Archive | February 1st, 2016

Son of Argentine Indigenous Leader Charged for ‘Threats’

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Activist Sergio Chorolque was hit with charges just days after his mother was ordered to remain behind bars

Human rights advocates that support Chorolque have alleged the charges are motivated by him and his mother

Human rights advocates that support Chorolque have alleged the charges are motivated by him and his mother’s activism. | Photo: Diario Veloz
teleSUR – January 31, 2016

The son of a prominent Argentine indigenous activist was charged Saturday on allegations his advocates say are politically motivated.

Sergio Chorolque is accused of issuing death threats to a municipal worker, and could face up to two years imprisonment.

Human rights advocates that support Chorolque have alleged the charges are motivated by his and his mother’s activism.

Chorolque’s mother Milagro Sala has already been described by some human rights activists as the first political prisoner of the new government of President Mauricio Macri.

The well-known indigenous leader, founder of the 70,000 member Tupac Amaru organization, was arrested on January 16 in the Jujuy on charges of inciting violence after protesting in a month-long sit in against Governor Gerardo Morales, who ordered her arrest.

A judge cleared Sala of those charges on Friday, but before she walked out of jail she was handed down a new set of accusations and ordered to stay behind bars while investigations into charges of “illicit association, fraud, and extortion” are launched at the request of the Jujuy government, local media reported.

As authorities peg various charges on the popular social leader, now one of Sala’s children has been charged with leveling death threats against a labor activist.

According to the conservative Argentine newspaper La Nacion, Morales has had a tense and “estranged” relationship with Sala for years. Morales has also had an antagonistic relationship with the social organizations and collectives with which Sala is aligned. Before her arrest, Sala was protesting in support of various organizations at risk of losing their legal status and social benefits after Morales threatened to suspend them via decree.

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UN says Turkey should investigate reports of rescuers being shot

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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Ankara to investigate reports that a number of unarmed people trying to attend to the injured victims of clashes in Turkey’s southeast in late January were themselves shot at.

Ten people were injured when their group, which included two opposition politicians, came under fire while trying to help people injured in earlier clashes in the southeastern town of Cizre in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast on January 20.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described as “extremely shocking” footage filmed of the incident, which purportedly shows what appear to be a man and woman holding white flags and pushing a cart – possibly carrying bodies – across a street before being shot.

“As they reach the other side, they are apparently cut down in a hail of gunfire,” Zeid said in a statement.

He also expressed concern that the cameraman, who was injured in the shooting, may face arrest under a “clampdown on media.”

Turkey has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the group in northern Iraq.

The operations began in the wake of a deadly July bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accused the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.

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The emperor has no clothes: The West Bank, settlements and the two State Solution

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By Miko Peled 

Sadly, over the last seventy years Israel has had many successes at the expense of the Palestinian people. But the one success that is the most remarkable is getting Palestinians and the world to buy into the notion that the occupation of Palestine began in 1967, and that therefore, the solution to the Palestinian question is what is known as the two State Solution. This is a manipulation of reality that would make any magician proud.

It has become completely acceptable to disregard the fact that the vast majority of Palestine has been occupied since 1948. Mentioning the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the eradication of Palestinian towns and villages, mosques and churches, schools and homes is now considered radical. Forty-nine years of occupation is the claim one hears over and over again, the fiftieth anniversary of the occupation is upon us, people say, and hard as I try, when I add forty-nine to the year 1948 I do not come up with 2016, but rather 1997.

There is almost complete disregard by the international community for the crimes committed by the Zionists between 1948 and 1967. The erasure of the fact that these were years marked by dispossession, massacres, and unspeakable abuse of human rights by Israel, is a truly impressive magic trick. Two small areas within Palestine that were drawn by Israel and left out of the boundaries of Israel in 1948, i.e. the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, have become recognized as Palestine. But that is not all. Not a single inch of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip is under Palestinian sovereignty. All of the Palestine, from the River to the Sea is controlled by Israel.

So when European countries recognize Palestine they too are behaving like fools in a magic show, happy to be part of the illusion of some great master of deceit. And indeed, as the world is led by the nose, fooled by the illusion of a Palestine that exists, Israel, the master of deceit, continues to shrink what little is left of Palestinian life and no one stands up to admit that the emperor has no clothes! There is no Palestinian state, there is no Two State Solution, there is no West Bank, and there is not a single inch of Palestinian sovereignty anywhere in Palestine.

“OPT” has become a rather well known acronym, used to describe the Occupied Palestinian Territories. But when we ask people to see those territories on a map, all we see is what used to be the West Bank, an area that Israel created in 1948 and then eliminated in 1967, and the Gaza Strip which exists only as a concentration camp in which Israel is allowed to commit genocide, as the world looks the other away and pretends not to see.

This begs the following questions: If the OPT are limited to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip then where are the Un-occupied Palestinian territories? Are there Palestinian territories that are not occupied? If such territories do exist, can someone please point them out on a map? Because every map I look at and every inch of Palestine that I visit is occupied. Another term that is used a great deal in connection to Palestine is “settlements.” Sometimes they are called, “illegal settlements.” Both refer largely to the Israeli colonies built in the West Bank. There is talk of “settlement expansion,” “settlement blocks,” etc. Again, this begs a question: what is the difference between the Jewish settlements in those areas and the ones built in Al-Jaleel or the Naqqab? What about the settlements built around Jerusalem or the one near Yaffa known as Tel-Aviv?

Israelis who live on Palestinian land that was stolen in 1948 like to see themselves as authentic Israelis, good liberal minded people and God forbid they are not settlers. Settlers are those “other” Israelis who live on lands that were stolen from Palestinians in 1967. But what is the difference? All of Palestine was stolen by force, and with very few exceptions, all Israeli cities and towns, villages and farms were built on land that was stolen, which makes them all illegal settlements. Once again the master of deceit is leading us all by the nose to see the world as Israel wants us to see it and there is no one to cry out: “the emperor has NO clothes!”

Between 1948-1967 Israel gained legitimacy by committing horrendous crimes and creating what they call “facts on the ground.” The 1967 conquest of the West Bank and Gaza, in which Israel completed the occupation of Palestine, shifted the focus from the territories Israel occupied in 1948 to the newly occupied territories. Now, for the past five decades Israel has been creating “facts on the ground” in those areas, which are now known as “Judea and Smaria.” But every magician, every thief and certainly a master of deceit of such proportions has to have accomplices.

Few people can actually claim not to know what Israel is doing. The international diplomatic corps is fully aware of what takes place in Palestine. The CIA and the US State Department are fully aware of every trick and every crime committed by Israel. Each and every US administration as well as the European governments has been complicit in the crimes committed by Israel. However, it is time for the rest of the world to wake up and end the illusion. The illusion that Israel has legitimacy, the illusion that Israel is somehow the answer to the holocaust and to anti-Semitism, and the illusion that some parts of Palestine are occupied while others are not. It’s time to call out loud and clear that all Israeli settlements everywhere are illegal and just as in the tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the emperor had no clothes, Israel too has no legitimacy.

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The Testing of a DPRK Hydrogen Bomb and Sino-North Korean Relations

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By Konstantin Asmolov 

Our analysis of the international response to North Korea’s test of a hydrogen bomb directs our attention to China’s position and US-China debates about “what to do and who to blame.”

First, let’s look to the statement by Xinhua news agency on January 8. On the one hand, North Korea’s actions have been condemned, on the other hand, it was pointed out that “it was Washington’s antagonistic approach that pushed Pyongyang to carry on the development of nuclear weapons.” “The US military approach put Pyongyang in an acutely insecure position and encouraged the country to ignore the restrictions on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The DPRK, balancing on the brink of a nuclear war, really deserves international condemnation, as it seriously undermines the regional stability and peace in the world, might resort to desperate attempts of the country to improve its position in the fight against the USA.“

At the same time, according to anonymous sources of Yonhap news agency in diplomatic circles, Beijing is said to be very angry with the nuclear test, which came unexpectedly, especially given Pyongyang’s active attempts to improve bilateral relations. Official Spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying came up with a sharp condemnation of the tests and virtually admitted that Beijing had not been informed of the planned tests.

A number of statements from US diplomats and politicians are of interest, stating that the main villain of the place is the PRC and that China should have applied maximum efforts to “solve the problem.” Its policy and intention to continue the course to the six-party negotiations are said to have resulted in appeasement of Pyongyang. As US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “China had a particular approach to the DPRK, and Beijing partners in the six-party negotiations – Russia, the USA, South Korea and Japan – agreed to abide by this policy. The idea was to “give space” to China for cooperation with Pyongyang for the purpose of denuclearization of the Korean space… But now it is clear it did not work.”

In other words, since 2003 China has been promoting the idea of ​​six-party talks as the solution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem with political and diplomatic means, but its actions did not lead to denuclearization. And it is necessary to increase pressure on North Korea and expand sanctions. Or actualize them so that they have the desired effect, whereas much depends on China, its main cross-border trade partner.

Donald Trump, a controversial US presidential candidate, also stated on January 10 that China should solve the problem; otherwise it will suffer from loosening its trade connections with the USA. China is believed to have total control over Pyongyang, so the USA must find a way to force Beijing to address this issue using as much economic pressure as possible. Some westerners even expressed the idea of a “Chinese-sponsored DPRK nuclear project.”

However, we can also note the fact that both experts on bilateral relations and representatives of the PRC disagree. The Chinese often mention that they have no special relations with North Korea, but “no special relations” may mean a lot depending on the situation: “we have no favorable attitude”, “we do not have the leverage”, and “our capabilities to put pressure on North Korea are limited.” It is partly so, because the ideological influence is gradually reduced, however it should be noted that even before Pyongyang listened to Beijing only formally, especially on the nuclear issue. China’s weakening influence is due to the fact that North Korea is building relationships with other countries, primarily with Russia.

China clearly sees how America and its allies use the pretext of the North Korean threat to accumulate force aimed not against North Korea and in this situation try to blame China, although it is well known, whose non-constructive position blocked the negotiation process at least in the same degree as the intransigence of the DPRK. There are many examples here (enough for a series of articles on the emergence of the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem and ways to resolve it), as the joint draft solution dated 2005 developed by the parties, and the USA and Japan having done everything in their power to stall it.

Moreover, China’s military preparations are quite obvious. On January 13, in his address to the people of the South Korea, President Park Geun-hye did not exclude the possibility of considering placing American THAAD anti-missile complexes in South Korea. This provoked a sharp reaction from Beijing, which objected the deployment of THAAD, considering that the radars can be aimed at China.

Therefore, The Global Times responded to Kerry’s accusations possibly even tougher than Xinhua : “The origins and causes of the North Korean nuclear issue are very complicated. On the one hand, the North Korean regime has taken the wrong way to ensure its security, and on the other, the USA consistently chose a hostile approach to North Korea.” And “until the USA, South Korea and Japan change their approach to Pyongyang, there can be no hope to solve the DPRK nuclear issue.” It also implies that the hope for Beijing to solve everything for everyone and make the North abandon its nuclear ambitions is “an illusion.”

Commenting on Seoul’s propaganda resumption and the raid of the US strategic bomber to South Korea, the PCR Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that “ALL parties should make joint efforts to avoid further escalation. We hope that the parties will take careful steps to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia.” In short, “we did everything we could, but what have YOU done to ease up the problem except for sharpening it?”

However, displeasure towards the North also is demonstrated. According to the South Korean media (or rather the memorable Chosun Ilbo) with reference to its sources in the area of ​​China-North Korean border, the Chinese authorities have tightened border controsl with Korea. As well as the passage through the bridge over the Tumen River is said to be closed, some cooperation projects canceled, and goods at customs and border points inspected by the Chinese more carefully. There is no information on the full-fledged sanctions from the authorities of China, but at least they started to do everything “strictly according to the rules” that previously were not always respected.

What does this mean? From the viewpoint of the author (as repeatedly mentioned) the PCR policy on the Korean Peninsula is slowly beginning to resemble the Russian one in terms of its so-called “multidirectional character.” At the same time, China is making use of the differences between the two Koreas and the balance of power. The North Korean issue is considered in the context of having a system of loyal regimes across the border (in this context, unauthorized DPRK actions are annoying) and in the context of potentially growing confrontation with the USA (whereas the DPRK is an ally, albeit difficult). The balance of these factors will determine ensuing actions.

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Intimidation through nightly Nazi Jewish settler-tour

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Nazi forces blocking the entrance to the Palestinian market

Hebron, illegally Occupied Palestine – On Saturday, 30th January 2016, large groups of Nazi Jewish settlers, accompanied by heavily-armed Nazi soldiers, entered the Palestinian market at night and took it over for about an hour during night-time in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).

Around 9:30 pm, Nazi Jewish settlers from the illegal settlements throughout al-Khalil gathered at Bab al-Baladiyya, from where they walked into the Palestinian souq, the market, surrounded by heavily-armed Nazi forces. The group of more than 50 settlers started a ‘tour’ of the Palestinian market, with Nazi forces ‘guarding’ them throughout the Palestinian market. Palestinian residents were not allowed to pass and forced to wait at a distance, with Nazi soldiers repeatedly pointing the lasers from their guns at them to indicate they have to stop. A walk home at night though, for some Palestinians took almost an hour, instead of the usual 10 minutes.

This kind of ‘settler tour’ through the Palestinian market used to take place regularly on Saturday afternoons. During the ‘tour’ Palestinians are often denied to pass, stopped, ID-checked and detained. In the recent months, no ‘settler tours’ took place, but last week they started again with a nightly-tour at 11pm. For the Palestinian residents of the souq, these tours have become a regular form of intimidation and harassment in the past.

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Peace Talks: Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime ‘Turning UN Negotiations on Syria Into Farce’

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The Associated Press

An opposition group founded by Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime last month is turning the Geneva negotiations into a farce, putting the UN under pressure and refusing to talk to the Syrian government, German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) wrote.

According to the newspaper, the group was formed in December and consists of Islamist fighters who want to overthrow Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad.

The opposition platform is called the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and is referred to in the media as “the most important opposition alliance.”

However, according to DWN, the group seems to be contributing to the destabilization of the situation, rather than to its resolution.

“The group sees its main task in disrupting the peace conference mediated by the UN,” the newspaper wrote.

The Syrian talks started on Friday with a meeting between UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura and the delegation of the Syrian government.

The HNC delegation attended the negotiations only after a long hesitation, previously claiming that the UN should put an end to the “crimes” of the Syrian government as a condition for their participation.

Shortly after their arrival in Geneva on Saturday, the delegation threatened again that it would not participate in the negotiations until their conditions are met.

“In fact, the envoys of the Saudis seek to create unrest at the negotiation table after Russia‘s military success [in Syria],” DWN wrote.

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Nazi forces seize Palestinian vehicles, equipment in Jordan Valley

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Nazi forces late Friday confiscated trucks and equipment being used to build a new agricultural road in the Palestinian village of Khirbet al-Dir in the northern Jordan Valley.

The head of a local council in the illegally occupied West Bank village, al-Maleh Arif Daraghmah, said Nazi military forces had seized the equipment, without citing a reason for its removal.

Daraghmah added that days before, Nazi forces had ruined dozens of acres of agricultural land and roads while carrying out military drills in the area.

A spokesperson for Nazi Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma’an: “Yesterday evening, two trucks, JCB and an excavator, were confiscated as they were used for illegal road building adjacent to Mehoula in Area C.”

The Jordan Valley — illegally occupied with the rest of the West Bank in 1967 — is in Area C, under full Nazi military and administrative control, and residents of the area face a constant threat of destruction of structures and property.

Threats of displacement for the thousands of Bedouins living in the area have reportedly increased dramatically since 2012, notably the use of Nazi military training exercises as a means of forcible displacement.

Rights groups argue that Nazi regime aims to fully annex the strategic area of land and is unlikely to return the occupied area to Palestinians.

Zionist media reported earlier this week that the Nazi government announced that it may revoke the closed military zone status of a number of land plots in the Jordan Valley, supposedly returning the land to their original Palestinian owners after decades of confiscation.

The news came several days after COGAT announced that plans to declare 1,500 dunams (370 acres) of land in the Jordan Valley as “state land” were in their “final stages.” The move will be the largest declaration of “state land” by the Nazi regime since August 2014.

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Nazi Soldiers Shoot International Activist In Nabi Saleh Protest

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Nazi soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly non-violent protest in Nabi Saleh village, near Ramallah, and shot an international activist with a live round, while many protesters suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Morad Eshteiwy, coordinator of the Popular Committee in Nabi Saleh village, north west of Ramallah, said the activist was shot in the leg, and was moved to a local hospital for treatment. He added that many protesters suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation, after the soldiers used excessive force.

Nazi army surrounded the village, fired many gas bombs, live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Eshteiwy added that, for the second time in one week, Nazi soldiers sealed the main entrance of the village, forcing hundreds of Palestinians from nearby villages and towns, to take longer, unpaved roads.

Also on Friday, dozens of protesters suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after Nazi soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in village, near Ramallah.

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A Russian Diplomat’s Take on the World

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By Gilbert Doctorow 

On Jan. 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held an important year-in-review press conference before an audience of about 150 journalists, including the BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg and many other well-known representatives of mainstream Western media. The purpose of this annual event is to look back at issues faced by his Ministry over the past year and to give his appraisal of results achieved.

Lavrov’s opening remarks were concise, lasting perhaps 15 minutes, and the remaining two hours were turned over to the floor for questions. As the microphone was passed to journalists from many different countries, the discussion covered a great variety of subjects, including the likelihood of a new “re-set” with the United States, the negotiations over re-convening the Syrian peace talks in Geneva, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments on the findings of a U.K. public inquest into the Litvinenko murder, the possibilities for reestablishing diplomatic relations with Georgia, and prospects for resolving conflicting claims over the Southern Kurile islands so as to conclude a peace treaty with Japan.

To the best of my knowledge, not a single report of the event has yet appeared on major online American, French, British and German newspaper portals or television channels. This was not for lack of substance or newsworthy sound bites, including Lavrov’s headline comment that he agreed with Western leaders who said there would be “no business as usual” between Russia and the West.

As part of his opening comments, Lavrov said, “Our Western colleagues sometimes declare with passion that there can no longer be ‘business as usual with Russia.’ I am convinced that this is so and here we agree: there will be no more ‘business as usual’ when they tried to bind us with agreements which take into account above all the interests of either the European Union or the United States and they wanted to persuade us that this will do no harm to our interests. That history is over and done with. A new stage of history is dawning which can develop only on the basis of equal rights and all other principles of international law.”

Regarding a similar news blackout that followed another major Russian press briefing, the sharp-tongued Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented, what are all these accredited Western reporters doing in Moscow if nothing gets published abroad? Do they have some other occupation?

In keeping with custom, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted the entire video recording of Lavrov’s press conference on youtube.com and posted transcripts in Russian and English on the www.mid.ru site. The Russian version takes up 26 tightly spaced printed pages. This is what I have used, since I prefer to go to the source and do my own translations when I have the option. The English version probably takes 40 pages, given the normal expansion from Russian to English in the translation process.

What I noted first in the television broadcast on Russia’s Pervy Kanal and then in the transcript was both how well prepared Lavrov was to deal with a plethora of issues and how he gave detailed answers that went on for many minutes without making reference to any notes.

Secondly, it was obvious he spoke more “freely,” using fewer diplomatic euphemisms than I have ever seen before. I conclude that he was given a nod by his boss, President Vladimir Putin, not to hold back, to speak with perfect clarity. Given his experience as one of the longest-serving foreign ministers among the major powers and his innate intellect, Lavrov delivered what sounds at times like dictation for essays in proper written Russian.

For these reasons, I have decided to divide my treatment of the press conference into two parts. One will be Lavrov in his own words. And the other will be my conclusions about the international environment in the coming year given Russia’s basic positions, particularly the possible lifting of sanctions on Russia by the United States and the European Union and how the next U.S. administration can best prepare for relations with Russia, assuming there is no dramatic change in the thinking of American elites.

Sergey Lavrov in His Own Words

From the press briefing, I have extracted several big chunks of text that characterize the overarching views on international relations of Lavrov and the Kremlin, applying their Realpolitik prism and focused primarily on U.S.-Russian relations. This is essential if we are not to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

In questions and answers dealing with all countries but one, we hear about separate issues in various locations around the world holding interest mainly for discrete national audiences with their private concerns. With respect to one country, the U.S., Russia’s bilateral relations transcend the minister’s in-basket of contingencies.

Indeed, the whole Russian foreign policy really is about relations with the U.S. as expressed in the first two of the three passages in quotation marks below. The third passage, on sanctions, would seem to be more about relations with the E.U. I selected it because the issue of lifting sanctions will surely be a key foreign policy issue facing Russia in the first six months of this year, and behind it all looms the U.S. position on the question.

Question: Is a “re-set” possible in this final year of Barack Obama’s administration?

Lavrov: “The question should not be addressed to us. Our inter-state ties sank very low despite the excellent personal relations between former U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Putin. When U.S. President Barack Obama came to the White House and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a ‘re-set,’ this reflected the fact that Americans themselves finally saw the abnormality of the situation wherein Russia and the USA were not cooperating to solve those problems which could not be decided without them…

“We gave a rather constructive response to the ‘re-set.’ We said that we appreciate the decision of the new Administration to correct the errors of its predecessors. We achieved quite a lot: the New START Treaty, the entry of Russia into the WTO, an array of new agreements on various conflict situations. But somehow this quickly began to drop back to zero. Now everyone, including our American colleagues, is telling us: ‘Just fulfill the Minsk accords on Ukraine and immediately everything will return to normal. We will immediately cancel the sanctions and tempting prospects of cooperation will open up between Russia and the United States over much more pleasant issues, not just in the management of crises; right away a constructive partnership program will take shape.’

“We are open for cooperation with everyone on an equal, mutually advantageous basis. We, of course, do not want anyone to build their policy based on the assumption that Russia and not Ukraine must fulfill the Minsk accords. It is written there who must fulfill them. I hope that this is well known to the USA. At least, my latest contacts with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the contacts of Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland with Assistant to the Russian President Surkov indicate that the USA can sort out the essence of the Minsk accords. Grosso modo, everyone understands everything. …

“I have just mentioned that people have begun to promise a new ‘re-set.’ If we fulfill the Minsk accords, then immediately everything will become fine, with splendid and tempting prospects.

“But the cooling off of relations with the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and the end of the period associated with ‘re-set’ began long before the Ukraine. Let’s remember how this occurred. First, when we finally got the consent of our Western partners to terms of our joining the WTO which were acceptable to Russia, the Americans understood that it was not in their interests to keep the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Otherwise they would be deprived of those privileges and advantages which are linked to our participation in the WTO. They began to prepare for the removal of this amendment.

“But Americans would not be Americans if they simply abolished it and said ‘Enough, let’s now cooperate normally.’ They dreamed up the ‘Magnitsky Act,’ although I am certain that what happened to Magnitsky was not set up. I very much hope that the truth will become known to everyone. It is disgusting how a provocation and speculation were built up around the death of a man. Nonetheless, this was done and you know who lobbied for this ‘Magnitsky Act,’ which immediately replaced the Jackson-Vanik amendment.”

[The Magnitsky Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2012 with the goal of punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison in 2009 amid accusations and counter-accusations of fraud.]

“This all began when there was still no Ukraine [crisis], although they now try to lay the blame on violations of OSCE principles. Everything that is going on between the West and Russia is explained by the fact that Russia did not fulfill its obligations, did not respect the world order which was put together in Europe after the Helsinki Act [of 1975], etc. These are all attempts to justify and find an excuse for continuing the policy of containment. But this policy never ended.

“After the ‘Magnitsky Act’ [in 2012], there was the completely inappropriate, overblown reaction to what happened to Edward Snowden, who found himself in Russia against our wishes [in 2013]. We did not know about this. He did not have a passport – his document was canceled while he was in flight. He could not go anywhere from Russia because of decisions taken in Washington. We could not help but give him the possibility to remain in Russia so as to stay safe, knowing which articles of the law they were threatening him with. The Americans made no secret about this. This was done simply as an elementary protection of a person’s right to life.

“U.S. President Barack Obama then canceled his visit to Russia. They made a huge scandal. Dozens of telephone calls came in from the FBI, from the CIA, the State Department. There were direct contacts with the President. They told us that if we do not give up Snowden, then relations will be broken off. The USA canceled the visit. It did not take place but U.S. President Obama came for the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, where we, by the way, did something useful – we reached agreement on the principles of the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons.

“Ukraine was just a pretext. The Ukrainian crisis is linked not so much with justified concern over an alleged violation by Russia of the Helsinki principles (although everything began with Kosovo, with the [1999] bombing of Yugoslavia, etc). This was an expression of irritation that the coup d’etat did not lead to the results that were expected by those who supported it.

“I will tell you honestly that we don’t hold a grudge. We have no such traditions in relations between states. We understand that life is tougher than any ideal, romantic scheme like ‘re-set’ or similar. We also understand that this is a world in which there are harsh clashes of interests that come down to us from the age of the West’s total domination and it is in the midst of a long transition period to a more durable system in which there will not be one or even two dominant poles – there will be several. The transition period is long and painful. Old habits die slowly. We all understand this.

“We understand that the USA is interested in having fewer competitors even with regards to those comparable to it in size, influence, military power, economy. We see this in the relations between the USA and China, in how the USA works with the European Union, trying to create a ring around it via the Transatlantic Partnership, and to the east of Russia, to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership which will not include Russia and China. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about this in detail when he analyzed the processes at work in the world economy and politics. We understand all of this.

“Surely every age brings with it new tendencies, frames of mind in one or another of the elites, especially in major countries which see in their own fashion the ways to fight for their interests. It would be very bad and ruinous for all of us if these processes moved outside the framework of generally accepted norms of international law.

“Then, simply put, everything would be topsy-turvy, and we would be drawn into a world of anarchy and chaos – something like what is going on in the Near East, perhaps without bloodshed. Each would act as he reckons necessary and nothing good would come out of this. It is very important to observe some kind of general rules of play.

“To answer your question, I would like for the USA to have a ‘re-set’ with the whole world, so that the ‘re-set’ was general, so that we could gather together and reconfirm our commitment to the UN Charter, to the principles embodied in it, including non-interference in internal affairs, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of peoples to self-determination, the right of peoples to choose their own future without interference from outside.”

Question: At the Munich Security Conference in 2007 President Putin said to the West “you need us more than we need you.” Is that still Russia’s position?

Lavrov: “Ideally we both need one another to face the challenges and threats. But, the reality is different. The West comes to us much more often for help than we come to the West.”

(Lavrov said that in response to Western sanctions, Russia was striving to be self-sufficient and promoting import substitution, but not trying to cut itself off from the world and ready for cooperation based on equality.)

“We must do everything to ensure we do not depend on the whim of one or another group of countries, above all from our Western partners” – as happened when the West took offense at Russia for supporting ethnic Russians in Ukraine who did not recognize the 2014 coup d’etat.

“I have cited Dmitry Yarosh [leader of the radical nationalists, the Right Sector] that they wanted to destroy Russian speakers in Ukraine or deprive them of their rights. We want to insure ourselves against such situations. …

“I note that it’s not we who are running to our European colleagues and saying ‘Let’s do something to remove the sanctions.’ Not at all. We are focused on not depending on such zigzags in Western policy, not depending on Europe’s saluting the USA. But in our bilateral contacts our European colleagues, when they come to us or meet us in international forums, say: ‘Let’s think of something. Help us carry out the Minsk accords, otherwise these sanctions will do a lot of damage. We want to turn the page.’

“It turns out that in this situation we are needed more by them than they are needed by us. Including for fulfillment of the Minsk accords. … Yes, we have influence in Donbass [the ethnic Russian section of eastern Ukraine] and we support them. Surely, without our help and humanitarian deliveries Donbass would be in a pitiful state. But one also has to exert influence in Kiev. We need the West to influence the Kiev authorities, but so far this is not happening.

“Or look at the question of the Iranian nuclear program. At the decisive stages of these negotiations we were literally bombarded with requests when it was necessary to solve the questions of exporting enriched uranium in exchange for natural uranium, which was the key condition for achieving agreements; when it was necessary to resolve the question about who will convert the enrichment sites at Fordu into research for production of medical isotopes, etc.

“They came with requests to us, requests which carry a significant financial burden, or at least which do not bring any material benefit. But we fulfilled our part of the work. Now everyone is calling us and our Chinese colleagues about the North Korean problem: ‘help us do something to make North Korea observe its obligations.’ Or take the case of Syria….

“I can’t think of any requests we made to our Western colleagues recently. We don’t believe it is proper to make requests. After you sign agreements following negotiations, you now have to execute obligations, not to make requests for favors.”

Question: Will the sanctions end early?

Lavrov: “I’d say that among a large number of our partners there is the awareness that they cannot go on this way any longer, that this is harmful to them. Our justification for speaking about some possible positive changes comes down to the following: our Western partners more and more often begin to understand that they have fallen into a trap of their own making when they said that they will lift the sanctions after Russia fulfills the Minsk accords. They have now understood that, very likely, this was a ‘slip of the tongue.’

“But in Kiev this was heard very often and was interpreted as an indulgence allowing them not to carry out the Minsk accords. Their failure to perform not only means that Kiev does not have to undertake any actions and fulfill its obligations. It also means that the West will have to keep the sanctions in place against Russia. It was necessary to prove all of this to some gentlemen who are in Kiev fanning radical attitudes. …

“The West understands the hopelessness of the present situation, when everyone pretends that Russia must fulfill the Minsk accords but Ukraine can do nothing – not change its constitution, not give a special status to the Donbass, not put through an amnesty, not organize elections in consultation with Donbass. Everyone understands that no one will resolve these things for Ukraine.

“Everyone understands that this is abnormal, something pathological which emerged in turning the Ukrainian crisis, which arose as a result of an absolutely illegal, anti-constitutional coup d’etat, into a measuring stick for all relations between Russia and the West. This is absolutely abnormal, an unhealthy situation, artificially fanned from countries that are far removed from Europe. Europe no longer wants to be held hostage to this situation. For me, this is obvious.”

General Conclusions

In presenting these three long excerpts from Lavrov’s Jan. 26 press conference, my intention was to give readers a feel for Lavrov’s method of argumentation and his somber tone in what was delivered without notes and in response to questions from journalists in the audience.

In his prepared opening remarks, Lavrov had already set out some of the key points in the overall approach to international affairs from Russia’s analytical tool of realism and national interest. The number one issue facing Russia and the world from his perspective is to arrive at a new system of managing international affairs. Russia’s relations with the West are part and parcel of this broader challenge.

This wished-for new system would be one built on full equality of relations between states, respect for their interests and non-interference in internal affairs. Lavrov was repeating Vladimir Putin’s call upon nations to re-dedicate themselves to the principles of the United Nations Charter that Putin issued in New York in September 2015 at the 70th anniversary gathering of the General Assembly. The new system of global governance will come about as a result of reforms to the basic international institutions whereby political and economic power is reallocated in ways that reflect changes in relative economic and military power of nations from the days when these institutions were established.

By itself, there is nothing particular new in this vision. It has been in the public domain for years and guided calls for readjusting the voting powers within the International Monetary Fund. The novel element, which will be shocking to many in Washington, was Sergey Lavrov’s clear and repeated identification of the United States as the power frustrating the renewal of world governance by stubbornly defending its hegemonic control of institutions and seeking to consolidate still further its control over its allies in Europe and Asia at the expense of their national interests and in furtherance of its own interests.

Hence, Lavrov’s mention of the TPP and TIPP projects. Hence, his repeated mention of forces from afar, meaning the U.S., that have imposed European sanctions on Russia against the wishes of separate E.U. member states.

At one point, in responding to a journalist from Japan, Lavrov completely abandoned veiled language. He said Russia favored in principle giving a permanent seat on the UN Security Council to Japan, but would do so only when it was clear Japan will contribute its own national views to deliberations, broadening the perspectives on the table, and not merely provide the United States with an additional voting member under its control.

It is interesting that Lavrov explicitly denied that Russia feels “offended,” or as I have written using an alternative translation, “holds a grudge” over how it has been treated by the United States in the downward spiral of relations from the high point of the 2009 “re-set” to today’s nadir.

The context for this remark is the ever-present denunciations in mainstream Western media of Vladimir Putin’s speeches on foreign affairs. Putin’s observations on how things went awry since the end of the Cold War are regularly categorized as “diatribes” and “revisionist,” by which is meant aggressive, threatening and possibly irrational.

Lavrov said Russia acknowledges it is a tough world out there and competition is harsh. That is the true sense of his headline remark that there can be no return to “business as usual” or the idealistic notions underlying the “re-set” even when the current sanctions against Russia are lifted.

Russia is nonetheless open for business on equal and mutually advantageous terms where and when possible. In this regard, Lavrov is in complete agreement with American experts like Angela Stent at Georgetown University who advise the incoming U.S. administration in 2017 against planning some new “re-set.” They come to that common conclusion from diametrically opposed premises over who is responsible for the new reality.

Lavrov speaks of our being in a long and painful transition period from a world dominated by the West, which in turn is dominated by one power, the United States, to a multipolar world with a number of key participants in global governance. But that does not exclude amelioration and he appears to share the view now spreading in Western media, that U.S. and European sanctions will be lifted in the near future.

One recent example of this expectation that generates euphoria in Western business circles appeared in Bloomberg online the day before Lavrov’s news conference: “Russian Entente Nears as Allies Hint at End of Ukraine Sanctions.”

The important message, which Sergey Lavrov delivered on Jan. 26, is that Russia has not and will not mend its ways. He told us Russia did not beg for relief from sanctions and is not trading its support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria in return for relief over Ukraine.

We may be sure that the United States and the European Union will present the lifting of sanctions as a trade-off. But the reality will be a retreat from a policy that is unsustainable because it harms Western interests far more than Russian interests. This was the sense of Lavrov’s insistence that the West needs Russia more than Russia needs the West.

The present, ongoing economic harm to European farmers and other select sectors of the economy from Russia’s tit-for-tat embargo is obvious. The harm to U.S. interests is more subtle.

It was recently highlighted in an article published in Foreign Affairs magazine by a research fellow of the Cato Institute entitled “Not-So Smart Sanctions.” There we read that the Washington establishment is finally worried over the creation by Russia and China of alternative global financial institutions to those based in Washington.

The BRICS Bank, the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank, the introduction of bank clearing centers competing with SWIFT: all are intended to end, once and for all, America’s possibilities for inflicting crippling economic pain on those falling into its latest list of enemies as was done to punish the Kremlin over annexation of Crimea and intervention in Donbass.

Lavrov spoke repeatedly about defending “national interests” as the guiding principle of foreign relations. In this connection, the shadow of Hans Morgenthau, a founder and major theorist of America’s Realist School, may be said to have shared the podium with him. But Lavrov and the Russians have taken to a new level the principles set out in Politics Among Nations, Morgenthau’s famous textbook which generations of American college students once studied in their Government 101 courses.

Lavrov’s Russia is calling upon nations to shed their chains, to stop pushing their national interests to one side while listening to instructions from Washington. Nations should compete and jostle for influence in a free market of ideas and influences, while playing by generally recognized rules.

If the rules are followed, the international environment will not collapse into chaos notwithstanding sharp contradictions between nations.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on A Russian Diplomat’s Take on the World

Drunk on Hate and Mad at the World

NOVANEWS

Israel’s Diplomatic Wars of Aggression

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By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | January 29, 2016

Israel these days seems to be increasingly at odds with a good portion of the rest of the world. In just the past few months it has quarreled with:

  • Spain over arrest warrants issued for Netanyahu and six other Israeli officials for the 2010 attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla;
  • Sweden over comments by its foreign minister who has called for an investigation into extrajudicial executions of Palestinians;
  • college campus student groups supporting the BDS movement;
  • academic associations who have issued calls for academic boycotts of Israeli universities;
  • Brazil over its refusal to recognize an Israeli ambassador who hails from the right-wing Israeli settler movement;
  • The EU over labeling of products from Israeli settlements.
  • The UN over Ban Ki-moon’s recent criticism of the settlements

And really, if truth be known, Israel is probably not too happy just now with Italy either, which recently received Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on a state visit, resulting in a number of agreements between the two countries’ energy sectors as well as cooperation on a future high-speed rail project. Naor Gilon, the Israeli ambassador to Italy, complained that Rouhani was being treated like “the king of the world.”

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Zvi Zameret accuses Wallström of ‘ignorance and arrogance’,
and suggests she might meet a violent end

War with Sweden

All in all, Gilon’s comments would have to be viewed as rather tame, however–at least by comparison. For some of the statements issuing from Israelis now, particularly those aimed at Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, are positively chilling in their level of malice expressed, and frankly it might behoove the Swedish official to consider hiring a bodyguard at this point, if she hasn’t already done so.

As I noted in an article five days ago, Wallström is now regarded in Israel as “public enemy number 1” (the Jerusalem Post’s words, not mine) because of remarks she has made critical of Israel, including a recent call for an investigation into extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.

Now it seems there may be those in Israel hankering for the foreign minister’s blood–literally. If you haven’t read my article, Swedish Media Target Country’s Foreign Minister Following Her Remarks on Israel, I suggest you do so as it will place what follows into greater perspective. One day after posting that article, I became aware of two other articles, one by blogger Richard Silverstein and the other by Jonathan Ofir and posted at Mondoweiss, both of which discuss what appears to have been a scarcely veiled threat on Wallström’s life by a former Israeli official.

The comment was made by Zvi Zameret, a former official in the Israeli Ministry of Education, in an op-ed piece he wrote for an Israeli newspaper owned by Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. In the article, Zameret waxes lyrical on the 1948 assassination of Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, and then goes on to suggest that Wallström might meet a similar fate. Here is a bit from Silverstein’s commentary on the matter:

Zvi Zameret, the former director for instruction for the Israeli education ministry has written an op-ed in Makor Rishon, Sheldon Adelson’s pro-settler newspaper, praising the 1948 assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte by Yitzhak Shamir’s Lehi gang. Zameret accuses Bernadotte of being an anti-Semite and claims that his views originated in a Swedish society that was suffused with this perspective. He claims that ridding the world of the Swedish Count was necessary to protect Israel’s new existence.

He wends his way through a long historical discourse involving material already well-known related to Bernadotte’s proposals, which were rejected by Arabs and Jews alike. Then he brings us up to the present day by alleging that remarks of the current Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, demanding that Israel be held accountable for the 160 Palestinians killed over the past two months in the latest Intifada, stem from the same well of Swedish anti-Semitism.

Silverstein says Zameret “hints that Wallström herself should share a similar fate to Bernadotte” and then gives us a direct quote from his article as per its English translation:

“What do the things I have mentioned attest about Bernadotte? [They indicate] covert anti-Semitism, ignorance and arrogance, collaboration with senior elements in Israel [Hebrew University President Judah Magnes] and interests that play a decisive role. Has anything changed in the Swedish DNA in the decades following Bernadotte’s death? Nothing has changed.

The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, in the covert anti-Semitism which characterizes her, along with her ignorance and arrogance, and anticipation of the interests of her future Muslim voters–she too is attempting to battle against the basic foundation of the State of Israel. I am certain that her intentions will be defeated, just as were thoseof the disreputable Count Bernadotte.

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Count Folke Bernadotte

Bernadotte was assassinated by Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang, the same Jewish terrorist group that carried out the Deir Yassin massacre. Zameret’s glorification of his murder doesn’t seem entirely lucid or rational–during World War II Bernadotte negotiated the release of 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps, including a large number of Jews. After the war, he became the UN Security Council’s unanimous choice, in a vote on May 20, 1948, to try and mediate a settlement in the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

His murder took place September 17, 1948, carried out by a four-man team of assassins. The Stern Gang had been around since 1940. Its stated goal was to terminate the British mandate in Palestine and set up a “new totalitarian Hebrew republic,” and one of its members, Yithak Shamir, ended up becoming an Israeli prime minister. It was Shamir, in fact, who ordered Bernadotte’s assassination. The man who actually pulled the trigger, Yehoshau Cohen, later became a close confidante of David Ben Gurion and was never charged in the case.

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Margot Wallström

In October of 2014, shortly after Wallström took over as foreign minister, Sweden became one of the first Western countries to recognize Palestinian statehood. Wallström called it “an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination”  and added that “We hope that this will show the way for others.”

In November of last year, shortly after the Paris terror attacks, Wallström suggested that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians could be helping to fuel terrorism. She followed that up with a comment in December about Israeli “extrajudicial executions,” and this month called for an investigation of Israel.

“Whether Zameret advocates Wallstrom’s demise explicitly or implicitly is hardly important,” comments Silverstein. “Even if you accept the argument that he isn’t explicit, clearly the reason Bernadotte failed in his mission is that Jewish terrorists assassinated him. When you say you wish her intentions to be defeated just as his were, the line between murder and political defeat becomes exceedingly murky.”

Boycott Sweden! say Israeli Mayors

But of course it isn’t just Zameret. Lots of people in Israel despise Wallström and have “vociferously attacked her contentious words,” as an article here puts it. And this apparently applies to a good many Israeli officials. The same article goes on to give us the low-down on a “boycott movement” launched by 15 Israeli mayors and aimed at Sweden. The mayors were planning to attend a conference in the Scandinavian country in March, but recently announced they have cancelled, while former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also called for a boycott of Ikea.

War With Spain

In November of last year, a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and six other officials in connection with Israel’s 2010 raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a violent episode in international waters which resulted in the deaths of 10 people.

The warrants were issued by Judge Jose de la Mata, and in  effect meant that should any of the seven officials set foot on Spanish soil they would be subject to arrest.

“Spain is just the latest member of the international community to accuse Israel of war crimes and pursue Israeli officials over the affair,” the Jerusalem Post reported at the time. And that is indeed correct. Both South Africa and Turkey had previously issued similar warrants.

Predictably, the Israeli government expressed hostility and outrage.

“We consider it to be a provocation,” said an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson. “We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it cancelled. We hope it will be over soon.”

What do you suppose the words “working with Spanish authorities” might imply? Did it include issuing threats? Whatever it was, it took only two months to accomplish. The arrest warrants were in fact cancelled, according to a report published January 13 by the Adelson-owned Israel Hayom newspaper.

War with Brazil

Brazil, on the other hand, seems to be showing a little more resilience. According to a report here, “Israel and Brazil remain at loggerheads five months after Brazil refused to recognize Israel’s appointment of a right-wing settler as its next envoy to the South American country.”

“Settlers are Zionist agents that the world cannot accept, they steal others’ land, they are an insult to Brazil, to the government, and to millions of Brazilians with roots in the Arab world,” said Brazilian parliament member Carlos Maron.

Maron isn’t alone. A group of 40 retired Brazilian diplomats signed a statement against the appointment of Dani Dayan, who lives in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Shomron, in the Occupied West Bank. Dayan is an advocate of the settler movement and has made no secret of his views, having widely published articles in the mainstream media, including the New York Times.

“We consider it unacceptable that the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has publicly announced the name of the person he intended to appoint as his country’s new Ambassador to Brazil before submitting it, in accordance to the norm, to our Government,” said the diplomats. The announcement of Dayan’s appointment was reportedly posted initially on Twitter rather than being communicated directly to the Brazilian government.

The statement continues:

This rupture with a diplomatic practice seems to have been on purpose, an attempt to establish facts, since the appointed, Dani Dayan, between 2007 and 2013, was the President of the Yesha Council, responsible for the settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal by the international community, and has already declared himself contrary to the creation of the Palestinian State, which counts on the support of the Brazilian Government and was already recognized by over 70% of the UN member States.

Reportedly a group of 200 Brazilian academics have also endorsed a boycott of Israel. Netanyahu has refused to withdraw Dayan’s nomination or to appoint someone more acceptable to the Brazilians. If the Brazilian government stands its ground, it will mean a de facto end to diplomatic relations between the two countries.

War with the EU

On January 18, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council reaffirmed requirements that export products from the Israeli settlements be labeled as such. More or less as with Sweden, Spain, and Brazil, the EU’s action has prompted cries of Israeli outrage. Netanyahu pronounced his unwillingness to “accept the fact that the EU labels the side being attacked by terror,” while ‘Justice’ Minister Ayelet Shaked called the EU measure “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.”

Likewise, opposition party leader Isaac Herzog (supposedly a liberal) compared it to the “Zionism equals Racism” resolution passed by the UN in 1974, while Yair Lapid, another opposition party member, denounced the EU for “capitulating to the worse elements of jihad.”

War Against the BDS Movement

In summer of 2015, ‘Justice’ minister Shaked announced she was preparing lawsuits against BDS activists. The announcement was reported at the time by the Times of Israel in a story which also mentions that Shaked has expanded one of the departments within her ministry in order to “push ahead with the program as soon as possible.”

Ministry officials believe that legal circumstances present the option of suing activists for damaging Israeli trade, and for discrimination and racism, based upon laws as they currently exist in various countries, the report said.

So far as I’m aware, no lawsuits have been filed against individual activists, however Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home Party, seems to be generally in support of the idea of striking back in some manner at the BDS movement.

“Let it be clear to any company or organization that’s considering boycotting us: We will hit back. We will attack our attackers. We will boycott our boycotters,” Bennett said.

“The boycott weapon is a double-edged sword,” he added. “If you’re thinking of boycotting Israel, keep in mind that there are tens of millions of Israel supporters around the world — Jews and non-Jews — with considerable buying power and boycott power. Whoever boycotts Israel will be boycotted. Whoever hits Israel, will be hit back. We will no longer remain silent.”

Bennett’s comments about the “tens of millions of Israel supporters around the world” are perhaps salient. Also last summer, Adelson hosted an anti-BDS summit in Las Vegas with the aim of establishing and funding “successful strategies for countering the wave of anti-Israel activity on college campuses.” Held at the billionaire’s Venetian hotel on the Vegas strip, the conference was attended by a number of wealthy Jews, including Haim Saban.

“The key decision reached at the conference was that there would be a concerted effort to curtail BDS,” reported the Jerusalem Post.

Though Netanyahu did not attend, a letter from him was read aloud to the conference participants. “De-legitimization of Israel must be fought, and you are on the front lines. It’s not about this or that Israeli policy. It’s about our right to exist here as a free people,” the letter stated.

Reportedly the Israeli government intends to allocate NIS 100 million, or roughly $25.2 million, to the anti-BDS effort.

War Against Academic Associations

At a business meeting held in November, members of the American Anthropological Association voted overwhelmingly (88.4 percent) in favor of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. A similar measure was passed that same month by the National Women’s Studies Association Executive Committee. These aren’t the first boycott actions taken by academic organizations in the US. The American Studies Association, The Association for Asian American Studies, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association have all passed academic boycott measures against Israel. And this is just in the US.

Measures have also been passed by academic organizations in Brazil, South Africa, Canada, the UK, and, of course, in Palestine, and probably elsewhere. And perhaps most recently a group of 71 British doctors have called upon the World Medical Association to expel the Israeli Medical Association. The physicians have accused Israeli doctors of “medical torture” on Palestinian patients and want to see a ban on joint projects with Israeli universities.

On January 20, the Science and Technology Committee of the Israeli Knesset held a meeting to discuss the issue (H/T Helvena). A press release on the discussion which took place can be found here on the Knessett’s website. One of those who gave input at the meeting was Peretz Lavie, president of Technion, or the Israeli Institute of Technology.

“We have no complaints against the global academic leadership; our problem is the campuses,” Lavie said. “Initially it was insignificant campuses, but it quickly spread to leading campuses in the United States.”

When Lavie says he has “no complaints against the global academic leadership” he is probably referring to the Association of American Universities, which on January 14, in response to the vote by the Anthropological Association, re-issued an earlier statement in opposition to academic boycotts. The AAU is an organization whose leadership consists of the presidents and chancellors of the 60 universities (in both the US and Canada) that are its members. Membership is by invitation only. The group’s statement opposing boycotts was initially released in 2013 in response to the boycott actions taken by the American Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies associations.

The group’s re-release of that canned statement from more than two years ago was described by the Jerusalem Post as “a blow to the BDS movement.”

“Students who are exposed to this activity will be the next generation’s senators, and therein lies the great danger in the long term,” Lavie went on in his testimony before the Science and Technology Committee.

“In its report, the American Anthropological Association referred to us as universities of apartheid and decided to conduct a survey on whether the Israeli academia should be boycotted. We have to reach all 12,000 members of the Association. It is a symptom, and if we do not act now, it will spread. There must be one entity that will concentrate all the efforts related to this issue,” he added.

Another person who gave testimony was Ze’ev Feldman of the Israel Medical Association. It was Feldman who informed the committee of the recent statement by the 71 British doctors.

”The sword of the boycott is being raised on the Israeli scientific-medical community,” he said.

Ariel University Chancellor Yigal-Cohen Orgad asserted that Israel has “a real problem with governments, including western governments that encourage boycotts,” while Professor Zvi Ziegler warned, “We are unable to stop anyone with our meager resources.”

Several committee members are also quoted, including Chairman Uri Maklev:

“There is no doubt that the academic boycott phenomenon is expanding and is connected to the financial and consumer boycotts on Israel. Economic and commercial boycotts are associated with politics, but an academic boycott by educated and moderate people has a very strong effect.”

But rather than calling for an end to the settlements, most of the committee members seemed to be of the opinion that the Israeli government needed to devote more resources to fighting the boycott movement. The one exception to this was Arab Knesset member Basel Ghattas:

The world considers the settlements to be illegitimate. You can think differently from the entire world, it is your right, but it is also the world’s right to take measures in order to force you to establish two states.

War with the UN

On October 1, 2015, Netanyahu gave a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that was marked by a 45-second segment during which he paused and projected hostile glares out at those present:

On January 26, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon broke the UN’s “deafening silence” and, in a rare display of courage, issued a scathing criticism of Israel’s settlement policies.

Progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise.

Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.

I am deeply troubled by reports today that the Israeli Government has approved plans for over 150 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

This is combined with its announcement last week declaring 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho, as so-called “state land”. These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead.

The inevitable furious response came quickly, with Netanyahu excoriating the UN chief for helping to “stoke terror.”

“There is no justification for terrorism,” he said. “The Palestinian terrorists don’t want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they say that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don’t murder for peace and they don’t murder for human rights.”

He went on to assert that the UN has “lost its neutrality and its moral force, and these statements by the Secretary-General do nothing to improve its situation.”

latuff_inciteIt seems Israel is now at war with the UN as well.

A Lack of Imagination?

Perhaps most striking in all this is the Israeli lack of imagination–or at least that is one way of looking at it. Nowhere in his hostile comments aimed at his various enemies on the global stage does Netanyahu give the slightest indication of having once thought about halting the settlements and pulling back to Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders. Ditto with the other Israeli officials quoted above, with the lone exception of the Arab Knessett member. It is almost as if the idea has never even occurred to them.

If that  is the case, one could perhaps ascribe all of this to a lack of imagination. Certainly at this point, after 68 years of oppression, it probably does indeed require considerable imagination to conceive of how the two peoples could live at peace. But of course it wasn’t always so. And had Israel, starting in 1967, respected the people of the West Bank, and above all else respected their space rather than crowding them in with settlements and walls and soldiers, a peaceful resolution to the conflict probably could have andwould have been achieved by this time.

Yet even now, it isn’t too late. Though it would be politically difficult, Israel could dismantle its settlements (anything is possible when the national will is present) and pull back to the pre-1967 borders–basically the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative proposed back in 2002. If necessary, and it probably would be for a lengthy period of time, UN peacekeeping troops could be deployed along the border.

But Israel’s response to the Arab Peace Initiative was to call it a “non-starter,” and that seems to be its position today as well. And not only is there little prospect of dismantling of presently-existing settlements, but we see even a refusal to halt the construction of new ones. All of which would suggest that Ban Ki-moon is correct and that the settlement enterprise raises “fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

Or in other words, Israel has no intentions of making peace.

Certainly it’s possible that things could change, and that a new slate of leaders could arise in Israel with the imagination necessary to see the wisdom of complying with international norms of conduct. And that is what its more liberal Jewish supporters in America seem to be hoping for. But failing this, Israel’s wars with the rest of the world are likely to grow in stridency and ferociousness, and at some point could expand from the realms of diplomacy and/or covert operations fully outright into the military arena.

Posted in Europe, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Drunk on Hate and Mad at the World

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