Archive | July 10th, 2017

Diverse groups push for ‘Anti-Semitism Envoy’ who monitors criticism of ‘Israel’

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Former Antisemitism Envoy Hannah Rosenthal promoting a “Walk for Israel” event in Milwaukee in 2017 (video below). As envoy, Rosenthal adopted a new, Israel-centric definition for antisemitism, and then used it to train U.S. diplomats. Now groups from the ADL to the Southern Poverty Law Center are disturbed that Trump isn’t filling the position.

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew 

The Trump administration has failed to appoint an antisemitism monitor or staff the State Department’s antisemitism monitoring office, drawing fire from diverse groups that range from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Israel lobbying organizations to Think Progress and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, and the “antisemitism envoy” who heads it, haven’t just been keeping tabs on anti-Jewish bigotry around the world. In reality, they have been monitoring international pro-Palestinian activism and promoting a crackdown on such activism in various countries.

Congress created the antisemitism monitoring office and envoy in 2004. Since then, the office has adopted a definition of antisemitism that includes many forms of criticism of Israel and it has pushed for that definition to be used worldwide to crack down on criticism of Israel. (Read more about who else has adopted the definition and how it is being used to curtail criticism of Israel and pro-Palestinian activism.)

Allan C. Brownfeld of the American Council for Judaism is disturbed by this trend, commenting: “The redefinition of antisemitism to mean criticism of Israel is clearly an effort to end freedom of speech and discussion when it comes to Israel and its policies. It has nothing to do with real antisemitism, which this effort trivializes and which, fortunately, is in retreat.”*

In 2015 Brownfeld wrote “What they seek to silence are criticisms of Israeli policies and efforts to call attention to them through such things as campaigns for academic boycotts or BDS. Whether one agrees with such campaigns or not, they are legitimate criticisms of a foreign government and of U.S. aid to that government. Only by changing the meaning of words entirely can this be called ‘antisemitism.’”

The organization Palestine Legal has similarly objected to the new definition, pointing out that the redefinition of antisemitism allows “virtually any criticism of Israel to be labeled as antisemitic.” It states: “The effect of blurring antisemitism with criticism of Israel is to censor speech. It aims to silence those who wish to criticize Israel’s well-documented human rights violations by making it unacceptable and taboo to do so. It silences the everyday observer of Israel’s actions who may wish to comment and draw parallels with other experiences, or do anything at all to oppose it.”

Meanwhile, the antisemitism envoy position has proved a revolving door to Israel lobbying organizations and activities.

State Department Antisemitism Office Monitors Criticism of Israel

The monitoring office’s 2016 report on global antisemitism included monitoring of pro-Palestinian activism. Below are a few quotes from the report:

♦ “50 Palestinian students protested and boycotted a conference presentation by an Israeli professor who was a guest speaker at the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU). Approximately 50 Palestinian students opened banners during the conference reading, ‘Free Palestine,’ ‘Terrorist Israel,’ and held photos of suffering Palestinian children.”

♦ “Following the September 28 death of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, the FPDC [Palestinian Federation of Chile] labeled him a ‘war criminal’ on its official Twitter account.”

♦ “activists of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, spilled red paint on the facade of the restaurant and posted signs reading: ‘Free Palestine,’ ‘Avillez collaborates with Zionist occupation,’ and ‘Entree: A dose of white phosphorus.’ The attack followed picketing opposite the restaurant by BDS activists…”

In addition, the report cited statements that connected Israeli actions to all Jewish people, reporting, for example, that some Kuwaiti columnists “often conflated Israeli government actions or views with those of Jews more broadly,” and “Swedish Jews were at times blamed for Israeli policies.” While it is incorrect and unfair to associate Israeli actions with all Jewish people, the report entirely omitted reference to the many Israeli leaders and pro-Israel organizations who promote this view, claiming that Israel represents all the world’s Jewish people.

There were additional questionable listings of alleged antisemitism related to Israel, for example: “the RT channel’s June 27 airing of Palestinian allegations [by Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in an address to the European Parliament] that an Israeli rabbi approved the poisoning of Palestinian wells.” Reporting allegations made by national leaders is what news media do, particularly when there is a context supporting the allegations. There is a documented record of Israeli settlers and, longer ago, the early Israeli military contaminating Palestinian water supplycisterns, and wells, and of some extremist Israeli rabbis approving – and even calling for – the killing of civilians of all ages.**

Antisemitism Office Promotes Crackdown on Palestine Activism

When Congress created the antisemitism monitoring office and envoy in 2004, the legislation included criticism of Israel among the “antisemitism” to monitor (although that inclusion was buried and not obvious in a quick read of the main legislation).

At that time, the State Department declared publicly that such an office was unnecessary and would be a “bureaucratic nuisance” that would actually hinder the Department’s ongoing work against antisemitism. A State Department press release opposing the new office described the many actions the department was already taking against antisemitism.

After the office was in place, the conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism grew incrementally, until it became part of the office’s official definition.

The first antisemitism envoy, Gregg Rickman, endorsed an Israel-centric definition originally proposed by an Israeli government minister and disseminated by Israel partisans in Europe. After his term of office, Rickman went to work for the pro-Israel lobbying organization AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee).

The second antisemitism envoy, Hannah Rosenthal, officially adopted the new Israel-centric definition in 2010, making it “the State Department definition.” She then pushed through a training program about antisemitism for U.S. diplomats that used what she called the new “breakthrough definition.”

After she left the envoy position, Rosenthal headed up the Jewish Federation of Milwaukee, where she worked on numerous activities supporting Israel, including promoting a Stand with Israel event (see her promotional video for the event here and below).

The next envoy, Ira Foreman, also worked for AIPAC, and was instrumental in spreading the new Israel-centric definition to other nations. Indeed, Forman declared that “the United States pushed for a global definition of antisemitism” and that this “changed the global discourse on the issue” during an Anti-Defamation League press conference.

Pressure to Staff Antisemitism Monitoring Office

The administration has indicated it may not fill these positions as part of budget cutting; out of 13 Special Envoy positions in the State Department, 8 are currently vacant (there is no Special Envoy to monitor and combat other forms of racism, for example against African Americans)***. Trump’s failure to fill the antisemitism positions has provoked an escalating bipartisan outcry by Congressional representatives and advocacy groups, amplified by certain media coverage and commentary.

Among those pushing for Trump to fill the office are the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, various pro-Israel groups, diverse Congressional representatives supportive of Israel, and, more mildly, the liberal organizations Think Progress and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

♦ The Anti-Defamation League has long used an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism and is known for hardcore Israel advocacy that leans heavily towards blind promotion of the most extremist right-wing elements of Israel’s government. It has created apetition demanding that Trump fill the envoy position. Former ADL director Abe Foxman said: “The special Ambassador to combat antisemitism at the State Department is one of those things that ‘make America great.’”

♦ The American Jewish Committee says it engages in “pro-Israel advocacy at the highest levels.” It has also called for Trump to name an envoy and has created its own petition.

♦ Think Progress, a progressive organization close to the Democratic Party, featured an article critical of the failure to fill the post, announcing: “Attacks targeting Jews are at a record high at home, but the State Department doesn’t think special monitoring abroad is necessary.”

♦ The Southern Poverty Law Center then featured the Think Progress article about the State Department “abandoning the office” in its “Hate Watch Headlines.” The SPLC is often revered for its important work to oppose bigotry and hate, but it has praised Israel and been criticized for equating anti-zionism with antisemitism. Furthermore, its over $300 million operation has sometimes been brought into question as a cash cow that benefits from finding “hate” where it might not actually exist.

The various advocates, as well as the Think Progress article, have cited an Anti-Defamation League report that antisemitism is on the rise, and fast. On the face of it, this certainly should be disturbing to anyone who supports equality and human rights. However, a number of groups have questioned the ADL report, and an ADL official admits that it is “not a scientific study.” The ADL report does not include a spreadsheet of the incidents it has included for independent researchers to examine, and it is unknown how many of the incidents may have been actually pro-Palestinian activism, but we do know that the “rise” included 2,000 hoax threats made by a young Jewish Israeli reportedly suffering from mental problems.

♦ Members of the House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Task Force Against Anti-Semitism initiated a letter in March calling on Trump to fill the position, another bipartisan letter was sent in June, and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin implored Trump to fill the “critical” position. Legislation was introduced into both the Senate and the House that would elevate the envoy position to ambassadorial level and would require even more detailed reporting than it is already doing.

♦ Most recently, Katrina Lantos Swett, whose father Congressman Tom Lantos sponsored the legislation that created the position, sent a letter to Tillerson outraged that there hasn’t been “great eagerness to move swiftly to fill this post.” The Daily Caller reports her view that the special envoy is the “tip of the sword’ to focus on and combat antisemitism on a global scale.”

On June 26 the ADL organized a conference call with the media in which former envoys Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman called on Trump to fill the position, saying that “the envoy’s working definition of antisemitism helped U.S. personnel in foreign countries determine what is and is not antisemitism” — in other words, clarifying to them that they must consider various forms of criticism of Israel as antisemitism.

Rosenthal told NBC News: “This is another example of America losing its leadership role in the world.”

In arguing for the office, ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt pointed out: “These dedicated diplomats drove an exponential growth in U.S. reporting on antisemitism and mobilized a full arsenal of U.S. diplomatic tools and training.”

Prognosis

The next tactic may be for Congress to vote to fund the office. Since Israel lobby bills usually easily pass, often with overwhelmingly positive votes (most recently, 98-2), this will quite likely go through. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism already has a petition telling Congress to “Fully Fund State Department Office for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism.”

Both Forman and Rosenthal say they expect Congress to fund the envoy’s office in the coming budget, and expect this will succeed in pushing Trump to appoint someone to the post.

Unfortunately, given Trump’s failure to failure to reign in bigotry and antisemitism among some of his supporters, it may be unlikely that the new envoy will turn a focused attention to real cases of anti-Jewish bigotry. In fact, given Middle East advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s support for rightwing Israeli settlers, as well as the Islamophobia embraced by elements of the Trump circle, the Trump administration could well move the office even more in the direction of suppressing support for Palestinian rights and criticism of Israel.

Meanwhile, on July 3rd alone, Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian family to demolish its own home, Israeli forces rounded up 18 Palestinians in predawn raids, prisoners in Israel’s notorious Ktziot prison faced life-threatening conditions (40 percent of Palestinian males have cycled through Israeli prisons), and the Israeli military invaded and bulldozed land in Gaza. A typical day in Palestine. But don’t let the special envoy hear you say that.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel. Additional citations and information on this topic are in her recent report and timeline: “International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism”.

* Allan C. Brownfeld, Publications Editor of the American Council for Judaism, provided the comment below for inclusion in discussing the expanded definition of antisemitism:

The meaning of the term “anti/Semitism” has undergone dramatic change in recent years.  It used to refer to hostility to Jews and Judaism.  It has been redefined by some to mean criticism of Israel. In recent days, establishment Jewish organizations from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to the Simon Wiesenthal Center have called the BDS movement “anti-Semitic”—despite the fact that it is supported by groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and such international groups as Jews for Palestinian Right of Return and the Israeli activist organization Boycott from Within.

The effort to redefine anti-Semitism as criticism of Israel has been going on for more than  four decades.  In 1974, Benjamin Epstein, the national director of the ADL co-authored “The New Anti-Semitism,” a book whose argument was repeated in 1982 by his successor at ADL, Nathan Perlmutter, in a book entitled “The Real Anti-Semitism In America.”  After World War II, Epstein argued, guilt over the Holocaust kept anti-Semitism at bay, but as memories of the Holocaust faded, anti-Semitism had returned—this time in the form of hostility to Israel.  The reason:  Israel represented Jewish power.  Jews  are tolerable, acceptable in their particularity, only as victims,” wrote Epstein and  his ADL colleague Arnold Forster, “and when their situation changed so that they are either no longer victims, or appear not to be,the non-Jewish world finds this so hard to take that the effort is begun to render them victims anew.”

Jewish critics of Israel are as likely to be denounced as “anti-Semites” as non-Jews. For example, columnist Caroline Glick, writing in the International Jerusalem Post (Dec. 23-39, 2011) found New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman guilty of employing “traditional anti-Semitic slurs”  and “of channeling long-standing anti-Semitic charges.”  In a February 2012 Commentary article, Ben Cohen writes that, “The list of flagrant Jew-baiters  is growing;  those with Jewish names provide an additional frisson.”  Among those he names are M.J. Rosenberg, a former employee of AIPAC. Mondoweiss editor Philip Weiss, New Yorker correspondent Seymour Hersh, and Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein.

The redefinition of anti-Semitism to mean criticism of Israel is clearly an effort to end freedom of speech and discussion when it comes to Israel and its policies. It has nothing to do with real anti-Semitism, which this effort  trivializes and which, fortunately, is in retreat.

** Abbas later apologized for and retracted his allegation that the rabbi had approved contaminating wells, which numerous media had compared to Medieval “blood libels” of Jews. The Western media and the antisemitism report did not mention the extensive evidence that Israeli settlers have contaminated wells and that the state of Israel did the same during the conquest of Palestine. The suggestion that evidence of human rights violations cannot be discussed if similar accusations have been unfairly made against other people at another time in history enables current violations to continue.

*** State Department Special Envoys (as of June 30, 2017)

Climate Change (Special Envoy): Vacant

Closure of the Guantanamo Detention Facility (Special Envoy): Vacant

Energy Resources (Special Envoy and Coordinator): Mary Warlick (Acting)

Holocaust Issues (Special Envoy): Thomas K. Yazdgerdi

Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations (Special Envoy): Frank Lowenstein

Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (Special Envoy): Vacant

North Korean Human Rights Issues (Special Envoy): Vacant

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (Special Envoy): Vacant

Six-Party Talks (Special Envoy): Vacant

Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center: Vacant

Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan: Vacant

Special Envoy for Syria: Michael Ratney

Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons: Randy Berry

Special Ambassadors (A similar but higher position)

Global Criminal Justice (Ambassador): Todd F. Buchwald

Global Women’s Issues (Ambassador-at-Large): Vacant

Office of International Religious Freedom (Ambassador-at-Large): Vacant

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons (Ambassador-at-Large): Susan Coppedge 


Below is a promotional video that the second anti-Semitism envoy, Hannah Rosenthal, made to promote a “Walk for Israel” event in Millwaukee in May, 2017 . The event was to celebrate the creation of Israel, “the world’s first Jewish state in 2,000 years.”

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Nazi regime rages after UNESCO describes Hebron as Palestinian heritage site

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Image result for UNESCO LOGO

RT 

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO walked out of a session by the UN agency after learning that the Old City of Hebron had been referred to as Palestinian, not Israeli. Israeli officials slammed the move saying it overlooks the deep Jewish ties to the biblical town.

The Friday session, which took place in Krakow, Poland led to Hebron’s Old City being put on the agency’s World Heritage list as a site in danger, UNESCO spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias confirmed, according to AP.

The decision came after a secret vote of 12-3, with six abstentions.

Although the move itself wasn’t deemed controversial by Tel Aviv, the decision to describe Hebron as a “Palestinian heritage site” infuriated Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who walked out of the session in protest.

Shama-Hacohen also expressed anger after learning that the vote would only be partially secret, as it would not be conducted behind a screen. A shouting match reportedly broke out between the ambassador and the Palestinian and Lebanese envoys over the issue, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

The ambassador wasn’t the only Israeli official angered by the UN agency’s wording. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also wasn’t happy, calling it “another delusional decision by UNESCO.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by calling UNESCO a “politically slanted organization, disgraceful and anti-Semitic, whose decisions are scandalous,” Haaretz reported.

“Jewish ties to Hebron are stronger than the disgraceful UNESCO vote,” said Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and head of the country’s national UNESCO committee.

It is “disappointing and embarrassing to see UNESCO denying history and distorting reality time after time to knowingly serve those who try to wipe the Jewish state off the map,” Bennett added. “Israel won’t renew cooperation with UNESCO as long as it continues to serve as a tool for political attacks instead of being a professional organization.”

Iglesias declined to comment on whether Hebron had been recognized as Palestinian, saying the exact wording would be decided at a later time.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians praised the move, with the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling it “the only logical and correct decision,” and adding that “… Hebron’s Old City and holy site is under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying Power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion.”

Jews believe the Cave of the Patriarchs, located in Hebron, is where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives are buried. For Muslims, the city is home to the Ibrahimi mosque, also known the Sanctuary of Abraham, which was built in the 14th century.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, UN0 Comments

Syria’s Alleged Sarin-Gas Attack: Questioning a Flawed Investigation

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Image result for Syria Sarin-Gas Attack CARTOON
By Scott Ritter

In October 2013, only weeks into its mission to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, received the news that it was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. In making the announcement, the chairman of the Nobel committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, emphasized that the OPCW had received the prize not only in recognition of its ongoing work in Syria, conducted under extremely difficult conditions, but also as a tribute to its 16-year mission of ridding the world of chemical weapons.

The director-general of the OPCW, Ahmet Üzümcü, a veteran Turkish diplomat whose geopolitical and disarmament credentials included assignments to NATO and the United Nations, delivered the Nobel Prize lecture in December 2013 upon receiving the award on behalf of the men and women of the organization he led. Not surprisingly, the situation in Syria featured prominently in his speech.

“The [Chemical Weapon] Convention’s achievements make the recent chemical attacks in Syria, which shocked us all, even more tragic,” Üzümcü stated, “for they highlight the manifest security advantages that states adhering to the Convention enjoy—in the sixteen years that the Convention has been in force, no Member State has experienced an attack with chemical weapons.”

On April 4 of this year, events in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun proved Üzümcü wrong, with the release of what was believed to be sarin nerve agent killing dozens of Syrian civilians. The Turkish diplomat’s observation during his Nobel lecture, “Syria has tested us,” proved prescient.

There is little debate that something horrible happened in and around Khan Sheikhun the morning of April 4. There is, however, active debate over precisely what happened and who was responsible. One narrative, embraced by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, holds that the Syrian air force dropped a bomb filled with sarin on the center of Khan Sheikhun, releasing deadly gas that killed and injured hundreds while they slept. Another, put forward by the Syrian and Russian governments, has the Syrian air force dropping conventional high explosive bombs on rebel targets inside Khan Sheikhun, one of which struck a building housing a weapons cache that included chemical weapons, inadvertently creating a cloud of poison that killed nearby civilians.

Eyewitness accounts of the physiological effects of this event, whatever its origins, on the citizens of Khan Sheikhun are themselves ambiguous. Some interpret them as supporting the narrative that sarin gas was the culprit, while others (myself included) believe the victim statements and symptoms are more indicative of a chlorine-type agent of the sort known to have been used by anti-regime rebels in the past. The OPCW has emerged as the final arbiter, with the preliminary results of its investigation into the April 4 events proposing that “sarin or a sarin-like substance” was responsible for the deaths and injuries in Khan Sheikhun.

While the OPCW is assiduous in not apportioning blame or responsibility for any incident it investigates, those who point an accusatory finger at the Syrian government, in particular the U.S., the U.K. and France, have cited the OPCW findings as representing de facto evidence of guilt. It should therefore have come as no surprise when the Russian government responded by questioning the impartiality of the OPCW, singling out the team leaders of the OPCW’s fact-finding mission (FFM) in Syria, both of whom happen to be U.K. citizens, as evidence of bias.

The Russians also noted that the OPCW findings were done without any actual on-site inspection of either Khan Sheikhun or the Syrian air base at Shayrat where the alleged chemical weapons were supposedly sourced, relying instead on laboratory analysis of biomedical samples taken from victims who had fled to neighboring Turkey (and raising the possibility of collusion between the Turkish government, which has taken a very strong pro-rebel position, and the Turkish director-general of the OPCW). Russia called for the reorganization of the FFM to include the appointment of “neutral” team leaders and members and a refocusing of its mission to include on-site inspections of Khan Sheikhun and Shayrat air base. On April 20, the OPCW executive committee, led by the delegations of the U.S., U.K. and France, overwhelmingly rejected this proposal, reinforcing the Russian perception of anti-regime bias on the part of the OPCW.

As a former chief weapons inspector with the United Nations in Iraq, I was filled with a sense of déjà vu by the Russian protests against the OPCW. In January 1998, I was heading up an inspection team tasked with conducting very intrusive inspections of sites we believed to hold clues to the fate of Iraq’s unaccounted-for weapons of mass destruction but which were also deemed to be politically sensitive to the regime of Saddam Hussein. At the conclusion of the first day of inspections, the Iraqi government announced that it would no longer cooperate with my team.

Of particular concern for the Iraqis was the large number of American and British citizens on the team, in particular the leader (me). Russia took up the Iraqi complaint in the United Nations Security Council, leading to the imposition of new restrictions on the conduct of certain sensitive inspections involving presidential palaces. The issue of team composition, however, was not acted on; and I was able to continue my work, despite pressure from on high, including from Secretary General Kofi Annan himself, to restrict my involvement. The same held true for my American and British colleagues. What saved our jobs was our professionalism and integrity as inspectors and our strict adherence to our mandate, qualities even the Iraqi government, in the end, was forced to concede.

The U.N. inspection process in Iraq ultimately collapsed because of the interference in our work by the U.S. and U.K. governments; our disarmament mission was corrupted from without by linking it to regime change in Baghdad—not by any unprofessional conduct on the part of the inspectors.

In the more recent case in Syria, I felt a good degree of sympathy and empathy for the two British OPCW inspectors, Steven Wallis and Leonard Phillips, who had been called out by the Russian government. By all accounts, both men are experienced inspectors who came by their appointments not through any affiliation with the circles of foreign policy intrigue emanating from London, but rather through their respective expert qualifications. Phillips came from the commercial sector, starting his career as a research scientist with ICI Chemicals and Polymers after graduating from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, in 1997 with a degree in chemical engineering. He moved on to Associated Octel, where he worked as a process engineer before joining the OPCW as an inspector in January 2008. Phillips was promoted to inspection team leader in 2011, and he participated in the disarming of Syria’s chemical weapons programs before being appointed a fact finding mission team leader in March 2015.

Wallis served as a warrant officer in the British Army’s Parachute Regiment for four years before leaving the military in 2004 to become a paramedic with the National Health Service. In 2008 he was seconded to a multi-agency training team at the National Police Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Training Center, where he became involved in hazardous materials medical response. In 2010 he joined the OPCW as a health and safety specialist and subsequently served in a number of roles, including mission leader. In March 2015, Wallis was appointed a team leader with the fact-finding mission.

The record of both men in Syria shows the kind of creativity and professionalism one would want in an inspection team leader operating under difficult conditions. Both Phillips and Wallis were involved in the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons program and had significant experience operating inside Syria, where conditions were harsh and dangerous. The disarmament inspections they participated in, however, were relatively straightforward affairs, involving verification of declared materials, equipment and facilities, and overseeing their respective disposition and destruction in accordance with a plan of action worked out in cooperation with the Syrian government. These operations were very much in keeping with the procedures and methodologies already in place within the OPCW for inspections of declared chemical weapon storage facilities and chemical weapon destruction facilities.

The disarmament of Syria’s declared chemical weapons inventory was completed in June 2014. The OPCW then took on the task of monitoring Syrian compliance with the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, setting up two distinct teams. One, the declaration assessment team, or DAT, was tasked with clarifying any issues or discrepancies that might emerge concerning Syria’s declarations of its chemical weapons holdings. The other, the fact-finding mission, or FFM, was given the unenviable job of determining if chemical weapons continued to be used in the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Both the DAT and FFM have experienced considerable challenges in conducting their respective missions. The DAT process is an informal one, in which Syrian cooperation is sought through a series of meetings and site visits. While the OPCW does not attribute responsibility for a chemical weapons attack, the joint investigative mechanism (JIM), set up using resources from both the OPCW and United Nations, does; and in 2016 the JIM issued a report that implicated the Syrian government in several chemical weapons attacks, something the Syrian government strenuously denies. Based upon the findings of the JIM, several new locations were identified as being of inspection interest, and the DAT has taken the lead in obtaining access to these sites by OPCW inspectors, with mixed results.

Since its formation in 2014, the FFM has conducted some 20-odd investigations into possible chemical weapons use in Syria, the most recent of which is its ongoing investigation of the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhun. Inspections are the bread and butter of the OPCW’s work. Within the range of inspection activities undertaken by the OPCW, perhaps none is more demanding that what is termed investigation of alleged use, or IAU, inspections. The FFM’s mission in Syria consists exclusively of IAU-type inspections.

Before Syria, OPCW-run IAU inspection was a theoretical possibility, not a practical reality. The United Nations had conducted several investigations into the possible use of chemical weapons over the years, most notably during the Iran-Iraq War, in Mozambique in 1992 and in Azerbaijan that same year. Inspections conducted by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in Iraq included IAU-type investigations, as well as forensic inspections that served as the foundational work for the sampling and analysis (S&A) work that would serve as the heart of the OPCW inspection process.

The gold standard for the conduct of IAU-type inspection was set by the Joint UN-OPCW-World Health Organization (WHO) investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Syria, a suburb of Damascus. This team, led by a veteran Swedish chemical weapons inspector named Ake Sellstrom, produced a report that was virtually unassailable in terms of its scientific and technical findings. One of the reasons for the robust nature of the Sellstrom report was the short time that elapsed between the events in question and the S&A work and related interviews conducted by the team. (Sellstrom benefited from already being deployed in Syria in support of a separate investigation into possible chemical weapons use.)

The primary reason, however, that the Sellstrom report had such credibility was the scientifically sound investigatory techniques used by the inspectors, combined with the unimpeachable methodology used in collecting and managing all evidence associated with the report. The Sellstrom team adhered to the most stringent protocols available, including standard operating procedures developed by the OPCW for S&A operations during inspections. One of the most important concepts underpinning these protocols was the notion of “traceability,” wherein all processes and procedures involved in the inspection were recorded and continuity was maintained for transparency and to withstand future scrutiny. Chain of custody procedures involving sampling were governed by the principle of traceability, under which the retrieval of the samples was recorded and witnessed, the samples sealed, detailed documentation prepared and the samples escorted to the laboratory under inspection team escort.

The Sellstrom standard, however, proved to be difficult to replicate. The FFM confronted this reality during one of its first missions in 2014, investigating a site where the use of chlorine gas was alleged. The team came under armed attack and had to withdraw. “Under these conditions,” OPCW Director-General Üzümcü noted during an address made on the 20th anniversary of the group’s founding, “the choice before the international community is between no investigations at all or investigations that will apply procedures and methods suited to the difficult conditions that we are dealing with in conflict zones.” In short, Üzümcü stated, when it comes to Syria, the Sellstrom standard no longer applied.

This was an odd comment for the director-general to make, given that he is ultimately responsible for establishing a “stringent regime” for collection of samples during the course of any inspection conducted under the auspices of the OPCW. In accordance with its own standard operating procedures and guidelines, OPCW inspectors must be able to demonstrate to all states’ parties that all analysis results have been obtained based upon independent and verifiable bases. The procedures do allow for some flexibility, however, allowing that inspectors must remain open to the realities of specific site conditions and requirements.

The IAU inspection has one and only one goal: to determine the absence of any undeclared scheduled (i.e., proscribed) chemicals at a given site. At the end of the day, for an analysis for absence of undeclared scheduled chemicals to be credible for verification purposes, it must be conducted in accordance with OPCW procedures, fulfilling OPCW quality control/quality assurance criteria, and using the OPCW Central Analytic Database (OCAD) as a reference. Fundamental to this point is the absolute requirement for all sample preparation and analysis conducted as part of inspection to be performed by the inspection team using its own equipment approved for this purpose, in accordance with OPCW standard operating procedures. In the case of an IAU investigation, the inspection team will make use of an “alleged use sample collection kit” that contains the necessary equipment to conduct bulk solid, soil, water, liquid and wipe samples. Of note is the requirement for all items intended to come in contact with the sample to be packed individually for one-time use to prevent potential cross-contamination of samples.

Under the leadership of Steven Wallis and Leonard Phillips, the FFM became the living manifestation of the concept of “flexibility to site conditions and mission requirements.” Samples collected by persons not affiliated with the FFM were accepted by the team, violating the precept of “traceability” that gave the Sellstrom report so much credibility; one example of this breach was the receipt of a weapon that had been recovered by a Russian military unit that subsequent tests revealed to contain sulfur mustard. Phillips, at the head of mission FFM-Alpha, was tasked with investigating the use of chlorine agent in locations in northern Syria that were inaccessible to his team; he developed procedures that permitted a nongovernmental organization, the White Helmets (a volunteer civil defense unit funded and trained by the U.S. and U.K. governments that openly opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad), to locate persons to be interviewed by the FFM, to check the authenticity of any samples and bio-samples provided by the White Helmets, and to make sure the persons interviewed were actually at the site in question.

While these actions were very much in keeping with the guidance of the director-general to develop new procedures suited to the reality of the situation in Syria, they violated every quality control/quality assurance standard set forth under existing OPCW S&A procedures, thereby opening up the findings of the FFM to scrutiny and questioning in a way the Sellstrom report never experienced.

The operations and planning branch of the OPCW’s inspectorate division maintains a 24-hour operations center that includes what is known as the “information cell.” This cell is responsible for collecting all source material regarding worldwide allegations of the use of chemicals as weapons, as well as for assessing the credibility of any source material collected and making judgments regarding the deployment of inspectors in response to this information.

On the morning of April 4, the information cell began monitoring social media and news media reports coming out of Syria regarding an alleged chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun. Given that the news media reports were largely recirculating the information being put out on social media, the information cell was basically monitoring a single source of information: videos and images published by the White Helmets ostensibly documenting their response to the events in and around Khan Sheikhun.

The graphic nature of these images, combined with the fact that they were being disseminated by an NGO (the White Helmets) with a proven record of cooperating with the OPCW inside Syria, collectively lent the reports enough credence to the information cell for it to recommend that the director-general dispatch the fact finding mission to investigate. The FFM was split into two sub-components; one, headed by Steven Wallis, was deployed to Damascus to coordinate with the Syrian government. The other, headed by Leonard Phillips, was deployed to Turkey, where it reached out to the White Helmets for the purpose of initiating the collection of information and evidence that could be used in any subsequent investigation.

Through information provided by the White Helmets, the FFM element inside Turkey was able to obtain the names of victims from Khan Sheikhun who had been evacuated to Turkey. After coordinating with Turkish officials, the FFM discovered that three of these victims had died and were scheduled for autopsies. Two members of the FFM were able to attend the autopsies and witness the extraction of biomedical samples taken from the victims’ blood, hair, brain, liver and lungs.

It was at this juncture that the haphazard nature of the investigation began to fall apart for the FFM. One of the core tenets of the OPCW is confidentiality—especially with regard to any findings associated with the work of an inspection team. In general, such findings would be made public only at the time the team leader reported to the director-general, and then only after the information had been scrutinized to ensure conformity with confidentiality requirements and OPCW standards of quality control and quality assurance. However, the day after the autopsies took place, Turkish Minister of Health Recep Akdag delivered a public statementthat,“based on the test results [of samples taken from the autopsies], evidence was detected in patients which leads one to think they were exposed to a chemical substance [sarin].” The Turkish statement, which noted that the autopsies were “completed with the efforts of … OPCW representatives,” set off a wave of international condemnation of the Syrian government, which cited the Turkish findings as proof that Damascus was to blame for the events in and around Khan Sheikhun. The Turkish government further stated that samples drawn from the autopsies would be dispatched to the OPCW laboratory in Rijswijk, Netherlands, reinforcing the notion of collusion between Ankara and the OPCW.

The Turkish government had set up a decontamination checkpoint in Hatay province, at the border crossing with Syria. Some 34 people claiming to be victims from Khan Sheikhun were processed at this checkpoint before being sent to hospitals in Antakya, Reyhanli and Iskenderun, all in Turkey. Three of these victims subsequently succumbed to their injuries. Of the remaining 31, 10 were identified by the FMM, working together with the White Helmets, as being of investigatory interest. On April 8, the FMM interviewed these survivors and witnessed blood and urine samples being taken. These samples, together with the biomedical samples extracted during the autopsies witnessed by the FFM, were dispatched to Rijswijk later that same day, arriving April 9.

The samples were subsequently divided and dispatched April 10 to two designated laboratories, one in the U.K. and one in France, certified to conduct forensic investigations of inspection samples collected by the OPCW. On April 11, the Turkish Health Ministry again preempted the OPCW by announcing that Turkish labs, in their analysis of the blood samples taken from survivors, confirmed that sarin nerve agent was used in the Khan Sheikhun attacks. The next day, April 12, U.K. Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft announced that U.K. specialists had found “sarin or sarin-like” substance in victims’ blood samples. This announcement, when combined with the statement from Turkey the day before, preempted any announcement of the findings by the OPCW of the U.K. designated laboratory, which had reached its preliminary conclusion earlier that day, and significantly undermined any notion of independence on the part of the OPCW in the conduct of its investigation into the Khan Sheikhun incident. (On April 16 the French government released its own assessment of the samples, evaluated at the National Center for Scientific Research, which mirrored that of the British.)

Things only got trickier for the FFM team in Turkey. On April 12 and 13, the team received additional biological-environmental samples, in the form of two dead birds and the hair from a dead goat that the team was told were from the site of the attack; internal organs were taken from the dead birds by the team and forwarded to the OPCW laboratory. Additional environmental samples, in the form of soil and water samples, were turned over to the team by a representative of the White Helmets, who provided the team with photographs and video of the sampling to back up his claim. These samples were sent to Rijswijk on April 21 for processing and subsequent dispatch to designated laboratories for evaluation April 25.

On May 19, the OPCW released a preliminary report on the work of the FFM, including an annotation detailing the findings of the designated laboratories regarding the evaluation of the samples sent by the team. In almost every instance, the laboratory findings showed evidence of “sarin or a sarin-like substance.” Unlike the Sellstrom report on Ghouta in 2013, however, the findings of the FFM were not universally embraced, with Russia in particular questioning the provenance and veracity of the test results, and therefore the credibility of the OPCW itself.

One of the major issues confronting the OPCW in releasing the findings of the FFM is the fact that the inspected states party (ISP), in this case Syria, was removed from the entire process, in violation of the most basic fundamental requirements of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which holds that the ISP is an integral part of the veracity of any inspection; here, the Syrian government was not involved. The CWC specifically notes that the ISP has a right to retain portions of all samples taken; indeed, of the eight portions of each sample created, one is required to be turned over to the ISP, and one kept on site under joint OPCW/ISP seal. This was not done.

Moreover, sampling and analysis operations are the sole purview of trained OPCW inspectors, using “necessary equipment” exclusively drawn from OPCW stores for that purpose. This includes sample vials and bottles, scoops, syringes, wipes and other sampling materials. Each sample taken is supposed to be accompanied by an OPCW sampling and analysis booklet, maintained by the OPCW inspectors, which documents the handling of the sample from collection to final disposition—the very essence of “traceability” that governs the credibility of any findings derived from an assessment of the sample in question.

None of the samples received by the FFM in Turkey, and forwarded to the OPCW for subsequent evaluation in designated laboratories, meets the requirements set forth by the OPCW’s own operating procedures regarding S&A methodology. Even if the FFM accepted at face value the images and videos provided by the White Helmets ostensibly documenting the collection of these samples, the fact that the samples were collected April 4 and only turned over to the FFM on April 12 and 13 creates a week-plus time frame when the location and status of the samples cannot be meaningfully ascertained; the FFM had no way of determining if the samples shown being collected on the White Helmet-provided images and videos were the same material turned over to the FFM.

Moreover, the samples themselves fail to meet any quality control or quality assurance standard set by the OPCW regarding its S&A activities. A cursory examination of the White Helmet videos would show that the collection activity was more theater than real; the individuals conducting the sampling were wearing chemical protective suits suitable for training only (the green suits are clearly labeled “Training”), which means the suits provide no protection from chemical agents. Moreover, there is no scene control, with personnel in full protective ensembles freely mixing with persons having no protection at all. One individual carries a Draeger multi-gas meter, useless in the detection of chemical agents. Samples are thrown haphazardly into a carrying case, and the samples are collected using a single scoop, meaning that there is cross-contamination throughout the process. Cars and motorcycles drive freely through the sampling area, contributing to potential cross-contamination. In short, the videos meant to show the viability of the samples in fact negate their potential utility—these samples should never have been accepted by the FFM, let alone forwarded to the OPCW laboratory for subsequent evaluation at designated laboratories.

As a hazardous materials technician who has trained extensively to operate in a chemical weapons environment (including live agent training at Fort McClellan in Alabama, where I participated in sampling and detection exercises using actual sarin and VX nerve agent), I was appalled by the cavalier approach taken by the White Helmets in conducting their supposed sample collection of sarin-infused material. There was no effort to set up a hot zone (i.e., area of known or suspected contamination), no indication of any meaningful monitoring and detection activity, and no evidence of any effort to decontaminate personnel, equipment or samples.

As a former U.N. chief weapons inspector who has led sampling missions involving great political sensitivity, I was aghast at the collection and handling of what the White Helmets purported to be samples from the chemical attack scene. The samples were virtually unusable as collected—the cross-contamination issues alone should preclude their being used. The lack of any discernable documentation, the lack of any tamper-proof seals, and the lack of viable sampling containers, techniques and methodology likewise meant that anything collected by the White Helmets in the manner indicated on film had absolutely zero inspection utility.

These observations are obvious and self-evident to anyone possessing a modicum of professional training and experience, as certainly the members of the OPCW FFM in Turkey could claim—especially the team leader, Leonard Phillips. When the shock of the nonexistent health and safety standards used by the White Helmets wore off, it became clear to me that this wasn’t simply a scene neutrally depicting the actions of innocents trying to do a good deed. Rather, the videotape of the sampling activities was, like the videos and images of the White Helmets rescuing stricken survivors on April 4, which energized the OPCW information cell into recommending the dispatch of the FFM to begin with, a deliberate effort to deceive. The OPCW fell victim to this deception twice: first in sending the FFM to Turkey, and second in receiving and processing evidence, whether in the form of victims or environmental samples.

But even if one gives the OPCW the benefit of the doubt and forgives its absolute lack of discerning cynicism regarding the work of the White Helmets, the failure on the part of the FFM to adhere to even a modicum of professionalism when considering the samples turned over by the White Helmets is unforgivable. The Russians have singled out the British team leaders of the FFM, in particular Phillips, as being complicit. On the surface, the Russians seem to have a case; it was Phillips, after all, who initiated contact with the White Helmets in 2015, legitimizing their presence in the OPCW inspection process. This embrace of the White Helmets by the OPCW seems to have contributed to its willingness to accept at face value whatever the White Helmets turned over for its use, including videos, samples and victim identification.

Phillips, however, is not the final authority on the work of the FFM in Turkey. This is the purview of the director-general of the OPCW, Ahmet Üzümcü. Before Phillips and his team deployed to Turkey, they were issued an “inspection mandate” by the director-general that detailed the scope of their mission, up to and including the type of equipment to accompany the team. Normally the inspection mandate is an ironclad document derived from the specific authorities enjoyed by an inspection team in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Treaty. But Üzümcü has spoken of the specific need for flexibility in approaching the unique circumstances faced by the FFM. One wonders which specific instructions the inspection mandate for Phillips included—what, for instance, was the nature of the FFM’s relationship with Turkey (not an inspected states party); what was the specific authority given in terms of establishing a working relationship with the White Helmets; and what waivers of procedures and guidelines were granted in terms of sampling and assessment activity?

I have no doubt that Phillips, like his fellow FFM team leader Steven Wallis, is a consummate professional. The notion of an OPCW team leader of his stature deviating from standard operating procedure is virtually unthinkable. At the end of the day, the onus for explaining the conduct of the FFM in Turkey falls on the shoulders of Ahmet Üzümcü. If he indeed provided an inspection mandate with such blatant deviations from the kind of strict procedure-based protocols that give the OPCW its legitimacy, upon whose authority did he do so?

The hand-in-glove relationship between Üzümcü and the governments of Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom and France that emerges from this process can only lead to the conclusion that, in the desire for regime change in Damascus, the narrow-minded self interests of a few governments, facilitated by an international civil servant lacking the courage to stand up and challenge an abuse of authority by these nations, has led to the discrediting of yet another international disarmament organization.

I witnessed this process firsthand as a weapons inspector with UNSCOM in 1997-1998, when the United States and its British allies exploited the personal failings of the UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler to undermine and ultimately destroy the U.N. disarmament effort on Iraq, all in the name of removing Saddam Hussein from power. Sadly, the same process is being used today regarding the work of the OPCW.

The cooperation of Ahmet Üzümcü in allowing the White Helmets to infiltrate the very inspection processes that gave the OPCW its credibility, and likewise to permit the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Turkey to use this very OPCW investigation process to attack the government of Syria as part of their collective efforts for regime change in Damascus, is a case study in history repeating itself. Ambassador Üzümcü’s cavalier approach toward inspection integrity in the name of “flexibility” has tarnished the once stellar work record of the OPCW and undermined the principles of international peace and security that were inherent in the decision by the Nobel committee to award the organization the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

Russia would do well to stop picking on the two British inspectors, Wallis and Phillips, and instead single out the true culprit in the debacle that has become of the OPCW experience in Syria—Ahmet Üzümcü. His resignation as director-general of the OPCW would be the start of a healing process that would hopefully return the OPCW to the status it once enjoyed as one of the world’s pre-eminent disarmament organizations.

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Why ‘Israel’ has a Law That Gives Police the Power to Block Certain Websites From Israelis

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By Rima Najjar | CounterPunch 

The new Israeli law giving police power to block websites that purportedly publish “criminal” or “offensive” content follows a similar blockade of various websites in Palestine by the 13-year president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas – all in the name of “law and order”, “peace” and “fighting terrorism”.

The equation is simple and has long been propagated by Israel through its hasbara apparatus: Palestinian armed resistance to Israel’s oppression equals terror. Hasbara misinformation against Palestine and Palestinians on the Internet is legitimate paid workin Israel; Palestinian outlets speaking for the Palestinian struggle for liberation are illegitimate (criminal) forms of expression and activity:

Since before the “war on terrorism” in the West even began, the very concept of terrorism has been reduced by Israeli propagandists into an arena whereby Palestinian armed resistance by individuals or Hamas or any other militant Palestinian group is automatically regarded as terror. In a catch-22, non-violent Palestinian resistance, on the other hand, is dubbed as “incitement to terror”. [Source: Israel’s Illegitimate Tactics Against Palestinian Armed Resistance vs. Legitimate Global Security Concerns]

Israel is taking advantage of a world-wide political development concerning freedom of expression that is meant to combat terrorism. Turning the tables around in a typical Zionist tactic of portraying itself as victim, Israel is exploiting this global dilemma in how to balance freedom of expression in legitimate arenas with hate-mongering – especially the kind reflecting intolerance and populism that might foment acts of violence and terrorist “cell formation”.

But there is a big difference between websites that educate on Israel, share facts that expose Israel’s Apartheid regime in Palestine and influence opinions to stand up for Palestinian rights and liberation on the one hand, and websites that spew hatred with the objective of inciting terrorism and wanton destruction on the other.

In blocking websites that expose its illegitimacy, the Israeli Government is also continuing a long tradition of brainwashing its own Jewish population with Zionist dogma and myth, in the same way it mobilized to “educate” American Jews after 1967, when Zionist myths began to unravel “as a result of Palestinian history books published in English, such as Nafez Nazzal and Ibrahim Abu-Lughod’s work, as well as an increasingly visible Palestinian armed resistance movement.” [Source: On American Zionist Education: An excerpt from ‘The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans’]

Since the failure of the so-called two-state “solution” (or Oslo Accords) to the problem of partitioning Mandate Palestine in 1948 and the creation of a Jewish state on a territory of Palestine, there has been a significant shift in how Israel is perceived worldwide, especially in connection with its claim to being the only democracy in the Arab world.

As Ilan Pappe explains in Ten Myths About Israel, Israel was never a democracy before or after 1967, when it occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem:

Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not a democracy at all. … The myth that a democratic Israel ran into trouble in 1967 but still remained a democracy is propagated even by some notable Palestinian and pro-Palestinian scholars — but it has no historical foundation. … Systematic cruelty does not only show its face in a major event like a massacre. The worst atrocities can also be found in the regime’s daily, mundane presence. … The litmus test of any democracy is the level of tolerance it is willing to extend towards the minorities living in it. In this respect, Israel falls far short of being a true democracy… Israeli Land Policy Is Not Democratic. …The Occupation Is Not Democratic… Destroying Palestinians’ Houses Is Not Democratic. … Crushing Palestinian Resistance Is Not Democratic. …Imprisoning Palestinians Without Trial Is Not Democratic. … What we must challenge here, therefore, is not only Israel’s claim to be maintaining an enlightened occupation but also its pretense to being a democracy. Such behavior towards millions of people under its rule gives the lie to such political chicanery. [Source: No, Israel Is Not a Democracy]

Having been founded by settler-colonial European and East European Zionist Jews, whose political vision was very much shaped by the Western civilization from where they originated (including the practice of European sovereignty, domination and subjugation over non-Western peoples), Israel has always boasted of being a Western-style democracy.

Israel has also angled to be compared favorably with the Arab world’s democratic deficit, directly and indirectly implying that the obstacle to democratic change in the Arab world was to be found, not in the region’s historical institutional framework, but rather in “Arab culture” – i.e., Islam itself. [For a discussion of this latter hypothesis, see Eric Chaney’s article, Democratic Change in the Arab World, Past and Present.]

Mandate Palestine today is under Israeli sovereignty – all of it. It is true that the Palestinian Authority has administrative control of the West Bank and Hamas has a similar control in the besieged Gaza Strip since 2006, when it won the legislative elections and then was prevented from governing.

But such control is severely limited and contingent on Mahmoud Abbas’s continued cooperation with Israel’s “security needs” over and above the much more urgent needs of the Palestinian people to realize their rights, especially self-determination and dignity.

Unfortunately, the United States and its foreign policy allies vis-à-vis Israel, the European Union and Great Britain, have long enabled Israel’s brutal policies against the Palestinian people. Under the Oslo Accords (1993) and the Paris Protocol (1994), aid to the Palestinian territories was “militarized” to complement (not fight against) the vast US military aid given to Israel to secure its own territory in Palestine.

In other words, aid to Palestinian Arabs ignored the human reality of a people struggling to survive for seventy years – first their ethnic cleansing and denial of return to their own land and homes and then occupation, annexation of East Jerusalem, siege of the Gaza Strip, and uninterrupted and continuing Jewish colonization meant to complete their dispossession.

Today over 12 million people live in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – primarily Jews and Palestinian Arabs, both Christian and Muslim. As estimated in 2014 by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), there are 6.08 Palestinian Arabs currently living in the Palestinian territories, including Israel (worldwide, Palestinians number an estimated 12.37 million).

Each one of these people, and not only Jews, is entitled to full human rights, “including religious liberty; freedoms of expression and association; equal opportunity regardless of ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, etc.; and due process of law.” That includes access to information on the Internet.

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Court rules Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia are ‘lawful’, despite destruction of Yemen

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London’s High Court has ruled that UK arms sales to the Saudi Arabian regime are “lawful” in response to a judicial review brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

The case hinged on the question of whether the UK failed to suspend sales in line with legal obligations, given the Saudi’s current war in neighboring Yemen, which has been waged in part using British manufactured military equipment.

Documents cited in court showed that civil servants had, in fact, recommended that sales should no longer go ahead, but ministers had ignored the advice.

“This is a very disappointing verdict, and we are pursuing an appeal,” Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said.

“If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.”

CAAT’s lawyer, Rosa Curling, said: “Nothing in the open evidence, presented by the UK government to the court, suggests this risk does not exist in relation to arms to Saudi Arabia.

“Indeed, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the risk is very real. You need only look at the devastating reality of the situation there.”

CAAT, who have said they will appeal, had argued that the UK’s continued sales are a breach of international law while the EU’s common council also insists that sales to nations where violations of the law might occur must be halted.

In the last two years, the UK has licensed the sales of £3 billion (US$3.86 billion) worth of arms to the Saudi government, with which Britain is a longstanding ally.

Arm sales have included Typhoon and Tornado jets and the UK has had military personnel embedded in Saudi headquarters throughout the Yemen conflict, which has raged since 2015.

The British government maintains that the personnel are there to support adherence to international law and advice on rules of engagement.

Both Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Artillery (RA) personnel have been deployed to train the Saudi military during the war.

The conflict – which has been accompanied with a blockade of major ports – has drastically worsened the humanitarian situation in the already-impoverished gulf nation.

The UN says 17 million people in Yemen are at imminent risk of famine, while dwindling medical supplies and lack of trained medical personnel have led to epidemics.

Leading humanitarian organizations, including the Red Cross, have named the aerial bombing campaign and blockade as the main causes behind the ongoing cholera epidemic in the capital, Sanaa, that has already claimed some 200 lives, while over 11,000 cases of the disease have been registered.

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Macron Cracks Down on French Liberty

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By Jonathan Marshall 

French President Emmanuel Macron — the “great hope” of Europe — told French legislators a few days ago that he plans to extend his nation’s draconian and counterproductive state of emergency for a sixth time later this month — to give his government time to prepare a tough new anti-terrorism law to replace it.

In a breathtaking display of doublespeak, Macron claimed that his plan will “re-establish the freedoms of the French people.” But enshrining into law the essence of France’s harsh anti-terrorism decrees will limit the nation’s hard-won liberties while doing nothing to curb police incompetence, which has repeatedly allowed known extremists to carry out their heinous acts.

Civil liberties and human rights groups have denounced Macron’s blueprint for augmenting the central government’s police powers. His draft law would give local representatives of the Interior Ministry the power to declare security zones, define who can enter or leave them, use electronic tags to restrict the movement of people considered a national security threat, close mosques and other centers of worship, and — with only limited judicial oversight — search private property.

“These measures would trample individual and shared liberties and would lead us toward an authoritarian state,” France’s League of Human Rights declared. “Far from relating only to terrorist acts, these measures would be applied to a wide range of offences. Anyone could become a victim of arbitrary decisions.”

Amnesty International recently condemned the government’s abuse of anti-terrorist emergency powers that restrict freedom of movement and rights to peaceful assembly.

“Under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labor rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on France.

Repressing Dissent

In the name of preventing “threats to public order,” the government over a period of 18 months issued 155 decrees banning protests, and 574 measures prohibiting specific individuals from taking part in protests against proposed labor law changes.

The latter statistic is particularly notable because Macron plans to issue sweeping decrees to limit the power of unions over working conditions and company firing policies. Such proposals have triggered mass demonstrations and violent clashes with police, in recent months.

The French government imposed its state of emergency — modeled after one instituted in 1955 during the Algerian war — after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, killed 130 people and injured 368 more. Those attacks followed the January 2015 slaughter of 12 people at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and of four hostages at a kosher supermarket. The attacks were perpetrated by followers of ISIS and of al-Qaeda in Yemen.

French parliamentary investigation last year found little evidence that either the state of emergency or the showy stationing of troops on Parisian streets did much to enhance France’s security. It concluded that the country’s fragmented and competing security agencies had suffered a “global failure” of communication and coordination.

As it happens, police were well aware of all three extremists who carried out the January 2015 massacres and of leaders of the November 2015 attacks, but lacked the manpower to keep them under permanent surveillance. Indeed, they traveled across Europe and to Yemen and North Africa with remarkable ease, despite official knowledge of their dangerous proclivities.

In the Guardian’s words, “Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people in a siege at a kosher grocery store in January (2015) and shot dead a policewoman, was a known radical and repeat offender. While serving a prison sentence for his part in a plot to free another terrorist from jail, he had been flagged as radicalized. This information was not passed from prison services to intelligence agencies on his release.”

Breakdown of Intelligence

Recent French press revelations suggest an even worse breakdown of intelligence. It turns out that Coulibaly and two fellow Islamist radicals who committed the January 2015 attacks acquired their weapons, through an intermediary, from a right-wing police informant and former mercenary named Claude Hermant. He claims to have worked as an agent under the supervision of intelligence officers in the customs service and gendarmerie, a national military police force under the Ministry of Interior.

Information about Hermant’s role was suppressed in 2015 by the Interior Minister, who invoked a state secrets privilege. Hermant’s lawyer has filed a lawsuit to lift the ban on discussion of his client’s connection to the intelligence services. A French newspaper has also published explosive emails from a gendarme giving Hermant the “green light” to move cases of weapons, one of which apparently ended up in Islamist hands due to police incompetence.

History is replete with examples of police and intelligence services that allow agents to run amok, often because of inadequate supervision, occasionally for more sinister reasons. Serious investigators have asked whether the Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, might have been a federal informant. And there seems to be no question but that the al-Qaeda terrorist who led the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing and trained most of the organization’s top leadership — Ali Mohammed — was protected by the FBI and CIA.

Granting more powers to such agencies and shielding them from judicial review compounds the problem by preventing exposure and correction of their bureaucratic failures. Ordinary citizens and their liberties are best protected when law enforcement is subject to public review and criticism, not protected by official secrets acts and emergency decrees that cover up their incompetence, disorganization, or lack of resources. The people of America and France both should learn from their respective national failures that freedom is not won by repression.

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The Saudi Wahhabi-Nazi Alliance

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By Abdel Bari Atwan

Riyadh (YE) – The evolving relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia is set to become a key feature of regional politics in the forthcoming phase. This goes beyond the creeping normalization of relations between the two sides and the holding of discreet contacts, to the formation of an undeclared but far-reaching alliance.

Retired Saudi general Anwar al-Eshki shed some light on this in an interview last week on the German TV channel Deutsche Welle, in which he provided insights into a number of unexplained issues: most importantly, why Saudi Arabia has been so adamant about getting the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir transferred from Egypt’s sovereignty to its own as quickly a possible.

Eshki made clear that once Saudi Arabia assumes sovereignty over the two islands, it will abide by the Camp David Accords, and that the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace deal — which cut Egypt off from the Arab world and the Palestinian cause and led to the opening of an Israeli embassy in Cairo – would cease to be a purely bilateral agreement.

The general, who has been Saudi Arabia’s main frontman in its normalization process with Israel, explained that the new maritime border demarcation agreement with Egypt places both islands within the kingdom’s territorial waters. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will therefore share control over the Strait of Tiran through which Israeli ships pass as they sail in and out of the Gulf of Aqaba, and the kingdom will accordingly establish a relationship with Israel.

True, Eshki also said that normalization of Saudi relations with Israel was contingent on the latter accepting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. But he also spoke of an Israeli peace initiative that would ‘bypass’ that plan. According to him, this proposes the establishment of a confederation that would connect the occupied Palestinian territories – he did not specify how or to whom – while postponing discussion of the fate of Jerusalem.

Eshki also used the interview to confirm what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has often reiterated: that Saudi Arabia does not consider Israel to be an enemy. He maintained that this view is shared by ordinary Saudis, and is reflected in their tweets and comments on social media which they point out that Israel never once attacked the kingdom so is not its enemy, and that these citizens support normalizing relations with Israel.

Eshki is not a policymaker but a mouthpiece. He was carefully selected for the job of saying what he is told and promoting it. To understand what his words are aimed at achieving – and the main features of the new normalization scheme that is rapidly unfolding – we need only paraphrase the statements made by the current Israeli defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman: Normalization between the Arab states and Israel should be achieved first, and then followed by a Palestinian-Israeli peace. Israel cannot accept a situation in which normalization with the Arab states is left hostage to a resolution of the Palestinian issue. After all, Israel has signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan without ending the Palestinian conflict.

The point that the handover of Tiran and Sanafir would commit Saudi Arabia to the Camp David accords, and to all obligations arising from them, was also stressed by the head of the Egyptian parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee, Gen. Kamal Amer.

The conclusion that can be drawn is that the main purpose of the rush to restore the two islands to Saudi sovereignty is to accelerate the pace of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia and ‘legitimize’ their evolving alliance. After all, Saudi Arabia possesses countless thousands of neglected islands dotted along its Red Sea and Gulf coastlines. It has no need for two additional small, barren and uninhabited outcrops. Even if it did, it managed well enough without them for 50 years during which they were either under Israeli occupation or Egyptian protection. Had it wanted, it could have waited and postponed this thorny issue for ten, twenty, or a hundred more years, so as to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian government and angering the Egyptian people.

The Saudi government’s stage-setting for normalization with the Israeli occupation state is already well underway and gaining pace. Following Eshki’s ‘academic’ visits to Israel and former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal’s security encounters, we have now begun to see Saudi ‘analysts’ appearing on Israeli TV. The next step may be for Saudi ministers and princes to do the same.

The Saudi citizens who Eshki claimed were tweeting their support for friendship with Israel on the grounds that it has never attacked their country, and who support normalizing relations with it, are soldiers in the Saudi electronic army. They number in the thousands, and work under the auspices of Saudi intelligence and police. The overwhelming majority of Saudis are opposed to any form of normalization with the occupation state, for religious, Arab nationalist, patriotic, and moral reasons. We have absolutely no doubt about that. But we can understand the pressure they are under when a single tweet expressing sympathy for Qatar or criticism of ‘Vision 2030′ can cost the tweeter 15 years in prison or a $250,000 fine.

According to Haaretz and other Israeli media outlets, Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman, who is leading the Saudi march towards normalization and alliance with Israel, occupation state visited occupied Jerusalem in 2015. He has also holds regular meetings with Israeli officials, most recently when during the Arab summit held in Amman in March.

Not long ago Riyadh hosted the American journalist Thomas Friedman. (Perhaps this was a reward for his comment after the 9/11 attacks that the US should have invaded Saudi Arabia – the real source of terrorism — rather than Iraq in retaliation.) Friedman met with a number of officials before being granted a lengthy audience with Muhammad bin-Salman. He reported afterwards that not once during the five-hour encounter did the prince utter the word ‘Palestine’ or mention the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Indeed, I challenge anyone to come up with a single instance in which the up-and-coming Saudi strongman refers to ‘Palestine’ in any of his televised interviews.

Meanwhile, priority has been given to silencing and countering Arab voices that confront this evolving Saudi-Israeli alliance and expose its aims, implications and likely consequences – whether in the social or conventional media. Riyadh’s demand for the closure of the Al-Jazeera channel affirms that the war it is currently waging is not against ‘terror’ but against critical and free media.

We, too, have been and remain on the receiving-end of that war, subject to a furious on-going assault by the Saudi electronic army and a vicious and deliberate campaign of defamation. All one can say in response is to quote the saying: the coward dies one hundred times; the brave and free just once.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Saudi Arabia0 Comments

The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

NOVANEWS
By Ray McGovern 

The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?

Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out?

These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart.

But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent.

Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered.

In both the big newspapers and on cable news shows, the potential for a ceasefire in southern Syria – set to go into effect on Sunday – got decidedly second billing.

Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so Trump will have to take on the same “deep-state” forces that cheerily scuttled similar agreements in the past. In other words, the actuarial tables for this cease-fire are not good; long life for the agreement will take something just short of a miracle.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have to face down hardliners in both the Pentagon and CIA. Tillerson probably expects that Defense Secretary James “Mad-Dog” Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo will cooperate by ordering their troops and operatives inside Syria to restrain the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels.”

But it remains to be seen if Mattis and Pompeo can control the forces their agencies have unleashed in Syria. If recent history is any guide, it would be folly to rule out another “accidental” U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops or a well-publicized “chemical attack” or some other senseless “war crime” that social media and mainstream media will immediately blame on President Bashar al-Assad.

Bitter Experience

Last fall’s limited ceasefire in Syria, painstakingly worked out over 11 months by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and approved personally by Presidents Obama and Putin, lasted only five days (from Sept. 12-17) before it was scuttled by “coalition” air strikes on well-known, fixed Syrian army positions, which killed between 64 and 84 Syrian troops and wounded about 100 others.

In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials a few days before the air attack on Sept. 17, showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – like sharing intelligence with the Russians (an important provision of the deal approved by both Obama and Putin).

The Pentagon’s resistance and the “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops brought these uncharacteristically blunt words from Foreign Minister Lavrov on Russian TV on Sept. 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the U.S. military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the U.S. Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia … apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

Lavrov specifically criticized Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia despite the fact, as Lavrov put it, “the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama [who] stipulated that they would share intelligence.” Noting this resistance inside the U.S. military bureaucracy, Lavrov added, “It is difficult to work with such partners.”

Putin picked up on the theme of insubordination in an Oct. 27 speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in which he openly lamented:

“My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results. … people in Washington are ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice.”

On Syria, Putin decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

Lavrov’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, meanwhile, even expressed sympathy for Kerry’s quixotic effort, giving him an “A” for effort after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter dispatched U.S. warplanes to provide an early death to the cease-fire so painstakingly worked out by Kerry and Lavrov for almost a year.

For his part, Kerry expressed regret – in words reflecting the hapless hubris befitting the chief envoy of the world’s “only indispensible” country – conceding that he had been unable to “align” all the forces in play.

With the ceasefire in tatters, Kerry publicly complained on Sept. 29, 2016: “Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate]. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces.”

Admitting Deep-State Pre-eminence

Only in December 2016, in an interview with Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, did Kerry admit that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – as well as all those forces he found so difficult to align.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation [of the ceasefire agreement] extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But it … could have worked. … The fact is we had an agreement with Russia … a joint cooperative effort.

“Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that,” he said. “I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that.”

The Globe’s Viser described Kerry as frustrated. Indeed, it was a tough way for Kerry to end nearly 34 years in public office.

After Friday’s discussions with President Trump, Kremlin eyes will be focused on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has better luck than Kerry did in getting Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and CIA’s latest captive-director Pompeo into line behind what President Trump wants to do.

As the new U.S.-Russia agreed-upon ceasefire goes into effect on Sunday, Putin will be eager to see if this time Trump, unlike Obama, can make a ceasefire in Syria stick; or whether, like Obama, Trump will be unable to prevent it from being sabotaged by Washington’s deep-state actors.

The proof will be in the pudding and, clearly, much depends on what happens in the next few weeks. At this point, it will take a leap of faith on Putin’s part to have much confidence that the ceasefire will hold.

Posted in Syria0 Comments

Nazi forces shoot teargas and rubber coated steel bullets

NOVANEWS
Israeli forces shoot teargas and rubber coated steel bullets at the 6th anniversary demonstration of Kafr Qaddum
International Solidarity Movement 

Hebron, occupied Palestine – On Friday 7th of July the residents of Kafr Qaddum gathered for their weekly demonstration marking its 6th anniversary, which was repressed by the Israeli forces shooting teargas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators. Israeli forces approached the demonstrators in a jeep and were seen on a hill next to the road connecting Kafr Qaddum and the Israeli settlement. Towards the end of the demonstration Israeli forces also forced their way into a Palestinian house to use it as a vantage point to aim at the demonstrators.

Kafr Qaddum peaceful demonstration

After the afternoon prayers at 1 pm, the people of Kafr Qaddum started their non-violent demonstration marching towards the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim. Soon after, the Israeli forces welcomed the demonstrators by shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and teargas. Halfway through the demonstration, an elderly Palestinian man was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet while taking cover from the shooting. Towards the end of the demonstration, an additional five Palestinians and a Korean activist were injured by the Israeli forces. Those who were injured were taken to receive treatment.

One of the Palestinians injured by Israeli forces gun-shots is brought to receive treatment

According to information provided by the Israeli military spokesperson to Ma’an news, no Israeli army forces were present at the demonstration, but instead it was the Israeli police that repressed the non-violent demonstration. This however is not true, as later during the demonstration Israeli army soldiers were seen at a nearby hill, and soon replaced the police on the road with more jeeps and an armored personnel carrier. The soldiers then proceeded to fire rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters and activists, and threw several stun grenades in an attempt to disperse the demonstration. Israeli soldiers also forced their way into a house and took up positions on the balcony overlooking the road.

Israeli forces inside a civilian Palestinian home aiming at protestors

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Terror in Europe – Why Terrorists Are Allowed to Strike

NOVANEWS

Image result for Terror in Europe CARTOON

By Ulson Gunnar 

The London Bridge terror attack saw a repeat of a now familiar narrative in which every suspect involved had been long-known to both British security and intelligence agencies.

The London Telegraph in an article titled,Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba named: Everything we know about the London Bridge terrorists,” would reveal:

The ringleader of the London Bridge massacre never bothered to hide his violent, extremist views. Khuram Butt was so brazen that he openly posed with the black flag of the so-called Islamic State in Regent’s Park in the centre of London for a Channel 4 documentary, entitled The Jihadis Next Door.

Butt and other extremists linked to the banned terror group al-Muhajiroun were even detained by police for an hour over the stunt in 2015 but were released without being arrested.

The al-Muhajiroun terror group is headed by British-based extremist, Anjem Choudary, who for years helped fill the ranks of militant groups fighting governments the US and UK sought to overthrow in Libya, Syria and beyond. Choudary inexplicably escaped the consequences of his open advocacy and material support for known terrorist organizations for years, with the London Guardian in an article titled,Anjem Choudary: a hate preacher who spread terror in UK and Europe,” going as far as speculating he did so because he was actually an informant or operative working for the British government.

The article would also admit that Butt was under investigation by British intelligence up to the day of the attack:

MI5 and counter-terrorism officers began an investigation into Butt, which remained ongoing even as the 27-year-old launched his terror attack on London Bridge. Butt, who was wearing an Arsenal shirt and a fake bomb strapped to his chest, was shot dead by police on Saturday night.

A second suspect, Rachid Redouane, was repeatedly brought to the attention of police who ignored warnings he was an extremist and a member of the so-called “Islamic State.”

The Telegraph reports that a third suspect, Youssef Zaghba, was also known to police:

He was reportedly arrested at Bologna airport in March 2016 trying to get to Syria and was also understood to be on an Italian anti-terror watch list.

The fact that these three suspects evaded capture and were able to carry out their attack despite being known and even monitored actively by British security and intelligence agencies lends even further credibility to the notion that they and others like them work for the British government, not against it.

Unable to Reach Syria, West’s Dogs of War Bite Local Population 

Networks like al-Muhajiroun and the extremists they cultivate help fill the ranks of “moderate rebel” groups the US, UK, other European nations including France, as well as regional allies like Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar are arming, funding and providing direct military support for in Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond.

This fact goes far in explaining why extremists are allowed – for years – to openly advocate violence and recruit members into what is essentially a terrorist organization operating under the nose of British security and intelligence agencies – if not with their collective and eager complicity.

While these terrorists are labeled “moderate rebels” when fighting abroad, they are only labeled as such by the Western media out of necessity in an attempt to differentiate them from the extremists that are in fact fighting the West’s proxy war for it in places like Syria.

Suspects like Youssef Zaghba even attempted to travel to Syria to fight among the ranks of Western-backed militant groups – and failing to do so – participated in armed violence in the UK instead. Had he traveled onward to Syria, it would have been innocent Syrians instead of innocent British civilians terrorized, attacked, maimed and killed.

A Strategy of Terror and Tension

And despite the reality of the US and UK along with other European and Persian Gulf allies openly fueling terrorism at home and abroad, in the wake of tragic events like in London, Manchester, Paris, or Brussels, the very government organizations clearly responsible for presiding over these terrorists and their networks, sometimes for months and even years before an attack, are granted even more power to address a problem of their own intentional creation.

These organizations are able to do so in plain sight of the public specifically because of another conflict they openly orchestrate, pitting the general public against one another along lines of “anti-Islamic” fervor versus social justice advocates.

What both sides of this manufactured and intentionally perpetuated divide fail to realize is that Muslims are dying by the tens of thousands in places like Syria actively fighting against extremism springing not from Islam or the Qu’ran, but from the Pentagon, Westminster, Paris, Brussels, Riyadh, Ankara and Doha. It is not a clash of civilizations, but a manufactured conflict designed to perpetually fill the ranks of mercenaries abroad while exploiting their violence at home to procure more power and wealth through fear, anger and hysteria.

With wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond adding up to trillions for defense contractors and including weapon systems designed to fight them, with the F-35 joint strike fighter alone topping one trillion US dollars and as the West continues to openly act with impunity when and where it pleases despite violating the very international law it claims it is upholding globally, it is clear that, for now, this strategy is working.

If and when the general public understands the truth of why their lives are put in danger and their nation’s resources are being squandered abroad instead of at home for building their own futures, this strategy will be less successful. Until then, it appears that simplistic propaganda still works in convincing the public that governments like in London are simply incapable of arresting terrorists who appear regularly on TV, in the media and who openly operate in public with apparent and otherwise inexplicable impunity.

Posted in Europe0 Comments


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