16 May 2018

PALESTINE - GENOCIDE BY BETWEEN 50 TO 100 MURDERS EVERY DAY

Palestine is being destroyed and the world sits around and does nothing,

How much longer is this genocide going to continue? Until every Palestinian has been destroyed and Israel takes over the whole of Palestine? They already control it and starve the Palestinians not so slowly any more.

Whether the Israelis like the comparison or not, what they are doing is what the Nazis did to Jews and other minority groups in the years between 1933 and 1945.

The breakup of Yugoslavia and the wars in the 1990s resulted in more genocides of the Nazi type and the Myanmar murder of the Rohingyas is carrying on the tradition of genocide around the world.

The genocides on the African continent have gone on for a long time and we cannot assume that they will stop any time soon.

The United States of America is helping to do the same in the middle east - in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other countries around the area and the question needs to be asked and asked and asked - why is the rest of the world sitting and watching and doing nothing.

Is it white people against the rest of the world? or is it some other strange anomaly in the human species?

What hope is there when there have been ongoing wars since the end of what was termed the second world war?

The Palestinian people have suffered intolerably and no country has lifted a finger to give them any assistance whatever. They have all just helped to make the matter worse and starve them out of existence altogether.

If people who have so many resources to help other people refuse to do so, we will all sink into the mire and maybe the human species will destroy itself altogether.

If that happened, at least there would be no people left to suffer anywhere any more.

This cartoon of Michael Leunig's appeared in The Age of 17 MAY 2018

                                              ISRAEL - GAZA 2018


                                                                                                        Leunig

The top paragraph of Leunig's cartoon read:

And Cain said to Abel his brother, "Let us go out to the field," and when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel and killed him. 

The bottom paragraph of the cartoon reads:

And the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?" And he said "I do not know: am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil..."

--------------------------------------------------

Letters from The Age 17 MAY 2018:

Gaza: Israel's security relies on fair deal for Palestinians

Instead of blaming the Palestinian leadership, Malcolm Turnbull should show some moral spine and reprimand Israel for killing unarmed protesters. The Palestinians have lost nearly everything since the acquisition of their lands by Israel in 1948 and 1967. They still have no country and are under occupation and/or siege.

In the absence of any useful diplomatic contribution from the US, it's time for other countries like Australia to step up, to pressure Israel to negotiate in good faith for a just solution to the conflict. Israel will have no security until the Palestinians get a fair deal.
Bill O'Connor, Beechworth

The 'two-state solution' must go ahead

Your editorial (16/5) makes useful points. The US and its allies, who have been staunch supporters of Israel's continued military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the name of "Israel's right to exit", are equally guilty of shedding Palestinians' blood. Malcolm Turnbull's comment condemning Palestinians for violence should be shameful to all Australians. New Zealand's PM, Jacinda Ardern, deserves high commendation for her condemnation of Israel for the bloodshed. It is time the Western nations who are unconditional supporters of Israel put a stop to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and implement the "two-state solution" based on the 1967 borders. A peaceful means to achieve this is to declare an economic embargo against Israel until it ends its illegal occupation of the Palestinian lands.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

A piece of provocative timing

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attended the inauguration of the new US embassy (moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) as if it was some kind of celebrity event. Further, it was carried out on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba – the date that Palestinians consider themselves to have been expelled from their homes. Is the global community really expected to think that this is not a provocation, and simply the making right of an inviolable fact that Jerusalem is exclusively the capital of Israel?
And when Palestinians are gunned down in Gaza, are we supposed to think that this is OK because those Palestinians were deluded anyway in thinking that the above was not an inviolable fact?
Stephane Levinson, Carlton

US has shameful hand in region

Donald Trump's only consistent actions since becoming President have been the ongoing provocations to destabilise the world's troubled regions. The latest massacres in Gaza are shameful evidence of how far Israel's expansionist policy can go, thanks to the support from the US administration. Coupled with the irrational scrapping of the Iran deal, Trump's diplomacy-by-tweets only serves the interests of the most reactionary sections of the US establishment.
Fethon Naoum, Portland
 

14 May 2018

THE DARK SIDE OF ISRAELI INDEPENDENCE


The Dark Side of Israeli Independence

 
Photo source gnuckx | CC BY 2.0

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Each May 15, Palestinians solemnly commemorate Nakba Day. Nakba means catastrophe, and that’s precisely what Israel’s independence has been for the more than 700,000 Arabs and their five million refugee descendants forced from their homes and into exile, often by horrific violence, to make way for the Jewish state.

Land Without a People? 

In the late 19th century, Zionism emerged as a movement for the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Although Jews ruled over kingdoms there more than 2,000 years ago, they never numbered more than around 10 percent of the population from antiquity through the early 1900s. A key premise of Zionism is what literary theorist Edward Said called the “excluded presence” of Palestine’s indigenous population; a central myth of early Zionists was that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land.”

At its core, Zionism is a settler-colonial movement of white, European usurpers supplanting Arabs they often viewed as inferior or backwards. Theodore Herzl, father of modern political Zionism, envisioned a Jewish state in Palestine as “an outpost of civilization opposed to barbarism.” Other early Zionists warned against this sort of thinking. The great Hebrew essayist Ahad Ha’am wrote:
We… are accustomed to believing that Arabs are all wild desert people who, like donkeys, neither see nor understand what is happening around them. But this is a grave mistake. The Arabs… see and understand what we are doing and what we wish to do on the land. If the time comes that [we] develop to a point where we are taking their place… the natives are not going to just step aside so easily.
Jewish migration to Palestine increased significantly amid the pogroms and often rabid antisemitism afflicting much of Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. As control of Palestine passed from the defeated Ottoman Turks to Britain toward the end of World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Israelis and their supporters often cite the Balfour Declaration when defending Israel’s legitimacy. What they never mention is that it goes on to state that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Those “existing non-Jewish communities” still made up more than 85 percent of Palestine’s population at the time. As Zionist immigration swelled in the interwar years, conflict between the Jewish newcomers and the Arabs who had lived in Palestine for centuries was inevitable.

The Palestine Problem

Some Arabs reacted to the massive influx by rioting and attacking Jews, who responded by forming militias. Hundreds of Jews and Arabs were murdered in a series of clashes and massacres throughout the 1920s, and as yet another wave of Jewish migration surged into Palestine following the rise of Hitler, Britain formed the Peel Commissionto examine the “Palestine problem.” The commission proposed a “two-state solution” — one for Jews, another for Arabs, with Jerusalem remaining under British control to protect Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites.

As Arab attacks and Jewish retaliation escalated, an exasperated Britain issued the 1939 MacDonald White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration to Palestine. It emphatically stated that the “Balfour Declaration… could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish state against the will of the Arab population of the country.” From then on, Jewish militias, who by now had gone on the offensive and were initiating often unprovoked attacks on Arabs, targeted British occupiers as well.

The two most infamous Jewish terror militias were Irgun and Lehi, led respectively by Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, both future Israeli prime ministers. Irgun was by far the most prolific of the two terror groups, carrying out a string of assassinations and attacks meant to drive out the British. On July 22, 1946, Irgun fighters bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people, including 17 Jews, an attack still celebrated in Israel today. They bombed and shot up crowded markets, trains, cinemas and British police and army posts, killing hundreds of men, women and children. Meanwhile, Lehi assassinated British minister of state Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944, while planning to kill Winston Churchill as well.

“No Room for Both”

With it soldiers, police, officials and, increasingly, its reputation constantly under attack and its resources strained to the breaking point after World War II, Britain withdrew from Palestine in frustration in 1947. The “Palestine problem” was handed off to the fledgling United Nations, which, under intense United States pressure, voted to partition the territory. The Arabs were not consulted. Jews, who comprised just over one-third of Palestine’s population, would get 55 percent of its land. Arabs were enraged.

Jews rejoiced. There was, however, a huge problem with the UN partition plan. If the state of Israel was to be both Jewish and democratic, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would have to leave. Forever. Years earlier, Jewish National Land Fund director Joseph Weitz said:
Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people in this country… and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to neighboring countries… We must not leave a single village, a single tribe.
“A Bit Like A Pogrom”

To that end, David Ben-Gurion, who would soon become Israel’s first prime minister, and his inner circle drafted Plan Dalet, the “principle objectiveof the operation [being] the destruction of Arab villages,” according to official orders. At times the mere threat of violence was enough to coerce Arabs from their homes. Sometimes appalling slaughter was required to get the job done. In the most notorious of what Israeli historian Benny Morris has identified as Nakba 24 massacres, more than 100 Arab men, women and children were killed by Jewish militias at Deir Yassinon April 9, 1948. One 11-year-old survivor later recalled:
“They blew down the door, entered and started searching the place… They shot the son-in -law and when one of his daughters screamed, they shot her too. They then called my brother and shot him in our presence and when my mother screamed and bent over my brother, carrying my little sister, who was still being breast-fed, they shot my mother too.”
“To me it looked a bit like a pogrom,” confessed Mordechai Gichon, an intelligence officer in the Haganah, which would soon become the core of the Israel Defense Forces. “When the Cossacks burst into Jewish neighborhoods, then that should have looked something like this.” Widespread looting and brutal and often deadly rapes were also reminiscent of antisemitic pogroms, with Jews now the aggressors instead of the victims
.
News of Deir Yassin spread like wildfire through Palestine, prompting many Arabs to flee for their lives. This is exactly what Jewish commanders — who would play self-described “horror recordings” of shrieking women and children on loudspeakers when approaching Arab villages — wanted. Attacking Jewish militias typically gave most of their victims room to escape; commanders generally preferred a fright-to-flight strategy over wanton slaughter.

“Like Nazis”

Jewish ethnic cleansing of Palestine accelerated when Arab armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq invaded with the intent of smothering the nascent state of Israel in its cradle. On July 11, 1948, future Israeli foreign and defense minister Moshe Dayan led a raid on Lydda in which over 250 Arab men, women, children and old people were killed with automatic weapons, grenades and cannon. What followed, on future prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s orders, was the wholesale expulsion of  Lydda and Ramle. Tens of thousands of Arabs fled in what became known as the Lydda Death March. Israeli reporter Ari Shavit wrote:
Children shouted, women screamed, men wept. There was no water. Every so often, a family… stopped by the side of the road to bury a baby who had not withstood the heat; to say farewell to a grandmother who had collapsed from fatigue. After a while, it got even worse. A mother abandoned her howling baby under a tree. [Another] abandoned her week-old boy.
The international community was horrified and outraged by the Jewish atrocities of 1948-49. In the United States, a prominent group of Jews including Albert Einstein blasted the “terrorists” who attacked Deir Yassin. Others compared the Jewish militias to their would-be German destroyers, including Aharon Cizling, Israel’s first agriculture minister, who lamented that “now Jews have behaved like Nazis and my entire being is shaken.”

Jews indeed behaved something like Nazis as they expelled or exterminated Arabs for their own lebensraumin Palestine. By the time it was all over, over 400 Arab villages were destroyed or abandoned, their residents — some of whom still hold the keys to their stolen homes — never to return. Moshe Dayan, one of Israel’s most exalted heroes, confessed in all but name to Israel’s ethnic cleansing in a 1969 speech:
“We came to this country, which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing… a Jewish state here. Jewish villages were built in place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because those geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
War on Truth & Memory

Today such honesty is sorely lacking, both among most Israeli Jews and their US coreligionists and supporters. In addition to efforts to silence and even outlaw peaceful protest movements like the growing worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort, Zionists and their apologist allies — some with their own competing religious agenda — have aggressively sought to erase the Nakba from memory. This is accomplished by denying Israeli crimes and by tarring critics with allegations of antisemitism.

Special vitriol is reserved for the “self-hating”Jews who dare shine light on Israeli atrocities. Teddy Katz, a graduate student at Haifa University and ardent Zionist who uncovered the mass slaughter of 230 surrendering Arabs at Tantura on May 22, 1948, was sued, publicly humiliated, forced to apologize and stripped of his degree for the “offense” of telling the ugly, uncomfortable truth. The Israeli government even went as far as banning diaspora Jews who are too critical from making the “birthright return” to Israel granted to every other Jew in the world.

No Return, No Retreat

Speaking of the right to return, as Nakba refugees fled Palestine, often to settle in squalid camps in neighboring countries, the United Nations passed Resolution 194, which guaranteed that every Palestinian refugee could return to their home and receive compensation for damages. None ever did.

 Israel ignored this and dozens of other UN resolutions over the coming decades, its impunity ensured by massive and unwavering US support.

Enabled and emboldened, Israel now marks 70 years of statehood and over half a century of illegal occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Today, Israel’s illegal Jewish settler colonies are the spear-tip of what critics call its slow-motion ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Its Jews-only settlements and roads, separation wall and ubiquitous military checkpoints are, according to Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and others, the foundation of an apartheid state. Its periodic invasions of Gaza, with their 100-1 death toll disparities, their slaughter of entire families and enduring economic privation, are globally condemned as war crimes.

Yet through it all, the Palestinian people endure, despite the overwhelming odds against them. The more honest voices among earlier generations of Zionists foresaw this. Echoing Ahad Ha’am’s 1891 warning that “the natives are not going to just step aside so easily,” Ben-Gurion later acknowledgedthat “a people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily.” Seventy years later, neither Palestinians nor Jews have tired so easily, and the world is no closer to solving the “Palestine problem.” Meanwhile, Jews, Arabs and the wider world brace for the next inevitable explosion. This is colonialism’s deadly legacy.

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Brett Wilkins is editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. 

30 April 2018

HSBC: PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS ON HUMAN RIGHTS

HSBC: Put your money where your mouth is on human rights

Time to up the heat on HSBC, writes Marienna Pope-Weidemann, as War on Want call on the bank to stop arming Israel.

19 April 2018 Red Pepper online journal
 

Marienna Pope-Weidemann

Marienna Pope-Weidemann is War on Want's press officer. @MariennaPW


 

Against incredible odds, Palestinians continue to resist Israel’s system of oppression, demanding freedom and justice and calling on people of conscience here in the UK to do all we can to stop UK corporations from supporting – and profiting from – Israeli apartheid. That’s what this campaign is all about.

During recent demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military has once again shown the world its willingness to turn deadly force on unarmed civilians.

 Despite calls for restraint from the UN, at least 30 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli security forces, with one video surfacing which showed an onlooker cheering as an Israeli sniper shot an unarmed Palestinian protester.

To find those responsible, we don’t just need to look as far as the Israeli state or even the UK, which arms it. If you have an HSBC branch on your high street, there’s complicity much closer to home.

Financial institutions are a crucial link in the chain of complicity in Palestinian oppression; this includes some of the UK’s biggest banks. HSBC holds £831 million pounds worth of shares in companies selling weapons and military technology to Israel, such as BAE Systems,  Boeing, and Elbit Systems. Weapons and military technology made by these companies are used in Israeli attacks on Palestinians, not just when global headlines flare up around major offensives, but also as part of the daily brutality and violence of Israel’s apartheid system

This includes extrajudicial executions, mass arrests, use of live ammunition to disperse unarmed crowds, and house demolitions using armoured bulldozers.

Israel’s illegal military blockade and large scale bombings of the Gaza Strip have contributed to a historic humanitarian crisis. Two million residents live in Gaza without reliable electricity. 70 percent of the population has no access to clean water, more than half suffer from food insecurity and tens of thousands have been left displaced, injured and traumatised by successive bombardments.

One of the most damning companies in HSBC’s list of shareholdings is Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest arms manufacturers, which has made white phosphorous for military use and  cluster munition cannons sold to the Israeli military. Cluster munitions are banned under an international treaty signed by the UK because they disperse smaller bombs over a wide area, posing a deadly threat to civilians in densely populated areas. 
  
In response to War on Want’s queries, HSBC has hidden behind a Defence Equipment Sector Policy, which states that HSBC does not provide financial services to arms companies. It was War on Want’s Deadly Investments investigation which revealed HSBC was still listed as a shareholder in at least 19 arms companies that sell weapons to Israel. Our investigation exposed that the policy has built-in loopholes that allow for it to continue to actively maintain business relationships with some of the world’s largest arms companies.

Over 18,000 people have already taken action by writing to HSBC Group Chief Executive John Flint, and over 20 HSBC branches across the UK have been regularly targeted by campaigners inspired by the Palestinian call on campaigners to take up divestment campaigns focused on banks and other companies involved in arming Israel.

The focus on HSBC comes at a shaky time for the bank, as it is also embroiled in a host of tax-dodging scandals, and was at the centre of reports on companies with the worst gender pay gaps. With these reputational issues already at play, HSBC has been growing increasingly nervous about the Stop Arming Israel campaign. And to us, that means one thing: time to turn up the heat.

This Friday from 10am-2pm, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Boycott Israel Network will be protesting outside the HSBC Annual General Meeting to raise awareness and put pressure on shareholders. 

With the UN Secretary General calling for an independent inquiry into Israel’s use of force against unarmed Palestinian protesters this month and the UN compiling a list of companies complicit in Israeli violations of international law, the Palestinian call for divestment has never had broader support. The time has come for HSBC to put its money where its mouth is: stop arming Israel and end its corporate complicity in oppression wherever it exists.

29 April 2018

WHY ARE PALESTINIANS PROTESTING IN GAZA?


Why Are Palestinians Protesting in Gaza?



    Once again, the Israeli military has turned its guns on Gaza — this time on unarmed protestors, in a series of shootings over the last few weeks. Gaza’s already under-resourced hospitals are straining to care for the 1,600 protesters who have been injured, on top of 40 killed.

According to a group of United Nations experts, “there is no available evidence to suggest that the lives of heavily armed security forces were threatened” by the unarmed demonstrators they fired on.

The violence is getting some coverage in the news. But the conditions in Gaza that have pushed so many to protest remain largely invisible. So do their actual demands.

The Great Return March was organized by grassroots groups in Gaza as a peaceful action with three key demands: respect for refugees’ right to return to their homes, an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Seventy years ago, Palestinians were expelled from their homes en masse when their land was seized for the state of Israel. Many became refugees, with millions of people grouped into shrinking areas like Gaza. Fifty years ago, the rest of historic Palestine came under Israeli military occupation.

While these refugees’ right of return has been recognized by the international community, no action has been taken to uphold that right. Meanwhile, the occupation has become further and further entrenched.

For over a decade, the people of Gaza have lived under a military-imposed blockade that severely limits travel, trade, and everyday life for its 2 million residents. The blockade effectively bans nearly all exports, limits imports, and severely restricts passage in and out.

In over 20 visits to Gaza over the last 10 years, I’ve watched infrastructure degrade under both the blockade and a series of Israeli bombings.

Beautiful beaches are marred by raw sewage, which flows into the sea in amounts equivalent to 43 Olympic swimming pools every day. Access to water and electricity continually decreases, hospitals close, school hours are limited, and people are left thirsty and in the dark.

These problems can only be fixed by ending the blockade.

As Americans, we bear direct responsibility for the horrific reality in Gaza. Using our tax money, the U.S. continues to fund the Israeli military through $3.8 billion in aid annually.

A group of U.S.-based faith organizations has called out U.S. silence in a statement supporting protesters and condemning the killings: “The United States stood by and allowed Israel to carry out these attacks without any public criticism or challenge,” they said. “Such U.S. complicity is a continuation of the historical policy of active support for Israel’s occupation and U.S. disregard for Palestinian rights.”

The signatories include the American Friends Service Committee, where I work, an organization that started providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Gaza as far back as 1948.

While the U.S. does give money to the United Nations and international aid groups working in Gaza, it’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to our support of the military laying siege to the territory.

As my colleagues in Gaza have made clear, what they need isn’t more aid. That humanitarian aid is needed because of the blockade. What they need is freedom from the conditions that make life unlivable — like the blockade itself — and a long-term political solution.

Ignoring the reasons Gaza is in crisis only hurts our chances to address this manmade humanitarian horror.

Mike Merryman-Lotze has worked with the American Friends Service Committee as the Palestine-Israel Program Director since 2010.

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25 April 2018

SYRIA CONTROVERSY: DON'T BELIEVE THE OFFICIAL NARRATIVE

SYRIA CONTROVERSY: DON'T BELIEVE THE OFFICIAL NARRATIVE

A Syrian poses as he gathers with his family in the Marjeh Square in Damascus on April 15. Syria’s President Bashar Assad spoke that day to a group of visiting Russian politicians, saying that a campaign of "lies" and misinformation in the U.N. Security Council accompanied Western missile strikes against his country. (Hassan Ammar / AP)
Editor’s note: Reports of a chemical attack in Syria have generated controversy and conflicting claims about what happened and who was responsible. The April 7 event is still under investigation. On Thursday, Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar wrote a column titled “Why Are Some on the Left Falling for Fake News on Syria?” Truthdig contributor Max Blumenthal questions her analysis.

 Below is his response. You can read Kolhatkar’s take here

This month, the United States, the United Kingdom and France launched airstrikes in Syria in flagrant violation of international law and entirely on the basis of images that had appeared on social media.

To date, no concrete evidence of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government in Douma has been produced to support the Trump administration’s justification for the allies’ bombing in response. The only sources of what State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described as “our own intelligence” on chemical warfare allegations were the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society.

The U.S. government has funded both groups, and they operate exclusively alongside Salafi-jihadi militants, including the local affiliate of al-Qaida and Islamic State. Both groups also are avowedly dedicated to stimulating support for a Western-led war of regime change against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Neither, therefore, can be considered credible sources of intelligence.


In 2007, journalist James Bamford recalled how Americans had been subjected to “a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq—the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media.” The dirty war on Syria represents an extension of that strategy, with the mainstream media operating hand in glove with insurgent-allied influence operations like the White Helmets to cultivate public support for another war of regime change.

As Adam Johnson demonstrated at the media monitoring outfit FAIR, not one editorial page of any major American newspaper opposed Donald Trump’s strike on Syria. And in the attack’s wake, the Western commentariat criticized Trump not for his illegal bombing campaign but for what was seen as the insufficient violence he displayed.

Having exposed itself once again as an eager channel for an outrageous series of pro-war deceptions, the Western media has forfeited the trust of the public and earned the extreme skepticism, if not the angry wrath, of those it claims to serve. As citizens turn in unprecedented numbers to alternative media sources, their governments have falsely labeled these sources as “Russian bots” and waged a campaign to suppress RT, perhaps the only international English-language network willing to provide a platform to critical voices on the recent events in Syria. When British Adm. Alan West questioned the official narrative on alleged Syrian chemical attacks during a recent BBC interview, his host essentially admonished him against thinking critically in public because “we’re in an information war with Russia on so many fronts.”

In this repressive atmosphere, as space for challenging pro-war narratives closes off like never before, Sonali Kolhatkar—the host of a leading public affairs radio program that has provided me and many other progressive journalists and activists with a friendly platform—attempted an unusual intervention. Instead of weighing in to defend alternative anti-war media, Kolhatkar lectured “some on the left” for their refusal to trust mainstream coverage of the incident in Douma. Posing as an opponent of bombing Syria, Kolhatkar assailed those who questioned the core rationale for the bombing, accusing them of having fallen for “fake news.”
Echoing The Intercept and Al-Jazeera pundit Mehdi Hasan, who recently ranted at an elusive mass of left-wing “Assadists,” Kolhatkar even accused anti-imperialist elements of secretly “desir[ing] glorification of leaders and strongmen.” In doing so, she not only assailed the process of intensive truth seeking that citizens should be encouraged to undertake in public debates over war, she gaslighted the truth seekers, casting them as authoritarian lunatics in need of reprogramming.

Kolhatkar took special aim at veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, who was able to enter Douma and produce testimony by a Syrian doctor that undercut insurgent claims of a chemical attack. To counter Fisk’s on-the-ground reporting, Kolhatkar cited an array of articles from The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, The Associated Press and The New York Times that mostly relied on correspondents outside Syria. Exhibiting a reflexive faith in the credibility of these established outlets, she neglected to examine their record of heinously biased coverage of Syria or the partisan sources they relied on in reporting on Douma.

Citing a Guardian report, Kolhatkar wrongly claimed that the article was written by “journalists on the ground.” The piece was actually datelined from Beirut and Istanbul and contained no on-the-ground reporting. (Kolhatkar’s false reference to “journalists on the ground” was removed with an acknowledgment at the end of the column after I alerted Truthdig editors to the error.) The article’s authors, Kareem Shaheen and Martin Chulov, relied on only one named “Syrian” source: Ghanem Tayara, a doctor based not in Syria but in Birmingham, England. Tayara, who has been agitating within the U.K. for a Western-led military intervention for several years, also was the main source asserting that his colleagues had been coerced into giving testimony that supported the government’s line.

Strangely, Kolhatkar scoffed at the notion that The Guardian could have been part of “some grand conspiracy” to stimulate support for regime change in Syria. She thus ignored the paper’s editorializing for military intervention in Syria, as well as the background of its Middle East correspondent: As I previously reported, Shaheen has promoted material spun out by The Syria Campaign, the PR firm representing the White Helmets, and has favorably quoted the spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham, a Turkish-backed Salafi militia implicated in an array of atrocities. Shaheen was, in fact, the first Western reporter allowed into insurgent-controlled Khan Sheikoun by Ahrar al-Sham after allegations of a chemical attack there in April 2017. Demonstrating his pro-opposition bent, he once tweeted a photo of a neighborhood that had been destroyed by al-Qaida and falsely described it as an exhibit of Assad’s brutality.

Turning to an Al-Jazeera report to undermine Fisk’s coverage from Douma, Kolhatkar openly wondered why any rational person might distrust this Qatari-backed news group’s coverage of Syria. She thus ignored the role of Al-Jazeera’s governmental parent as a top financial sponsor of both the White Helmets and Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, the Nusra Front. Al-Jazeera has been so dedicated to regime change in Syria that it partnered with Google and Hillary Clinton’s State Department in 2012 to encourage the defection of Syrian army officers to the CIA-backed armed opposition.

The network’s Arabic arm, meanwhile, has featured calls for the genocide of Syrian minority groups by one of its most popular hosts, Faisal Qasim. While promoting the White Helmets, Al-Jazeera’s viral site, AJ+, even appeared to justify the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey by a sympathizer of al-Qaida.

Al-Jazeera also has given its “personality of the week” award to one of al-Qaida’s most prominent media figures in Syria, Bilal Abdul Kareem.
While Al-Jazeera might play a valuable role in providing Westerners with a regular stream of information and opinions on the Middle East, it is about as far from an impartial source on Syria as a network can be. To cast it as an objective source, as Kolhatkar did, would probably qualify under the definition of what she called “fake news.”

Next, in her bid to discredit Fisk, Kolhatkar cited an Associated Press article by Bassem Mroue filed from Douma. However, she strangely omitted the following section, which undermined her case for accusing the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack by air:
Nuseir, 25, said he ran from the shelter to a nearby clinic and fainted. After he was revived, he returned to the shelter and found his wife and daughters dead, with foam coming from their mouths.
He and two other residents accused the rebel Army of Islam of carrying out the attack. [Emphasis added.] As they spoke, government troops were not far away but out of earshot. Nuseir said a gas cylinder was found leaking the poison gas, adding that he didn’t think it was dropped from the air because it still looked intact.
The most compelling reasons to doubt that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack in Douma lay not only in witness testimony but in a basic consideration of motivation and timing. The Syrian army had completely defeated the Jaysh al-Islam insurgents in eastern Ghouta and was on the precipice of destroying them in Douma when the chemical attack was alleged to have happened. From a military standpoint, the Syrian government had no need to deploy chemical weapons, as it had already achieved victory through conventional means. From a political perspective, a chemical attack was suicidal—guaranteed to trip the “red line” imposed by Western governments and immediately trigger military intervention.

The insurgents, however, had every reason to allege that a chemical attack had taken place, as stimulating Western intervention has been their only hope for achieving the objective of regime change.

Kolhatkar attempted to turn this obvious logic on its head, wondering without any apparent sign of irony, “Why would rebels frame Assad only to leave their stronghold right afterward?”

Perhaps the Syrian government was stupid enough to use chemical weapons when it had every motive not to do so. And maybe it was so stupid that it has used them over and over again, flagrantly daring the West to intervene.
Someday, Western governments might be able to produce enough evidence to demonstrate that this was the case. But so far, they have been unable to do so.

What’s more, they have failed to convince their citizens that another war of regime change against a formerly stable post-colonial Arab state was necessary.

Despite being subjected to a tidal wave of deceptions and a campaign of pro-war perception management of unprecedented scale, the Western public has managed to maintain an attitude of healthy distrust toward its media establishment. The everyday skeptics deserve our congratulations, not condescending lectures and elitist contempt.


Max Blumenthal
Max Blumenthal is the editor of the GrayzoneProject.com and the co-host of the podcast Moderate Rebels. He is an award-winning journalist and the author of books, including the best-selling "Republican…

22 April 2018

CORBYN NOT THE ANTI-SEMITE, BRITISH CONSERVATIVES AND LABOUR PARTY ARE THE GUILTY PARTIES!

The UK parliamentarians who love Israel for one reason only are the anti-semites in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. It really is a bit rich for any UK parliamentarian to accuse Corbyn of anti-semitism when anti-semitism is in the DNA of most people in the UK dating back some few hundred years. Remember the play by Shakespeare called "The Merchant of Venice"?

A little later, chronologically, my ancestors who arrived in the UK  in places which were then called England and Scotland from central Europe, probably Germany and the Netherlands most of whom didn't like the Jews either, settled in the late 1700s and, after experiencing the anti-semitism of the day, changed their names from Ezekiel to Eskell and Isaacs/De Saxe. Lyons in Edinburgh must also have been something else in Germany. De Saxes and Eskells in 2018 are, around the world, mostly no longer Jewish and haven't been for almost the last 200 years. However, also most when they were/are Jewish did not go and live in zionist apartheid Israel.

One of my other families came from Lithuania, then under Russian rule in the late 1800s and settled in South Africa. They fled the pogroms in Lithuania, only to find ant-semitism in all its glory in South Africa. Many of them changed the spelling of their surname from Kuper to Cooper to enable them to obtain employment, which was more difficult with a very Jewish name and accent from Eastern Europe. Later some of them became zionists but did not go and live in apartheid Israel, having lived in white apartheid South Africa until its end in 1994.

Just  after the second world war I went to England as a pupil graduate engineer to work in Newcastle on Tyne for two years from 1950 to 1952. One weekend in about 1951 I was out walking with another graduate apprentice from Scotland, who didn't know I was Jewish, although I never hid it and it was generally no secret, and he said to me, "the trouble with Hitler was that he never finished the job." Of course I was left speechless and never spoke to him again. One of our fellow students told him later I was Jewish.

Jeremy Corbyn is a thorn in all their sides because he supports the Palestinians and their right to their own country and statehood, and not the dregs offered by apartheid zionist Israel and the rest of the world who have helped with, and connived at, the theft of Palestine from the Palestinians and since when the Palestinians are treated as people to do genocide against so that they would never trouble the world again. And the rest of the world supports them!

The problem in the UK at its basis is that having started in the late 19th century with a plan to get rid of the Jews from the whole UK by stating that Jerusalem is where the Jews belong and the whole area of Palestine was where the Jews came from, they had politicians even before Balfour conniving with the parliament of the day to support all those advocating for the Jews to have a homeland in Palestine. That is their homeland!! This tissue of lies from A to Z is proudly supported by the zionists in Israel  - who want the Jews to get out of whatever countries they are currently domiciled in to move to Israel to boost the falling numbers of Israelis because so many have emigrated to other countries, probably to get away from the violence perpetrated by the Israeli government and its supporters in the USA and around the world, who all want the Jews out of their countries and into Israel to have got them out of their hair.

Corbyn is a thorn in their sides of course for a multitude of reasons, one of which is his enormous appeal to younger voters in the UK who are sick of the conservatism and lies of the major political parties - including the bulk of the Labour Party parliamentarians who hate Corbyn because he is anti-zionist and for a multitude of other reasons. He brought a breath of fresh air into the Labour Party and parliament after years of Blair and his ultra-right-wing politics and policies and his aftermath which still clings in a foul way to the Labour Party.

20 April 2018

MEDIA COVER-UP: SHIELDING ISRAEL IS A MATTER OF POLICY


Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy



Photo by Swithun Crowe | CC BY 2.0

The term ‘media bias’ does not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality. It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians.

The current disgraceful coverage of Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing the truth on Palestine, at any cost and by any means.

Political symbiosis, cultural affinity, Hollywood, the outreaching influence of pro-Israel and Zionist groups within the political and media circles, are some of the explanations many of us have offered as to why Israel is often viewed with sympathetic eyes and Palestinians and Arabs condemned.

But such explanations should hardly suffice. Nowadays, there are numerous media outlets that are trying to offset some of the imbalance, many of them emanating from the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. Palestinian and Arab journalists, intellectuals and cultural representatives are more present on a global stage than ever before and are more than capable of facing off, if not defeating, the pro-Israeli media discourse.

However, they are largely invisible to western media; it is the Israeli spokesperson who continues to occupy the center stage, speaking, shouting, theorizing and demonizing as he pleases.

It is, then, not a matter of media ignorance, but policy.

Even before March 30, when scores of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and thousands wounded, the US and British media, for example, should have, at least, questioned why hundreds of Israeli snipers and army tanks were ordered to deploy at the Gaza border to face-off Palestinian protesters.

Instead, they referred to ‘clashes’ between Gaza youth and the snipers, as if they are equal forces in an equivalent battle.

Western media is not blind. If ordinary people are increasingly able to see the truth regarding the situation in Palestine, experienced western journalists cannot possibly be blind to the truth. They know, but they choose to remain silent.

 The maxim that official Israeli propaganda or ‘hasbara’ is too savvy no longer suffices. In fact, it is hardly true.

Where is the ingenuity in the way the Israeli army explained the killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza?

“Yesterday we saw 30,000 people,” the Israeli army tweeted on March 31. “We arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

If that is not bad enough, Israel’s ultra-nationalist Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, followed that self-indictment by declaring there are “no innocent people in Gaza”; thus, legitimizing the targeting of any Gazan within the besieged Strip.

Unfair media coverage is not fueled by the simplistic notion of ‘clever Israel, imprudent Arabs’. Western media is actively involved in shielding Israel and enhancing its diminishing brand, while painstakingly demolishing the image of Israel’s enemies.

Take for example, Israel’s unfounded propaganda that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza journalist who was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, was a member of Hamas.

First, ‘unnamed officials’ in Israel claimed that Yasser is ‘a member of the Hamas security apparatus.’ Then, Lieberman offered more (fabricated) details that Yasser was on Hamas’ payroll since 2011 and ‘held a rank similar to a captain.’ Many journalists took these statements and ran with them, constantly associating any news coverage of Yasser’s death with Hamas.

It turned out that, according to the US State Department, Yasser’s start-up media company in Gaza had actually received a small grant from USAID, which subjected Yasser’s company to a rigorous vetting process.

More still, a report by the International Federation of Journalist claimed that Yasser was actually detained and beaten by the Gaza police in 2015, and that Israel’s Defense Minister is engineering a cover-up.

Judging by this, Israel’s media apparatus is as erratic and self-defeating as North Korea; but this is hardly the image conveyed by western media, because it insists on placing Israel on a moral pedestal while misrepresenting Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.

But there is more to western media’s approach to Palestine and Israel than shielding and elevating Israel, while demonizing Palestinians. Oftentimes, the media works to distract from the issues altogether, as is the case in Britain today, where Israel’s image is rapidly deteriorating.

To disrupt the conversation on Palestine, the Israeli Occupation and the British government’s unconditional support of Israel, British mainstream media has turned the heat on Jeremy Corbyn, the popular leader of the Labor Party.

Accusations of anti-Semitism has dogged the party since Corbyn’s election in 2015. Yet, Corbyn is not racist; on the contrary, he has stood against racism, for the working class and other disadvantaged groups. His strong pro-Palestine stance, in particular, is threatening to compel a paradigm shift on Palestine and Israel within the revived and energized Labor Party.

Sadly, Corbyn’s counter strategy is almost entirely absent. Instead of issuing a statement condemning all forms of racism and moving on to deal with the urgent issues at hand, including that of Palestine, he allows his detractors to determine the nature of the discussion, if not the whole discourse. He is now trapped in a perpetual conversation, while the Labor Party is regularly purging its own members for alleged anti-Semitism.

Considering that Israel and its allies in the media, and elsewhere, conflate between criticism of Israel and its Zionist ideology, on the one hand, and that of Jews and Judaism on the other, Corbyn cannot win this battle.

Nor are Israel’s friends keen on winning, either. They merely want to prolong a futile debate so that British society remains embroiled in distractions and spares Israel any accountability for its action.

If British media was, indeed, keen on calling out racism and isolating racists, why then is there little discussion on Israel’s racist policies targeting Palestinians?

Media spin will continue to provide Israel with the needed margins to carry out its violent policies against the Palestinian people, with no moral accountability. It will remain loyal to Israel, creating a buffer between the truth and its audiences.

It is incumbent on us to expose this sinister relationship and hold mainstream media to account for covering up Israel’s crimes, as well as Israel for committing these crimes in the first place.
 
More articles by:
Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: http://www.ramzybaroud.net

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm

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