Archive | February 8th, 2020

Oslo vs. Trump’s Vision: How U.S. Mideast Plan Differs From Its Predecessors

From the way it was created and the way it was unveiled to the actual content, these are the major differences between the new peace plan and previous ones

David B. Green 

The map of Israel and Palestine as proposed in Donald Trump's peace plan.
The map of Israel and Palestine as proposed in Donald Trump’s peace plan.

When you peel away the significant differences in the way the Trump peace plan was compiled and presented to both sides, how do its actual provisions shape up next to predecessor frameworks for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, such as the Oslo Accords?

Of course, the way the new plan was assembled and announced at the White House on Tuesday could not fail to have an impact on the way it would be received among Palestinians and Israelis. In the former case, the response was complete derision.skip – Peace to Prosperity: The Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan – click to downloadIN FULL: Trump’s Middle East peace plan – click to download

How, then, does “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” – as the full, 181-page text of the Trump plan is called – propose dealing with the major issues of contention, and how does it compare with the terms of Oslo?

First, the Oslo plan was a “declaration of principles,” worked out in secret by Israeli and Palestinians negotiators, and meant to serve as the framework for a staged peace plan that would be negotiated and implemented incrementally by the sides within five years.

The gradual nature of the process was intended to allow for the development of trust and goodwill, in the hope that when the time came to deal with the most sensitive issues – in particular, the status of Jerusalem and the future of the Palestinian refugees, as well as the question of Palestinian statehood – the sides would already have enough at stake to insure they would be able and willing to make the necessary compromises to complete the deal. Obviously, they never got to that point.

However, one indication of where the Oslo framework might have ended up can be seen in the so-called Clinton Parameters of December 2000, negotiated as the second intifada raged, and never implemented. They are significant because they were accepted in principle by both then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who just a half year earlier had failed to reach agreement on final-status issues at the ill-fated Camp David summit.

The Trump plan aims to offer answers to all of the pressing issues, and states a priori that at the end of the process there will be a State of Palestine in place next to the State of Israel. However, whereas Oslo may have left too many crucial issues to the end, the Trump plan – written in extensive detail by the U.S. administration in conjunction with the Israelis, with no Palestinian participation – is apparently being offered to the latter on a “take it or leave it” basis.

It leaves little for the two sides to negotiate, even if the Palestinians were willing to do so. Furthermore, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already agreed to the terms of the plan, and says he wants to begin implementing parts of it immediately, it is not clear that the drafters really care about a Palestinian response.

Here’s how Oslo and the Clinton Parameters compare with Trump’s “Vision” on the major issues…


The Trump plan does not accept the principle (as presented in UN Security Council Resolution 242) of Israel’s pre-1967 borders serving as the starting point for negotiations. Instead, it aspires to allow “approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank [to be] … incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory, and approximately 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank [to be] … incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory.”

It imagines all of the Jordan Valley being annexed by Israel, and for no settlements to be uprooted, with the “vast majority” of them being annexed and incorporated “into contiguous Israeli territory.”

For the Palestinians, the contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank, and the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, as well as between Palestinian enclaves created within the West Bank, would be provided by “access roads” and other “first-rate infrastructure solutions (including tunnels and overpasses).”

In the Oslo Accords, the question of borders was to be part of the permanent status negotiations that were due to take place during the five-year transitional period. Following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 and the election of Netanyahu the following year, the final borders were never agreed upon by both sides.

The Camp David talks included an Israeli proposal to secure the Jordan Valley on a long-term lease and to annex a reported 13 percent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but, as noted, the meeting ended with no agreement.


The Trump plan also calls for “land swaps,” by which Israel would compensate the Palestinians with territory from within sovereign Israel that would be equivalent to the West Bank lands to be annexed by Israel. As an example of Israeli land that could be relinquished, the Trump plan explicitly proposes, “subject to the agreement of the parties,” the transfer of the Arab “Triangle communities” in central Israel to the future Palestinian state. (It’s not clear whether the agreement of the citizens living in those communities would be required for them to be disenfranchised by Israel.)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaking after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, January 22, 2020.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaking after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, January 22, 2020.Majdi Mohammed/AP

The plan also includes Israeli territory along the southern border with Egypt being transferred to the Palestinians for the establishment of a “high-tech” manufacturing zone and a residential and agricultural area. These would be linked to the Gaza Strip by a road.

The Oslo Accords stated that negotiations would take as a starting point UN resolutions 242 and 338, which called for a return of Israel to the pre-1967 borders. In his final speech to the Knesset before his death, Rabin spoke of major clusters of Jewish population in the West Bank being incorporated into Israel, with the rest of the West Bank and all of Gaza becoming part of Palestine, which he imagined as “less than a state.”

In the Clinton Parameters, which both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to tentatively, between 94 to 96 percent of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, would revert to Palestinian sovereignty, with settlement blocs and 80 percent of the settler population remaining under Israeli control.


According to the Trump plan, Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel, with the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods currently situated beyond the West Bank security barrier (e.g., Shoafat refugee camp, Abu Dis) becoming the Palestinian capital. Access to the city’s holy sites, including Temple Mount, would be available to all, and the current supervision by Muslim authorities over their holy sites (principally, Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock) would be maintained. The plan does not propose dismantling the security barrier.

Oslo left the future of Jerusalem to be negotiated by the parties as a final-status issue.


Under the Trump plan, Palestine would be “fully demilitarized” – both the West Bank and Gaza, where Hamas would have to be disarmed – and Israel would maintain responsibility for the state’s external security. Palestinian security forces would be responsible principally for “public order, law enforcement, counterterrorism … [and] border security.” Israel would maintain the right to monitor border crossings, “to confirm that no weapons, dual-use or other security-risk related items will be allowed to enter into the State of Palestine.”

President Donald Trump shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, January 28, 2020.
President Donald Trump shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, January 28, 2020.Alex Brandon/AP

The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, which although intended to be a temporary arrangement until a final agreement was negotiated, are still in place today. In Area A, the towns are nominally under full Palestinian control; in Area B, Palestinians oversee control of civilian affairs while Israel is in charge of security; and Area C, where most of the settler communities reside, is under full Israeli control.

According to the Clinton Parameters, Israel was to maintain a “temporary” presence in the Jordan Valley, and three permanent early-warning stations along the Jordan border, with the Palestinians controlling their own airspace.


The Trump plan states explicitly that there shall be no Palestinian “right of return,” and that no refugees will be absorbed into the State of Israel. Rather, solutions for the refugees would have to be found within Palestine or other states in the region. The plan speaks vaguely of an American intention to “endeavor to raise a fund to provide some compensation to Palestinian refugees,” while calling for a mechanism to be created to compensate Israel for the money it spent over the years in absorbing Jewish refugees from the Arab and Muslim world following its declaration of statehood.

Refugees were another critical issue the Oslo Declaration of Principles left for future resolution. According to the Clinton Parameters, though, Israel was to recognize in principle the “moral and material suffering caused to the Palestinian people by the 1948 war, and the need to assist the international community in addressing the problem,” while the Palestinians were to waive their demand for an unlimited right of return.

Economic development and trade

The Trump plan places an emphasis on economic factors and imagines an international effort to raise $50 billion for investment in the Palestinian state during its first decade. It also speaks of Palestinians being able to use Israel’s Mediterranean ports of Ashdod and Haifa, although neither Gaza nor the West Bank have direct access to those cities. There is no mention, however, of either a seaport or airport in Gaza. The Palestinians would have the right to continue farming in the Jordan Valley, though this land would now be part of sovereign Israel, and they would have the right to use the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.

The Paris Protocol of 1995 was an agreement incorporated into the Oslo Accords that proposed an Israeli-Palestinian customs union. In 1998, Yasser Arafat International Airport opened in Gaza (it was destroyed by Israel three years later, during the intifada), and there were plans to enlarge the Gaza seaport.

There were other attempts this century at bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But while the efforts of President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, were not deemed worthy even of mention in the Trump plan, another effort is recognized: the Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed in 2002 and reconfirmed five years later. 

The Trump plan writes that “the involvement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Arab Peace Initiative increased the number of potential peace partners and introduced important concepts into the peace process. Much appreciation is owed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in the creation of the Arab Peace Initiative, which inspired some of the ideas contemplated by this Vision.”

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Today’s ‘NY Times’ report on the new annexation plan is a disgusting example of pro-‘Israel’ bias

New York Times headquarters

New York Times headquarters

Today’s front-page New York Times report on the Trump/Netanyahu annexation plan is a disgusting example of pro-Israel bias. In the U.S., Times coverage matters more than ever, because regional newspapers have cut their own foreign reporting and TV network news divisions similarly station very few correspondents overseas anymore. In the 2020 American media landscape, the Times sets the tone.

First, the Times calls the Trump/Netanyahu proposal a “peace plan,” without quotation marks or other indications that the very definition is vigorously challenged. Many already argue that “annexation plan” is more accurate, but the paper ignores them.

Next, the long Times article repeats the Trump/Netanyahu view at length, and barely lets critics get a word in edgewise. The paper gives Trump, Netanyahu and their supporters 11 paragraphs to expound their views, making the article sound more like a White House press release than a balanced look.

Only one single Palestinian is allowed to comment — Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Here is Abbas’s brief quote: “We say a thousand times over: no, no, no.” The effect is to portray the Palestinians as knee-jerk naysayers, without a substantive critique. Meanwhile, CNN International did track down Noura Erakat, the distinguished Palestinian-American legal scholar, who gave a thoughtful response on air. Why didn’t the New York Times call her, and other Palestinians who could have explained in detail what’s wrong with the “peace plan?”

Instead, the first semi-critic of the annexation plan doesn’t come on stage until paragraph 24, and he turns out to be a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Israel lobby think tank affiliated with AIPAC. But even the fellow, David Makovsky, did not try to hide that the Trump announcement “reaffirms the worst fears that this is more an annexation plan than a peace plan.”

The Times report barely mentions Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The paper nowhere says how many Israeli “settlers” have moved there illegally. In fact, the only time the word “occupation” appears is in a quote at the very end from Senator Bernie Sanders, who called for an end to it. (Sanders’s statement is in the article’s online version, but he didn’t make the cut into the print edition.)

The Times report nowhere mentions another sinister feature of the annexation plan — the threat to de-nationalize Palestinians who live today within Israel’s 1967 borders, and force them into the new Palestinian “state.” Shock and fear at this proposal was all over the internet, but the Times reporters couldn’t be bothered. 

The paper included an unconsciously humorous statement. It said Trump’s announcement “ended years of suspense over a highly anticipated peace plan.” This is either a lie or journalistic malpractice. There was no “suspense;” the only question was precisely how pro Netanyahu the annexation proposal would be.

Finally, we have to turn to the honest Israeli newspaper Haaretz to find an angle that the pathetically gullible Times report missed: the Trump/Netanyahu plan counts on the Palestinians to turn it down. Here’s what Amir Tibon says today:

The only part of the Trump plan that will assuredly be implemented is the annexation bit. All other parts of the plan will be contingent on Palestinian acceptance of a plan that, as previously written in Haaretz, was written with the clear intention of getting the Palestinians to reject it. This means that as a result of the plan, Israel will continue to control the entire West Bank and no Palestinian state will be established.

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Zionist dirty propaganda ‘Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose’

Things rarely go well for those who try to live history backward.

By:  Bret Stephens

Palestinians protesting President Trump’s plan for Middle East peace.
Palestinians protesting President Trump’s plan for Middle East peace.Credit…Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Regarding President Trump’s peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the instant conventional wisdom is that it’s a geopolitical nonstarter, a gift to Benjamin Netanyahu and an electoral ploy by the president to win Jewish votes in Florida rather than Palestinian hearts in Ramallah.

It may be all of those things. But nobody will benefit less from a curt dismissal of the plan than the Palestinians themselves, whose leaders are again letting history pass them by.

The record of Arab-Israeli peace efforts can be summed up succinctly: Nearly every time the Arab side said no, it wound up with less.

That was true after it rejected the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan, which would have created a Palestinian state on a much larger footprint than the one that was left after Israel’s war of independence. It was true in 1967, after Jordan refused Israel’s entreaties not to attack, which resulted in the end of Jordanian rule in the West Bank.

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It was true in 2000, when Syria rejected an Israeli offer to return the Golan Heights, which ultimately led to U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty of that territory. It was true later the same year, after Yasir Arafat refused Israel’s offer of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, which led to two decades of terrorism, Palestinian civil war, the collapse of the Israeli peace camp and the situation we have now.

It’s in that pattern that the blunt rejection by Palestinian leaders of the Trump plan — the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, denounced it as a “conspiracy deal” — should be seen. Refusal today will almost inevitably lead to getting less tomorrow.

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That isn’t to say that the plan, as it now stands, can come as anything but a disappointment to most Palestinians. It allows Israel to annex its West Bank settlements and the long Jordan Valley. It concedes full Israeli sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem. It conditions eventual Palestinian statehood on full demilitarization of a Palestinian state and the disarming of Hamas. It compensates Palestinians for lost territories in the West Bank with remote territories near the Egyptian border. The map of a future Palestine looks less like an ordinary state than it does the M.R.I. of a lung or kidney.

Then again, much of what the plan gives to Israel, Israel already has and will never relinquish — which explains why the plan was hailed not only by Netanyahu but also by his centrist rival Benny Gantz. Critics of Israeli policy often insist that a Palestinian state is necessary to preserve Israel as a Jewish democracy. True enough. But in that case, those critics should respect the painful conclusions Israelis have drawn about just what kind of Palestinian state they can safely accept.

More important, however, is what the plan offers ordinary Palestinians — and what it demands of their leaders. What it offers is a sovereign state, mostly contiguous territory, the return of prisoners, a link to connect Gaza and the West Bank, and $50 billion in economic assistance. What it demands is an end to anti-Jewish bigotry in school curriculums, the restoration of legitimate political authority in Gaza and the dismantling of terrorist militias.

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Taken together, this would be a historic achievement, not the “scam” that liberal critics of the deal claim. The purpose of a Palestinian state ought to be to deliver dramatically better prospects for the Palestinian people, not tokens of self-importance for their kleptocratic and repressive leaders.

That begins with improving the quality of Palestinian governance, first of all by replacing leaders whose principal interests lie in perpetuating their misrule. If Abbas — now in the 16th year of his elected four-year term of office — really had Palestinian interests at heart, he would step down. So would Hamas’s cruel and cynical leaders in Gaza. That the peace plan insists on the latter isn’t an obstacle to Palestinian statehood. It’s a prerequisite for it.

At the same time, it’s also essential to temper Palestinian expectations. The Jewish state has thrived in part because, dayenu, it has always been prepared to make do with less. The Palestinian tragedy has been the direct result of taking the opposite approach: of insisting on the maximum rather than working toward the plausible. Things rarely go well for those who try to live history backward.

For all the talk about Trump’s plan being dead on arrival, it says something that it has been met with an open mind by some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They know only too well that the Arab world has more important challenges to deal with than Palestinian statehood. They know, too, that decades of relentless hostility toward the Jewish state have been a stupendous mistake. The best thing the Arab world could do for itself is learn from Israel, not demonize it.

That ought to go for the Palestinians as well. The old cliché about Palestinians never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity has, sadly, more than a bit of truth in it. Nobody ought to condemn them to make the same mistake again.

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Is Bin Shalom a Zionist?

Is Mohammad Bin Salman a Zionist? 

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (R) is welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (not seen) with an official welcoming ceremony at presidential palace in New Delhi, India on February 20, 2019 [Indian Foreign Ministry / Handout - Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia Zio-Wahhabi bin Shalom (R) in New Delhi, India on 20 February 2019

By: Motasem A Dalloul 

Last week, a prominent Saudi Sheikh, Mohammed Al-Issa, visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation, which signalled the end of the Nazi Holocaust. Although dozens of Muslim scholars have visited the site, where about one million Jews were killed during World War Two, according to the Auschwitz Memorial Centre’s press office, Al-Issa is the most senior Muslim religious leader to do so.

Visiting Auschwitz is not a problem for a Muslim; Islam orders Muslims to reject unjustified killing of any human being, no matter what their faith is. Al-Issa is a senior ally of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), who apparently cares little for the sanctity of human life, though, and the visit to Auschwitz has very definite political connotations beyond any Islamic context.

By sending Al-Issa to the camp, Bin Salman wanted to show his support for Israel, which exploits the Holocaust for geopolitical colonial purposes. “The Israeli government decided that it alone was permitted to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied liberation of Auschwitz [in modern day Poland] in 1945,” wrote journalist Richard Silverstein recently when he commented on the gathering of world leaders in Jerusalem for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Holocaust event.

READ: Next up, a Saudi embassy in Jerusalem 

Bin Salman uses Al Issa for such purposes, as if to demonstrate his own Zionist credentials. For example, the head of the Makkah-based Muslim World League is leading rapprochement efforts with Evangelical Christians who are, in the US at least, firm Zionists in their backing for the state of Israel. Al-Issa has called for a Muslim-Christian-Jewish interfaith delegation to travel to Jerusalem in what would, in effect, be a Zionist troika.

Zionism is not a religion, and there are many non-Jewish Zionists who desire or support the establishment of a Jewish state in occupied Palestine. The definition of Zionism does not mention the religion of its supporters, and Israeli writer Sheri Oz, is just one author who insists that non-Jews can be Zionists.

Mohammad Bin Salman and Netanyahu - Cartoon []

Mohammad Bin Salman and Netanyahu – Cartoon []

We should not be shocked, therefore, to see a Zionist Muslim leader in these trying times. It is reasonable to say that Bin Salman’s grandfather and father were Zionists, as close friends of Zionist leaders. Logic suggests that Bin Salman comes from a Zionist dynasty.

This has been evident from his close relationship with Zionists and positive approaches to the Israeli occupation and establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, calling it “[the Jews’] ancestral homeland”. This means that he has no issue with the ethnic cleansing of almost 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, during which thousands were killed and their homes demolished in order to establish the Zionist state of Israel.

“The ‘Jewish state’ claim is how Zionism has tried to mask its intrinsic Apartheid, under the veil of a supposed ‘self-determination of the Jewish people’,” wrote Israeli blogger Jonathan Ofir in Mondoweiss in 2018, “and for the Palestinians it has meant their dispossession.”

As the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Bin Salman has imprisoned dozens of Palestinians, including representatives of Hamas. In doing so he is serving Israel’s interests. Moreover, he has blamed the Palestinians for not making peace with the occupation state. Bin Salman “excoriated the Palestinians for missing key opportunities,” wrote Danial Benjamin in Moment magazine. He pointed out that the prince’s father, King Salman, has played the role of counterweight by saying that Saudi Arabia “permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.”

UN expert: Saudi crown prince behind hack on Amazon CEO 

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 13 News reported Bin Salman as saying: “In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining.” This is reminiscent of the words of the late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, one of the Zionist founders of Israel, that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Bin Salman’s Zionism is also very clear in his bold support for US President Donald Trump’s deal of the century, which achieves Zionist goals in Palestine at the expense of Palestinian rights. He participated in the Bahrain conference, the forum where the economic side of the US deal was announced, where he gave “cover to several other Arab countries to attend the event and infuriated the Palestinians.”

U.S. President Donald Trump looks over at Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud as they line up for the family photo during the opening day of Argentina G20 Leaders' Summit 2018 at Costa Salguero on 30 November 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. [Daniel Jayo/Getty Images]

US President Donald Trump looks over at Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud as they line up for the family photo during the opening day of Argentina G20 Leaders’ Summit 2018 at Costa Salguero on 30 November 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina [Daniel Jayo/Getty Images]

While discussing the issue of the current Saudi support for Israeli policies and practices in Palestine with a credible Palestinian official last week, he told me that the Palestinians had contacted the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to ask him not to relocate his country’s embassy to Jerusalem. “The Saudis have been putting pressure on us in order to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem,” replied the Brazilian leader. What more evidence of Mohammad Bin Salman’s Zionism do we need?

The founder of Friends of Zion Museum is American Evangelical Christian Mike Evans. He said, after visiting a number of the Gulf States, that, “The leaders [there] are more pro-Israel than a lot of Jews.” This was a specific reference to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and his counterpart in the UAE, Mohammed Bin Zayed.

“All versions of Zionism lead to the same reactionary end of unbridled expansionism and continued settler colonial genocide of [the] Palestinian people,” Israeli-American writer and photographer Yoav Litvin wrote for Al Jazeera. We may well see an Israeli Embassy opened in Riyadh in the near future, and a Saudi Embassy in Tel Aviv or, more likely, Jerusalem. Is Mohammad Bin Salman a Zionist? There’s no doubt about it.

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Trump’s reelection campaign kicks off ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’

President Donald Trump smiles as pastor Paula White prepares to lead the room in prayer, during a dinner for evangelical leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ** FILE **
President Donald Trump smiles as pastor Paula White prepares to lead the room in prayer, during a dinner for evangelical leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ** … more >

 By Cheryl K. Chumley

Paula Whitedubbed in 2016 as Donald Trump’s “personal pastor,” kicked off the president’s reelection campaign in Florida with an opening prayer that referenced the “demonic networks” that have aligned to destroy this White House.

She wasn’t just talking about CNN. LOL.

But the key takeaway from her prayer was this: White said “Jesus.”

And in this day and age, where bland public prayers are OK, but calling out the name of Jesus is cause for lawsuit, White’s refusal to stand down on her faith is really rather remarkable.

“Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus,” White said, The Hill reported.

Try that at a local government meeting — the “in the name of Jesus” part — and watch the fireworks fall.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, one of the left’s attack dogs against Christianity in the public square, writes this in its “State/Church FAQ” online section: “It is inappropriate for public officials — many of whom have tax-paid positions and all of whom take an oath to uphold secular constitutions — to schedule prayer at government functions, or open government meetings with prayer and religious ritual.”

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The Party’s Over: Bernie’s Last Dance With the Dems


Drawing By Nathaniel St. Clair

The Good

I wrote six articles (123456) about the Bernie Sanders campaign during the 2016 primary. As everyone keeps saying, Bernie is a paragon of consistency, so my understanding of him stands unchanged. The political situation in 2020 is, however, significantly different, and has opened up new possibilities for the Sanders campaign. On the eve of the first primary vote in Iowa, let’s consider what those possibilities are and where this campaign is taking its constituents and the Democratic Party.

Bernie himself is the same as he ever was. A moderate welfare-state Social Democrat, not a socialist or even anti-capitalist; anti-war with an historically anti-imperialist, but now imperialist-accommodating, tinge; nominally independent but functionally an auxiliary Democrat; fiercely critical of Republicans but stubbornly shy about criticizing Democratic colleagues. He is also, I think, honest and trustworthy. You can see that he takes and fights for the positions he does because he believes in them, not because he is opportunistically pandering to a specific audience segment or to the donor class.

To be clear, even though, from my decidedly more leftist, socialist point of view, I have no illusions about Bernie’s faults (and was pretty ruthless about them in those 2016 essays), I hope he wins and will vote for him. Indeed, I changed my registration in New York to vote for him in the Democratic primary, and I would certainly vote for him in the general. He would be the first Democratic presidential candidate I have voted for in decades.

That’s because there is a difference in kind between Bernie and the other Democratic candidates, a difference unlike the differences among them. It’s the difference between a principled Social Democratic program to meet human needs, based on and supported by a mass movement, and a program of neoliberal tinkering to protect profit-making possibilities, based on and supported by capitalist donors/the donor class.

His nomination would be a radical departure and would radically disrupt the Democratic Party and the whole political game, and he would have a great chance to win, opening new and substantively different and left, social-democratic possibilities in the U.S.

Nowhere is this more evident than in his Medicare-for-All program, and nothing has been more revelatory then watching fauxgressives like Warren and Buttigieg moonwalk away from it. Bernie’s universal coverage single-payer program establishes healthcare as a human right, not a commodity. It concretely benefits the lives and enhances the social power of the great majority of citizens by taking public control of an essential service, and eliminating a predatory capitalist industry. That is why all the other Democratic candidates (save perhaps Tulsi, who has been unfairly but effectively rendered moot) reject it: they prefer maintaining health care as a commodity sold to consumers for a profit, just adding a generic version on the supermarket shelf; their “public option” is all about preserving the “profit option.”

Similar principled differences can be seen in programs like free tuition, and cancellation of medical and student debt. Bernie’s framework, which establishes a universal public right, is different in kind not just degree from other candidates’ frameworks that maintain tiers of assistance based on income—thus, reinforcing class divisions and resentments, keeping everyone aware of who gets “welfare” and who’s “paying their way,” reminding poor people that they’re not precariously “middle-class,” and vice-versa.

So, no, Bernie’s programs will not overthrow capitalism. Indeed, as he constantly says, they are standard fare in most advanced capitalist countries. They are just the kind of “non-reformist reforms” that establish greater control of resources and services by and for the public, governed by “human needs and demands” rather than profitability—a basic social democratic framework.

But for the United States that’s a hell of a “just.” If these programs don’t achieve a workers’ revolution they sure put the working class in a much less precarious position from which to fight for it. Bernie deserves enormous credit for being the single politician who has brought all these issues—and the concept of “socialism” itself—into U.S. political discourse in a way that cannot be ignored or dismissed, and he’s done it by inspiring a mass movement with incredible energy. What leftist, no matter how radical, would not want to see a real social democratic framework starting to displace a neoliberal one in the U.S.? Who can’t recognize there’s something unprecedented and seriously positive about a leader who, instead of promising to walk us more slowly to the cliff, is showing us we can turn around and go in another direction?

Even on those foreign policy (loosely-defined) issues where I find his positions atrocious—calling Maduro a “dictator,” refusing to defend Julian Assange, reinforcing the phony Russiagate narrative, clinging to two-state liberal zionism, etc.—Bernie is a different kind of political actor than any Democratic politician who is now or ever has been close to the nomination. I would say with some confidence that Bernie is not going to attack Venezuela (or Iran) and may very well remove sanctions, that he is not going to endorse Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, that he will try to reverse the nuclear and space-arms race and try to reduce defense spending, that he may possibly stop the prosecution of Assange, etc. I cannot say any of those things about any of the other candidates. So, yeah, Bernie Sanders is not going to end U.S. imperialism; he will just put it into hibernation and take us back from the brink of war with countries like Iran and Russia. Just.

So I won’t begrudge leftists who find some of these positions disqualifying, but I’ll vote for him, and I hope he wins the Democratic nomination and the general election, since either of those victories would disrupt the US political order in a promising way. I also think he would have an excellent chance of winning the general election, and a slight chance of winning the Democratic nomination. It is the fight for the latter that is going to disrupt the American political order over the next six months, and will, I hope, deal a catastrophic blow to the two-party system.

To win the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders would have to have a majority of pledged delegates going into the Democratic convention, which is highly unlikely. The value of my left vote in that context is to make sure that Bernie Sanders goes to the convention with as big a plurality of delegates as possible. Thus, if/when the DNC gifts the nomination to another candidate, it will be clear to Bernie supporters that the Democratic Party could never be anything but an obstruction to a progressive social democratic program. The better Bernie does, the more likely his rejection by the Party will result in an irreversible mass Demexit.

If I had written this a few weeks ago I would not have added “virtually” to “impossible” above. And it’s worth noting what’s changed since the primary in 2016, as evidenced by the events of the past few weeks, that gives this year’s Bernie campaign unprecedented strength.

The first thing that’s changed is that Bernie has been in it to win it from the beginning. This contrasts with the 2016 primary campaign, where his advisors admitted he entered the race “to spread his political message…rather than do whatever it took to win the nomination.” Like everybody else, Bernie assumed that Hillary was the inevitable nominee. After all, he had nowhere near her public recognition. It was understood that he would get a few months to highlight his signature issues of healthcare and inequality before exiting gracefully, probably right after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, to attend Hillary’s unimpeded march to her coronation.

It was only after his virtual tie in Iowa (49.8-49.6%) and surprise blowout win in NH (60.1-37.7%) that his campaign shifted into the higher gears of contention. But he was still having to make up ground against a well-known party luminary with widespread support among the party constituency and with a highly experienced and well-financed political machine that had been prepared for years. Hillary’s victory was assumed by everybody, including the Bernie camp, at the outset and throughout the campaign. That’s a main reason Hillary is so pissed off at him for not dropping out earlier.

Bernie was definitely a sheepdog in 2016, because he herded good and sincere progressives into the establishment-Democratic Clinton campaign. But he was also an underdog, who—like most of his supporters—knew, and was primed to accept that outcome as inevitable from the beginning.

Bernie enters the 2020 primary campaign under entirely different conditions. There is certainly no inevitable candidate. Bernie has public recognition, a base of support, and a campaign organization at least as good as anyone else in the race—as well as a fundraising capacity that is nothing short of spectacular. He’s riding on a larger wave of disgust among the Democratic constituency with all the party establishment’s political and policy failures—including Hillary’s inability to defeat Donald Trump—that has already brought insurgent progressives like AOC to the fore. He comes in as the guy with the bold progressive policies, in relation to which every other candidate must define themselves—usually by pretending to agree with them and concocting some hollowed-out ersatz version thereof. There is certainly no inevitable candidate that impedes him. If anything, he enters the race in the strongest position.

As the campaign has progressed, he has certainly become stronger while most of the new cool kids (Beto, Kamala, Booker) have fallen by the wayside. Most pleasing to me were the unintended effects of Elizabeth Warren’s various maneuvers—starting with her moonwalking away from her oft-stated support of Medicare-for-all and culminating in her foot-shot stunt, accusing Bernie of dismissing the possibility of a woman becoming president and oh-so-cleverly putting herself in a tight “Either he’s lying or I am” box. ‘Cause who would disbelieve a Native American woman?

All of this triangulating, pandering, and betrayal helped many well-meaning progressives see what many of us have been trying to get across for years: that Warren is not at all a bird of Bernie’s feather, but a creature of an altogether different serpentine order. It’s now quite clear that Bernie is the only real progressive candidate in the Democratic race.

With Warren nicely slip-sliding down in the polls, Bernie is also now alone in the top tier with Joe Biden.

Problem is, Joe Biden is a compulsive liar and fabulist. As Shaun King demonstrates in a devastating analysis and Twitter thread, it’s a lifelong pattern. He really can’t stop himself from lying in the most transparent and self-destructive ways, “creating entire fictional storylines to impress white liberals & connect w/ Black voters.” He continues to this day repeating false stories about his heroic activities in the civil-rights movement that he admitted thirty years ago were lies. Joe’s zombie lies. It’s the same pattern with his lies about his stances on the Iraq War and Social Security.

Biden already had one presidential campaign destroyed by this compulsion, in 1988. The only reason it hasn’t happened in this campaign yet is because the Democratic establishment-aligned media, and its oh-so-concerned-with-the-truth fact-checkers who keep a running tally of Trump’s lies every day, have been glossing over Joe’s lies to help him in the primaries. But the internet preserves forever and distributes everywhere, and Biden would be Trump toast:

Shaun King@shaunking · Jan 30, 2020

For nearly 50 years, @JoeBiden has publicly pretended to have been a part of the Civil Rights Movement.

He’s not “exaggerating” or “embellishing,” he is creating entire fictional storylines to impress white liberals & connect w/ Black voters.

It must be confronted

A thread…

Shaun King@shaunking

When running for office, @JoeBiden does not just have gaffes or embellishments, he creates wildly fictional storylines about his life and work that simply are not true.

These are lies. And he tells them to get votes and build a rep he has not earned.5,15511:52 AM – Jan 30, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy2,142 people are talking about this

It gets worse, because right now Jumpy Joe is also an awkward and often incoherent campaigner. Take a look at this exchange with an Iowa voter concerned about pipelines, where a petulant, angry Biden gets all pushy and grabby, tells the guy to “go vote for someone else,” misprofiles him as a Bernie supporter, and refuses to take a picture with him.

Turns out this guy is Ed Fallon, a former Democratic state representative and climate activist who walked and documented the entire Iowa route of the Dakota Access pipeline. He was “shocked” by the encounter, and wrote a response that perfectly captures the Biden problem:

What was even more shocking was how Biden pushed and poked me, and then took hold of my jacket with both hands as he lectured me.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it one more time: Joe Biden is the Democratic candidate LEAST likely to beat Donald Trump. His demeanor on the stump will inevitably come back to bite him, perhaps repeatedly. His propensity to violate personal space is a huge non-asset in politics, and his frequent gaffes are prime fodder for opponents and the media.

So front-runner Joe can’t exactly be inspiring confidence among the Democratic establishment. More like an electoral disaster percolating before our eyes. Joe Biden is a zombie candidate telling zombie lies. Nothing would be more disastrous for the Democratic Party’s anti-Bernie strategy (and nothing seems more inevitable) than an egregious, public Biden meltdown.

As I write, Bernie is now a clear favorite in Iowa and New Hampshire, likely to be coming out of those contests in a couple of weeks with at least one strong win, the lead among diverse swaths of the electorate and a huge cash war chest. He’s now leading the polls in California and within 2 points of Biden in Texas in the latest poll. Things will change rapidly, but right now, Bernie has the mo.

Furthermore, the new 15% rule that the Democrats created to advantage to the early frontrunner, whom they never imagined would be Bernie, is now working in his favor. Under that rule, delegates are allocated only to candidates who receive at least 15% of the vote. That is going to make it hard for third-place, and very hard for fourth-place and below finishers to get delegates. The second-string moderates—Warren, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar—are all right now struggling to hit that 15% mark. One New Hampshire poll has nobody y but Bernie over 15%. It will be hard for any candidate who cannot get a single delegate in the first three primaries to stay in the race.

That’s not just because it will be hard as an individual to raise money and support, but also because the Party establishment, well aware of Biden’s precarity, will be desperate to keep delegates away from Bernie. It will pressure candidates who have shown an inability to reach 15% to get out of the way for someone who can.

But who? One would think they’d settle on Warren, but if she’s clearly on a downslide she might actually be the first to go, allowing them to pour money and resources into someone who has been moving up a bit, like Warren’s New York Times sister wife, Klobuchar.

Of course, she, or Mayo Pete, is such an obvious dud that they may fall back on clearing everyone else out and hope Michael Bloomberg, as the third candidate (presuming Biden hasn’t decompensated on national television), can buy 15% of the vote in enough primaries to prevent Bernie amassing a majority of delegates.

Truth is, because all the other candidates are so clearly pandering opportunists and/or dedicated “nothing will fundamentally change” establishmentarians, all of whom will be shredded by tough-talking faux-populist Donald Trump, and because his strongest opponent, Joe Biden, is slipping in the polls and at risk of a meltdown, it is now possible for Bernie Sanders to win a majority of pledged delegates, and it’s very possible that he’ll win a plurality. Bernie’s now a top dog.

The Bad

But there’s also a lot that hasn’t gotten any better for Bernie since 2016.

First of all, the full resources of the Democratic Party’s machines in every state as well as its donor caste will be mobilized in every primary to prevent Bernie from winning or minimize any victory.

This will include the panoply of cheating mechanisms that were at work in 2016, including blatant cheating in Nevada and Chicago, the suppression of likely Bernie votes (200,000 in New York750,0002 million in California), and of course the designed-for-fraud electronic voting systems that gave Hillary statistically anomalous victories in 2016—way beyond pre-election and exit polling and only in states with impossible-to-audit electronic voting machines.

A screenshot of a cell phone Description automatically generated

I and many others have written about these scandalous, democracy-cancelling systems, and they have not gotten any better.

Will any or all of these stratagems be used to cheat Bernie again? Per Nick Brana, the national outreach coordinator for Bernie’s 2016 campaign: “Absolutely. The people that I worked with, the Democratic Party institution that I worked with in 2016, will never allow Bernie Sanders to become President. They are going to cheat him again. It’s going to be a repeat of 2016.”

The biggest problem here, from the perspective of those who are working hard for the “political revolution” that Bernie has inspired is that Sanders has had four years to publicize, denounce, and insist on correcting all of these methods of cheating, and has said or done nothing substantive to that end.

So if/when he, and that movement, are cheated out of the majority or large plurality of delegates by these stratagems, there is no one more responsible for it than Bernie himself. Cheat me once…. And if he refuses to identify this cheating and back up his own voters’ and supporters’ complaints about it as it is happening…well, that’s an element of Bernie’s troubling pattern: He doesn’t back himself as much as his supporters do.

We also know that Democratic establishmentarians, their donor base and their allied media will be engaging in a ferocious and constant ideological and personal assault on Bernie and his campaign. The Dem-aligned media have already spent months ignoring and erasing Bernie in their coverage. We will now see a constant stream of attacks, that has begun with the “Bernie Bros,” “women can’t win the presidency,” “doctored video,” Joe Rogan, and, of course, “anti-Semitism” jabs. These were so transparently concocted that they ended up helping Bernie. It’s also the case, as Krystal Ball says: “They don’t have any really good ways to take him on.” The trove of old Bernie videos shows him actually fighting for civil rights, chained to his black comrades. But the very powerful and wealthy powers-that-be are not going to stop. They are right now “scrambling” to find ways to take him down.

The key here is what Bernie does. Will he Corbyn-ize himself with death-by-a thousand apologies and backtracks, or will he take Kate Aronoff’s advice and “nip that shit in the bud”? Sanders’s refusal to back down on Joe’s Social Security/Medicare record, on the Warren accusation, and the Joe Rogan attacks augurs well in that respect. His apology for Zephyr Teachout’s entirely reasonable op-ed on Biden’s corruption problem, an apology even Bill Maher thought was unnecessary, not so much. Again, Bernie’s biggest potential weakness is Bernie himself.

The tendency to watch out for—Bernie’s possibly fatal flaw—is that, while he bites back hard on phony attacks from, and reactionary stances of, Republican opponents, he withholds or soft-pedals criticisms of the same things on the same issues from his Democratic “colleagues.” Can’t be too hard on Biden (as with Hillary), for example, lest you help Trump (or call Obama’s presidency into question). This is why it will be harder for him to win the Democratic primary than the general election.

A telling moment in the “villainous and shameful” CNN/Des Moines Register debate was when Bernie—after being shivved by Warren and portrayed as a reckless fantasist by everyone else on the stage—felt the need to declare, for the umpteenth time, that he would “do everything in my power” to get her or any of them elected.

Why? Nobody asked him for that. Nothing in the context demanded it. He signed the pledge. Why, in the midst of a personal betrayal and deliberate nuclear attack on his political life, does he feel the need to renew his vows, and make sure the people who are trying to kill him politically know he supports them?

Bernie, the people on that stage are not your “friends”! They are your enemies, every one of them. (The only exception might be Steyer!) It doesn’t make any difference how ferocious you are against Trump if you’re pulling all your punches against your Democratic opponents. You’ve got to beat them to get the nomination.

This is nothing else but Bernie signaling submission to the Democratic Party, which is—and keeps telling him it is—the enemy of everything he claims to stand for. It’s telling the party it can betray him in any way and still get his support. A foolish forfeit in advance. If there’s anything we learned from Trump in 2016, it’s that, in today’s U.S. political culture, an “anti-establishment” candidate only benefits from attacking their own party.

The end game of all this is now being prepared by the DNC which is stacking the Rules and Platform Committees for the convention with, as Kevin Gosztola painstakingly lays out in a must-read tweet thread and Grayzone article, “a collection of neoliberal and imperialist hacks,” Israeli lobbyists, corporate (including health insurance industry) hacks, and Clintonites, who are “determined to sabotage a Sanders nomination.”

As Gosztola points out, this means that even if Bernie wins the nomination he can “still find his agenda thwarted by the standing committees. For example, members of the DNC’s Platform Committee beholden to corporate interests could vote against measures including Medicare For All.”

Not to mention that the Rules Committee can, you know, change the rules, and, per Brana, “can force it to a second ballot if they want to.”

We have to ask: What is Bernie saying or doing about this? What is he doing to support not only himself, but the many thousands of people who are working hard for the “political revolution” he is claiming to lead—supporters who see the Democratic Party right now organizing to deprive Bernie of the nomination and derail anything like that movement from taking hold in the party, whether Bernie is nominated or not? Not him, us, and all that—and “us” want to know. ‘Cause if Bernie is doing or saying nothing about this, if he’s willing to ignore and accept it without raising hell, then it’s fair for “us” to suspect we’re seeing a hair of the Democratic sheepdog emerging through the revolutionary lion’s mane.

The Ugly

Let’s take a cold look at what the possibilities are for the Democratic convention, and what that means for the Democratic Party and Bernie—for both of whom this is a last chance. That look must be based on the understanding that the Democratic Party is an institution dedicated to plutocratic class rule and imperialism, is now the preferred party of the ruling class and the national security apparatus, and will do everything it can to prevent Bernie Sanders from becoming its nominee. The plutocracy and its party do not want Bernie Sanders to be the CEO of American and world capitalism, let alone the Commander-in-Chief of the American empire.

The first possibility is that Sanders will win a majority of pledged delegates in the primaries and capture the nomination on the first ballot. Bravo Bernie! I hope that happens, and will vote to make it possible.

Bernie’s organization, in the name of his movement, will then immediately have to turn to destroying the Democratic Party as we know it and replacing it with something else. Bernie would have to undertake a thoroughgoing creative destruction of the party, including purging all of the personnel like those identified by Gostzola, around which the party organization and financial base is built, and replacing them with dedicated progressives and an entirely different financial structure. The fight, and Bernie, will go on.

It will be a hell of a fight, it has to happen, and it has to start right away, for two reasons: A) Because, left intact, the current Democratic Party personnel and organization will work assiduously to undermine Bernie’s presidential campaign, and B) Because it’s the same kind of fight that will have to happen in the structures of government if Bernie Sanders becomes president, and if he’s not willing or capable of doing it in the party, he won’t be in the government.

I love to see that fight happen because it would again open up new political possibilities. It is also the fight that Bernie Sanders has been unwilling to undertake over the past decades and through two presidential campaigns. If he refuses to make it again, his “not me, us” movement will be defeated and/or co-opted by the plutocratic, imperialist Democratic Party. The revolutionary Bernie will disappear into the reactionary party and both will become irrelevant and despised and politically dead to the millions of people who were energized by the movement.

Given all the variables, I rate the chances of Bernie winning a majority of pledged delegates and the nomination on the first ballot at 10-15%—which is 10-15% higher than I would have said a month ago.

The more likely scenario is Bernie (and everyone else) coming to the convention with less than a majority of delegates. In that case, the chance of Bernie would win the nomination is exactly zero.

Though we assume in that case that no one will win on the first round of voting, we should not exclude the possibility of the wily DNC arranging deals to combine other candidates votes behind the DNC’s favorite on the first ballot (Yes, they can do that!), in order precisely to be able to say that the nominee won a majority of votes on the first round without the intervention of super delegates.

At any rate, that’s what the DNC will do in a second round of voting, with the superdelegates included. All the other candidates (save Tulsi and maybe Yang) will instruct all their delegates to vote for Biden, Bloomberg, or whomever is the DNC candidate. (That, of course, includes Elizabeth Warren, who never was going to endorse Bernie.) “After all,” they will say, “What’s wrong with not nominating someone who did not get the majority of votes/delegates?”

The political optics of that will depend on who has the plurality of delegates and how large that plurality is.

If someone else comes in with a plurality of delegates, then Bernie’s campaign failed (and, as stated above, if it was cheated, that’s still its failure), his political chance is over, and millions of those who were energized by his movement will leave the Democratic Party to become the dead shell it deserves to be, fronted by whichever zombie Clintonite is nominated.

If Bernie comes in with a plurality of delegates, the superdelegates will come in and give the nomination to Biden or equivalent. It will look a lot worse if Bernie came in with 40% of delegates to Biden’s 30% than if it had been 35%-31%. (And one reason I’ll vote for him is so that scam will be as clear as possible.) But with any Bernie plurality, there will be no spinning it away: There are two elections—one for the public, one for the donors. The people get one shot; donors get the do-over.

In which case, I agree with Krystal Ball:

“If Sanders is headed to winning a plurality or majority of delegates and you take it from him through superdelegates or rules changes or other dirty tactics, you will absolutely destroy the Democratic Party…[and] destroy the idealism and political engagement of the young people who overwhelming back Sanders.”

It will be clear, I hope and think, to those very good people, once and for all, that they can never get what they want from the Democratic Party.

What happens to Bernie and those people politically after that depends on what Bernie does. if he fights like hell with his plurality all the way through, refuses to accept whatever centrist the DNC picks, and calls for a Demexit and third party, then he, those people, and the movement he led, will be alive and kicking.

If he accepts himself and his “us” being brushed aside, embraces the DNC’s centrist pick, and does “everything in my power” to keep their game going—well, I hope and think his supporters will see once and for all that they can never get what they want from the Democratic Party or from him, and it will be the political death of both of them. Bernie will then have sheepdogged from the top dog position.

What will he do? Whatever he does, it will not be from opportunism or pandering, but from his sincere conviction in answering these questions: Is there a dispositive ethico-political difference in kind between the Democratic and Republican parties? Will any Democrat be decisively better than Trump? Is the two-party system the best of possible worlds in the U.S. today and for the foreseeable future? Do “yes” answers to all of those questions require putting away “the mass movement for political revolution”?

I think we all know what Bernie will do. He’s nothing if not honest and consistent. Believe him. He will not break his vow.

At any rate, it should be clear the Party is over, it’s Bernie’s last dance with the Dems, and for the good people he’s invited to his movement, their last dance with both. I hope it works out, but they’ll probably have to go home with someone else than the man that brung them.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Party’s Over: Bernie’s Last Dance With the Dems

The Real John Bolton


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

It isn’t enough for the corporate media to praise John Bolton for his timely manuscript that confirms Donald Trump’s explicit linkage between military aid to Ukraine and investigations into his political foe Joe Biden.  As a result, the media have made John Bolton a “man of principle,” according to the Washington Post, and a fearless infighter for the “sovereignty of the United States.”  Writing in the Post, Kathleen Parker notes that Bolton isn’t motivated by the money he will earn from his book (in the neighborhood of $2 million), but that he is far more interested in “saving his legacy.”  Perhaps this is a good time to examine that legacy.

Bolton, who used student deferments and service in the Maryland National Guard to avoid serving in Vietnam, is a classic Chicken Hawk.  He supported the Vietnam War and continues to support the war in Iraq.  Bolton endorsed preemptive military strikes in North Korea and Iran in recent years, and lobbied for regime change in Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.  When George W. Bush declared an “axis of evil” in 2002 consisting of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, Bolton added an equally bizarre axis of Cuba, Libya, and Syria.

When Bolton occupied official positions at the Department of State and the United Nations, he regularly ignored assessments of the intelligence community in order to make false arguments regarding weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Cuba and Syria in order to promote the use of force.  When serving as President Bush’s Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and Disarmament, Bolton ran his own intelligence program, issuing white papers on WMD that lacked support within the intelligence community.  He used his own reports to testify to congressional committees in 2002 in effort to justify the use of military force against Iraq.

Bolton presented misinformation to the Congress on a Cuban biological weapons program.  When the Central Intelligence Agency challenged the accuracy of Bolton’s information in 2003, he was forced to cancel a similar briefing on Syria.  In a briefing to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2005, the former chief of intelligence at the Department of State, Carl Ford, referred to Bolton as a “serial abuser” in his efforts to pressure intelligence analysts.  Ford testified that he had “never seen anybody quite like Secretary Bolton…in terms of the way he abuses his power and authority with little people.”

The hearings in 2005 included a statement from a whistleblower, a former contractor at the Agency for International Development, who accused Bolton of using inflammatory language and even throwing objects at her.  The whistleblower told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff that Bolton made derogatory remarks about her sexual orientation and weight among other improprieties.  The critical testimony against Bolton meant that the Republican-led Foreign Relations Committee couldn’t confirm his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  President Bush made Bolton a recess appointment, which he later regretted.

The United Nations, after all, was an ironic assignment for Bolton, who has been a strong critic of the UN and most international organizations throughout his career because they infringed on the “sovereignty of the United States.”  In 1994, he stated there was no such thing as the United Nations, but there is an international community that “can be led by the only real power left in the world,” the United States.  Bolton stated that the “Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories,” and that if it “lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make any difference.”

Bolton said the “happiest moment” in his political career was when the United States pulled out of the International Criminal Court.  Years later, he told the Federalist Society that Bush’s withdrawal from the UN’s Rome Statute, which created the ICC, was “one of my proudest achievements.”

Bolton targeted every arms control and disarmament agreement over the past several decades, and played a major role in abrogating two of the most significant ones.  As an arms control official in the Bush administration, he lobbied successfully for the abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.  As soon as he joined the Trump administration, he went after the Intermediate-Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was abrogated in 2018.  He criticized the Nunn-Lugar agreement in the 1990s, which played a key role in the denuclearization of former Soviet republics, and maligned the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as well as the Iran nuclear accord.  He helped to derail the Biological Weapons Conference in Geneva in 2001.

U.S. efforts at diplomatic reconciliation have drawn Bolton’s ire.  The two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian situation as well as Richard Nixon’s one-China policy have been particular targets.  He is also a frequent critic of the European Union, and a passionate supporter of Brexit.  From 2013 to 2018, he was the chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a well-known anti-Muslim organization.  He was the director of the Project for the New American Century, which led the campaign for the use of force against Iraq.  The fact that he was a protege of former senator Jesse Helms should come as no surprise.

It is useful to have Bolton’s testimony at the climactic moment in the current impeachment trial, but it should’t blind us to his deceit and disinformation over his thirty years of opposition to U.S. international diplomacy.  As an assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration, he fought against reparations to Japanese-Americans who had been held in internment camps during World War II.  Two secretaries of state, Colin Powell and Condi Rice, have accused Bolton with holding back important information on important international issues, and Bolton did his best to sabotage Powell’s efforts to pursue negotiations with North Korea.  Bolton had a hand in the disinformation campaign against Iraq in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of 2003. The legacy of John Bolton is well established; his manuscript will not alter this legacy.

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Nazi regime to Bar Palestinians From Exporting Produce via Jordan

Israel to Bar Palestinians From Exporting Produce via Jordan, as Trade Dispute Escalates

Palestinian farmers harvest cauliflower at a field in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, February 1, 2020.

Move follows Defense Minister Bennett’s instruction to stop agricultural imports from the Palestinian Authority to Israel after the PA had placed limitations on the import of calves from Israel

Jack Khoury and Hagar Shezaf 

Israel will ban the export of Palestinian produce via Jordan, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Kamil told Haaretz on Saturday.

The ban will come into effect on Sunday, marking further escalation in the trade dispute between Israel and the Palestinians that began in October.

In 2019, the Palestinian authority exported produce worth 502 million shekels.

“Yesterday, the director of Israeli crossings informed all exporters and all relevant parties that all Palestinian agriculture products, including fruits, vegetables, dates, and olive oil, would be banned from export to world markets through the Jordanian crossing starting Sunday,” Palestinian Agriculture Minister Riad Attari told Saturday Voice of Palestine Radio.

According to the office of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, the move is part of the sanctions that Israel placed on the Palestinian Authority after the PA limited the import of calves from Israel. The sanctions are tiered, and will be increased so long as the crisis remains unresolved. Last weekend, Bennett instructed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to stop agricultural imports from the Palestinian Authority.

Jordanian officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We are at a critical political moment and we completely understand the negative impact that will result from these measures, but I say with all confidence that that negative impact will also affect the Israeli economy,” al-Attari said.

“We have several options and measures with which we can respond to each Israeli decision that aims to harm our national economy,” he added.

Palestinian farmers have complained in recent days about many delays in transportation of agricultural products meant for export through Jordan, noting that some of the produce was returned to the West Bank.

According to the Palestinians, Israel sent back to the West Bank nine out of 25 trucks loaded with goods worth 50 million shekels that was headed to Turkey via Jordan.    

He was pressured to make the move by Israeli cattle growers. The PA responded by stating that they would study the decision and respond accordingly.

In recent years, Israeli cattle growers have been selling Palestinians some 140,000 calves annually, worth $289,981,150. But in recent months the PA started trying to import calves independently as part of a policy led by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh to disengage financially from Israel.

In September, the PA vetoed the import of calves from Israel. Jerusalem had perceived this move as a breach of the agricultural trade agreement it forged with the Palestinians as part of the economic pacts of the Oslo Accords in 1994. In response, Israel slapped sanctions on the PA: It revoked Palestinian businesspeople’s passage and trade licenses, halted the passage of donations into the Strip and didn’t allow Palestinians to bring the cattle they imported independently into Gaza.

In December, Israel and the PA agreed to end the boycott, chiefly because of the rise in cattle prices in the West Bank. The two parties agreed that the PA could purchase cattle from Israel, but in a limited capacity. Israeli cattle growers, who were averse to this agreement, demanded that Israel stop importing vegetables from the West Bank and from Gaza as a means of pressuring the Palestinians into accepting their demands.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli live fire during clashes in the West Bank near Tullkarem, the Palestinian Authority said Friday, as violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank continue to escalate following the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan.

Israel Police said two border policewomen were lightly wounded after altercations erupted between hundreds of Plaestinians and Israeli security forces near the northern West Bank village of Azzun. A soldier was also lightly wounded by a rock thrown by Palestinians.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, JordanComments Off on Nazi regime to Bar Palestinians From Exporting Produce via Jordan

More than 100 House Dems reject Trump peace plan in open letter


More than 100 House Democrats on Friday signed a letter to President Trump rejecting his Middle East peace plan, saying it would “hurt Israelis and Palestinians alike, pushing them toward further conflict.”

The open letter, led by Democratic Reps. Alan Lowenthal (Calif.) and Andy Levin (Mich.), warned that Trump’s plan “paves the way for a permanent occupation of the West Bank.”

“It does not have our support, and the Israeli government must not take it as license to violate International law by annexing all or portions of the West Bank,” they wrote.

The House in December passed a bipartisan resolution, H.Res. 326, led by Lowenthal and affirming U.S. support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is achieved through direct negotiations and without any unilateral annexation of territory.

During the plan’s unveiling ceremony at the White House on Jan. 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to immediately exercise Israeli control over areas in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, though he has since retreated on that pledge.

A senior Israeli official later told reporters there were “technical” difficulties over whether the U.S. plan allowed for Israel to move forward on annexation immediately or not.

A vote in the Israeli Knesset on accepting the plan has also stalled as the country heads to an unprecedented third round of elections on March 2.

Democratic lawmakers accuse Trump of “an inappropriate intervention in a foreign election” by releasing the peace plan with Netanyahu last month “against the backdrop” of the Israeli premier coming under formal indictment charges on allegations of corruption.

“In addition to the highly problematic nature of your proposal, the timing of its release suggests motives unrelated to helping solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the letter reads.

The Palestinian Authority and the majority of Arab states have rejected the Trump administration’s peace proposal, a nearly 200-page document that purports to outline the parameters for a solution to achieve a Palestinian state.

Critics say the plan calls for a Palestinian state in name only and instead traps noncontiguous Palestinian territory inside an Israeli security barrier, with Israel exercising civil and security control over the West Bank and Jordan Valley, as well as air, land and sea ports.

The Trump administration says that territory identified in the plan for a future Palestinian state will remain “frozen” for a period of four years to allow for a Palestinian response.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on More than 100 House Dems reject Trump peace plan in open letter

Palestinian boy shot in head by Nazi Gestapo delayed en route to hospital

Palestinian boy shot in head by Israeli forces delayed en route to hospital

While residents rushed the bleeding teen to a hospital, an Israeli police officer stopped the car for 25 minutes.169Shares

By Oren Ziv and Ahmad Al-Bazz

Israeli occupation forces shot Palestinian boy in the head. A settler dragged his friends, who took him to hospital, to Israeli checkpoint that delayed his arrival to hospital, deteriorating his condition.

Last Thursday, Israeli soldiers shot Muhammad Ishtewi, 15, in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet while he was spending time with friends at a public spring near Kufr Qaddum, a Palestinian village in the West Bank. The teen is now being hospitalised at the intensive care unit of Hadassah Medical Centre in Ein Kerem.

Witnesses to the shooting, including people who accompanied Ishtewi to the hospital, described a disturbing scene: not only did soldiers shoot Muhammad in the head while he was not engaged in any violent activity, but for 25 minutes, an Israeli police officer held up the car that was taking him to be treated. The boy continued bleeding from the head, his arrival at the hospital delayed.

There had been no protest in Kufr Qaddum that day, according to residents, and it was unclear as to why the army showed up. Qusay Hussein, 13, recounts hanging out with Ishtewi in Kufr Qaddum’s “park” — a grassy area with trees and flowers on the village outskirts.

“At around 3:20 pm, we saw five Israeli soldiers approaching us from the hill by the park,” said Hussein. “We decided to leave and hide behind a rock because we were so scared. When my friend [Muhammad Ishtewi] tried to see what was happening from behind the rock, the soldiers shot at us. We took [Muhammad] and ran to the village, and saw the soldiers photographing the blood stains left behind.”

The rubber-coated steel bullet that struck Ishtewi is in fact a ball of metal covered with a thin plastic shell. According to the army’s open-fire regulations, troops can only aim these bullets at the lower part of the body.

Experts explain that the bullet’s penetration through Ishtewi ‘sskull suggests that it was fired from a relatively close distance — perhaps three or four meters (nine or 13 feet) away.

Mo’ayad Ishtewi, 66, was in a different part of the park with his grandchildren when Muhammad was shot. “I was surprised to hear gunshots, as there were not any demonstrations on Thursday,” he said. He ran across the park and saw Muhammad lying on the ground, bleeding from his head.

Aws Amer, 30, who lives near the park, drove to the scene and, with Mo’ayad Ishtewi’s help, lifted the wounded boy into the car before calling an ambulance.

Settler dragged them to military checkpoint

Both men planned to take Ishtewi to a hospital in nearby Nablus, where he could be seen at a clinic specialising in head injuries. But a closed-off road en route — which has been off-limits since 2004 — meant that the 15-minute journey took 40 minutes instead.

As they neared the settlement of Karnei Shomron, a car with an Israeli license plates started tailing them. “I noticed a white car following us,” said Amer. “It did not seem to be a police car, except that he was following me while pointing a gun at me and signalling for me to pull over.”

After stopping the car, Amer and Mo’ayad Ishtewi noticed that the white car’s driver was dressed in civilian clothing with a police vest on top. He asked them to follow him. “I felt all right about it as he was a police officer, not a settler. I thought he would take us to a clinic to deal with [Muhammad],” recalled Mo’ayad.

After a brief drive they arrived at the entrance to Karnei Shomron, where the police officer ordered them to stop. “I was covered in blood and did not have gloves,” Mo’ayad said. “I showed [the police officer] my hands and tried to explain, in part-Hebrew and part-Arabic, that we had someone who needed help.”

The police officer told them to wait. “If he had offered us first aid, I would have agreed,” Mo’ayad said. “But he did not. We tried to convince him to let us leave, but he would not.”

Settlers and soldiers gathered by the car, but no one offered help. “They saw we had someone wounded with us, and that he could die any second,” Mo’ayad said. “As a nurse, I have never seen behaviour like this. They had to help him, no matter how he had been wounded, and no matter whether he was Jewish, Christian or Muslim.”

After waiting for 25 minutes, a Palestinian ambulance arrived. A photo from the scene shows the officer, standing a few meters away, observing the injured Muhammad lying on a stretcher.

Traffic ticket

Mo’ayad climbed into the ambulance while Amer followed in his car. “[The police officer] told me to stay behind after the ambulance had left so he could write me a traffic ticket,” Amer said.

The NIS 250 ($70) fine was for Mo’ayad not wearing a seatbelt, because he was constantly turning around to check on Muhammad in the back seat. Amer said he tore up the ticket, threw it on the ground and drove back to Kufr Qaddum.

The ambulance carrying Muhammad arrived in Nablus at around 5:30 pm, more than an hour-and-a-half after he had been shot. Later that night, he was transferred to Hadassah Medical Centre in Ein Kerem.

On Tuesday, Muhammad underwent surgery to remove the bullet from the right side of his head. The following day, his father, Muhannad, seemed a little more optimistic. “I spoke to Muhammad and he did not answer, but when I squeezed his left hand he responded by moving his fingers,” he said.

Lies of Israeli army

Muhannad Ishtewi heard about his son’s injury while he was in Ramallah. “At first they told me that he had been hit in the leg so that I would not take it too badly,” he said. “The army had not been in Kufr Qaddum that day. They come on Fridays and sometimes at night to arrest young people in their homes, but this is the first time they have entered like this. I have no idea, maybe because of the ‘deal of the century.’”

Asked for comment on the incident, the army responded: “During a disturbance, tires were set alight and stones were thrown at IDF forces who were at the scene. IDF soldiers responded by dispersing the protest. We are aware of the claim that a Palestinian was injured by a rubber bullet.”

Kufr Qaddum residents reject lies of the Israeli occupation army about the events related to the shooting of the Palestinian boy, stressing that no protest had taken place in the village that day.

Muhammad Ishtewi is not the first minor to be shot in the head in Kufr Qaddum. In July 2019, Israeli soldiers fired at 10-year-old Abdul Rahman Ishtewi while he stood at the entrance to a friend’s house during a Friday protest. Soldiers shot him with a .22-caliber live bullet from about 100 meters (328 feet) away, even though he was not involved in the demonstration or even in close proximity to it.

Ban on Israeli activists

Kufr Qaddum has been in the headlines recently, following Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement that he would issue orders barring left-wing Israeli activists from participating in the West Bank.

The village is located in Area B, which is under full Israeli security control and Palestinian administrative control. Most of its agricultural land, however, is in Area C, which is under full Israeli control.

Around a sixth of its land is being used by the surrounding Israeli settlements, and almost half is off-limits to Kufr Qaddum’s residents, who need a military permit to access their own land. Part of the land is taken up by the Israeli settlement of Kedumim, which was expanded in 2003.

Kedumim’s expansion led to the blocking off of the main road connecting Kufr Qaddum to Nablus, the nearest West Bank city, which was partly responsible for Ishtewi’s extended journey to the hospital.

In 2011, residents launched popular protests demanding that the road be reopened; the demonstrations have occurred every Friday in the almost nine years since, often attended by Israeli and international activists. The protests are suppressed by the military, often violently.

Despite the photo showing an Israeli police officer standing near the wounded Muhammad, Israeli Police said they looked into the matter, but did not find an incident matching the description.

The police added that any further details on the incident would be assessed.

Source: 972 Magazine

Wounded in Head.jpg
In ICU.jpg

#West Bank#Israeli Occupation#Settlements#Settlers#Protests#Kufr Qaddum

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Palestinian boy shot in head by Nazi Gestapo delayed en route to hospital

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