Archive | January, 2019

Global Economy on the Brink as Davos Crowd Parties On



By Dr. Jack RasmusOn the eve of this year’s World Economic Forum gathering, some of the most powerful, wealthy, and more prescient capitalists have begun to speak out to their capitalist cousins, raising red flags about what they believe is an approaching crisis. Read more…

WMD Take Two: Chemical Weapons Claims in Syria

By Prof. Tim AndersonHow do we know that every single allegation of Syrian Government use of chemical weapons use (2013 to 2018) was a fabrication? By ignoring, so far as possible, the propaganda storm of the warring parties and focusing on independent evidence and admissions. Read more…

UN: 254 Palestinians Killed, 23,000 Injured in Gaza Protests

By Middle East MonitorMore than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire and over 23,000 injured since the start of the “Great March of Return” protests in the besieged Gaza Strip on 30 March until the end of last year, UN OCHA revealed in a report yesterday. Read more…

Korea: A Brief History Explains Everything

By Dana VisalliA good starting point for understanding the ongoing conflict between North and South Korea is the agreement between the United States and Japan in 1905, known as the Taft-Katsura Memorandum, which was signed as Japan was defeating Russia in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. Read more…

How the Corruption of Science Contributes to the Collapse of Modern Civilization

By Richard Gale and Dr. Gary NullMedical journals have been thoroughly hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry as have departments at universities and research institutions that are principally funded by private interests. Read more…

A Morally Right Decision: Support the BDS Movement, Do Not Allow Israelis to Enter Malaysia for Sport Event

By Dr. Chandra MuzaffarThe decision of the Malaysian government not to allow Israelis to enter the country to participate in the World Para Swimming Championships in Sarawak in July-August 2019 is both politically correct and morally right. Read more…

“Islamic Fundamentalism”: Unraveling a Vague and Ambiguous Term Used by Western Mainstream Media Against Islam and Muslims

By Prof. Henry Francis B. EspirituThe term “Islamic fundamentalism” is definitely a misnomer. The term “Islamic fundamentalism” has not been derived from Islamic Scriptures, nor does any group of Muslims utilize this appellation of ‘Islamic fundamentalists.’ This term is just a misappropriation of the modern Western religious term “fundamentalism” to Muslims. Read more…

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CNN Goes ‘Undercover’ to Manufacture Consent for Coup Attempt in Venezuela

A CNN “exclusive” report from inside Venezuela aired multiple times on the network on January 28. It is a prime example of how influential media outlets in the U.S. effectively create propaganda for the opposition, which now is receiving funds from President Donald Trump’s administration.

For the four-minute report, CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walshwent “undercover” amidst what the network described as the “deepening crisis in Venezuela” in order “to capture the desperation gripping the nation.”

The segment highlighted hyperinflation at grocery chains, Venezuelans lined up in queues for fuel and food, particularly in Caracas, and opposition demonstrations on January 23, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president of the country.

“This was the day when change was meant to come,” Walsh stated.

It suggested President Nicolas Maduros government has given “handouts” to Venezuelans for years to buy their loyalty, but now “handouts” are no longer enough. Opponents like to equate social programs to “handouts” because corporate elites favor de-nationalization and privatization of services.

Walsh interviewed a rank-and-file officer in the Venezuela military and granted him anonymity. The officer stated,

“I would say 80 percent of soldiers are against the government. Some even go to demonstrations. But the big fishes, the senior officers, are the ones eating, getting rich while the bottom we have it hard.”

Video showed the opposition throwing stones at a military airfield in a standoff that apparently has lasted “for months.” One part of the barricade was on fire.

Sitting with his back against what appeared to be a concrete barricade, like he was part of the opposition hurling objects, Walsh declared,

“They may be throwing stones here, but what they really need is the army to switch sides.”

Walsh offered no comment on what it would mean for democracy in Venezuela if the military played an instrumental role in helping Guaido and a U.S.-led group of countries oust Maduro.

Another part of the report featured street children in Caracas. A 14 year-old boy recounted how his brother was killed in July by a member of a gang. He said he has to go through the garbage for food and beg so he does not go hungry.

Walsh did not show a cause-and-effect relationship, yet the boy’s poverty was wryly attributed to a “socialist utopia that now leaves nearly every stomach empty.”

On the surface, the report may have seemed balanced and neutral because CNN spoke to citizens caught in the middle of the political crisis. Yet, there was no clips of the tens of thousands of Maduro supporters who marched through Caracas the same day that Guaido claimed he was the country’s interim president.

CNN also omitted the role of U.S. sanctions and other measures in making Venezuela’s economic recovery nearly impossible.

According to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), sanctions did not create hyperinflation in the country. However, they have made it incredibly difficult for the government to restructure their debt for a recovery.

In 2017, weeks before the Trump administration imposed new sanctions, a former top State Department official predicted they would cause the government to “default on their bonds and a collapse of internal investment and oil production.” They would spur “civil unrest, refugee flows across their borders, and a cutoff of Venezuelan financial support to Cuba and Haiti that could lead to migration flows to the United States.” (Note: It was estimated in June 2018 that about 35,000 refugees were crossing from Venezuela to Colombia each day.)

The same day that CNN aired their report the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the country’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA). The company is a “primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency,” including U.S. dollars and Euros, according to the Department.

National security adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $7 billion in assets and result in the loss of $11 billion in proceeds from exports over the next year.

Even after the Trump administration announced oil sanctions, CNN still largely ignored the potential effect of sanctions when it aired this “undercover” report another time.

Oil sanctions are likely to intensify the suffering for Venezuelans, not make their lives better. In the 1990s, Iraq faced sanctions from the United Nations on their oil exports as well as restrictions on other foreign trade. To many, it was “one of the decade’s great crimes” because the sanctions contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

In Iran, the poor bear the brunt of sanctions on oil that were re-imposed by the Trump administration. Financial Times reported in October on millions of Iranians, who were already stretched as “the value of the rial” had “plunged more than 70 per cent against the US dollar over the past year.”

“The sharp drop has pushed up import costs and stoked inflation, eroding purchasing power and leaving the most impoverished struggling to pay for basic goods such as meat, dairy products, and fruit,” FT noted.

As journalist Gregory Shupak previously highlighted for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR),

“When Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in November 2017 proposed a meeting with creditors to discuss a restructuring of the country’s public debt, the Trump administration warned U.S. bondholders that attending this meeting could put them in violation of U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela, which can be punished with 30 years in jail and as much as $10 million dollars in fines for businesses.”

“That same month, the U.S. government added further sanctions that prevent Venezuela from doing what governments routinely do with much of their debt, which is ‘roll it over’ by borrowing again when a bond matures. The sanctions also made it difficult if not impossible for Venezuela to undertake debt restructuring, a process wherein interest and principal payments are postponed and creditors receive new bonds, which the sanctions explicitly prohibit.”

Additionally, Francisco Rodriguez noted for Foreign Policy in 2018,

“Ninety-five percent of Venezuela’s export revenue comes from oil sold by the state-owned oil company. Cutting off the government’s access to dollars will leave the economy without the hard currency needed to pay for imports of food and medicine. Starving the Venezuelan economy of its foreign currency earnings risks turning the country’s current humanitarian crisis into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is not the first time that the opposition in Venezuela has destroyed the economy to help it win power. Back in 2002, the same year that President Hugo Chavez faced a coup backed by the U.S. government, his opponents “called for a massive strike in the country’s oil sector.”

“The strike brought oil production to a standstill and caused a double-digit recession in an attempt to get Chavez to resign,” Rodriguez recalled. “This event single-handedly convinced Venezuelans that they could not trust a political movement that was willing to destroy the economy in order to attain power. In a recall referendum held two years later, voters resoundingly backed Chavez.”

None of this history seems to matter to CNN anchors, who subscribe to the Washington bipartisan foreign policy consensus on Venezuela. Nor do they mention that it is not only Maduro’s security forces that commit violence. The opposition was involved in lynchings, burning people alive, and erecting barricades that cause deadly accidents in 2017. Some opposition leaders, including exiles like Lorent Saleh, have ties to neo-fascists.

When CNN anchor Jim Sciutto introduced the report, he mentioned Guaido had again urged the people of Venezuela to “hit the streets to demand new elections” in an effort to oust Maduro. It is easy to see how playing the report after this statement might help gin up sympathy for Guaido’s calls to action.

But apparently there is reason to believe the opposition may have the support of leaders from several Latin American and Western countries but still be struggling to win over the people.

Walsh noted the country is not seeing daily mass street protests. Guaido’s message may be resonating with some of the middle class, but it is not a message that inspires those in the slums, who have their own “poverty-based fight.”

In other words, it is likely that lower classes in Venezuela remain skeptical of the opposition because they fear it will mean inviting outside corporate interests to raid government assets and natural resources so they may enrich themselves. This would potentially lead to cuts or an end to social welfare programs that they utilize to help them survive.

This skepticism toward the opposition among Venezuelans is not something CNN wants to feature in its limited coverage of the attempted coup. But it should be viewed as a key reason to doubt the consensus around support for the opposition, which news networks are working to manufacture.

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An Invasion of Venezuela Isn’t A “Far-Fetched Scenario”


While Guaido and his self-declared “government”(-in-waiting) are downplaying the prospects of a military invasion to topple Maduro, the reality is that such a scenario really isn’t all that far-fetched and could even succeed in the event that only a limited one was commenced in the ultra-strategic state of Zulia.

The Last Chance For Peace

Both supporters and detractors of the Venezuelan government seem to be of the mind that the country’s crisis is rapidly approaching a climax, with the specter of a military invasion looming large on the horizon. Each camp, and especially Guadio’s self-declared “government”(-in-waiting), has downplayed this possibility, but the reality is that such a scenario really isn’t all that far-fetched and could even succeed in the event that only a limited one was commenced in the ultra-strategic state of Zulia. This isn’t to say that an attack is imminent since there’s a chance that next week’s “Lima Group” meeting and the planned multilateral “mediation” summit in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo might yield some positive dividends, especially if Russia and China somehow get involved and turn the latter format into an Astana-like conference, but no one should discount the prospects of a military invasion being launched if neither of those functions results in Maduro quickly “compromising” on his principled position.

From Syria To Ukraine And Now Venezuela 

The danger of something of the sort happening is real enough after US National Security Advisor John Bolton was caught on camera with a notepad where he scribbled “5,000 troops to Colombia” in what was probably a “self-leak” to telegraph the US’ intentions and put additional pressure on Venezuela. Furthermore, this coincided with Colombian-based military defectors begging the US to arm them so they can overthrow their government. From the looks of it, the same “Lead From Behind” HybridWarscenario as what happened earlier this decade in Syria and Ukraine appears to be on the brink of repeating itself in Venezuela whereby the US’ most trusted regional allies (Turkey, Poland, and Colombia) are charged with being the vanguard proxy force for assisting a regime change operation in the neighboring country whose government the US wants to overthrow.

Continuing with the comparisons, each of the targeted country’s adjacent regions to the US’ “Lead From Behind” proxy state share certain strategic similarities vis-à-vis facilitating the Hybrid War against it. Northern Syria contains the country’s largest city of Aleppo and is historically a hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood sentiment, Western Ukraine is popularly known as the country’s nationalist nest, and the economically significant state of Zulia has traditionally been an opposition stronghold. Seeing as how this analysis is first and foremost about the prospects of a military invasion of Venezuela, the relevance of the third-mentioned region deserves to be elaborated upon in order to better understand its importance in this context and how it compares to the two aforementioned regions in the other previously victimized states.

Zulia: Venezuela’s Achilles’ Heel

Reuters reported last summer that Zulia, Venezuela’s most populous state where nearly 1/5 of the population resides, accounts for approximately 35% of the country’s meat and dairy production as well as around 25% of its oil exports.

Being the Bolivarian Republic’s historic source of oil, some demagogic voices have previously called for autonomy in order to retain as much of their region’s energy revenue as possible, though this initiative has thus far been unsuccessful. Nevertheless, in times of serious economic and political uncertainty such as the present, it could become an attractive rallying cry of the opposition.

It’s with this strategic backdrop in mind why Zulia might be targeted by US-backed and Colombian-based Venezuelan military defectors if diplomatic means fail to get Maduro to “compromise”. Just like the “Free Syrian Army” did in Northern Syria with US & Turkish assistance and “EuroMaidan’s” supporters accomplished in Western Ukraine with US & Polish backing prior to the coup’s success, so too could anti-government fighters try to take control of Zulia with US & Colombian support in trying to carve that part of the country away from the central government’s authority. The possible success of this scenario could cripple the rest of Venezuela by immediately depriving it of hefty food, energy, and ultimately financial resources that could bring about the state’s rapid collapse soon thereafter.

Catalyzing The Final Collapse

This isn’t just “senseless fearmongering” either because the removal of 35% of Venezuela’s meat and dairy products from the rest of the country’s shelves and the loss of a further 25% of its oil-exporting-dependent state revenue (which would compound with the effects of the US’ recently imposed sanctions that cut the country off from its top oil consumer who previously purchased 41% of its exports) would be catastrophic and likely catalyze the large-scale exodus of pro-government internally displaced people eastwards towards Caracas where they’d inadvertently function as “Weapons of Mass Migration” in the capital. Faced with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the government would face the realistic prospect of either collapse or a military coup, the latter of which might be partially financed by some of the $7 billion of PDVSA assets that Guaido obtained access to earlier this week.

Considering that the US officially recognizes Guaido and his allies as representing the “legitimate” government of Venezuela, Washington might use the occupation of Zulia as the pretext to directly intervene and protect any energy assets that the Hybrid Warriors sign over to its control like Bolton hinted that he’d like to see happen if the rolling regime change operation succeeds. The US could then use Zulia (possibly described as “Free Venezuela” by that time by the Western Mainstream Media) as its base of operations for putting the finishing touches on its envisioned “government-in-waiting” for the country, recognizing that it would only be a “waiting game” after that point as it sees how long it’ll take for the rest of the country to either collapse or be taken over by a pro-US military coup as it descends further into dystopic chaos.

Concluding Thoughts

The US would ideally prefer for Maduro to peacefully step down as a result of a “compromise” political solution brought about by the forthcoming diplomatic initiatives set to be launched next week because that would be the easiest way for its companies to reap the most immediate and maximum profit from their country’s geopolitical “prize” if they simply assume ownership over its energy and mineral assets soon thereafter. Should that approach fail, however, then the back-up plan might be for the Bolivarian Republic’s “Achilles’ heel” of Zulia to be invaded by US-backed “moderate rebels” that would enter the state from Colombia following the “Lead From Behind” Hybrid War template trailblazed in Syria and Ukraine. The possible success of this “limited intervention” could serve as the pretext for a direct conventional one by the US itself, as well as catalyze the collapse of the rest of the country in bringing a quick end to this long-running regime change campaign.

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Liberté, Égalité, Impérialisme! Vive la France in Black Africa!

Paul Kagame’s troops most likely shot down a plane carrying two African presidents, igniting genocides that killed millions — but the Rwandan President has never been charged.

“Former Rwandan General Nyamwasa said that Kagame most definitely ordered his troops to shoot down the plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents.”

Geopolitics trumped international justice again — just in time for Christmas. On December 21, a French court closed the long-running case against Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his inner circle for assassinating Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6, 1994, when a surface-to-air missile downed their plane over Rwanda’s capital Kigali.

Nearly twenty-five years later, there are still no convictions for the assassinations that turned first Rwanda, then the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), into a vast killing ground. Not in the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR), where two investigations of Kagame were shut down, and where a judge told defense attorney Tiphaine Dickson, “We don’t investigate plane crashes [or Tutsis, only Hutus].” And not in the French or Spanish courts, where French and Spanish citizens claimed jurisdiction because their relatives died in the plane shot down or in the ensuing massacres.

“The US and UK backed Kagame’s invading Tutsi army, which then invaded and occupied French-speaking Zaire.”

The subtext of the Rwandan War and the Congo Wars was competition between the US/UK and France. France, which was then the dominant power in the region, had been the patron of Habyarimana’s Hutu government; the US and UK backed Kagame’s invading Tutsi army, which emerged victorious in 1994, declared that English would from thereon be Rwanda’s international business language, then invaded and occupied French-speaking Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) two years later.

France and Rwanda have engaged in a bitter argument off and on for all these years about who was responsible for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Their embassies have often been closed in one another’s capitals, and France
pulled out  of the 20th anniversary commemoration in Kigali after President Kagame once again accused France of participating in the killing.

“Kagame’s troops followed the refugees into Zaire and massacred as many as 250,000.”

One of the recurring points of contention is Opération Turquoise, France’s emergency relief response, which began on June 23, 1994, several weeks before General Paul Kagame (now President Paul Kagame) seized power in Kigali. Some French officials who were in office at the time, most notably former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, have maintained that Opération Turquoise created a humanitarian corridor for Rwandan Hutus fleeing into Zaire, for fear of being massacred by General Kagame’s advancing Tutsi army. Kagame’s government has claimed that France instead provided an escape route for Hutus guilty of genocide, although the vast majority flooding into Zaire were civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. According to the 2010 UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1993-2003, Kagame’s troops followed the refugees into Zaire and massacred as many as 250,000.

In “Dying to Live: A Rwandan Family’s Five-Year Flight Across the Congo,” Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga describes how he and his family and 300,000 more Rwandan Hutus fled Kagame’s advancing army all the way through the Congolese jungle, from east to west, as many more died of hardship or were massacred by Kagame’s troops along the way.

The authors of the UN Mapping Report said that the massacres in Congo would most likely be ruled a genocide if a case were brought to court, but none has been and none ever will be without a major geopolitical shift in power. In 2013, in one of his many cynical moments, Bill Clinton told BBC journalist Komla Dumor that he would not condemn his friend Paul Kagame for murdering the refugees because “it hasn’t been adjudicated.” (And because it happened on his watch, with his support, as did the 1998 Rwandan and Ugandan invasions of DRC, during which Kagame and Uganda’s Museveni became what another UN report called “the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the DRC.”)

“The UN Mapping Report said that the massacres in Congo would most likely be ruled a genocide if a case were brought to court.”

France of course wants its share, and French officials now in power have decided to close the case against Kagame in order to secure access to Congo’s riches, which he significantly controls. The court’s ruling came shortly after Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo became Secretary-General of La Francophonie, an international organization similar to the British Commonwealth, in what was widely perceived to be another concession to smooth French-Rwandan relations and ease France’s access to Congo’s riches.

Kayumba Nyamwasa, former Rwandan General, Chief of Army Staff, and Chief of Military Intelligence, was also named as a defendant in the French indictment. Speaking to Jane Corbin in the BBC video “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” he said that Kagame most definitely ordered his troops to shoot down the plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents:

Jane Corbin: Who do you believe was behind the shooting down of the plane?

Kayumba Nyamwasa: Paul Kagame, undoubtedly.

JC: Paul Kagame?

KN: Oh yes, oh yes.

JC: You know that?

KN: One hundred percent.

JC: Were you at meetings where it was discussed?

KN: Well, I know. I was in a position to know, and he knows I was in a position to know. And he knows that.

BBC interjection: General Nyamwasa has offered to cut a deal with the French judge totestify.

JC: If you discuss these matters with the judge and it implicates you yourself, are you willing to do that?

KN: Obviously. If it implicated me? Why not? Because I think that truth is what matters.

Closing the case is not acquitting

The French court said they were closing the case for lack of “credible” and “significant” evidence despite abundant such evidence. That does not mean, however, that they acquitted Kagame, Nyamwasa, or anyone else who was in Kagame’s inner circle at the time Habyarimana and Ntaryamira were assassinated. As Rwandan American legal scholar Charles Kambanda said, “This is a political decision which could well be superseded by another political decision to reopen the file when there is additional ‘credible’ and ‘significant’ evidence.” In other words, France has mollified Kagame for now, but it’s kept a knife behind its back.

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US Sanctions as a Tool to Perpetuate Neocolonialism


It’s an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called “special interest” groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.

Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.

In 2013, the Manmohan Singh’s government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.

The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in “collective bargaining” activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don’t have a choice but to toe their line.

State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.

Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro’s Cuba, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro’s Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media’s pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.

Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.

Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petro-dollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.

The crippling “third party” economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petro-dollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.

It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran’s nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf’s petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.

Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those “third party” sanctions on Iran’s economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.

Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.

On the other hand, the Persian Gulf’s petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves each and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world’s 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.

Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf’s petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.

If anything, the Gulf’s petro-monarchies had “sanctioned” the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf’s crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which is more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which is more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf’s petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

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Charity of bullies: The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

Campaign Against anti-Semitism bullies

By Eve Mykytyn*

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) is a British charity. British law requires that a charity must have only charitable purposes which must also be for the public benefit (it may be for the benefit of a religion). The CAA’s constitution states its purpose as

to promote racial harmony for the public benefit between Jewish people and other members of society, including raising awareness of anti-Semitism and providing advocacy assistance, care and relief to those affected by anti-Semitism, and to advance education… of anti-Semitism for the public benefit.

For reasons the charity commission refused to explain in response to a request for information dated October 2018, the CAA has been allowed to keep the names of its charity trustees (those responsible for assuring that the CAA operates within its charitable purposes) secret. In fact, the CAA’s website lists only two of the three members of its management team: Gideon Falter, Chairman, and Steve Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement. The Director of Organisation and Finance goes “unnamed”. The CAA, which freely publicises whomever it sees as anti-Semitic and which devotes over half of the news on its website to criticisms of members of the Labour Party, is itself a secretive organisation.

”[Steve] Silverman claims to be the charity’s ‘investigator and enforcer’. How does his investigating and enforcing whatever he decides to investigate and enforce provide a public benefit: aren’t those roles best left to duly appointed law-enforcement officers?”

So let us see how the CAA is pursuing its charitable goal of “promoting harmony between Jewish people and other members of society”. The CAA reacts to news of a Gilad Atzmon jazz concert by sending an “attempted enforcement” letter to the venue or the promoter. Unless there is a handy Labour councillor to use, it is signed by Steve Silverman “from CAA a registered charity that works to counter anti-Semitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law”. Wait – where was zero tolerance in the charity’s statement of purpose? Silverman claims to be the charity’s “investigator and enforcer”. How does his investigating and enforcing whatever he decides to investigate and enforce provide a public benefit: aren’t those roles best left to duly appointed law-enforcement officers?

The letter contains a list of accusations, including that Atzmon uses social media to harass others (no, that was your lawyer and patron, Mark Lewis) and that Atzmon trivialises the scale and impact of the holocaust. This last comes close to a false allegation of holocaust denial and Silverman provides no evidence for it at all, not even the out-of-context and mangled quotes the CAA typically relies on to slur Atzmon.

Silverman then quotes the “international” definition of anti Semitism, by which I believe he means the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism, and cites the examples from that definition in what seems like an attempt to give his own words the force of law.

Lastly, Silverman notes that Atzmon was banned from playing in Islington last December after a complaint from “a member of the Jewish community”. I’m not sure that I would characterise the very active Martin Rankoff, head of Likud UK, as merely a member of the Jewish community. I hope that Rankoff doesn’t sue Mr Silverman for defamation.

The last two such venues replied, noting that Atzmon has played there many times in the past, that he regularly sold out the venue and that politics were not a part of the musical experience.

Apparently, a negative reply from the venue puts an end to CAA’s ability to restrain itself. What follows next isa stunning accusation against a venue owner or promoter who has decided to fulfill its contractual obligations to a musician: “It is clear that, by failing to stand up to anti-Semitism, you have chosen to side with those who seek to stir up hatred towards this country’s Jewish community. Your willingness to turn a blind eye to the activities of this leading anti-Semite shames you, your board and your arts centre, and is nothing less than a dereliction of duty.”

Who considers such judgments a public benefit? Where does the “duty” to agree with the CAA come from?

Silverman claims that “there is a vast amount of documented evidence, accumulated over many years, that bears witness to the extent of Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitism”. Hate speech is illegal in England. Does anyone doubt that if the CAA had real evidence that Atzmon used hate speech that it would bring that to the police and demand Atzmon’s arrest?

Then, having accused Atzmon of trivialising the holocaust in his last missive, this time Silverman hints that Atzmon may be guilty of causing a holocaust, by “repeat[ing] some of the same discredited anti-Semitic views about Jewish power that were employed by the Nazi regime to pave the way for the holocaust, and he uses his blogs, videos and public talks to encourage others to share his hatred”. Who is sharing hatred here? Silverman hates Atzmon’s philosophy, but does that entitle Silverman to make outrageous, unfounded accusations of criminal behaviour?

Then Silverman signs off with what I suppose he considers to be a threat: “We will endeavour to ensure that your actions, positive or negative, receive the attention that they deserve.” And how will that attention read?

Here’s how I would review the situation: “The owners of venue booked and presented a musician who played to a packed house. The audience was able to forget our dystopian world for a bit and enjoy the magic of art.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Charity of bullies: The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

Amos Oz and the real ‘Israel’

Amos Oz and the real Israel
Amoz Oz

By Lawrence Davidson

On 29 December the New York Times (NYT) reported the death of the charismatic Israeli writer Amos Oz. Born in Jerusalem in 1939, Oz was altogether Israeli. That is, he did not come to Palestine from somewhere else. Only nine years old when Israel came into being, Oz knew no other nationality.

Nor did he really know his Palestinian neighbours. His view of them was typical of the Western view of his time: that their political and social potential did not go beyond what could be found in the stereotypical “Arab state”. That stereotype had only negative connotations for Oz, and this was the reason he denied the possibility of a one-state solution wherein Palestinians and Israeli Jews lived together in relative harmony. He claimed that “there could never be a binational state but only an Arab state with a Jewish minority”and he, Amos Oz, did not want to live in an “Arab state”. That meant he could never believe in, or struggle for, a truly democratic multi-ethnic and multi-religious Israel. His was a dualistic world – the two-state solution was Oz’s solution.

It is important to understand that his support for two states made Oz a “moderate” among Zionists and consigned him to the political margins of Israeli politics. Mainstream Israeli politics could not abide his assertion that a real peace required that the Palestinians have their own separate “Arab state” in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Zionist Israel. Likewise, the support for a two-state solution automatically set him against the maximalist formula – a Zionist state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River – propounded by a hardline conservative element of the Zionist movement. The position of this element has become the political standard for an increasing number of Israeli Jewish citizens.

Oz’s opposition to the maximalist Zionist position made him ipso facto a serious opponent of the Israeli occupation. The occupation, insatiably expansive as it has proven to be, was the death knell of the two-state dream, and Oz despised the Israeli politicians who refused to make the necessary compromises for such a peace. He thought of them as “cowards” and they thought of him as a “traitor”.

Oz “felt himself a man possessed of moral clarity but denigrated for it in a country that could not make the difficult decisions he felt necessary”. Nonetheless, he remained a patriot. He confessed: “I love Israel even when I cannot stand it.”

Redefining the Israeli character

The NYT piece also tells us that Amos Oz’s ambition was to define, or more accurately, redefine, the Israeli character. The effort was an expression of his idealism which, despite all evidence to the contrary, told him that the present state of Zionist Israel could be reversed and humanised – made more benign through an underpinning of what he called “humanistic Jewish culture”. This was perhaps a politicised version of the pre-1948 phenomenon of apolitical cultural Zionism. This optimistic yet naive outlook made the Haaretz editorial writer Gideon Levy refer to Amos Oz as “the last moral Zionist”.

The vehicle for this transformation was his idealised two-state solution. His dedication to it essentially blinded him to the real nature of his nation’s character – one of longstanding imperialism combined with racism. In contrast, someone like Binyamin Netanyahu grasped this aspect of Israeli consciousness almost instinctively. Oz’s rejection of these character flaws increasingly separated him from the most of his fellow Israeli Jews. Thus, to the extent that Oz was an “insistent advocate for peace with the Palestinians”, the number of Israelis listening to him had dwindled. The fact of this marginalisation caused his emotionally driven relationship with his country to vacillate between hope and despair.

QQ”…today’s Israel has a lot in common with the US state of Alabama, circa1930. That is why contemporary white supremacists in the United States such as Robert Spencer claim an affinity with Israel and Zionist ideological goals.”QQ

In his literary work Oz sometimes suggested there is a conflict embedded in the nationalist consciousness about what Zionism really stands for. Well, once again, there is no doubt a conflict exists in the minds of Israelis such as Oz. But it is a conflict that has set them apart from their fellow Zionists. For the majority the need for discriminatory laws and racist practices is clear enough. That is what an exclusive ethnic/religious state requires. In practice it has produced an Israel now approaching apartheid status. American readers of this essay can think of it this way: today’s Israel has a lot in common with the US state of Alabama, circa 1930. That is why contemporary white supremacists in the United States such as Robert Spencer claim an affinity with Israel and Zionist ideological goals.

Did Amos Oz understand that this was Zionism’s inevitable outcome? If he did, he tried hard to rationalise that awareness away.


In truth, there is every reason to believe that the two-state solution Oz supported would result in the same sort of racist Israel we see today, just in a smaller territory. What then would Oz have done? Well, if a Jewish majority could have been guaranteed in, say an Israel confined to land west of the Green Line, he would no doubt have felt secure enough to advocate for human and civil rights for all its citizens. In the end, however, that advocacy would have most likely led him onto the margins of that smaller hypothetical Israel, just as his demand for two separate states has done in the contemporary larger one.

Oz’s hope for Israel, and not his alone, always rested on the assumption that a humane Zionist state was possible. The reality is that it is not possible. Any state designed first and foremost for one ethnically- and/or religiously-defined group, and also having in its midst a sizable minority, must inevitably become discriminatory in its laws and practices. In the case of Israel, this fact is reinforced by a Zionist ideology that demands such an exclusive state if Jews are to be “safe”. This too is an illusion, for there are fewer places in today’s world less safe for Jews than Israel.

As a writer, Amos Oz will long be remembered as a master craftsman of the Hebrew language – a producer of very good reads. As an advocate of a two-state solution, he was ignored by the majority of his own people. As a moralist, his programme was belied by the realities of a Zionist movement that had long ago turned its back on the values Oz held dear. Thus, in the end, Amos Oz was a great writer, and perhaps also a good man, born and bred to a bad system he could not bring himself to abandon.

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Venezuela: Zionist Sanctions Are Backfiring

Treasury Sanctions Venezuela’s State-Owned Oil Company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.
Image result for C.I.A Sanctions Venezuela CARTOON
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Action Intensifies Pressure on Maduro and Regime Insiders, Demonstrates U.S. Commitment to Leverage Economic Pressure to Support the Venezuelan People’s Transition to Democracy

Washington – Today the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13850 for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy.  PdVSA is a Venezuelan state-owned oil company and a primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency, to include U.S. dollars and Euros.

“The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Today’s designation of PdVSA will help prevent further diverting of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro and preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela.  The path to sanctions relief for PdVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the Interim President or a subsequent, democratically elected government.”

As with previous OFAC designations of certain Venezuelan officials and their supporters, U.S. sanctions need not be permanent.  Sanctions are intended to change behavior.  The United States has made it clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for those who take concrete, meaningful, and verifiable actions to support democratic order and combat corruption in Venezuela, including PdVSA.

As Venezuela’s state owned oil company, PdVSA has long been a vehicle for corruption.  A variety of schemes have been designed to embezzle billions of dollars from PdVSA for the personal gain of corrupt Venezuelan officials and businessmen.  For example, a 2014 currency exchange scheme was designed to embezzle and launder around $600 million from PdVSA, money obtained through bribery and fraud.  By May 2015, the conspiracy had allegedly doubled in amount, to $1.2 billion embezzled from PdVSA.  Abraham Edgardo Ortega, a Venezuelan national who was PdVSA’s executive director of financial planning, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role in the billion-dollar international scheme to launder funds embezzled from PdVSA.  In a separate case, U.S. prosecutors have alleged that, from 2011 to 2013, senior Government of Venezuela and PdVSA officials, including Nervis Villalobos, the former Venezuelan vice minister of energy; Rafael Reiter, who worked as PdVSA’s head of security and loss prevention; and Luis Carlos de Leon, a former official at a state-run electric company, sought bribes and kickbacks from vendors in exchange for helping them secure PdVSA contracts and gain priority over other vendors for outstanding invoices during its liquidity crisis.

Today’s action designating PdVSA follows a determination by Secretary Mnuchin pursuant to E.O. 13850 that persons operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy may be subject to sanctions.

Concurrent with this action, OFAC is issuing general licenses that authorize certain transactions and activities related to PdVSA and its subsidiaries within specified timeframes.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of PdVSA subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

For additional information about the methods that Venezuelan senior political figures, their associates, and front persons use to move and hide corrupt proceeds, including how they try to exploit the U.S. financial system and real estate market, please refer to FinCEN’s advisories FIN-2017-A006, “Advisory on Widespread Public Corruption in Venezuela,” and FIN-2017-A003, “Advisory to Financial Institutions and Real Estate Firms and Professionals.”

Identifying information and General Licenses relating to today’s announcement.

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UK: Try to figure out where Labour ends and Likud starts

Try to figure out where Labour ends and Likud starts: UK Labour politicians at the service of Zionist hatemongers.
Likud-Herut and Campaign against Anti-Semitism Zionist lobby

Gilad Atzmon writes:

A few days before Christmas, Labour Councillor Richard Watts and Islington Council, acting at the request of the UK Likud Herut director,chose to stop me from playing at a concert with the Blockheads. The impoverished council, in an odd interpretation of working for its citizens, hired two partners from one of London’s most expensive law firms to help them in their crusade against my saxophone.

Their action prompted hundreds of complaints and a petition of protest from  almost 7,000 people. Despite the backlash, another Labour councillor stepped in to try to ruin my musical career. Rachel Eden has in the past attempted to interfere with my literature event at Reading Literary Festival by organising a protest against me without knowing who I was and what I stood for, and is on the Zionist We Believe in Israel list of the 2016 General Election candidates who pledged their support for Israel.

Councillor Eden furthered the campaign to ruin me financially for my political beliefs by sending the following email to the Progress Theatre in Reading:

From: Rachel Eden Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2018 at 09:25
Subject: Progress Theatre and an anti-Semite

Dear xxxx,

Hope you’re well and enjoying the run up to Christmas…

Sorry to email you about something controversial but I suspect that you’d rather I let you know. [Gilad Atzmon: the comments in brackets are my own].

I just wanted to alert you that I am sure inadvertantly [sic] Progress has taken a booking from Gilead [sic] Atzmon. He’s not a household name but he is very well known by the Jewish community as an anti-Semite, last time he came to Reading he claimed that Jerusalemites doing mitzvot caused the Grenfell Tower tragedy. [Gilad Atzmon: If Ms Eden had actually bothered to read the Jewish Chronicle article, she would have noticed that I emphasise that Jerusalem vs Athens is not a Jew vs Gentile binary. I pointed out that tragedies like the Grenfell tower come about because in Jerusalem people are trained to follow patterns and regulations: as opposed to thinking authentically and ethically as in Athens.]

As you’ll see from this story he was protested by a mix of Jewish and LGBT residents, he is also a holocaust “skeptic” and Labour councillors including me. [Gilad Atzmon: I am not a holocaust “skeptic” as I am not an historian. However, I support the idea that every event in the past must be subject to historical analysis and revision.]

If you want to know a bit more about him the Jewish Chronicle keeps an eye on him. [Gilad Atzmon: Now, there’s an unbiased source!]

He recently lost a libel lawsuit in which was sued by the Campaign against anti-Semetism [sic]. [Gilad Atzmon: I settled a libel suit with Campaign against anti-Semitism’s Gideon Falter, and the issue was not relevant to anti-Semitism.]

Hope not Hate have a bit about him here. [Gilad Atzmon: Hope not Hate is a notorious Zionist operation and has been exposed as such many times in the past.]

All in all I am guessing you and the committee probably didn’t know any of this as he is trying to portray himself as “just” a jazz musician, but I would assume he’s not the sort of person you want associated with Progress Theatre.


The promoters of the concert replied to Councillor Eden as follows:

Our focus is on – and our interest is in – the music, nothing else. We do not aim to provide a platform for people to express their personal views on any non-musical subject. We have not received complaints of offence being caused at any of our concerts in the 14 years we have been promoting jazz, despite programming a wide variety of acts and individuals. In the case of Gilad Atzmon, we understand that he has never even been questioned by any law enforcement authority about the allegations to which you refer, let alone convicted.

It would be a blessing for the UK if our politicians had the clarity of thinking, ethical stand and respect for free speech displayed by our musical promoters and venues. Apparently, despite Eden’s persistent harassment of the venue, the promoters held fast against her onslaught.

As expected, when it became clear that Councillor Eden would not be able to stop my concert, the notorious ultra-Zionist Campaign against Anti-Semitism (CAA), in accord with its stated goal to ruin anyone it deems a threat to Zion, openly rejoined the effort to rid Britain of my saxophone.

Apparently, numerous promoters around the country have received threatening letters from Stephen Silverman, a “music teacher” as well as the CAA’s “Director of Investigation and Enforcement”. A charity is defined as “an organisation set up to provide help and raise money for those in need”. I wonder what it is that qualifies an organisation as charitable when instead of helping others it operates to investigate and “enforce” rules of its own making!

Enforcement commissar Silverman’s email is a rehash of their usual list of misleading, misquoted and badly sourced accusations and ends with, what for them is an unusually polite declaration: “It would, of course, be inappropriate for us to attempt to dictate who appears at your venue, and that is not my intention. The purpose of this letter is merely to provide you and your venue with information of which you may be unaware.”

Naturally, Silverman does not actually mean his deferential words. Once a venue replies that it does not intend to accede to the demands of Silverman and his klan, Silverman sends a second letter accusing the venue of “taking side” with haters, in “dereliction of duty” to side with Jews. The email ends with a clear threatening note:

Sent: 18 January 2019 17:11
To: xxxx
Cc: ‘Anthony Orkin’
Subject: RE: Gilad Atzmon

Thank you for your reply. On the basis of your response it is clear that, by failing to stand up to anti-Semitism, you have chosen to side with those who seek to stir up hatred towards this country’s Jewish communityYour willingness to turn a blind eye to the activities of this leading anti-Semite shames you, your board and your arts centre, and is nothing less than a dereliction of duty. 

There is a vast amount of documented evidence, accumulated over many years, that bears witness to the extent of Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitism. He attempts to shield himself from the consequences of this with a bogus philosophy of his own devising that purports to be critical of “Jewishness”, Jewish politics and Jewish culture rather than of Jews. It is a paper-thin facade that crumbles under even the most cursory scrutiny.

This is someone who publicly told a Jewish man that he detested the Jew in him [Gilad Atzmon: Actually, this was in reply to a tweet that “as a Jew” I should want to kill Arabs. The tweet was fromvile hateful character @onepound1 who was subsequentlybanned from Twitter for hate speech. I didn’t know that @onepound1 is indeed Jewish. Perhaps Mr Silverman is more familiar with this anonymous Twitter user and his murderous intent.] andstated that burning synagogues could be considered a rational act. [Gilad Atzmon: Indeed, as are many violent actions in a war. They are rational not ethical and not desirable. The Guardian published my letter in that regard.] and invited the Jewish people to apologise for being so hateful that the world has been forced to persecute them. [Gilad Atzmon: Here’s the quote in context: “Instead of constantly blaming the goyim for inflicting pain on Jews, it is time for Jews to look in the mirror and try to identify what it is in Jews and their culture that evokes so much fury. It may even be possible that some Jews would take this opportunity to apologise to the gentiles around them for evoking all this anger.”] He repeats some of the same discredited anti-Semitic views about Jewish power that were employed by the Nazi regime to pave the way for the holocaust, and he uses his blogs, videos and public talks to encourage others to share his hatred. [Gilad Atzmon: Noticeably, Silverman doesn’t present a single hateful comment by me.] In 2012, he was disavowed by a group of prominent Palestinian writers and activists who refused to have anything further to do with his anti-Semitism. [Gilad Atzmon: Here, he is telling you that a group of 20 Palestinian activists are more sensitive to accusations of anti-Semitism then they are in furthering their cause.]

We will endeavour to ensure that your actions, positive or negative, receive the attention that they deserve.

Kind regards
Stephen Silverman
Director of Investigations and Enforcement
Direct: 0330 822 XXXX extn 203

As I point out above, Silverman’s accusations are misleading. However, threatening emails from this specific Jewish charity raise some serious concerns. In August, 2017, after the CAA and Silverman sent similar threatening notes to an Oxford bookshop that refused to acquiesce to their demands, a member of the audience was the victim of a vicious physical attack that left him with a severe eye injury. After the attack, audience members, some of whom were Jewish, responded with angry letters to the CAA, but the British “charitable” organisation refused to take any responsibility for the attack.

Friday night’s [18 January] concert at the Progress Theatre was a sold-out success, in spite of Councillor Eden’s campaign and CAA’s threatening messages. Last night [19 January] we performed at the Ropetackle Arts Centre, which has received similar threatening emails from Silverman and one Simon Butler, a New York “CAA’s volunteer”.

The Ropetackle Arts Centre responded to the threats as follows:

The letter from Mr Silverman has been passed to me in my capacity as chairman of the charity which runs the Ropetackle Arts Centre.

We recently received a similar request from Simon Butler. After very careful consideration, we informed him that we were intending to go ahead with the concert. This remains our decision which we do not feel appropriate to explain or justify other than to point out that Gilad Atzmon has performed at our centre on numerous previous occasion without any complaint.”

If the CAA wants to fight anti-Semitism for real it should consider ceasing its operation tomorrow morning. Its mean-spirited attempt to ruin people financially reflects disastrously on it and anyone who is associated with its campaign. The more its operation and its methodology become known, the more likely the public is to believe that its bullying is supported by Jews in general. Such thoughts could lead to a real backlash, which is a result antithetical to the goals of those of us who oppose all racism and violence.

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Islington Council ban pro-Palestinian musician

Gilad Atzmon censored

By Eve Mykytyn

Why would a local Labour council, beset by austerity and unable to meet its constituents’ needs, take on the work and expense of banning a musician from a 90-minute Christmas concert? Apparently, the council, Islington’s, acted in sycophantic response to a request from Martin Rankoff, Director of Likud, UK, a member of the conservative Board of Directors of British Jews and a frequent and rude critic of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (see below the offensive picture posted by Rankoff’s Likud UK).

Offensive picture posted by Likud UK insulting Jeremy Corbyn

Offensive picture posted by Likud UK insulting Jeremy Corbyn

Rankoff claimed that he had been planning to go to the Blockheads’ Christmas concert (funny, he was not sure how or under whose name he bought tickets) but that he would not attend if one of the best saxophonists in the world, Gilad Atzmon, played the saxophone.

Instead of explaining to Rankoff that this was a musical, not a political, event, or that the council was obliged to allow anyone who expressed lawful views to perform or simply offer Rankoff a refund, the council rapidly acquiesced to Rankoff’s request to have an Atzmon-free concert. Elected Labour council head Richard Watts assured Rankoff that the council would ban Atzmon from playing and reminded Rankoff that the council continued to pledge fealty through a Hannakuh party and a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration.

The Blockheads and their promoter were instructed to remove Atzmon from their act based, the council claimed, on clauses 50 and 51 of the council’s “Live Events Terms and Conditions”, although those clauses are clearly meant to apply to neo-Nazi type political events. Since Atzmon’s devious plan was to play music, the council was unable to explain how his music constituted “dispersement of hate”.

Despite Watts’s assurance that he could ban Atzmon from playing the sax, Atzmon tried to exercise his right to earn a living and twice appealed the council’s decision. Two of the council’s staff, Martin Bevis and Ian Adams (they are respectively, Assistant Director and Director of Financial Operations and Community Service) were apparently authorised to decide Atzmon’s appeals. It is surprising that this power is within the scope of their qualifications and employment. So council employees, paid for by the taxpayers, were tasked with constructing banning letters instead of doing the work of the people.

The denial of Atzmon’s first appeal was signed by Martin Bevis, who  “cit[ed] almost entirely Zionist and Israeli sources to back up the claim that Atzmon is an ‘anti-Semite’. These sources include the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Haaretz, the Times of Israel, and The Forward.1

From these sources, Bevis declared that Atzmon had been “found to be, at the lowest, provocative and distasteful, and, at the highest, anti-Semitic and racist…” If Atzmon played at the concert, Bevis concluded, it could harm the relationships between the Jewish community and others. Apparently, this new rationale freed the council of its initial reliance on its Live Events manual and replaced it with a vaguely sourced standard of the need to please some of London’s residents.

“… to [Ian] Adams, an employee of a borough of London, the only valid authorities on [Gilad] Atzmon and on his academic and political supporters ‘are in the media run out of Israel’.”

In his writing denying Atzmon’s second appeal, Ian Adams proved to be an expert in Zionist thought as well. Adams dismissed Atzmon’s long list of distinguished academic and political endorsers, including (among others) Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University; John Merscheimer, chaired professor at the University of Chicago; Karl Sabbagh, a British-Palestinian film producer and author of The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics (as well as others); and James Petras, Emeritus Professor at the University of Birmingham. Adams claimed: “I have found that the majority of them would appear to have also been subject to significant controversy or allegations of being anti-Semitic themselves.” As Richard Hugus points out, to Adams, an employee of a borough of London, the only valid authorities on Atzmon and on his academic and political supporters “are in the media run out of Israel”.

Did Adams or any of the council even have time to read any of Atzmon’s work or that of his endorsers before they passed judgment? How can the council ban Atzmon for his lawful intellectual work without examining what he has said? At a minimum, did they read the critical sources cited? If not, that would explain as mere copying the repetition of inaccurate quotations. Interestingly, the page citing denunciations of  Atzmon’s endorsers was sent directly from the council’s lawyers well after Adams’s letter was delivered.

Atzmon’s only remaining remedy is a petition for judicial review of the council’s ruling. But before Atzmon’s appeals ran out and judicial review might have necessitated legal representation, the council chose two partners from one of Britain’s most expensive firms, Simkins,LLP, to represent it. One of the lawyers has represented Sheldon Adelson, generous funder of Donald Trump and the Likud Party in Israel, but surely there is no connection between that representation and the original complainant, the director of Likud UK. How does the cash-strapped council justify the use of taxpayer funds to hire an expensive law firm to protect its citizens from a saxophone? Perhaps the council’s seemingly excessive move of utilizing two law partners was to help prepare appeal responses so that  possible judicial review would more likely favour the council.

“…given the ample evidence of collusion between Labour and Likud, the colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and the likelihood that the council had acted beyond the scope of its authority, the British public was entitled to know the whole story and reach its own conclusions.”

Who knows what the results of judicial review might be. In the British Parliament 80 per cent of Conservative MPs belong to the Conservative Friends of Israel and there are 118 Labour MPs belonging to Friends of Israel. Will the courts in such a system support free speech and the basic right to earn a living or will they cater to one group? Are England’s judges prepared to rule that a philosopher whose views upset some people ought not be allowed to perform as part of a band at a musical event? Is it kosher to ban a law abiding citizen, let alone one listed among the “one hundred living peace and justice activists, advocates, models?” 

Rather than rolling the weighted dice, Atzmon chose to postpone judicial review and publicly reveal the ban and its bizarre justifications. He believed that given the ample evidence of collusion between Labour and Likud, the colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and the likelihood that the council had acted beyond the scope of its authority, the British public was entitled to know the whole story and reach its own conclusions. The hope is for more than a judicial ruling: it is for a grassroots effort to change the decision making power allotted to one group only.

Atzmon’s decision proved effective. The story has spread rapidly through social media and has become an international news item. The public has reacted with outrage: over 6,500 signed an online petition asking the council to reconsider its actions, and the council has received thousands of complaints. Hundreds of people have written to the council under the Freedom of Information Act to get the minutes of the meetings during which the council decided to ban a musician.

The council has yet to respond.

If you are a British citizen, you can file a Freedom of Information request asking for records relating to Gilad Atzmon’s ban, the standards relied upon for that purpose and the process and assistance used by Bevis and Adams in their decision making.

You can do this by using Islington Council’s complaints form here, by writing to Islington Council at 222 Upper Street, London N1 1XR, or by fax to 020 7527 5001.

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