Archive | November 30th, 2018

Neoliberalism’s Dark Path to Fascism

NOVANEWS

Neoliberalism transforms freedom for the many into freedom for the few. Its logical result is neofascism.

Neoliberalism generates little wealth. Rather, it redistributes it upward into the hands of the ruling elites. (Photo: Mr. Fish / Truthdig)

Neoliberalism generates little wealth. Rather, it redistributes it upward into the hands of the ruling elites. (Photo: Mr. Fish / Truthdig)

Neoliberalism as economic theory was always an absurdity. It had as much validity as past ruling ideologies such as the divine right of kings and fascism’s belief in the Übermensch. None of its vaunted promises were even remotely possible. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a global oligarchic elite—eight families now hold as much wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population—while demolishing government controls and regulations always creates massive income inequality and monopoly power, fuels political extremism and destroys democracy. You do not need to slog through the 577 pages of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” to figure this out. But economic rationality was never the point. The point was the restoration of class power.

As a ruling ideology, neoliberalism was a brilliant success. Starting in the 1970s, its Keynesian mainstream critics were pushed out of academia, state institutions and financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and shut out of the media. Compliant courtiers and intellectual poseurs such as Milton Friedman were groomed in places such as the University of Chicago and given prominent platforms and lavish corporate funding. They disseminated the official mantra of fringe, discredited economic theories popularized by Friedrich Hayek and the third-rate writer Ayn Rand. Once we knelt before the dictates of the marketplace and lifted government regulations, slashed taxes for the rich, permitted the flow of money across borders, destroyed unions and signed trade deals that sent jobs to sweatshops in China, the world would be a happier, freer and wealthier place. It was a con. But it worked.

“It’s important to recognize the class origins of this project, which occurred in the 1970s when the capitalist class was in a great deal of difficulty, workers were well organized and were beginning to push back,” said David Harvey, the author of “A Brief History of Neoliberalism,” when we spoke in New York. “Like any ruling class, they needed ruling ideas. So, the ruling ideas were that freedom of the market, privatization, entrepreneurialism of the self, individual liberty and all the rest of it should be the ruling ideas of a new social order, and that was the order that got implemented in the 1980s and 1990s.”

“As a political project, it was very savvy,” he said. “It got a great deal of popular consent because it was talking about individual liberty and freedom, freedom of choice. When they talked about freedom, it was freedom of the market. The neoliberal project said to the ’68 generation, ‘OK, you want liberty and freedom? That’s what the student movement was about. We’re going to give it to you, but it’s going to be freedom of the market. The other thing you’re after is social justice—forget it. So, we’ll give you individual liberty, but you forget the social justice. Don’t organize.’ The attempt was to dismantle those institutions, which were those collective institutions of the working class, particularly the unions and bit by bit those political parties that stood for some sort of concern for the well-being of the masses.”

“The great thing about freedom of the market is it appears to be egalitarian, but there is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals.”

 “The great thing about freedom of the market is it appears to be egalitarian, but there is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals,” Harvey went on. “It promises equality of treatment, but if you’re extremely rich, it means you can get richer. If you’re very poor, you’re more likely to get poorer. What Marx showed brilliantly in volume one of ‘Capital’ is that freedom of the market produces greater and greater levels of social inequality.”

The dissemination of the ideology of neoliberalism was highly organized by a unified capitalist class. The capitalist elites funded organizations such as the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce and think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation to sell the ideology to the public. They lavished universities with donations, as long as the universities paid fealty to the ruling ideology. They used their influence and wealth, as well as their ownership of media platforms, to transform the press into their mouthpiece. And they silenced any heretics or made it hard for them to find employment. Soaring stock values rather than production became the new measure of the economy. Everything and everyone were financialized and commodified.

“Value is fixed by whatever price is realized in the market,” Harvey said. “So, Hillary Clinton is very valuable because she gave a lecture to Goldman Sachs for $250,000. If I give a lecture to a small group downtown and I get $50 for it, then obviously she is worth much more than me. The valuation of a person, of their content, is valued by how much they can get in the market.”

“That is the philosophy that lies behind neoliberalism,” he continued. “We have to put a price on things. Even though they’re not really things that should be treated as commodities. For instance, health care becomes a commodity. Housing for everybody becomes a commodity. Education becomes a commodity. So, students have to borrow in order to get the education which will get them a job in the future. That’s the scam of the thing. It basically says if you’re an entrepreneur, if you go out there and train yourself, etc., you will get your just rewards. If you don’t get your just rewards, it’s because you didn’t train yourself right. You took the wrong kind of courses. You took courses in philosophy or classics instead of taking it in management skills of how to exploit labor.”

The con of neoliberalism is now widely understood across the political spectrum. It is harder and harder to hide its predatory nature, including its demands for huge public subsidies (Amazon, for example, recently sought and received multibillion-dollar tax breaks from New York and Virginia to set up distribution centers in those states). This has forced the ruling elites to make alliances with right-wing demagogues who use the crude tactics of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry and misogyny to channel the public’s growing rage and frustration away from the elites and toward the vulnerable. These demagogues accelerate the pillage by the global elites while at the same time promising to protect working men and women. Donald Trump’s administration, for example, has abolished numerous regulations, from greenhouse gas emissions to net neutrality, and slashed taxes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, wiping out an estimated $1.5 trillion in government revenue over the next decade, while embracing authoritarian language and forms of control.

Neoliberalism generates little wealth. Rather, it redistributes it upward into the hands of the ruling elites. Harvey calls this “accumulation by dispossession.”

“The main argument of accumulation by dispossession rests on the idea that when people run out of the capacity to make things or provide services, they set up a system that extracts wealth from other people,” Harvey said. “That extraction then becomes the center of their activities. One of the ways in which that extraction can occur is by creating new commodity markets where there were none before. For instance, when I was younger, higher education in Europe was essentially a public good. Increasingly [this and other services] have become a private activity. Health service. Many of these areas which you would consider not to be commodities in the ordinary sense become commodities. Housing for the lower-income population was often seen as a social obligation. Now everything has to go through the market. You impose a market logic on areas that shouldn’t be open to market.”

“When I was a kid, water in Britain was provided as a public good,” Harvey said. “Then, of course, it gets privatized. You start to pay water charges. They’ve privatized transportation [in Britain]. The bus system is chaotic. There’s all these private companies running here, there, everywhere. There’s no system which you really need. The same thing happens on the railways. One of the things right now, in Britain, is interesting—the Labour Party says, ‘We’re going to take all of that back into public ownership because privatization is totally insane and it has insane consequences and it’s not working well at all.’ The majority of the population now agrees with that.”

Under neoliberalism, the process of “accumulation by dispossession” is accompanied by financialization.

“Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main centers of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery,” Harvey writes in his book, perhaps the best and most concise account of the history of neoliberalism. “Stock promotions, ponzi schemes, structured asset destruction through inflation, asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions, the promotion of levels of debt incumbency that reduce whole populations even in the advanced capitalist countries to debt peonage. To say nothing of corporate fraud, dispossession of assets, the raiding of pension funds, their decimation by stock, and corporate collapses by credit and stock manipulations, all of these became central features of the capitalist financial system.”

Neoliberalism, wielding tremendous financial power, is able to manufacture economic crises to depress the value of assets and then seize them.

Neoliberalism, wielding tremendous financial power, is able to manufacture economic crises to depress the value of assets and then seize them.

“One of the ways in which you can engineer a crisis is to cut off the flow of credit,” he said. “This was done in Eastern, Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998. Suddenly, liquidity dried up. Major institutions would not lend money. There had been a big flow of foreign capital into Indonesia. They turned off the tap. Foreign capital flowed out. They turned it off in part because once all the firms went bankrupt, they could be bought up and put back to work again. We saw the same thing during the housing crisis here [in the United States]. The foreclosures of the housing left lots of housing out there, which could be picked up very cheaply. Blackstone comes in, buys up all of the housing, and is now the biggest landlord in all of the United States. It has 200,000 properties or something like that. It’s waiting for the market to turn. When the market turns, which it did do briefly, then you can sell off or rent out and make a killing out of it. Blackstone has made a killing off of the foreclosure crisis where everyone lost. It was a massive transfer of wealth.”

Harvey warns that individual freedom and social justice are not necessarily compatible. Social justice, he writes, requires social solidarity and “a willingness to submerge individual wants, needs, and desires in the cause of some more general struggle for, say, social equality and environmental justice.” Neoliberal rhetoric, with its emphasis on individual freedoms, can effectively “split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power.”

The economist Karl Polanyi understood that there are two kinds of freedoms. There are the bad freedoms to exploit those around us and extract huge profits without regard to the common good, including what is done to the ecosystem and democratic institutions. These bad freedoms see corporations monopolize technologies and scientific advances to make huge profits, even when, as with the pharmaceutical industry, a monopoly means lives of those who cannot pay exorbitant prices are put in jeopardy. The good freedoms—freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s job—are eventually snuffed out by the primacy of the bad freedoms.

“Planning and control are being attacked as a denial for freedom,” Polanyi wrote. “Free enterprise and private ownership are declared to be essentials to freedom. No society built on other foundations is said to deserve to be called free. The freedom that regulation creates is denounced as unfreedom; the justice, liberty and welfare it offers are decried as a camouflage of slavery.”

“The idea of freedom ‘thus degenerates into a mere advocacy of free enterprise,’ which means ‘the fullness of freedom for those whose income, leisure and security need no enhancing, and a mere pittance of liberty for people, who may in vain attempt to make use of their democratic rights to gain shelter from the power of the owners of property,’ ” Harvey writes, quoting Polanyi. “But if, as is always the case, ‘no society is possible in which power and compulsion are absent, nor a world in which force has no function,’ then the only way this liberal utopian vision could be sustained is by force, violence, and authoritarianism. Liberal or neoliberal utopianism is doomed, in Polanyi’s view, to be frustrated by authoritarianism, or even outright fascism. The good freedoms are lost, the bad ones take over.”

Neoliberalism transforms freedom for the many into freedom for the few. Its logical result is neofascism. Neofascism abolishes civil liberties in the name of national security and brands whole groups as traitors and enemies of the people. It is the militarized instrument used by the ruling elites to maintain control, divide and tear apart the society and further accelerate pillage and social inequality. The ruling ideology, no longer credible, is replaced with the jackboot.

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Facts That Privileged Americans Don’t Want Us to Know

NOVANEWS

It’s strange that most media outlets rarely if ever report on these realities… until you remember who owns most media outlets

“Why should privileged Americans want to avoid this issue?” writes Buchheit. “Because they’re not about to make a financial commitment to the root cause of most of the violence in our country, which is the overwhelming stress and suffering brought on by deprivation in the richest nation in the world.” (Photo: flickr/tedollins32/cc)

Many of us are ill-informed about certain critical economic and social issues. The following facts should have been reported by the mainstream media, but unfortunately most of that media is controlled by the very people who have reason to hide the facts.

Tax Haven Cheating is Much Costlier than the Annual Safety Net—But the IRS Keeps Getting CUT 

Offshore hoarding of private American wealth is estimated to be $3.3 trillion (4% of U.S. $82 trillion financial wealth).

The safety net costs about $400 billion per year, or, including Medicaid, about $900 billion per year.

Taking on the tax cheaters seems like an obvious response, instead of cutting the safety net. But the IRS budget itself has been steadily cut. Amazingly, and perversely, the Internal Revenue Service, which could be recovering much of our hidden money, has seen its staff and budget slashed 14 to 18 percent since the recession.

Our Own Country is the World’s Second Biggest Tax Haven 

While the privileged American tax cheaters are taking money from their own country, they’re not shy about taking from the rest of the world. According to the Financial Secrecy Index of the Tax Justice Network, the U.S. is second only to Switzerland as a tax haven. Their report states: “Financial secrecy provided by the U.S. has caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth.”

Record Low Unemployment? Yes, Because One Hour of Work Counts as Employed 

Part of that ‘booming’ economy is a low unemployment rate. As noted recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics bases the official unemployment rate on employees “who did any work for pay or profit” during the week being surveyed. That includes part-time workers who are employed for just one hour a week.

The unemployment rate also fails to include those who have given up looking for work—4% more Americans than in the year 2000.

We’re Gradually Giving Away Our Country’s Wealth to the Children of the Rich 

It’s not a Death Tax, it’s a Deadbeat Tax.

Anywhere from 35 percent to 55 percent of U.S. household wealth is inherited. It’s going to get worse. A Boston College study estimated that $59 trillion will be transferred from American estates by 2061. The study calls it “the greatest wealth transfer in U.S. history.” That’s almost as much as the total financial wealth in the U.S. today. But, as Robert Reich notes, in 2014 only 1.4 out of every 1,000 estates owed any estate tax. So most of the money to be passed down from Baby Boomers will be going to kids who never earned any of it and won’t have to pay any taxes on it.

One might argue that the loss of all this tax revenue is a good thing, because then philanthropists will step up and fund the needs of society. Not much chance of that. The super-rich have little incentive to provide housing or education or infrastructure or clean water to poor neighborhoods. Here’s their incentive: Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs). These ‘philanthropic’ funds allow big tax writeoffs, and the ‘donated’ money can be invested and reinvested with little of it going to real causes. The report “Gilded Giving” by Inequality.org states that “this charitable revenue can be warehoused, sitting for years or decades after a charitable deduction has been taken, before any significant payout is made to public nonprofits.”

As We Keep Shooting Each Other, Our Leaders Keep Cutting Mental Health Care 

Why should privileged Americans want to avoid this issue? Because they’re not about to make a financial commitment to the root cause of most of the violence in our country, which is the overwhelming stress and suffering brought on by deprivation in the richest nation in the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety affects nearly one-third of both adolescents and adults.

But instead of therapy, we use drugs to treat patients with mental problems, and as a result pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars at the expense of incapacitated Americans. Incredibly, over 96 percent of “last-resort” mental health hospital beds have been eliminated in the past sixty years. More incredibly, the 2019 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services includes a 21 percent decrease from the 2017 level.

Most incredible of all is the hypocrisy accompanying this disdain for the needs of American adults and children. As when Donald Trump says, “To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain.”

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How The Saudis With U.S. Help Made The Middle East “A Very Dangerous Place”

NOVANEWS
Coalition air strike in Syria (Orlok via Shutterstock)
Coalition air strike in Syria (Orlok via Shutterstock)

by Emile Nakhleh

The Middle East, like the rest of the world, is a “very dangerous place!” according to President Trump. The Saudis, with America’s tacit help, made it so.

President Trump’s bizarre and strange recent statement giving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) a pass on his involvement in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder raises a number of serious issues that Trump cavalierly dismisses or doesn’t know about in the first place. Beyond the half-truths and the lame rationale he has offered in defense of MbS, the president is in fact undermining America’s long-term interests in the region and putting the lives of American citizens—civilians, diplomats, and military—in that part of the world at risk.

To ascribe theories of political realism, international trade, or regional power competition to Trump’s apologia of Saudi Arabia is to give unwarranted credit to the rambling statement that Trump reportedly dictated. By attributing such lofty “transactional” doctrines as the realpolitik and liberal order paradigm to the statement is to presume that the president had studied the realities of the Middle East, the history and dynamics of American-Saudi relations over the years, the Saudi role in preaching a radical version of Sunni Islam in the past half century, or the emergence of the international order since World War II. The piece failed to show any such analytic depth or informed expertise. Instead, it was no more than a disjointed, truth-challenged, strategy-devoid, and Iran-bashing ode to Arab dictators, tribal Sunni potentates, and MbS in particular. It takes the president’s dystopian view of the world to another level.

What president Trump has done is to reduce the American-Saudi strategic partnership, which for decades has been based on states regardless of who is in power in either country, to specific persons—Trump on the American side and MbS on the Saudi side. Saudi kings, whether full brothers of the so-called Sudairi Seven, like the current King Salman, or half-brothers, like the late King Abdullah, have guarded the relationship because it served the strategic interests of Saudi Arabia, not any one leader. In Trump’s world, the partnership has devolved into a series of pronouncements driven by the whims and predilections of two people, Trump and MbS.

Since the beginning of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and the president’s refusal to criticize Russia for attacking the 2016 American elections, people have asked, “What does Putin have on Trump?” With the recent pro-Saudi statement, a legitimate question might be, “What does MbS have on Trump?” The U.S. president seems to have caved in to Putin.  In this instance, he seems to act as supplicant to MbS, not as the leader of the free world.

Undercutting the Intelligence Community

Two other dangers loom over the horizon because of Trump’s pro-MbS posture. He has undercut the veracity and effectiveness of the U.S. intelligence community and has given a green light to dictators to persecute their opponents at will without culpability or accountability. Like the military, American intelligence has been at the front lines in the defense of this country and its citizens. Intelligence officers and their families have endured untold hardships in the service of the country, and many intelligence collectors and analysts have lost their lives in war-torn countries. The stars engraved on the main lobby wall at CIA headquarters testify to the ultimate sacrifice that CIA officers have made over the years.

The intelligence community does not make a “high confidence” judgment lightly. Such a judgment must be based on first-hand information, including intercepts of phone calls, messages, and personal conversations. Since the “Curveball” debacle during the Iraq War, intelligence analysts are now required to state the level of confidence they have in their judgments. Such determination is based on the facts in question, the source of such facts, and the access and knowledge of the source. If the recent media leak about MbS’s culpability is accurate, then the CIA judgment that MbS approved the murder in advance and was aware of the operation before and after the murder is correct. If U.S. intelligence did not have first-hand information to make a “high confidence” judgment, a label of “low confidence” or “moderate confidence” would have been attached to the report.

It’s sad that the president of the United States, the primary “consumer” of U.S. intelligence, has rejected the the CIA’s judgment and thrown all facts to the wind. CIA analysts do not deal with “feelings,” as the president has claimed, but with corroborated evidence. Equally disturbing is Trump’s message to the world that he doesn’t trust his own intelligence community and doesn’t put much stock in its evidence-based judgments. How can intelligence collectors and analysts function under such a cloud of high-level suspicion? Isn’t this the best Thanksgiving gift that Trump is giving to America’s adversaries, including the Saudi autocrat?

A few examples illustrate how the Saudis, with America’s help, have made the region a very dangerous place.

Regional Radicalism

The radical interpretation of Islam, based on the Hanbali-Wahhabi-Salafi Sunni School of jurisprudence, which Saudi Arabia began to export a half century ago, has produced Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, the Islamic State, and other regional Sunni terrorist groups. Many of the so-called jihadists in these groups have come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf emirates and have been financed by individuals and organizations from those countries. Saudi-funded Islamic NGOs—for example, the International Islamic Relief Organization, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, al-Haramayn, and others—actively preached the radical vision of Islam across Asia, Africa, Central Asia, the Balkans, and elsewhere. They preached a narrow-minded doctrine that was intolerant of other Muslims, Christians, and Jews. They also preached a dystopian view of the outside world that does not adhere to their ideology.

Many Saudis supported the Wahhabi doctrine, and in fact young Saudis—together with others from Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates—flocked to al-Qaeda and its successor terror organization, the Islamic State. Fifteen of the hijackers on September 11, 2001 were Saudi nationals. American officials held numerous meetings with their Saudi counterparts in the aftermath of 9/11 on the need to combat terrorism.

For years, the United States has been aware of the Saudi export of this extremist religious narrative, but U.S. policymakers before and since 9/11 have not held Saudi Arabia accountable for the growth of Sunni radicalism. Despite the many briefings my analysts and I provided American senior policymakers in the late 1990s and early 2000s about how Saudi schools and textbooks continue to preach radical Islam, they were reluctant to confront the Saudis on this issue. Only when terrorist attacks hit Riyadh in 2003-2004, which the Saudis dubbed as their “9/11,” did the Saudi government begin to focus on the threat of terrorism.

Yemen, Qatar, and Iran

The Saudi-led war in Yemen has created a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions. Many millions of Yemenis, mostly women and children, are currently at risk of dying from famine and related diseases. Contrary to what the president said in his statement exonerating MbS, Saudi Arabia is the country most responsible for the human tragedy in Yemen. Saudi jets have been bombing Yemeni civilian targets, including schools and hospitals, with American tactical and intelligence support and mid-air fueling. Saudi Arabia and its close ally, the UAE, have kept the war going without consideration for the humanitarian calamity. Because the president has been reluctant to push the Saudis to end the war, a bipartisan effort in Congress is being waged to force the Saudis to end the war.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have also declared a siege on their fellow GCC member and sister emirate, Qatar. MbS and his counterpart in Abu Dhabi, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed, have resented the Qatari emir’s independent streak and reform-oriented policies. They have accused him of supporting terrorism, a bogus claim at best. President Trump foolishly continues to side with MbS against Qatar even though it hosts one of the largest American military bases in the region. American diplomats have issued perfunctory statements calling on the Saudis to end the Qatar siege, which MbS has ignored. This Saudi-manufactured and American-supported conflict with Qatar has heightened tensions in the Gulf region and has increased the danger of war across the Middle East. It has pushed Qatar toward Iran and Turkey, two non-Arab states, which MbS will be unable to defeat.

Meanwhile, Trump, MbS, and Israel’s right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed the Iran nuclear deal from its inception, which finally led Trump to decertify the agreement. Under the deal, Iran was required to halt its high enrichment of uranium and reduce the number of centrifuges. Through a very intrusive inspections regime, the international community was making sure Iran would not cheat on the deal. The Obama administration had hoped that once the nuclear agreement was in place, it would negotiate with Iran on the other thorny issues that threatened American interests in the region.

Trump scuttled the deal before any such negotiations commenced. Although MbS has fought against the Iran nuclear deal, he has concurrently sought to expand the Saudi nuclear program. If he is allowed to pursue his nuclear dream, a dangerous era of nuclear proliferation will engulf the region, making future conflicts even deadlier.

Egypt and the Levant

American policy toward Iraq and Syria in the past decade and a half have also contributed significantly to making the Middle East a very dangerous place. The U.S. invasion of Iraq without regard to the long-term ramifications of such a war and President Obama’s refusal to hold Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad accountable for using chemical weapons against his people created a chaotic vacuum in both countries, which the Islamic State quickly filled. Obama’s inaction against Assad for gassing his people empowered the “Butcher of Damascus” to continue the barbaric destruction of Syria. Both countries are in a dangerous place and remain at risk.

Saudi and U.S. support for the Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his counter-revolution against the Arab Spring has empowered dictatorship in the region and removed human rights as a serious consideration in Washington’s relations with the region’s dictators.

To argue that because the world is a dangerous place, the United States should disengage from it, hunker down, and appease dictators that presumably serve U.S. interests is a warped view of the world and the U.S. role in it. It is also an abandonment of what this country stands for. The world respects the United States not because of its military might but because of its belief in democratic values. When dictators are given carte blanche to do as they wish, the world indeed becomes a very dangerous place. The sooner that the United States realizes that its “spectacular ally” MbS has contributed to making the Middle East world more dangerous—with U.S. support—the sooner wiser heads in Washington will begin to look for solutions and right the ship of state. Trump’s statement giving MbS a pass on murdering Khashoggi is a step in the wrong direction.

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The War in Yemen Is Not a War. It Is a Massacre

NOVANEWS

The brutal and indiscriminate attacks of the Saudi-led coalition have left a ravaged country, with millions of civilians fighting for survival

Close to 15 million men, women, and children have no access to health care. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

Close to 15 million men, women, and children have no access to health care. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

The numbers are mind-blowing: Since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, an estimated 85,000 children under five may have died from extreme hunger and disease, according to the last analysis by Save the Children, the international health and human rights organization. Although children are the most affected by the conflict, 14 million people are at risk of famine, according to data compiled by the United Nations.

For almost four years, Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been ravaged by a bloody conflict between Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. In 2015, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states to fight the Houthis, which included Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, and Senegal. These countries have either sent troops to fight on the ground in Yemen or have carried out air attacks.

Iran has reportedly sent armaments and military advisers to help the Houthis, thus exacerbating their long-held animosity against the Saudis. In addition to fighting the Houthis in Yemen, the Saudis are backing the rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government, while Iran has a strong influence over the Assad regime. In Lebanon, while Iran has shown strong support for Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni Future Movement, led by Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The Yemen war, however, goes beyond a Saudi-Iranian geopolitical or Sunni-Shia conflict. The Houthis’ demands have been primarily economic and political, trying to take the Yemenis out of a cycle of poverty. The brutal and indiscriminate attacks of the Saudi-led coalition have left a ravaged country, with millions of civilians fighting for survival.

Fearing for their lives, more than 3 million Yemenis have become internally displaced persons, and almost 300,000 have sought asylum in other countries, including Djibouti and Somalia. Both the internally displaced, as well as those who have left to other countries often lack adequate nutrition and shelter. According to UNICEF, Yemen’s health care system is on the verge of collapse.

There is something pathetic when looking at some of the most powerful countries in the world: the United States, Great Britain, and France plotting with Saudi Arabia’s criminal regime to destroy the Houthis’ resistance movement in Yemen.

Those remaining in the country must cope with the relentless attacks by the coalition, which don’t distinguish between civilian and soldiers. In addition, across the country, aid organizations are unable to provide needed assistance. Hospitals have been bombed, provoking tens of thousands of deaths both as a result of the attacks and those left without urgent care.

Close to 15 million men, women, and children have no access to health care. An outbreak of cholera which started in October 2016 has not yet been controlled. It doesn’t help that water infrastructure in Yemen, one of the world’s most water-scarce countries, has been continuously attacked by the Saudi coalition. As a consequence, 8.6 million children in Yemen don’t have adequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene services. “Since 2015, the escalation of the conflict has only exacerbated this already dire situation, with attacks and military action on and around water infrastructure cutting off even more people from access to safe drinking water,” states UNICEF.

Last August, a United Nations report on the situation in Yemen sharply criticized all parties in the conflict but placed stronger blame on the Saudi coalition’s attacks on Yemeni civilians. Three UN experts said that the Saudi-led coalition routinely failed to consult its own “no-strike” list of more than 30,000 sites in Yemen, including refugee camps and hospitals. According to the experts’ report, restrictions that Saudi Arabia has placed on the delivery of aid by sea or air have had such a severe humanitarian impact that “such acts, together with the requisite intent, may amount to international crimes.”

There is something pathetic when looking at some of the most powerful countries in the world: the United States, Great Britain, and France plotting with Saudi Arabia’s criminal regime to destroy the Houthis’ resistance movement in Yemen. In the last few weeks, hundreds of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in and around Hodeidah have endangered the lives of 150,000 children. These coalition actions violate basic humanitarian rules and the rule of law. The War in Yemen is a massacre, and it is the responsibility of the international community to uphold justice in the face of such tragedy.

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Oil Is the Poison That Burns Paradise, Kills Kashshoggi, Inflames Paris. When Will We Quit?

NOVANEWS

The blindness of Trump’s oil-flooded eyes — rendering the United States the only nation on the planet to reject the Paris climate accord — shouldn’t blind us to the fact that the rest of the world is also struggling to transition away from fossil fuels.

Flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif. Authorities say the fire was 95 percent contained by Thanksgiving Day. Paradise is about 140 miles north of San Francisco. (Photo: NOAH BERGER / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif. Authorities say the fire was 95 percent contained by Thanksgiving Day. Paradise is about 140 miles north of San Francisco. (Photo: NOAH BERGER / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The elevator pitch is that global warming should terrify fiscal conservatives because the costs are enormous (wiping out 10 percent of America’s gross domestic product, double the hit from the Great Recession of a decade ago), its negative effects are already here in ways that are obvious (the drought-fueled wildfires that killed scores of people in Paradise, Calif.) and not so obvious (the warm-weather spread of ticks that cause Lyme disease), and the impact will only intensify as we get deeper into the 21st century, from California-style wildfires in the U.S. Southeast to trade disruptions as natural disasters around the globe interrupt the supply chain.

Maybe 13 government agencies understand the world is on fire, but the 14th and the only one that matters — the White House — remains in deep denial.

Friday’s blunt warning got more attention than most stories about climate change — our slow-motion disaster that never breaks through the 24/7 news cycle of fast-moving ones — but yet the overwhelming reaction was still cynicism and sad resignation, like a cancer diagnosis for a patient that refuses treatment. Maybe 13 government agencies understand the world is on fire, but the 14th and the only one that matters — the White House — remains in deep denial. In a statement accompanying the Black Friday news dump, the White House especially “blamed” the Obama administration for beginning work on a report that was “largely based on the most extreme scenario.”

Climate denial is as deeply ingrained in the Trump brand as overpriced steaks and diploma scams — because anything that annoys pointy-headed liberals must be good, because it was something he could lord over Hillary in West Virginia “coal country,” and because slippery oil barons and even slipperier Middle Easterm sheikhs are Donald Trump’s kind of people. Seeing the devastation of Paradise firsthand isn’t going to change his mind — “I want great climate,” he babbled afterword — nor is a 1,656-page egghead-scientist report. Instead, Trump recently ridiculed climate science on Twitter.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?

But what’s really so frustrating, if not stunning, about the Trump White House’s denial on climate is that all you have to do is watch cable news for a couple of hours — which is pretty much how the president spends his “executive time” every morning — and you can see the ways that oil and other fossil fuels soak both our domestic and foreign policies, in ways that are increasingly poisonous. There will be blood? — to echo the foreboding title of a popular Hollywood movie about early 20th century oil exploration. It’s already here.

The most obvious cry for help on global warming is coming right now from Northern California, where the fast-moving Camp Fire turned entire subdivisions in Paradise into grim rectangles of grey rubble in a matter of hours, as those surrounded by flames frantically called and texted their family members to say goodbye. The death toll stands at 85, but officials still don’t know how many of the hundreds still listed as missing actually escaped and how many are dead amid the ashy ruin. Experts widely agree that man-made climate change and hotter temperatures have severely exacerbated California’s years-long drought, leaving a whopping 129 million dead trees and dry brush that serve as kindling for each new spark.

Trump continues to worship at the altar of 20th century fossil fuels.

And yet Trump continues to worship at the altar of 20th century fossil fuels, and not just here at home where the president’s political romance with both struggling Appalachian workers and billionaire energy barons has inspired horrific policy decisions to bring back coal-fired power plants. In the Middle East, there has been blood because the White House has thrown all-in behind the murderous Saudi Arabia regime of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, or MBS — even after the CIA confirmed that MBS ordered his goons to murder and dismember an American resident, Jamal Khashoggi, who was a columnist for the Washington Post.

The United States under Trump has essentially been an accessory to this act of barbaric immorality — there are even reports that we advised MBS on the American way of damage control — because the president still believes that we can’t live without the Saudis, or perhaps that he can’t get reelected in 2020 without low-priced crude from the Persian Gulf. He tweeted last week on the recent global drop in oil prices and concluded: “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!

Frankly, I don’t think America can get any lower than condoning the killing of a journalist — and thus an attack on all press freedom — by the butcherous Saudi regime. But the blindness of Trump’s oil-flooded eyes — rendering the United States the only nation on the planet to reject the Paris climate accord — shouldn’t blind us to the fact that the rest of the world is also struggling to transition away from fossil fuels and into safer renewable fuels such as solar and wind power.

Just a day after the devastating U.S. climate assessment broke, the front page of the New York Times reported that Asia’s growing giants like India and even China (despite its leadership in solar power) continue an opioid-level addiction to burning coal. And what of world leaders like France’s Emmanuel Macron who’ve pushed climate-change-busting policies like higher taxes on fuel? On Saturday, flaming barricades and violent clashes pockmarked Paris’ historic Champs-Elysées as working-class French citizens, some aligned with growing right-wing movements, protested those taxes. This is hardly a surprise to experts who’ve long predicted that failure to move early and decisively on the climate crisis would ultimately lead to widespread political unrest.

Will there be more blood? Perhaps, but there’s also a few tiny rays of hope breaking through the thick smog that seems to be enveloping the world right now. In Washington, Trump will be confronted for the next two years by a Democratic-led House chock full of new members who ran unbeholden to Big Oil and with ambitious ideas for a transition away from fossil fuels. The cynical view is that with Trump in the White House and Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader, this energetic new climate caucus will be tilting at, and not with, windmills. But here’s a more optimistic take: The House moves on fossil fuels will set a clear agenda for the future, heighten the contradictions with the GOP’s anti-science denialism, and make 2020 a referendum on climate action.

The avatar of this new movement is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and arguably the most progressive of the incoming new members, New York’s Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The avatar of this new movement is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and arguably the most progressive of the incoming new members, New York’s Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She made a bold and politically risky statement earlier this month when she joined a climate protest outside the office of her probable future boss, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, and she and other newcomers have made a so-called Green New Deal their No. 1 legislative priority, aiming for a select committee to focus on the best policies.

People are going to die if we don’t start addressing climate change ASAP,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday after the climate assessment came out. “It’s not enough to think it’s ‘important.’ We must make it urgent.” She added that it’s time for people with ties to the fossil fuel industry to stop writing climate policy — a reality that may not happen, unfortunately, until January 2021.

From the flaming embers of Paradise to the Saudi crime scene in Istanbul to chaos on the boulevards of Paris, oil and its aging cousin coal have become the poisons not just rendering our air unbreathable but increasingly inspiring wars, murder and mayhem. It’s a regime that’s even less morally sustainable than those of MBS or his No. 1 cheerleader, Trump. Despite the president’s blather, we don’t need to Make Climate Great Again. We just need to make climate normal again. But we’re running out of time.

Posted in USA, France, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Oil Is the Poison That Burns Paradise, Kills Kashshoggi, Inflames Paris. When Will We Quit?

Outrage As Saudi Arabia Executes Indonesian Maid For Killing Boss While He Was Raping Her

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

An Indonesian maid identified as Tuti Tursilawati has been executed in Saudi Arabia for killing her boss while he was raping her.

Mum-of-one, Tuti Tursilawati was executed after she killed her boss who was raping her, and this sparked outrage in Jakarta.

Tuti Tursilawati was killed on Monday in the city of Ta’if, a city in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca Province. The Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime failed to warn the maid’s family or consular staff before she was killed, said officials. Her execution has prompted protests from Indonesia.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, demanding to know why Jakarta had not been informed about Monday’s execution of Tuti Tursilawati.

It was the fourth time in three years that Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime had failed to notify Jakarta before executing an Indonesian migrant worker.

Mr Widodo was quoted as saying by the office of his cabinet secretary:

We have called Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister and conveyed our protest.

The Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ambassador to Indonesia had been summoned to discuss the matter, the president added.

Indonesian advocacy group Migrant Care said in September that Ms Tuti Tursilawati had been defending herself from being raped.

Abidin Fikri, a member of Indonesia’s parliament, criticised the killing, saying:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ignored principles of human rights, including a right for everyone to live.

Ms Tursilawati was executed just a week after Saudi Zio-Wahhabi foreign minister al-Jubeir, met his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, and Mr Widodo in Jakarta to discuss migrant workers’ rights. During the meeting, Mr Marsudi emphasised the importance of having a mandatory consular notification before carrying out death penalties.

Amnesty International Indonesia said that Saudi Arabia had damaged diplomatic ties and had behaved unethically following the execution of the mother-of-one.

Outrage as Saudi Arabia executes maid for killing boss while he was raping her

Outrage as Saudi Arabia executes maid for killing boss while he was raping her

Another related topic: Indonesian woman who kept evidence of sexual harassment from boss sentenced to Prison

Posted in Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Outrage As Saudi Arabia Executes Indonesian Maid For Killing Boss While He Was Raping Her

The dangerous cult of the Guardian

A thought police for the internet age

By Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook looks at how Britain’s Guardian newspaper is trying to maintain its role as gatekeeper of information and controller of public debate by vilifying, smearing and defaming those who test the bounds of permissible thought and challenge established truths, including musician and writer Gilad Atzmon, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, journalist John Pilger and academic Noam Chomsky.

There could be no better proof of the revolution – care of the internet – occurring in the accessibility of information and informed commentary than the reaction of our mainstream, corporate media.

For the first time, Western publics – or at least those who can afford a computer – have a way to bypass the gatekeepers of our democracies. Data our leaders once kept tightly under wraps can now be easily searched for, as can the analyses of those not paid to turn a blind eye to the constant and compelling evidence of Western hypocrisy. Wikileaks, in particular, has rapidly eroded the traditional hierarchical systems of information dissemination.

… it would be unwise to believe that the Guardian is … a free market in progressive or dissident ideas on the left. In fact, quite the contrary: the paper strictly polices what can be said and who can say it in its pages, for cynical reasons we shall come to.

The media – at least the supposedly left-wing component of it – should be cheering on this revolution, if not directly enabling it. And yet, mostly they are trying to co-opt, tame or subvert it. Indeed, progressive broadcasters and writers increasingly use their platforms in the mainstream to discredit and ridicule the harbingers of the new age.

A good case study is the Guardian, considered the most left-wing newspaper in Britain and rapidly acquiring cult status in the United States, where many readers tend to assume they are getting access through its pages to unvarnished truth and the full range of critical thinking on the left.

Certainly, the Guardian includes some fine reporting and occasionally insightful commentary. Possibly because it is farther from the heart of empire, it is able to provide a partial antidote to the craven coverage of the corporate-owned media in the US.

Nonetheless, it would be unwise to believe that the Guardian is therefore a free market in progressive or dissident ideas on the left. In fact, quite the contrary: the paper strictly polices what can be said and who can say it in its pages, for cynical reasons we shall come to.

Until recently, it was quite possible for readers to be blissfully unaware that there were interesting or provocative writers and thinkers who were never mentioned in the Guardian. And, before papers had online versions, the Guardian could always blame space constraints as grounds for not including a wider range of voices. That, of course, changed with the rise of the internet.

The Guardian’s unfree Comment is Free blog

…Comment is Free was never quite as free… Significant writers on the left, particularly those who were considered “beyond the pale” in the old media landscape, were denied access to this new ‘democratic’ platform. Others, myself included, quickly found there were severe and seemingly inexplicable limits on what could be said on CiF…

Early on, the Guardian saw the potential, as well as the threat, posed by this revolution. It responded by creating a seemingly free-for-all blog called Comment is Free to harness much of the raw energy unleashed by the internet. It recruited an army of mostly unpaid writers, activists and propagandists on both sides of the Atlantic to help brand itself as the epitome of democratic and pluralistic media.

From the start, however, Comment is Free was never quite as free – except in terms of the financial cost to the Guardian – as it appeared. Significant writers on the left, particularly those who were considered “beyond the pale” in the old media landscape, were denied access to this new “democratic” platform. Others, myself included, quickly found there were severe and seemingly inexplicable limits on what could be said on CiF (unrelated to issues of taste or libel).

None of this should matter. After all, there are many more places than CiF to publish and gain an audience. All over the web dissident writers are offering alternative analyses of current events, and drawing attention to the significance of information often ignored or sidelined by the corporate media.

Rather than relish this competition, or resign itself to the emergence of real media pluralism, however, the Guardian reverted to type. It again became the left’s thought police.

This time, however, it could not ensure that the “challenging left” would simply go unheard. The internet rules out the option of silencing by exclusion. So instead, it appears, it is using its pages to smear those writers who, through their own provocative ideas and analyses, suggest the Guardian’s tameness.

The Guardian’s discrediting of the “left” – the left being a concept never defined by the paper’s writers – is far from taking place in a fair battle of ideas. Not least the Guardian is backed by the huge resources of its corporate owners. When it attacks dissident writers, they can rarely, if ever, find a platform of equal prominence to defend themselves. And the Guardian has proved itself more than reluctant to allow a proper right of reply in its pages to those it maligns.

But also, and most noticeably, it almost never engages with these dissident writers’ ideas. In popular terminology, it prefers to play the man, not the ball. Instead it creates labels, from the merely disparaging to the clearly defamatory, that push these writers and thinkers into the territory of the unconscionable.

The Guardian’s attack on Gilad Atzmon “truly worthy of Pravda in its heyday”

A typical example of the Guardian’s new strategy was on show this week in an article in the print edition’s comment pages – also available online and a far more prestigious platform than CiF – in which the paper commissioned a socialist writer, Andy Newman, to argue that the Israeli Jewish musician Gilad Atzmon was part of an anti-semitic trend discernible on the left.

… the Guardian was happy to offer its imprimatur to Newman’s defamation of Atzmon, who was described as a conspiracy theorist “dripping with contempt for Jews”, despite an absence of substantiating evidence. Truly worthy of Pravda in its heyday.

Jonathan Freedland, the paper’s star columnist and resident obsessive on anti-Semitism, tweeted to his followers that the article was “important” because it was “urging the left to confront anti-Semitism in its ranks”.

I have no idea whether Atzmon has expressed anti-Semitic views – and I am none the wiser after reading Newman’s piece.

As is now typical in this new kind of Guardian character assassination, the article makes no effort to prove that Atzmon is anti-Semitic or to show that there is any topical or pressing reason to bring up his presumed character flaw. (In passing, the article made a similar accusation of anti-Semitism against Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, and against the Counterpunch website for publishing an article by her on Israel’s role in organ-trafficking.)

Atzmon has just published a book on Jewish identity, The Wandering Who?, that has garnered praise from respected figures such as Richard Falk, an emeritus law professor at Princeton, and John Mearsheimer, a distinguished politics professor at Chicago University.

But Newman did not critique the book, nor did he quote from it. In fact, he showed no indication that he had read the book or knew anything about its contents.

Instead Newman began his piece, after praising Atzmon’s musicianship, with an assumptive reference to his “anti-Semitic writings”. There followed a few old quotes from Atzmon, long enough to be intriguing but too short and out of context to prove his anti-Semitism – except presumably to the Guardian’sthought police and its most deferential readers.

The question left in any reasonable person’s mind is why dedicate limited commentary space in the paper to Atzmon? There was no suggestion of a newsworthy angle. And there was no case made to prove that Atzmon is actually anti-Semitic. It was simply assumed as a fact.

Atzmon, even by his own reckoning, is a maverick figure who has a tendency to infuriate just about everyone with his provocative, and often ambiguous, pronouncements. But why single him out and then suggest that he represents a discernible and depraved trend among the left?

Nonetheless, the Guardian was happy to offer its imprimatur to Newman’s defamation of Atzmon, who was described as a conspiracy theorist “dripping with contempt for Jews”, despite an absence of substantiating evidence. Truly worthy of Pravda in its heyday.

A hatchet job on Julian Assange

The Atzmon article appeared on the same day the Guardian carried out a similar hatchet job, this time on Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. The paper published a book review of Assange’s “unauthorised autobiography” by the Guardian’s investigations editor, David Leigh.

That Leigh could be considered a reasonable choice for a review of the book – which he shamelessly pilloried – demonstrates quite how little the Guardian is prepared to abide by elementary principles of ethical journalism.

Leigh has his own book on the Guardian’s involvement with Wikileaks and Assange currently battling it out for sales in the bookshops. He is hardly a disinterested party.

But also, and more importantly, Leigh is clearly not dispassionate about Assange, any more than the Guardian is. The paper has been waging an all-but-declared war against Wikileaks since the two organizations fell out over their collaboration on publishing Wikileak’s trove of 250,000 classified US embassy cables. The feud, if the paper’s talkbacks are to be believed, has finally begun to test the patience of even some of the paper’s most loyal readers.

The low point in Leigh’s role in this saga was divulging in his own book a complex password Assange had created to protect a digital file containing the original and unedited embassy cables. Each was being carefully redacted before publication by several newspapers, including the Guardian.

This act of – in the most generous interpretation of Leigh’s behaviour – gross stupidity provided the key for every security agency in the world to open the file. Leigh has accused Wikileaks of negligence in allowing a digital copy of the file to be available. Whether true, his own role in the affair is far more inexcusable.

Even given his apparent ignorance of the digital world, Leigh is a veteran investigative reporter who must have known that revealing the password was foolhardy in the extreme. Not least, it clearly demonstrated how Assange formulates his passwords, and would provide important clues for hackers trying to open other protected Wikileaks documents.

…the paper lambasted the Wikileaks founder as an ‘information absolutist’ who was ‘flawed, volatile and erratic’, arguing that he had chosen to endanger informants named in the US cables by releasing the unredacted cache.

[But it] made no mention either of [its investigations editor David] Leigh’s role in revealing the password or of Wikileaks’ point that, following Leigh’s incompetence, every security agency and hacker in the world had access to the file’s contents.

His and the Guardian’s recklessness in disclosing the password was compounded by their negligent decision to contact neither Assange nor Wikileaks before publication of Leigh’s book to check whether the password was still in use.

After this shabby episode, one of many from the Guardian in relation to Assange, it might have been assumed that Leigh was considered an inappropriate person to comment in the Guardian on matters related to Wikileaks. Not so.

Instead the paper has been promulgating Leigh’s self-interested version of the story and regularly impugning Assange’s character. In a recent editorial, the paper lambasted the Wikileaks founder as an “information absolutist” who was “flawed, volatile and erratic”, arguing that he had chosen to endanger informants named in the US cables by releasing the unredacted cache.

However, the paper made no mention either of Leigh’s role in revealing the password or of Wikileaks’ point that, following Leigh’s incompetence, every security agency and hacker in the world had access to the file’s contents. Better, Wikileaks believed, to create a level playing field and allow everyone access to the cables, thereby letting informants know whether they had been named and were in danger.

Leigh’s abuse of his position is just one element in a dirty campaign by the Guardian to discredit Assange and, by extension, the Wikileaks project.

Some of this clearly reflects a clash of personalities and egos, but it also looks suspiciously like the feud derives from a more profound ideological struggle between the Guardian and Wikilieaks about how information should be controlled a generation hence. The implicit philosophy of Wikileaks is to promote an ever-greater opening up and equalization of access to information, while the Guardian, following its commercial imperatives, wants to ensure the gatekeepers maintain their control.

At least Assange has the prominent Wikileaks website to make sure his own positions and reasons are hard to overlook. Other targets of the Guardian are less fortunate.

George Monbiot’s and Nick Cohen’s smear and stigma tactics

George Monbiot, widely considered to be the Guardian’s most progressive columnist, has used his slot to attack a disparate group on the “left” who also happen to be harsh critics of the Guardian.

In a column in June he accused Ed Herman, a leading US professor of finance and a collaborator on media criticism with Noam Chomsky, and writer David Peterson of being “genocide deniers” over their research into events in Rwanda and Bosnia. The evidence was supposedly to be found in their joint book The Politics of Genocide, published last year, and in an online volume, The Srebrenica Massacre, edited by Herman.

In Chomsky’s view, even journalists like Monbiot are selected by the media for their ability to manufacture public consent for the maintenance of a system of Western political and economic dominance.

Implying that genocide denial was now a serious problem on the left, Monbiot also laid into journalist John Pilger for endorsing the book and a small website called Media Lens that dedicates itself to exposing the failings of the corporate media, including the work of the Guardian and Monbiot. Media Lens’s crime was to have argued that Herman and Peterson should be allowed to make their case about Rwanda and Bosnia, rather than be silenced as Monbiot appeared to prefer.

Monbiot also ensnared Chomsky in his criticism, castigating him for writing a foreword to one of the books.

Chomsky, it should be remembered, is co-author (with Herman) of Manufacturing Consent, a seminal book arguing that it is the role of the corporate media, including liberal media like the Guardian, to distort their readers’ understanding of world events to advance the interests of Western elites. In Chomsky’s view, even journalists like Monbiot are selected by the media for their ability to manufacture public consent for the maintenance of a system of Western political and economic dominance.

Possibly as a result of these ideas, Chomsky is a bete noire of the Guardianand its Sunday sister publication, the Observer.

He was famously vilified in 2005 by an up and coming Guardian feature writer, Emma Brockes – again on the issue of Srebrenica. Brockes’s report so wilfully mischaracterized Chomsky’s views (with quotes she could not substantiate after she apparently taped over her recording of the interview) that the Guardian was forced into a very reluctant “partial apology” under pressure from its readers’ editor. Over Chomsky’s opposition, the article was also erased from its archives.

Such scurrilous journalism should have ended a young journalist’s career at the Guardian. But ridiculing Chomsky is standard fare at the paper, and Brockes’s career as celebrity interviewer flourished, both at the Guardian and the New York Times.

Nick Cohen, another star columnist, this time at the Observer, found time to mention Chomsky recently, dismissing him and other prominent critical thinkers such as Tariq Ali, the late Harold Pinter, Arundhati Roy and Diana Johnstone as “West-hating”. He blamed liberals and the left for their “Chomskyan self-delusion”, and suggested many were “apologists for atrocities”.

Monbiot’s article followed in the same vein. He appeared to have a minimal grasp of the details of Herman’s and Peterson’s books. Much of his argument that Herman is a “genocide belittler” depends on doubts raised by a variety of experts in the Srebrenica book over the figure of 8,000 reported executions of Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces at Srebrenica. The authors suggest the number is not supported by evidence and might in fact be as low as 800.

Whether or not the case made by Ed Herman and his collaborators is convincing was beside the point in Monbiot’s article. He was not interested in exploring their arguments but in creating an intellectual no-go zone from which critical thinkers and researchers were barred – a sacred genocide.

Whether or not the case made by Herman and his collaborators is convincing was beside the point in Monbiot’s article. He was not interested in exploring their arguments but in creating an intellectual no-go zone from which critical thinkers and researchers were barred – a sacred genocide.

And to achieve this end, it was necessary to smear the two writers as genocide deniers and suggest that anyone else on the left who ventured on to the same territory would be similarly stigmatized.

Monbiot’s treatment of Herman and Peterson’s work was so slipshod and cavalier it is hard to believe that he was the one analysing their books.

To take just one example, Monbiot somehow appears to be unable to appreciate the careful distinction Herman’s book makes between an “execution” and a “death”, a vital differentiation in evaluating the Srebrenica massacre.

In the book, experts question whether all or most of the 8,000 Bosnian Muslims disinterred from graves at Srebrenica were victims of a genocidal plan by the Serbs, or casualties of bitter fighting between the two sides, or even some of them victims of a false-flag operation. As the book points out, a post-mortem can do many things but it cannot discern the identities or intentions of those who did the killing in Srebrenica.

The authors do not doubt that a massacre, or massacres, took place at Srebrenica. However, they believe we should not accept on trust that this was a genocide (a term defined very specifically in international law), or refuse to consider that the numbers may have been inflated to fit a political agenda.

This is not an idle or contrarian argument. As they make clear in their books, piecing together what really happened in Rwanda and Bosnia is vital if we are not to be duped by Western leaders into yet more humanitarian interventions whose goals are far from those claimed.

The fact that Monbiot discredited Herman and Peterson at a time when the Guardian’s reporting was largely cheering on the latest humanitarian intervention, in Libya, was all the more richly ironic.

So why do the Guardian and its writers publish these propaganda articles parading as moral concern about the supposedly degenerate values of the “left”? And why, if the left is in such a debased state, can the Guardian’s stable of talented writers not take on their opponents’ ideas without resorting to strawman arguments, misdirection and smears?

The writers, thinkers and activists targeted by the Guardian … share a talent for testing the bounds of permissible thought in creative ways that challenge and undermine established truths and … the “climate of assumptions” the Guardian has helped to create and sustain.

The writers, thinkers and activists targeted by the Guardian, though all of the left, represent starkly different trends and approaches – and some of them would doubtless vehemently oppose the opinions of others on the list.

But they all share a talent for testing the bounds of permissible thought in creative ways that challenge and undermine established truths and what I have termed elsewhere the “climate of assumptions” the Guardian has helped to create and sustain.

It hardly matters whether all or some of these critical thinkers are right. The danger they pose to the Guardian is in arguing convincingly that the way the world is presented to us is not the way it really is. Their very defiance, faced with the weight of a manufactured consensus, threatens to empower us, the reader, to look outside the restrictive confines of media orthodoxy.

The Guardian, like other mainstream media, is heavily invested – both financially and ideologically – in supporting the current global order. It was once able to exclude and now, in the internet age, must vilify those elements of the left whose ideas risk questioning a system of corporate power and control of which the Guardian is a key institution.

The paper’s role, like that of its right-wing cousins, is to limit the imaginative horizons of readers. While there is just enough left-wing debate to make readers believe their paper is pluralistic, the kind of radical perspectives needed to question the very foundations on which the system of Western dominance rests is either unavailable or is ridiculed.

Reading the Guardian, it is possible to believe that one of the biggest problems facing our societies – comparable to our compromised political elites, corrupt police authorities, and depraved financial system – is an array of mainly isolated dissidents and intellectuals on the left.

Is Atzmon and his presumed anti-Semitism more significant than AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]? Is Herman more of a danger than the military-industrial corporations killing millions of people around the globe? And is Assange more of a menace to the planet’s future than US President Barack Obama?

Posted in Media, UKComments Off on The dangerous cult of the Guardian

Exposed! How Britain’s anti-Semitism scaremongers operate

Anti-Semitism disinformation debunked

By Eve Mykytyn*

If only Britons knew

This article about the British charitable organisation, the Campaign against Anti-Semitism (CAA), and its officers, Gideon Falter and Steve Silverman, examines events in England but ought to serve as a cautionary message for Canadians and Americans.

The article will delve into the corrosive methods of the CAA; review the manner in which this ultra Zionist group “discovers” anti-Semitic “incidents”; examine their inaccurate statistical “studies” and see how they seek to intimidate political parties, venues, the press and others; and look at the court cases which the CAA has prosecuted. In the guise of fighting anti-Semitism, the CAA has managed to manoeuvre British society into abdicating its core liberal values, intimidate the prosecutorial and judicial system, and silence criticism of Israel in both social media and the mainstream media.

The CAA does not just attempt to limit speech; it openly follows a scorched earth policy “that if someone commits an anti-Semitic act in the UK (including criticism of Israel)” the CAA “ensure[s] ruinous consequences, be they criminal, professional, financial or reputational”.

For example, in the last 18 months Britain’s largest political party, the Labour Party, has suspended and expelled over a hundred of its members for expressing their views on Israel or Jewish history. Presumably these dismissals act as a deterrent to others who might also wish to express their opinions. Hard as it is to believe, in 21st century Britain people have been imprisoned for trying to be funny… 

The CAA’s “success” in Britain is not irrelevant to Americans. Despite the First Amendment, rules limiting speech have been creeping into our society, notwithstanding our constitutional protections. 

Organisations not unlike CAA have been operating in the US for some time. In South Carolina criticising Israel is essentially prohibited on public university campuses, and in other states support for BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) will prohibit one from getting a government job or contract. Similar laws have been proposed in the US Congress. It is crucial that we resist this slide into controlled speech at the expense of our crucial values of free expression and tolerance.

Rowan Laxton

In 2006 Rowan Laxton was using an exercise bike alone on the mezzanine floor of a London gym when he saw a television report about an elderly Palestinian man killed by the Israeli assault on Gaza. Laxton allegedly exclaimed: “F…..g Israelis! F…..g Jews!” Gideon Falter  (now head of the CAA) and William Lemaine, who were on a lower floor using weights, claimed to have overheard Laxton, and complained to staff at the gym.

The police were going to let Laxton off with a caution but, before it could be arranged, Falter found out that Laxton was a senior Foreign Office official and brought the story to half a dozen newspapers. The police decided to proceed with a prosecution. 

Laxton was initially found guilty of “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour… within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby…” aggravated by using abusive words that had a racial or ethnic element. Laxton was fined and removed from his Foreign Office position.

Laxton exercised his right to an appeal and a rehearing wherein the Crown Court found that Laxton did not say “f…..g Jews”, the comment on which the prosecution was based and which he had always denied. The court also found, as an alternative ground, that Laxton would have thought no one was within earshot.

The Daily Mail played a key role in ensuring that the case received national attention and went to trial, but seems not to have reported the appeal and acquittal at all. It is an open question of how Falter heard Laxton’s alleged outburst, if at the time no one was within earshot of Laxton. One reasonable assumption is that the court did not believe that Falter actually heard Laxton’s statement. 

Eight years after the Laxton incident, Gideon Falter founded the Campaign Against Anti-Semitsm, a hardcore Zionist charity that advocates zero tolerance of, and vows to ensure “criminal, professional and reputational consequences”, to those it decides are anti-Semites.

Stephen Silverman

Stephen Silverman is the CAA’s “Director of Investigations and Enforcement” and has dedicated much of his time to ruining the intellectual and artistic careers of others. Silverman is himself a musician wannabe, and runs a music school in a London suburb.

In the last few years Silverman and the CAA have engaged in a relentless assault against artists, intellectuals, religious leaders and elected politicians operating in or visiting England. The “Director of Investigations” does not like ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone, nor does he approve of a list of academicsor church ministers who care for human rights or dare to disagree with Israel. The self-appointed inquisitor despises the hugely popular Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Silverman has made a number of attempts to ruin the music careers of both Alison Chabloz and Gilad Atzmon. In addition, Silverman takes it upon himself to write and call music venues demanding that they cancel Atzmon concerts claiming that Atzmon is a notorious anti-Semite.

Stephen Silverman, was exposed in open court in December 2016 as having been the Twitter troll @bedlamjones. As a Zionist troll, Silverman abused anti-Zionists, particularly women. His sadistic posts called for arrest and imprisonment in response what he considered to be “anti-Semitic” comments.

Silverman has also determined that Gordon Nardell, the man who has taken on the unenviable job of policing anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, is insufficiently sensitive to anti-Semitism. Apparently, according to Silverman, “Nardell has also turned his sights on Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, stating that our work to combat hatred directed at Jews by Labour members is “revolting” and results in anti-Semitism being “abused and belittled”.

For Nardell’s sin of distrusting the CAA, the CAA has demanded that “an independent and transparent disciplinary process… be instituted in the Labour Party”. The CAA’s website does not explain why the Labour Party need justify its own campaign against anti-Semitism to the CAA.

What is anti-Semitism?

UNESCO’s definition of racism is that it is “a theory of races hierarchy which argues that the superior race should be preserved and should dominate the others. Racism can also be an unfair attitude towards another ethnic group. Finally racism can also be defined as a violent hostility against a social group.” The traditional definition of anti-Semitism is the “criticising of, or discriminating against Jews for being Jews”. This definition is not substantially different from UNESCO’s definition of racism. 

However, despite the fact that enforcing hate speech laws based on a traditional definition of racism would protect Jews as well as others, in December 2016 the United Kingdom followed other countries in adopting the “international definition of anti-Semitism”, which begins by saying: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The new “international definition” is troubling because it specifically targets speech and thoughts and fails to define what a “certain” perception of Jews is, and an expression of hatred towards Jews is cited, not to make the definition more precise but only as one possible example. 

It is well worth reviewing the “examples of anti-Semitism” included in the “international definition” which are extremely broad and include, among other things, accusing a Jewish person of valuing Israel or his fellow Jews over his home country and the seemingly paradoxical provision prohibiting speech denying that Jews have the right to self-determination through Israel.

But if racism against one group is to be fought on a broader basis than other forms of racism, that extra protection ought to be to aid a group uniquely needing the state’s protection – an allegedly poor, downtrodden and persecuted group. It is of note that, in contrast to the downtrodden, Jews as a group have been extraordinarily successful at utilising the media and the courts and obtaining the power to “hold the feet of the government to the fire”.

If UNESCO’s definition aimed at defining racism as a universal problem, the “international definition” adheres to the idea that Jews are not a part of the universal, they are somehow different, their plight is unique. 

Why do the Jews in particular need a broader definition of racial hatred? Why do Jews see a need to create a category of hatred that applies only to them? What is lacking in the UNESCO definition that is covered by the “international” one? The answer is that the “international definition” serves to restrain speech and restrict thought. It conflates the Jewish State of Israel with Jews as it vets a range of discourses such as criticism of Israeli politics, Jewish culture, Jewish history and Zionist ideology. 

It is not surprising that this definition is espoused by some Zionist institutions. However, its adoption by so many countries is perplexing and begs an explanation. In a world in which free speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion are valued, there is a real question of why such a broad definition of anti-Semitism is appropriate and what exactly it is designed to accomplish. 

Then there is the CAA, for whom the international definition is only a starting point. Their accusations of anti-Semitism go beyond even the very broad and over-inclusive definition of the “international definition”. If you find anti-Semitism in t-shirts, major party political gatherings or stupid pet videos, then the definition is very expansive indeed. Why would an organisation dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism be so interested in finding anti-Semitism in every possible utterance? It is clear that the CAA wants to stop any discussion of Jews, Israel or Jewish history in any but its prescribed manner. In its aggressive policing of speech, the CAA and others work to enforce Jewish power precisely as it is defined by Gilad Atzmon: “the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power”.

Freedom of t-shirt

While freedom of speech may be evaporating throughout the English-speaking world, at least we are assured that freedom of t-shirt is still protected in England. 

Last year, the CAA’s website bemoaned that Edinburgh-based law graduate Sophie Stephenson won’t face criminal charges for wearing a Hezbollah t-shirt. The CAA wrote that: “On 1 July 2017, Stephenson tweeted a photograph of herself wearing a Hizballah t-shirt, explaining: “Went out to dinner with my family tonight wearing a Hizballah t-shirt.” And then, even worse, Stephenson confirmed: “I have a flag too.”

The CAA, in its zeal to fight anti-Semitism, reported Stephenson to the police, alleging that she had committed an offense under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000. But despite the CAA’s urging, Scottish Police declined to act against the young “rebel”.

The CAA “considered undertaking a private prosecution” against Stephenson. However, its website lamented, “we were unable to secure enough funding to do so”. Following its report of the supposedly anti-Semitic/terrorist-loving Stephenson, the CAA called upon the public to “consider making a monthly donation to help fund Campaign Against Anti-Semitism” presumably to allow it to continue to harass Britons, accusing them of anti-Semitic behaviour, and interfering with their elementary freedoms including the right to wear rebellious t-shirts. Disturbingly, asking for donations in this context suggests that the CAA is attempting to cash in from its dubious anti-Semitic claims. Not exactly the ethical conduct you might expect of a charity. 

Methodology, it is not!

The CAA claims to run “methodological” “research into anti-Semitism in British political parties”. Trolling and spying on elected British politicians on social media and public meetings, the CAA keeps a “record” of allegedly “anti-Semitic discourse and discourse that enables anti-Semitism, by officials and candidates in political parties”. This means that a Jewish organisation with a clear political agenda endeavours to monitor the British political discourse to restrain certain political opinions. The CAA’s actions prosecuting its farfetched “findings” are dangerous enough, but more troubling is its success in terrorising the British political universe into compliance with its dictates.

What are some “examples” of discourse that the CAA has claimed enable anti-Semitism and the dissemination of anti-Semitic ideas?

Ken Loach

Internationally acclaimed film-maker and Labour supporter Ken Loach told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme that he had been attending Labour meetings for 50 years and had “never in that whole time heard a single anti-Semitic word or a racist word”, and that allegations of anti-Semitism were a fallacy “without validation or any evidence”.

The CAA claimed that Loach’s statement brought to light a “discourse that enables anti-Semitism and the dissemination of anti-Semitic ideas”. How is Loach’s statement racist? Does it target Jews, identify Jews as a collective or advocate discrimination against Jews or anyone else? Is there even a criminal category or a showing of bias in which “not witnessing” conduct implicates one in that very conduct? How does not witnessing anti-Semitism make one into an anti-Semite? Does not witnessing a murder makes one a murderer? Under the CAA’s “rationale” anyone who fails to see the anti-Semitism they do is an anti-Semite.

Diane Abbott

Abbott ran afoul of the CAA when she said: “It’s a smear to say that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism. It is something like a smear against ordinary party members.” The CAA claimed that “Abbott’s comments were widely condemned. The overwhelming majority of UK Jewish community bodies have expressed public concern about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, including the chief rabbi.” Whether or not this statement is accurate, how is it that Abbott’s statement was misinterpreted as a criticism of Jews when it is clearly a defence of the Labour Party? 

Ken Livingstone

The CAA has a long file on former London Mayor Livingstone, beginning in 1982 when the paper, the Labour Herald, of which Livingstone was co-editor, ran an unfavorable cartoon of the then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. According to the CAA, Livingstone’s most egregious anti-Semitic remark was his claim that that in 1932 (Hitler came to power in 1933) Hitler had championed Jewish emigration to Israel (actually, then Palestine) and was “supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”. The United States Holocaust Museum website generally supports Livingstone’s statement and reveals that until 1941, Germany encouraged Jews to emigrate and that 60,000 Jews left Germany/Austria for Palestine, a number second only to the number of Jews who went to the United States.

Livingstone rejected claims that he had brought the Labour Party into disrepute and said he was not guilty of anti-Semitism, but resigned from the party and acknowledged that his comments had upset Jews and offended others. “I am truly sorry for that,” he said.

Some of Livingstone’s critics were not satisfied with his apology for his truthful statement. Ruth Smeeth, a Labour lawmaker, described his behaviour as “grossly offensive to British Jews”. MP Smeeth’s reaction is bizarre. Is it anti-Semitic for Livingstone to discuss Jewish history? The Transfer Agreement between Hitler’s Germany and the Zionist Congress may be embarrassing for some Jews, but how is recounting history hate speech? MP Smeeth, the CAA and others claiming to be offended managed by ousting Livingstone to enforce their ironclad rule that certain Jewish history is “off limits”.

War on Labour

Following its anti-methodology, the CAA came to the conclusion that the British Labour Party is “eight times worse than any other party”. Not 5, 6 or 8.3 but exactly 8. What “evidence” supports this “finding?”

The British media have failed to do their job of investigating alleged incidents of anti-Semitism, and instead accept the CAA’s claims without questions.

The CAA’s website publishes an “enemies list” of sorts, chronicling the alleged anti-Semitism of 39 members of the Labour Party. A striking number of the CAA’s complaints address statements about Israel, not about Israel as Jews, but about the actions of the country. To date, about 150 members of the Labour Party have been expelled for alleged anti-Semitism and there is a backlog of cases.

Dubious cases such as those cited here are treated by the CAA as “anti-Semitic incidents” that help the CAA feed the idea that England is rife with anti-Semitism. The British media have failed to do their job of investigating alleged incidents of anti-Semitism, and instead accept the CAA’s claims without questions. 

Fiddling with numbers

Fiddler on the Roof may be emblematic of Eastern European Jewish folklore but fiddling with numbers is a symptom of contemporary Zionist politics in general and of the CAA in particular. The CAA compiles and disseminates information on anti-Semitism, basing its claims on methodology that is patently unreliable.

The “anti-Semitism audit” produced by the CAA purports to track incidents of anti-Semitism on an annual basis. The audit is a deeply flawed document, relying on data known to be unreliable and subjected to no proper statistical analysis. 

Even the CAA’s use of the term “audit” is inappropriate. An “audit” is defined as “an official inspection of an… organisation’s accounts, typically by an independent body”. The CAA has no official or professional status as an auditor, nor would its methods be accepted by anyone in a position to conduct a professional audit. 

The CAA has been advised by police forces that comparing police reports across jurisdictions and years leads to misleading results. The CAA’s anti-Semitism audit was heavily criticised in the Jewish media by statistics expertswho noted that the CAA’s “methodology” was “flawed”, “amateurish” and “misleading”. But none of that stopped the CAA from promoting its manufactured “findings” in the mainstream media.

The CAA based its audit on gathering data from the police. But the CAA doesn’t enjoy free access to police files. Instead, it uses different techniques to gather information. This haphazard “methodology” creates crucial problems: 

1. Police forces in different regions of Britain use different standards to gather data regarding hate crimes.

2. Police forces in Britain are presently in the process of revising how they collect their hate crime records so that data from one year may show different results than data from a different year even if the number of hate crimes remains constant.

3. The CAA basically gathers information on the volume of incidents recorded that it considers to be anti-Semitic. But the CAA itself is actively engaged in increasing this volume. It frequently reports incidents to the police and urges other members of the Jewish community to follow suit. An interested body that actively contributes to the rise of reported anti-Semitic incidents cannot also claim to be objective in its “audit” that measures the rise of anti-Semitsm.

4. While the CAA’s audit of anti-Semitism shows a nationwide rise of 14.9 per cent in anti-Semitic incidents between 2016 and 2017, this is based on data gathered by the CAA half of which shows wild year to year fluctuations of up to 1050 per cent. Such fluctuations defy any rationale. These statistical anomalies beg careful analysis that the CAA not only fails to apply – the CAA fails to address this drastic shift in number of reported incidents. The CAA’s study aggregates divergent data collected in different ways and calls that an “audit” of anti-Semitism in Britain. The flawed study was released to the British public with the help of the disgracefully gullible British media. The BBC, Sky, the Guardianand others reported the amateurish statistical “audit” to the British public without raising a single question as to its reliability.

The 2016 audit

In July 2017 the CAA published its 2016 annual audit of anti-Setmitic crimes in the UK. The audit’s first pages raise serious questions as to its reliability:

On page 4 it reads: “2016 was the worst year on record for anti-Semitic crimes”, reporting a 14.9 per cent rise in crimes “targeting Jews” nationwide. But a few lines below, the audit states that during the same period “violent anti-Semitic crimes fell by 44.7 per cent”. This difference in incidences appears contradictory. 

The CAA admits that it doesn’t have an explanation for the drop in violent crimes: “We have considered various explanations; however at this point we do not find them persuasive.” (page 6). This drop occurred even though the CAA inflated the number of “violent incidents” by expanding the Home Office definition of violent incidents. (page 16) The CAA defined violent anti-Semitic acts as the combination of the Home Office categories of “homicide” or “violence with injury”, and the heretofore non-violent “assault without injury” and “racially or religiously aggravated assault without injury”.

This means that the audit conveyed the good news that, even using the CAA’s inflated category, the number of “violent anti-Semitic incidents” dropped. Strangely, the Jewish pressure group does not write that the drop in violent anti-Semitic crime is a positive finding.

Fishing for J words

Since the CAA doesn’t have an access to each police force’s records, it derives its statistics from police reports. When a police force does not flag anti-Semitic incidents, the CAA asks that police force to conduct a keyword search of its files:

For the purposes of this research, the keywords used were the following whole words: Jew, Jews, Jewish, Judaism, Semite, Semitic, Semitism, antisemite, anti-Semitic, anti-Semitism, Yid, Yids, Yiddo, or Yiddish. (page 17)

Some police forces made the CAA aware that their keywords method is not a reliable way to find anti-Semitic crime. “Not all incidents where ‘Jew’ is mentioned are anti-Semitic,” wrote the Northumbria police force. It also refers to the CAA exercise as a “fishing expedition”. The CAA ignored this caution and simply used as the number of incidents the data they had been warned were incorrect. 

Duplicity vs methodology

The CAA employs inadequate and inconsistent methods of information gathering not only in its audit, but in its information gathering from Jews.

In 2017 the CAA made some shocking revelations: 

  • “One out of three British Jews were considering leaving the kingdom.” 
  • “Four out of five Jews saw anti-Semitism disguised as comments about Israel.”
  • “Four out of five saw Labour as anti-Semitic.”
  • “Half of British Jews didn’t trust the Crown Prosecution Service.”

And the source of these disturbing feelings? They came from the results of an online questionnaire found on the CAA’s website. The CAA’s findings were not even from as unbiased sample as the average FaceBook poll. Instead of revealing what British Jews think, the CAA “survey” revealed the opinions of its Zionist readers. It is outrageous to label the results of this exercise “statistics”. In fact, Jewish leaders who criticised the CAA’s duplicitous use of the “poll” were brutally silenced and slandered. Probably the most problematic result of the poll was that the British press reported it but did not point out that the CAA’s findings were based on a self-selecting sample.

Stupidity or duplicity?

Is the CAA a dysfunctional body of incompetent and clueless characters or is the CAA a group of consciously deceptive Zionists who deliberately deceives the British public? The following evidence suggests the latter.

As discussed above, the CAA 2016 anti-Semitsm audit is methodically and factually a problematic document. The CAA was warned of this by different law-enforcement bodies such as the Northumbria police. The CAA audit uses its questionable data to show an increase in the volume of reported anti-Semitic incidents but still fails to prove an increase in anti-Semitsm. Does that mean that the CAA intended to produce a deceptive audit?

The CAA audit’s raw data (from page 24 onward) reveals extreme fluctuations in anti-Semitic incidents reported by police forces from 2015 to 2016, with year to year increases of up to 1050 per cent in some categories and drops of 80-90 per cent in others.

In Derbyshire, for instance (page 34), the audit shows an increase of 1050 per cent in non-criminal anti-Semitic incidents: from two in 2015 to 23 in 2016. This would mean that non-criminal anti-Semitic incidents rose in Derby 70 times more than the CAA’s own nationwide rate of 14.9 per cent. On paper, the situation in Derbyshire is almost a Shoah scenario. Did the CAA try to verify, as even elementary statistics would require, this enormous increase? Was there a pogrom reported in Derbyshire? 

In Hertfordshire (page 44), they show an increase of almost 400 per cent in anti-Semitic crime and a surge of 800 per cent in non criminal anti-Semitic incidents. Again, there is no indication that the CAA tried to look into the cause of this improbable increase.

The explanation of the unreasonable rise was known to the CAA. West Yorkshire police notified the CAA that the recent rise in numbers of hate crime incidents “are predominantly associated with administrative change in relation to force crime-recording processes”. It was an administrative change, not an increase in anti-Semitism that led to the huge increase in the number of hate crimes recorded. So, despite the CAA’s knowledge of the reasons for the wild fluctuations, the CAA still dispensed the misleading numbers to the British public. 

The raw police reports that the CAA’s audit relies upon reveal that 21 of the 46 reports showed fluctuations well beyond what could reasonably be likely (more than three times the CAA own nationwide figure of 14.9 per cent rise in anti-Semitic incidents). The CAA could claim that its mistakes were due to incompetence, that they simply copied and pasted police reports without thinking. But the last page of the audit reveals that this is not the case.

The CAA does admit that the numbers reported by Wiltshire police (page 73) were unreliable, as they showed a radical rise from one incident in 2015 to 139 incidents in 2016. This is an increase of 13900 per cent in anti-Semitic incidents in a region with fewer than 540 Jews. The CAA discarded the data from Wiltshire as unreliable. But by deciding not to include the Wiltshire police report the CAA reveals that it doesn’t just copy and paste police data.

So, the CAA included some data and discarded others with no apparent standards. What statistical methodology did the CAA use when it decided to discard a rise in 13,900 per cent in anti-Semitic incidents in one jurisdiction and to include a rise in 1000 per cent, 400 per cent or even 50 per cent in others?

It is a basic tenet of statistical analysis that statistics from different sources cannot be combined or meaningfully compared without properly adjusting for different data gathering systems and methods. Deriving an overall percentage increase by averaging data derived by different systems is patently absurd. Nor is it accurate to compare different years from the same data source unless the gathering methodology is the same. The CAA’s audit compiles apples, oranges and bananas and treats them as identical. The extreme fluctuations in police reporting reveals that police force systems did exactly as the police force said it did and underwent significant reporting changes as the CAA admits in its introduction (page 3).

The alerts from the police forces that collection methods had changed means that the CAA should have known that its audit was flawed. This was also pointed out to the CAA by experts within the Jewish community who were highly critical of the audit. 

Michael Pinto Duschinsky, a well respected political scientist, wrote a devastating commentary in the Jewish Chronicle about the CAA. As a holocaust survivor, Duschinsky writes, I have two commitments: “to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and to avoid trivialising it by misleading allegations”. Duschinsky denounced the CAA for its “deeply flawed”, “misleading” and “amateurish” methods. 

Of the self-selected CAA poll, Duschinsky wrote:

It was completely predicable that the questionnaire would produce the conclusion that one in four British Jews had considered leaving the UK… This was because the questions were so slanted and tendentious and because anyone who wished could complete the questionnaire… Not only did CAA incorrectly characterise its amateur questionnaire of Jewish opinion as a “poll” (thereby suggesting a statistically-valid sample), it then used overblown language in reporting it results.

Abuse of the judicial process 

The hysteria over alleged anti-Semitism has led to trials and convictions for the crime of “anti-Semitism”. Cases that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to prosecute two years ago have now been brought by the CPS after action from the CAA. Is the change in prosecutions a sign that the CPS now realises that it can obtain convictions it thought unlikely, does it result from a change in what the state considers to be “speech” crimes, or is the CPS placating the CAA?

Gideon Falter and the CAA have been instrumental in utilising a variety of techniques to force prosecution of “anti-Semitism”. Their campaign to restrain speech previously thought permissible has been successful in England as the following sampling of cases shows. 

Jeremy Bedford Turner

Turner was recently sentenced to a year in jail after a jury convicted him of stirring up racial hatred during a 2015 speech in which Turner criticised Shomrim, a Jewish-only police unit funded by Britain, whose job it is to protect only Jewish neighbourhoods. Turner further opined the racist sentiment that he wanted Jews out of England.

The CPS declined to prosecute Turner’s speech as incitement to racial hatred. There is an “incitement to racial hatred” clause in the statutes but it is not all-encompassing, and it did not come close to making “anti-Semitism” illegalThe CPS’s policy guidelines on cases involving “incitement” clearly state that the language employed by a defendant must have been “threatening, abusive or insulting“. The courts have upheld the right to freedom of speech even when behaviour is, as in this case, “annoying, rude or even offensive without necessarily being insulting”. 

Falter requested a “victim’s right to review” in reponse to the CPS’s decision not to prosecute. The request was denied on the basis that Turner hadn’t mentioned Falter, Falter did not personally hear Turner’s speech and therefore Falter couldn’t claim victim status. The CAA then instituted the process for judicial review of the CPS over its decision not to prosecute and, on the eve of a hearing in the High Court, the CPS agreed to quash its original decision, put a more senior lawyer on the case and proceeded to prosecute and convict Turner. 

CAA head Falter claimed the verdict was a “damning indictment” not only of Turner, but of the CPS and its outgoing head, Alison Saunders. Falter said: “The real question is why the director of public prosecutions and CPS got this so dismally wrong.” Falter’s question conflates a jury verdict of “guilty” with proof that the CPS was misinterpreting the law.

Further in 2015, when Turner gave his speech, the United Kingdom had not yet signalled its willingness to stifle speech by adopting the “international definition” of anti-Semitism. 

Alison Chabloz

Alison Chabloz, 54, of Derbyshire, was recently convicted on two counts of causing an offensive, indecent or menacing message to be sent over a public communications network. District Judge John Zani said he was satisfied the material was grossly offensive and that Chabloz intended to insult Jewish people. 

The CPS initially declined to prosecute Chabloz’s speech, presumably because it was both satirical and political. The CAA launched a private prosecution against Chabloz. Private prosecutions are undertaken in the British system as a direct way for a citizen to institute a criminal case. The rules are intricate, but until recently such prosecutions generally dealt with complex business questions. 

Under constant pressure from the CAA, the CPS took over the prosecution of Chabloz. The CAA had not utilised private prosecution in the Turner case since it were not present to hear the “slurs” and would have had no basis for private prosecution. 

The songs that provoked Chabloz’s prosecution had been performed at a London Forum event (hardcore nationalist gathering) in 2016 and uploaded to YouTube. They included one song describing the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz as “a theme park” and the gas chambers a “proven hoax”. This is a pretty clear example of provocative speech that most of us disagree with. However, does the state need to criminalise such speech? Won’t the “marketplace of ideas” call out Chabloz? I suspect the internet world would not allow her lyrics to go unchallenged.

Prosecutor Karen Robinson told the court: “Miss Chabloz’s songs are a million miles away from an attempt to provide an academic critique of the holocaust. They’re not political songs. They are no more than a dressed-up attack on a group of people for no more than their adherence to a religion.”

But is it a legal requirement that political song lyrics provide an “academic critique”? Must political satire be clearly defined as found by a court? It’s not clear that “Alice’s Restaurant” or “Fortunate Son” would pass this test.

Adrian Davies, defending, argued that: “It is hard to know what right has been infringed by Miss Chabloz’s singing.” The singer has defended her work as “satire”, saying many Jewish people found the songs funny.

The focus of the private prosecution brought by Falter was Alison’s comments criticising the narratives of Elie Wiesel, Irene Zisblatt and Otto Frank, in her song Survivors.

The authenticity of the tales of these three holocaust victims have been the subject of academic debate. The Anne Frank foundation recently admitted the diary had not been solely authored by Anne. Elie Wiesel’s wartime saga has been called into question over a number of issues. Under cross-examination, Falter was forced to admit that he had not actually read Zisblatt’s book, and so knew nothing about its accuracy, despite having brought a private prosecution to protect it from ridicule.

There are no specific laws against holocaust denial in the UK, even if that is what this was. Britain has resisted attempts to enforce a European Union directive outlawing holocaust denial. Falter seemed to differ from the Crown which said that the prosecution was not against mere questioning of the holocaust. Falter indicated that those who question the new holocaust religion should be prosecuted under the law and attacked professionally: that is, ruined financially. 

Falter also claimed that it was “intrinsically offensive” for Chabloz to refer to Palestine being reclaimed “from the river to the sea”. But, of course, the question of whether Palestine ought to be reclaimed for its indigenous people is a political question and not one of race, so what exactly was her crime? Falter openly stated that he is intent on shielding Israel from criticism, and said of the pro-Palestinian aspects of Chabloz’s songs: “You want to silence her and stop her putting those messages out.” 

All of this left inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case with regard to whether the truth/falsehood of Chabloz’s criticisms of Zisblatt, et al, were relevant, or whether instead the Crown was enforcing an unspoken law that no-one claiming to be a holocaust survivor can be ridiculed, regardless of truth/falsehood. 

Adrian Davies, Chabloz’s lawyer, told Judge Zani that his ruling would be a landmark one, setting a precedent on the exercise of free speech. This is a particularly egregious precedent limiting speech since it is not clear what speech led to Chabloz’s conviction and the case therefore provides no insight to others on what speech must be avoided.

Gilad Atzmon

The case against Atzmon illustrates that in the present environment in Britain, you can be liable not only for anti-Semitism, but for questioning the methodology by which anti-Semitism is determined.

Falter appeared on Sky News on 16 July 2017 to explain how he, on behalf of the CAA, had brought a law suit against the Crown for failure to prosecute the anti-Semitic speech supposedly uttered by Jeremy Bedford-Turner. Falter further complained that his statistics on the incidence of anti-Semitism showed far more anti-Semitic incidents than the CPS claimed. Falter claimed, “our view [on anti-Semitism] is right and the Crown is wrong”. 

Writing in response to Falter’s appearance, Atzmon wrote on his own website that: “We are asked to choose between two versions of the truth, that delivered by Falter who leads the CAA and basically makes his living manufacturing anti-Semitic incidents and the judicial approach of the CPS: a public body, subject to scrutiny and committed to impartiality.”

Atzmon pointed out that “Falter interprets condemnation of Israel and Jewish politics as ‘hate crimes”. Atzmon commended the CPS for upholding “freedom of expression”, and this in free speech’s most cherished exercise – political speech. 

Atzmon noted that Zionism also benefits from anti-Semitism (even though it does not intentionally cause it) since Israel claims that it exists to provide shelter to all Jews. Comparing Falter and the CAA to Israel, Atzmon noted, “since a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents [could have] fatal consequences for Falter and his CAA’s business plan. They need anti-Semitism and a lot of it.”

Falter filed a suit against Atzmon, claiming libel and defamation. Falter’s complaint reads, in part: “In order to justify the existence of, and raise funds for, the CAA the Claimant (Falter) dishonestly fabricates anti-Semitic incidents, that is to say he characterizes conduct as anti-Semitic when he knows it is not, and knowingly exaggerates the prevalence of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic activity.”

Falter complains that he was called a “devious fraud and a hypocrite”, even though neither word appears in Atzmon’s article. Falter further interprets Atzmon: “He [Falter] publicly campaigns against anti-Semitism but in reality his business plan is that he wants Jews to be hated so that he can make money.” In fact, Atzmon made the claim that Falter is a covert Jew hater who pretends to campaign against anti-Semitism.

In addition, Falter claimed that unless restrained, Atzmon would continue to publish similar words. Here Falter openly reveals that his lawsuit is not only against the words complained of, but an attempt to muzzle Atzmon.

The first stage of the lawsuit was a hearing before Justice Nicklin of the British High Court to define the issues created by the language complained of. In his ruling, the judge went beyond the complaint to determine that Atzmon’s words said that the claimant obtained funds through “fraud”.

Atzmon had not claimed that Falter committed fraud, and it was not clear that Falter’s misuse of statistics rose to the level of fraud, i.e. involving a criminal intent. The ruling made clear that a further defence before this justice would be pointless. The parties settled: Atzmon had to issue an apology and pay Falter £7500 in damages, plus an additional amount in legal fees. The irony of forcing Atzmon to pay Falter based on the allegedly false claim that Falter seeks money for anti-Semitism begs recognition.

The Nazi pug

Earlier this year Mark Meechan, aka “Count Dankula”, was convicted and fined £800 for posting on YouTube a video of a dog he had trained to give a Nazi salute in response to the phrases “gas the Jews” and sieg heil. In case viewers worried that he was trying to turn canines into Nazis, one pug dog at a time, Meechan stated in the video that he wasn’t himself a Nazi but thought that what he had done was funny. It is a reasonable interpretation of this video that it ridiculed Hitler supporters as much as it was offensive to others.

The Scottish police arrested Meecham and charged him with posting “grossly offensive, anti-Semitic and racist material”. Sheriff O’Carroll said the right to freedom of expression was very important but “in all modern democratic countries the law necessarily places some limits on that right”. 

Meecham pleaded not guilty but was convicted under the Communications Act in a crime that the court found was aggravated by “religious prejudice”. Although Meecham’s video was certainly tasteless and offensive, it is not clear how it fell into the obscure category of “religious prejudice”.

Meecham’s lawyer, Ross Brown, stated of Meecham, his difficulty, “it seems, was that he was someone who enjoyed shock humour… and went about his life under the impression that he lived in a jurisdiction which permitted its citizens the right to freely express themselves”. This perception is understandable; British humour is famous for its tastelessness. Monte Python mocked the church, Little Britain mocks the disabled and so on. 

Why did Scottish law enforcement prosecute a silly offensive video of a dog? Is Scotland so crime-free that this is a matter worthy of its crime-fighting resources? It’s hard not to wonder if the same case would have been brought five years ago. 

The First Amendment 

In the United States, our freedom to speak is guaranteed by the First Amendment, which forbids Congress from making a law abridging free speech (now held to apply to the states as well). The First Amendment was enacted primarily as a defence against government power. The founders were concerned that the federal government exercise only enumerated powers and no more. Still, free speech is not unlimited: the United States limits some speech, including false commercial speech, defamation and incitement to violence. 

No reasonable person enjoys confronting hate speech, but allowing free speech, even at its most obnoxious, frees us from self-appointed guardians of the discourse. Who would any of us choose to decide what speech ought to be allowed? Congress? Trump? Obama? The FBI? The NSA? Scientists? The courts? Or the CAA or ADL (Anti-Defamation League)? 

The United States government has spent more money on Israel than on any other foreign country, and it is reasonable for Americans to be free to comment on where their money is spent. And yet we have laws that punish those who speak out against Israel, even though we have no such laws for criticising our own government or to protect the people whom we formerly enslaved.

While speech against Israel is not illegal per se, the US government, and states such as New York and Texas (among others) have chosen to punish criticism of Israel as anti Semitic. They do this by prohibiting state funding or business with any group that advocates boycotting Israel. 

Canada also protects speech, but not “hate” speech. Under the urging of B’nai B’rith, Canada has prosecuted “anti-Semitic” speech as hate speech. As in the cases in England, it is difficult to ascertain which particular speech was forbidden. In a trial against blogger Arthur Topham, the prosecution cited all of Topham’s writings that were unfavourable to Israel or Jewish culture and hoped some of them stuck. They did, and Topham was convicted. 

Despite Canada’s enforcement of its hate speech laws, Falter urged Canadian Jews to follow his example of aggressive prosecution. He stated, “I believe that Canadian [Jews] increasingly will be looking at their situation and asking, ‘Do we have a future in this country?’ And that’s a question they shouldn’t be having to ask at all.” Where is Falter’s evidence that Canadian Jews are asking if they have a future in Canada? Is he trying to lay seeds of alienation so that Jews in Canada will feel less like a part of Canada?

This raises the question of whether the CAA intensifies anti-Semitism by urging Jews to find anti-Semitism everywhere and to prosecute perceived anti-Semitism and “to ensure ruinous consequences, be they criminal, professional, financial or reputational”. The CAA uses the judicial system to achieve its aims, but its use of the law seems cynical as in its legal machinations the CAA deliberately disrespects the principle of freedom of speech that is ingrained in the law of Britain, the United States and Canada.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UK2 Comments

Anti-Semitism, disinformation and propaganda

Truth and lies

Editorial introduction

Three months ago the musician and writer Gilad Atzmon was sued in the High Court of England by the chairman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), Gideon Falter, regarding an article Atzmon had published on his website. 

During a preliminary hearing before the trial the protagonists could not agree on the meaning of the words used in Atzmon’s article and the allegations he had made. This dispute had to be resolved by the court before the actual trial could take place.

The judge in the case, Mr Justice Nicklin, applied his own meaning to Atzmon’s article at the preliminary hearing, which included a ruling by him that the article claimed funds collected by Falter and the CAA were obtained by “fraud” on Falter’s part.

This is disputed by Atzmon. In a statement published on his website on 2 July, he said:

I did not (and do not) believe that Mr Falter was motivated by fraud and I do not think that there is anything I said that suggested it. However, I have to accept the ruling that the court made.

Atzmon further emphasised:

Despite what has been suggested earlier today by Mr Falter in a press release, the court didn’t make any finding that I myself am an anti-Semite.

Indeed, in the statements below, made by the legal representatives of Atzmon and Falter settling the case following the judge’s ruling, no mention of anti-Semitism is made.

Atzmon vs Falter - solicitors statements

Atzmon vs Falter – solicitors statements

Nonetheless, Falter persists in alleging that Atzmon is an anti-Semite. This has prompted Eve Mykytyn, a writer, editor and former financial lawyer, to write to Falter debunking his anti-Semitism allegations. 

Eve Mykytyn’s response to Gideon Falter

Dear Mr Falter,

I disagree with much of what you said in your recent article crowing over your “victory” over Mr Atzmon.

1. In paragraphs 1 and 2 you make the claim that Mr Atzmon is an anti-Semite. You cite then to your own articles as proof, using the weasel word “reported” to make your damaging claims… Atzmon criticises mere rule-followers who focus on the rules rather than the ethics of the law (the construction and destruction of Grenfell towers being an apt example). Use of the word “reported” is another example of following the letter rather than the spirit of the law.

You also cite a Twitter comment from 2014, quoted without context. The comment seems to me to be referring to a set of characteristics, but in any case provides little evidence.

2. In paragraph 3 you openly admit that you try to interfere with Mr Atzmon’s music career by attempting to have him banned from venues where he is contractually bound to play. Then, after trying to interfere with Atzmon’s source of income, in paragraph 4 you seem to complain that Atzmon does not have the ability, as you claim to have, to work “without making a penny”, and is forced to ask for financial support to defend your libel suit against him. 

3. In paragraph 5 you whine that Atzmon “did not show his face’ at the hearing. Is your argument that Atzmon ought to be a lawyer as well as a beleaguered (by you) saxophonist and a philosopher?

4. In paragraphs 6 you cite Justice Nicklen’s decision. Notable in the judge’s decision was the ruling that Atzmon claimed you achieved your aims through fraud, a claim that Atzmon neither made nor could defend.

5. Paragraph 7, again, Mr Atzmon’s task of defending himself was made impossible by the judge’s decision. He could not defend what he did not say. While you brag of the substantial damages and costs you extracted from Mr Atzmon, it should be noted that the damages go to you personally as the claimant and not to the CAA.

While I’m not sure why you criticise Mr Atzmon for not appearing in court when no such need exists, the statement he had made was, of course, demanded by you. 

6. Paragraph 8: was Atzmon’s defeat a humiliation? While you brag of bringing to court those you perceive as anti-Semites, no such finding was made about Mr Atzmon. The court simply ruled unfavourably on the definition of his speech. As an American and a fan of the First Amendment, I see the case as a “humiliation” of the British justice system.

7. Finally, you say you have exposed Mr Atzmon as an “anti-Semitic liar”. There was, of course, no such ruling.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Anti-Semitism, disinformation and propaganda

Gilad Atzmon: Appeal for support 

Support Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon writes:

Dear friends,

In March this year I was sued for libel by the chairman of the Campaign Against Anti Semitism (CAA), Gideon Falter, for suggesting that “Anti-Semitism is a business plan”. 

As the CAA has explained its objective, the lawsuit was intended both to silence me and to wreck my career. The CAA’s website states that renowned media lawyer Mark Lewis “devised a strategy for bringing libel actions which he and Campaign Against Anti-Semitism have begun to use to force anti-Semites into either apologising in court, or paying substantial damages”. And as the CAA boasts in a promotional video, “We ensure anti-Semites face criminal, professional and reputational consequences.” 

Although I am selling some of my musical instruments and have made other arrangements to try to raise the necessary funds, I remain short of about £40.000…  Asking you for money is very upsetting for me but this is an important battle for all of us.

Of course, the libel suit didn’t manage to silence me. I am at least as prolific and focused as I was before the lawsuit. I am still performing and giving talks around the world, I still publish my writings on a daily basis. In fact, Mark Lewis, the man who “devised the strategy” intended to silence me, is now defending himself in a disciplinary tribunal for solicitors for sending “offensive and profane communications”. Instead of managing to obliterate my career, Mark Lewis has left his law firm (Seddons) and is moving to Israel.

Defending myself against the libel charge has been time consuming and extraordinarily expensive – the costs of defending a libel suit in Britain are insanely extortionate. Last March I was left with no option other than to ask for your financial support. I was astounded and deeply touched by your quick and generous response. This allowed me to respond to the claim and confirmed to me that fatigue with the strategies used by organisations like CAA is solid and global. I was reassured that I wasn’t alone.

The case has now been settled but I am left with a huge hole in my pocket. Although I am selling some of my musical instruments and have made other arrangements to try to raise the necessary funds, I remain short of about £40.000. Unfortunately, I need additional support. Asking you for money is very upsetting for me but this is an important battle for all of us.

I am grateful for any help you can provide. It is heartening to know that you stand with me in support of free speech, and that you will help me manage the consequences of exercising our most important right.

Thank you so much

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Gilad Atzmon: Appeal for support 


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