Archive | January 2nd, 2017

Vanessa Beeley: EAST ALEPPO LIBERATION ‘VIDEO’

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr
EAST ALEPPO LIBERATION: Vanessa Beeley and Andrew Ashdown Speak with Tom Duggan in Damascus

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This interview was given to Tom Duggan, an englishman who has been living in Damascus since the start of the dirty war against Syria. It was given shortly after our return from the first trip to East Aleppo shortly after the liberation of the majority of districts that had been under Nusra Front-led terrorist and militant rule for the last almost five years.

At that point, only one 2km square was left under Nusra Front control and negotiations for evacuation of 4000 militants and around 10,000 of their families were ongoing.

We were privileged to be able to visit many of the districts, immediately after liberation and to receive first hand, the joyful and emotional testimonies from civilians, finally able to escape the Nusra Front brutality and oppression thanks to the momentous victory of the Syrian Arab Army and their allies. Watch ~

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Nazi Settlers Arrested After Writing ‘Revenge’ in Stones Near Palestinian Village

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israeljudaismzionismIDFjews
The three were detained after getting into a confrontation with Israeli security forces and Palestinians near the village of Sussia.

ed note–as Netanyahu recently said, there is no ‘turn the other cheek’ when it comes to Jews getting what they demand. It is their way or the highway and with no wiggle room whatsoever, because they are the ‘light amongst the nations’ whom their ‘god’ Yahweh has chosen to be a ‘special people above all others upon the face of the earth’, according to their own literature.

And remember something else, which unfortunately escapes the notice of too many Gentiles these days–the only difference between the curly-locked, kippah wearing, violent, nutcase settler in one of the Jewish enclaves in the West Bank and ‘good Jews’ such as a Jerry Seinfeld, John Stewart, Schmuley Boteach or any of the other shapeshifters whose job is to intoxicate the mind of Western Gentiles through the use of sophisticated mind control techniques perfected in that school of Judaic sorcery known as the JMSM is that in the former case, we are dealing with curly-locked, kippah wearing, violent, nutcase settlers in one of the Jewish enclaves in the West Bank and in the latter, we are dealing with ‘good Jews’ such as a Jerry Seinfeld, John Stewart,

Schmuley Boteach and other shapeshifters whose job is to intoxicate the mind of Western Gentiles through the use of sophisticated mind control techniques perfected in that school of Judaic sorcery known as the JMSM. In the same way that–materially-speaking–a nail and the Eiffel Tower can be said to be the same by virtue of the fact that they are both made of iron, likewise individuals who–by virtue of their upbringing, culture, religion, and mindset–have been subjected to the dysfunctional and delusional precepts of Judaism can be said to be in essence the same as well and with only slight degrees of separation differentiating and distinguishing them.

Haaretz

Three Israeli settlers who used stones to shaped the word “revenge” near the Palestinian village of Sussia were arrested on Saturday for violating an army order barring them from the area. The arrests followed clashes between the three and Israeli security forces and Palestinians, the Israel Police said.

The three also laid stones in the shape of a Star of David in the area.

Based on reports from Palestinian residents of Sussia, in the southern West Bank, the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organization reported that the stones were located about a kilometer from the village in a field that Palestinians had plowed about three weeks ago. Sussia is in Area C of the West Bank, meaning that it is under full military and civil control of Israeli authorities.

In other developments over the weekend, on Friday individuals associated with the right-wing Elad organization, which in part promotes the movement of Jews into the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, took possession of a residential building in the neighborhood accompanied by police. The two-story building is not far from the site of an archaeological dig where Elad plans to establish a large Kedem visitors’ center to serve the City of David national park in the area, which include finds dating back to biblical times.

Palestinian sources said Elad made use of a middleman to acquire the building from Palestinians.

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Nazi Bennett: How dare anyone call the land of ‘Israel’ occupied?

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Nazi Education Minister clarifies on CNN: Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria for thousands of years, and they aren’t going anywhere.

ed note–again, at the risk of beating an already dead horse, the world needs to read between the lines of what Bennett and his cohorts are saying in order to get the full picture of what the entire world is facing.

The Middle East problem is not about some small slice of land lying along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea known as ‘Israel’ that the world’s Jews want as their ‘homeland’. It is about a worldview–held by a mere few religious nutcases–that is at odds with reality and with the well-being/best interests of 7 billion other human beings on this planet. The Jews base their entire identity on what their religion teaches, a religion that is unlike other universalist religions and philosophies that start with flawed human nature and like a potter working with clay, mold the adherent into something better and more pleasing to the Creator.  Judaism is about Jews, their well-being, their place of importance in creation and how all existence, down to the tiniest insect–would cease to have any meaning or value were it not for them functioning as the nucleus around which the entire universe orbits.

Contrary to the slick marketing themes/concepts that were used in selling this doomsday product to the world, the ‘Jewish state’ is not/was not/never will be merely a real estate deal meant to provide a poor, persecuted, victimized, and beleaguered people a place to hang their hats and rest their weary souls. It is about fulfilling the dictates of what messianic Judaism teaches concerning its program for mankind where ‘Jewish ethics’ function as the operating system for the world’s mainframe and with Jerusalem serving as the fulcrum around which all human activity rotates. It is a paradigm where the ‘god’ of the Jews rules the world with a rod of iron in creating a paradise on earth for ‘his people’ whom he has chosen to be a ‘special people above all others upon the face of the earth’ and the inferior, subservient roles that non-Jews occupy in the process of what Judaism preaches concerning ‘Tikkun Olam’, Hebrew for ‘repairing a broken world’.

Therefore, when Bennett & co speak in the kind of dialect featured in this story, especially the ‘how dare they’ portion of it, keep in mind that there is nothing ‘theatrical’ about these theatrics. He is dead serious, in the sense that he is a true believer in the science fiction of Judaism, and in particular how Zionism was/is/always will be about world conquest in bringing the entire world in alignment with the precepts of Judaism and enforced–whenever necessary and as much as possible–with a Judaic rod of iron.

Israel National News

The Obama administration abandoned Israel, “the only free democracy in the Middle East,” Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Nazi Naftali Bennett tells CNN.

Speaking with Jake Tapper after Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech earlier this week, in which he criticized Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as presenting an obstacle to peace, Bennett pointed out that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and gave the area to Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The result was a “terror state” in Gaza, as Hamas took over the region and has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli territory.

“There is already a Palestinian state formed in 2005 in Gaza and they turned it into a terror state. Anyone in their right mind cannot imagine forming another one right here in Jerusalem, our eternal capital. That would be insane,” he stated.

“Judea and Samaria has been a Jewish state for roughly 3,000 years, well before the first Americans reached the new continent of America, and we’re going to stay here forever,” declared Bennett.

“We want peace,” he stressed, “but the only way to achieve peace in the Middle East is by being strong and fighting the bad and evil forces of Iran and ISIS. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Bennett also stressed that Judea and Samaria are not “settlements.”

“We’re not occupying any land. One cannot occupy his own home. These are not settlements. We’ve got about 650,000 Israelis living in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Big cities. We’ve been here for thousands of years. We’re staying here. We’re going to live side by side in peace with the Arabs here, but not by forcing our hand,” he said.

Americans have been living in America for about 200 years, while Jews have lived in the land of Israel for 4,000 years, Bennett pointed out, “So how dare anyone call the land of Israel ‘occupied territory’? This has been our home forever and will be our home forever.”

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The Incomplete ‘People Power’ Revolution Boosted Duterte’s Rise

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President Rodrigo Duterte, then a candidate, speaks in front of a communist rebel group New People

By: Cleve Kevin Robert Arguelles, University of the Philippines

  • President Rodrigo Duterte, then a candidate, speaks in front of a communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) flag during the release of five policemen held by the rebels for a week, in Davao city, southern Philippines, April 25, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

The election of Duterte may be seen as the nadir, but possibly also a turning point, in the long-standing democratic deficit in Asia’s oldest democracy.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed that he killed three men during his time as mayor of Davao city, despite officials trying to downplay an earlier admission. Duterte’s comments might yet hurt his popularity but that seems unlikely.

Duterte’s national crusade has resulted in an alarming daily average of 34 drug war-related murders. Despite this death toll and international condemnation, public satisfaction with his anti-drug war is at a significantly high rate of 78%.

How can this be explained in a country that a mere 30 years ago brought down a dictator without resorting to violence? How could a nation that inspired the world with its peaceful “People Power” revolution now welcome a return to the state-sanctioned murders of the martial-law era of 1972-1981?

Duterte’s rise is an evolving lesson in the vulnerability of democracies in the face of a neglected public. The democratic institutions of the Philippines have little power when faced with a populist president determined to channel frustrations into immediate actions.

Unfulfilled promise

In 1986, millions of Filipinos ended Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship through sustained civil resistance against government violence and electoral fraud. This culminated in a massive peaceful protest in the capital along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA). The event is now popularly known as the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Marcos was ousted after 21 years in power. He had been democratically elected as president in 1965, but essentially ruled as a dictator from 1972 to 1986.

To the disappointment of many, an elite-dominated democracy replaced Marcos’ authoritarian rule. From 1987, a small number of families started to restore their control of the government and rotate the seats of power among themselves. They included the Marcos family, who returned from exile in 1991 and were welcomed by their allies.

In the public imagination, the promises of the People Power Revolution went beyond restoring democratic institutions. The narrative went like this: a return to democracy would secure prosperity and security for everyone. The overall framework and various social justice provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution clearly reflect this.

But three decades later, the post-EDSA pact is far from being fulfilled.

The 30th anniversary celebrations of the EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled late president Ferdinand Marcos. Photo: Reuters

A neglected public

The post-EDSA leadership has failed to solve many of the problems that concern Filipinos. Despite promising national growth rates, the gains appear to have largely benefited the rich. More than 26 million Filipinos remain impoverished. And unemployment rates are said to be the worst in Asia.

This widening gap between rich and poor, recurrent domestic economic crises, epidemic levels of corruption and failed attempts to significantly reduce criminality, have left the public deeply frustrated. Surveys in recent decades have consistently shown that these are the most urgent national concerns for many Filipinos.

The 1986 revolution, once a symbol of the promise of democracy and prosperity, is now synonymous in the Filipino popular imagination with the dysfunctional transport system in Metro Manila.

National commemorations of the EDSA consensus have become officially important, but in the public imagination they tell the tale of how promises are meant to be broken.

Democracy’s discontent

Amid political and economic exclusion and malaise came Duterte. He offered empathy to the economic strugglers and protection from the violence of criminals and politicians. His was a twin campaign narrative of care and power. His supporters often highlighted how they felt that Duterte truly cared for them.

And he was not just all talk. Duterte is seen as a man of action: decisive and quick. His “authenticity” is manifest in his everyday language coupled with humour that comes from the streets.

Duterte articulated the public’s deep-seated feelings of precariousness and powerlessness using rhetoric they could relate to. His campaign rallies, which many proclaimed as a marvel to behold, showed the rapport between the candidate and his supporters.

Many felt that Duterte rose from the ranks of ordinary citizens despite coming from a traditional political family and holding various political offices for 30 years. This is especially evident in his overwhelming support in the southern Philippines, as the first president from a region long neglected by the capital.

Duterte’s supporters often highlighted how they feel that Duterte truly cares for them. Photo: Reuters

How did it come to this?

When democracy doesn’t deliver, its legitimacy becomes difficult to defend. And when successive elite-dominated governments have used democracy for their own ends, the balance tilts towards authoritarianism.

Under post-EDSA democracy the richest families amassed more wealth than ever while poverty, hunger, homelessness, and crime continued to afflict ordinary Filipinos. It’s not difficult to imagine why some are nostalgic for the authoritarian past. Although national statistics show otherwise, people felt those were the country’s golden years.

Extrajudicial killings are a regular feature of post-EDSA governments as they were of the martial law years. Examples include the 1987 Mendiola massacre, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre and 2009 Maguindanao massacre, to name a few.

Perpetrators have not been brought to justice. Even before Duterte, the Philippines was known as the country with the worst state of impunity. Government critics were the usual victims until Duterte took aim at alleged drug dealers and users.

In my fieldwork in a massive poor urban community in Quezon City, residents have welcomed Duterte’s war on drugs. They now feel more secure in what they call their “drug-infested community” even though drug use has substantially declined compared to previous decades, according to one village official.

Residents argue that their perceptions of community security are just as important as the numbers in government records. For people to feel safe in a city where 92% of villages face drug-related crimes and in a nation where crimes against persons and property are rising is no easy thing.

It’s not difficult to imagine why some are nostalgic for their country’s authoritarian past. Photo: Reuters

When Duterte’s campaign translates to perceived everyday safety, it is no wonder that drug-war murders have not met considerable resistance.

Anyone with experience of the country’s institutions of justice knows how elusive criminal justice is. Around 80 percent of drug cases end up being dismissed and it may take a decade to achieve a conviction.

There are many reasons for this, but Duterte’s narrative that drug lords are so powerful that they can influence even the judiciary is not far-fetched. Most people do not trust the judiciary and many are convinced that power and money are needed to claim justice.

Previous administrations also made a mockery out of the national justice system; even convicted corrupt politicians enjoy their freedom while innocents languish in jail. A corruption whistleblower, Jun Lozada, was recently convicted, while ex-president Gloria Arroyo was acquitted and set free.

The legislature has been used to turn issues of justice into a public circus, such as in the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Corona and the hearings on allegations of graft and corruption against former vice president Jejomar Binay.

Is it surprising then that Dutarte’s supporters find calls to follow the rule of law and due process hypocritical? When institutions do not work, it becomes unreasonable to rely on them.

Duterte’s narrative plays on the temptations for a disgruntled public to claim swift justice. In the context of his rise to power, it’s no surprise that calls to respect human rights or the rule of law fall on deaf ears.

The election of Duterte may be seen as the nadir, but possibly also a turning point, in the long-standing democratic deficit in Asia’s oldest democracy. His rejection of the rule of law and liberal democracy represents a rupture in the post-EDSA consensus.

It’s not a stretch to say that the Philippines’ elite democracy had it coming. The failure to deliver on the promises of the People Power revolution made the rise of Duterte politically possible.

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The Zapatistas Are Building The World We Ask For

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By: Ann Deslandes

Zapatista women arrive at an information session.

  • Zapatista women arrive at an information session. | Photo: Ann Deslandes

The Zapatista experiment in resisting without bullets and instead building the world we ask for – an experiment conducted under erasure, in conditions no university laboratory would authorize.

“If we had spent those 23 years exchanging gunshots,” says Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in an evening address to the many gathered for “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” encounter currently taking place in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, “would we have been able to build this?”

RELATED: International Women’s Day in Zapatista Territory

The Subcomandante was referring to the flourishing infrastructures of self-organized Zapatista life, lived by thousands of rebel Indigenous people in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico. The Zapatista movement today celebrates the 23rd anniversary of its uprising in San Cristóbal on Jan. 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. In the 23 years that have followed the Zapatistas are organized by small communities known as caracoles and have built autonomous hospitals, schools, health clinics, security, transport, and communications operations.

The Zapatista “command” of which Subcomandante Moisés is a member had, as the Subcomandante was recounting in his address, begun shortly after the uprising to consider “another way of fighting” the system of neoliberal economics and bad government that currently has humanity in its grip, with Indigenous peoples of the world being squeezed the hardest. That is, they began to explore a resistance to this death grip that did not rely on weapons and violence and in which only guerrillas played a role. The leaders of the movement began to speak with the “compañer@s*” of the Indigenous communities that comprise it about alternatives to fighting the war against them. The alternative, they discovered, was to include all the rebel Indigenous who struggle — the women, the children, the older people — all together building the just and rational world being fought for “from below” while continuing to face the threat of extermination by the state and capital. As such, the Zapatistas decided they would stop using their weapons against their aggressors and develop a system of self-government, completely autonomous from the state and capital.

The answer to Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés’ question is no, of course, and in fidelity to Zapatista methodology, it is met by another question: “and would we have met each other?” Here, he is talking to the nearly 100 scientists (from the fields of mathematics, engineering, volcanology, epigenetics, cosmology, biotechnology, to name but a few) who accepted the Zapatistas’ invitation to travel to San Cristóbal for this “encuentro” to present their work and respond to questions from the 100 Zapatista women selected by their communities to bring the knowledge of professional scientists to the task of building a good and just world, against neoliberalism and for humanity. This task is described for the purposes of this encuentro as “building a big house where many worlds fit.”

On this evening, Subcomandante Moisés is telling us about the journey of the Zapatistas with the arts and sciences, with an emphasis on the sciences, as this is what we are gathered to discuss. Before the uprising and the fruits of self-government, he tells us, the rebel Indigenous did not have a lot of space to make art or to contemplate the teachings of science. Ancestral and customary teachings were the primary way of knowing the world. Since autonomy has been consolidated over the past eight to nine years, new windows on the world are sought. This is marked by the questions of Defensa Zapatista, a girl of maybe 8 or 9 years old, and other young Zapatistas as they grow in their education and begin to ask questions of their elders – like, “why is that flower the color … , why does it have that shape, why does it smell? … I do not want to be told that Mother Earth with her wisdom made the flower or that God did, or whatever. I want to know what the scientific answer is.”

As such, this encuentro, “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity,” is attended by compañer@s from Zapatista communities who will be taking this knowledge back to tens of thousands of Indigenous people in many languages. It is also attended by the practitioners of professional science they have invited; by eschucas (listeners/ears) from all over Mexico and the world; and by the independent press of Latin America.

While we gather, the National Indigenous Congress is also in session, working on political strategy for Indigenous advancement in Mexico. For example, the Congress has been consulting on whether their people will name an Indigenous Governing Council to govern our country of Mexico.

In describing the movement of scientific knowledge through Zapatista communities, Subcomandante Moisés illustrates one of the many alternative worlds that Zapatista life shows us: one where, to paraphrase Subcomandante Galeano, science does not arrive with a sword as it did and continues to do under colonialism. Neither does it arrive as the “pseudoscience” of “good vibes” — New Age therapies and the like, which consigns ancestral and customary knowledge to an inferior past. Instead, knowledge is built together, as time and space makes it possible, and on the terms of the originary peoples of the earth.

In the sessions to date, Zapatista compañer@s have been addressed on the subjects of the frustrations and falsity of academia and of state-sponsored funding for scientific practice; the question of who scientific practice serves and can serve; the practice of science with social movements, such as in agroecology; the utility of science and scientists for building the world where many worlds fit; the relationship between knowledges labelled customary and scientific; the potential and applications of artificial intelligence; which is not to mention the presentations on biohacking, astronomy, the workings of the human heart, the manifestations and prevention of coffee rust, the workings of mathematics, geometry, epigenetics and cosmology, and myriad others not mentioned here. Compañer@s have also participated in workshops on robotics, on the practice of science as a profession, and on fossils and the earth’s past. The questions that Zapatista compañer@s brought to the encuentro were outlined in the beginning by Subcomandante Galeano and are 120 in number. They include:

– Do GMO foods damage the earth and humans? What about processed foods, microwaves, pesticides?

– When a baby is born and only its heart beats – it lives but the body is green, dead, and not moving, we put the baby in a container of hot water with the placenta, and without cutting the umbilical cord the baby starts to recover while the placenta distintegrates. What is the scientific explanation for this?What relation does the moon have to the movement of the earth; what is the scientific explanation?

– What produces pre-eclampsia and eclampsia? How can we prevent a pregnant woman from getting it?

– What is the best way to teach science to children?

– What do you think about how women are exploited, manipulated, marginalized, tortured, discriminated against by colour, and used as objects?

– What is the scientific explanation for why insurgents start to fall asleep when political talk takes place?

RELATED: Zapatistas Demand Indigenous Unity to Fight Capitalist Slavery

As Subcomandante Moisés reports, in the 23 years since the uprising, in the following years of building autonomy under “an offensive cease-fire” instead of “exchanging gunshots,” children are going to school and asking questions. All decisions are made collectively under the sign of “everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves,” and the will of the collectives is carried out by the Zapatista government, where “the people give the orders and the government obeys,” not the other way around. Hospital care is provided to communities throughout the Lacandon jungle, to Zapatista and non-Zapatista alike. “And,” Subcomandante Moisés observes, since then “we do not have so many shot dead, wounded, tortured, or disappeared.” Now, the Zapatistas want “science for life” — a science that flourishes against the sword, the bullet, and the “good vibes” of the bourgeoisie.

The Zapatista experiment in resisting without bullets and instead building the world we ask for – an experiment conducted under erasure, in conditions no university laboratory would authorise, is working, and invites the curiosity, wonder and knowledge-making of all who struggle for justice in a dark world.

 

 

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Optimism in DR Congo as Deal Reached to End Political Crisis

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  • Congolese women protest during talks between the opposition and the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    Congolese women protest during talks between the opposition and the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, Dec. 31, 2016. | Photo: Reuters.
The president has agreed to step down in order to avert political unrest in the country over him staying in power despite his mandate ending.

Congo’s opposition leaders signed a deal with the party of President Joseph Kabila on Saturday that will require him to step down after elections that must take place before the end of 2017.

Mediators from the Congo’s Catholic church had been heaping pressure on both sides for weeks to sign an agreement aimed at averting a slide into anarchy and possibly another civil war over Kabila’s decision not to step down despite his mandate expiring more than a week ago.

If they stick to it, the agreement will deliver Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

“Today, we are happy to head up a political compromise,” said Marcel Utembi, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, before representatives of Kabila’s party, including Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu and Interior Minister Emmanuel Shadary, and its main opposition alliance, signed the deal.

Huge hurdles remain, however. The electoral commission has said elections may not be possible before 2018, and many doubt Kabila really intends to stand down.

Diplomats fear growing unrest could trigger a repeat of the wars between 1996 and 2003 that killed millions.

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Guardian bizarre claim Vladimir Putin’s New Year invitation

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Guardian journalist’s bizarre claim Vladimir Putin’s New Year and Christmas invite is a threat to US diplomats’ children

Image result for THE Guardian PAPER CARTOON
By Alexander Mercouris 

Reading Western media reactions to Putin’s decision yesterday not to retaliate in kind to Obama’s latest sanctions has been instructive, with the tone extending from the admiring, to the factual, and to the furious.

One comment however stood out as by far the most unpleasant, and it came (unsurprisingly to those who follow him) from Luke Harding in the Guardian :

The statement wished Obama, Trump and the American people a happy new year. It further invited “all the children of American diplomats” to visit the Kremlin’s festive Christmas tree. Instead of playing the Grinch, Putin had taken on the role of Ded Moroz, Russia’s answer to Father Christmas. One Russian MP on Vesti TV said Obama was Bad Santa. It was also a subtle reminder, for those who were able to decode it, that the FSB – the KGB’s successor – has precise information about the children of US embassy personnel. Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday tartly denied reports that Moscow was to close the Anglo-American school, attended by diplomatic kids, and the offspring of bankers and oil workers. (bold italics added)

The claim that the Russians planned to close the Anglo-American school was indeed furiously denied by the Russians after it circulated for a short time in the media.

Luke Harding nonetheless conflates this claim – which the Russians of course denied, and which almost certainly did not originate either with the senior officials of Russia’s Foreign Ministry or with the Kremlin – with President Putin’s invitation to the children of US diplomats to attend New Year and Christmas parties in the Kremlin, to construe a threat by the Russians to US diplomats through their children (“the FSB – the KGB’s successor – has precise information about the children of US embassy personnel”).

This threat is however so “subtle” that only those in the know – including of course Luke Harding himself – are “able to decode it”.

That this is utterly paranoid stuff, turning an invitation to a party into something sinister, should not need saying. What does Luke Harding think the FSB might do with the “precise information about the children of US embassy personnel” it supposedly has? That this sort of paranoia gets published in the Guardian unfortunately shows how mainstream it has become. I hope it won’t deter any US diplomats from keeping their children in Moscow, or from letting them go to the parties to which President Putin has invited them.

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The War Against Alternative Information

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The U.S. government is creating a new $160 million bureaucracy to shut down information that doesn’t conform to U.S. propaganda narratives, building on the strategy that sold the bloody Syrian “regime change” war, writes Rick Sterling.

By Rick Sterling

The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.

Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on Syria, Sept. 25, 2016. Power has been an advocate for escalating U.S. military involvement in Syria. (UN Photo)

The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to “coordinate with allied nations.”

The legislation was initiated in March 2016, as the demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia was already underway and was enacted amid the allegations of “Russian hacking” around the U.S. presidential election and the mainstream media’s furor over supposedly “fake news.” Defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton voiced strong support for the bill: “It’s imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy, and innocent lives.”

The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian “propaganda” on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth – or Global Engagement Center – to protect the American people from “foreign propaganda and disinformation.”

As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: “Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.” (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of “Russian propaganda” or “fake news.”)

Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for strategic communications andpublic diplomacy were not enough, that the information threat required “a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.”

The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation – or what you might call evidence-free claims, such as the recent accusations of Russia hacking into Democratic emails to “influence” the U.S. election.

Despite these accusations — leaked by the Obama administration and embraced as true by the mainstream U.S. news media — there is little or no public evidence to support the charges. There is also a contradictory analysis by veteran U.S. intelligence professionals as well as statements by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and an associate, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, that the Russians were not the source of the leaks. Yet, the mainstream U.S. media has virtually ignored this counter-evidence, appearing eager to collaborate with the new “Global Engagement Center” even before it is officially formed.

Of course, there is a long history of U.S. disinformation and propaganda. Former CIA agents Philip Agee and John Stockwell documented how it was done decades ago, secretly planting “black propaganda” and covertly funding media outlets to influence events around the world, with much of the fake news blowing back into the American media.

In more recent decades, the U.S. government has adopted an Internet-era version of that formula with an emphasis on having the State Department or the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy supply, train and pay “activists” and “citizen journalists” to create and distribute propaganda and false stories via “social media” and via contacts with the mainstream media. The U.S. government’s strategy also seeks to undermine and discredit journalists who challenge this orthodoxy. The new legislation escalates this information war by tossing another $160 million into the pot.

Propaganda and Disinformation on Syria

Syria is a good case study in the modern application of information warfare. In her memoir Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote that the U.S. provided “support for (Syrian) civilian opposition groups, including satellite-linked computers, telephones, cameras, and training for more than a thousand activists, students and independent journalists.”

A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military.

Indeed, a huge amount of money has gone to “activists” and “civil society” groups in Syria and other countries that have been targeted for “regime change.” A lot of the money also goes to parent organizations that are based in the United States and Europe, so these efforts do not only support on-the-ground efforts to undermine the targeted countries, but perhaps even more importantly, the money influences and manipulates public opinion in the West.

In North America, representatives from the Syrian “Local Coordination Committees”(LCC) were frequent guests on popular media programs such as “DemocracyNow.” The message was clear: there is a “revolution” in Syria against a “brutal regime” personified in Bashar al-Assad. It was not mentioned that the “Local Coordination Committees” have been primarily funded by the West, specifically the Office for Syrian Opposition Support, which was founded by the U.S. State Department and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

More recently, news and analysis about Syria has been conveyed through the filter of the White Helmets, also known as Syrian Civil Defense. In the Western news media, the White Helmets are described as neutral, non-partisan, civilian volunteers courageously carrying out rescue work in the war zone. In fact, the group is none of the above. It was initiated by the U.S. and U.K. using a British military contractor and Brooklyn-based marketing company.

While they may have performed some genuine rescue operations, the White Helmets are primarily a media organization with a political goal: to promote NATO intervention in Syria. (The manipulation of public opinion using the White Helmets and promoted by the New York Times and Avaaz petition for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria is documented here.)

The White Helmets hoax continues to be widely believed and receives uncritical promotion though it has increasingly been exposed at alternative media outlets as the creation of a “shady PR firm.” During critical times in the conflict in Aleppo, White Helmet individuals have been used as the source for important news stories despite a track record of deception.

Recent Propaganda: Blatant Lies?

As the armed groups in east Aleppo recently lost ground and then collapsed, Western governments and allied media went into a frenzy of accusations against Syria and Russia based on reports from sources connected with the armed opposition. CNN host Wolf Blitzer described Aleppo as “falling” in a “slaughter of these women and children” while CNN host Jake Tapper referred to “genocide by another name.”

War damage in the once-thriving Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Daily Beast published the claims of the Aleppo Siege Media Center under the title “Doomsday is held in Aleppo” and amid accusations that the Syrian army was executing civilians, burning them alive and “20 women committed suicide in order not to be raped.” These sensational claims were widely broadcast without verification. However, this “news” on CNN and throughout Western media came from highly biased sources and many of the claims – lacking anything approaching independent corroboration – could be accurately described as propaganda and disinformation.

Ironically, some of the supposedly “Russian propaganda” sites, such as RT, have provided first-hand on-the-ground reporting from the war zones with verifiable information that contradicts the Western narrative and thus has received almost no attention in the U.S. news media. For instance, some of these non-Western outlets have shown videos of popular celebrations over the “liberation of Aleppo.”

There has been further corroboration of these realities from peace activists, such as Jan Oberg of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research who published a photo essay of his eyewitness observations in Aleppo including the happiness of civilians from east Aleppo reaching the government-controlled areas of west Aleppo, finally freed from areas that had been controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and its jihadist allies in Ahrar al-Sham.

Dr. Nabil Antaki, a medical doctor from Aleppo, described the liberation of Aleppo in an interview titled “Aleppo is Celebrating, Free from Terrorists, the Western Media Misinformed.” The first Christmas celebrations in Aleppo in four years are shown here, replete with marching band members in Santa Claus outfits. Journalist Vanessa Beeley has published testimonies of civilians from east Aleppo. The happiness of civilians at their liberation is clear.

Whether or not you wish to accept these depictions of the reality in Aleppo, at a minimum, they reflect another side of the story that you have been denied while being persistently force-fed the version favored by the U.S. State Department. The goal of the new Global Engagement Center to counter “foreign propaganda” is to ensure that you never get to hear this alternative narrative to the Western propaganda line.

Even much earlier, contrary to the Western mythology of rebel “liberated zones,” there was strong evidence that the armed groups were never popular in Aleppo. American journalist James Foley described the situation in 2012 like this:

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative.

“Aleppo, a city of about 3 million people, was once the financial heart of Syria. As it continues to deteriorate, many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition — one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups. The rebels in Aleppo are predominantly from the countryside, further alienating them from the urban crowd that once lived here peacefully, in relative economic comfort and with little interference from the authoritarian government of President Bashar al-Assad.”

On Nov. 22, 2012, Foley was kidnapped in northwestern Syria and held by Islamic State terrorists before his beheading in August 2014.

The Overall Narrative on Syria

Analysis of the Syrian conflict boils down to two competing narratives. One narrative is that the conflict is a fight for freedom and democracy against a brutal regime, a storyline promoted in the West and the Gulf states, which have been fueling the conflict from the start. This narrative is also favored by some self-styled “anti-imperialists” who want a “Syrian revolution.”

The other narrative is that the conflict is essentially a war of aggression against a sovereign state, with the aggressors including NATO countries, Gulf monarchies, Israel and Jordan. Domination of the Western media by these powerful interests is so thorough that one almost never gets access to this second narrative, which is essentially banned from not only the mainstream but also much of the liberal and progressive media.

For example, listeners and viewers of the generally progressive TV and radio program “DemocracyNow” have rarely if ever heard the second narrative described in any detail. Instead, the program frequently broadcasts the statements of Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and others associated with the U.S. position. Rarely do you hear the viewpoint of the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, the Syrian Foreign Minister or analysts inside Syria and around the world who have written about and follow events there closely.

“DemocracyNow” also has done repeated interviews with proponents of the “Syrian revolution” while ignoring analysts who call the conflict a war of aggression sponsored by the West and the Gulf monarchies. This blackout of the second narrative continues despite the fact that many prominent international figures see it as such. For example, the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua and former President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, has said, “What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.”

In many areas of politics, “DemocracyNow” is excellent and challenges mainstream media. However in this area, coverage of the Syrian conflict, the broadcast is biased, one-sided and echoes the news and analysis of mainstream Western corporate media, showing the extent of control over foreign policy news that already exists in the United States and Europe.

Suppressing and Censoring Challenges

Despite the widespread censorship of alternative analyses on Syria and other foreign hotspots that already exists in the West, the U.S. government’s new “Global Engagement Center” will seek to ensure that the censorship is even more complete with its goal to “counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation.” We can expect even more aggressive and better-financed assaults on the few voices daring to challenge the West’s “group thinks” – smear campaigns that are already quite extensive.

The “White Helmets” symbol, expropriating the name of “Syria Civil Defense.”

In an article titled “Controlling the Narrative on Syria”, Louis Allday describes the criticisms and attacks on journalists Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal for straying from the “approved” Western narrative on Syria. Some of the bullying and abuse has come from precisely those people, such as Robin Yassin-Kassab, who have been frequent guests in liberal Western media.

Reporters who have returned from Syria with accounts that challenge the propaganda themes that have permeated the Western media also have come under attack. For instance, Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett recently returned to North America after being in Syria and Aleppo, conveying a very different image and critical of the West’s biased media coverage. Bartlett appeared at a United Nations press conference and then did numerous interviews across the country during a speaking tour. During the course of her talks and presentation, Bartlett criticized the White Helmets and questioned whether it was true that Al Quds Hospital in opposition-held East Aleppo was attacked and destroyed as claimed.

Bartlett’s recounting of this information made her a target of Snopes, which has been a mostly useful website exposing urban legends and false rumors but has come under criticism itself for some internal challenges and has been inconsistent in its investigations. In one report entitled “White Helmet Hearsay,” Snopes’ writer Bethania Palmer says claims the White Helmets are “linked to terrorists” is “unproven,” but she overlooks numerous videos, photos, and other reports showing White Helmet members celebrating a Nusra/Al Qaeda battle victory, picking up the bodies of civilians executed by a Nusra executioner, and having a member who alternatively appears as a rebel/terrorist fighter with a weapon and later wearing a White Helmet uniform. The “fact check” barely scrapes the surface of public evidence.

The same writer did another shallow “investigation” titled “victim blaming” regarding Bartlett’s critique of White Helmet videos and what happened at the Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo. Bartlett suggests that some White Helmet videos may be fabricated and may feature the same child at different times, i.e., photographs that appear to show the same girl being rescued by White Helmet workers at different places and times. While it is uncertain whether this is the same girl, the similarity is clear. 

The Snopes writer goes on to criticize Bartlett for her comments about the reported bombing of Al Quds Hospital in east Aleppo in April 2016. A statement at the website of Doctors Without Borders says the building was “destroyed and reduced to rubble,” but this was clearly false since photos show the building with unclear damage. Five months later, the September 2016 report by Doctors Without Borders says the top two floors of the building were destroyed and the ground floor Emergency Room damaged yet they re-opened in two weeks.

The many inconsistencies and contradictions in the statements of Doctors Without Borders resulted in an open letter to them. In their last report, Doctors Without Borders (known by its French initials, MSF) acknowledges that “MSF staff did not directly witness the attack and has not visited Al Quds Hospital since 2014.”

Bartlett referenced satellite images taken before and after the reported attack on the hospital. The images do not show severe damage and it is unclear whether or not there is any damage to the roof, the basis for Bartlett’s statement. In the past week, independent journalists have visited the scene of Al Quds Hospital and report that that the top floors of the building are still there and damage is unclear.

The Snopes’ investigation criticizing Bartlett was superficial and ignored the broader issues of accuracy and integrity in the Western media’s depiction of the Syrian conflict. Instead the article appeared to be an effort to discredit the eyewitness observations and analysis of a journalist who dared challenge the mainstream narrative.

U.S. propaganda and disinformation on Syria has been extremely effective in misleading much of the American population. Thus, most Americans are unaware how many billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on yet another “regime change” project. The propaganda campaign – having learned from the successful demonizations of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and other targeted leaders – has been so masterful regarding Syria that many liberal and progressive news outlets were pulled in. It has been left to RT and some Internet outlets to challenge the U.S. government and the mainstream media.

But the U.S. government’s near total control of the message doesn’t appear to be enough. Apparently even a few voices of dissent are a few voices too many.

The enactment of HR5181, “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation,” suggests that the ruling powers seek to escalate suppression of news and analyses that run counter to the official narrative. Backed by a new infusion of $160 million, the plan is to further squelch skeptical voices with operation for “countering” and “refuting” what the U.S. government deems to be propaganda and disinformation.

As part of the $160 million package, funds can be used to hire or reward “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.”

Among the tasks that these private entities can be hired to perform is to identify and investigate both print and online sources of news that are deemed to be distributing “disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United States and its allies and partners.”

In other words, we are about to see an escalation of the information war.

Posted in MediaComments Off on The War Against Alternative Information

India Activates Dangerous Arms Race in South Asia

NOVANEWS

Image result for INDIAN LEADER CARTOON

By Sajjad Shaukat

It is most regrettable that by ignoring the modern global trends like renunciation of war, peaceful

settlement of disputes and economic development, India has activated dangerous arms race in

South Asia.

In this respect, India test-fired its longest range surface-to-surface nuclear ballistic missile Agni-

5 from the Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha on December 26, this year.

Agni-5 is capable of striking a target of more than 5,000 km away. The missile can carry a

nuclear warhead of more than one tone. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and

China and Europe.

While, the Agni-6 is reported to be in early stages of development and the most advanced

version, with a strike-range of 8,000-10,000 km.

New Delhi already has in its arsenal—the Agni 1, 2, 3 and 4 missile systems and supersonic

cruise missiles like Brahmos.

According to Times of India, “Once the Agni-V is inducted, India will join the super exclusive

club of countries with ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US,

Russia, China, France and the UK.”

It is notable that in its report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) had

disclosed on February 22, 2015 that India is the world’s largest recipient of arms—“India (14

percent of global arms imports), China (4.7 per cent), Australia (3.6 per cent) and Pakistan (3.3

per cent).” In its report of 2016 also SIPRI pointed out India’s arms-import.

New Delhi’s military is acquiring a slew of new equipments from combat aircraft to submarines

and artillery. It is currently finalising a deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale

fighter jets in a contract worth an estimated $12 billion.

Although peace and brinksmanship cannot co-exist in the modern era, yet India seeks to

destabilize Asia through its aggressive designs, activated with new arms race.

And as part of the double standard, America brushed aside the Indian poor record regarding the

safety of nuclear weapons and materials. And despite, Indian violations of various international

agreements and its refusal to sign Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Comprehensive Test Ban

Treaty (CTBT) and Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),

Washington signed a pact of nuclear civil technology with New Delhi in 2008. During American

President Barack Obama’s visit to India, on January 25, 2016, the US and India announced a

breakthrough on the pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with

civilian nuclear technology.

On November 2, 2010, US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets

including US F-16 and F-18 fighters, C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons

etc. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries—especially Israel,

America is a potential military supplier to India. US also pressurized IAEA and the Nuclear

Suppliers Group to grant a waiver to New Delhi for obtaining civil nuclear trade on larger scale.

In fact, US wants New Delhi to continue anti-China and anti-Pakistan role. Beijing is

apprehensive about the emerging threat, as during the last visit of Obama to New Delhi, the

intent of President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quite clear, while

mentioning about free sea lanes and air passages in the South China Sea.

In this connection, tension arose between India and China in the recent past, when Indian army

erected a military camp in Chumar Sector of Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC)-

disputed border, situated between the two countries. Similarly, tension remains over the Line of

Control (LoC) in Kashmir, as India keeps on violating the ceasefire-agreement in wake of the

unresolved issue of Kashmir.

It is mentionable that under the Pak-China pretext, Indian ex-Army Chief, General Deepak

Kapoor disclosed on December 29, 2010 that the Indian army “is now revising its five-year old

doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.”

It is noteworthy that after 9/11, both India and Israel which had openly jumped on Bush’s anti-

terrorism enterprise are acting upon a secret diplomacy, targeting Pakistan and China. It could be

assessed from the interview of Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, published in the Indian

weekly Outlook on February 18, 2008. Regarding India’s defense arrangements with Tel Aviv,

Sofer had surprisingly revealed, “We do have a defense relationship with India, and “with all due

respect, the secret part will remain a secret.” In fact, with the support of Israel, New Delhi has

been acquiring an element of strategic depth by setting up logistical bases in the Indian Ocean for

its navy.

Particularly, fast growing economic power of China coupled with her rising strategic relationship

with the Third World, and especially Pakistan—after signing of agreement, “China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor” which is, though for the benefit of South Asia, but, has irked the eyes of

Americans, Indians and Israelis. Owing to jealousy, America desires to make India a major

power to counterbalance China in Asia.

Notably, on July 20, 2011, while hinting towards Pak-China ties, the then US Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton urged India to be more assertive in Asia, saying that as American ally, the

country should play more of a leadership role. She explained, “India has the potential to

positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific.”

It is owing to the US dual policy that New Delhi openly follows threatening diplomacy in South

Asia. In this context, in May 1998 when India detonated five nuclear tests, it also compelled

Pakistan to follow the suit. The then Defense Minister George Fernandes had also declared

publicly that “China is India’s potential threat No. 1.” Now, by setting aside peace-offers of

Beijing and Islamabad, New Delhi has entangled the latter in a deadly arms race.

While, international community has been making strenuous efforts for world peace in wake of

global financial crisis and war against terrorism, but India has particularly initiated deadly

nuclear arms race in South Asia where people are already facing multiple problems of grave

nature. Majority of South Asian people are living below the poverty level, lacking basic facilities

like fresh food and clean water. Yielding to acute poverty, every day, some persons commit

suicide.

Even, Indian civil society organizations, while complaining of excessive defense spending,

recently, pointed out that the government spends very little amount for the betterment of people.

Indian defense analyst Ravinder Pal Singh, while indicating New Delhi’s unending defense

expenditures at the cost of poverty-alleviation, calls it guns-versus- butter question.

Nevertheless, by ignoring regional problems and especially resolution of Indo-Pak issues,

particularly the Kashmir dispute which remains a nuclear flashpoint, Indian rulers state that they

do not have any belligerent policy. But, it becomes a big joke of the 21st century, reminding a

maxim, “armed to the teeth, but no enemy”, if we take cognizance of India’s increasing defense

purchases and her aggressive designs. Nonetheless, if India continues activating dangerous arms

race in South Asia, it can occlude in a nuclear war.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in IndiaComments Off on India Activates Dangerous Arms Race in South Asia

John Kerry’s ninth-inning rally for Mideast peace

NOVANEW
Image result for John Kerry CARTOON
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech on Middle East peace at the State Department on Wednesday.

John Kerry devoted his first year as secretary of state to a passionate, relentless, exhausting, and ultimately failed quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace, so it’s not surprising he’d dedicate a swan song speech to laying out his last-ditch hope for two states in peace and security.

Kerry’s speech on Wednesday was a vigorous, rational defense of US policy to Israel and an argument for six well-established, bipartisan principles to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it comes at an inopportune time, amid bitter recriminations over President Barack Obama’s Mideast policy. How much impact Kerry’s parameters for peace — however reasonable — can have so late in an administration soon to be replaced by its polar opposite is another question.

Kerry’s tough love message to America’s unshakeable ally was that the only way to preserve Israel’s future as both a Jewish state and a democratic one is through peace with a Palestinian state next door. Kerry called for two states based on the 1967 borders with mutually-agreed land swaps, a dual capital in Jerusalem, a resolution of refugee issues and claims, security for Israel, and an end to occupation.

David Makovsky, a former Middle East peace negotiator who worked for Kerry, believes the secretary is trying to “save Israel from itself. If it’s going to preserve its Zionist and democratic character, it needs” peace with a Palestinian state, Makovsky says.

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The critique by some that Kerry’s speech harms the peace process seems silly, considering the peace process is at death’s door. But Kerry’s heartfelt call to revive it and his warning that settlements imperil the future of the Jewish state may be drowned out by a Greek chorus of those who share Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wrongheaded view that this administration is anti-Israel.

Netanyahu has made no secret of his visceral antipathy for Obama over the president’s opposition to settlements and support for a nuclear deal with Iran. The Israeli leader was joined by Donald Trump, American conservatives, and some Jewish Democrats in Congress who savaged his decision not to veto a UN resolution last week calling on Israel to stop settlements in “occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” Lost in the din was the fact that Obama never before permitted a UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel, whereas past Republican and Democratic presidents allowed many — 21 under Ronald Reagan alone, according to the Jerusalem Post.

There’s an outside chance Kerry’s principles (which are a lot like those of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) might have legs. Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor who advised Special Envoy for Mideast Peace George Mitchell, says the international community could adopt Kerry’s ideas either in a UN resolution or at a peace conference in Paris on Jan. 15. (Israel has said it’s boycotting the Paris talks, which doesn’t bode well.) A danger of setting out American principles, of course, is that when a proposed end state is on the table before negotiations even start, both sides can stubbornly dig in their heels. Then again, it doesn’t help if no one promotes a solution.

Frankly, there’s never an opportune time to tell a well-intentioned but painful truth to a close friend. Considering he’s out in three weeks, there was no time but the present for Kerry to give one last shot.

As someone who was on his plane often, I saw Kerry’s dogged efforts to bring the sides together. But I wonder if a grand bargain isn’t the answer. Makovsky points out that Clinton, Bush, and Obama tried and failed to solve all the issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at once.

As much as any baseball fan, Kerry knows that when you try to hit a home run, you often strike out. But if the next secretary or the international community is willing to pick up the ball, there might be time for singles and doubles in whatever innings may be left for the peace process.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on John Kerry’s ninth-inning rally for Mideast peace

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