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Talk Nation Radio: Chip Gibbons on Anti-Russia Committee and Censoring Criticism of Israel

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-chip-gibbons-on-anti-russia-committee-and-censoring-criticism-of-israel

Chip Gibbons is the Policy and Legislative Counsel for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He is also a writer whose work has been featured in Jacobin, Truthout, and Counterpunch. We discuss U.S. Congressional efforts to censor criticism of the Israeli government, and to create a new McCarthyite Anti-Russia Committee.

The petition we mention is here.

The account of a sleeping Congress Member we mention is here.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Israeli War Lies Fall As Corporate Media Falls

A new film narrated by Roger Waters, The Occupation of the American Mind, traces the rise of Israeli war propaganda in the United States. This propaganda, which has skillfully swayed U.S. public opinion in support of Israeli wars and occupations, has in fact been not so much a matter of skill as a matter of control.

The U.S. corporate media has obeyed the Israeli propaganda office, because the U.S. government has done so, and the U.S. corporate media generally obeys the U.S. government. How much the U.S. government's stance is shaped by its own independent, albeit perverse, interests, and how much by Israeli propagandizing and corruption is one question. But the U.S. corporate media's lockdown on criticism of Israeli wars is only a slight variation on its coverage of U.S. wars.

What happens when you take the control away? When young people in the United States get their news from the internet and foreign media, their support for Israeli wars and occupations plummets. Backers of Israeli wars find it necessary to start trying to ban criticism on U.S. college campuses. Just as young people have overwhelmingly backed Bernie Sanders despite corporate media opposition, those who avoid the corporate media are able to back justice for Palestinians (and often to a much greater extent than Sanders does).

When informed people in the United States hear about international opposition to Israeli crimes, they are hardly shocked, and might just yawn. But Fox News reports shock, outrage, and disbelief in its staff:

"You can't make it up. UN names democratic Israel as world's top human rights violator"!

Fox wants enemies, and thus reports in this way on a story that much of the U.S. media will likely ignore or downplay. If most corporate media consumers in the United States learned that Israel was viewed by the world as a top abuser of human rights, they would react approximately like Fox News.

One of the great services that The Occupation of the American Mind provides is that it shows us footage of news coverage of Israeli wars in the United States and, in great contrast, in Europe. In Europe we see Palestinian voices included, and we see false claims questioned by tough grilling of Israeli officials. In the United States we see top U.S. officials of both political parties, and top media figures parroting over and over again the same exact words dictated by Israeli propagandists or their U.S. advisers.

This film is good for beginners who've never escaped their televisions before, in that it provides a basic history of Zionism and the Nakba. But it quickly turns to a particular subject that should intrigue the better informed as well, namely the rise of Israeli propaganda since 1982. We see footage of U.S. network TV news readers reporting honestly and straightforwardly on Israeli bombing of Lebanon, and on Israeli facilitated massacres in refugee camps -- and showing footage of the carnage.

In 1984 the American Jewish Congress held a meeting in Jerusalem on "hasbara" (propaganda, war lies) chaired by a U.S. advertiser who had made "tastes great / less filling" ads for Miller Light beer. In 2009 Frank Luntz produced the Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary. These efforts are not kept secret. In fact, a television show in Israel similar to Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" is called "The Ambassador," and it challenges contestants to do the best job of selling Israeli war crimes as being justified or admirable. The acceptance of such a show is itself terrific hasbara, of course, as it suggests that concocting excuses for killing people is justifiable and admirable.

The central lie of Israeli war propaganda is also the most effective lie in the United States and the focus of the first chapter of my book War Is A Lie, namely the lie that wars are defensive. Just as the U.S. corporate media engages in blowback denial with September 11 or Brussels, it tells us that Palestinian resistance is spontaneous irrational aggression, unprovoked and inexplicable except by understanding Palestinians as less than human. In the U.S. corporate media, the Palestinians always started it, and Israel is always acting in defense, even when it's aggressively bombing civilians as it was doing in 1982 when U.S. media voices had not yet been properly trained.

The undercurrent to the "defense" lies is the justification of revenge, which threads through all war propaganda, even that for U.S. wars, which has often tended in recent years to emphasize a lie of "humanitarianism" in which a war that is also supposedly defensive and a last resort is somehow also a benefit to people it is rescuing. Israel has not used that line, and it's worth noting that the U.S. government has found it ineffective in reaching more than a sliver of the U.S. population.

It would be humorous if it weren't so blood-soaked to watch U.S. politicians and pundits parrot specific Israeli military talking points over and over. The 1988 Hamas Charter, long since disavowed by the Hamas leadership, is quoted over and over again, like the mistranslation of then-Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and with identical words in both cases, while the actual platform of the Likud Party is never mentioned. The lie that Israel freed Gaza in 2005 is repeated so many times a Gazan might start to believe it.

When Israel broke a ceasefire on the day of the 2008 U.S. elections and then claimed the Palestinians had done so, the facts were available, but the lie was endlessly repeated on U.S. television. We see footage in The Occupation of the American Mind of a European journalist confronting an Israeli official with an Israeli report acknowledging the truth, but nothing like that on U.S. corporate newsertainment networks.

Phrases like "rockets raining down" and "what would you do?" and "what would the U.S. do?" are chanted like mantras. Sadly, we know what the U.S. would do in response to blowback. We know what it has been doing for the past 15 years.

The chief difference in U.S. discourse between propaganda for Israeli wars and for U.S. wars (other than awareness of where the weapons came from -- the United States in both cases) is the difference between "anti-American" and "anti-Semitic." In the film we see Ted Cruz object to criticizing Israel because of the holocaust. Any criticism of Israel is defined as anti-Semitic.

There have been times in U.S. history when any war criticism earned one the title "anti-American." Currently it is far more likely to earn you the title of "peacenik who would have opposed World War II" -- with World War II falsely understood as having been fought for the Jews who in fact the U.S. government refused to allow in and certainly didn't give a damn about. Thus, advocating civilized conflict resolution in the United States circles back to a charge of "anti-Semitism" as well.

As the corporate media's dominance crumbles, so potentially does all of this nonsense. And the first to fall may be U.S. support for Israeli wars. That opposition to U.S. wars lags behind among U.S. youth may suggest a certain power to the label of "anti-American" after all, or rather an internalized nationalism that hardly needs name-calling to prop it up. But any failure of war propaganda advances the total failure of war propaganda, if we can keep organizing, keep educating, keep BDSing, keep the internet open, and go watch The Occupation of the American Mind.

David Swanson's book War Is A Lie: Second Edition will be published April 5, 2016.

Why I won’t be voting for Hillary in November: A Neolib Posing as a Progressive vs. a Reality TV Star Posing as a Fascist

By Dave Lindorff

 

            I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic Party nomination for president, and I won’t heed Bernie Sanders if, as he has vowed to do, he calls on his supporters to “come together” after the convention, should he lose, to support Clinton and prevent Donald Trump or another Republican from becoming president.

 

Trying to make art support the Zionist cause: Israel Moves to Check Its Artists

By John Grant

 

“A new thought occurred to Rami. It soothed him like a gentle caress. Not all men are born to be heroes. Maybe I wasn’t born to be a hero. But in every man there’s something special, something that isn’t in other men. In my nature, for instance, there’s a certain sensitivity. A capacity to suffer and feel pain. Perhaps I was born to be an artist.”

Rethinking Bernie Sanders: Attacking Wall Street and the Corrupt US Political System Makes Sanders a Genuine Revolutionary

By Dave Lindorff

 

            I admit I’ve been slow to warm up to the idea of supporting Bernie Sanders. Maybe it’s because I publicly backed Barack Obama in 2008 and quickly came to rue that decision after he took office.

 

Where’s the truth, and how can you find it?: The US Corporate Media are Essentially Propaganda Organs of the US Government


By Dave Lindorff

 

            Are the American corporate media largely propaganda organs, or news organizations?

 

Warmongers & Peacemongers: Learning How Not to Rule the World

By John Grant

 

[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.

Will Obama Give Israel even more American Weapons and Dollars to Kill Palestinians?

Editor's note: Say no at http://noweaponsforisrael.org

By Ann Wright

President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on November 9 in the White House and is considering the Israeli request to give a 50% increase of nearly $1.5 billion in U.S. military funding bringing the U.S. donation to the killing of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to $4.5 billion a year. 

As it stands now, more that half of the U.S. foreign military spending for 2016 goes to Israel. As in all things, Israel gets special treatment by the U.S. allowing Israel to spend 25% of its gift from the U.S. to pay itself for buying weapons from its own weapons industry!!!

According to a recent congressional report, Israel has received $124.3 billion in military assistance from the US since its founding in 1948.

The report states that “strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries; for example, Israel can use U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers.

In addition, U.S. assistance earmarked for Israel is generally delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year, while most other recipients normally receive aid in installments, and Israel (as is also the case with Egypt) is permitted to use cash flow financing for its U.S. arms purchases.

In addition to receiving U.S. State Department-administered foreign assistance, Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriations bills for rocket and missile defense programs. Israel pursues some of those programs jointly with the United States.”

As Obama was meeting Netanyahu, eight blocks away at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC, a surgeon from Norway who works on behalf of his university part of each year in al Shifa hospital in Gaza, told of the devastation, destruction and human suffering these American weapons and dollars cause.  

Dr. Mads Gilbert spoke of 51 days of terror in Gaza in the summer of 2014 as the Israeli Attack forces brutalized the people of Gaza with Israeli and U.S. artillery, assassin drone ordnance, F16s, hellfire missiles and dense inert military explosives. Gilbert said that the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza was 500% stronger than 2009 attack. He was working at al Shifa hospital in 2009 when the IDF attacked Gaza. In 2014, the IDF fired 50,000 of those shells into Gaza and  conducted over 6,000 air strikes, destroying over 3,500 buildings in Gaza City alone including over 50% of the hospitals in Gaza.

At the end of the 51-day attack, 2250 Palestinians were dead, including 551 children and 299 women.  3,500 Palestinian children were wounded and the 1 million children and youth who live in Gaza were all deeply affected by the attacks. 60 percent of the 1.8 million who live in Gaza are under the age of 22.

Dr. Gilbert’s presentation included mind-searing photos of the carnage caused by Israeli attacks and the audio of the sounds of jets racing overhead, bombs exploding and buildings collapsing.


Photo of Dr. Mads Gilbert in al Shifa hospital with Palestinian child

Citing the report of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, Gilbert said the IDF purposefully targeted the civilian population including entire families, that the IDF purposefully targeted  hospitals, ambulances and four UN shelter facilities.  

The report stated that “Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in their own homes, especially women and children. At least 142 families lost three or more members in an attack on a residential building during the summer of 2014, resulting in 742 deaths. The fact that Israel did not revise its practice of air-strikes, even after their dire effects on civilians became apparent, raises the question of whether this was part of a broader policy which was at least tacitly approved at the highest level of government.”

Additionally, “the commission is concerned about Israel’s extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius; though not illegal, their use in densely populated areas is highly likely to kill combatants and civilians indiscriminately. There appears also to be a pattern whereby the IDF issued warnings to people to leave a neighbourhood and then automatically considered anyone remaining to be a fighter. This practice makes attacks on civilians highly likely. During the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza that began in mid-July 2014, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged.

The commission report stated: “Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August 2014, killing 6 civilians, including one child and injuring at least 1,600.”  66 Israeli soldiers were killed in military operations inside Gaza.

The commission also reported: “In the West Bank including East Jerusalem, 27 Palestinians were killed and 3,020 injured between June and August 2014. The number killed in these three months was equivalent to the total for the whole of 2013. The commission is concerned about what appears to be the increasing use of live ammunition for crowd control by the Israeli Security Forces, which raises the likelihood of death or serious injury.”

The  commissioners wrote, “Impunity prevails across the board for violations allegedly committed by Israeli forces, both in Gaza and the West Bank. “Israel must break with its lamentable track record in holding wrong doers accountable, and accountability on the Palestinian side is also woefully inadequate.”

Signaling further attacks on Gaza, during a November 10 talk at the Center for American Progress in Washington, Netanyahu said that Gaza has “become this poison thumb, this poison dagger that sends rockets” into Israel and that Israel must be prepared for a long period of tension. 

This blind backing for whatever Israel does and providing the weapons to do it is dangerous for the United States and for Israel.  As Israeli journalist Gideon Levy recently wrote concerning Hillary Clinton’s unwavering support for Israel, but can be expanded to the similar support given by both Republican and Democratic led U.S. administrations: “… support (for) the continued occupation is like a person who continues to buy drugs for an addicted relative. This is neither concern nor friendship; it is destruction… “false” friends of Israel – have been one of the curses on this country for years. Because of them, Israel can continue to act as wildly as it likes, thumbing its nose at the world and paying no price. Because of them, it can destroy itself unhindered.  

Israeli attacks on people in Gaza and the West Bank will end when we the citizens of the U.S. force our government to stop its military and diplomatic backing of the State of Israel. 

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.  She has been in Gaza six times and was on the 2010 Gaza Flotilla that was attacked by the IDF and who executed nine passengers and wounded 50.

How a High Dollar Speech Sends a former Israeli Prime Minister to US Federal Court on Claims of War Crimes

By Ann Wright

Serving legal documents on high visibility persons who have been involved in international criminal acts is very difficult.  However, the temptation of large honoraria for speeches in the United States tripped up a former Israeli Prime Minister who has been accused of war crimes  for his involvement in the murders of ten passengers (nine were killed immediately and a seriously wounded passenger died after being in a coma for several years) on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. 

In a telephone press conference on October 21, the international legal team that filed the lawsuit against former Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak described how “legal process service” or official notification of a legal claim filed against him was done.  The legal team knew Barak would be in Southern California giving three talks as a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series of Southern California and hired a commercial “certified process server” to deliver the court documents to Barak. 

According to attorney Dan Stormer of the Los Angeles law firm Hadsell Stormer Renick LLP,on the evening of October 20 when Barak was scheduled to give a lecture in Thousand Oaks, California, the process server handed the documents to one of Barak’s security team who, in the view of witnesses, handed the documents to Barak, thereby completing the official notification of Barak that a civil case against him had been filed in U.S. Federal Court.

On Friday, October 15, 2015, attorneys for U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, a 19 year old U.S. citizen who was shot 5 times by Israeli commandos, had filed a civil lawsuit  in the Federal District court of California, Central Division, against Barak for his role as Defense Minister in the 2010 Israeli Defense Forces raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara that resulted in the executions of nine unarmed civilian passengers and wounding of over 50 passengers, one of whom died after being in a coma for several years.  The lawsuit was filed using Alien Tort Claims, Torture Prevention and Anti-Terrorists legislation.

The legal documents filed in Federal District Court state: “Defendant Barak is responsible and liablefor the common plan, design, and scheme unlawfully to attack the six vessels of theGaza Freedom Flotilla and the civilian passengers on board which constituted acts of international terrorism and resulted in extrajudicial killings, torture, and cruel inhumane or other degrading treatment, in violation of customary international law.

Defendant Barak’s position as Israeli’s Minister of Defense provided him with the ability and capacity to plan, direct, control and oversee the operation against the Flotilla and the IDF soldiers who conducted the attack. Therefore Defendant Barak possessed command responsibility over the IDF forces, and knew or should have known that the unlawful attack on the Flotilla would result in torts and international law violations against Plaintiffs. Defendant Barak failed to stop the violations before and during the attack, and failed to punish those responsible for committing the violations after the attack, thereby ratifying their conduct.”

Attorney Stormer said that Barak must respond to the lawsuit within 30 days after which the discovery phase of the lawsuit will begin.  Stormer said that if the suit is successful, damages and compensation to the parents of Furkan Dogan,  could amount to “tens of millions of dollars.”  Stormer said that other families of those executed by the Israeli commandos may join the lawsuit.

British lawyer Rodney Dixon said that having Barak served the legal process in California was a “watershed” moment.  Dixon said that the Nuremburg, Tokyo, Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone war crimes trials demonstrate that political leaders who order the targeting and killing of unarmed civilians can be held accountable.

In September 2009, lawyers representing 16 Palestinians living in Britain asked a London court to issue an arrest warrant for Barak who was speaking in Britain for his role in the deaths of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the Israeli 29 day attack on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.  However, the court ruled that Barak enjoyed diplomatic immunity from prosecution as he was in office at the time. 

Legal team attorney Haydee Dijkstal, who is a lawyer in The Hague, the Netherlands, said during the press conference that “there is no protection for officials who have left office” and the lawsuit against Barak could not be thrown out by the U.S. court on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Several members of the George W. Bush administration do not travel to certain countries in Europe due to lawsuits filed against them in Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland for their roles the war on terror and torture.

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat for 16 years in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She was a passenger on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and on the 2011 and 2015 flotillas.

Lawsuit for 2010 Gaza Flotilla Deaths Filed in US Court Against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

By Ann Wright

A lawsuit in the United States has been filed (PDF) against former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for his role in the 2010 Israeli commando attack upon the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which 8 Turkish citizens and one American citizen were executed by Israeli forces and over fifty Turkish passengers were wounded.  The trial will be the first time a former Israeli Prime Minister will be put on trial for reasons of international terrorism.

The family of Furkan Doğan, the American citizen who was assassinated in the attack, filed the lawsuit in the Central District Court of California and notice of the trial was handed to Barak last night, October 20, in Los Angeles when he spoke in the Distinguished Speaker series of Southern California  (http://speakersla.com/speakers/ehud-barak/).

According to a press release (http://mavi-marmara.ihh.org.tr/en/main/news/0/case-opened-against-former-israeli-pm-ehud-ba/2969) from the Turkish International Humanitarian organization that sponsored the Mavi Marmara ship,  charges against Barak include his planning and leadership in the murder of Furkan Doğan and others in international waters, Willful killing, attempted willful killing, intentionally causing serious injury to body or health, international terrorism, plundering, intentionally causing damage to property, restriction of people's freedom and instigating violent crimes. 

American attorneys Hydee Dijsktal and Dan Stormer, the British law firm, Stoke & White, British Professor Dr. Geoffrey Nice and UK attorney Rodney Dixon are the legal team for the Dogan family.

Ehud Barak was almost arrested in France in 2010 when he went to a weapons expo. by hopping off the plane last minute with the trial opened against him by the wives of martyrs in France.

Other legal proceedings against Barak and other senior members of the Israeli government are in the works.  In 2010 in France, the widows of Cevdet Kılıçlar and Necdet Yıldırım, two others executed by Israeli commandos, brought a lawsuit against Barak which he evaded when he was informed of the French lawsuit as he was about to deplane in Paris to attend a weapons expo in France.

In the case brought in the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ICC prosecutor has ruled that the attack by Israeli commandos upon the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a war crime.

Additionally, the 7th High Criminal Court in Istanbul, Turkey has issued a “red notice” for the arrest of four senior Israeli government officials in a lawsuit filed in Turkey http://www.incanews.net/en/turkey/313/turkish-court-orders-arrest-of-4-israeli-officials . The Israeli officials named by the court are Israel's former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former air force intelligence chief Avishai Levy.

 Due to political considerations dealing with the State of Israel, the Ministry of Justice of Turkey has delayed sending to Interpol the “red notice” much to the consternation of those seeking justice.

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also was a US diplomat for 16 years and worked in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the US government in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.  She was on the 2010, 2011 and 2015 Gaza Freedom Flotillas and has been to Gaza six times after Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Can Corporatized Universities Allow Criticism of Israel?

The University of California is seeking to ban criticism of Israel. This is a widespread phenomenon in the United States, as attested by two new reports and cases like that of Steven Salaita, author of Uncivil Rights: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.

Salaita was fired by the University of Illinois for criticizing Israel on Twitter. Norman Finkelstein had been denied tenure by DePaul University for criticizing Israel. William Robinson was almost driven out at UC Santa Barbara for refusing to "repent" after criticizing Israel. Joseph Massad at Columbia had a similar experience.

Why, in a country that stretches "freedom of speech" to the point of covering the bribery of politicians, should it be acceptable to criticize the United States but not a tiny, distant country only just created in 1948? And why should such censorship reach even into institutions that usually pile "academic freedom" on top of "freedom of speech" as an argument against censorship?

First and foremost, I think, is the nature of Israel. It's a nation practicing apartheid and genocide in the twenty-first century using U.S. funding and weaponry. It can't persuade people of the acceptability of these policies in open debate. It can only continue its crimes by insisting that -- precisely as a government serving one ethnic group only -- any criticism amounts to the threat of apartheid and genocide known as "anti-Semitism."

Second, I think, is the subservience of the contemporary degenerate educational institution, which serves the wealthy donor, not the exploration of human intellect. When wealthy donors demand that "anti-Semitism" be stamped out, so it is. (And how can one object without being "anti-Semitic" or appearing to dispute that there actually is real anti-Semitism in the world and that it is as immoral as hatred of any other group.)

Third, the crackdown on criticizing Israel is a response to the success of such criticism and to the efforts of the BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) movement. Israeli author Manfred Gerstenfeld published openly in the Jerusalem Post a strategy for making an example of a few U.S. professors in order to "diminish the threat of boycotts."

Salaita called his book Uncivil Rights because the accusations of unacceptable speech typically take the form of proclaiming a need to protect civility. Salaita didn't tweet or otherwise communicate anything actually anti-Semitic. He tweeted and otherwise communicated many statements opposing anti-Semitism. But he criticized Israel and cursed at the same time. And to compound the sin, he used humor and sarcasm. Such practices are enough to get you convicted in a U.S. Court of Indignation without any careful examination of whether the sarcastic cursing actually expressed hatred or, on the contrary, expressed justifiable outrage. Reading Salaita's offending tweets in the context of all his other ones exonerates him of anti-Semitism while leaving him clearly guilty of "anti-Semitism," that is: criticizing the Israeli government.

This criticism can take the form of criticizing Israeli settlers. Salaita writes in his book:

"There are nearly half a million Jewish settlers on the West Bank. Their population currently grows at double the rate of other Israelis. They use 90 percent of the West Bank's water; the 3.5 million Palestinians of the territory make due with the remaining 10 percent. They travel on Jewish-only highways while Palestinians wait for hours at checkpoints (with no guarantee of passing through, even when they are injured or giving birth). They regularly assault women and children; some bury alive the natives. They vandalize homes and shops. They run over pedestrians with their cars. They restrict farmers from their land. They squat on hilltops that don't belong to them. They firebomb houses and kill babies. They bring with them a high-tech security force largely composed of conscripts to maintain this hideous apparatus."

One could read even such a longer-than-twitter criticism and imagine certain additions to it. But, reading the whole book from which I've quoted it, would eliminate the possibility of fantasizing that Salaita is, in this passage, advocating vengeance or violence or condemning settlers because of their religion or ethnicity or equating all settlers with each other except in so far as they are part of an operation of ethnic cleansing. Salaita does not excuse either side of the conflict but criticizes the idea that there is a conflict in Palestine with two equal sides:

"Since 2000, Israelis have killed 2,060 Palestinian children, while Palestinians have killed 130 Israeli children. The overall death count during this period is over 9,000 Palestinians and 1,190 Israelis. Israel has violated at least seventy-seven UN resolutions and numerous provisions of the Fourth Geneva Conventions. Israel has imposed hundreds of settlements on the West Bank, while Palestinians inside Israel increasingly are squeezed and continue to be internally displaced. Israel has demolished nearly thirty thousand Palestinian homes as a matter of policy. Palestinians have demolished zero Israeli homes. At present more than six thousand Palestinians languish in Israeli prisons, including children; no Israeli occupies a Palestinian prison."

Salaita wants Palestinian land given back to Palestinians, just as he wants at least some Native American land given back to Native Americans. Such demands, even when they amount to nothing but compliance with existing laws and treaties, seem unreasonable or vengeful to certain readers. But what people imagine education consists of if not the consideration of ideas that at first seem unreasonable is beyond me. And the notion that returning stolen land must involve violence is a notion added to the proposal by the reader.

However, there is at least one area in which Salaita is clearly and openly accepting of violence, and that is the United States military. Salaita wrote a column criticizing "support the troops" propaganda, in which he said, "My wife and I often discuss what our son might grow up to accomplish. A consistent area of disagreement is his possible career choice. She can think of few things worse than him one day joining the military (in any capacity), while I would not object to such a decision."

Think about that. Here is someone making a moral argument for opposing violence in Palestine, and a book-length defense of the importance of this stand outweighing concerns of comfort or politeness. And he wouldn't so much as object to his son joining the United States military. Elsewhere in the book, he notes that U.S. academics "can travel to, say, Tel Aviv University and pal around with racists and war criminals." Think about that. This is an American academic writing this while David Petraeus, John Yoo, Condoleezza Rice, Harold Koh, and dozens of their fellow war criminals teach in U.S. academia, and not without huge controversy about which Salaita cannot have avoided hearing. In response to outrage at his criticism of "support the troops," his then-employer, Virginia Tech, loudly proclaimed its support for the U.S. military.

The U.S. military acts on the belief, as found in the names of its operations and weapons as well as in its extended discussions, that the world is "Indian territory," and that native lives don't matter. A West Point professor recently proposed targeting critics of U.S. militarism with death, not just denial of tenure. And why is such criticism dangerous? Because nothing the U.S. military does to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, or anywhere else is any more defensible than what the Israeli military does with its help -- and I don't think it would take much consideration of the facts for someone like Steven Salaita to realize that.

Worst president ever?: History Should and Probably Will Judge President Obama Harshly

By Dave Lindorff


President Barack Obama is on track to go down in history as one of the, or perhaps as the worst and most criminal presidents in US history. 


Talk Nation Radio: Eve Spangler on Israel/Palestine

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-eve-spangler-on-israelpalestine

Eve Spangler is a sociologist and a human and civil rights activist.  For the last decade, her work has focused on the Israel/Palestine conflict. We discuss her new book, Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Israel Sees Nazism in Mirror it Mistakes for Window

Israel is trying to expel the population of a village for the crime of not being Jewish, the same crime for which Israel bombs the people of Gaza for a month or so every few years and blockades them in between these bursts of violence.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee declares that making peace with Iran amounts to marching Israelis "to the door of the oven."

Guess which of the two stories will get more coverage!

A crime of over 70 years ago, part of a war that in my unscientific estimate forms the single most common theme of U.S. historical fiction -- whether print or film -- is more important news in the view of U.S. editors than is a crime of right now.

And that was true 60 years after World War II and 50 years after and 40 and 20 and even 3 years after World War II.

Eve Spangler has just published a wonderfully well documented book that should be the text for universal history classes, called Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict. Spangler, the U.S. child of two holocaust survivors, was a college professor before she had the slightest idea what had happened in Palestine during the twentieth century. When she found out, she went all-in and found out as much as could be known.

Spangler takes students to Israel/Palestine every year. When visiting the Arab market in Hebron, she learned that the heavy metal mesh screen overhead was hung there to protect shoppers from bricks and chairs thrown down from balconies by Israeli settlers. However, Spangler was struck with the contents of one of the objects settlers had learned could penetrate the screen: a plastic bag of human excrement. Israeli settlers behave like prisoners gone mad from confinement even as they steal the land and homes of non-Jewish people with impunity.

How can this be? What went wrong?

Well, at least a part of what went wrong went wrong from the start, from even before the 1948 Nakba in which Israelis-to-be ethnically cleansed the land without a people for the people without a land. The land without a people was more densely populated than the United States, but was seen as populated by subhuman non-people, not even Untermenschen.

"Clearly, the aspiration to creating a 'new man,'" Spangler writes, "defined by a hyper-masculine ethos of physical and military strength and by 'clean and pure blood' (and a 'new woman' defined by fecundity) had echoes of fascist ideology and profoundly racist implications. Consider, for example, the iconic photo of an Israeli soldier gazing reverently at the Western Wall on the day that the Israeli army conquered East Jerusalem in 1967. He is startlingly Aryan in appearance. Nor did the preference for blondes end in 1967. Recently social workers told an Israeli friend of mine who is waiting to adopt a baby, that her family could have a 'defective' baby immediately, but would have to wait about a year for a 'normal' baby or up to five years if they insisted on having a blond, blue-eyed child. 'Defective' children, this family discovered, were dark-skinned."

Two years after the liberation of the concentration camps in Europe, Jewish militias besieging the town of Beisan (Bet She'an), Spangler notes, "required some Arabs to don yellow armbands, and marked Arab stores with yellow decals, targeting them for looting." Spangler, whose book covers many subtopics other than the one I'm focusing on, is infinitely careful to stress the obvious, namely that similarities are not exact equivalencies. Her point in noting the similarities is, I think, clearly and legitimately enough to expose the imperfect yet startling mimicry and the motivation of misdirected revenge in the basic policies of the Israeli government from that day to this toward the people who lived in the "uninhabited" land.

Lillian Rosengarten's forthcoming Survival and Conscience: From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat to Gaza is an account by a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany for the United States as a little girl with her parents. "Nationalism revisited," she writes, "is now twisted into a parody of the Nazi credo, 'Deutschland über alles,' extolling Germany over all others with only pure Germans as inhabitants. Get rid of the undesirables who are beneath contempt. I must not make such a comparison, you say. Yet I must, for I fear a Jewish State that belongs only to Jews is a dangerous road. I must question the profound psychological impairment suffered and internalized by generations of Jews that follows the Nazi Holocaust. The cycle of paranoia and abuse is playing out its destructive course: this is how I understand Palestinians as the last victims of the Holocaust."

I would question only how Rosengarten can see into the future and find the last victims of the influence of Nazism. After World War II, the military of the United States -- which, of course, arms the Israeli military free of charge while whining about how it can't afford luxuries like schools, housing, and bridges that don't collapse -- hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler’s closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial. Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials. Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution. To observe and note the Nazification of the U.S. military is neither to absolve the U.S. military of its pre-WWII crimes nor to pass blame off to the Nazis instead of blaming U.S. officials of later generations for their own actions. Blame is not a limited quantity.

I don't think we can dismiss Huckabee's comments about ovens as simply a bid to be dumber than Donald Trump and win the pro-stupidity vote in the Republican primaries. Transforming Iran from devil to negotiation partner victimizes Israel precisely by stripping Israel of some of its victim-status. Without the status of eternally current victim of the fantasized reenactment of long-past crimes, Israel has to be viewed through a filter of actual facts. Were Jews victimized by Germany? Of course! Did Palestinians deserve to suffer for it? Of course not! Did Iran have anything to do with it? Of course not! Would I support pulling all the U.S. military bases out of Germany and turning all of their land over to Jewish settlers? Sure!

But only those who want to leave Palestine should leave it. Only those who want to stay in a nonviolent, pluralist, secular, democratic, state with equal rights for all and compensation for Palestinians harmed over the past many decades should remain.

Photo above is from MiddleEastMonitor.

Tomgram: Max Blumenthal, The Next Gaza War

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

The 51-Day Genocide

Max Blumenthal's latest book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, tells a powerful story powerfully well. I can think of a few other terms that accurately characterize the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza in addition to "war," among them: occupation, murder-spree, and genocide. Each serves a different valuable purpose. Each is correct.

The images people bring to mind with the term "war," universally outdated, are grotesquely outdated in a case like this one. There is no pair of armies on a battlefield. There is no battlefield. There is no aim to conquer, dispossess, or rob. The people of Gaza are already pre-defeated, conquered, imprisoned, and under siege -- permanently overseen by military drones and remote-control machine-guns atop prison-camp walls. In dropping bombs on houses, the Israeli government is not trying to defeat another army on a battlefield, is not trying to gain possession of territory, is not trying to steal resources from a foreign power, and is not trying to hold off a foreign army's attempt to conquer Israel.

Yes, of course, Israel ultimately wants Gaza's land incorporated into Israel, but not with non-Jewish people living on it. (Eighty percent of Gaza's residents are refugees from Israel, families ethnically cleansed in 1947-1948.) Yes, of course, Israel wants the fossil fuels off the Gazan coast. But it already has them. No, the immediate goal of the Israeli war on Gaza last year, like the one two years before, and like the one four years before that, would perfectly fit a name like "The 51 Day Genocide." The purpose was to kill. The end was nothing other than the means.

Israel Still Not Held to Account For Deliberate Attack on USS Liberty

 

 


Still Waiting for USS Liberty’s Truth

 

 

Editor Note: During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes and warships tried to sink the USS Liberty, killing 34 of the spy ship’s crew. Afterwards, U.S. and Israeli officials excused the attack as an unfortunate mistake and covered up evidence of willful murder, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern

Israel’s chokehold over U.S. politics and politicians has been so powerful for so many decades that this obvious reality is routinely denied, a collective gagging of the truth that is itself a measure of how strong the Israeli grip is.

Talk Nation Radio: Rania Khalek on U.S. Police Training in Israel and Israelis Advocating Genocide

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rania-khalek-on-us-police-training-in-israel-and-israelis-advocating-genocide

Rania Khalek discusses her reports on Baltimore police training in Israel, Israel targeting children with drone strikes, and Israeli officials openly advocating genocide. Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass. She is a regular contributer at The Electronic Intifada, where she sits on the editorial board. Her work has also appeared at Truthout, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Salon, AlterNet and more. You can follow her work at her website raniakhalek.com and on twitter at @RaniaKhalek. She also cohosts a podcast called “Unauthorized Disclosure."

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Credit where credit's due...but only where it's due: How Can Obama Claim the Alternative to a Nuclear Deal with Iran is War?

By Dave Lindorff


A kudo to President Obama. But just one.

If he manages to pull off an agreement with Iran on limiting that country's nuclear fuel enrichment program in the fact of determined resistance from Republicans, Neocons, the Israel Lobby and the warmongers in both the GOP and his own Democratic Party, he will have finally earned at least some small portion of the gold in his Nobel Peace medallion.

Israel/Iran News - Mar 25, 2015


Obama: Recent Remarks by Prime Minister Netanyahu Dim Hope for End to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - ABC News


VIDEO: Obama: Recent remarks by Prime Minister Netanyahu dim hope for a negotiated two-state solution (Part 1) - POLITICO


VIDEO: Obama: My dispute with Netanyahu is a policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and the region (Part 2) - You Tube


At the J-Street Conference White House Chief of Staff McDonough Says the Israeli Occupation 'Must End' - huffingtonpost.com


VIDEO: Obama’s Chief Of Staff McDonough To J-Street Conference: Israel’s “Occupation That Has Lasted 50-Years Must End" - YouTube


VIDEO: Obama’s Chief Of Staff McDonough: Netanyahu comments 'very troubling' - YouTube


VIDEO: Obama Staff Chief McDonough's Full Speech to J Street's Conference - YouTube


U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro Says Obama Administration Reevaluating Policy Toward Israel - huffingtonpost.com


James Baker to J-Street: Netanyahu Wrong on Iran, Palestinians - newsmax.com


Jeb Bush ‘disagrees’ with James Baker’s position on Israel - The Washington Post


Netanyahu’s Reelection Pushes J Street to Move the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict to the United Nations - Forward.com


At J-Street conference, chief Palestinian negotiator Erekat rejects Israeli claims that there is no partner for peace - timesofisrael.com


Tensions among U.S. Jews over Israel on display as Hillel leader pulls out of J-Street speech - The Washington Post


J Street U Students March on Hillel - Algemeiner.com


Analysis: Netanyahu may seek unity government as needed cure for a divided Israel - Fox News


Netanyahu Won the Israeli Election by Stealing Conservative Votes from Other Conservative Parties, Not Liberal Ones - huffingtonpost.com


Arab Leaders In Israel Turn Down Netanyahu's Apology - huffingtonpost.com


Abbas meets with Joint Arab List members, praises Arab vote - Israel News, Ynetnews


Gaza women take up arms for next Israel war - The Times


Israeli group's documentary accuses Hamas of training child soldiers - Fox News

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

Israel reportedly spied on Iran nuclear talks in effort to lobby Congress against deal - Fox News


VIDEO: Obama: U.S. briefs Israel on Iran nuclear talks, there will be "significant transparency" as the U.S. works a deal - Washington Post


Israeli minister warns French against 'bad accord' with Iran - Yahoo Maktoob News


In a letter 367 House members warn Obama on Iran - TheHill


Text of the letter to President Obama signed by 367 members of Congress - House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats


U.S. Senate will vote on sanctions bill if there is no Iran deal - Reuters


As Cotton speaks, Code Pink activists surround him over Iran letter - arkansasonline.com


VIDEO: Code Pink interrupts Tom Cotton's Iran speech - POLITICO.com


Arab Press Harshly Criticizes Obama Administration On Iran Nuclear Negotiations, Accuses Him Of Turning Its Back On Arab Friends, Leading Region To Disaster - Right Side News


Top Iranians signal support for a nuclear deal - LA Times


Will R&D agreement seal the Iran deal? - Al-Monitor


Iran isn’t providing needed access or information, IAEA says - The Washington Post


VIDEO: IAEA chief calls for beefed up verification of Iran’s nuclear program - PBS


Iran Criticizes IAEA Snap Inspection Demand - VOA


Oil prices could fall further if Iran nuclear deal is reached - Vox


Progress in Iran talks puts oil traders on edge - FT.com

 

---------------------------------------------------------

America and Iran 'taking part in joint military operations in Iraq', US providing intelligence from air to Iran-backed attack on Tikrit - Telegraph


US mulls air strikes for Tikrit offensive in which Iran has played a prominent role: Official - AFP


Iraq request for U.S.-led Tikrit air strikes ‘imminent': diplomat - Reuters


Ahead of nuclear deal Iran expands regional 'empire' from Iraq to Lebanon, and Syria to Yemen - Reuters


Yemen is latest in string of victories for Iran - usatoday.com


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Israel News - Mar 17, 2015


Netanyahu says no Palestinian state if reelected  - AFP


Netanyahu says Jerusalem as a whole to continue under Israel's control, blasts Livni/Herzog stances on the holy city - Algemeiner


If reelected, Netanyahu vows wave of E.Jerusalem building - Yahoo News


Israeli right-wingers scramble to woo 200,000-strong settler vote - THE DAILY STAR


Right-wing demonstration in Tel Aviv: A substantial proportion of demonstrators at Sunday's event were religious, and the settler movement dominated - alternativenews.org


Opinion: Israel’s settlement enterprise has not blocked a two-state solution - Haaretz


Israeli Establishment Turns Back on Netanyahu Ahead of Election - newsweek.com


Business leaders see peace boost if Netanyahu loses Israeli election - Jewish Journal


Interview: Netanyahu era coming to an end, says former ally Lapid - Reuters


Kahlon rejects Netanyahu's Finance Ministry portfolio offer, citing lack of trust - Israel News, Ynetnews


How the parties stand on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - Jerusalem Post


Israel Immigration Seen Fueling Housing Boom Amid Shortage - Bloomberg Business


------------------------------------------------------

Isaac Herzog's Op-Ed: My responsibility, my promise - The Times of Israel


VIDEO (English): Exclusive: Interview with Isaac Herzog - i24news


VIDEO: Isaac Herzog: "Israel not a Jewish state but a nation-state for Jews" - YouTube


Isaac Herzog: The front-runner in Israel's election comes from a distinguished family considered the Kennedy clan of Israel - usatoday


The Herzogs: Three generations of Israeli leadership - Ynetnews


Livni forgoes rotating premiership with Herzog - The Times of Israel


Former prime minister Ehud Barak endorses Isaac Herzog - Jerusalem Post


Arab Alliance Rises as Force in Israeli Elections - NYTimes.com


Arab citizens of Israel face defining moment in election - CNN.com


Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh Op-Ed: With Israeli Arabs united, this election can bring positive change to everybody - The Guardian


In private, Abbas, Palestinian officials reportedly voice hope that Benjamin Netanyahu will lose - Jerusalem Post


Hamas: Leftist Govt. Disaster 'No Less than Bibi' - Arutz Sheva


Out of tune? Arab-Israeli rapper calls on Palestinians to vote for the Joint Arab List in upcoming Israeli elections (VIDEO) - Al Bawaba


Israel’s female politicians are becoming more prominent: Women are a crucial part of the political parties’ strategy - slate.com


----------------------------------------------------------

Source: Senate panel probing ‎possible Obama administration ties to anti-Netanyahu effort - Fox News


VIDEO: Obama Administration Against Bibi? - Senate Panel Probing Anti-Netanyahu Push - Fox News


White House Treading Carefully in Israeli Elections - NYTimes.com


Benjamin Netanyahu claims foreign money is being used to help left-wing Zionist Union beat him - The Independent


Anti-Netanyahu Nonprofit Forms New Entity After Congress Says It Violated Tax Law - Washington Free Beacon


New Israel Fund Received More Than $1 Million From U.S. State Department - The Daily Caller


Background on the Latest Anti-NIF Campaign - New Israel Fund Australia Foundation


Israel boycott movement 'isn't working' says top trade envoy Amit Lang - ibtimes.co.uk


The Generational Divide in American Jews on Israel - The New Republic


Ex Mossad head predicts dramatic improvement in US-Israel relations if Netanyahu loses election - The Independent


Exclusive: Netanyahu Canceled Intel Briefing for U.S. Senators on Iran Dangers - TIME


VIDEO: Jon Voight Backs Netanyahu In New Ad: 'Obama Does Not Love Israel' - Fox Nation

 

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Israel News - Mar 12, 2015


POLL: As Israel vote looms, centre-left pulls ahead of PM Netanyahu's Likud - Yahoo News


Israel Elections 2015: Social And Economic Issues, Not Iran, Dominate Political Race - ibtimes.com


Israel Election: Pocketbook Issues Trump Security Concerns - newsweek.com


Herzog claims Israel's economy is suffering due to overfocus on defense, vows only to raise defense budget if social needs are met - Arutz Sheva


Isaac Herzog says he trusts Obama "to get a good deal” with Iran, favors two state solution for the Palestinians - The Globe and Mail


Herzog: I'll evict settlers but only in an agreement and after talking to the settlers themselves, I may appoint an Arab minister - Arutz Sheva


Herzog: I want to unite, while Netanyahu divides - Ynetnews


Zionist Union unveils party platform - Ynetnews


VIDEO (English Subtitles): Isaac Herzog official election ad  - YouTube


-------------------------------------------------------

As Election Day Nears, Benjamin Netanyahu Talks of a ‘Worldwide’ Effort to Defeat Him - NYTimes.com


POLL: Netanyahu Support Among Democrats Plunges After Iran Speech - newsmax.com


Benjamin Netanyahu to blame for security failures, worsened relationship with US, former Mossad Chief says - Jerusalem Post


Netanyahu leads a nation with its own nuclear secrets, the country now has about 200 nuclear bombs and missile warheads - Washington Post


Jewish Congresswoman says Israeli voters should oust Benjamin Netanyahu for damaging the country’s relationship with the U.S – Forward.com


Benjamin Netanyahu retreats on Palestinian state - Jerusalem Post


Netanyahu apologizes for campaign ad after union vows not to vote Likud - Ynetnews


Tens Of Thousands Attend Anti-Netanyahu Rally In Tel Aviv - huffingtonpost.com


Lieberman says Israel should execute Arabs who carry out deadly attacks, although the death penalty is on the statute only one person has been executed in the country's history - Reuters


-----------------------------------------------------

Israel’s Arab political parties have united for the first time - The Washington Post


POLL: Defying calls to boycott next week's vote, turnout among Israeli Arab voters is projected to rise (VIDEO) - CSMonitor.com


VIDEO: Israel’s Arab citizens brandish new electoral power - euronews


Head of joint Arab-Israel party Ayman Odeh: the surprise of the 2015 campaign - i24news


Israeli Election: Interview with Head of joint Arab-Israel party Ayman Odeh - newsweek.com


PA president Abbas voices support for Joint Arab List in Israeli elections - Israel Hayom


With eye to Israel's election, Palestinian Authority trying to prevent flare-up of tensions in West Bank - Jerusalem Post


PA holding 50 Islamic militants, fearing terror attack will give election to Likud - Haaretz


Concerns Rise Over Plots to Oust Abbas - US News


POLL: Gaza Residents Blame Hamas for Palestinian Division - The Tower


U.N. inquiry on Gaza war crimes seeks delay of report to June: statement - Reuters

 

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Talk Nation Radio: Michael Schwartz: Israel's Wars Are for Oil

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-michael-schwartz-israels-wars-are-for-oil/

Michael Schwartz is an Emeritus Distinguished Teaching Professor of sociology at Stony Brook State University and the author of six books and scores of articles and commentaries, including award winning books on popular protest and insurgency. His most recent book, War Without End, analyzes how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to dismantle the Iraqi state and economy while fueling sectarian civil war inside Iraq. His work on the Middle East  appears regularly in TomDispatch including his latest article, "The Great Game in the Holy Land."

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
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Skipping The Speech for All the Wrong Reasons

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to hear that Congress members will skip Netanyahu's speech no matter what reason they offer. Here are some of them:

It's too close to Netanyahu's election. (That doesn't persuade me. If we had fair, open, publicly funded, un-gerrymandered, verifiably counted elections, then "politics" wouldn't be a dirty word and we would want politicians to show themselves doing things to try to please us before, during, and after elections. I want them acting that way now, even with our broken system. I don't want the U.S. interfering in Israeli elections, but allowing a speech is hardly the same as backing coups in Ukraine and Venezuela or giving Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons every year.)

The Speaker didn't ask the President. (This is likely the big reason that Democrats are promising to skip the speech. I'm actually amazed more of them haven't made that promise. Netanyahu seemed to me to miss the extent to which the United States has become a term-limited monarchy. Congress typically wants to pass the buck on wars to the President. The President typically controls one of the two parties quite tightly. But do I actually care that Congress didn't consult the President? Hell no! Imagine if, during the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, Congress had offered a joint-session microphone to El Baradei or Sarkozy or Putin or, indeed, Hussein to denounce all the bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq? Would you have been outraged by the impoliteness toward President Bush or delighted that a million people might not get killed for no damn reason?)

These kinds of reasons do have a practical weakness: they lead to calls for postponing the speech, rather than canceling it. Some other reasons have more serious flaws.

The speech damages bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. (Really? A slim minority of the President's party skips the speech for a laundry list of lame excuses and suddenly the United States is going to stop providing all the free weapons and vetoing every attempt at legal accountability for the crimes of the Israeli government? And that would be a bad thing if it actually happened?)

The speech hurts the critical effort of negotiations to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. (This is the worst of the bad reasons. It pushes the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. It plays right into Netanyahu's fantasies of poor helpless nuclear Israel the victim of Iranian aggression. In reality, Iran has not attacked another nation in modern history. If only Israel or the United States could say as much!)

As I said, I'm glad anyone's skipping the speech for any reason. But I find it deeply disturbing that an enormously important and deeply moral reason to skip the speech is obvious and known to every member of Congress, and while most are acting against it, those acting in accordance with it refuse to articulate it. The reason is this: Netanyahu is coming to spread war propaganda. He told Congress lies about Iraq in 2002 and pushed for a U.S. war. He has been lying, according to leaks this week of his own spies' information and according to the understanding of the U.S. "intelligence" services, about Iran. It is illegal to spread war propaganda under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. Congress is struggling to keep up with the wars President Obama is continuing, launching, and risking. Here's one war Obama seems not to want, and Congress is bringing in a foreign leader with a record of war lies to give them their marching orders. Meanwhile, an agency of that same foreign government, AIPAC, is holding its big lobby meeting in Washington.

Now, it is true that nuclear energy facilities create dangerous targets. Those drones flying around French nuclear plants scare the hell out of me. And it is true that nuclear energy places its possessor a short step away from nuclear weaponry. Which is why the U.S. should stop spreading nuclear energy to countries that have no need of it, and why the U.S. should never have given nuclear bomb plans to Iran or sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to prison for allegedly revealing that act. But you can't accomplish good by using horrific mass murder to avoid horrific mass murder -- and that's what Israeli-U.S. aggression toward Iran means. Stirring up a new cold war with Russia in Syria and Ukraine is dangerous enough without throwing Iran into the mix. But even a war that confined itself to Iran would be horrifying.

Imagine if we had one Congress member who would say, "I'm skipping the speech because I'm opposed to killing Iranians." I know we have lots of constituents who like to think that their progressive Congress member secretly thinks that. But I'll believe it when I hear it said.

South African Civil Rights Leader Calls Israeli Apartheid of Palestinians Much More Violent than South African Government Treatment of Blacks

By Ann Wright

Reverend Dr. Allan Boesak, a South African civil rights leader who worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to end apartheid and promote reconciliation in South Africa, calls the Israeli treatment of Palestinians “much more violent than the South African government treatment of blacks.”

In a discussion at the Harris Methodist Church on January 11, 2015 with social justice leaders in the Honolulu, Hawaii community, Dr. Boesak said that  black South Africans faced violence from the apartheid white government and that he went to funerals each week of those killed in the struggle, but never on the scale that the Palestinians face from the Israeli government.  The South African government killing of blacks was small compared to numbers of Palestinians the Israeli government has killed.

405 black South Africans were killed by the South African government from 1960-1994 in eight major incidents.  The largest number of blacks killed in specific incidents were 176 in Soweto in 1976 and 69 in Sharpeville in 1960.

In contrast, from 2000-2014, the Israeli government killed 9126 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. In Gaza alone, 1400 Palestinians were killed in 22 days in 2008-2009, 160 killed in 5 days in 2012 and 2200 killed in 50 days in 2014. 1,195 Israelis were killed from 2000 through 2014.   http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/deaths.html

In the face of overwhelming violence, Dr. Boesak commented that it is human nature that a violence response by some is inevitable, but that it is incredible that the response of the majority of Palestinians is non-violent.

In 1983, Boesak launched the United Democratic Front (UDF), a movement of over 700 civic, student, worker, and religious organizations that became the first non-racial movement and the main force behind the anti-apartheid activities in the South Africa during the decisive decade of the 1980s. Together with Archbishop Tutu, Dr. Frank Chikane, and Dr. Beyers Naude, he campaigned internationally for sanctions against the South African apartheid regime and in the final campaign for financial sanctions during 1988-89.
 
In the 1990s Dr. Boesak joined the unbanned African National Congress, served on its first team to the Convention for Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations preparing for the first free elections in South Africa, and was elected its first leader in the Western Cape. After the 1994 elections, he became the first Minister of Economic Affairs in the Western Cape and later in 1994 was appointed South African Ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

Dr. Boesak currently is the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies at Christian Theological Seminary and Butler University, both located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

On other aspects of the apartheid struggle, Dr. Boesak said that in South Africa the government did not create whites only roads, did not erect huge walls to keep blacks physically in specific areas and did not allow and protect whites to take lands from blacks and settle on those lands.

According to Boesak, international solidarity through boycott of South African goods and divestment from South African companies kept the anti-apartheid movement energized.  Knowing that organizations around the world were forcing universities to divest from South African investments and that millions of people were boycotting South African products gave them hope during the difficult struggle.  He said that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli apartheid is small compared to the level reached in the 1980s against South African apartheid and encouraged organizations to take up boycott and divestment stances, such as the Presbyterian Church in the United States did in 2014 by divesting from Israeli companies.

In a 2011 interview, Boesak said that he strongly supports economic sanctions on the state of Israel. He said, “Pressure, pressure, pressure from every side and in as many ways as possible: trade sanctions, economic sanctions, financial sanctions, banking sanctions, sports sanctions, cultural sanctions; I'm talking from our own experience. In the beginning we had very broad sanctions and only late in the 1980s did we learn to have targeted sanctions. So you must look to see where the Israelis are most vulnerable; where is the strongest link to the outside community? And you must have strong international solidarity; that's the only way it will work. You have to remember that for years and years and years when we built up the sanctions campaign it was not with governments in the West. They came on board very, very late.”

Boesak added, “It was the Indian government and in Europe just Sweden and Denmark to begin with and that was it. Later on, by 1985-86, we could get American support. We never could get Margaret Thatcher on board, never Britain, never Germany, but in Germany the people who made a difference were the women who started boycotting South African goods in their supermarkets. That's how we built it up. Never despise the day of small beginnings. It was down to civil society. But civil society in the international community could only build up because there was such a strong voice from within and that is now the responsibility of the Palestinians, to keep up that voice and to be as strong and as clear as they possibly can. Think up the arguments, think through the logic of it all but don't forget the passion because this is for your country.”

Boesak called the U.S. government protection of the Israeli government’s actions the single most important reason why apartheid Israel exists.  Without the support of the U.S. government in United Nations votes and in provision of military equipment to use on Palestinians, Boesak said the Israeli government would not be able to act with impunity.

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'Grinding my Ax'

By Gary Lindorff

 

My ax is grinding
All by itself!
I can hear it giving itself to the grinding wheel
Every day when I wake up,
Most nights when I go to bed.
 
I am just grinding it.
 
What would I use it for?
To cut down my enemies to size?
To swing against the foundations of the NSA?
To destroy the diabolical machinery
That is excavating the tarsands in Alberta?
To obliterate all the missiles and missile silos...


No More Khirbet Khizehs

"Fields that would never be harvested, plantations that would never be irrigated, paths that would become desolate. A sense of destruction and worthlessness. An image of thistles and brambles everywhere, a desolate tawniness, a braying wilderness. And already from those fields accusing eyes peered out at you, that silent accusatory look as of a reproachful animal, staring and following you so there was no refuge." -- Yizhar Smilansky, Khirbet Khizeh

On the day in 2014 that I read the new English translation of Khirbet Khizeh, Tom Engelhardt published a blog post rewriting recent news articles on the U.S. Senate's torture report as a 2019 Senate report on drone murders. The 2019 "news" media in Tom's believable account is shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- by the rampant murder discovered to have been committed using missiles from drones of all things.

The point is that most of what's been discussed as news from the recent torture report, and certainly all of the fundamental moral points -- has been known -- or, more accurately, knowable for years. For the past several years, the U.S. establishment has been repeatedly "banning" torture. It has also been repeatedly discovering the same evidence of torture, over and over again. Leading torturers have gone on television to swear they'd do it all again, while radical activist groups have demanded "investigations."

The point is that at some point "truth and reconciliation" is lies and reconciliation -- the lies of pretending that the truth needed to be unearthed, that it was hidden for a time, that the crimes weren't committed in the broad daylight of television spotlights on a sweaty old man assuring us he was about to start working on the dark side.

Illustrated at right, from the iNakba app, are villages that were destroyed in 1948 to create Israel. Generations of Israelis have grown up not knowing, not wanting to know, pretending not to know, and knowing without confronting the Catastrophe. Israelis are discovering what happened, unburying the hidden truth, filming aging participants' distorted confessions, and hunting out the outlines of disappeared villages on GoogleEarth.

But what if the truth was always marching naked down the street with trumpets sounding?

In May 1949, Yizhar Smilansky published Khirbet Khizeh, a fictional account of the destruction of a fictional village much like many real ones. Smilansky knew or hoped that he was ahead of his time, so much so that he began the tale by framing it as a recollection from the distant future. The narrator, like the reader, was known by the author to be unable to see for years to come.

What would keep the book alive until that distant day?

Poetry.

It's not a Senate report. Khirbet Khizeh is a work of masterful insight and storytelling that grips you and compels you to enter the experience of its narrator and his companions, as they do what the author had done, as they imitate Nazis before all the ashes had fallen from the skies above the ovens in Europe.

This book was planted and grew. It's been taught in Israeli schools. It was a movie on Israeli television in 1978. And now, with a sense that perhaps sleepy eyes are stretching open at long last, the book has had itself translated into the language of the imperial homeland, English.

But how could poetry keep heresy alive?

Several ways, I think. Absolute failure to pay attention, for one. Think about how literature is taught in many U.S. schools, for example. The ability of people to hear the poetry without the meaning, for another. Think about people singing John Lennon's Imagine without having the slightest idea they've just proposed to abolish religions, nations, and private property, or how people throw around the phrase "peace on earth" in December. Perverse but predictable and perhaps predicted misinterpretation, for another. Think about how viewers of the propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty read accounts of torture, for example -- as a dirty job that needed doing for a greater cause.

It's a strain, to me at least, to read Khirbet Khizeh as a celebration of genocide or mass-eviction. And the book not only suffered but also benefitted from being ahead of its time. It pre-existed the mythologies and rhetorical defenses that grew up around the Catastrophe in the decades that followed. When the narrator makes a slight resistance to what he is engaged in, no reader can find anything but humanitarian motivation in his resistance. The idea that this soldier, questioning his fellow soldiers, is engaged in anti-Semitism would literally make no sense. He's revolted by the cruelty, no more no less -- cruelty that every adult and child has to have always known was part of any mass settlement of ancient lands in 1948.

When I was a child, in elementary school, I wrote a story about an eviction of a family from its house, complete with plenty of tear-jerking details. As a good American I wrote about British redcoats evicting patriotic U.S. revolutionaries. My teacher suggested to me that I had a talent for writing. But that wasn't writing. Had I written of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, of Diego Garcia or Vieques or the Marshall Islands or Thule or Okinawa or any of the many places about which silence was expected, that might have been writing.

Let us wish no more Khirbet Khizehs on the people of Palestine and many more Khirbet Khizehs on the world.

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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