Tag Archives: Donald Trump

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

*

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”:

*

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

*

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

*

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:

*

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

*

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

*

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

*

“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.

*

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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the counter-revolution will be televised (by its cheerleaders): on the latest attempted coup in Venezuela

Background

A 2003 documentary entitled The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Spanish: La revolución no será transmitida) provides a fascinating insight and behind the scenes account of the US-backed but failed Venezuelan coup of April 2002. Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Briain, who had been given direct access to Hugo Chavez with the intention only of making a fly-on-the-wall biography, suddenly finding themselves trapped in the midst of quite extraordinary political turmoil and turnaround:

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If at first you don’t succeed…

NEUMANN: Thank you very much. Vanessa Neumann, Asymmetrica. I am a dual America and Venezuelan citizen. So here goes my question, because we’re not covering anything about Western Hemisphere in this forum. Obviously Maduro in Venezuela regime change looks to be, we hope imminent or spiraling down until we either become Cuba in two weeks time or – and die forever or there’s a change in 60 to 90 days. I’m interested in your open assessment on American interests in or threats from Venezuela and which of course has Russian, Iranian et cetera interests and – for the region. Thank you, sir.

POMPEO: So I appreciate the question. At any time you have a country as large and with the economic capacity of a country like Venezuela, America has a deep interest in making sure that it is stable, as democratic as possible. And so, we’re working hard to do that,

I am always careful when we talk about South and Central America and the CIA, there’s a lot of stories.

(Laughter)

POMPEO: So I want to be careful with what I say but suffice to say, we are very hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there, so that we can communicate to our State Department and to others. The Colombians, I was just down in Mexico City and in Bogota a week before last talking about this very issue trying to help them understand the things they might do so that they can get a better outcome for their part of the world and our part of the world.1

This exchange between Mike Pompeo, then-Head of the CIA, and businesswoman Vanessa Neumann took place during a Q&A session at a security forum organised by the foundation funded Aspen Institute ‘think tank’. It is an admission that the US is once again covertly engaged in a regime change operation in “America’s backyard”.

Click here to read more in an article entitled “CIA chief hints agency is working to change Venezuela government” published by The Independent on July 25th 2017.

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The night before Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Pence pledged that the U.S. would back Mr. Guaidó if he seized the reins of government from Nicolás Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution, a senior administration official said.

Click here to read the full article published by The Wall Street Journal entitled “Pence Pledged U.S. Backing Before Venezuela Opposition Leader’s Move”.

The clause in question is Article 233 of Venezuela’s Constitution. It reads as follows:

“The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.”

“When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.”

None of this is applicable of course. Nicolás Maduro is not and never has been absent in any way whatsoever. Moreover, he was re-elected only eight months ago in May 2018 having won 67.8% of the vote in free and fair elections monitored by European observers, when Guaidó chose not to stand. Unlike Maduro, Guaidó has never stood in any presidential election. In short, this is the flimsiest of fig leaves to cover a flagrant breach of international law.

As former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, writes:

But I can think of no precedent at all for recognising a President who does not have and has never had control of the country – and has never been a candidate for President. This idea of the West simply trying to impose a suitably corrupt and biddable leader is really a very startling development. It is astonishing the MSM commentariat and political class appear to see no problem with it. It is a quite extraordinary precedent, and doubtless will lead to many new imperialist adventures.

Click here to read the full article posted by Craig Murray on Thurs 24th entitled “The Coup in Venezuela Must Be Resisted”

Wikipedia quickly fell into line adjusting its entry for Juan Guaidó and validating his illegitimate claim to being “interim president” of Venezuela:

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Update:

On January 29th Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen released an extended exposé on The Grayzone Project detailing how presidential wannabe Juan Guaidó is “the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers”. Here is just one of incidents documented in their article:

Around 43 were killed during the 2014 guarimbas. Three years later, they erupted again, causing mass destruction of public infrastructure, the murder of government supporters, and the deaths of 126 people, many of whom were Chavistas. In several cases, supporters of the government were burned alive by armed gangs.

Guaidó was directly involved in the 2014 guarimbas. In fact, he tweeted video showing himself clad in a helmet and gas mask, surrounded by masked and armed elements that had shut down a highway that were engaging in a violent clash with the police. Alluding to his participation in Generation 2007, he proclaimed, “I remember in 2007, we proclaimed, ‘Students!’ Now, we shout, ‘Resistance! Resistance!’”

Guaidó has deleted the tweet, demonstrating apparent concern for his image as a champion of democracy.

Click here to read the full article entitled “The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader”.

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It’s the economic war, stupid!

The political and economic crisis facing Venezuela is being endlessly pointed to as proof of the superiority of the free market.

Images and portrayals of Venezuelans rioting in the streets over high food costs, empty grocery stores, medicine shortages, and overflowing garbage bins are the headlines, and the reporting points to socialism as the cause.

The Chicago Tribune published a Commentary piece titled: “A socialist revolution can ruin almost any country.” A headline on Reason’s Hit and Run blog proclaims: “Venezuelan socialism still a complete disaster.” The Week’s U.S. edition says: “Authoritarian socialism caused Venezuela’s collapse.”

So begins an article by Caleb T. Maupin published back in July 2016. Maupin continues:

In reality, millions of Venezuelans have seen their living conditions vastly improved through the Bolivarian process. The problems plaguing the Venezuelan economy are not due to some inherent fault in socialism, but to artificially low oil prices and sabotage by forces hostile to the revolution.

Starting in 2014, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia flooded the market with cheap oil. This is not a mere business decision, but a calculated move coordinated with U.S. and Israeli foreign policy goals. Despite not just losing money, but even falling deep into debt, the Saudi monarchy continues to expand its oil production apparatus. The result has been driving the price of oil down from $110 per barrel, to $28 in the early months of this year. The goal is to weaken these opponents of Wall Street, London, and Tel Aviv, whose economies are centered around oil and natural gas exports.

Venezuela remains a deeply divided country and there is no doubt that the government under Maduro is at fault in part for the current economic crisis, but as Maupin points out, the opposition is extremely fractured and many do not wish to see a return to the rampant neo-liberalism of the pre-Chavez era:

The artificially low oil prices have left the Venezuelan state cash-starved, prompting a crisis in the funding of the social programs that were key to strengthening the United Socialist Party.

It is odd that the mainstream press blames “socialism” for the food problems in Venezuela, when the food distributors remain in the hands of private corporations. As Venezuelan political analyst Jesus Silva told me recently: “Most food in Venezuela is imported by private companies, they ask for dollars subsidized by the government oil sales to do that; they rarely produce anything or invest their own money.”

According to Silva, the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the U.S., in addition to the oil crisis, have made it more difficult for the Venezuelan government to pay the private food importing companies in U.S. dollars. In response, the food companies are “running general sabotage.”

“Venezuela’s economy depends on oil sales. Now that oil prices are dropping down, the challenge is to get other sources of economic income,” he explained. “Meanwhile, the opposition is garnering electoral support due to the current economic crisis.” […]

While a clear majority cast a voto castigo (“punishment vote”) in December, punishing the government for mismanaging the crisis, the Maduro administration has a solid core of socialist activists who remain loyal to the Bolivarian project. Across Venezuela, communes have been established. Leftist activists live together and work in cooperatives. Many of them are armed and organized in “Bolivarian Militias” to defend the revolution.

Even some of the loudest critics of the Venezuelan government admit that it has greatly improved the situation in the country, despite the current hardships.

In December, I spoke to Glen Martinez, a radio host in Caracas who voted for the opposition. He dismissed the notion that free market capitalism would ever return to Venezuela. As he explained, most of the people who voted against the United Socialist Party — himself included — are frustrated with the way the current crisis is being handled, but do not want a return to the neoliberal economic model of the 1999s.

He said the economic reforms established during the Chavez administration would never be reversed. “We are not the same people we were before 1999,” Martinez insisted.2

Click here to read the full article entitled “US-Led Economic War, Not Socialism, Is Tearing Venezuela Apart”

On January 25th, Sharmini Peries hosted a discussion for ‘The Real News’ on this latest attempted coup in Venezuela with Abby Martin, Greg Wilpert and Paul Jay:

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The Empire never gives up

‘Dictator’ is the epithet of choice the corporate media dishes out whenever it wishes to denigrate foreign leaders not fully subordinate to western interests. Likewise, ‘regime’ operates as a preferred synonym to denounce the members of every government hostile to Anglo-American imperialism. Hugo Chavez was routinely branded a ‘dictator’ even though he fought and won more elections than any other contemporary world leader. Like Chavez before him, Nicolás Maduro is the elected head of a democratic state.

Conversely, the media has its blinkers firmly attached whenever exalting those in opposition to a targeted ‘regime’. ‘Rioters’ become more benign ‘protesters’, and ‘insurgents’, ‘separatists’ or ‘terrorists’ are elevated to the level of ‘freedom fighters’. Thus in Libya, the murderous salafist gangs who lynched black Africans were portrayed as the valiant ‘rebels’. In Ukraine the brown-shirted brigades that gathered under wolfsangels and swastikas were heralded as Europhile crusaders for democracy – at one point the BBC actually embedded one of its journalists within the ranks of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. And in Syria, the al-Qaeda affiliated ‘rescue workers’ known as the White Helmets became the ‘indomitable first responders’ of an Oscar-winning documentary – they have also been promoted by human rights organisations including Amnesty International. Indeed, with the arrival of ISIS, some purportedly less savage though self-proclaimed al-Qaeda militia have come in for more favourable mainstream coverage – take for instance this BBC Newsnight report.

Yet the propaganda coverage of the crisis suddenly engulfing Venezuela is arguably more egregious again. For unlike each of the cases cited above, the West is not (at least not officially) engaged in any conflict inside Venezuela. Indeed, the fog of war offers no excuse for comparable lapses in journalistic integrity. Furthermore, recent history ought to make all journalists extremely cautious when it comes to covert US-led intervention in Latin America and suspicious of opposition claims in Venezuela especially given what we know about the last failed coup. Here is a New York Times editorial the day after Hugo Chavez was kidnapped and military junta briefly installed in April 2002:

UPRISING IN VENEZUELA: THE GOVERNMENT; VENEZUELA’S CHIEF FORCED TO RESIGN; CIVILIAN INSTALLED

By JUAN FORERO APRIL 13, 2002

A transitional government headed by a leading businessman replaced President Hugo Chavez today, hours after military officers forced him to resign. It was a sudden end to the turbulent three-year reign of a mercurial strongman elected on promises to distance his country from the United States while uprooting Venezuela’s old social order —

Pedro Carmona Estanga, the head of Venezuela’s most important business association, was installed as interim president at a ceremony at 6 p.m. He promised that the new government would adhere to “a pluralistic vision, democratic, civil and ensuring the implementation of the law, the state of law.”

Elections will be held within a year, officials said. The Bush administration laid the blame for Mr. Chavez’s overthrow firmly with the ousted leader. Officials portrayed the ouster as a victory for democracy —

And here is the New York Times offering a retraction (of sorts) the following day:

Popular Uprising Allows Chavez to Reclaim Venezuelan Presidency

By GINGER THOMPSON and JUAN FORERO APRIL 14, 2002

Two days after one huge political movement forced President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela out of power, a countervailing uprising that swept like wildfire through the slums surrounding the capital carried the populist leader back to the presidency today.

Once in power, the short-lived interim government, led by a prominent businessman, Pedro Carmona Estanga, dismantled the National Assembly, fired the ministers of the Supreme Court, arrested high-level members of the Chavez government and sent others into hiding.

The new government announced that Mr. Chavez had resigned from power. But word began to spread mostly through international television news reports that Mr. Chavez had not resigned. His followers in slums and poor towns across the country began to worry for his safety. They took to the streets to demand that Mr. Chavez be freed. And they won.

The extracts above are drawn from a well-sourced article entitled “Venezuela Regime Change Project Revealed” written by David William Pear and published on August 6th, 2017. Note that even after the coup which admittedly “dismantled the National Assembly, fired the ministers of the Supreme Court, arrested high-level members of the Chavez government and sent others into hiding” has failed, the NYT continues to describe the criminals behind the coup as a “short-lived interim government”.

As Pear says:

The Bush Administration, the New York Times and the mainstream media showed no remorse or shame—the U.S. government continued to watch and undermine the Chavista movement, Venezuela’s Bolivarian Socialism, in any way that it can. The U.S. continues to be involved and fund a long-term regime change project. The Empire never gives up. 3

Click here to read a post entitled “the Latin American Spring they never mention” published to mark the death of Hugo Chavez in March 2013.

Also on January 25th, Ben Norton of ‘Moderate Rebels’ spoke with Jordan Chariton to discuss the US-led coup in Venezuela:

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Final thoughts

As America struts about the world stage bullying the poorest nations into submission, a complaisant media can always be relied upon to leap to the defence of every imposition of sanctions and every regime change operation. Even a president as weakened and reviled as Trump (loathed by a supposedly hostile liberal press) can command support just as soon as he calls for the leader of any enemy state to be deposed. Quick to abandon any pretence to upholding international law, senior political figures in the West can also be relied upon to follow suit. America’s allies are ever eager to carry water for the empire. Indeed the leaders in Europe responded to Trump’s latest call for regime change by issuing their own ultimatum:

Three major European countries – Germany, France and Spain – have come out on Saturday saying they are ready to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president if elections are not called within eight days.

“The government of Spain gives [President] Nicolas Maduro eight days to call free, transparent and democratic elections,” said Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in statement.

“If that doesn’t happen, Spain will recognize Juan Guaido as interim president in charge of calling these elections.”

In what appears to be a coordinated message from European Union countries, at almost the same time French President Manuel Macron sent a tweet echoing Sanchez’s comments.

Macron’s tweet reads: “The Venezuelan people must be able to freely decide their future. Without elections announced within 8 days, we will be ready to recognize @jguaido as “President in charge” of Venezuela to initiate a political process. We are working on it between European partners.”

Yes, this is the same Macron whose government is deploying water cannon, tear-gas and rubber bullets to crackdown on the Gilets Jaunes protests sweeping France during the last three months.

From a Reuter’s report entitled “Germany, France, Spain poised to recognise Venezuela’s Guaido”.

This post is a reworking of an earlier post entitled “as the empire strikes back in Venezuela, our news media does its bidding (again)” published on August 9th 2017.

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Additional: Hands Off Venezuela

The Stop the War Coalition released this statement on January 28th:

“The United Kingdom believes Juan Guaido is the right person to take Venezuela forward. We are supporting the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina to make that happen”. Jeremy Hunt’s comments last week are solid proof that the UK remains fully on board with US-led regime change In Venezuela as with other parts of the globe. Such statements show utter contempt for even the most basic democratic principles and demonstrate an open willingness on behalf of the Conservative government to use its ‘soft power’ to bolster those aligned with Donald Trump.

The briefest glance at the catastrophic history of US intervention in Latin America proves that this latest attempted coup is motivated purely by self-interest on the side of the US and its puppet politicians in Venezuela. Whatever the failings of Maduro’s regime a US intervention will do nothing to improve the lives of Venezuelans and must be opposed.

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign have organised an emergency rally this Thursday at which Stop the War’s Convenor, Lindsey German, will be speaking alongside Tariq Ali and Kate Hudson.

Please also sign the Stand up to Trump & Pence’s threats of ‘regime change’ in Venezuela petition here.

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On Jan 18th, Democracy Now! interviewed Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, who said:

“You see this man, who nobody knows in Venezuela—you ask in the streets, “Who is Juan Guaidó?” and nobody knows him—but he’s being pushed to say that he is the new president, by the U.S. He hasn’t said that, but Pompeo says it, Almagro from the OAS says it, and other presidents say that now he’s the president. They are trying to push a political conflict in Venezuela. They are calling the armed forces to make pronunciations against President Maduro. That’s what they want, a coup d’état in Venezuela. They want a war in Venezuela. And it’s not going to happen.”

Asked about the role being played by the United States, Arreaza replied:

“They are the bosses of the opposition. They tell them what to do. Nothing that the opposition does is without the permission or authorization of the State Department, at least, here in the United States. And they confess this. They say, “We have to make consultations with the embassy. We have to make consultations with the Department of State.” It happens. I mean, they are not free. They are not independent.”

Click here to read the full transcript and to watch the interview on the Democracy Now! website.

*

On Thurs 24th, Democracy Now! spoke with Alfred de Zayas who visited Venezuela as a United Nations rapporteur in 2017:

ALFRED DE ZAYAS: Well, the mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. The mainstream media has prepared, through a conundrum of fake news, an atmosphere that the public should accept this regime change imposed by the United States on the people of Venezuela because, ultimately, it’s supposed to be for the good of the Venezuelans.

Now, this reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003. Now, the mainstream media supported all the lies, all the manipulations of George W. Bush and of Tony Blair to convince the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And on this excuse, it was made somewhat palatable to world public opinion that you would enter Iraq and change the government by force. Now, the fact is that here you had not only a crime of aggression, not only an illegal war, as former—the late Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in more than one occasion, stated. Here you have actually a revolt of 43 states, the “coalition of the willing,” against international law. If there is one tenet of the U.N. Charter that is jus cogens, that is peremptory international law, it’s the prohibition of the use of force. And this attack on Iraq was conducted by 43 states in collusion, breaking all the rules of international law. Now, that was preceded by this media campaign.

Now, we have had, for the last years, actually, a media campaign against Venezuela. And I am particularly familiar with it, because before I went to Venezuela, I had to read everything and all the reports, not only of The Washington Post and of The New York Times, but also the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc., proposing that there was a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

Now, when I went to Venezuela, I again took the opportunity to interview representatives of Amnesty International and PROVEA and the other opposition NGOs, but I also had the opportunity to study the documents, to compare, to see the statistics, etc., etc. And, of course, there was no humanitarian crisis. There was hunger. There was, what we say in Spanish, zozobra. There was suffering. There was malnutrition, etc., etc. But it’s not just stating that there is an economic crisis. That’s not the crucial point. The crucial point is which are the causes of that so-called humanitarian crisis. And certainly, those who are crying humanitarian crisis should be the least to say that they should now solve the problem. There’s a principle of international law called ex injuria non oritur jus, which is the principle to estoppel. So they should be estopped from demanding regime change when they themselves are the ones who are aggravating a situation, caused initially by the dramatic fall of the oil prices.

I wanted to make a reference to a professor, Pasqualina Curcio, of the University of Caracas. I had the opportunity of seeing her for a couple of hours when I was there. And she published a book called The Visible Hand of the Market. This is a book that documents the financial blockade, documents the whole complex economic war being waged against Venezuela, which reminds you of the economic war that was waged against Salvador Allende. And what’s interesting is, after three years of economic war against Allende not succeeding in toppling Salvador Allende, it took a coup d’état by General Augusto Pinochet, which brought the Chilean people 17 years of dictatorship.

Click here to read the full transcript and to watch the interview on the Democracy Now! website.

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1 From official transcript of “Aspen Security Forum 2017: The View From Langley” on July 20, 2017, published by The Aspen Institute. http://aspensecurityforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-View-from-Langley.pdf

2 From an article entitled “US-Led Economic War, Not Socialism, Is Tearing Venezuela Apart” written by Caleb T. Maupin, published in Mint Press News on July 12, 2016. http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-led-economic-war-not-socialism-tearing-venezuela-apart/218335/

3 From an article entitled “Venezuela Regime Change Project Revealed” written by David William Pear, published in Off-Guardian on August 6, 2017. https://off-guardian.org/2017/08/06/venezuela-regime-change-project-revealed/

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forget ‘Russiagate’, why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’…?

The following is an extract drawn from an article posted last February entitled “‘fake news’ is the new blackwhite” – a reference to newspeak jargon from Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ .

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‘Russiagate’ has dominated the US news cycle for well over eighteen months in spite of the fact that after several investigations there has been an embarrassing failure to uncover substantiating evidence pointing to an actual Russian plot to “hack the election” as was so vigorously claimed. But the latest twist in the saga is arguably the lamest to date. It involves Robert Mueller’s indictment of thirteen Russian nationals for purportedly creating sockpuppet accounts on behalf of Trump (or else disparaging him – presumably for added confusion!), as well as (still more bafflingly) bolstering the campaigns of progressives Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein in the 2016 election. Missing altogether are any claims that Trump knew anything at all about the alleged Russian meddling, or that in fact “Russia hacked the election” – the very pivot about which Russiagate started spinning. As even the Guardian admits in its wholly uncritical account of Mueller’s findings which is excitedly titled “Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy”:

The indictment does not allege that any American knowingly participated in Russian meddling, or that Trump campaign associates had more than “unwitting” contact with some who posed as Americans. Trump quickly claimed vindication, noting in a tweet that the interference efforts began in 2014 “long before I announced that I would run for president”. He added: “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Nor does it have anything to say regarding the origins of ‘Russiagate’:

The indictment does not mention the hacking of Democratic emails, which then turned up on WikiLeaks. It does not mention the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. It does not mention the four Trump associates who are facing charges that range from money laundering to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador. America, and the world, is waiting for Mueller to join the dots.1

The post continues:

In fact, both presidential candidates bent over backwards to secure the backing of AIPAC, the most formidable foreign lobby group in America, but that doesn’t count as meddling apparently.

Meanwhile, the bizarre claim that a handful of Russians threw the election process into confusion via social media platforms is an already laughably pathetic allegation, made worse for the simple fact that it is next to impossible to validate, since, as Mueller knows perfectly well, those named will never be extradited to face trial. And for what crime are they to be indicted exactly? For not being American citizens but writing about an US election without registering as a foreign agent. That’s certainly the precedent Muller is setting here. Moreover, the contention is not that this alleged ‘troll farm’ has been spreading falsehoods as such, but that they cunningly redeployed truth in order to deceive the ignorant masses.

Click here to read the full post.

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On August 13th, Jimmy Dore welcomed William Binney, NSA whistleblower and member of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), to set the record straight about Guccifer 2.0 and Mueller’s indictments:

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Having trawled for evidence of “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as the Mueller investigation was tasked to do, it instead uncovered actual evidence of complicity with Israel. These uncomfortable revelations have since been swept under the carpet by the corporate media, but are discussed in detail elsewhere. For instance, as far back as last December Max Blumenthal was reporting for Alternet:

Seven months later, after three indictments that did little, if anything, to confirm the grand collusion narrative, Mueller had former National Security Council advisor Michael Flynn dragged before a federal court for lying to the FBI. The Russia probe had finally netted a big fish.

As the details of the Flynn indictment seeped out into the press, however, the bombshell was revealed as another dud. To the dismay of many Trump opponents, nothing in Flynn’s rap sheet demonstrated collusion with Russia. Instead, the indictment undermined the Russiagate narrative while implicating another, much more inconvenient foreign power in a plot to meddle in American politics.

Blumenthal continues:

To be sure, Flynn indictment did contain a stunning revelation of collusion between Team Trump and a foreign state. But it was not the country that the national media has obsessed over for the past year.

Flynn was found by the FBI to have lobbied [Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey] Kislyak to exercise Russia’s veto against the passage of a United Nations security council resolution condemning the growth of Israel’s illegal settlements. And he did so under orders from Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law and Middle East fixer, who was himself acting on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Thanks to Flynn’s indictment, we now know that the Israeli prime minister was able to transform the Trump administration into his own personal vehicle for undermining Obama’s lone effort to hold Israel accountable at the UN. A clearer example of a foreign power colluding with an American political operation against a sitting president has seldom, if ever, been exposed in such glaring fashion. 2

Click here to read Blumenthal’s full article entitled “Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia”.

Around the same time, a journalistic investigation of Israeli meddling in American politics was also secretly hushed up. As a sequel to its damning report on the Israel Lobby’s activities in Britain, Al Jazeera’s Director of Investigative Journalism, Clayton Swisher, announced in October 2017 that the Qatari satellite channel had embedded a different undercover journalist (called “Tony”) inside 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. 3

Click here to read more on the announcement at The Electronic Intifada.

The documentary was never broadcast. However, based on newly leaked footage from this banned documentary, The Electronic Intifada published a follow-up article last week [Sept 13th] that discloses the operation of (what should be called) ‘troll farms’ operating under the cover of “The Israel Project” (TIP) using sockpuppets 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.

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.”

There is a great deal more detail in the article and I strongly encourage readers to read the piece in its entirety. It concludes where my own post begins – making a parallel reference to the furore surrounding the equivalent Russiagate allegations:

Since the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has been accused of allowing its platform to be used for manipulative Russian-sponsored propaganda aimed at influencing politics and public opinion.

Despite the hype, these allegations have been grossly overblown or unsubstantiated.

Nevertheless, Facebook has partnered with the Atlantic Council in an effort to ostensibly crack down on “fake accounts” and “disinformation.”

The Atlantic Council is a Washington think tank that has been funded by NATO, the US military, the brutally repressive governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, European Union governments, and a who’s who of investment firms, oil companies, arms makers and other war profiteers.

As the apparent result of this partnership, a number of completely innocuous social media accounts with few or no followers were recently taken down.

More worryingly, pages run by leftist news outlets focusing on countries targeted by the US government, such as Venezuela Analysis and teleSUR, were suspended, though later restored.

Now with solid evidence of The Israel Project’s well-resourced and extensive influence campaign on Facebook, it remains to be seen if the social media giant will act to ensure that unwitting users are aware that what they are being exposed to is propaganda designed to boost and whitewash the Israeli state.

In response to a request for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada the company would look into the matter. 4

Why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’? The question in the title to this post is rhetorical, of course, but we might easily answer it anyway. Russiagate was the cover story for why the Clinton campaign bombed so badly and then afterwards successfully reworked into the pretext to close down “fake news” websites. Talking about Israelgate on the other hand… what would that achieve?

Click here to read the full article entitled “Censored film reveals The Israel Project’s secret Facebook campaign.

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On Monday 10th, The Real News interviewed Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal about why Qatar bowed down to American pressure to censor the documentary. In particular they speak about leaked clips that show how the Israeli government was behind attacks on American pro-Palestinian activists and Black Lives Matter:

Ali Abunimah: We published on August 27th, the first leaked video from the film in which an official of The Israel Project names Adam Milstein, a pro-Israel financier based in California – real estate magnate who spent time in federal prison for tax evasion. In the film, Milstein is named as the funder of ‘Canary Mission’ [a blacklist for pro-Palestine activists] and for years now people have been trying to find out who is behind ‘Canary Mission’ other than a few snippets of information which came out this appears to be first major break in cracking who is behind this.

And what it also shows is that ‘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. So this really I think explains why the Israel lobby put such intense pressure on Qatar and on Al Jazeera to censor the film. Because I think it reveals a lot of activity that they don’t want revealed.

And what’s ironic is that this film contains real evidence of foreign interference in American politics [and] in American civic life by a foreign state: orchestrated, funded and directed by a foreign state and it’s got no attention. The censorship has gotten very little attention in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, as you know very well, the mainstream media and mainstream politicians continue to chase the shadows of ‘Russiagate’ and Russian interference, which until now have proven to be just shadows, as opposed to this really powerful evidence of Israeli interference.

[from 1:55 mins]

Max Blumenthal: Well, Noah Pollak [Executive Director of the ‘Emergency Committee for Israel’] is part of the crew that Ali describes as essentially unregistered agents – Adam Milstein, Jacob Baime of the ‘Israel on Campus Coalition’ – that are effectively surveilling and attacking American students on behalf of the Israeli government. These are Likudnik operatives: figures who align with the ring wing in Israel, who are substantially funded by Milstein as well as Sheldon Adelson who is one of the largest donors to both Donald Trump and to the political empire of Benjamin Netanyahu.

And we reported based on leaked content from the censored Al Jazeera “Lobby USA” documentary that Noah Pollak had essentially been astroturfing a protest against a 2016 gathering of the ‘National Students for Justice in Palestine’ conference. It was in DC and basically Pollak went to the Hudson Institute, which is a pro-Israel think tank with very close ties of its own to the Israeli government, and said you know send us some of your campus fellows – basically like youth fellows – and they’re going to protest for us.

And the undercover reporter for Al Jazeera, James Kleinfeld, gets on the bus to this protest – he was interning for The Israel Project, another affiliated pro-Israel lobby group – and covertly films all of these young people, who are young conservative activists, saying we don’t really have any interest in going to yell at Arabs and that’s what we’ve been told to do: go shout at Arabs. And they’re driving around in a bus and getting lost and asking people “where are the Jihadis? We’ve just been told to go yell at Jihadis.” So you can see kind of the racism and Islamophobia behind the whole operation. But at the same time they’re saying basically we’re being forced to do this. We get paid like $50,000 a year as part of this fellowship and this is what we have to do – we’re selling our souls.

So it’s kind of amusing but at the same time you see how the Israel lobby operates. It essentially has to pay fake protesters because it has no grassroots support.

Then these campus fellows from this right-wing think tank show up at the conference where there are hundreds of young people, students who are organically drawn to Palestine solidarity activism [and] don’t have to be paid to be there. They themselves are paying their own way. And these fake protesters start shouting Islamophobic insults at them. Noah Pollak is screaming about child suicide bombers at young women and men, who are mostly students from immigrant backgrounds. So I thought it was a really scandalous scene and I chose to reveal at the Greyzone Project along with a more recent report that shows the phenomenon that Ali described which is the Israeli government actually coordinating directly attacks on American progressive social movements, which should be scandalous. If Russia was doing it, you know, you’d have the New York Times and Washington Post freaking out but in this case it’s silence.

I mean [the report] should have been explosive… if the FBI had been exposed for recruiting black establishment leadership to attack the Black Lives Matter movement and undermining Black Lives Matter events, you know, how much outrage would there be? Probably a lot but in this case all we’ve done is expose a foreign government – the apartheid government of Israel – for doing exactly the same and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of outrage. The suppressed, censored Al Jazeera “Lobby” documentary shows scenes from a pro-Israel conference where a group of Israeli diplomats are essentially boasting about having recruited former civil rights leaders and established black activists as proxies to denounce Black Lives Matter as antisemitic. This was right after the movement for black lives had introduced its platform supporting BDS, denouncing Israel as an apartheid state, and accusing it of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. So there was a big priority not just for the Israel lobby but the Israeli government to undermine Black Lives Matter. And they not only claimed responsibility for op-eds in the Huffington Post by black civil rights leaders and in other publications attacking Black Lives Matter as anti-Semitic. […]

Then you have Eric Gallagher, who is the Director of development [of The Israel Project] who was filmed covertly by the undercover Al Jazeera reporter, James Kleinfeld, boasting of how The Israel Project had gotten a Black Lives Matter event cancelled – a fundraiser cancelled – in New York, right after it released its platform, basically by calling donors and then having them call a nightclub that they were affiliated with and the nightclub put the kibosh on the event. So all this goes back to the phenomenon that Ali described, which is the Israeli government interfering, not just in American politics, but in American life. Surveilling Americans and covertly undermining American progressive social movements that are dedicated to advocating for the equality of some of the most oppressed groups in the country.

[from 4:45 mins]

The transcript is my own.

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1 From an article entitled “Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy” written by David Smith, published in the Guardian on February 17, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/17/putins-chef-a-troll-farm-and-russias-plot-to-hijack-us-democracy

2 From an article entitled “Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia” written by Max Blumenthal, published in Alternet on Decmeber 5, 2017. https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/flynn-indictment-exposes-collusion-israel

3 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on 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

4 From an article entitled “Censored film reveals The Israel Project’s secret Facebook campaign” written by Ali Abunimah and Asa Winstanley, published by The Electronic Intifada on September 13, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/censored-film-reveals-israel-projects-secret-facebook-campaign/25486

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Filed under internet freedom, Israel, USA

Peter Hitchens calls for immediate action to stop the rush to war

I would not ordinarily repost extended passages from articles in the Daily Mail without further comment, but we have entered an exceptional time in history and I believe it is vital that Peter Hitchen’s message (published yesterday) is heard widely so that enough of us will be encouraged to follow his advice. Everything below is taken from Hitchen’s original article which is also linked at the end.

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Please write to your MP now without delay — War, terrible war, may be on the way again.

WMD All Over Again: Our Government moves stealthily towards a new war of choice.

IS war coming? This is the traditional season of the year for plunges into war by British governments which mislead themselves and the country about the extent and nature of what is proposed. […]

This week, the Middle East is in a state of grave and dangerous tension. The huge Sunni Muslim oil power, Saudi Arabia, armed and/or backed diplomatically by Britain, France and the USA, is ever more hostile to Shia Muslim Iran, another oil power not as great but still as important, which is close and growing closer to Russia and China.

Bear in Mind as you consider this that Russia is also a European power, and engaged in a conflict with the EU and NATO in formerly non-aligned Ukraine, after the EU’s aggressive attempt to bring Ukraine into the Western orbit and NATO’s incessant eastward expansion into formerly neutral territory. There are several points at which Western troops are now remarkably close to Russian borders, for instance they are about 80 miles from St Petersburg (the distance from London to Coventry), and the US Navy is building a new Black Sea base at Ochakov, 308 miles from the Russian naval station at Sevastopol. Just as the First World War (at root a conflict between Russia and Germany) spread like a great red stain over much of Europe and the Middle East , an Iran-Saudi war could easily spread into Europe itself.

The two powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are not yet in direct combat with each other, but fight through proxies in Yemen and Syria. It would not take much for this to become a direct war, at least as destructive in the region as the Iran Iraq war of 1980-1988, during which the ‘West’ tended to side with Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein, who had started the war and incidentally used chemical weapons at Halabja in 1988, against the Kurds. The attitude of the British Foreign Office towards this atrocity was interesting: They flatly declined to get outraged, saying: ‘We believe it better to maintain a dialogue with others if we want to influence their actions.

‘Punitive measures such as unilateral sanctions would not be effective in changing Iraq’s behaviour over chemical weapons, and would damage British interests to no avail.’

The Foreign Office knows very well that its job is to defend British interests abroad, at more or less any cost. These days it seems to have concluded that British interests involve almost total subjection to the wishes of Saudi Arabia. So their current stance of supposed total horror on the subject of Chemical Weapons, especially when (as was not the case in Halabja) their use has not been established beyond doubt, may be less than wholly genuine. You’d have to ask them, but in any case I ask you to bear this half-forgotten episode in mind as you read this exchange from the House of Commons Hansard for Monday 10th September, an exchange barely reported in the media. It resulted from an urgent question asked by Stephen Doughty MP, and answered without any apparent reluctance by Alistair Burt, who I learn to my surprise is officially entitled the ‘Minister for the Middle East’. Does the Iranian Foreign Ministry have a Minister for North-West Europe, I wonder? The whole passage can be read here : https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-09-10/debates/CF970CA2-402E-4CAC-96B4-F480CC33FC7B/Idlib

But I am especially interested in this exchange, Mr Burt’s response to a clever question from the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry. I have had rude things to say about and to Ms Thornberry, but in this case she is doing her job properly and should be applauded for it. The emphases are mine:

‘Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab)

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth on securing it. I can only echo what he said about the terrible bloodshed and humanitarian crisis that is looming in Idlib, the urgency for all sides to work to find some form of peaceful political solution to avert it, and the importance of holding those responsible for war crimes to account.

I want to press the Government specifically on how they intend to respond if there are any reports over the coming weeks, accompanied by horrifying, Douma-style images, suggesting a use of chemical weapons, particularly ​because of how the Government responded after Douma without seeking the approval of the House and without waiting for independent verification of those reports from the OPCW. If that scenario does arise, it may do so over the next month when the House is in recess.

We know from Bob Woodward’s book that what President Trump wants to do in the event of a further reported chemical attack is to commit to a strategy of regime change in Syria—and, indeed, that he had to be prevented from doing so after Douma. That would be a gravely serious step for the UK to take part in, with vast and very dangerous implications not just for the future of Syria, but for wider geopolitical stability.

In the light of that, I hope that the Minister will give us two assurances today. First, will he assure us that if there are any reports of chemical weapons attacks, particularly in areas of Idlib controlled by HTS [Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham], the Government will not take part in any military action in response until the OPCW has visited those sites, under the protection of the Turkish Government, independently verified those reports and attributed responsibility for any chemical weapons used? Relying on so-called open source intelligence provided by proscribed terrorist groups is not an acceptable alternative. Secondly, if the Government intend to take such action, thus escalating Britain’s military involvement in Syria and risking clashes with Russian and Iranian forces, will the Minister of State guarantee the House that we will be given a vote to approve such action before it takes place, even if that means recalling Parliament?

Alistair Burt : The co-ordinated action that was taken earlier this year with the United States and France was not about intervening in a civil war or regime change; it was a discrete action to degrade chemical weapons and deter their use by the Syrian regime in order to alleviate humanitarian suffering. Our position on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is unchanged. As we have demonstrated, we will respond appropriately to any further use by the Syrian regime of chemical weapons, which have had such devastating humanitarian consequences for the Syrian population. The right hon. Lady may recall that there are circumstances, depending on the nature of any attack, in which the United Kingdom Government need to move swiftly and to keep in mind, as their utmost priority, the safety of those personnel involved in a mission. I am not prepared to say at this stage what the United Kingdom’s detailed reaction might be or to give any timescale, because the importance of responding appropriately, quickly and with the safety of personnel in mind will be uppermost in the mind of the United Kingdom.’

In other words, we’re not asking Parliament, if we can help it. When I heard this on the BBC’s ‘Today in Parliament’ late last night I felt a shiver go down my spine. The White House National Security adviser, the bellicose John Bolton, yesterday presumed (which is not proven, see multiple postings here on the work of the OPCW investigations into these events) that the Assad state had used chemical weapons twice, as he said ‘if there’s a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger’. He said the USA had been in consultation with Britain and France and they had agreed this. The House of Commons goes into recess *tomorrow* 13th September, for the party conference season, and does not come back until Tuesday 9th October. Ms Thornberry is quite right to speculate that the conflict in Idlib, where Russia and the Assad state are in much the same position as the ‘West’ and the Iraqi state were in Mosul and Raqqa not long ago (i.e confronted with concentrations of a largely beaten Jihadi enemy, who might recover if not finally defeated), could explode during that period. […]

Emily Thornberry, far too rarely among MPs, is aware of the true position. In her question to Mr Burt, she said ‘The Government responded after Douma without seeking the approval of the House and without waiting for independent verification of those reports from the OPCW’.

See:

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/07/initial-thoughts-on-the-opcw-interim-investigation-into-the-alleged-gas-attack-in-douma-syria.html

If she and other wise and cautious MPs are to be able to pursue this, and to prevent British involvement in a very dangerous and perhaps limitless war, we as citizens are obliged to act now, swiftly, before Parliament goes away on holiday.

I ask you to write, swiftly and politely, to your MP, of any reputation or party, to say that you do not favour a rush to war, to say that the guilt of Syria has not been proved in the past (see:

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/04/waiting-for-the-opcw-how-to-read-the-next-report-on-alleged-chemical-weapons-atrocities.html

and that a rush to judgement on such issues is almost invariably unwise. See for example the lies told to Parliament about Suez, the use of the Gulf of Tonkin to obtain political support for the USA’s Vietnam disaster, the non-existent ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ which began the Iraq catastrophe and the claims of non-existent massacres and mass rapes used to rush this country into its ill-judged and cataclysmic attack on Libya. Ask only for careful consideration, for an insistence that no military action is taken by this country without Parliament’s permission after a full and calm debate. 

it is all we can do.

There are many straws in the wind which suggest that we are being prepared for war. War is hell. At the very least, a decision which could have such far-reaching consequences, which could reach into every life and home, and embroil us for years, should be considered properly. The very fact that our government appears not to want us to consider it properly makes it all the more urgent that we insist on it.

Click here to read Hitchen’s article in full at the Mail Online.

Please note that all bold and coloured font highlights are retained from the original. I have also corrected typos.

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Additional:

The following upload by “The Last American Vagabond” from Saturday 8th provides indepth analysis and a broad overview of the latest developments in the Middle East and Idlib in particular (links to all articles are provided beneath the video on youtube):

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Update:

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria:

You will be seeing lurid accounts in the Western media of the latest  report to the UN Human Rights Council from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria. This was issued on 12 September.

In particular it is being stated that the report vindicates claims that weaponised chlorine was used in Douma. This is not what the report (text below) actually says.

If you read the actual report – you have to reach section 92 so obviously few hacks will do that – you will see that it is carefully worded.

The inspectors, who unlike OPCW did not actually visit the site, ‘received a vast body of evidence suggesting that..’ (of course they did, from the jihadis and from hostile intelligence services); ‘they received information on [deaths and injuries] (which is not the same as seeing bodies or examining victims); they ‘recall that weaponisation of chlorine is prohibited’ (but do not actually say that Syrian forces used it in Douma). 

Besides the text of the relevant part of the report I have added the paragraph on Raqqa and the ‘indiscriminate attacks and serious violations of international law’ by the coalition of which the UK is part, including the bombing of a school and killing of 40 people.

You will note also the acknowlegement that ISIS exploited hospitals in Raqqa (as other jihadi groups have done in every part of Syria). Naturally the media and our government will not want to discuss that paragraph of the report.

Click here to read the same statement – including relevant excerpts from the text of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria report – posted on Eva Bartlett’s In Gaza website

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Further update:

The following is my own letter emailed to Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central (Thursday 13th). Please feel free use it as a template.

Dear Paul,

The government looks set to get involved in a dangerous escalation in the war in Syria, possibly using the forthcoming parliamentary recess as an excuse for going to war without a vote in the Commons. So I am writing in regards to a recent statement made in the House of Commons by Emily Thornberry on Monday 10th, in which she asked how the government intends to respond “if there are any reports over the coming weeks, accompanied by horrifying, Douma-style images”, and she called on the government, “not take part in any military action in response until the OPCW has visited those sites, under the protection of the Turkish Government, independently verified those reports and attributed responsibility for any chemical weapons used?”

Thornberry continued: “Relying on so-called open source intelligence provided by proscribed terrorist groups is not an acceptable alternative.”

She also asked “if the Government intend[s] to take such action, thus escalating Britain’s military involvement in Syria and risking clashes with Russian and Iranian forces, will the Minister of State guarantee the House that we will be given a vote to approve such action before it takes place, even if that means recalling Parliament?”

The whole passage can be read here : https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-09-10/debates/CF970CA2-402E-4CAC-96B4-F480CC33FC7B/Idlib

I ask if you will stand in full support of Emily Thornberry’s call for careful consideration and her insistence that no military action is taken by this country without Parliament’s permission following a full and calm debate.

Kind regards,

James Boswell

Paul Blomfield replied to my letter on October 9th as follows:

I’m pleased to reassure you that I fully support Emily Thornberry’s position. I know that we have previously exchanged emails before about the issue of military intervention more widely.

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, campaigns & events, Syria

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

the pro-Israel two-pronged offensive: Tommy Robinson and the weaponisation of ‘antisemitism’

There have been two concurrent stories running for weeks on end. On the one hand, the corporate media repeatedly reinforces its own opinion – based on a blatant smear campaign conceived and perpetuated by political enemies – that Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemitic apologist of a rabidly antisemitic party (of which I am a member), whilst on the other, it offers a platform to far-right EDL founder Tommy Robinson who they portray as a merely “controversial leader” of a popular movement. In fact, BBC news and Channel 4 were both caught red-handed by Twitter activist Sonia Mota who helpfully uploaded the evidence of how the news channels presented each of these two stories literally side-by-side:

The first clip (now hidden because it “might contain sensitive content”) begins with BBC correspondent Norman Smith informing the audience that Corbyn ought to immediately accept the international definitions of antisemitism (more later) before feigning puzzlement that “for whatever reason Mr Corbyn at the moment is holding back” from such acquiescence. In the following report, correspondent Tom Burridge then speaks about Tommy Robinson’s release from prison on bail which opens with an unopposed statement by one of Robinson’s supporters and concludes “Robinson is a product of the internet age, sites like Youtube allow the founder of the English Defence League to reach many more people than far-right leaders of the past”. In other words, don’t blame us for promoting him again and again, blame the internet…

Sky News is arguably worse. It begins with correspondent Jason Farrell gushing on and on about how: “Robinson has garnered a huge amount of support – hundreds of thousands of people providing a petition, they’ve had a free Tommy website, and some people may question why we are talking about this – should we be giving him the oxygen of publicity in discussing this issue… but the fact is it would be ridiculous not to because there has been so much discussed about this on social media – he has hundreds of thousands of followers and in some ways that is beneficial to him as a political character, he has actually gained an awful lot of support over this period and this will be an interesting time for him as to what he does with this – this former EDL member who doesn’t have a political party at the moment, he may well want to use that to his advantage in the future. So we’ll see what he does when he comes out [of prison].” This upbeat promo is then juxtaposed by newscaster Gamal Fahnbulleh intoning with grave seriousness that Corbyn’s latest apology “adds more pressure on the leader who’s repeatedly been accused of not doing enough to stamp out antisemitism within the party”, and to hammer the point, a second Sky News correspondent aggressively doorsteps Corbyn, shouting after him: “Are relations between the Labour leadership and the British Jewish community broken beyond repair?”

There are so many points here that it’s hard to know where to start, but the main point I wish to make is that any notion of a single British Jewish community that is unanimous in its condemnation of Corbyn is already a complete media construction. There are multiple Jewish voices and a great many have gone to considerable lengths to speak in support of Jeremy Corbyn, however the corporate media has its own agenda and takes trouble to marginalise all voices that oppose it.

As one of Jewish Voices for Labour (JVL) founder members, Richard Kuper, told Afshin Rattansi on RT’s Going Underground on July 27th:

The Jewish community does not speak with one voice. The Jewish community has never done so. And it is important that diversity and plurality within the Jewish community are recognised and encouraged. We would argue that we speak firmly within the Jewish humanitarian, internationalist tradition and that we are basing ourselves on Jewish values: respect for the other; respect for all religions; egalitarianism; and not making the kinds of legal distinctions between citizens which is now occurring in Israel. This is not acceptable democratic practice. If Israel wishes to be called a liberal democracy, it has to abide by liberal democratic values. If it wants to be a nationalist autocracy it can continue on the line it is going on.

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Jeremy Corbyn is “a dedicated anti-racist”

“This [is a] grotesque, cynical, contrived, fake, fabricated attack on Corbyn by the whole, the whole of the British ruling elites, and the whole of the British media” — Norman Finkelstein 1

The video embedded above is an update. It features Norman Finkelstein speaking directly to camera and calling for Dame Margaret Hodge to be expelled from the Labour Party.

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Jeremy Corbyn is not a racist. He is a staunch opponent of all forms of racism, and has been consistently throughout his entire political life. Indeed, when back on July 25th, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Telegraph jointly published a front-page editorial that scurrilously and absurdly accused him of being an “existential threat” to British Jews, one of their own contributors, Stephen Oryszczuk, foreign editor of Jewish News , broke ranks and said in an exclusive Q&A with The Canary published on Monday 6th, August:

“It’s repulsive. This is a dedicated anti-racist we’re trashing. I just don’t buy into it at all.” 2

I highlight Stephen Oryszczuk because he bravely took a stand against his own newspaper, but still he is one of a multitude of Jewish voices who have very actively defended Jeremy Corbyn.

As Richard Kuper of Jewish Voices for Labour (JVL) told Afshin Rattansi in the July 27th interview on RT’s Going Underground:

“Jeremy is not and has never been an antisemite or a racist. It is absurd for Margaret Hodge to make this accusation, and to make an accusation in that form, whether or not with the expletive deleted, should not be unacceptable behaviour. And she should apologise: that is not the way in which we conduct debates in the Labour Party. […]

Anti-semitism in our view is hostility to Jews as Jews and it needs to be opposed. Criticism of Israel is criticism of Israel and unless it shows hostility to Jews as Jews it is political criticism and argument and has to be fought on that basis. […]

I hope that Jeremy will continue to be Jeremy and stand up for what he believes in and speak openly and honestly and pursue the values he has always stood up for: internationalist values egalitarian values, and most of all, anti-racist values. Standing up to all forms of racism including anti-semitism.”

To hear other Jewish voices in defence of Corbyn I refer readers to the addendum below as well as to earlier posts on the subject here and here. I have also embedded below two excellent recent broadcasts of The Real News from August 11th featuring interviews with American-Jewish scholar Norman Finkelstein and British academic Jamie Stern-Weiner:

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As comedian Mark Steel put it in The Independent on Thursday 2nd August:

You can’t help wondering whether, for some people, the motivation for accusing Corbyn of being an antisemite may be a teeny bit driven by the fact they don’t really like him.

For example, Ian McKenzie, who was chairman of Lewisham East Labour Party, wrote on Twitter that “the antisemitism, Brexit and Salisbury stuff is cutting through like the IRA/Iran stuff didn’t. We have a real chance of winning back NEC seats.”

So for him, a subject as important as antisemitism is apparently a handy tool to win back NEC seats from Corbyn supporters. That could be seen as slightly insulting to Jews, so I’m sure when it comes to expulsions, Ian McKenzie will insist he should be one of the first to be kicked out. Maybe he’ll make a complaint: “Corbyn is so slow to deal with antisemitism that he still hasn’t expelled me. If he was serious about tackling antisemitism he’d have told me to piss off ages ago, but no. Typical!” 3

Click here to read the complete article entitled “The fact that Corbyn didn’t yell abuse at a Holocaust survivor definitely makes him anti-Semitic”

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The weaponisation of ‘antisemitism’

Ongoing accusations that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would present an existential threat to the future of Jewish people is one obvious example of how misplaced accusations of anti-Semitism are being used as a weapon by critics of Corbyn.

One conservative Jewish organization that has weaponised anti-Semitism in just this way is the Community Security Trust, a charity that describes its role as being to “protect[ing] British Jews from antisemitism and related threats”; and “To speak responsibly at all times, without exaggeration or political favour, on antisemitism and associated issues.”

But a recent press release from the Community Security Trust suggests that they have a problem with speaking responsibly, as they write:

“The reason Labour’s antisemitism problem dwarfs all of its other racism problems is because it originates from the far-left culture that Jeremy Corbyn and his closest advisers and supporters have always belonged to. That culture now dominates the party.” (“Antisemitism now: the IHRA controversy,” July 24, 2018)

This is not true and they know it!

In fact, it was only last September that the Community Security Trust helped fund a research report carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research that put the lie to their latest press release.

The report in question, Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain: A study of attitudes towards Jews and Israel, was clear:

“Looking at the political spectrum of British society, the most antisemitic group consists of those who identify as very right-wing. In this group about 14% hold hard-core anti-Semitic attitudes and 52% hold at least one attitude, compared again to 3.6% and 30% in the general population. The very left-wing, and, in fact, all political groups located on the left, are no more antisemitic than the general population. This finding may come as a surprise to those who maintain that in today’s political reality, the left is the more serious, or at least, an equally serious source of antisemitism, than the right.” (p.64)

Then, in attempting to explain why there is the false perception among some parts of the Jewish community that the left has an issue with antisemitism, they explain:

“The left tends to see itself, and is commonly regarded, as an anti-racist and egalitarian political group, both in terms of its political goals and its modus operandi. This image tends to impact on people’s expectations of the left or, at the very least, draws attention to how well (or otherwise) it performs in relation to its own proclaimed values. We found that the left (including the far-left) is no less antisemitic than the general population. This is not a trivial finding, as it runs counter to the left’s self-proclaimed ethos. When the expectation is to find less antisemitism than elsewhere, the finding of ‘just the same’ level of antisemitism as elsewhere is likely to be noticed by politically attuned individuals. Simultaneously embarrassing the left and being used as a weapon by it critics, this dissonance becomes the centre of attention and gets accentuated.” [My highlights, pp.64-5]

Wouldn’t it be useful if Jon Lansman, and other self-identified Corbyn supporters, raised such issues when attacked on television? 4

Click here to read the same piece by Michael Barker published in Counterpunch.

In short, the Labour Party that Corbyn leads is not a deeply antisemitic party, but accusations of “antisemitism” are handy for “Simultaneously embarrassing the left and being used as a weapon by its critics”. This according to a statement by the Community Security Trust, which is a conservative Jewish organisation that has attacked Labour in precisely this way by falsely claiming “Labour’s antisemitism problem dwarfs all of its other racism problems” and that it exists as a “culture [that] now dominates the party.”

But then, accusations of this kind are frankly bizarre given how Ed Miliband, the Labour leader succeeded by Corbyn little more than three years ago, is the son of immigrants of Polish Jewish extraction who fled to Britain to escape the Nazis. What sort of an antisemitic party would have voted in a Jewish leader? In any case, during the period when Ed Miliband was Labour leader, the antisemitic smears came in the form of snide dog-whistle comment and from the establishment right, not from Labour members. Have we forgotten how the Daily Mail smeared his father, Ralph Miliband, branding him “the man who hated Britain”?

Moreover, Jon Lansman, who founded the pro-Corbyn movement Momentum – roundly attacked by the same establishment right, anti-Corbyn media as a Trotskyite fifth column – was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family. So if we are led to believe that it is the newcomers to Labour who are especially antisemitic, then why are they also happy to get behind a man who passed through bar mitzvah and had previously seen himself as a Zionist?

The following is taken from an article entitled “Ex-kibbutznik who is Corbyn’s left-hand man” published in the Jewish Chronicle back in January 2016:

Mr Lansman is the founder of the controversial “Corbynista” pressure group, Momentum, which was set up to capture and retain the grassroots enthusiasm sparked by Mr Corbyn’s campaign, but whose opponents fear will purge the party of moderates. It is becoming, they say, a “party within a party”. […]

Brought up in a “typical Orthodox family” in Southgate, north London, Mr Lansman first went to Israel aged 16 just after the Yom Kippur War to visit an aunt who had made aliyah.

“I worked on a kibbutz in the Negev and my aunt lived in Beersheva. It was actually a very politicising experience. When I did my barmitzvah I saw myself as a Zionist and I think after I went there I felt it less.

“I was more interested in the kibbutz and what I liked about it was the pioneering spirit, the sense of community and radicalism of it.”

Interestingly, in the same article, Lansman is quoted saying:

“I have Zionist friends in the party. Jeremy supports the existence of Israel, he wants peace and co-existence. Why should Israel supporters not have a place in Labour? Of course they should. I’ve been arguing for two states long before it was acceptable within the Jewish community to argue for two states.

“I remember arguing with my great-aunt when I was 13 that there were Palestinians and they should have a homeland.

“What we are saying will strike a chord with people in the community and we absolutely need to mend and build bridges. For me it is a priority and that is why I am talking to the JC.

“Yes, of course the vast majority of British Jews are supportive of Israel as a Jewish state – and actually so is Jeremy – but they are far from supportive of all aspects of what is currently happening there. The Labour Party has to be concerned with a broad view, and the pursuit of peace.

“I don’t think you can fault Jeremy on his concern for peace. He is not a warmonger, he doesn’t want killing and death.” 5

But none of this matters, of course, because the relentless assault on Corbyn and the Labour Party has nothing to do with real concerns about actual antisemitism. Rather it serves two overlapping interests: those of the Blairites who remain intent on stalling all Corbyn’s efforts to democratise the party and reclaim it as a genuinely populist political movement, and those of the Israel lobby which seeks to deflect attention away from Israel’s apartheid state and its crimes against the Palestinians, and attacks Corbyn for his pro-Palestinian stance.

About eighteen months ago, the Israel lobby was in fact caught meddling in our political system to these ends and this is a topic I have already covered at length. The evidence was disclosed in a major four-part Al Jazeera investigation entitled simply “The Lobby”.

As I wrote then:

The [Al Jazeera] 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”:

As shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, said in The Commons:

“The exposure of an Israeli embassy official discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East is extremely disturbing.”

Instead, however, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) promptly issued a statement:

“The Israeli Ambassador has apologized and is clear these comments do not reflect the views of the embassy or government of Israel.  The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”

To which Thornberry in turn responded:

“It is simply not good enough for the Foreign Office to say the matter is closed. This is 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.

In the second episode (all four episodes of “The Lobby” are embedded in the previous post with link below), undercover reporter ‘Robin’ follows Shai Masot to the Labour Party Conference held in Liverpool where he is introduced to Joan Ryan at the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) stall. It is here when Masot tells Ryan that he has secured the approval for funds of “more than one million pounds… from Israel”. A million pounds to ply the backing of anti-Corbyn Labour MPs. 6

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

The latest move by the Israel lobby is to force the Labour Party to adopt the four additional working “examples” of anti-Semitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It is a McCarthyite initiative which, as independent journalist Jonathan Cook explains in his latest article, will result in “Labour activists find[ing] themselves, like Corbyn, either outed or required to out others as supposed anti-semites”:

Looking at my own work, it is clear that almost all of it falls foul of two further “examples” of anti-semitism cited in the full IHRA definition that Labour is preparing to adopt:

“Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

and:

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

One hardly needs to point out how preposterous it is that the Labour party is about to outlaw from internal discussion or review any research, scholarship or journalism that violates these two “examples” weeks after Israel passed its Nation-State Basic Law. That law, which has constitutional weight, makes explict what was always implict in Israel as a Jewish state:

  1. that Israel privileges the rights and status of Jews around the world, including those who have never even visited Israel, above the rights of the fifth of the country’s citizens who are non-Jews (the remnants of the native Palestinian population who survived the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948).
  2. that Israel, as defined in the Basic Law, is not a state bounded by internationally recognised borders but rather the “Land of Israel” – a Biblical conception of Israel whose borders encompass the occupied Palestinian territories and parts of many neighbouring states.

How, one might reasonably wonder, is such a state – defined this way in the Basic Law – a normal “democratic” state? How is it not structurally racist and inherently acquisitive of other people’s territory?

Contrary to the demands of these two extra IHRA “examples”, the Basic Law alone shows that Israel is a “racist endeavour” and that we cannot judge it by the same standards we would a normal western-style democracy. Not least, it has a double “border” problem: it forces Jews everywhere to be included in its self-definition of the “nation”, whether they want to be or not; and it lays claim to the title deeds of other territories without any intention to confer on their non-Jewish inhabitants the rights it accords Jews.

Demanding that we treat Israel as a normal western-style liberal democracy – as the IHRA full definition requires – makes as much sense as having demanded the same for apartheid South Africa back in the 1980s.

Entitled “Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail by Design”, Cook concludes the same piece:

The Labour party has become the largest in Europe as Corbyn has attracted huge numbers of newcomers into the membership, inspired by a new kind of politics. That is a terrifying development for the old politics, which preferred tiny political cliques accountable chiefly to corporate donors, leaving a slightly wider circle of activists largely powerless.

That is why the Blairite holdouts in the party bureaucracy are quite content to use any pretext not only to root out genuine progressive activists drawn to a Corbyn-led party, including anti-Zionist Jewish activists, but to alienate tens of thousands more members that had begun to transform Labour into a grassroots movement.

A party endlessly obsessing about anti-semitism, a party that has abandoned the Palestinians, a party that has begun throwing out key progressive principles, a party that has renounced free speech, and a party that no longer puts the interests of the poor and vulnerable at the centre of its concerns is a party that will fail.

That is where the anti-semitism “crisis” is leading Labour – precisely as it was designed to do. 7

I strongly encourage readers to click on the link to read Jonathan Cook’s full article.

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Israel’s ethnic nationalism

Another of Jonathan Cook’s articles that doubtless “falls foul… of anti-semitism cited in the full IHRA definition that Labour is preparing to adopt” was an excellent extended article entitled “How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms” that he published back in July. By quoting it at length, I must be found guilty of the same charge.

Beginning from an historical perspective, Cook writes:

Its founding ideology, Zionism, was deeply opposed to civic nationalism and attendant ideas of a common political identity. Rather, it was a tribal ideology – one based on blood ties and religious heritage – that spoke the same language as Europe’s earlier ethnic nationalisms. It agreed with the racists of Europe that “the Jews” could not be assimilated or integrated because they were a people apart.

It was this shared ground with the ethnic nationalists that made the Zionist movement deeply unpopular among the vast majority of European Jews until the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. After the horrors of the Nazis, however, growing numbers of Jews concluded that, if you could not beat the ethnic nationalists, it was better to join them. A highly militarised, nuclear-armed Israel – sponsored by Europe and belligerent towards its new, relatively weak Arab neighbours – appeared the best solution available.

It is that shared ground that today makes Israel an ally and friend to Trump and his political constituency in the US and to Europe’s far-right parties.

In fact, Israel is revered by a new breed of white supremacists and anti-semites in the US known as the alt-right. Their leader, Richard Spencer, has termed himself a “white Zionist”, saying he wants the US to become a “secure homeland” to prevent “the demographic dispossession of white people in the United States and around the world” in the same way Israel achieved for Jews.

He then discusses how Israel’s dominant strand of ethnic nationalism leads to structural racism and an apartheid state:

In a handbook for further dispossession known as the King’s Torah, influential settler rabbis have justified the pre-emptive killing of Palestinians as terrorists, and their babies as “future terrorists”. This worldview explains why settlers massed outside a court in Israel last month taunting a Palestinian, Hussein Dawabshe, whose 18-month-old grandson, Ali, was among family members burnt alive by settlers in 2015. As the grandfather arrived, the settlers jeered “Where is Ali, Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill.”

Even more common, to the extent that it passes almost unnoticed in Israel, is the structural racism that keeps the fifth of the population belonging to a Palestinian minority apart from the Jewish majority. For decades, for example, Israeli hospitals have been separating women in maternity wards based on their ethnicity.  Last month, in a familiar pattern, it was revealed that a municipal swimming pool in the Negev was quietly segregating Jewish and Palestinian bathers – all citizens of the same state – by offering different hours.

At least the pool accepted Palestinian citizens. Almost all communities in Israel are segregated, with many hundreds using admissions committees to ensure they bar Palestinian citizens and remain exclusively Jewish.

There have been weeks of angry protests among Jewish residents of the northern city of Afula, after the first Palestinian family managed to buy a home in a neighbourhood. Deputy mayor Shlomo Malihi observed: “I hope that the house sale will be cancelled so that this city won’t begin to be mixed.”

He also confronts the fact that fears of racial contamination now straddle the old left-right divisions in Israel:

Last month Miki Zohar, a legislator in the ruling Likud party, observed not only that there is a “Jewish race”, but that it represents “the highest human capital, the smartest, the most comprehending”.

At the same time, the government’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, noted that the future of the Jewish people in countries like the US kept him awake at night. “If we don’t act urgently, we’re going to be losing millions of Jews to assimilation,” he told a conference in Jerusalem.

This is a common refrain on the Israeli left too. Isaac Herzog, the former leader of the supposedly socialist Labour party and the new chair of the Jewish Agency, shares Bennett’s tribal impulse. Last month he warned that Jews outside Israel were falling victim to a “plague” of intermarriage with non-Jews. He bewailed that on a visit to the US last year: “I saw the children of my friends marrying or living with non-Jewish partners”. He concluded: “We have to rack our brains over how to solve this great challenge.” 8

Today Israel leads the way in ethnic politics, and is not fussy when it comes to choosing bedfellows. I have no time for billionaire George Soros (as you can read in earlier posts) who is once again meddling in Britain’s politics (this time seeking to overturn the result of the Brexit referendum), but I do not accuse him, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán does, of trying to undermine the soul of European Christian society. But then, as Cook points out, Orbán has no qualms about inflaming racial tensions or evoking figures from Hungary’s recent fascist past:

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is among the new brand of eastern European leader brazenly stoking an ethnic politics at home through anti-semitism. He has targeted the Hungarian Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros for promoting a civic nationalism, suggesting Soros represents a wider Jewish threat to Hungary. Under a recent law, popularly known as “STOP Soros”, anyone helping migrants enter Hungary risks a prison sentence. Orban has lauded Miklos Horthy, a long-time Hungarian leader who was a close ally of Hitler’s.

Nonetheless, Orban is being feted by Benjamin Netanyahu, in the same way the Israeli prime minister has closely identified with Trump. Netanyahu called to congratulate Orban shortly after he was re-elected in April, and will welcome him in a state visit this month. Ultimately, Netanyahu is angling to host the next meeting of the Visegrad group, four central European countries in the grip of far-right ethnic politics Israel wishes to develop closer ties with.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s complete article entitled “How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms”.

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On July 18th, The Real News interviewed Moshé Machover, a Jewish member of the Labour Party who was expelled and soon after reinstated, who said:

“For those various parts of the Israel lobby and the conservative establishment inside and outside the [Labour] Party, the main point is to ringfence Israel and Zionist project of colonisation against criticism. They are not really interested in antisemitism per se. This is not why they have made all this immense public campaign, part of which is driven from Israel via the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, so called. They are not really interested in antisemitism, for example, they don’t argue with Israel’s relations with the most antisemitic regimes in Europe. At the moment, I think while we are speaking, [Viktor] Orbán, the antisemitic Prime Minister of Hungary, is visiting Israel on very friendly terms. They don’t criticise this… They are interested in using or abusing accusations of antisemitism only to ringfence Israel and its project of colonisation.”

[from 8:25 mins]

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Tommy Robinson is a fascist

Tommy Robinson is a racist and a fascist. A former member of the British National Party (BNP), he afterwards founded the ultra-right English Defence League (EDL) which he led from 2009 to 2013 before becoming involved with the formation of a British chapter of the German neo-Nazi group Pegida. The pseudonymous ‘Tommy’ is actually a petty criminal who was previously jailed for mortgage fraud, and a thug who once beat up an off-duty policeman who tried to intervene in a domestic dispute with his then-girlfriend (current wife) Jenna Vowles. A common criminal and a conman, ‘Tommy’s real name seems to be Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon although even this is uncertain because he has previously travelled on false passports under names including Andrew McMaster and Paul Harris.

Oddly for a racist, and especially such a close associate of the fascist group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), whose founder ex-professional footballer and ex-convict Lutz Bachman looks like this…

His idea of a joke by the way

… Robinson says he is “a friend of the Jews” and has repeatedly proclaimed himself a Zionist. As he told Sandy Rashty in an interview for the Jewish Chronicle in March 2015:

“If Israel falls, we all fall in this battle for freedom, liberty and democracy. English people see it as their fight as well. The Islamists say, ‘Saturday come first, then come Sunday’ – the Jews first, then the Christians.

“The media would have us believe that everyone in this country hates Israel, that Israel is this big monster.

“That comes from this whole left-wing mindset, this whole victim thing with Palestine which is inbred into students at university. It’s not inbred into anyone I know – white working-class people.”

And if you wonder why the Jewish Chronicle “would give a racist a platform” as apparently others in the JC newsroom did, then the reason says Rashty is that:

Well, Robinson has apparently adopted the Jewish cause – whether or not his support is wanted. He has held up Israeli flags at EDL rallies; he has worn an “I am a Zionist” badge and he has condemned the rise in UK antisemitism. 9

As I have pointed out previously, Robinson and his EDL represent the re-emergence of a dangerous strain of ‘postmodern’ fascism that principally cloaks its own bigotry by saying it acts against the “religious intolerance” of Islam. In its current form the new fascism finds common ground with the far-right of Israel and so commits itself (for now) to “condemn[ing] the rise in UK antisemitism.” And some ‘friends of Israel’, as we shall see, are happy enough to sup with the devil.

Click here to read further thoughts on Tommy Robinson and the fascist abandonment of the old-style politics of race in favour of the politics of “religious intolerance”.

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Update:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Semites. But how does he explain his own glaring ties to anti-Semitic world leaders and Evangelical preachers, not to mention his defense of Adolf Hitler and his son’s attack on George Soros? Does defending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands make you immune from the charge of anti-Jewish hatred? In this video [uploaded on August 23rd], Mehdi Hasan asks whether the prime minister of Israel is part of the solution to rising anti-Semitism — or part of the problem:

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‘Robinson’ and the Alt-Right friends of Israel

‘Tommy Robinson’ isn’t just any old racist or any old fascist; his brand has powerful backers. Surprisingly, the best mainstream exposé I have come across so far is an extended article recently published by the Daily Mail. I encourage readers to follow the link below, since here is only a brief if relevant extract:

When it comes to the ‘monetising’ of the Robinson ‘brand’, appeals to individuals are only part of the picture, however.

For behind the scenes, an opaque and controversial network of U.S. billionaires and far-Right lobby groups are also funnelling cash his way.

Legal fees for the recent court case, for example, in which he instructed a high-profile QC, are being covered by the Middle East Forum, a controversial think-tank based in Philadelphia.

The Forum has previously bankrolled Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian once banned from the UK for anti-Islamic rhetoric, and has been described by the anti-racist Centre for American Progress as being ‘at the centre of’ a so-called ‘Islamophobia network’ of hard-Right groups.

Last month it paid the bill for Paul Gosar, a Republican member of the U.S. Congress, to fly to London to address a rally of Robinson supporters.

Then there is Robert Shillman, the billionaire founder of tech firm Cognex, whose clients include the supermarket chain Asda and drug company AstraZeneca.

He financed a ‘Shillman fellowship’ that last year allowed Robinson to be employed by the aforementioned Rebel Media site on what was said to be a ‘high five-figure salary’. The grant also allowed his three assistants to be paid a reported £2,500 a month.

Mr Shillman, a reclusive figure, uses income from the tech firm to channel funds to a variety of far-Right organisations, including the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a California-based ‘school for political warfare’ dedicated to defending conservative values from ‘attack by leftist and Islamist enemies.’ 10

Click here to read more on the seedy background and strange backers of the ‘Tommy’ brand – including the PayPal founder, Trump donor and Bilderberg steering committee member, Peter Thiel – in a remarkably insightful Daily Mail article written by Guy Adams.

Incidentally, there is little that is secretive here – many of Robinson’s backers are quite open about their funding. The aforementioned Middle East Forum in particular is very proud of its central role in the #FreeTommy campaign as its own disingenuous (in terms of the facts surrounding the legal case) press release amply shows. I have republished it in full simply to show how brazen their support is:

The Middle East Forum applauds the release of Tommy Robinson from prison this morning, after the UK anti-Islamist activist won his appeal over a contempt of court sentence.

In June, Mr. Robinson, a long-time target of UK authorities, was covering a rape-gang trial involving Muslim defendants in England when he was arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced to 13 months prison, and jailed – all in the course of five hours, all while denied access to counsel.

The full resources of the Middle East Forum were activated to free Mr. Robinson. We:

  1. Conferred with his legal team and made funding available to them;
  2. Funded, organized and staffed the large “Free Tommy” London rallies on June 9 and July 14 (see The Times, The Guardian, and the Independent);
  3. Funded travel by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to London to address the rally; and
  4. Urged Sam Brownback, the State Department’s ambassador for International Religious Freedom, to raise the issue with the UK’s ambassador.

What precisely happened: In an extraordinary decision, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales – the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, roughly equivalent to the American chief justice of the Supreme Court – himself wrote a judgment rejecting the kangaroo-court verdict that had Tommy Robinson instantly thrown in jail for over a year because of an obscure Contempt Act that a UK media guide says “in practice … is not enforced.” Lord Chief Justice Burnett denounced what he called “a fundamentally flawed process” and in a further rebuff to the kangaroo-court judge, assigned Tommy Robinson’s case to someone else.

MEF president Daniel Pipes commented: “This validates the #FreeTommy campaign’s claim that Tommy Robinson, yet again, had been treated (in the words of his autobiography’s title) as an enemy of the state. We at the Middle East Forum are delighted by this turn of events and look forward to the charges against Tommy Robinson being considered in a sober, neutral, and un-rushed manner.”

Forum director Gregg Roman adds: “This is a win not just for Tommy Robinson, but for all those in the United Kingdom who publicly discuss Islam and related matters – including Islamism, jihad, and Islamic ‘charities.’ The UK authorities tried to shut down an important debate. They lost. The people won.”

The Forum will continue to support Mr. Robinson’s – and everyone else’s – right to speak freely about controversial topics. 11

What the Daily Mail article fails to delve into, however, are the close ties Middle East Forum has to the US-Israel lobby. For instance, the president of MEF, Daniel Pipes, is a neo-con with connections to the post-9/11 Bush administration, who later received the “Guardian of Zion” award from Bar-Ilan University’s Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies. His fealty to Israel and alignment with the current extreme right-wing government can be judged from an interview with Ruthie Blum of the Jerusalem Post, conducted at the time he picked up his award:

Over the course of the past 15 years, one has seen a host of proposals on how to manage the [Israel-Palestine] conflict. Some of these proposals became government policy; many others are simply proposals. What they have in common, from Left to Right, is that they see this conflict as unwinnable, as merely manageable.

The security fence is a case in point. I am for it. Clearly, it has had – and in the future, when it’s completed, will have even more – the effect of keeping out would-be murderers. But a wall is not the way to win a conflict. A wall is a tactical mechanism to protect oneself, not a strategic way of winning a war. Winning a war requires imagination – perspective – to impose your will on your enemy. That is classically what victory means: imposing your will on your enemy. It doesn’t mean massacring or impoverishing the enemy, but causing him to give up his goals. This notion is virtually absent from Israeli political discussion. 12

Likewise, the Daily Mail article fails to drill down into pro-Israel allegiance of Robert Shillman and the David Horowitz Freedom Center but rather briskly skirts the issue, adding only: “The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights charity, has described the Freedom Center as a ‘hate group’ which publishes ‘anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racist sentiment’.”

But even from Shillman’s Wikipedia entry we soon discover that he sits on the board of The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Further down we also learn how in 2008, Shillman had accepted an invitation to be one of Bush jr’s special delegation and sit alongside Henry Kissinger; National Director of the ADL, Abraham Foxman; Paul “the Vulture” Singer; and Las Vegas casino mogul and major Trump donor, Sheldon Adelson; amongst fifty other luminaries gathered in attendance for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations. 13

Incidentally, here is Sheldon Adelson (who gave $25 million to Trump’s campaign plus $5 million towards his inauguration – $82 million in total to Republicans) speaking in October 2013, at Yeshiva University, Lamport Hall, and calling on “anti-Israel” Obama (on whom he had previously spent $150m to unseat!) 14 to launch a first-strike nuclear attack against Iran:

“What I would say is, listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something. You pick up your cellphone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say okay let it go…” [from 5:25 mins]

Then we come to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an “activist group with a $7 million annual budget that helps promote some of America’s loudest pro-Israel and anti-Muslim voices” 15 to which Shillman is intimately connected. The “Freedom Center” also happens to employ Robert Spencer (who once claimed that a video of an Egyptian ‘die-in protest’ from Egyptian newspaper El Badil was a Hamas video deliberately faking the number of casualties killed by Israel) as well as hawkish Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who we learn from its “About” page is “a former captain of the Israel Defense Forces and onetime Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, [and] is the director of the Israel Security Project.”

Then we come to David Horowitz himself, yet another pro-Trump, right-wing tub-thumper and a Breitbart contributor, who said in an interview with Niram Feretti published in translation by Truth Revolt:

Anti-Zionism is another name for Jew hatred. There is no other ethnicity or religion in the world that would be the target of such hatred as the Jewish state, and no other antagonism – except that against America – that would forge an alliance between the progressive left and the Nazis of Islam, who unlike Hitler who concealed his plans for the Final Solution, shout from the rooftops that their goal is to finish the job that Hitler started.

Continuing:

Obama has thrown his support to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the fountainhead of Islamic Nazism and terror, and is the source of the Palestinians’ genocidal campaign to push the Jews into the sea. Although conservatives are still intimidated from saying the truth about Obama because he is black, Obama is an American traitor who has delivered nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to the Iranians who openly proclaim that their goal is “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel.”

And:

It is crucial to winning the global war that the Islamists have declared against us. The Prophet Mohammed called for the extermination of the Jews and a holy war to be waged against infidels – Christians, Hindus, atheists and anyone who will not submit to the Muslim faith. Islam is the only religion, which has been spread by the sword at the specific behest of its prophet. 16

Robert Shillman, David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes are prominent voices of today’s pro-Israel lobby; disturbingly, they are also some of the most outspoken voices for extreme ring-wing bigotry and the new fascism. Their appeal is to those firmly on the right, especially the Christian-right, urging them to rally to the cause of Israel; meanwhile there is another offensive as they and others harangue the left on the false premise that, as Horowitz puts it, “Anti-Zionism is another name for Jew hatred.”

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Final thoughts

Crying wolf about antisemitism is not only a strategy fraught with diabolical dangers but deplorable for so many reasons, yet sadly it works – particularly when, as now, it is cynically deployed against a committed anti-racist like Corbyn. Like a judo move it turns all of his greatest strengths – his integrity and true compassion – against him. But those who wield the charge of “antisemitism” as a blunt weapon, whether in defence of Israel or merely to attack Corbyn, evidently care very little about the untold repercussions of their own insincerity: that it directly undermines the anti-racist cause and may yet cause a terrible backlash is never considered. Nor do they apparently care if they themselves desecrate the memory of real victims of antisemitism including the millions who perished during the Holocaust. Indeed, Norman Finkelstein, whose parents were both Holocaust survivors, tells the story of an encounter with one of Corbyn’s fiercest accusers Jonathan Freedland, which fully exposes the hypocrisy behind these constant attacks:

You can see this overlap between the Labour Right and pro-Israel groups personified in individuals like Jonathan Freedland, a Blairite hack who also regularly plays the antisemitism card. He’s combined these two hobbies to attack Corbyn. Incidentally, when my book, The Holocaust Industry, came out in 2000, Freedland wrote that I was ‘closer to the people who created the Holocaust than to those who suffered in it’. Although he appears to be, oh, so politically correct now, he didn’t find it inappropriate to suggest that I resembled the Nazis who gassed my family.

We appeared on a television program together. Before the program, he approached me to shake my hand. When I refused, he reacted in stunned silence. Why wouldn’t I shake his hand? He couldn’t comprehend it. It tells you something about these dull-witted creeps. The smears, the slanders – for them, it’s all in a day’s work. Why should anyone get agitated? Later, on the program, it was pointed out that the Guardian, where he worked, had serialised The Holocaust Industry across two issues. He was asked by the presenter, if my book was the equivalent of Mein Kampf, would he resign from the paper? Of course not. Didn’t the presenter get that it’s all a game? 17

It behoves the Left to speak out against intolerance and injustice wherever we encounter it, and irrespective of whether or not the Labour Party finally adopts the IHRA definition of antisemitism and thereby pursues a McCarthyite crackdown on free speech, we must feel free to criticise Israel as we might reasonably criticise every other government or nation on earth. If the words on my blog result in my later expulsion from the party then I shall treat this as a badge of honour and fight on. Unless found to be factually inaccurate (in which event I apologise in advance), I retract nothing. We must not allow ourselves to be cowed into submission.

As Kenneth Surin, Professor of Literature and Professor of Religion and Critical Theory at Duke University in North Carolina, wrote in an article published by Counterpunch a few weeks ago:

The 2017 Democracy Index used 4 categories to assess countries –  full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and authoritarian regime.

The following countries were ranked by the Index as full democracies: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Israel was listed as a flawed democracy, as was the US.

Israel’s leaders have always touted their country as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, as if their country stood on a par with the 19 countries ranked as full democracies by the 2017 Democracy Index. 

Is it “antisemitic” to hold Israel to a standard deemed to be achieved by Mauritius and Uruguay?

Or to say that Israel is really an “ethnocracy”, as opposed to being a democracy?

The Israeli political geographer Oren Yiftachel argued in his 2006 book Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine that an ethnocracy is a regime promoting “the expansion of the dominant group in contested territory … while maintaining a democratic façade”.

When it comes to drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, it all depends on the basis used in making the comparison between Israel and the Nazis.

Having gas chambers for mass exterminations, then certainly not.

However, nearly everyone who believes that comparing Israel with the Nazis is “antisemitic” invariably takes the concentration-camp gas chambers as the implicit norm, whether out of bad faith or ignorance, for making such comparisons.

The Nazi “final solution”, vast as it was, had many strands, with horror piled upon horror.  This multiple-layering must be considered when making the Israel-Nazi comparison.

Encircling and starving-out an entire community in a ghetto (Warsaw?), then yes, the comparison is valid – this is precisely what is taking place in Gaza.

The Nazis confiscated Jewish property wholesale; the Israelis are doing the same to Palestinian houses and land in order to “clear” them for the expansion of the illegal settlements, and for alleged military purposes.  B’Tselem, Israel’s human rights watchdog, confirms this on their website.  So, yes, in this case the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is valid.

Jews were prevented from leaving German-occupied Poland by the SS. Similarly, Palestinians are prevented from leaving Gaza (even for medical treatment) by the combined efforts of Israel and the Egyptian dictatorship.  So, yes, in this case the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is valid.

German Civil Police K-9 Units were used by the SS to assist in the roundup and deportation of Jews in WW2.  Similarly, the Israeli army uses attack dogs on unarmed Palestinians when raiding their homes, and when arresting peaceful demonstrators.  So, yes, in this case the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is valid.

It is difficult to see why comparing Israel to the Nazis on these latter bases, while scrupulously eschewing the gas chambers as a basis for comparison (the Palestinians have not been sent to gas chambers en masse), necessarily makes one an “antisemite”.

The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé describes Israel’s policy regarding Gaza as “incremental genocide”, in contrast to the Nazi’s absolute genocide. The final outcome however is not in doubt. 18

Click here to read Kenneth Surin’s excellent article entitled “The UK’s Labour Party and Its ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis”.

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Addendum: Open letters from Jewish defenders of Jeremy Corbyn

As I wrote last March, during the last sustained media offensive to spuriously tar Corbyn as an anti-Semite:

It is tiresome to have to defend Corbyn time and again when all charges against him are so easily shown to be baseless and when only the most simpleminded can possibly remain unaware that he is the victim of a carefully coordinated smear campaign that has been running even before his election as Labour leader.

I also republished an official statement released by the Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) entitled “Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party” which noted:

Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents. He also gives unqualified support to Israel’s pro-settler Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys good relations with the very far right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic who are fanning bigotry against minorities, including Jews.

Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

And concluded:

We have worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism, for many years, and we have faith that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour-led councils across the country, will be best placed to implement serious measures against all forms of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

Click here to read the full statement on the JSG website.

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Here are further letters of support and statements by prominent Jewish individuals who have spoken out on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn.

In August 2015, just a month after being elected leader of the Labour Party in a landslide victory, nearly 50 prominent Jewish activists including included Laurence Dreyfus, Selma James, Miriam Margolyes, Ilan Pappé, and Avi Shlaim, Tony Greenstein, Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Abe Hayeem, and Michael Rosen, signed an open letter to the Jewish Chronicle. It reads:

“Your assertion that your attack on Jeremy Corbyn is supported by ‘the vast majority of British Jews’ is without foundation. We do not accept that you speak on behalf of progressive Jews in this country. You speak only for Jews who support Israel, right or wrong.

“There is something deeply unpleasant and dishonest about your McCarthyite guilt by association technique. Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary record over 32 years has consistently opposed all racism including antisemitism.

“Jeremy Corbyn has nothing to apologise for in his meetings with representatives of Hamas and Hizbollah. Hamas was democratically elected in Palestinian elections generally accepted as fair, and Hezbollah also has strong electoral support in Lebanon.

“You report Paul Eisen as saying that Jeremy Corbyn donated to Deir Yassin Remembered. So did many people before discovering the existence of antisemites and Holocaust-deniers in the organisation. Many people attended the occasional fundraising concert that DYR organised, without either knowing of or sympathising with Mr Eisen’s views.

“As supporters of Israel, perhaps you agree with the racist statements of Israeli government ministers such as Eli Dahan that Jews have higher souls than non-Jews? Or Miri Regev’s belief that asylum seekers are a ‘cancer’? Or, would this be guilt by association, as in your character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn?” 19

Click here to read the same letter published in The Jewish Chronicle.

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In April 2016, this number of prominent outspoken Jewish activists increased to more than eighty when a letter published in the Guardian included the signatures of Miriam David, Ivor Dembina, Professor Stephen Deutsch, Selma James, Stephen Marks, Charles Shaar Murray, Ian Saville and Lynne Segal:

We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party and of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who wish to put our perspective on the “antisemitism” controversy that has been widely debated in the last few weeks (Labour’s antisemitism crisis as Livingstone suspended, 29 April). We do not accept that antisemitism is “rife” in the Labour party. Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism. The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour party colleagues.

We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week. As Jews, we are appalled that a serious issue is being used in this cynical and manipulative way, diverting attention from much more widespread examples of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Conservative and other parties. We dissociate ourselves from the misleading attacks on Labour from some members of the Jewish community. We urge others, who may be confused or worried by recent publicity, to be sure that the Labour party, under its present progressive leadership, is a place where Jews are welcomed in a spirit of equality and solidarity. 20

Click here to read the same letter published in the Guardian.

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In April 2018, more than forty senior academics wrote another letter in the Guardian condemning anti-Corbyn bias in mainstream media coverage:

One of the main concepts in journalism education is that of framing: the highlighting of particular issues, and the avoidance of others, in order to produce a desired interpretation. We have been reminded of the importance of framing when considering the vast amounts of media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged failure to deal with antisemitism inside the Labour party. On Sunday, three national titles led with the story while news bulletins focused on the allegations all last week. Dominant sections of the media have framed the story in such a way as to suggest that antisemitism is a problem mostly to do with Labour and that Corbyn is personally responsible for failing to deal with it. The coverage has relied on a handful of sources such as the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and well-known political opponents of Corbyn himself.

Yet where are the Jewish voices who support Corbyn and who welcome his long-established anti-racist record? Where are the pieces that look at the political motivations of some of Corbyn’s most vocal critics? Where is the fuss in your news columns about the rising tide of antisemitism in Europe, such as in Hungary, where the Fidesz government has used antisemitic tropes to bolster its support, or in Poland, where the government is attempting to criminalise revelations about the country’s antisemitic past? Where are the columns condemning the links between Conservative MEPs and rightwing parties across Europe in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group which trade on antisemitism?

It is not “whataboutery” to suggest that the debate on antisemitism has been framed in such a way as to mystify the real sources of anti-Jewish bigotry and instead to weaponise it against a single political figure just ahead of important elections. We condemn antisemitism wherever it exists. We also condemn journalism that so blatantly lacks context, perspective and a meaningful range of voices in its determination to condemn Jeremy Corbyn. 21

Click here to read the same letter published in the Guardian.

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1 From a pre-recorded Novara Media interview with Norman Finkelstein [at 43:50 mins] conducted via video link to New York, broadcast as part of a live-streamed discussion with Barnaby Raine on Monday 6th:

2 From an exclusive story entitled “Jewish News editor slams his paper’s front page attack on Corbyn: ‘It’s repulsive. This is a lifelong anti-racist we’re trashing’ written by Kerry-Anne Mendoza, published in The Canary on August 6, 2018. https://www.thecanary.co/exclusive/2018/08/06/exclusive-jewish-news-editor-slams-his-papers-front-page-attack-on-corbyn-its-repulsive-this-is-a-lifelong-anti-racist-were-trashing/

3 From an article entitled “The fact that Corbyn didn’t yell abuse at a holocaust survivor definitely makes him anti-Semitic” written by Mark Steel, published in The Independent on August 2, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/antisemitism-labour-party-jeremy-corbyn-jewish-holocaust-survivor-abuse-a8474846.html

4 An article entitled “How Corbyn’s Critics Use the Accusation of Anti-Semitism as a Weapon to ‘Embarrass the Left’” written by Michael Barker, published in Counterpunch on August 2, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/02/how-corbyns-critics-use-the-accusation-of-anti-semitism-as-a-weapon-to-embarrass-the-left/

5 From an article entitled “Ex-kibbutznik who is Corbyn’s left-hand man” written by Rosa Doherty, published in the Jewish Chronicle on January 28, 2016. https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/interviews/ex-kibbutznik-who-is-corbyn-s-left-hand-man-1.58391

6 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 7:55 mins

7 From an article entitled “Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail by Design” written by Janathan Cook, published in Counterpunch on August 20, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/20/corbyns-labour-party-is-being-made-to-fail-by-design/

8 From an article entitled “How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms” written by Jonathan Cook published in Middle East Eye on July 13, 2018. https://www.jonathan-cook.net/2018-07-13/how-israel-helped-to-revive-europes-ugly-ethnic-nationalisms/

9 From an article entitled “Wat makes the EDL’s former leaders, who says he is a friend of the Jews, tick?” written by Sandy Rashty, published in the Jewish Chronicle on March 5, 2015. https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/features/what-makes-the-edl-s-former-leader-who-says-he-is-a-friend-of-the-jews-tick-1.65493

10 From an article entitled “GUY ADAMS asks why British hatemonger Tommy Robinson is being funded by American Billionaires” written by Guy Adams, published in the Daily Mail on August 11, 2018. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6049325/GUY-ADAMS-asks-British-hatemonger-Tommy-Robinson-funded-American-billionaires.html

11 An article entitled “Tommy Robinson Free – MEF Heavily Involved”, published by Middle East Forum on August 1, 2018. https://www.meforum.org/articles/2018/tommy-robinson-free-mef-heavily-involved

12 From an interview with Ruthie Blum, published in the Jerusalem Post on June 9, 2006. http://www.danielpipes.org/3667/interview-i-watch-with-frustration-as

13 From an article entitled “Bush Visit May Boost Olmert” written by Eli Lake, published in The New York Sun on May 13, 2008. https://www.nysun.com/foreign/bush-visit-may-boost-olmert/76303/

14 Figures taken from an article entitled “The UK’s Labour Party and its ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis” written by Kenneth Surin, published in Counterpunch on August 7, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/07/the-uks-labour-party-and-its-anti-semitism-crisis/

Here is the passage in full:

The casino mogul Sheldon Adelson donated $25 million to Trump’s 2016 campaign ($82 million in total to Republicans in 2016), and $5 million towards his inauguration.   Earlier this year Adelson donated $70 million to Birthright, the organization that brings young Jews to Israel for nothing (he’s donated $100m in total to Birthright).  He also donated $30 million to Republicans after Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran.  Adelson spent $150m in the 2012 election in a futile attempt to unseat the “anti-Israel” Barack Obama.

Adelson’s aim in all of this is to swing Trump behind his friend Netanyahu’s “Greater Israel” political agenda.  To this end Adelson pushed hard for the US’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, appointing the arch-Zionist John Bolton as a Trump adviser, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (in contravention of international law), and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.  Adelson has succeeded in all of these objectives.

15 Quote taken from an article entitled “7 Things About David Horowitz, the Right-Wing Polemicist Who Coined ‘Renegade Jew’ Slur on Bill Kristol” written by Josh Nathan-Kazis, published by Forward magazine on May 17, 2016. https://forward.com/news/340852/7-things-about-david-horowitz-the-right-wing-polemicist-who-coined-renegade/

16 From an article entitled “Hammer Blows: The Left, Israel, Obama – an Interview with David Horowitz” based on an interview conducted by Niram Feretti, originally published on the Italian news site L’Informale here, translated and republished by Truth Revolt on March 16, 2016. https://www.truthrevolt.org/commentary/hammer-blows-left-israel-obama-interview-david-horowitz

17 From an interview with Jamie Stern-Weiner on May 3, 2016. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jamie-stern-weiner-norman-finkelstein/american-jewish-scholar-behind-labour-s-antisemitism-scanda

18 From an article entitled “The UK’s Labour Party and its ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis” written by Kenneth Surin, published in Counterpunch on August 7, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/07/the-uks-labour-party-and-its-anti-semitism-crisis/ 

19 From an article entitled “Anti-Israel activists attack JC for challenging Jeremy Corbyn” written by Marcus Dysch, published in The Jewish Chronicle on August 18, 2015. https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/anti-israel-activists-attack-jc-for-challenging-jeremy-corbyn-1.68162

20 An open letter published under the title “Labour, antisemitism and where Jeremy Corbyn goes from here” by the Guardian on April 29, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/29/labour-antisemitism-and-where-jeremy-corbyn-goes-from-here

21 An open letter published under the title “Stop Jeremy Corbyn’s trial by media over antisemitism” published in the Guardian on April 2, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/02/stop-jeremy-corbyns-trial-by-media-over-antisemitism

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, Israel, USA

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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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Filed under analysis & opinion, Charlie Skelton, Israel, Italy, Palestine, Russia

illegal bombing in the name of justice: Syria, Trump and the latest WMD accusations – part 2

Reposted below before my own thoughts and analysis is the full statement released today by Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition.

Gesture Bombing – the Causes and Consequences of a Pointless Airstrike

Theresa May’s cynicism is so deep it’s hard for us comprehend. There was quite simply no possible good outcome from this bombing in the Middle East, even from our rulers’ warped perspective. People will surely have died, the war will be prolonged, it will have done nothing to control chemical weapons and tensions with Iran and Russia will have risen. International law is unambiguous that these strikes were illegal too.

But no matter, Trump has been obeyed and May thinks she looks tough on the world stage. Not really though. It’s too obvious she is frightened of parliament, which is reconvening on Monday and that she is taking orders from Washington. It is also clear that the US’s position in the world is weakening.

Deadly Decline

This action has been shaped by the failure of Western policy in the Middle East. It is not true that the West has been doing nothing in Syria over the last few years. Britain was involved in covert ops before 2015 and regular bombing raids since the vote in 2015. According to Airwars, the West has been involved in more than 50,000 bombing raids in Syria in the last four years, killing thousands of civilians. But their basic plan, to use the Syrian opposition to secure regime change by arming them and providing them with military back up, has been unsuccessful. The project of getting rid of Assad has been abandoned for the time being.

The bombing of Libya in 2011– an intervention most strongly promoted by Britain and France – was clearly a catastrophe. Sold as a humanitarian operation, it ended with 50,000 dead, brutal regime change and complete state failure. Even Barak Obama has said later he regretted sanctioning it. Before that there was Iraq. The invasion and occupation did untold damage to the country and the wider region. That intervention more than anything is the root cause of the current chaos in the Middle East. But it was also a failure from the point of its main protagonists in Washington and Whitehall.

The West’s failure to pacify and secure the country allowed the US’s main enemy in the region, Iran, to strongly increase its reach and influence. Its demonstration of the limits of US power has encouraged other powers to flex their muscles in the region. The resulting interventions in Syria by Russia, Turkey Saudi Arabia and others have of course only increased the death and destruction.

Calculated Killing

So, angry but more and more impotent, the Western powers this time have settled for gesture bombing, and gestures don’t impress anyone. But periods of imperial decline are inherently dangerous. There is no way the US is going to passively accept reduced influence in the Middle East. In so far as there is a Western strategy, it is the attempt to roll back Iranian influence through support of the emerging alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel and thus to reassert control over the region. Assad’s consolidation is only going to encourage a vigorous pursuit of this project. Next time Trump and his most loyal ally are likely to get more serious.

Domestic Damage

Back home this irresponsible and pointless attack will further undermine what is laughingly referred to as May’s authority. What is so heartening – and something that has limited her options from the start – is that the vast majority of people have complete contempt for this kind of calculated killing. All the opinion polls published so far show big opposition to these strikes despite almost blanket support for them in the mainstream media.

The crucial thing is that we continue to build on and to mobilise this opinion. Once again people have shown their willingness to stand up against war. Many thousands have lobbied their MPs, in Stop the War we were notified of 30 protests around the country on Friday – there were no doubt many many, more. A crowd of hundreds closed Whitehall in London. This Monday night in London from 5.30pm we will be back on the streets outside Parliament the day it reconvenes. There will be other protests around the country. Tell your friends, neighbours and workmates protests matter. No to war – yes to democracy.

Click here to read the same article on the Stop the War Coalition website.

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One year ago, America rushed to judgment to condemn Assad for an alleged sarin attack at Khan Sheikhun:

On April 11, the White House released a declassified four-page report meant to prove its case against Assad and serve as a belated justification for the Tomahawk attack on Syria’s Shayrat air base.

The report, which was authored not by US intelligence agencies but by the White House under the supervision of national-security adviser H.R. McMaster, says that “The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib Province on April 4, 2017.” 1

Given the undue haste to pin the blame on Syrian forces, many were justifiably suspicious of US claims. Veteran investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Seymour Hersh; former CIA case officer, Philip Giraldi; former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford all spoke out as you can read in this previous post. Meanwhile, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National-Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Theodore Postol, who had previously served as a scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon produced a painstaking analysis of the White House report. Here is more from the same The Nation article quoted above:

Postol’s exhaustive critique of the White House report notes that “The only undisputable facts stated in the White House report is the claim that a chemical attack using nerve agent occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria.” And yet, according to Postol, “the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity.” […]

“In order to cover up the lack of intelligence to supporting the president’s action, the National Security Council produced a fraudulent intelligence report.” Postol concludes that the “report is completely undermined by a significant body of video evidence taken after the alleged sarin attack and before the US cruise missile attack that unambiguously shows the claims in the WHR [White House Report] could not possibly be true.”

The Nation spoke to Postol over the weekend.

“What I think is now crystal clear,” he said, “is that the White House report was fabricated and it certainly did not follow the procedures it claimed to employ.”

“My best guess at the moment is that this was an extremely clumsy and ill-conceived attempt to cover up the fact that Trump attacked Syria without any intelligence evidence that Syria was in fact the perpetrator of the attack…. It may be,” he continued, “that the White House staff was worried that this could eventually come out—a reckless president acting without regard to the nation’s security, risking an inadvertent escalation and confrontation with Russia, and a breakdown in cooperation with Russia that would cripple our efforts to defeat the Islamic State.”

“If that is not an impeachable offense,” Postol told The Nation, “then I do not know what is.”

Click here to read the full report written by James Carden published in The Nation.

Since this time there has been the UN OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) report which claimed to be “confident” that Syria had been responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun. On the face of it then, the US were correct in their original assessment, and this is how the incident is now reported on. What is seldom reported on is how experts were not permitted to visit the site, and so the JIM report relied instead on samples gathered by the very militants that controlled the area. It is vital to understand that no independent experts ever visited the site.

Back in 2013, Reuters reported that:

Assertions of chemical weapon use in Syria by Western and Israeli officials citing photos, sporadic shelling and traces of toxins do not meet the standard of proof needed for a U.N. team of experts waiting to gather their own field evidence.

Weapons inspectors will only determine whether banned chemical agents were used in the two-year-old conflict if they are able to access sites and take soil, blood, urine or tissue samples and examine them in certified laboratories, according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works with the United Nations on inspections.

That type of evidence, needed to show definitively if banned chemicals were found, has not been presented by governments and intelligence agencies accusing Syria of using chemical weapons against insurgents.

“This is the only basis on which the OPCW would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons have been used,” said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Hague-based OPCW.

Luhan adds:

 “The OPCW would never get involved in testing samples that our own inspectors don’t gather in the field because we need to maintain chain of custody of samples from the field to the lab to ensure their integrity.” 2

[bold emphasis added]

So we see how just four years on, the OPCW was quite clearly in breach of its own technical standards with respect to ensuring a chain of custody. Furthermore, as the OPCW itself made clear in its legal framework to the mission to Khan Sheikhun:

The scope of the FFM [OPCW Fact Finding Mission] mandate does not include the task of attributing responsibility for the alleged use. 3

Other criticisms of the report are based on technical details that are explained in detailed reports here  and here.

In short, last year’s allegations that Syrian forces released sarin gas at Khan Sheikhun remain unsubstantiated. In any case, allegations of Assad’s use of sarin have since been quietly dropped by the US administration, as Secretary of Defense James Mattis conceded as recently as February this year:

The U.S. has no evidence to confirm reports from aid groups and others that the Syrian government has used the deadly chemical sarin on its citizens, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday [February 2nd].

“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “We do not have evidence of it.” 4

Click here to read the full AP report entitled “US has no evidence of Syrian use of sarin gas, Mattis says”.

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Last Thursday [April 12th], the same James Mattis was called by Congress to speak before the House Armed Services Committee. In his testimony he said that the US and its allies “don’t have evidence” to support the latest allegations although “we certainly have a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used”.

What he had seen in other words is that same footage we have all seen. Video showing people – mostly very young children – being hosed down with water in an unknown location, and also the more macabre roving camera footage showing close-ups of corpses lying on top of one another inside what appears to be an apartment.

All of this video footage along with initial reports appeared quite suddenly on social media platforms having been uploaded by a small assortment of “pro-opposition” sources: the al-Nusra front terrorist-affiliated White Helmets and the so-called Douma Media Centre as well as the more grandiosely named Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS) which is closely associated to USAID and is US State Department funded. It was SAMS that reported on Saturday April 7th:

“Amidst continuous bombardment of residential neighbourhoods in the city of Douma, more than 500 cases – the majority of whom are women and children – were brought to local medical centers with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”.

This lack of credible sources presents us once again with reasonable grounds for doubt. But even leaving aside the questionable origins of the material, it is not at all clear what we were actually seeing or even whereabouts these events took place.

I shall not dwell on the details of the videos but it is evident the children shown are obviously in distress. They may well be in shock from conventional airstrikes or possibly suffering from smoke inhalation due to subsequent fires. We simply don’t know. More chillingly, it is also possible that these children are the victims of those who appear to be first responders – certainly it would not be the first time that children have been used as props in staged events:

What we do know for certain, however, is that the area under attack was under the control of the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam (“Army of Islam”), a terrorist faction that is responsible for committing many atrocities including the execution and torture of prisoners and the alleged use of chemical weapons. It is also known that Jaish al-Islam – a group that is well known for using hostages as human shields – held literally thousands captive in its basement prisons:

The rebel group has more than 3,500 prisoners and hostages in its prisons in Douma, Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, told Reuters.

Furthermore, the targeted area where the alleged attack took place was literally on the brink of recapture by government forces:

An agreement has been reached to release all prisoners held by Syrian rebels controlling the eastern Ghouta city of Douma in return for the fighters’ leaving the city, Syrian state television reported on Sunday, citing an official source.

According to the agreement, Jaish al-Islam fighters will leave Douma for the northern city of Jarablus, near the borders with Turkey, within 48 hours, the source added.

There was no immediate comment from Jaish al-Islam, which control the city. 5

Indeed, almost immediately after the video footage had been released the area was retaken by Syrian and Russian forces who entered the site without protective gear. And though reports that the Red Crescent likewise confirmed it found no evidence of chemical weapons were later retracted, as Antiwar.com points out:

That the Red Crescent operates a hospital in a city supposedly inundated with wounded and didn’t get a single patient with confirmed exposure, however, is very noteworthy. 6

A detailed overview of the sources which first broke the news of this alleged attack was put together by independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone.

She comments:

So to be clear, we’re being asked by these people to believe that Bashar al-Assad launched a “mass casualty chemical attack”, the thing which would provoke the wrath of the US war machine, just as Trump was seeking a withdrawal from Syria and just as Assad was approaching victory in Douma. We are being asked to ignore the fact that the area is crawling with actual, literal terrorists, to ignore the western empire’s extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture support for military aggression, to ignore the extremely suspicious western funding and terrorist ties of the White Helmets who are circulating these photos and information, and to ignore the fact that Syria has been a target of imperialist regime change for many years. We are being asked to ignore all that and believe instead that Assad spontaneously began acting against his own self-interest so that he could kill children for no discernible reason.

It says so much about the power of western media psyops that this has a strong chance of being believed. 7

Click here to read the full article entitled “New Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack Being Reported By All The Usual Suspects”.

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On Tuesday 10th, former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, was afforded a live interview with BBC Radio Scotland. Here’s what he told presenter Gary Robertson:

Gary Robertson: There’s a lot of tough talk on both sides here. I wonder where you think it will lead us.

Peter Ford: Well I greatly fear it will lead us to the edge of Armageddon. It’s time to take a deep breath and consider where we’ve got ourselves into as a result mainly of hysteria and distortion.

The worst case is that Trump does launch off with some very unwise multiple attacks on Syria. And given that Russian forces are deeply embedded with Syrian forces – in particular air defence – it’s highly likely that scores of Russian soldiers will be killed. If anyone thinks that Russia will take that just lying down I think they need to think again. Russian planes in the last twelve hours have been buzzing UD destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Please – I think everybody needs to take a deep breath before something truly horrible occurs affecting the security of us all including in this country. We have forces in Syria. The government don’t like to talk about this, but one was sadly killed two days ago revealing the extent of our existing military involvement in Syria. So at the very least our own forces would be exposed to grave danger.

GR: Indeed it’s not just the UD President though who’s appalled by what they’ve seen in terms of these pictures coming from Douma. We’ve had condemnation from President Macron, likewise from Prime Minister Theresa May too. If it isn’t the sort of military action that you’ve just outlined there, what should be the response to this use of chemical weapons if it’s proved.

PF: The correct response is obviously – and I think a child could see this – to get inspectors on to the alleged site of the alleged offences. And in fact in the last few hours Russia has offered to provide military escorts for inspectors from the recognised body in this field: the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Warfare.

GR: And if it’s proved then what – because, of course, we know that Assad has form on this. We’ve had investigations previously and there has been fairly conclusive proof that chemical agents have been used.

PF: I don’t think that Assad is in the least worried that the inspectors would find out his guilt because he’s probably not guilty at least on this occasion. I mean we have to engage our brains as well as our emotions here. Not be stampeded by those videos which are described as being unverified but which by dint of being repeated over and over and over again come to acquire a spurious credibility.

We have to ask ourselves what are the sources of the information on which we’re in this stampede to war. They are twofold – and I’m sorry but the media are falling down on the job of investigating this – the sources are the Syrian American Medical Society, which is a pro-Islamist propaganda outfit based in the United States…

GR: So are you saying these pictures are being staged? Are you saying that people haven’t died?

PF: Yes, yes, in all probability the incidents have been staged. Come on, we know how easy it is to fake images for the internet. Look at the images – anybody could stage those. And then the second source is supposed to be the so-called first responders. Who are the first responders? In this case they are the White Helmets, which is another pro-Islamist jihadi propaganda outfit.

GR: This is an awful lot of effort to discredit Assad isn’t it?

PF: Please let me finish this important point. The witnesses to these terrible events are people who themselves were involved in beheadings: literally picking up the body parts. And we choose to give credence to testimony from these alleged first responders.

GR then interrupts before PF is allowed to continue.

You don’t allow. The BBC does not allow questions of important details to be addressed.

GR: We have a short period of time. I’m trying to probe what you’re saying. The point surely is that Assad’s reputation is already dented. What would be in the interest of these people to stage these events?

PF: Is that not obvious? A child can see that the intention was to produce the hysteria and now the military action that we are on the point of taking, risking our own safety. What the jihadis have done is jerk our leash.

And frankly for one I think it’s pretty disgusting that we are allowing ourselves to have our own leash jerked by these Islamist fanatics. This is what’s going on and ask yourself how has it profited Assad?

Please engage with your brain. Answer the question: how has Assad benefitted from all this mayhem? In fact it’s rebounded against him. Why would he do such a thing when he was already winning [and] the battle for Eastern Ghouta was virtually over? Why would he choose this moment to do the one thing that was guaranteed to pluck defeat for him from the jaws of victory?

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On Wednesday 11th, erstwhile political opponents Peter Hitchens and George Galloway discussed the build up to war in Syria and the potential repercussions:

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So just why did Trump, Macron and May launch a barrage of cruise missiles towards Damascus at a cost of multiple millions that might otherwise have been usefully invested in our terribly underfunded public services at home? The corporate media which has been screaming for “a response” wants us to believe that it is because these leaders care so much about the people of Syria and especially the children. Opinion polls in Britain, however, reveal that only a minority are quite so easily deceived.

If Trump and May really wanted to perform a grand humanitarian gesture then they would have been far better served in ending support to the Saudi regime’s murderous assault and blockade of Yemen that is now causing widespread famine and the most terrible outbreak of cholera. Instead they recently welcomed the Crown Prince in extended visits before signing new contracts for arms sales. Alternatively, they might have sanctioned Netanyahu’s government, forcing it to bring a halt to the massacre taking place on the border with Gaza where more than a thousand of peaceful protesters have been wounded and dozens more killed by the live ammunition of Israeli snipers. But instead of taking the moral high ground they chose predictably to bomb an already war-torn country to the sole benefit of western defence contractors and the arms industry, and for furthering shared Anglo-American-Saudi-Israeli geopolitical interests.

The corporate media do not want you to worry about the geopolitical context. They want you to overlook the fact that when the very same western powers carried out the illegal “shock and awe” campaign to oust Saddam they shamelessly led the propaganda offensive. That they also cheered on Nato as it provided air cover for terrorist militia that quickly swarmed across Libya. And obviously they hope everyone forgets about Wesley Clark’s infamous statement of Pentagon plans to bring about regime change in “seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

Yesterday’s fireworks over Damascus achieved nothing at all for peace, but did transfer a little more wealth from the public purse (the poor) into the hands of the arms manufacturers and other defence contractors (the rich). It also left people across the entire world a little less safe than before.

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Additional: the return of John Bolton

Until now Trump has proved himself to be the great blusterer and for this we ought to be grateful. Yes, he talked tough to North Korea, but instead of following through with his threats he eventually gave way to Kim Jong Un and agreed to negotiate instead. Thus, the coming war with China was back on ice and all who care about the already perilous state of world affairs could breathe a small sigh of relief. Likewise, having unleashed a nearly atomic-sized explosion, the so-called MOAB (“Mother of all Bombs”), on the villagers and goatherds of Afghanistan, with this vile experiment completed, Trump returned to overseeing his country’s conventional and everyday devastation by drones. And again, following last year’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun, Trump instantly launched a tremendous barrage of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase. Then, having publicly beaten his chest to the satisfaction of the corporate media, he left the US military to continue its pursuit of regime change by less overt means. Under Trump, in other words, it has been business as usual regarding the “war on terror”, occasionally interspersed by a few more exceptional and shocking instances of long-distance slaughtering. However, all this happened before John Bolton returned to the White House again.

A draft-dodger who once confessed “I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy” 8, John Bolton has always been highly dependable whenever it meant sending others off to die. Even by the bellicose standards of the Bush Jr administration, Bolton was an exceptional warmonger. For instance, in a speech to the Heritage Foundation back in May 2002, he told the assembled:

Beyond the axis of evil, there are other rogue states intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction – particularly biological weapons. Given our vulnerability to attack from biological agents, as evidenced recently in the anthrax releases, it is important to carefully assess and respond to potential proliferators. 9

“Beyond the axis of evil… Other rogue states”? It transpired that there were as then three main targets circled on Bolton’s hit list: these were Libya, Syria and… wait for it… Cuba. So did anyone else seriously believe that Libya, Syria or Cuba represented an existential threat to America due to these purported arsenals of biological weapons? And does anyone seriously believe Bolton believed so either? The very idea is actually a measure of the mounting hysteria in the months following the 9/11 attacks. It also gives a useful insight into the sociopathic mind of John Bolton.

Aside: Incidentally, although al-Qaeda and Iraq were both separately accused of perpetrating the post-9/11 anthrax attacks it was later discovered that the strain originated from a US defence lab. After wrongly suspecting bioweapons researcher Steven Hatfill who was afterwards awarded damages of $5.82 million, the FBI turned attention to senior bioweapons scientist Bruce Edwards Ivins. No formal charges were ever filed against him and no direct evidence has been uncovered but while under investigation Ivins apparently committed suicide.

Two years later, Bolton went gunning for Iran both publicly and privately:

Bolton’s high-profile advocacy of war with Iran is well known. What is not at all well known is that, when he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security, he executed a complex and devious strategy aimed at creating the justification for a U.S. attack on Iran. Bolton sought to convict the Islamic Republic in the court of international public opinion of having a covert nuclear weapons program using a combination of diplomatic pressure, crude propaganda, and fabricated evidence.

Despite the fact that Bolton was technically under the supervision of Secretary of State Colin Powell, his actual boss in devising and carrying out that strategy was Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton was also the administration’s main point of contact with the Israeli government, and with Cheney’s backing, he was able to flout normal State Department rules by taking a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without having the required clearance from the State Department’s Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs.

Thus, at the very moment that Powell was saying administration policy was not to attack Iran, Bolton was working with the Israelis to lay the groundwork for just such a war. During a February 2003 visit, Bolton assured Israeli officials in private meetings that he had no doubt the United States would attack Iraq, and that after taking down Saddam, it would deal with Iran, too, as well as Syria. 10

Click hear to read the full article by Gareth Porter entitled “The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War With Iran”.

In short, John Bolton will stop at nothing to start a war and according to the testimony of Jose Bustani, the first director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) during the lead up to Bush’s war on Iraq:

“I got a phone call from John Bolton – it was first time I had contact with him – and he said he had instructions to tell me that I have to resign from the organization, and I asked him why, he said that [my] management style was not agreeable to Washington.”

When Bustani refused to resign, saying he “owed nothing” to the US, Bolton told him:

“OK, so there will be retaliation. Prepare to accept the consequences. We know where your kids are.” 11

Bolton’s admirers say he is a foreign policy realist akin to Kissinger and so different to the bona fide neo-cons who refrain from dropping American bombs unless in the service of spreading human rights and democracy. And if you think I’m joking then read this extract taken from an article published by the Henry Jackson Society:

For Bolton, the liberation of Iraq was coincidently about universal moral concerns, usually a ruinous basis for any state’s foreign policy (look at Somalia, he says). Fundamentally, Saddam was destroyed because he posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. security – a risk that could be lessened. The democratisation of his one, long-time fiefdom is undertaken because the odds of a democracy threatening U.S. security are far less. The enfranchisement of women across the Middle East may well be a happy consequence of his removal but it is not an issue that keeps Bolton awake at night. William Kristol, on the other hand, a far more eager intervener, wants us to believe that women’s rights are basic to America’s global mission. For sure, Kristol likes Bolton, but this does not make Bolton a neocon. 12

So according to the Henry Jackson Society, the preeminent British neo-con foreign policy think tank, Bolton correctly foresaw that Saddam “posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. security.” Again, who actually believes this nonsense? And who beyond the corridors of the neo-con/humanitarian-bomber establishment has swallowed any of the lies of such hypocrites as Kristol or Blair? Aside from associates of HJS, scarcely anyone believed the cant that set the stage for the downfall of Saddam even though the media did its utmost to manufacture public consent by uncritically repeating the lies long before Bush and Blair took us to war anyway.

Today another war is looming and Bolton has the ear of Trump. Trump who blusters and tries to look tough in vain attempts to prove to a disconnected audience that the US Commander-in-Chief is in control and knows what he’s doing. He is neither. On foreign policy as on domestic issues, he is quite obviously clueless and in the thrall of the corporate elite, and now with Bolton behind him, the chickenhawk neo-cons are ruling the roost.

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1 From an article entitled “The Chemical-Weapons Attack In Syria: Is There a Place for Skepticism?” written by James Carden, published in The Nation on April 19, 2018. https://www.thenation.com/article/the-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria-is-there-a-place-for-skepticism/ 

2 From an article entitled “’Evidence’ of Syria chemical weapons use not up to U.N. standard” written by Anthony Deutsch, published in Reuters on April 26, 2013. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-chemical-weapons/evidence-of-syria-chemical-weapons-use-not-up-to-u-n-standard-idUSBRE93P0UG20130426

3 https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/Fact_Finding_Mission/s-1510-2017_e_.pdf

4 From an article entitled “US has no evidence of Syrian use of sarin gas, Mattis says” written by Robert Burns, published by AP News on February 2, 2018. https://apnews.com/bd533182b7f244a4b771c73a0b601ec5

5

The rebel group has more than 3,500 prisoners and hostages in its prisons in Douma, Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, told Reuters. Five prisoners were released on Wednesday, after earlier departures by Jaish al-Islam fighters.

From a report entitled “Jaish al-Islam to leave Douma in return for releasing prisoners published by Reuters on April 8, 2018. https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-ghouta-negotiati/jaish-al-islam-to-leave-douma-in-return-for-releasing-prisoners-idUKKBN1HF09Z

6 From an updated article originally entitled “Red Crescent Says No Evidence of Chemical Attack in Syria’s Douma” written by Jason Ditz, published by Antiwar.com on April 9, 2018. https://news.antiwar.com/2018/04/09/red-crescent-says-no-evidence-of-chemical-attack-in-syrias-douma/

7 From an article entitled “New Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack Being Reported By All The Usual Suspects” written and published by Caitlin Johnstone on April 8, 2018. https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/new-syrian-chemical-weapons-attack-being-reported-by-all-the-usual-suspects-bb52e9a4f982

8

“Though Bolton supported the Vietnam War, he declined to enter combat duty, instead enlisting in the National Guard and attending law school after his 1970 graduation. ‘I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy,’ Bolton wrote of his decision in the 25th reunion book. ‘I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.’”

From an article entitled “Bolton’s conservative ideology has roots in Yale experience” written by Sam Kahn, publuished in Yale Daily News on April 28, 2005. https://web.archive.org/web/20100924032144/http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2005/apr/28/boltons-conservative-ideology-has-roots-in-yale/

9 Beyond the Axis of Evil: Additional Threats From Weapons of Mass Destruction originally presented to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC on May 6, 2002. http://www.disam.dsca.mil/pubs/V24-4%20PDF%20Files%20By%20Author/Bolton,%20John%20R.,%20Axis%20of%20Evil.pdf

10 From an article entitled The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War with Iran” written by Gareth Porter, published in The American Conservative on March 22, 2018. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-a-john-bolton-appointment-is-scarier-than-you-think-mcmaster-trump/ 

11 From an article entitled “’I give you 24 hours to resign’: 1st OPCW chief on how John Bolton bullied him before Iraq War” published by RT on April 7, 2018. https://www.rt.com/usa/423477-bolton-threat-opcw-iraq/

12 From an article entitled “John Bolton is not a neocon” written Tim Lynch and published by the Henry Jackson Society on July 20, 2005. http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2005/07/20/john-bolton-is-not-a-neocon/

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Filed under al-Qaeda & DAESH / ISIS / ISIL, Israel, Syria, USA

‘fake news’ is the new blackwhite

“The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

— George Orwell from ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ 1

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Update: WMDs Revisited

Please note that the original post began after the purple asterisk.

Before reading on I encourage readers to follow this link to an article published by wsws.org also on February 20th. An extended extract is reposted below:

Fifteen years ago, on February 5, 2003, against the backdrop of worldwide mass demonstrations in opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell argued before the United Nations that the government of Saddam Hussein was rapidly stockpiling “weapons of mass destruction,” which Iraq, together with Al Qaeda, was planning to use against the United States.

In what was the climax of the Bush administration’s campaign to justify war, Powell held up a model vial of anthrax, showed aerial photographs and presented detailed slides purporting to show the layout of Iraq’s “mobile production facilities.”

There was only one problem with Powell’s presentation: it was a lie from beginning to end.

The World Socialist Web Site, in an editorial board statement published the next day, declared the brief for war “the latest act in a diplomatic charade laced with cynicism and deceit.” War against Iraq, the WSWS wrote, was not about “weapons of mass destruction.” Rather, “it is a war of colonial conquest, driven by a series of economic and geo-political aims that center on the seizure of Iraq’s oil resources and the assertion of US global hegemony.”

The response of the American media, and particularly its liberal wing, was very different. Powell’s litany of lies was presented as the gospel truth, an unanswerable indictment of the Iraqi government.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who rushed off a column before he could have examined Powell’s allegations, declared, “The evidence he presented to the United Nations—some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail—had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool—or possibly a Frenchman—could conclude otherwise.”

The editorial board of the New York Times—whose reporter Judith Miller was at the center of the Bush administration’s campaign of lies—declared one week later that there “is ample evidence that Iraq has produced highly toxic VX nerve gas and anthrax and has the capacity to produce a lot more. It has concealed these materials, lied about them, and more recently failed to account for them to the current inspectors.”

Subsequent developments would prove who was lying. The Bush administration and its media accomplices conspired to drag the US into a war that led to the deaths of more than one million people—a colossal crime for which no one has yet been held accountable.

Fifteen years later, the script has been pulled from the closet and dusted off. This time, instead of “weapons of mass destruction,” it is “Russian meddling in the US elections.” Once again, assertions by US intelligence agencies and operatives are treated as fact. Once again, the media is braying for war. Once again, the cynicism and hypocrisy of the American government—which intervenes in the domestic politics of every state on the planet and has been relentlessly expanding its operations in Eastern Europe—are ignored.

The argument presented by the American media is that the alleged existence of a fly-by-night operation, employing a few hundred people, with a budget amounting to a minuscule fraction of total election spending in the US, constitutes a “a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda” (New York Times).

In the countless articles and media commentary along this vein, nowhere can one find a serious analysis of the Mueller indictment of the Russians itself, let alone an examination of the real motivations behind the US campaign against Russia. The fact that the indictment does not even involve the Russian government or state officials is treated as a nonissue.

While the present campaign over Russian “meddling” has much in common with the claims about “weapons of mass destruction,” the implications are far more ominous. The “war on terror” is exhausted, in part because the US is allied in Syria and elsewhere with the Islamic fundamentalist organizations it was purportedly fighting.

More fundamentally, the quarter-century of invasions and occupations that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union is rapidly developing into a conflict between major nuclear-armed powers. The effort of the American ruling class to offset its economic decline using military force is leading mankind to the brink of another world war. As the National Defense Strategy, published less than a month before the release of the indictments, declared, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security.”

Click here to read the full article entitled “The Russian meddling fraud: Weapons of mass destruction revisited”.

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In Doha last week I watched on TV an utterly contemptible speech by Theresa May in which she grasped for ideas to shore up the increasingly eroded Establishment control of the political zeitgeist. Yet more pressure would be put on the social media companies to curtail the circulation of unauthorised truths as “fake news”. Disrespectful questioning of the political class will be a new crime of “intimidation of candidates”. The government would look for new ways to boost the unwanted and failing purveyors of the official line by some potential aid to newspapers and their paid liars.

In short I did not merely disagree with what she was saying, I found it an extraordinary example of Orwellian doublespeak in which she even referenced John Stuart Mill and her commitment to freedom of speech as she outlined plans to restrict it further. I found myself viewing this dull, plodding agent of repression as representing a political philosophy which is completely alien to me.

The words of former UK ambassador Craig Murray published in a blog post entitled “Scared of my Own Thoughts”.

*

‘Corbyn was a Soviet spy’

When two million protesters assembled in London in the bitter cold on the February 15th 2003 to call on Blair not to go to war against Iraq, Jeremy Corbyn marched at the head of the largest protest this country has ever seen. Speaking afterwards from the platform at Hyde Park, Corbyn forewarned us:

“Thousands more deaths in Iraq will not make things right. It will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation, that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and the misery of future generations.” [from 4:15 mins]

Fifteen years on, a war sold entirely on the basis of lies that were in turn rubber-stamped by our already sold-out mainstream media (the honourable exception was the Daily Mirror) grinds on indefinitely. Corbyn meantime has been elected not once but twice to lead the Labour Party, and his party continues to run neck and neck in the polls with the Tories.

In response, the purveyors of those lies which carried us into the perpetual darkness of an endless “war on terror” have found new ones to spin. Yesterday’s fake news warned us of the threat of Saddam’s WMDs. Today the same press tells us, and again with no credible proof, that Corbyn and other backbench Labour MPs were once on the payroll of Czech secret service.

I hesitate to engage with such arrant nonsense, but the plain fact that these absurd allegations that Corbyn was once a Soviet agent refuse to die quietly demands a response – even while every response automatically puts defenders of Corbyn on the back foot; proving a negative being impossibly hard to do. Of course, these extraordinary claims ought to demand extraordinary evidence, but instead we see the rumour mill being given extra impetus by so-called respectable and nominally impartial broadcasters. For instance, here is what the BBC reported on Monday 19th:

Jeremy Corbyn should be “open and transparent” about his alleged contacts with a Communist spy during the 1980s, Theresa May has suggested.

Asked about claims a Czech intelligence officer met and tried to recruit Mr Corbyn during the Cold War, she said MPs must “account” for past actions.

The Labour Party has said claims he was an agent were a “ridiculous smear”. 2

Thus, snide innuendo dreamed up by our gutter press (in this case The Sun) is reported on without any attempt at all to drill down into the facts. And this coming from the BBC which laughably portrays itself as some kind of a last bastion against the spread of ‘fake news’. So allow me to set the record straight. The source of this particular canard is a man called Jan Sarkocy, who, as former editor of Tribune (1986– 93) and deputy editor of the New Statesman (1993–96), Paul Anderson, reminded us in his article “Corbyn’s spy connection and me”, was “anything but a spymaster”:

Quite a lot of the serious media have steered clear of the Sun’s story of Jeremy Corbyn’s meetings with a Czechoslovak spook in the 1980s, and it’s not hard to see why. The Sun never knowingly under-eggs any pudding, but this one was really over-stirred. Its splash – “CORBYN AND THE COMMIE ”, as the headline put it on 15 February – promised something it simply did not deliver.

The paper had discovered from east European archives that a member of the communist Czechoslovak secret police, the StB (Státní Bezpečnost, State Security), acting under diplomatic cover in London, had met Corbyn on several occasions between 1986 and 1989, including at the House of Commons.

And, er, that was it. No suggestion that Corbyn, then the rookie backbench Labour MP for Islington North, had handed over state secrets for money. Nothing at all incriminating, in fact. Corbyn responded that he had met a Czechoslovak diplomat in the late 1980s but not one called Dymic, the name on the documents obtained by the Sun.

End of story? Not quite. The Mail and Telegraph picked it up with enthusiasm. It turned out that the StB man who had met Corbyn was only codenamed Dymic and was really Jan Sarkocy (as I’d guessed), now 64 and living in obscurity in Slovakia – and Sarkocy has given interviews to all and sundry, saying that Corbyn was paid for information and that other Labour left wingers, including the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, were on his contact list. Cue outraged Tories saying that Corbyn was a traitor and furious denials from the Corbyn camp with accusations of red-scare tactics by the right-wing press.

Corbyn (like many others on the Labour left, myself included) was a contact of Jan Sarkocy in the 1980s, and Sarkocy was StB – but that’s about it. Sarkocy was anything but a spymaster. He was a low-level intelligence-gatherer for a state that had long ago lost all authority with its citizens and was now losing the support of its geopolitical master, the Soviet Union.

He was employed to take people out to lunch who knew something of what was going on in British politics, drink beers with them in the evening, and write reports on what they told him. And what he got from his efforts was probably little better than any half-compos-mentis reader of the UK press would have gleaned. 3

Click here to read the full article at Little Atoms.

Of course, the real reason behind the latest smear campaign against Corbyn is no less blatant than those more despicable lies which soon led to the deaths of a million innocent Iraqis. The very same blood-soaked special interests that have reaped such staggering profits from the West’s otherwise nonsensical policy of war without limit instigated by Bush and Blair and pursued by respective successors now need Corbyn removed. It hardly requires a genius to join the dots up on this ludicrous story. Obviously this is fake news, just don’t expect the corporate media to tell you so.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn issued this statement today:

*

‘Russia hacked the election’

Whenever Donald Trump barks “fake news” in avoidance of some nagging news reporter’s questions it comes across as a tacit admission of guilt. Subsequently the brush off is indeed reported upon as a tacit admission of guilt. And doubtless, more than half the time, it was a tacit admission of guilt: Trump has a great deal to be guilty about. However, it does not automatically follow that even the vile and corrupt Trump is guilty in every case.

‘Russiagate’ has dominated the US news cycle for well over eighteen months in spite of the fact that after several investigations there has been an embarrassing failure to uncover substantiating evidence pointing to an actual Russian plot to “hack the election” as was so vigorously claimed. But the latest twist in the saga is arguably the lamest to date. It involves Robert Mueller’s indictment of thirteen Russian nationals for purportedly creating sockpuppet accounts on behalf of Trump (or else disparaging him – presumably for added confusion!), as well as (still more bafflingly) bolstering the campaigns of progressives Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein in the 2016 election. Missing altogether are any claims that Trump knew anything at all about the alleged Russian meddling, or that in fact “Russia hacked the election” – the very pivot about which Russiagate started spinning. As even the Guardian admits in its wholly uncritical account of Mueller’s findings which is excitedly titled “Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy”:

The indictment does not allege that any American knowingly participated in Russian meddling, or that Trump campaign associates had more than “unwitting” contact with some who posed as Americans. Trump quickly claimed vindication, noting in a tweet that the interference efforts began in 2014 “long before I announced that I would run for president”. He added: “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Nor does it have anything to say regarding the origins of ‘Russiagate’:

The indictment does not mention the hacking of Democratic emails, which then turned up on WikiLeaks. It does not mention the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. It does not mention the four Trump associates who are facing charges that range from money laundering to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador. America, and the world, is waiting for Mueller to join the dots. 4

Real News today spoke with independent journalist Max Blumenthal about the indictment and the overblown reaction which has prompted comparisons to Pearl Harbor and 9/11:

I shall come back to Trump in a moment. But first please note how Mueller has been given a free pass by the media. This is the same Robert Mueller who was appointed FBI head by George W Bush literally one week prior to the September 11th attacks and who thereafter, as former FBI special agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley points out at length, alongside then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey, “presided over post-9/11 cover-ups and secret abuses of the Constitution, enabled Bush-Cheney fabrications used to launch wrongful wars, and exhibited plain vanilla incompetence”:

I wanted to believe Director Mueller when he expressed some regret in our personal meeting the night before we both testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He told me he was seeking improvements and that I should not hesitate to contact him if I ever witnessed a similar situation to what was behind the FBI’s pre 9/11 failures.

A few months later, when it appeared he was acceding to Bush-Cheney’s ginning up intelligence to launch the unjustified, counterproductive and illegal war on Iraq, I took Mueller up on his offer, emailing him my concerns in late February 2003. Mueller knew, for instance, that Vice President Dick Cheney’s claims connecting 9/11 to Iraq were bogus yet he remained quiet. He also never responded to my email. 5

Click here to read Coleen Rowley’s full article entitled “Russia-gate’s Mythical ‘Heroes’”

What is not in dispute, however, is that Trump has undeniably dirty ties with Russia as elsewhere. Seldom discussed are his related dirty ties to Israel. Indeed, if you take a cursory look online you’ll quickly discover that during the time of the US election “Trump: Make Israel great again!” posters were trending in Tel Aviv:

 

Please note: the original image was removed so I have embedded a similar one published by abc news.

The image above was published by New Europe and is captioned:

An Israeli cyclist passes placards proclaiming ‘Trump Make Israel Great Again’ in Tel Aviv, Israel, 12 November 2016. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the first foreign leaders to call and congratulate Donald Trump November 9 after he won the US presidential election. In a Wall Street Journal interview Trump called the Israeli – Palestinian conflict ‘the war that never ends’ and added that ‘as a deal maker, I’d like to do…the deal that can’t be made. And do it for humanity’s sake.’

While the same article further reminds us:

During the campaign, Trump committed to [move the US embassy to Jerusalem] in more than one occasions. He first made the promise during the primaries in an AIPAC event in March. AIPAC is the US-Israeli lobby. 6

Click here to read the full article.

In fact, both presidential candidates bent over backwards to secure the backing of AIPAC, the most formidable foreign lobby group in America, but that doesn’t count as meddling apparently.

Meanwhile, the bizarre claim that a handful of Russians threw the election process into confusion via social media platforms is an already laughably pathetic allegation, made worse for the simple fact that it is next to impossible to validate, since, as Mueller knows perfectly well, those named will never be extradited to face trial. And for what crime are they to be indicted exactly? For not being American citizens but writing about an US election without registering as a foreign agent. That’s certainly the precedent Muller is setting here. Moreover, the contention is not that this alleged ‘troll farm’ has been spreading falsehoods as such, but that they cunningly redeployed truth in order to deceive the ignorant masses.

The following extract is the opening to a recent article [Thurs 15th] published by the Washington Post entitled “Russia used mainstream media to manipulate America voters”:

Russia’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election relied heavily on stories produced by major American news sources to shape the online political debate, according to an analysis published Thursday.

The analysis by Columbia University social-media researcher Jonathan Albright of more than 36,000 tweets sent by Russian accounts showed that obscure or foreign news sources played a comparatively minor role, suggesting that the discussion of “fake news” during the campaign has been somewhat miscast.

Albright’s research, which he said is the most extensive to date on the news links that Russians used to manipulate the American political conversation on Twitter, bolsters observations by other analysts. Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent who is now a disinformation expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, said that by linking to popular news sources, the Russians enhanced the credibility of their Twitter accounts, making it easier to manipulate audiences.

“The Kremlin, they don’t need to create a false narrative. It’s already there,” he said. “You’re just taking a narrative and elevating it.”

As the article confesses, it’s not about truth or falsehood anymore but who controls the agenda:

“These trolls didn’t need to retweet RT and Sputnik,” Albright said. “All they needed to do was pick out certain themes and push them.” 7

This is what the corporate news media does day in, day out of course. It tells the public what to believe in and what to dismiss. If Trump says “fake news” then we are to presume that he lying. If the media use it then we are to presume they are protecting us from the liars.

As historian Jackson Lears wrote in an excellent and detailed piece entitled “What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking” published by the London Review of Books in January:

Epistemological nihilism looms, but some people and institutions have more power than others to define what constitutes an agreed-on reality. To say this is to risk dismissal as the ultimate wing-nut in the lexicon of contemporary Washington: the conspiracy theorist. Still, the fact remains: sometimes powerful people arrange to promote ideas that benefit their common interests. Whether we call this hegemony, conspiracy or merely special privilege hardly matters. What does matter is the power to create what Gramsci called the ‘common sense’ of an entire society. Even if much of that society is indifferent to or suspicious of the official common sense, it still becomes embedded among the tacit assumptions that set the boundaries of ‘responsible opinion’. So the Democratic establishment (along with a few Republicans) and the major media outlets have made ‘Russian meddling’ the common sense of the current moment. What kind of cultural work does this common sense do? What are the consequences of the spectacle the media call (with characteristic originality) ‘Russiagate’?

[…]

The Democratic Party has now developed a new outlook on the world, a more ambitious partnership between liberal humanitarian interventionists and neoconservative militarists than existed under the cautious Obama. This may be the most disastrous consequence for the Democratic Party of the new anti-Russian orthodoxy: the loss of the opportunity to formulate a more humane and coherent foreign policy. The obsession with Putin has erased any possibility of complexity from the Democratic world picture, creating a void quickly filled by the monochrome fantasies of Hillary Clinton and her exceptionalist allies. 8

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‘Russian Influence’ is actually a commercial marketing scheme

Click here to read a detailed breakdown on Mueller’s published indictments by Moon of Alabama. Here are a few excerpts pointing to significant facts the corporate media is entirely failing to cover, and beginning with an overview of why “The indictment is fodder for the public to prove that the Mueller investigation is ‘doing something’”:

Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department indicted the Russian Internet Research Agency on some dubious legal grounds. It covers thirteen Russian people and three Russian legal entities. The main count of the indictment is an alleged “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”.

The published indictment gives support to our long held belief that there was no “Russian influence” campaign during the U.S. election. What is described and denounced as such was instead a commercial marketing scheme, which ran click-bait websites to generate advertisement revenue and created online crowds around virtual persona to promote whatever its commercial customers wanted to promote. The size of the operation was tiny when compared to the hundreds of millions in campaign expenditures. It had no influence on the election outcome.

[…]

The Justice Department indictment is quite long and detailed. It must have been expensive. If you read it do so with the above in mind. Skip over the assumptions and claims of political interference and digest only the facts. All that is left is, as explained, a commercial marketing scheme.

[…]

The indictment then goes on and on describing the “political activities” of the sock-puppet personas. Some posted pro-Hillary slogans, some anti-Hillary stuff, some were pro-Trump, some anti-everyone, some urged not to vote, others to vote for third party candidates. The sock-puppets did not create or post fake news. They posted mainstream media stories.

Some of the persona called for going to anti-Islam rallies while others promoted pro-Islam rallies. The Mueller indictment lists a total of eight rallies. Most of these did not take place at all. No one joined the “Miners For Trump” rallies in Philly and Pittsburgh. A “Charlotte against Trump” march on November 19 – after the election – was attended by one hundred people. Eight people came for a pro-Trump rally in Fort Myers.

The sock-puppets called for rallies to establish themselves as ‘activist’ and ‘leadership’ persona, to generate more online traffic and additional followers. There was in fact no overall political trend in what the sock-puppets did. The sole point of all such activities was to create a large total following by having multiple personas which together covered all potential social-political strata.

[…]

There was no political point to what the Russian company did. Whatever political slogans one of the company’s sock-puppets posted had only one aim: to increase the number of followers for that sock-puppet. The sole point of creating a diverse army of sock-puppets with large following crowds was to sell the ‘eyeballs’ of the followers to the paying customers of the marketing company.

[Highlighted as in original]

And the conclusion:

The Mueller investigation found no “collusion” between anything Russian and the Trump campaign. The indictment does not mention any. The whole “Russian influence” storm is based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in U.S. social networks.

There is a danger in this. The indictment sets up a new theory of nefarious foreign influence that could be applied to even this blog. As U.S. lawyer Robert Barns explains:

“The only thing frightening about this indictment is the dangerous and dumb precedent it could set: foreign nationals criminally prohibited from public expression in the US during elections unless registered as foreign agents and reporting their expenditures to the FEC.”

[…]

“Mueller’s new crime only requires 3 elements: 1) a foreign national; 2) outspoken on US social media during US election; and 3) failed to register as a foreign agent or failed to report receipts/expenditures of speech activity. Could indict millions under that theory.”

[…]

“The legal theory of the indictment for most of the defendants and most of the charges alleges that the “fraud” was simply not registering as a foreign agent or not reporting expenses to the FEC because they were a foreign national expressing views in a US election.”

Author Leonid Bershidsky, who prominently writes for Bloombergremarks:

“I’m actually surprised I haven’t been indicted. I’m Russian, I was in the U.S. in 2016 and I published columns critical of both Clinton and Trump w/o registering as a foreign agent.”

As most of you will know your author writing this is German. I write pseudo-anonymously for a mostly U.S. audience. My postings are political and during the U.S. election campaign expressed an anti-Hillary view. The blog is hosted on U.S, infrastructure paid for by me. I am not registered as Foreign Agent or with the Federal Election Commission.

Under the theory on which the indictment is based I could also be indicted for a similar “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”.

(Are those of you who kindly donate for this blog co-conspiractors?)

When Yevgeni Prigozhin, the hot dog caterer who allegedly owns the internet promotion business, was asked about the indictment he responded:

“The Americans are really impressionable people, they see what they want to see. […] If they want to see the devil, let them see him.” 9

Click here to read the full and carefully documented analysis by Moon of Alabama.

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Drilling down into ‘Russiagate’ to find the origins of ‘fake news’

‘Fake news’ as a meme has befuddled millions. To paraphrase Orwell: like so many Newspeak words, this phrase has two mutually contradictory meanings. Used by the mainstream it represents a shield against deception. Used by an opponent, however, and it merely confirms the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts.

Presumably for this reason, an oddly prevalent misapprehension has grown, especially amongst liberal-minded Trump opponents, that the term ‘fake news’ was coined by Donald Trump himself as a vain attempt to defend himself against regular attacks from the press corps. However, as soon as we retrace the breadcrumbs that lead back to ‘Russiagate’ reality becomes clearer.

‘Fake news’ was manufactured not by Trump, but by opponents. It arose from the ashes of the original ‘Russiagate’ scandal that had been concocted to divert attention from electoral rival Clinton in light of the leaks of campaign director John Podesta’s emails.  After her defeat, however, ‘Russiagate’ quickly resurfaced to spare Democrat blushes and with it came this new meme ‘fake news’.

As a reminder therefore, I return to historian Jackson Lears and his piece “What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking” published by the London Review of Books in January:

For the DNC, the great value of the Russian hack story is that it focuses attention away from what was actually in their emails. The documents revealed a deeply corrupt organisation, whose pose of impartiality was a sham. Even the reliably pro-Clinton Washington Post has admitted that ‘many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.’

And Lears takes pains to show in considerable detail why the Russian hacking charge (now widely forgotten) has always been unfounded:

[T]he hacking charges are unproved and may well remain so. Edward Snowden and others familiar with the NSA say that if long-distance hacking had taken place the agency would have monitored it and could detail its existence without compromising their secret sources and methods. In September, Snowden told Der Spiegel that the NSA ‘probably knows quite well who the invaders were’. And yet ‘it has not presented any evidence, although I suspect it exists. The question is: why not? … I suspect it discovered other attackers in the systems, maybe there were six or seven groups at work.’ He also said in July 2016 that ‘even if the attackers try to obfuscate origin, ‪#XKEYSCORE makes following exfiltrated data easy. I did this personally against Chinese ops.’ The NSA’s capacity to follow hacking to its source is a matter of public record. When the agency investigated pervasive and successful Chinese hacking into US military and defence industry installations, it was able to trace the hacks to the building where they originated, a People’s Liberation Army facility in Shanghai. That information was published in the New York Times, but, this time, the NSA’s failure to provide evidence has gone curiously unremarked. When The Intercept published a story about the NSA’s alleged discovery that Russian military intelligence had attempted to hack into US state and local election systems, the agency’s undocumented assertions about the Russian origins of the hack were allowed to stand as unchallenged fact and quickly became treated as such in the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, there has been a blizzard of ancillary accusations, including much broader and vaguer charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. It remains possible that Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who has been appointed to investigate these allegations, may turn up some compelling evidence of contacts between Trump’s people and various Russians. It would be surprising if an experienced prosecutor empowered to cast a dragnet came up empty-handed, and the arrests have already begun. But what is striking about them is that the charges have nothing to do with Russian interference in the election.

In the same piece, Lears continues:

So far, after months of ‘bombshells’ that turn out to be duds, there is still no actual evidence for the claim that the Kremlin ordered interference in the American election. Meanwhile serious doubts have surfaced about the technical basis for the hacking claims. Independent observers have argued it is more likely that the emails were leaked from inside, not hacked from outside. On this front, the most persuasive case was made by a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, former employees of the US intelligence agencies who distinguished themselves in 2003 by debunking Colin Powell’s claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, hours after Powell had presented his pseudo-evidence at the UN. (There are members of VIPS who dissent from the VIPS report’s conclusions, but their arguments are in turn contested by the authors of the report.) The VIPS findings received no attention in major media outlets, except Fox News – which from the centre-left perspective is worse than no attention at all. Mainstream media have dismissed the VIPS report as a conspiracy theory (apparently the Russian hacking story does not count as one). The crucial issue here and elsewhere is the exclusion from public discussion of any critical perspectives on the orthodox narrative, even the perspectives of people with professional credentials and a solid track record.

Both the DNC hacking story and the one involving the emails of John Podesta, a Clinton campaign operative, involve a shadowy bunch of putatively Russian hackers called Fancy Bear – also known among the technically inclined as APT28. The name Fancy Bear was introduced by Dimitri Alperovitch, the chief technology officer of Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the theft of their emails. Alperovitch is also a fellow at the Atlantic Council, an anti-Russian Washington think tank. In its report Crowdstrike puts forward close to zero evidence for its claim that those responsible were Russian, let alone for its assertion that they were affiliated with Russian military intelligence. And yet, from this point on, the assumption that this was a Russian cyber operation was unquestioned. When the FBI arrived on the scene, the Bureau either did not request or was refused access to the DNC servers; instead it depended entirely on the Crowdstrike analysis. Crowdstrike, meanwhile, was being forced to retract another claim, that the Russians had successfully hacked the guidance systems of the Ukrainian artillery. The Ukrainian military and the British International Institute for Strategic Studies both contradicted this claim, and Crowdstrike backed down. But its DNC analysis was allowed to stand and even become the basis for the January Intelligence Community Assessment. 10

Click here to read the full article at the London Review of Books.

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One of the leaked emails from Clinton stated:

“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” 11

As a report published Yahoo! News explained at the time:

In her email to Podesta, she goes beyond this [accusing individuals], saying the Saudi and Qatari governments themselves are funding ISIS — a far more serious allegation with potentially more dramatic diplomatic implications. And one that has riled up critics of Saudi Arabia here in the U.S.

Still more embarrassingly:

Clinton sent the email to Podesta when he still worked for Obama as counselor. He became Clinton’s campaign chair in January of 2015. Adding to the potential awkwardness for her campaign, Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta, runs one of Washington’s biggest lobbying firms, which in September 2015 signed a contract to lobby for the Saudi government.

A few weeks later, Tony Podesta held a Clinton campaign fundraiser, attended by John Podesta, and has since been listed as one of the campaign’s chief “bundlers” or premier fundraisers. The Clinton campaign did not return a request for comment about whether the candidate believes it is appropriate to accept campaign donations from someone who has lobbied for a government she believes is sponsoring terrorism.

However, in the same report we then hear from Glen Caplin, senior Clinton campaign spokesman, who tells us:

“These are hacked, stolen documents by the Russian government, which has weaponized WikiLeaks to help elect Donald Trump”

And the article adds that:

Some former top U.S. national security experts last week warned that the Russians may seek to “doctor” leaked material, but the Clinton campaign has yet to offer evidence that any of the WikiLeaks emails were forged or tampered with. 12

Click here to read the full Yahoo! News report entitled “In leaked email, Clinton claims Saudi and Qatari governments fund ISIS”

The link above embedded in the article is still more instructive. It takes us to a previous Yahoo! News story where we learn that:

The Obama administration today publicly accused the Russian government of cyberattacks against U.S. political organizations and prominent figures that are “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

The extraordinary move comes after months of disclosures stemming from the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and other groups — cyberattacks that the U.S. intelligence community is now “confident” were directed by the Russian government.

In other words, we find the origins to what would soon become ‘Russiagate’: a story transparently devoid of any substantiated facts at all and based solely on allegations in turn determined baseless by a range of independent experts (read earlier post) and then widely forgotten.

This had followed from a joint statement made by the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security claiming:

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations…

“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process…

“Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

This clumsy yet effective scapegoating of Russia quite deliberately switched the attention of our gullible and obedient press away prying any further into Clinton’s emails, and there was more…

Earlier Friday, a group of former top national security officials and experts warned that Russian intelligence agents may “doctor” emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and other political groups as part of a sophisticated “disinformation” campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 election.

The group, including former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, urged the news media to be “cautious” about publishing such material lest they play into Russian hands.

“What is taking place in the United States follows a well-known Russian playbook: First leak compelling and truthful information to gain credibility. The next step: Release fake documents that look the same,” the group said in a joint public statement.

Much more…

“The Russians aren’t coming. They’re already here,” said Tara Sonenshine, a former undersecretary for public diplomacy under Clinton and one of the organizers of the joint statement.

The fear that more embarrassing emails may be coming is especially acute among Democratic operatives and loyalists, who have become convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin is more favorably disposed to Trump and doing what he can to assist his candidacy. And perhaps not surprisingly, most, if not all, of the 16 former officials and national security experts who signed the statement — including Chertoff, who served during the Bush administration — have endorsed Clinton.

Sonenshine insisted that the purpose of the letter was not to pressure the news media to refuse to publish any leaked emails. Instead, she said, it is only to inject a cautionary note into the review of such material given the Russian propensity to fabricate documents.

“You can’t put out a red stop sign to journalism,” she said. “But you can put up a yellow flag.”

Sonenshine and another organizer of the letter, Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress, said there is evidence that the Russian intelligence service has fabricated or altered documents to further its political aims in Ukraine and elsewhere. And the joint statement warns that such actions appear to fit into a larger strategy of using “cyber tools” targeting Western democracies. Similar concerns about Russian “information warfare” were raised in a recent U.S. intelligence report, disclosed last week by Yahoo News, that cited the activities of Russian Internet trolls and the broadcasts of RT and Sputnik, two state-sponsored media outlets. 13

Click here to read the full Yahoo! News story entitled “U.S. accuses Russia of cyberattacks ‘intended to interfere’ with election”.

Follow the link and still the list of allegations goes on…

Another tactic of the [Russian] trolls is to inject blatantly false stories into the media, forcing public officials in Europe and the U.S. to respond, according to Weiss and other experts. A New York Times Sunday Magazine piece last year documented how Russian trolls based in the St. Petersburg office had swamped Twitter with hundreds of messages about an explosion at a Louisiana chemical plant that never took place, setting up dozens of fake accounts and doctoring screenshots from CNN and Louisiana TV stations to make the pseudo-event seem real. (The trolls even created a fake Wikipedia page about the supposed explosion, which in turn linked to a phony YouTube video.) 14

From another Yahoo! News story by Michael Isikoff.

But still, September 2016 is prior to the full launch of the meme ‘fake news’ and so this story (like the ones quoted before) describes the ‘injection’ of “blatantly false stories” in an increasingly aggressive “information warfare” campaign with the ‘spread’ of “pro-Kremlin messages”. The Cold War overtones are unmistakeable. We are faced with the deliberate corruption of our free and democratic society that is as insidious as any viral infection: a corruption that needs naming and shaming. Finally, then we come to the manufacturing of the buzzword ‘fake news’ and to the appearance of PropOrNot.

This shadowy ‘group of experts’ which insists on complete public anonymity first made the headlines with the release of ‘a report’ in November 2016. Dramatically, it claimed to have identified more than 200 websites that were agents of Russian propaganda. ‘Fake news’ was about to become a fully-fledged trope.

So here is the Washington Post providing an uncritical platform (the editor’s note was added later) for the PropOrNot’s neo-McCarthyite blacklist:

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

It continues:

PropOrNot’s monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times. 15

Listed amongst these ‘Russian agents’ were WikiLeaks, Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Antiwar.com, the Ron Paul Institute, Zerohedge, Corbett Report, Global Research and Counterpunch. In other words, pretty much anyone who’s anyone in alternative news.

As Glen Greenwald and Ben Norton wrote in The Intercept:

This Post report was one of the most widely circulated political news articles on social media over the last 48 hours, with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of U.S. journalists and pundits with large platforms hailing it as an earth-shattering exposé. It was the most-read piece on the entire Post website on Friday after it was published.

Yet the article is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics. It was not surprising to learn that, as BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel noted, “a lot of reporters passed on this story.” Its huge flaws are self-evident. But the Post gleefully ran with it and then promoted it aggressively, led by its Executive Editor Marty Baron:

Greenwald and Norton continue:

In his article, the Post’s Timberg did not include a link to PropOrNot’s website. If readers had the opportunity to visit the site, it would have become instantly apparent that this group of ostensible experts far more resembles amateur peddlers of primitive, shallow propagandistic clichés than serious, substantive analysis and expertise; that it has a blatant, demonstrable bias in promoting NATO’s narrative about the world; and that it is engaging in extremely dubious McCarthyite tactics about a wide range of critics and dissenters.16

I will not link here to the Washington Post article because I am disinclined to direct others to waste their time on execrable clickbait. However, for anyone who wishes to check the above quotes, the link is available as always in the footnotes.

Click here to read Greenwald’s article in The Intercept.

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Additional: What everyone is missing about ‘Russiagate’

Embedded below is an incisive overview by James Corbett entitled “What EVERYONE is missing about ‘Russiagate’”. As he says:

Yes, America interferes in elections all the time. And yes, the Russian ad buys happened after the election. And yes, the DNC really did rig the primaries for Hillary. But if you believe the truth then you’re a dirty Russian!

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1 From Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part II, Chapter 9 by George Orwell in which he quotes passages from “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” written by enemy of the state Emmanuel Goldstein.

2 From an article entitled “Jeremy Corbyn should be ‘open’ over spy’s claims, says Theresa May” published by BBC news on February 19, 2018. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43111794

3 From an article entitled “Corbyn’s spy connection and me” written by Paul Anderson published by Little Atoms on February 19, 2018. http://littleatoms.com/corbyns-spy-connection-and-me

4 From an article entitled “Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy” written by David Smith, published in the Guardian on February 17, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/17/putins-chef-a-troll-farm-and-russias-plot-to-hijack-us-democracy

5 From an article entitled “Russia-gate’s Mythical ‘Heroes’” written by Coleen Rowley, published in Consortium News on June 6, 2017. https://consortiumnews.com/2017/06/06/russia-gates-mythical-heroes/

6 From an article entitled “The President-elect intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” published by New Europe Online on December 13, 2016. https://www.neweurope.eu/article/trump-move-us-embassy-jerusalem/

7 From an article entitled “Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters” written by Craig Timberg, published in the Washington Post on February 15, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/russia-used-mainstream-media-to-manipulate-american-voters/2018/02/15/85f7914e-11a7-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html?utm_term=.f1c18d3c326e

8 From an article entitled “What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking” written by Jackson Lears, published in the London Review of Books on January 4, 2018. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n01/jackson-lears/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-russian-hacking

9 From an article entitled “Mueller Indictment: ‘Russian Influence’ is commercial marketing scheme” published by Moon of Alabama on February 18, 2018. https://popularresistance.org/mueller-indictment-russian-influence-is-commercial-marketing-scheme/

10 From an article entitled “What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking” written by Jackson Lears, published in the London Review of Books on January 4, 2018. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n01/jackson-lears/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-russian-hacking

11 https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/3774

12 From an article entitled “In leaked  email, Clinton claims Saudi and Qatari governments fund ISIS” written by Liz Goodwin and Michael Isikoff, published in Yahoo! News on October 11, 2016. https://www.yahoo.com/news/in-leaked-email-clinton-claims-saudi-and-qatari-governments-fund-isis-221758254.html

13 From an article entitled “U.S. accuses Russia of cyberattacks ‘intended to interfere’ with election” written by Michael Isikoff, published in Yahoo! News on October 7, 2016. https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-s-accuses-russia-of-cyberattacks-intended-to-interfere-with-election-214628799.html

14 From an article entitled “Russia steps up trolling attacks on the West, U.S. intel report finds” written by Michael Isikoff, published in Yahoo! News on September 28, 2016. https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-steps-up-trolling-attacks-on-the-west-u-s-intel-report-finds-203421008.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma

15 From an article entitled “Russian propaganda effort helped to spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” written by Craig Timberg, published in the Washington Post on November 24, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html?utm_term=.a1008a7fedcf

16 From an article entitled “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group” written by Glen Greenwald and Ben Norton, published in The Intercept on November 26, 2016. https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/

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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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