Archive | April 11th, 2014

The President is a Bully

NOVANEWS
Obama Issues Threats To Russia And NATO

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

The Obama regime has issued simultaneous threats to the enemy it is making out of Russia and to its European NATO allies on which Washington is relying to support sanctions on Russia.  This cannot end well.

As even Americans living in a controlled media environment are aware, Europeans, South Americans, and Chinese are infuriated that the National Stasi Agency is spying on their communications. NSA’s affront to legality, the US Constitution, and international diplomatic norms is unprecedented. Yet, the spying continues, while Congress sits sucking its thumb and betraying its oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

In Washington mumbo-jumbo from the executive branch about “national security” suffices to negate statutory law and Constitutional requirements. Western Europe, seeing that the White House, Congress and the Federal Courts are impotent and unable to rein-in the Stasi Police State, has decided to create a European communication system that excludes US companies in order to protect the privacy of European citizens and government communications from the Washington Stasi.

The Obama regime, desperate that no individual and no country escape its spy net, denounced Western Europe’s intention to protect the privacy of its communications as “a violation of trade laws.”

Obama’s US Trade Representative, who has been negotiating secret “trade agreements” in Europe and Asia that give US corporations immunity to the laws of all countries that sign the agreements, has threatened WTO penalties if Europe’s communications network excludes the US companies that serve as spies for NSA. Washington in all its arrogance has told its most necessary allies that if you don’t let us spy on you, we will use WTO to penalize you.

So there you have it.  The rest of the world now has the best possible reason to exit the WTO and to avoid the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic “trade agreements.” The agreements are not about trade. The purpose of these “trade agreements” is to establish the hegemony of Washington and US corporations over other countries.

In an arrogant demonstration of Washington’s power over Europe, the US Trade Representative warned Washington’s NATO allies: “US Trade Representative will be carefully monitoring the development of any such proposals” to create a separate European communication network.  http://rt.com/news/us-europe-nsa-snowden-549/

Washington is relying on the Chancellor of Germany, the President of France, and the Prime Minister of the UK to place service to Washington above their countries’ communications privacy.

It has dawned on the Russian government that being a part of the American dollar system means that Russia is open to being looted by Western banks and corporations or by individuals financed by them, that the ruble is vulnerable to being driven down by speculators in the foreign exchange market and by capital outflows, and that dependence on the American international payments system exposes Russia to arbitrary sanctions imposed by the “exceptional and indispensable country.”

Why it took the Russian government so long to realize that the dollar payments system puts countries under Washington’s thumb is puzzling.  Perhaps the answer is the success of US Cold War propaganda. Cold war propaganda  portrayed America as the shining light, the great observer of human rights, opponent of torture, upholder of liberty, defender of the downtrodden, lover of peace, and benefactor of the world.  This image survived even as the US government prevented the rise of any representative governments in Latin America and while Washington has bombed half a dozen countries into rubble.

Russians emerging from communism naturally aligned with the propaganda image of “American freedom.” That the US and Europe were also corrupt and also had blood on their hands was overlooked. During the years of anti-Soviet propaganda, Washington was murdering European women and children and blaming communists. The truth came out when President of Italy Francesco Cossiga publicly revealed Operation Gladio, a false flag terrorist scheme run by the CIA and Italian Intelligence during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s that targeted European women and children with bombs in order to blame the communists and thereby prevent European communist parties from making electoral gains. This is one of the most well-known false flag events in history, having resulted in extraordinary confessions by Italian intelligence.

Now that the Russian government understands that Russia must depart the dollar system in order to protect Russian sovereignty, President Putin has entered into barter/ruble oil deals with China and Iran.  However, Washington objects to Russia abandoning the dollar international payment system. Zero Hedge, a more reliable news source than the US print and TV media, reports that Washington has conveyed to both Russia and Iran that a non-dollar oil deal would trigger US sanctions. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-04/us-threatens-russia-sanctions-over-petrodollar-busting-deal

Washington’s objection to the Russian/Iranian deal made it clear to all governments that Washington uses the dollar-based international payments system as a means of control. Why should countries accept an international payments system that infringes their sovereignty? What would happen if instead of passively accepting the dollar as the means of international payment, countries simply left the dollar system? The value of the dollar would fall and so would Washington’s power. Without the power that the dollar’s role as world reserve currency gives the US to pay its bills by printing money, the US could not maintain its aggressive military posture or its payoffs to foreign governments to do its bidding.

Washington would be just another failed empire, whose population can barely make ends meet, while the One Percent who comprise the mega-rich compete with 200-foot yachts and $750,000 fountain pins. The aristocracy and the serfs.  That is what America has already become. A throwback to the feudal era.

It is only a matter of time before it is universally recognized that the US is a failed state. Let’s pray this recognition occurs before the arrogant inhabitants of Washington blow up the world in pursuit of hegemony over others.

Washington’s provocative military moves against Russia are reckless and dangerous.

The buildup of NATO air, ground, and naval forces on Russia’s borders in violation of the 1997 NATO-Russian treaty and the Montreux Convention naturally strike the Russian government as suspicious, especially as the buildups are justified on the basis of lies that Russia is about to invade Poland, the Baltic States, and Moldova in addition to Ukraine.

These lies are transparent.  The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has asked NATO for an explanation, stating: “We are not only expecting answers, but answers that will be based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on.”  http://rt.com/news/lavrov-ukraine-nato-convention-069/

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Washington’s puppet installed as NATO figurehead who is no more in charge of NATO than I am, responded in a way guaranteed to raise Russian anxieties. Rasmussen dismissed the Russian Foreign Minister’s request for explanation as “propaganda and disinformation.”

Clearly, what we are experiencing are rising tensions caused by Washington and NATO. These tensions are in addition to the tensions arising from Washington’s coup in Ukraine. These reckless and dangerous actions have destroyed the Russian government’s trust in the West and are moving the world toward war.

Little did the protesters in Kiev, called into the streets by Washington’s NGOs, realize that their foolishness was setting the world on a path to armageddon.

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22 Students and Workers Arrested in UC Strike

NOVANEWS

by PATRICK MADDEN

The University of California Santa Cruz is probably better known for its extra-curricular activities than academics. Students observe the annual “naked run” in celebration of the first rainfall of the school year. The April 20th or 4/20 smokeout takes over the Porter meadow, where last year a student was shamefully arrested for toking on a joint rolled with over two pounds of Kush. On a clear 4/20 afternoon you can spot a thin cloud of weed smoke rising from the meadow for literally miles around. But the small Santa Cruz campus, which rabid conservative David Horowitz once called “the most dangerous school in America” has a political edge as well, sharpened by a few radical academic programs, and left intellectuals including no less a figure than Angela Davis. Since the onset of the economic crisis and the implementation of UC-system-wide austerity measures, UCSC has been a hotbed of resistance (Berkeley and Davis have been as well), and last week, early Wednesday morning the 2nd of April, twenty student workers and protesters, representatives and supporters of UAW local 2865, were arrested by riot cops for attempting to establish a picket at the west entrance. Two more were arrested the next day.

Union members were out on the lines after leaders had called a strike to protest unfair labor practices and intimidation of graduate student teaching assistants. Joining the TAs as muscle were various left, largely undergraduate student groups, some gathered under the nom de guerre “Autonomous Students,” a loose collective which initially formed to protest the UC system’s hiring of Janet Napolitano. (Napolitano, former Arizona governor and Homeland Security hatchet-woman for the Deporter-in-Chief Obama, was appointed President of the UC system in 2012. The appointment of a blatant human rights abuser with no experience in education administration should be a disgrace anywhere, but in a system with what by national standards is a huge number of Chicano, Latino, and other diverse immigrant and second generation students, the appointment of such a specimen is obviously a slap in the face of a special kind.) Bus drivers and construction trade workers joined the UAW TAs in staying off campus; and the picket lines were up and going all day Wednesday and Thursday at UCSC, Berkeley, Davis, San Diego, and Irvine.

But only at UCSC were picketers and protesters arrested. California Highway Patrol along with UC Berkeley and UCSC campus cops—donning full riot gear—aggressively carried out the arguably illegal arrests. The takedown of UAW leader Josh Brahinsky, tackled and handcuffed by cops for stepping into an intersection with a picket sign, has been widely circulated (see link). Before being cuffed, Brahinsky can be heard addressing “Executive Vice Chancellor” Allison Galloway, former UCSC Anthropology professor turned admin-shill and union buster, who was roadside to give the green light to the early morning police operation. After he declared he was a union member and about to begin a legal picket, the cops took Brahinsky to the ground as Galloway looked on. The UCSC 20, as they have been dubbed, were then swiftly escorted to campus busses that were waiting in the wings and taken to the county jail. Most of them were charged with misdemeanors ranging from remaining at the scene of a riot to resisting arrest (sic). In addition, one woman was arrested for battery on an officer, a classic cowardly police tactic in protest situations. According to onlookers, the woman stepped away from a riot cop, pushed the cop’s hand away from her, and shouted, “don’t touch me!”

A small group of faculty has expressed its shock at the admin and the cops in a polite letter, but the reason for the university administration’s decision was as unsurprising as it was simple. The geography of the UCSC campus is unique: isolated out of town, carved into the foothills and redwood forests of the coastal range, there are only two entrances to the city on the hill. Because of this limited access, protests at UCSC can be extremely disruptive. Despite the UC-system-wide crackdown on the anti-austerity movement of 2009-2010 and the Occupy protests of 2011, the campus at Santa Cruz, unlike the other UCs, has remained relatively easy to shut down. Strikes routinely close campus operations: nearly a half-dozen times in less than five years alone. The openly sanctioned show of force was a clear signal from the administration that they don’t have to tolerate this anymore, a clear sign that they think the balance of power has shifted in their favor.

This bet rests on their cynical understanding of the difficulty of sustaining popular protest movements in the face of the huge financial, police, and bureaucratic apparatuses that the UC can quickly mobilize to put dissenters in check. Meanwhile, these administrators continue to oversee massive funding cuts disproportionately affecting low and middle income earning families, the very people out on the lines. The students and workers can only punch above their weight for so long in this mismatch. The only factor that can change this balance of power is the faculty. Only tenured faculty members have the stature, security, and financial resources to stand up to the austerity cuts and unfair labor practices that are top on the corporatized UC admin’s agenda. If the response of the faculty in the struggle for the future of the California public university system is to be decisive, they will have to be prepared to organize, withhold their own labor, help shut down the campuses and defy the admin to pin bogus charges on them- not just their students. Within the present configuration of things, only the pressure of the tenured faculty has even the chance to force the UC to change its regressive course.

For many Americans, the Left Coast’s UC system perhaps still represents a bastion of liberal politics and semi-dangerous ideas. Surely in this milieu it would be easy for the profs to mobilize, to refuse, en masse, to sit by as the disaster capitalists neoliberalize the UC. So far, however, there has been little to no movement on this front. Not even amongst the humanities and social science faculty, many of who fondly recall the roles they played in the Civil Rights and labor movement, the protests against the war in Vietnam and US imperialism, the gay and lesbian liberation struggles, and the campaigns for disinvestment and disarmament. But without dismissing their experiences of the glory days of the ‘60s and ‘70s, we must recall that for many- of course not all- of even the most radical baby-boomer academics, the past half century since then has been spent in a deeply apolitical, post-modern malaise. The economic crisis has opened up a fissure in the supposedly post-political, post-historical world of global capital. But no crisis, however big, can in itself alter the political relations upon which the economic edifice rests. This can only be accomplished through political means, through struggle. Within the present configuration of things, only the pressure of the tenured faculty has even the slightest chance of forcing the UC to change its regressive course.

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Killer Drones in a Downward Spiral

NOVANEWS

by MEDEA BENJAMIN AND KATE CHANDLEY

Illegal US drone strikes continue (the Long War Journal says there have been 8 drones strikes in Yemen so far this year), but efforts to curb the use of killer drones have made remarkable headway this year.

While the faith-based community has taken far too long to address the moral issues posed by remote-controlled killing, on February 13, the World Council of Churches–the largest coalition of Christian churches–came out in opposition to the use of armed drones. The Council said that the use of armed drones poses a “serious threat to humanity” and condemned, in particular, US drone strikes in Pakistan. This is a breakthrough in the religious community, and should make it easier for individual denominations to make similar pronouncements, as the Church of the Brethren has.

There have also been major developments in the secular world. In February, the European Union, with an overwhelming vote of 534-49, passed a resolution calling on EU Member States to “oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial targeted killings” and demanding that EU member states “do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states.” This resolution will pressure individual European nations to stop their own production and/or use of killer drones (especially the UK, Germany, Italy and France), and to stop their collaboration with the US drone program.

People on the receiving end of US drone strikes have also stepped up their opposition. On April 1, a group of friends and family of drone strike victims in Yemen came together to form the National Organization for Drone Victims. This is the first time anywhere that drone strike victims have created their own entity to support one another and seek redress. The organization plans to conduct its own investigations, focusing on the civilian impact of drone attacks. At the official launch, which was packed with press, the group said any government official supporting the US drones should be tried in a criminal court. “Today, we launch this new organization which will be the starting point for us to get justice and to take legal measures on a national and international scale against anyone who is aiding these crimes,” said the organization’s president Mohammad Ali al-Qawli, whose brother was killed in a drone strike.

The Pakistani government has taken its opposition to drone strikes directly to the UN Human Rights Council. Pakistan, with the co-sponsorship of Yemen, introduced a resolution calling for transparency in drone strikes and for setting up a committee of experts to address the legal issues. Despite the opposition of the United States, which boycotted the talks and lobbied to kill the resolution, it passed on March 24 by a vote of 27-6, with 14 abstentions. The panel of experts that will be convened is scheduled to present its findings at the UN Human Rights Council session in September 2014.

UN Special Rapporteur on Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, also used this session of the UN Human Rights Council to release a detailed report on the issue of drones. Emmerson examined 37 instances of drone strikes in which civilians were reportedly killed or injured and concluded that nations using drones must provide a “public explanation of the circumstances and a justification for the use of deadly force.” Emmerson said it was critical for the international community to reach a consensus on many issues presented by drones strikes, including state sovereignty and whether it is legal to target a hostile person in a non-belligerent state.

These new developments have come about due to increasing public scrutiny and protests against drone attacks, such as the ongoing protests at the Hancock, Beale, and Creech Air Force Bases, the headquarters of drone manufacturer General Atomics, the White House, CIA, Congress and the Pentagon. The entire month of April has been designated forDays of Action, with film showings, talks, die-ins, re-enactments of drone strikes and other creative actions happening throughout the country.

Activists opposing weaponized drones are pleased to finally see more movement at the international level, and hope this will result in heightened pressure on the Obama administration, both internationally and domestically, to stop its policy of targeted assassinations and instead adhere to the rule of law.

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Distracted by the Peace Process

NOVANEWS
What Really Happened During the Talks

by JONATHAN COOK

There was a mad scramble by Washington last week to prevent the seemingly inevitable – an implosion of the Middle East peace talks. In a last-ditch effort to stop Israel reneging on a promise to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, the US briefly threw in possibly the biggest bargaining chip in its hand: the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

With Israel still dragging its feet, an infuriated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas submitted applications to join 15 United Nations conventions, thereby reviving a campaign to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Although Washington will continue quietly arm-twisting the two sides a little longer, President Barack Obama is reported to be worried that US diplomacy is starting to appear “desperate”.

The negotiations’ failure could prove an important clarifying moment, signalling the effective demise of the two-state solution.

Both the US and Israel have come to rely on the endless theatrics of the two-decade peace process. Settlement freezes, prisoner releases, rows about Palestinian Authority funding and, of course, intermittent negotiations have served as useful distractions from the main developments on the ground.

As Bassem Khoury, a former Palestinian Authority minister, observed last week: “Israel hasn’t changed. It is the same colonial entity pursuing the same ethnic cleansing policies it did for decades.”

That was also the little-noticed conclusion reached by Richard Falk as he stepped down last month as the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories. In line with warnings he has issued in his UN post for the past six years, Falk, a professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University, said Israeli policies were designed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the occupied territories, and especially East Jerusalem, the expected capital of any Palestinian state.

Falk noted that Israel had cynically exploited the peace process to expand its settlement programme, as it did again during these past nine months of talks.

In his meeting last month with Obama at the White House, Abbas unveiled a map showing that Israel had approved more than 10,000 settler homes since the talks began. That number has grown further, with Israel unveiling 2,000 more, including 700 last week in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo.

For every settler home built, Palestinians lose territory needed not only for a state but also to keep individual families living where they are now. The innocuous term “settlements” conceals their true role: as Israel’s primary vehicle for ethnic cleansing Palestinians through dispossession and harassment.

Washington welcomed Falk’s departure, calling him a “noxious” presence. But his warnings have been echoed by others, including Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations. Falk’s findings were also confirmed by a usually circumspect group: European Union diplomats. A leaked joint report by EU consulates in the occupied territories observed that ethnic cleansing was advancing at an ever-accelerating pace in East Jerusalem.

The diplomats’ immediate concern is a “conflagration” as Israel’s extreme right is allowed ever greater access to the supremely sensitive site of the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Pushing to be given prayer rights there, the Israeli right hope they can eventually win from their government a partition of the site, as occurred earlier at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. There, the settlers’ control has effectively turned the once-thriving centre of Hebron into a Palestinian ghost town.

In East Jerusalem, Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies are at their most intense. As the EU notes, Palestinians have been starved of municipal funds, deprived of schools and blocked from commercial activity, and are leaving, heading for the greater security of West Bank cities.

In recent weeks, Palestinians in sections of East Jerusalem have even discovered that, despite its claims to treat Jerusalem as its “unified capital”, Israel has stopped supplying them with water.

Official data provide clues to Israel’s real intentions. This year’s first-quarter figures show that Israel sold more land to settlers for house building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than it did for construction inside Israel itself. West Bank construction has more than doubled over the same period last year.

Last week a Knesset committee effectively stymied efforts to force the government to disclose how much it is spending on settlement construction. Nonetheless, left wing legislators managed to extract partial treasury figures showing that the settlement budget has increased by at least $143 million over the past six months, during the height of talks with the Palestinians.

In another sign of how Israel has been entrenching the settlements while paying lip-service to a peace process, the Israeli media revealed that 24 major infrastructure projects had been approved for the West Bank. They include more than $57 million for new settler roads and the first planned train service linking the settlements to Israel.

Israeli dispossession policies are not limited to the occupied territories. Foreign minister Avigodor Lieberman’s plan to redraw the borders to strip part of Israel’s large Palestinian minority of its citizenship received a major fillip last month. For the first time government lawyers rejected the opinion of international law experts and gave their blessing to what the liberal Haaretz daily called Lieberman’s programme of “ethnic cleansing” of its own citizens.

If negotiations collapse, it should be clear that, while both sides were supposed to be talking, one side – Israel – was vigorously and unilaterally acting to further its goals.

It now seems the Palestinian leadership will respond in kind, by pushing their bid for statehood at the UN. Israel has already threatened “punitive measures”, meaning things are likely to turn yet uglier. But the era of wishful thinking may finally be coming to an end – and that will be progress in itself.

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Just look at the picture

NOVANEWS
You don’t really need to read the article below – just look at the picture.

President Shimon Peres and PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum May 26, 2013.

From The Jerusalem Post

Peres says Abbas a ‘true partner for peace’ ahead of PA leader’s meeting with Obama
By JPOST.COM STAFF

President expresses confidence that Ab-A$$ is the right Palestinian leader to sign a lasting peace deal with Israel; lauds PA president as “a man of principles who opposes violence and terror.”

President Shimon Peres and PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum May 26, 2013. Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO

President Shimon Peres expressed his belief that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a true partner for peace ahead of Abbas’s meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday.

“Abu-Mazen (Abbas) is a true partner for peace and a man of principles who opposes violence and terror,” Peres said in a meeting with human rights activists.

“We are currently at the most critical juncture of negotiations and we must do everything in our power to ensure that they continue. There is a clear majority and agreement on two states for two peoples,” the president said.

Peres said that he was happy that it was Abbas who Israel was negotiating with on the Palestinian side, adding that disagreements were a natural part of negotiations. He said that there were also plenty of points that Israel and the Palestinian leader agree on, such as the fight against terrorism.

The president said that his optimism was tempered by worry about the fateful decisions regarding negotiations which are scheduled to be made in the coming weeks. The nine-month period set for negotiations by US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to expire in April. Obama and Kerry are hoping that both the Israelis and Palestinians will agree to continue negotiations on the basis of an American-drafted set of principles known as a framework agreement.

Reports in the Arab media on Sunday claimed that Abbas would make extra demands of Israel as condition for continuing the talks, such as freezing settlement construction and releasing high-profile Palestinian prisoners.

Peres said that he did not believe the sides would have entered into negotiations without the belief that they could eventually yield a peace agreement.

“Negotiating is a difficult process and sometimes it seems as if there are only two choices, but most of the time there are many more options. Negotiating is a creative process. We are waiting for peace. This is the desire of Israelis and Palestinians,” Peres said.

Peres’s confidence in Abbas as a partner for peace was in stark opposition to the beliefs of several key members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanayu’s ruling coalition.

On Saturday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Channel 2 that Abbas is not the leader who can make an agreement with Israel that will put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Abu Mazen is a partner that takes but doesn’t give. He is not a partner for a permanent-status agreement in which at the end there is recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” Ya’alon said.

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Tony Benn at his stroppy best

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Why is the US Honoring a Racist Rabbi?

NOVANEWS
The Extremist Origins of Education and Sharing Day
by ALISON WEIR

If things proceed normally, President Barak Obama will soon proclaim April 11, 2014 “Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A.” Despite the innocuous name, this day honors the memory of a religious leader whose lesser-known teachings help fuel some of the most violent attacks against Palestinians by extremist Israeli settlers and soldiers.

The leader being honored on this day is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, charismatic head of a mystical/fundamentalist version of Judaism. Every year since 1978, a Presidential Proclamation, often accompanied by a Congressional Resolution (the 1990 one had 219 sponsors), has declared Schneerson’s birthday an official national day of observance.

Congress first passed a Resolution honoring Schneerson in 1975. Three years later a Joint Congressional Resolution called on President Jimmy Carter to proclaim “Education Day, U.S.A.” on the anniversary of Schneerson’s birth. The idea was to set aside a day to honor both education and the alleged educational work of Schneerson and the religious sect he headed up.

Carter, like Congress, dutifully obeyed the Schneerson-initiatedresolution, as has every president since.  And some individual states are now enacting their own observances of Schneerson’s birthday, with Minnesota and Alabama leading the way.

Schneerson and his movement are an extremely mixed bag.

Schneerson has been praised widely for a public persona and organization that emphasized deep compassion and insight,” worked to bring many secular Jews “back” into the fold, created numerous schools around the world, and had offered, in the words of the Jewish Virtual Library, “social-service programs and humanitarian aid to all people, regardless of religious affiliation or background.”

However, there is also a less attractive underside often at odds with such public perceptions. And some of the more extreme parts of Schneerson’s teachings – such as that Jews are a completely different species than non-Jews, and that non-Jews exist only to serve Jews – have been largely hidden, it appears, even from many who consider themselves his followers.

As we will see, such views profoundly impact the lives of Palestinians living – and dying – under Israeli occupation and military invasions.

Who was Rabbi Schneerson?

Schneerson lived from 1902 to 1994 and oversaw the growth of what is now the largest Jewish organization in the world. The religious movement he led is known as Chabad-Lubavitch,” (sometimes just called “Lubavitch” or Chabad,” the name of its organizational arm). Schneerson was the seventh and final Lubavitcher “Rebbe” (sacred leader). He is often simply called “the Rebbe.”

Founded in the late 1700s and originally based in the Polish-Russian town of Lubavitch, it is the largest of about a dozen forms of “Hasidism,” a version of Orthodox Judaism connected to mysticism, characterized by devotion to a dynastic leader, and whose adherents often wear distinctive clothing. (Spellings of these terms can vary; Hasid is also written as Hassid, Chasid, etc.)

There is an extreme cult of personality focused on Schneerson himself. Some followers consider him the Messiah, and Schneerson himself reportedly sometimes implied this was true. Some Lubavitch educators consider him divine, making such claims as, “the Rebbe is actually ‘the essence and being [of God] … he is without limits, capable of effecting anything, all-knowing and a proper object of worshipful prostration.”

While many secular Jews and Jews from other denominations disagree with its actions and theology, Chabad-Lubavitch is generally acknowledged to be a powerful force in Jewish life today. According to a 1994 New York Times report, it is “one of the most influential and controversial forces in world Jewry.”

There are approximately 3,600 Chabad institutions in over 1,000 cities in 70 countries, and 200,000 adherents. Up to a million people attend Chabad services at least once a year. Numerous campuses have such centers and the Chabad website states that hundreds of thousands of children attend Chabad summer camps.

According to the Times, Schneerson “presided over a religious empire that reached from the back streets of Brooklyn to the main streets of Israel and by 1990 was taking in an estimated $100 million a year in contributions.

In the U.S., the Times reports, Schneerson’s “‘mitzvah tanks’ – converted campers that are rolling recruiting stations whose purpose is to draw Jews to the Lubavitch way – roamed streets from midtown Manhattan to Crown Heights. And the Lubavitchers’ Brooklyn-based publishing house claimed to be the world’s largest distributor of Jewish books.”

Non-Jewish souls ‘satanic’

While Chabad sometimes openly teaches that “the soul of the Jew is different than the soul of the non-Jew,” Schneerson’s specific teachings on this subject are largely unknown.

Quite likely very few Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, are aware of Schneerson’s teachings about the alleged deep differences between them – and about how these teachings are applied in the West Bank and Gaza.

Let us look at Schneerson’s words, as quoted by two respected Jewish professors, Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, in their book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (text available online here. This book, praised by Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and many others is essential reading for anyone who truly wishes to understand modern day Israel-Palestine. (Brackets in the quotes below are in the translations by Shahak and Mezvinsky.)

Some of Schneerson’s rarely reported teachings:

“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of “let us differentiate” between totally different species.”

“This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world … The difference in the inner quality between Jews and non-Jews is “so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species.”

“An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.”

“As has been explained, an embryo is called a human being, because it has both body and soul. Thus, the difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish embryo can be understood.”

“…the general difference between Jews and non-Jews: A Jew was not created

as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews.”

“The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim.”

“The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews.”

Most people don’t know about this aspect of Schneerson’s teaching because, according to Shahak and Mezvinsky, such teachings are intentionally minimized, mistranslated, or

alison weir book

hidden entirely.

For example, the quotes above were translated by the authors from a book of Schneerson’s recorded messages to followers that was published in Israel in 1965. Despite Schneerson’s global importance and the fact that his world headquarters is in the U.S., there has never been an English translation of this volume.

Shahak, an Israeli professor who was a survivor of the Nazi holocaust, writes that this lack of translation of an important work is not unusual, explaining that much critical information about Israel and some forms of Judaism is available only in Hebrew.

He and co-author Mezvinsky, who was a Connecticut Distinguished University Professor who taught at Central Connecticut State University, write, “The great majority of the books on Judaism and Israel, published in English especially, falsify their subject matter.”

According to Shahak and Mezvinsky, “Almost every moderately sophisticated Israeli Jew knows the facts about Israeli Jewish society that are described in this book. These facts, however, are unknown to most interested Jews and non-Jews outside Israel who do not know Hebrew and thus cannot read most of what Israeli Jews write about themselves in Hebrew.”

In Shahak’s earlier book, Jewish Religion, Jewish History, he provides a number of examples. In one, he describes a 1962 book published in Israel in a bilingual edition. The Hebrew text was on one page, with the English translation on the facing page.

Shahak describes one set of facing pages in which the Hebrew text of a major Jewish code of laws contained a command to exterminate Jewish infidels: “It is a duty to exterminate them with one’s own hands.” The English version on the facing page softened it to “It is a duty to take active measures to destroy them.’”

The Hebrew page then went on to name which “infidels” must be exterminated, adding “may the name of the wicked rot.” Among them was Jesus of Nazareth. The facing page with the English translation failed to tell any of this.

“Even more significant,” Shahak reports, “in spite of the wide circulation of this book among scholars in the English-speaking countries, not one of them has, as far as I know, protested against this glaring deception.”

Praised by Said, Chomsky, etc., Shahak is almost unknown today

This pattern of selective omission, it seems, applies to Shahak himself, whose work is largely unknown to Palestine activists today, even though he was considered a major figure in the struggle against Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and his work was praised by diverse writers.

While Shahak was alive, Noam Chomsky called him “an outstanding scholar,” and said he had “remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.”

Edward Said wrote, “Shahak is a very brave man who should be honored for his services to humanity … One of the most remarkable individuals in the contemporary Middle East.” Said wrote a forward for Shahak’sJewish History, Jewish Religion.

Catholic New Times said: ‘This is a remarkable book …[It] deserves a wide readership, not only among Jews, but among Christians who seek a fuller understanding both of historical Judaism and of modern-day Israel.”

Jewish Socialist stated: “Anyone who wants to change the Jewish community so that it stops siding with the forces of reaction should read this book.”

The London Review of Books called Shahak’s book “remarkable, powerful, and provocative.”

Yet, very few Americans today know of Shahak’s work and the information it contains.

American tax money & Jewish Extremism in Palestine

If they did, it’s hard to believe that Americans would allow $8.5 million per day of their tax money to be given to Israel, where such teachings underlie a powerful minority that is disproportionately influential in governmental actions.

Nor is it likely that a fully informed American public would allow donations to religious institutions in Israel that teach supremacist, sometimes violent doctrines to be tax-deductible in the U.S.

One organization raised over $10 million tax-deductible dollars in the U.S. in 2011 alone – removing money from the U.S. economy and enabling illegal, aggressive Israeli settlements in Palestine. And some of this money went to benefit individuals convicted of murder – including the murderer of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The New York Times obituary on Schneerson reported that Schneerson was “a major political force in Israel, both in the Knesset and among the electorate,” but failed to describe the nature of his impact.

One of a sprinkling of writers willing to publicly discuss Shahak and Mezvinsky’s findings is Allan Brownfeld, who is less reticent. Brownfeld is editor of the American Council for Judaism’s periodical Issues and contributor to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

In a review of Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, Brownfeld describes Schneerson’s views on Israel:

“Rabbi Schneerson always supported Israeli wars and opposed any retreat. In 1974 he strongly opposed the Israeli withdrawal from the Suez area. He promised Israel divine favors if it persisted in occupying the land.”

Brownfeld reports that after Schneerson’s death, “[T]housands of his Israeli followers played an important role in the election victory of Binyamin Netanyahu. Among the religious settlers in the occupied territories, the Chabad Hassids constitute one of the most extreme groups. Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer of Palestinians, was one of them.”

Another such Chabad Hassid is Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg (also sometimes written as “Ginzburg” and “Ginsburgh”), who studied under Schneerson in Crown Heights and who heads up a major Chabad institution in the West Bank.

Ginsburg praised Goldstein, the murderer of 29 Palestinians while they were praying, and considers all non-Jews subhuman.

According to author Motti Inbari, Ginsburg “gives prominence to Halachic and Kabbalistic approaches that emphasize the distinction between Jew and non-Jew (Gentile), imposing a clear separation and hierarchy in this respect.”

In his book Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount: Who Will Build the Third Temple? Inbari states, “[Ginsburg] claims that while the Jews are the Chosen People and were created in God’s image, the Gentiles do not have this status and are effectively considered subhuman.”

Professor Inbari, an Israeli academic who now teaches in the U.S., writes that Ginsburg’s theological approach continues “certain perceptions that were popular in medieval times.”

“For example,” Inbari writes, “the commandment ‘You shall not murder’ does not apply to the killing of a Gentile, since ‘you shall not murder’ relates to the murder of a human, while for him the Gentiles do not constitute humans.”

Inbari reports, “Similarly, Ginzburg stated that, on the theoretical level, if a Jew requires a liver transplant to survive, it would be permissible to seize a Gentile and take their liver forcefully.”

While the mainstream American press almost never reports this kind of information, an April 26, 1996 article in Jewish Week by Lawrence Cohler reported on Ginsburg’s teachings, including their problematic roots in Jewish texts.

Cohler reported that a professor of Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Greenberg, “called for radically revising Jewish thinking about some Jewish texts on the grounds that scholars such as Rabbi Ginsburgh are far from aberrant in their use of them.”

Cohler quoted Greenberg’s concerns:  “‘There’ll be a statement in Talmud… made in circumstances where it’s purely theoretical, because Jews then never had the power to do it,’ he explained. And now, he said, ‘It’s carried over into circumstances where Jews have a state and are empowered.’”

A rabbi associated with Ginsburg coauthored a notorious Israeli book,The King’s Torah, which claims that Jewish law at times permits the killing of non-Jewish infants. American donations to the Chabad school Ginsburg heads up, and that published the above book, are tax-deductible in the U.S. Ginsburg, who endorses the book, teaches classes throughout Israel, the U.S. and France.

Such extremism is opposed by the majority of Israelis, and major Jewish religious authorities condemn it, a Chief Rabbi, for example, stating: “’According to the Torah, every man is created in God’s image.”

Yet, such extremist views continue to exert a powerful influence.

Israeli military manuals echo extremist teachings: “kill even good civilians”

Israeli military manuals sometimes replicate extremist teachings. For example, a booklet authored by a Chief Chaplain stated, “In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah to kill even good civilians…” Such teachings by the IDF rabbinate were prominent during Israel’s 2008-9 attack on Gaza that killed 1,400 Gazans, approximately half of them civilians. (The Palestinian resistance killed nine Israelis during this “war.”)

Chicago writer Stephen Lendman has described these teachings, giving a number of examples.

Lendman writes, “In 2007, Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, called for the Israeli army to mass-murder Palestinians:

“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1000. And if they don’t stop after 1000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million.”

Lendman reports that some extremist Israeli rabbis teach that “the ten commandments don’t apply to non-Jews. So killing them in defending the homeland is acceptable, and according to the chairman of the Jewish Rabbinic Council:

“‘There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them…. A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.’”

Lendman writes, “Rabbi David Batsri called Arabs ‘a blight, a devil, a disaster…. donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t create them to walk on all fours. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean.’”

Another such rabbi is Manis Friedman, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi inspired by Schneerson who served as the simultaneous translator for a series of Schneerson’s talks. (Friedman is currently dean of a Jewish Studies institute in Minnesota.)

A 2009 article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports, “Like the best Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Manis Friedman has won the hearts of many unaffiliated Jews with his charismatic talks about love and God; it was Friedman who helped lead Bob Dylan into a relationship with Chabad.

“But Friedman, who today travels the country as a Chabad speaker, showed a less warm and cuddly side when he was asked how he thinks Jews should treat their Arab neighbors.”

In Moment magazine’s article, Ask the Rabbis // How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors? Friedman answered:

“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”

Lendman reports, “Views like these aren’t exceptions. Though a minority, they proliferate throughout Israeli society…”

They also, Lendman notes, work to prevent peace in Israel-Palestine.

Shahak and Mezvinsky note that when the book containing Schneerson’s statements quoted above about Jews and non-Jews was published in Israel, he was allied to the Labor Party and his movement had been provided “many important benefits” from the Israeli government.

In the mid-1970s Schneerson decided that the Labor Party was too moderate and shifted his support to the more right-wing parties in power today. The authors report, “Ariel Sharon was the Rebbe’s favorite Israeli senior politician. Sharon in turn praised the Rebbe publicly and delivered a moving speech about him in the Knesset after the Rebbe’s death.”

Roots in Some Early Texts

Brownfeld decries the fact that few Americans are properly informed about the fundamentalist movement in Israel “and the theology upon which it is based.”

He notes that Jewish Americans, in particular, are often unaware of the “narrow ethnocentrism which is promoted by the movement’s leading rabbis, or of the traditional Jewish sources they are able to call upon in drawing clear distinctions between the moral obligations owed to Jews and non-Jews.”

Teachings that Jews are superior and gentiles inferior were contained in some of the earliest Hassidic texts, including its classic text, Tanya,” still taught today.

Brownfeld quotes statements by “the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism,” Rabbi Kook the Elder, and states that these were derived from earlier texts. [Kook, incidentally, was also an early Zionist, who helped push for the Balfour Declaration in England before moving to Palestine. He was the uncle of Hillel Kook, an agent who went by the name “Peter Bergson” and created front groups in the U.S. for a violent Zionist guerilla group that operated in 1930s and ’40s Palestine.]

Brownfeld quotes Kook: “The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews—all of them in all different levels—is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”

Brownfeld explains that Kook’s teaching, which he says is followed by leaders of the settler movement in the occupied West Bank, “is based upon the Lurianic Cabbala, the school of Jewish mysticism that dominated Judaism from the late 16th to the early 19th century.”

Shahak and Mezvinsky state, “One of the basic tenets of the Lurianic Cabbala is the absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of Jews; the existence of non-Jews was subsidiary.”

Again, Shahak and Mezvinsky report that this aspect is often covered up in English-language discussions. Scholarly authors of books about Jewish mysticism and the Lurianic Cabbala, they write, have frequently “willfully omitted reference to such ideas.”

Shahak and Mezvinsky write that it is essential to understand these beliefs in order to understand the current situation in the West Bank, where many of the most militant West Bank settlers are motivated by religious ideologies in which every non-Jew is seen as “the earthly embodiment” of Satan, and according to the Halacha (Jewish law), the term ‘human beings’ refers solely to Jews.”

Israeli author and former chief of Israeli military intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi touches on this in his 1988 book Israel’s Fateful Hour.

Harkabi writes that while such extremist beliefs are not “widely dominant,” the reality is that “nationalistic religious extremists are by no means a lunatic fringe; many are respected men whose words are widely heeded.”

He reports that the campus rabbi of a major Israeli university published an article in the student newspaper entitled “The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah,” in which he implied that those who have a quarrel with Jews “ought to be destroyed, children and all.” Harkabi writes that a book by another rabbi “explained that the killing of a non-Jew is not considered murder.”

Brownfeld writes, “Although messianic fundamentalists constitute a relatively small portion of the Israeli population [most Israeli settlers are motivated by the subsidized lifestyle US tax money to Israel provides], their political influence has been growing. If they have contempt for non-Jews, their hatred for Jews who oppose their views is even greater.”

Brownfeld cites the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had started to make peace with the Palestinians, writing that it was just one “in a long line of murders of Jews who followed a path different from that ordained by rabbinic authorities.” Brownfeld reports that Shahak and Mezvinsky  “cite case after case, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century.”

The authors report, “It was usual in some Hasidic circles until the last quarter of the nineteenth century to attack and often to murder Jews who had reform religious tendencies…”

They quote a long article by Israeli writer Rami Rosen, “History of a Denial,” published by Ha’aretz Magazine in 1996. This article, which cannot be found online, at least in English, is also cited in the bookBrother Against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, by Israeli professor Ehud Sprinzak.

In his Ha’aretz article Rosen reported: “A check of main facts of the [Jewish] historiography of the last 1500 years shows that the picture is different from the one previously shown to us. It includes massacres of Christians; mock repetitions of the crucifixion of Jesus that usually took place on Purim; cruel murders within the family; liquidation of informers, often done for religious reasons by secret rabbinical courts, which issued a sentence of ‘pursuer’ and appointed secret executioners; assassinations of adulterous women in synagogues and/or the cutting of their noses by command of the rabbis.”

While Rosen’s article may seem shocking, in reality, it simply shows that members of the Jewish population, like members of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and diverse other populations, have at times committed atrocities, sometimes allegedly in the name of their religion. The difference, as Shahak and Mezvinsky point out, is that such information is largely covered up in the U.S. Such cover-ups, however, don’t make facts go away. They merely bury them, where they smolder and at times eventually lead to exaggerated perceptions.

U.S. media rarely report that some extremist Israeli settlers are intensely hostile to Christians, and in one instance threatened peace activists who came to the West Bank to participate in nonviolent demonstrations, “We killed Jesus and we’ll kill you, too.” There is also a record of official hostility. For example, a few years ago an Israeli mayor ordered all New Testaments to be rounded up and burned.

Schneerson’s “schools”

While Schneerson is honored on national “Education” days, the reality is that the elementary schools he created often failed to teach children  “basic reading, writing, spelling, math, science and history,” according to a graduate.

In his article National Education Day and the Education I Never Had,” Chaim Levin reports on his experience at the Chabad school “Oholei Torah” (Educational Institute Oholei Menachem) in Crown Heights, New York – the site of Chabad’s world headquarters:

“I have profound respect for the late Rebbe and his legacy. However, I remember very clearly those talks that [Schneerson] gave – the ones we studied every year in elementary school about the unimportance of ‘secular’ (non-religious, formal) education, and the great importance of only studying limmudei kodesh (holy studies). As a result of this attitude, thousands of students were not taught anything other than the Bible throughout our years attending Chabad institutions.”

The goal of such schools, Levin writes, was to produce “schluchim,” missionaries who would promote Chabad all over the world.

Meanwhile, he notes, “Failure to provide basic formal education cripples children within Chabad communities. We cannot ignore the harm done…” Levin writes, “Until this day, Oholei Torah and many other Chabad schools — particularly schools for boys and a few for girls in Crown Heights and in some other places — do not provide basic formal education.”

Education and Sharing Day 2014

In his 2000 article, Brownfeld writes that Shahak and Mezvinsky’s book should be “a wake-up call “to Americans, particularly Jewish supporters of Israel.”

Fourteen years later, however, very few people are aware of these books and their powerful information, and U.S. tax money continues to flow to Israel. The main author, Israel Shahak, is now dead, as is Edward Said; Noam Chomsky rarely, if ever, mentions him; and Shahak’s co-author, Norton Mezvinsky (uncle of Chelsea Clinton’s husband), is a member of a Lubavitch congregation in New York.

In many ways, little seems to have changed since 1994, when Congressmen Charles Schumer, Newt Gingrich, and others introduced legislation to bestow on Schneerson the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed both Houses by unanimous consent, honoring Schneerson for his “outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality, and acts of charity.”

And in two weeks, Americans will be officially called on to observe a day that honors Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the Lubavitcher movement.

That is, unless masses of people contact their Congressional representatives to demand a whole new direction: a “National Education and Sharing Day” that honors an individual who values education, and who believes that all people – in the words of the Declaration of Independence – are created equal.

Posted in USAComments Off on Why is the US Honoring a Racist Rabbi?

Why the Palestinian-I$raHell talks bubble burst

NOVANEWS
Burst bubble

By Uri Avnery

Poor John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble.

In his testimony before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace process”. They broke their obligation to release Palestinian prisoners, and at the same time announced the enlargement of more settlements in East Jerusalem. The peace efforts went “poof”.

“Poof” is the sound of air escaping a balloon. It is a good expression, because the “peace process” was from the very beginning nothing more than a balloon full of hot air. An exercise in make-believe.

John Kerry cannot be blamed. He took the whole thing seriously. He is an earnest politician, who tried very, very hard to make peace between Israel and Palestine. We should be grateful for his efforts.

The trouble is that Kerry had not the slightest idea of what he was getting himself into.

A basic lie

The entire “peace process” revolves around a basic misconception. Some would say: a basic lie.

The lie is that we have here two equal sides of a conflict. A serious conflict. An old conflict. But a conflict that can be solved when reasonable people of the two sides sit down together and thrash it out, guided by a benevolent and impartial referee.

If the two sides to negotiations are so extremely unequal, the situation can only be remedied by the mediator supporting the weaker side. What is happening is the very opposite: the American support for Israel is massive and unstinting.

Not one detail of these assumptions was real. The referee was not impartial.  The leaders were not sensible. And most importantly: the sides were not equal.

The balance of power between the two sides is not 1:1, not even 1:2 or 1:10. In every material respect – military, diplomatic, economic – it is more like 1:1,000.

There is no equality between occupier and occupied, oppressor and oppressed. A jailer and a prisoner cannot negotiate on equal terms. When one side has total command of the other, controls his every move, settles on his land, controls his money flow, arrests people at will, blocks his access to the UN and the International courts, equality is out of the question.

If the two sides to negotiations are so extremely unequal, the situation can only be remedied by the mediator supporting the weaker side. What is happening is the very opposite: the American support for Israel is massive and unstinting.

Throughout the “negotiations” the US did nothing to check the settlement activity that created more Israeli facts on the ground – the very ground whose future the negotiations were all about.

No understanding

A prerequisite for successful negotiations is that all sides have at least a basic understanding not only of each other’s interests and demands, but even more of each other’s mental world, emotional setup and self-image. Without that, all moves are inexplicable and look irrational.

The average American statesman has not the slightest idea of Arab history, worldview, religions, myths or the traumas that shape Arab attitudes, not to mention the Palestinian struggle.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, one of the most intelligent people I have met in my life, once told me: “You have in Israel the most intelligent experts on the Arab world. They have read all the books, all the articles, every single word written about it. They know everything, and understand nothing. Because they have never lived one day in an Arab country.”

The same is true for the American experts, only much more so. In Washington DC one feels the rarefied air of a Himalayan peak. Seen from the grandiose palaces of the administration, where the fate of the world is decided, foreign people look small, primitive and largely irrelevant. Here and there some real experts are tucked away, but nobody really consults them.

The average American statesman has not the slightest idea of Arab history, worldview, religions, myths or the traumas that shape Arab attitudes, not to mention the Palestinian struggle. He has no patience for this primitive nonsense.

Seemingly, the American understanding of Israel is much better. But not really.

Average American politicians and diplomats know a lot about Jews. Many of them are Jews. Kerry himself seems to be partly Jewish. His peace team includes many Jews, even Zionists, including the actual manager of the negotiations, Martin Indyk, who worked in the past for American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC. His very name is Yiddish (and means a turkey).

The assumption is that Israelis are not very different from American Jews. But that is entirely false. Israel may claim to be the “nation-state of the Jewish people”, but that is only an instrument for exploiting the Jewish diaspora and creating obstacles for the “peace process”. In reality there is very little similarity between Israelis and the Jewish diaspora, not much more than between a German and a Japanese.

If Barack Obama and Kerry knew more, they would have realized from the beginning that the present Israeli political setup makes any Israeli evacuation of the settlements, withdrawal from the West Bank and compromise about Jerusalem quite impossible.

Martin Indyk may feel an affinity with Tzipi Livni, the daughter of an Irgun fighter (or “terrorist” in British parlance), but that is an illusion. The myths and traumas that shaped Tzipi are very different from those that shaped Martin, who was educated in Australia.

If Barack Obama and Kerry knew more, they would have realized from the beginning that the present Israeli political setup makes any Israeli evacuation of the settlements, withdrawal from the West Bank and compromise about Jerusalem quite impossible.

All this is true for the Palestinian side, too.

Palestinians are convinced that they understand Israel. After all, they have been under Israeli occupation for decades. Many of them have spent years in Israeli prisons and speak perfect Hebrew. But they have made many mistakes in their dealings with Israelis.

The latest one was the belief that Israel would release the fourth batch of prisoners. This was almost impossible. All Israeli media, including the moderate ones, speak about releasing “Palestinian murderers”, not Palestinian activists or fighters. Right-wing parties compete with each other, and with rightist “terror-victims”, in denouncing this outrage.

Israelis do not understand the deep emotions evoked by the non-release of prisoners – the national heroes of the Palestinian people, though Israel itself has in the past exchanged a thousand Arab prisoners for one single Israeli, citing the Jewish religious command of “redemption of prisoners”.

Palestinians… have made many mistakes in their dealings with Israelis. The latest one was the belief that Israel would release the fourth batch of prisoners.

It has been said that Israel always sells a “concession” three times: once when promising it, once when signing an official agreement about it and thirdly when actually fulfilling the undertaking. This happened when the time came to implement the third withdrawal from the West Bank under the Oslo agreements, which never happened.

Palestinians know nothing about Jewish history as taught in Israeli schools, very little about the holocaust, even less about the roots of Zionism.

Recent negotiations started as “peace talks”, continued about a “framework” for further negotiations, and now the talks have degenerated to talks about the talks about the talks.

Fear of the alternative to make-believe

Nobody wants to break off the farce, because all three sides are afraid of the alternative.

The American side is afraid of a general onslaught of the Zionist-evangelical-Republican-Adelson bulldozer on the Obama administration in the next elections. Already the State Department is frantically trying to retreat from the Kerry “poof”. He did not mean that only Israel is to blame, they assert, the fault lies with both sides. The jailer and the prisoner are equally to blame.

As usual, the Israeli government has many fears. It fears the outbreak of a thirdIntifada, coupled with a worldwide campaign of delegitimization and boycott of Israel, especially in Europe.

It also fears that the UN, which at present recognizes Palestine only as a non-member state, will go on and promote it more and more.

The Palestinian leadership, too, is afraid of a third Intifada, which may lead to a bloody uprising. Though all Palestinians speak about a “non-violent Intifada”, few really believe in it. They remember that the last Intifada also started non-violently, but the Israeli army responded by deploying snipers to kill the leaders of the demonstrations, and more suicide bombing became inevitable.

President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has responded to the non-release of the prisoners, which amounted to a personal humiliation, by signing the documents necessary for the Palestinian state to join 15 international conventions. The Israeli government exploded in anger. How dare they?

In practice, the act means little. One signature means that Palestine joins the Geneva Convention. Another concerns the protection of children. Shouldn’t we welcome this? But the Israeli government fears that this is one step nearer to the acceptance of Palestine as a member of the International Criminal Court, and perhaps the indictment of Israelis for war crimes.

Abbas is also planning steps for a reconciliation with Hamas and the holding of Palestinian elections, in order to strengthen his home front.

If you were poor John Kerry, what would you say to all this?

“Poof!” seems the very minimum.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Why the Palestinian-I$raHell talks bubble burst

Zionist Tory MP Sajid Javid : After Britain, I$raHell is best

NOVANEWS
By Martin Bright,
December 13, 2012

It is not often that the Prime Minister is upstaged when he is guest of honour at an official function. It is even more unusual when it is one of his own MPs who is responsible. But this is just what happened when Sajid Javid, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Bromsgrove, spoke at the Conservative Friends of Israel “business lunch” on Tuesday.

This annual jamboree has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the key events of the year for supporters of Israel. And each year one of the MPs who has been on a CFI delegation reports back to the gathering of funders and fellow parliamentarians. Usually this is a rather bland “what I did on my holidays” routine, but this year it was different.

Mr Javid, who described himself as a “proud British-born Muslim”, announced that if he had to leave Britain to live in the Middle East, then he would choose Israel as home. Only there, he said, would his children feel the “warm embrace of freedom and liberty”. For him, only Israel shared the democratic values of the UK.

Such a speech would have been easy for almost every other MP in the room to make. Conservative MPS are a conventional bunch and support of Israel is expected of backbenchers (most of the parliamentary party was there on Tuesday). But, for a British Muslim, this was an extraordinary and courageous intervention in the world of Israel advocacy. The fact that Mr Javid no longer practises and is married to a Christian wife will make him more, not less of a target for Israel’s detractors within the Muslim community.

Saul Klein is to be Britain’s first Tech Envoy to Israel, Mr Cameron announced

Mr Cameron’s speech was one of his better ones. The prime minister is always more comfortable on domestic issues and even in foreign affairs he prefers talking trade to the hard end of diplomacy. So he talked about the support Jewish philanthropists had given to the government’s education agenda by funding schools. And he celebrated growing trade links between Israel and Britain.

And, in recognition of the success of Israel’s hi-tech sector, he announced the appointment of venture capitalist Saul Klein as the UK’s first tech envoy to Israel.

But Mr Cameron did not avoid the difficult issues. He urged Israel and its supporters to embrace the Arab Spring and the democracy it brought with it, touched on the thorny issue of settlements and reiterated the UK government view that the time was not right for an Israeli military strike on Iran.

Despite the UK government’s anger at the Netanyahu government over settlement building, the relationship between the Israeli establishment and the Conservative Party remains strong.

This was obvious from the genuine warmth of the speech given by Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub, who pointed out that only CFI could arrange such a “truly remarkable show of support” for Israel.

But, in terms of support, it is Mr Javid’s that will lodge in the memory. One MP on my table whispered that the Bromsgrove MP was being touted as a future prime minister. “Of Britain or Israel?” someone quipped.

Posted in UK2 Comments

The New World Order?

NOVANEWS

by Richard Falk

 

[a revised version of a previous post and AlJazeera article with a stress on the relationship between the Russian annexation of Crimea and a world order based on adherence to international law and the quest for global justice]

 

            There is no more reliable guardian of entrenched conventional wisdom than The Economist. And so when its cover proclaims ‘the new world order,’ and removes any ambiguity from its intentions, by its portrayal of Putin as a shirtless tank commander with menacing features. No such iconography accompanied the last notable invocation of the phrase by George H. W. Bush in mobilizing support at home and abroad for a forcible response to the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait in 1990, the dirty work of Saddam Hussein. Here the elder Bush was suggesting that with the Cold War winding down that finally the UN Security Council could act, as originally intended, and meet Iraqi aggression with a collective response from the international community. For the first time since 1945 the UN would then be acting as it was intended to in response to aggression committed against a sovereign state. With only slight hesitation, the Security Council mandated the use of force to repel Iraq, and in the ensuring military operation fully restored Kuwaiti sovereignty.

            In this central respect, there was some merit in treating Russia’s move to annex the Crimea as a distinctive 21st century challenge to international stability. In the Cold War period, it is unlikely that Baghdad would have dared to annex Kuwait without a prior green light from Moscow, and it is even more unlikely that the Kremlin would have allowed its junior ally to embark on such a predictably provocative adventure. In the highly improbable event that Iraq would have acted on its own or could have won approval from Moscow, the resulting crisis would have been of a purely geopolitical character with no claim to initiate ‘the new world order.’ It would have meant confrontation, escalation, and likely produced a frightening showdown similar to that which almost led to a nuclear World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

            As it unfolded, this so-called First Gulf War of 1991 resulted in a relatively successful launch of this earlier edition of the new world order. The Security Council mandate was quickly fulfilled in a one-sided desert war, Saddam Hussein surrendered, agreeing to abide by the most punitive peace imposed upon a defeated country since the burdens accepted by Germany in the Versailles Treaty after World War I. We should recall that the Versailles approach was discredited. It came to be regarded as an international arrangement often given a large share of the blame for tipping the internal German political balance in extremist directions that ended up with Hitler coming to power. Bush claimed victory over Iraq in 1991, making what I found at the time a chilling geopolitically boast: ‘finally, we kicked the ‘Vietnam Syndrome.’ He meant by this that America could again believe that it had the tactics and technology to win wars quickly and at an acceptable cost in lives and treasure. Some ventured to suggest that this renewed confidence in militarism was the real new world order.

            There were questions raised at the time about whether this use of UN authority to wage war really was compatible with the Charter of the Organization. Was the ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq really, as required by international law and the UN Charter, an instance of a defensive war undertaken as a last resort? Were all peaceful options truly exhausted? The argument of critics (and I was among them) was that the sanctions agreed upon after Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait some months early were working and deserved a longer time to achieve results without war. There were also credible reports that Saddam Hussein was ready to withdraw prior to being attacked if assured that an attack on his country would not occur in any event. The United States and its coalition partners never gave Baghdad such an assurance, but on the contrary, only sent the UN Secretary General on a constrained diplomatic mission to deliver an ultimatum to withdraw, which disallowed any response to Saddam Hussein’s inquiry about whether there would be an attack even if there was a full withdrawal from Kuwait.

            Also, serious questions were raised about the failure of the American led military campaign to give the Security Council a supervisory role in relation to the scope and nature of the military undertaking during its operational phases. Questions were raised as to whether the United States command had used excessive force well beyond the limits of ‘military necessity,’ an allegation given weight by a respected UN report concluding that the industrial infrastructure of Iraq had been destroyed and the country bombed back ‘to the stone age.’ And then there were further questions raised repeatedly about maintaining for 12 years harsh comprehensive sanctions on a defeated country with a badly damaged water treatment systems. In the decade following the war as many as 700,000 Iraqi civilians died due to these vindictive post-war sanctions, which was quite widely condemned as an undeclared form of indiscriminate warfare that was not consistent with international customary law or international morality, and turned their back on the lessons of Versailles.

            As well, the idealistic side of the new world order was quickly put back ‘on the shelf’ in the words of Thomas Pickering a prominent diplomat who represented the United States in the Security Council during the leadup to the 1991 Iraq War. In effect, Pickering insisted the United States was not prepared to repel aggression in the future in cooperation with the UN unless the exercise of collective security was consistent with national and strategic interests. The country was certainly not willing to allow the UNSC to make the call as to when international force should be used, or to play a role as the responsible leader in making the UN structure the foundation of a new post-Cold War framework for peace and security guided by international law.

            In effect, it was a return to business as usual! in relation to peace and security, and in this fundamental sense, a reaffirmation of the old world order. James Baker visiting Princeton for an off the record meeting on foreign policy not more than a year after this war in the Middle East, gave invited faculty the chance to ask questions. When my turn came, I asked,”What ever happened to ‘the new world order’?” His response was interesting: “We made a mistake. We should not have associated the new world order with the UN, but with the fact that the whole world would like to have an open economy and constitutional democracy like ours.” For Baker what was worth defending was a neoliberal globalizing world economy, not a law-oriented system of collective security. In effect, for Baker, Bush Sr’s able Secretary of State, the ‘new’ world order was not much different than the fashionable idea being disseminated by Francis Fukuyama on the theme of ‘the end of history,’ that is, the universal triumph of the liberal ideas of governance best embodied in the United States, but the now revealed as the purpose of the long historical journey into the present. Baker was invoking this vision of an integrated global capitalist economy in the context of waging a successful war, although he perceptively viewed the real calling of the United States was to ensure the stability of the world economy.

            Of course, invoking ‘the new world order’ also had some uglier earlier resonances, especially, its association with the extravagant claims made on behalf of the Nazi version of fascism during its triumphant phases in Europe up through the early phases of World War II.

            So what shall we make of this invocation of ‘new world order’ as descriptive of Putin vision in the aftermath of the Ukrainian intervention, followed by the Crimean annexation carried out by the combination of pre-deployed Russian ragtag military units and local pro-Russian militias that played a role in blocking Ukrainian military installations in Crimea. There is no doubt that from a statist perspective, Russia violated international law by non-defensively using force to acquire territory belonging to another sovereign state, international legal wrongs accentuated by breaking a treaty signed by Russia with Ukraine in 1994 to respect existing borders. This agreement was also regarded as notable because it included the commitment by Ukraine to transfer their stockpile of nuclear weapons to Russia for safekeeping following the breakup of the Soviet Union. If thinking as a Ukrainian nationalist, I would wonder at this point whether the Ukrainian borders might have been more respected had the Kiev government retained this weaponry. Thus what Putin might have unwittingly done is to rekindle an interest in nuclear weaponry as a security deterrent beneficial to secondary states. Thinking back to the Iraq War of 2003, it seems rather unlikely that Iraq would have been attacked if it had nuclear weapons, an assessment strengthened by the cautious response to North Korea’s acquisition.

            By and large the Economist berates the vision thrust upon the world by Putin as a dangerous repudiation of international agreements upon which international law rests, and a kind of ‘revanchism’ in which hard power is relied upon to challenge the territorial integrity and political independence of a neighboring country. It is alleged that Russia’s argument for intervention could be used in many national setting throughout the world to rescue unhappy minorities that find themselves subject to a national governance structure that is not to their liking. In The Economist’scall for firm leadership by Obama that takes the form of imposing heavy costs on Russia the stated purpose of the editorial writer is to salvage for people spread around the planet “the kind of world order they want to live under.” The magazine expresses its understanding of the central issues at stake in the following passage: “Would they [the attitudes of people toward world order] prefer one in which states by and large respect international agreements and borders? Or one in which words are bent, agreements are borders ignored and agreements broken at will?” [March 22, 2014, 9] This choice is put rhetorically, and avoids the observational outlook that seems to suggest that a widespread public interest exists in having Russia obedient to the discipline of international law while keeping the options of the West open and unconstrained.

            There are two clusters of issues raised—conceptual choices and policy options. On conceptual matters, there is the matter of coherence. Should Russia be expected to abide by agreements when the West seeks to challenge the internal dynamics of self-determination in an important country on its border? The Economist makes no mention of a variety of covert efforts to destabilize the admittedly corrupt Ukrainian government headed by Yukanovych and entice the Ukraine to accept Western credit arrangements and a European alignment. In turn, such a move is a reinforcement of the incorporation of East Europe into the European Union and NATO via ‘enlargement’ and to deploy defensive missile systems in countries surrounding Russia. To have a world order based on international law that The Economist and the West abstractly favors in this context would seem to imply that these advocates are prepared to live by a similar set of rules and agreements, but there is no indication of such reciprocity. Putin referred to the Kosovo precedent as a quasi-legal justification for acting in Crimea, and this has some plausibility, although there was a strong argument that Serbia had over a period of years forfeited its sovereign rights in Kosovo by the commission of crimes against humanity in the course of resisting the breakup of former Yugoslavia.

            The better precedent to test what the West really wants in relation to world order is undoubtedly the invasion and occupation of Iraq after being rebuffed by the UN Security Council in 2003. Here was an instance of blatant aggression justified by fabricated evidence and trumped up false premises, an intrusive regime-changing occupation, and the deliberate subsequent manipulation of religious and ethnic tensions by the occupying power so as to create the kind of neoliberal Iraq that it wanted to emerge. Is this the world that The Economist, and those of similar inclinations, have in mind, which resembles James Baker’s proposed new world order? When done by Putin behavior is seen as disruptive, but when done by the United States, uses of force are benignly described as “the aggressive pursuit of American values.” Such a pattern it seems to me set a worse precedent than the Putin worldview as exhibited so far in relation to Ukraine. When it comes to the Iraq War, the editorial writer for The Economist doesn’t ignore it, but air brushes the precedent by dismissing it as a momentary diversion, an ill-advised move “puffed up by the hubris of George Bush” in “’the unilateral world’” that followed upon the Soviet collapse, a venture that “choked in the dust of Iraq.” But is Iraq such a deviation from American approaches to the use of force ever since the Vietnam War? And don’t overlook the oppressive and bloody consequences of earlier covert interventions in a host of countries, including Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), and Chile (1973)? And what about the unleashing of lethal drone warfare in such countries as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia? In the end, then, we have to ask the question as to what kind of world order has the United States pursued over the course of recent decades, and is it the same one that The Economist seems to be promoting. In light of such a reconstruction can it be claimed that pre-Putin, the dominant states in the West had displayed a consistent respect for international law. The Economist would have been more persuasive had it given a lecture to Washington as well as to Moscow

            Of course, international law is habitually invoked as a matter of diplomatic convenience whenever it seems to support foreign policy, and avoided like the plague when it doesn’t. The United States is adept at mounting both kinds of arguments. The real test of adherence to international law, however, is the behavior of a leading government when international law poses an obstacle to its preferred course of action. To insist that the adversary adhere, while claiming discretion to act on interest, is a hegemonic form of world order that accepts as a prime norm, the inequality of states, and thus goes against the major premise of international law as presupposing the equality of states when it comes to applying codes of behavior. It is the leading state or states that sets the rules of the game in a statist structure, which either establishes a law-oriented world order or subverts it. The United States, and to a lesser extent Europe, have since 1945, and especially since 1991, wanted it both ways: freedom of action for themselves, rule of law for their adversaries. The Ukraine illustrates both sides of the argument, as well as its pitfalls.

            In the current setting, ‘American exceptionalism’ has been unashamed of mounting a patently hypocritical argument. Benjamin Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, explains the G-7 banishment of Russia from economic summit events for “as long as Russia is flagrantly violating international law.” Until Russia is willing to reverse its policy on Ukraine it is, according to Mr. Rhodes, “outside the rules of the road.” [International New York Times, March 25, 2014] This is highly misleading. Russia is within the rules of the road so far as thegeopolitical game is concerned, but if it were the case that international law sets the rules, then Russia is acting outside the rules, but so are those who now object to its behavior, and purport to act as impartial enforcers. Nothing is more corrosive of respect for international law over time than reliance on double standards, which is the hallmark of geopolitics, but also of hypocrisy in relation to the application of international law in relation to peace and security.

            What remains to be considered is the policy response to the Putin moves. Here the facts and complications make any firm set of conclusions an expression of dogma rather than a nuanced interpretation of context. In truth, there are no guidelines, or rules of the road, when external actors destabilize and silently intervene on one side, and the other side reacts more overtly. The people are caught in between. As the African proverb puts it: “When two elephants fight the grass is destroyed.”

            I believe that the sort of posturing that has been generated by the Ukraine crisis works against responding to the question put byThe EconomistWhat kind of world order have we had, and what kind do we want and need? A more humane future could result from adopting an international law approach to peace and justice. but only if compliance is consistent and reciprocal. As matters now stand, the foreign policy of major states continues to be principally dictated by perceptions of vital national interests, and not by the obligation to obey the rules of the road as set by international law, and administered by the United Nations. The geopolitical logic at play is not only hypocritical, but tends toward producing escalating conflict spirals. In the current setting we hear loose talk about organizing the West to embark upon a second cold war, with all the embedded dangers, including the potential horror that nuclear weapons might be threatened and used in some future conflict. It seems strange that our most heralded realist gurus do not dare even explore whether nuclear disarmament offers a process that could greatly contribute to the avoidance of a catastrophic future, and erect a firm safety barrier for the containment of future wars.

            All things considered, rather than view the recent events involving the Ukraine as a sign of ‘the new world order’ it would be more appropriate to regard these developments as depressing evidence of the persistence of ‘the old world order.’ And it is this continuity that we should be deploring. It is not only provocative behavior in violation of basic rules of international order, but it is a system of sovereign states preoccupied with the pursuit of national interests that encourages violence and predatory behavior, lacking a moral, spiritual, and vital institutional center capable of protecting globlal human interests whether the concern is territorial integrity of weaker states or the protection of the planet against the growing menace of climate change.

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on The New World Order?

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