It’s not a war crime. It’s a violation of international law. They claim Hamas fired or attacked Israel in the vicinity of civilians, so is guilty of not taking all feasible precautions, which is different than human shielding, which is a conscious practice of, as it were, inserting a human being between you and the enemy, for which there’s no evidence. […]

But then, Amnesty says something outrageous—in my opinion, outrageous. You know what it says? It says that Hamas should go to open areas and fight in the open areas of Gaza. Now, on its face, that might sound reasonable, except for, number one, there are very few open areas in Gaza; number two, the law does not say you have to do that. The law does not say you have to relocate all your troops in an open area. But then, number three, Gaza is not occupied internally by Israel. Gaza is surrounded by Israel, and it’s an occupation that is executed externally. So, here’s the problem. […]

Now, international law—according to these human rights organizations, they all say all of Hamas’s weapons are illegal under international law, because they’re indiscriminate. The law is, you can’t use indiscriminate weapons. Hamas’s weapons are very primitive, to say the least. So, international law says its so-called rockets are illegal, its so-called mortar shells—its mortar shells are illegal. Now, what are you left with? Amnesty says to Hamas, “You have to go into an open space, but you can’t use any of your weapons.” But if you can’t use any of your weapons, because they’re indiscriminate, how do you defeat an externally controlled occupation? The only thing Amnesty didn’t tell them to do was to line up like ducks and let the Israeli airplane come in and mow them down.

Now, you might smile at that, but that’s literally—that’s where you’re left. That’s where you’re left, with what these human rights organizations are saying. It’s not to defend Hamas. It’s just to look at the law objectively, rationally, and ask yourself, “Is what—are what the human rights organizations saying fair? Is it true?” All the human rights organizations, they’ll always say Israel used disproportionate force. They’ll say Israel used indiscriminate force.

But there’s one thing they’ll never say. You know what they’ll never say? Israel targeted the civilians. Because that’s the no-no. You see, under international law, indiscriminate attacks are war crimes. Disproportionate attacks are war crimes. Targeting civilians are war crimes. That’s the law. But then there’s public opinion. Public opinion, it’s willing to turn a blind eye to disproportionate attacks. Actually, how can you even prove an attack is disproportionate? It’s almost impossible. They’ll even say, yeah, indiscriminate attacks, because it’s hard to separate civilians from soldiers. The one thing public opinion won’t tolerate is the targeted attack on civilians. That’s exactly what Israel does in every one of its massacres, and that’s exactly the thing that the human rights organizations—now, not during Operation Cast Lead, now, after the Goldstone debacle—that’s the one thing they all shy away from. They don’t want to say Israel targets civilians. […]

Israel is always targeting children. You have so many cases, like you have children playing on a roof. Right? A drone comes in. Human Rights Watch says—its report was called “Precisely Wrong,” after Operation Protective Edge—excuse me, Operation Cast Lead. The drone comes in. Human rights report says the drone can see very clearly what it’s targeting. The drone, it could—up to the very last minute, very last minute, it could divert. Goes right for the kids.

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UN and Ban Ki-moon

In 2014 there was a more notorious incident when an Israeli gunboat targeted a group of children playing games on a beach. The murders were carried out directly in front of a hotel packed with reporters.

So, what does the U.N. Human Rights Council report say, the one by Mary McGowan Davis? “Israel didn’t take all feasible precautions.” All feasible precautions? There was no battle going on. There was no—there was no combat. There were only children there. “We don’t know why Israel mistook these children for militants.” […]

Yeah, when [Ban Ki-moon] was U.N. secretary-general, he does all the bidding for the United States when it comes to Israel-Palestine. I don’t want to go through—I can’t go through this whole sordid record, but the—Israel attacked seven U.N. shelters, which were housing civilians during Operation Protective Edge. And then, on August 3rd, finally, Ban Ki-moon has to say something. And he says, “This is a disgrace, this is outrageous, attacking civilian shelters.” August 3rd, Obama, he no longer has a fig leaf. Ban Ki-moon backed out.

And now—and now Obama is alone on the world stage. So, August 3rd, the same day, Obama attacks Israel for the shelters, bombing the shelters. And now, Netanyahu, the day before, August 2nd, he says, “I’m not leaving Gaza.” After Obama says, “You can’t do this,” he leaves. Same day, August 3rd. Now, it is true, it did go on for another three weeks. It went on for another three weeks because you entered into the negotiation period, where Israel always brings in its most force to try to extract the best terms.

Click here to watch part two of the interview and read the full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

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US administrations past and present

On the bipartisan support for Israel

Well, it’s a little complicated question, how U.S.-Israeli policy works. But in general, you could say, when major U.S. national interests are at stake, the Israel lobby has very little power. We saw that, for example, during the negotiations over the agreement with Iran. That was a major U.S. international interest. The lobby was dead set against it. Netanyahu was dead set against it. But the agreement went through. And many of Israel’s strongest supporters—Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, the whole gang—they supported the agreement.

But when a major U.S. interest is not at stake, the lobby is quite powerful. So you take, in this particular case, it was clear the Saudis, which is a U.S. major interest, didn’t care what the U.S. did with Jerusalem. They gave the green light: “If you want to give it to Israel, that’s fine with us. We don’t care.” So, no U.S. natural interest is at stake, and so Trump does what anybody does: He rewards his donors. In this case, it was Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire, who was strongly supporting the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.

But we have to bear in mind, it wasn’t just Trump. You know, sometimes the media wants to pile up on Trump. And they forget it’s not just Trump. Charles Schumer, the current Senate minority leader, Schumer was constantly attacking Trump, right after he got elected: “Why aren’t you recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital?” When Trump did recognize it, Schumer, Charles Schumer, he said, “He did it because of me. I was the one that urged him to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” So that’s the Senate minority leader speaking. And for the same reason—if you look at Schumer’s money, he gets it mostly from conservative, right-wing Jews and from Wall Street, the same sources of income as Trump, the same streams of income.

And on these questions, a lot of the Democrats, including Schumer—or especially Schumer, I should say—are worse than Trump. So, for example, after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, when Israel killed the passengers aboard the humanitarian vessel, the Mavi Marmara, killed 10 passengers, Charles Schumer, he went before a group of Orthodox Jews, and he said, “The people of Gaza voted for Hamas. They voted for Hamas, and therefore economic strangulation is the way to go.” Now, bear in mind what that means. We’re talking about a population, more than half of which are children, who are living under a medieval siege. And what he’s effectively saying is we should continue starving them, until they vote or get rid of Hamas. Now, what do you say about something like that?

Under Obama

Look, the Obama administration was—played a really wretched role in all this. Let’s just take the obvious examples. Operation Cast Lead, it ends on January 17th. Now, remember, Obama was elected in November 2008. Operation Cast Lead ends January 17th, 2009. Obama didn’t say anything after he was elected. Do you know why it ends January 17th? Because Obama signals to the Israeli government, “Don’t mess up my inauguration, January 20th. I don’t want any distractions. You’ve got to end the operation.” That’s why they ended.

Now, you go to Operation Protective Edge, 2014. Every day, Obama or one of his officials said, “Israel has the right to protect itself. Israel has the right to protect itself,” as Israel is leveling Gaza. There was no—actually, there was no comparison between Protective Edge and Cast Lead. It was so much worse.

Under Trump

They’re using this moment—with Trump in power, they’re using this moment to try to eliminate as many witnesses as they can, keep everybody out. They want to do to the West Bank what they did to Gaza. It’s very hard for an outsider to get into Gaza. And now, the Israelis are carrying on in a very brazen way—the land grabs, the merciless killings of civilians, the brutal killings of civilians. And so, they want to clear the field of any witnesses. And they’re using the Trump presidency as a moment to seal off Gaza from any—excuse me, seal off the West Bank from any potentially hostile witnesses, to turn the West Bank into what they turned Gaza into. It’s hermetically sealed. There’s no way to witness the crimes as they unfold in real time.

And on the threat of the U.S. cutting off millions of dollars to UNRWA

First of all, you have to bear in mind that 70 percent of Palestinians in Gaza—let’s just call them Gazans—70 percent of Gazans are classified as refugees. That means, technically, actual refugees and children of refugees. But under the categorization used in Gaza, they’re all classified as refugees. So that’s 70 percent. Secondly, half of Gaza’s population, or slightly more, are children. And so you have this overwhelmingly refugee child population, and they rely overwhelmingly on UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

UNRWA is financed between 25 and 30 percent by the United States, and that comes to about $300 million a year. And so, the threat of cutting the money to UNRWA would be—it would be devastating for an already devastated population, overwhelmingly children. Nonetheless, I would like to keep things in proportion. So, it would be a catastrophe, no doubt about it, if UNRWA is defunded by the United States. However, let’s look at the numbers. We’re talking about $300 million annually. Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, he paid $500 million for a yacht. That would have covered all of UNRWA’s expenses, American—the American portion, for more than a year. He paid $450 million for a da Vinci painting. That would have covered all U.S. expenses, again, for more than a year. He paid $300 million for a house in Versailles. That would have covered all the U.N. expense—UNRWA expenses by the United States. And God only knows how much money he paid for Tom Friedman’s column in The New York Times.

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apartheid Israel — Abby Martin on the ground inside the West Bank

“You do not see human beings in front of you. Do not believe their sorrow, do not believe their smiles, do not believe their feelings. They’re subhuman.”Eran Efrati, a former sergeant in the Israeli military.

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Investigative reporter Abby Martin recently completed an in-depth and highly commendable six-part series of 30 minute documentaries for TeleSUR based around interviews with people living and working in the Palestinian occupied territories, and from her own experiences on the ground. Each of the episodes is embedded below according to the original sequence of broadcasts and including the first which provides historical context for what follows.

As Eran Efrati says in the penultimate episode – an extended interview [from 25:00 mins]:

“What a lot of people like to describe as the most complicated political situation of our time is probably the most simple… It’s a situation about equality.”

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Nakba: the catastrophe

Between December 1947 and January 1949, some 600 villages were entirely flattened and larger cities devastated as thousands of Arabs were massacred and more than 700,000 fled or were expelled from their homes. This frenzy of ethnic cleansing made way for a new wave of European settlers and caused Palestine to be broken up into three parts.

The Empire Files begins its series of reports by looking back on the bloody history of Zionist colonisation, beginning with expansion and the steady expulsion of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants under British rule – a land grab that quickened in the immediate aftermath of the post-war reign of terror known to Palestinians as Nakba or “the catastrophe”:

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Refugees in their own land

Today nearly 70% of all Palestinians are refugees. Millions of displaced Palestinians are scattered around the world, yet hundreds of thousands remain in their own country, and many of those now crowded inside refugee camps were ethnically cleansed from villages only a few miles away. Of these, more than a million are imprisoned inside the walled-off and blockaded Gaza Strip.

In the first of her on-the-ground reports from Palestine, Martin speaks with those trapped inside two of the most besieged refugee camps in the West Bank, Balata (the largest, where 30,000 people are crammed inside 0.25 square km)* and Aida (nearby Bethlehem with 5,500 people inside 0.1 square km):

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Annexation one settlement at a time

There are absolutely no legal Israeli settlements in the West Bank under international law. Israel, however, takes a different view. Once in a while a caravan arrives on a hilltop adjacent to a large existing settlement. Shortly, a few more settlers arrive there. Soon afterwards, this ‘pirate outpost’ is afforded protection with a military camp and electricity and water are also connected via the main settlement. Access roads are laid, ancient olive groves are cut down, and gradually another slice of the Palestinian land is stolen away as this new settlement is declared ‘legal’. Thus, little by little the Palestinians are evicted and penned behind fences, as their homeland is eaten into and annexed by stealth:

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A tale of two cities – both under enemy occupation

Like Berlin under Soviet rule, Hebron is a divided city. One area is designated H1 and the other H2. To cross from one sector to the other involves security checks where residents must pass through turnstiles but only once their papers are thoroughly checked. For Palestinians this often means delays of hours to get to work or school. So the Palestinian residents are abandoning H2 in droves, forced out by the daily harassment of Israeli forces and the illegal settlers alike. Indeed, to ensure this ethnic cleansing goes on, Palestinian are routinely humiliated, verbally abused, physically attacked and even gunned down on a regular basis because no action is taken by the Israeli authorities. Many acts of extremist terrorism are committed in the name of Zionism but never reported upon or debated in our corporate news:

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“I was the terrorist” – confessions of an Israeli veteran

Eran Efrati was a sergeant in the Israeli military, but has since become an outspoken critic of the occupation of Palestine and Israeli apartheid. In this extended interview he gives testimony on how Israeli war crimes are institutionalised, and how the oppression of the Palestinians is simply a war of conquest that will doubtless be accelerated under the Trump Administration:

Asked to explain more specifically how the culture within the Israeli military fosters anti-Arab racism, Efrati replies [from 17:40 mins]:

I think the system, you know, is not only inside the military. It’s like I said before: that’s actually what being an Israeli means. Being an Israeli, growing up in the Israeli educational departments, you understand that all the Arabs hate you. That they are actually in a way the continuation of the biblical Amalek or Hitler. You know that everybody there wants to throw you into the sea. This is what you’re growing up with and you really believe in that.

I mean going into the military, you already go in so full of hate and fear that at the same time you don’t need much to be very aggressive, violent and racist towards Palestinians. They see the Palestinian women and the Palestinian men as subhuman. The occupied territories are like an [exclave] where those human beings are considered to be not human beings.

This is a process that you start at a very early age, being enforced inside your boot camp, and later on when you’re going into your service… you do not see human beings in front of you. Do not believe their sorrow, do not believe their smiles, do not believe their feelings. They’re subhuman.

Abby Martin interjects: “But they look just like you – there are so many Arab Jews”

Efrati replies [from 19:10]:

I think the Arab Jews in Israel are probably the most tragic story in the entire story of Zionism after the Palestinians. And you know it’s obviously not being talked [about] enough obviously inside Israeli society… The Mizrahi Jews – the Arab Jews – that came around the years of ’50 and onwards into Israel (some came by choice, some came by force) but they didn’t come to a country that was theirs.

They came only about two years after Israel had already given out most of the land to the European people. And they [the Ashkenazi settlers from Europe] understood that they could not hold the territory alone [but] need more people on the ground to fight off Palestinians or Palestinian refugees if they will come back, and then they went off and brought most of the Arab Jews and put them in the most terrible places in Israel: on the borders, on the borders with Egypt or Jordan or Lebanon and Syria. We put them at buffer zones to protect us from Palestinians. […]

Many of them [the Arab Jews] in Iraq or Egypt had a good life (or in Morocco) and wanted to stay. They didn’t know what would be the destiny of this new country – it was very likely that there would be a lot of wars going on there. They felt protected in those countries and they said no. And the Zionist organisations sent other delegations into some of these countries… to terrorise those people [and] to force them to come into Israel. […]

After they came they were being sent into the most disgusting forms of settlement for the newcomers [who were] sprayed with DDT, with gas, to try to “clean them up” before they join with the Ashkenazi – the European kids – to play with them. They were separated and segregated for years – it was not their country and it is still not their country. And what they had to do to start to assimilate themselves inside this new country was to make sure that everybody understood they are not Arabs – they look like Arabs, they talk Arabic, but they are not Arab; they are Jewish. Because you can be an American Jew and you can be a European Jew, but you cannot be an Arab Jew in Israel.

They erased their identity and they started to form what we know today as the most extreme right in Israel. They are the extreme right because they have to solidify themselves as the most loyal citizens of the state.

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Silencing the screams from Palestine

Although Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is an internationally-recognized human rights crime, those who defiantly resist the occupation are harshly punished. “Taking part in political activity” has been criminalised along with most other forms of non-violent resistance including the publication of instances of oppression on social media platforms. Under the latest draconian measures, throwing stones is deemed “an act of terrorism” and punishable with up to twenty years in jail.

Moreover, with recourse to “administrative detention”, Palestinian suspects can be imprisoned without charge on the basis of secret information, and this can be renewed every six months indefinitely. Such arbitrary and indefinite detention may begin with up to 180 days of interrogation, for the first sixty of which the prisoner can be denied access to a lawyer. In fact, 40% of Palestinian men in the West Bank and Jerusalem have spent time in prison, with a conviction rate in the military courts of 99.7%.

Getting detailed facts about Israel’s imposition of martial law in the West Bank, Martin visits the Ramallah offices of Addameer — the most prominent prisoners’ rights organizations in Palestine — where she also hears about the shocking use of torture, and in particular psychological techniques against children, that provides yet another weapon for oppression.

Chronicling this history of resistance and repression from the First Intifada through the 2015 uprising, this final episode reveals the brutal lengths the Israeli occupation will go to silence any and all advocacy for freedom:

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Additional: Lies and distortion in the media coverage of Palestine

In an earlier broadcast [November 2015], Abby Martin looked at how the so-called “Israel-Palestine conflict” was deliberately misrepresented by the western corporate media during the last major crisis in the region. She covered the variety of tactics employed by the state of Israel to control the narrative from its Hasbara propaganda machine to the murder of journalists.

The episode features interviews with Dan Cohen, an investigative journalist who had recently returned from 7 months living and reporting in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and, Rania Khalek, a writer and editor with the Electronic Intifada:

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* In the programme the figures for the Balata refugee camp are given as 28,000 inhabitants packed inside an area 1km by 1km (i.e., one square km), however wikipedia currently puts the figure at 30,000 residents in an area of only 0.25 square km. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balata

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Filed under analysis & opinion, did you see?, Israel, Palestine, police state