Tag Archives: Benjamin Netanyahu

High-Seas Piracy: Israel’s Latest Bandit Act. “Gaza: the World’s Largest Open-air Prison”

By Stephen Lendman
July 01, 2015
Global Research

 

Israel se desvela a ojos del mundo por medio de su pirateríaPrevious articles discussed Israel’s seizure of the Swedish vessel Marianne Ship to Gaza carrying humanitarian aid despite Israel’s hollow denial. 

Israel wants Gazans trapped indefinitely in the world’s largest open-air prison deprived of essentials for well-being – suffocated under a policy of slow-motion genocide.

Israeli commandos lawlessly seized the Marianne in international waters. Netanyahu saying it was done lawfully is one of a litany of Big Lies he claimed about the incident – a bandit act like so many others Israel commits endlessly.

A June 29 Ship to Gaza press release said “the ‘Marianne’ contacted the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast.”

“After that we lost contact with the ‘Marianne’ and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had visited and searched Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board ‘in international waters’ as they admitted themselves.”

“The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists.”

We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’ (as Israel claims), because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012″ activists on board the Estelle were savagely tasered and beaten with clubs.

In 2010, nine Mavi Marmara participants were murdered in cold blood, another died later from injuries sustained. They were designated in advance for assassination.

Israel’s so-called “no tolerance” policy assures collective punishment against 1.8 million Gazans – victimized by rogue state ruthlessness.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) “condemn(ed) in the strongest terms the Israeli Navy’s interception and seizure of the first vessel of Freedom Flotilla III taking it to Ashdod seaport in Israel.

“PCHR believes that this attack is aimed to impose the conspiracy of international silence towards crimes committed by Israel against the Gaza Strip’s population, including the illegal closure that has been imposed for the ninth consecutive year.”

“The act of piracy committed by Israeli occupation forces against solidarity activists who came to the Gaza Strip, unarmed but with their moral strength, is another attempt to silence the voices of the free people of the world who wished to send a message to the whole world that the total siege imposed the Gaza Strip is inhuman, illegal, a man-made disaster and a part of an ongoing war crime against Palestinian civilians.”

Israel’s summer 2014 aggression left much of Gaza in ruins – not rebuilt because Israel blocks most construction and other supplies from getting in. It holds the entire population hostage to its ruthlessness – high crimes demanding accountability not gotten.

Monday evening, Israel’s Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said it detained 16 foreign nationals for questioning. Deportation would follow.

Hamas condemned the “kidnapping” of activists on board, explaining Marianne “succeeded in showing the crime of blockade.”

Flotilla organizers said “(w)e once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade of Gaza. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.”

They vowed to use “passive resistance,” not violence when lawlessly boarded. Israel operates by different standards. Brutality is standard practice.

Reports indicate its commandos tasered activists on board. It’s not know so far if they were beaten or otherwise abused. We’ll know more when they’re able to speak freely.

So far, they’re held incommunicado except for former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, Palestinian MK Basel Ghattas and European parliamentarian Ana Miranda – released in Ashdod.

RT International correspondent Nadya Kevorkova was on board the Marianne. Ghattas said she was OK and would be released Tuesday. He confirmed Israeli commandos attacked some activists. Slight injuries were sustained. Swedish participants were singled out for abuse.

Ghattas explained even though Marianne was seized, activists achieved their goal of “attract(ing) attention of the world toward the issue of the illegal siege and toward the illegal blockade over Gaza.”

Crew members left video messages prior to seizure. Marianne’s captain Joel Opperdoes said “(i)f you see this video, this means that we are under attack in international waters by Israeli Air Defense Forces.” Other messages were similar.

After weeks of reports about Freedom Flotilla III’ mission, The New York Times addressed it for the first time Monday – highlighting Israel regarding these “action(s) as highly provocative,” failing to explain lawless collective punishment against 1.8 million largely defenseless people for political, not security reasons.

Gazans remain trapped in rubble – “ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished,” as Franklin Roosevelt said about one-third of Americans during the 1930s Great Depression.

His solution was expanded social services. Israel’s is continued collective punishment and naked aggression at its discretion.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

No Magna Carta in Israel

Provisions of Magna Carta Observed in Britain and in the Constitution of the United States – But Not in Israel

By Anthony Bellchambers
June 16, 2015
Global Research

 

The New McCarthyism in Israel: Human Rights Groups Face CrackdownIn Israel, the rights of an indigenous population that now numbers over five million, have been trampled on by successive right-wing governments over the past decades who have ignored the freedom of the individual.

Governments that have been, and are, determined to ethically-cleanse the region of its now dispossessed population that has been in unbroken occupation of the land for over a millennium – during all of which period, there was only ever a minority Jewish presence.

The land of Palestine has been, for over a thousand unbroken years, an Arab Muslim land that has been farmed and settled by farmers and smallholders in comparative peace. Until 1947, when a minority new United Nations decided by just 33 votes to 13, with 10 abstentions, to forcibly impose an Israeli state in the middle of the Muslim Middle East against vehement opposition from all those states affected.

But the U.S. Zionist-controlled congress of America was insistent. From that time until now, immigrants to Israel from Europe and America have steadily stripped the indigenous people of their water supplies, their olive groves, their villages and houses and often their lives. The manifesto of the Likud Charter requires the forcible possession of all of former Palestine, from the River to the Sea. They will, of course, never succeed.

Magna Carta has had a profound effect on the democratic countries of the free world. Only Israel amongst the claimed democratic states has made a mockery of the rights and provisions of this seminal agreement that protects the human and civil rights of the individual.

Whilst the world remains blind and silent, in accordance with the instructions of the international lobbyist/agents who control the centres of political and economic power in London, Washington, Paris and Berlin – more than 380,000 illegal Israeli settlers have expropriated the lands of the indigenous Arab backed by an Israeli government that is the only remaining colonial power in the whole of Africa and the Middle East.

Yet, the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, appears to be a welcome guest at the tables of power in the capitals of the world. One can only speculate on what is on offer that is so much more valuable than freedom, justice and human life – all those essential rights encapsulated within the most important document in the history of mankind that protects individual prerogatives from the power of the state i.e. Magna Carta.

Police attack demonstration against police violence in Israel

By Chris Marsden
May 5, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Damas Pakedeh ...A massive protest in Tel Aviv by Ethiopian Jews against racism and police violence was attacked by police with horse charges, water cannon and baton rounds.

Sunday’s protest was sparked by video footage of police officers beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, Damas Pakedeh, without provocation. Two officers have since been suspended on suspicion of using excessive force. Pakedeh is pushed, kneed and punched, and at one point an officer threatens to draw his gun.

Thousands took part in the protest rally, with many comparing Israeli police actions to police brutality in the United States. The rally began at the Azrieli Center at 3 p.m., after which a march to the Ayalon highway ended in a blockade that halted all traffic.

Later that night, some demonstrators tried to storm the city’s municipal building, and police fired water cannon, tear gas and stun grenades, employing mounted police charges against protesters who threw bottles and bricks. Stun grenades are usually reserved for use against Palestinians. Forty-three people were arrested and a reported 56 police and at least a dozen protesters were hurt.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Pakedeh in a hypocritical gesture towards recognising the grievances of Israeli citizens of North African origin. In a deeply cynical exercise in damage control, Netanyahu was filmed embracing Pakedeh, expressing shock at his treatment and praising him as “an excellent student,” for doing “volunteering on the weekend,” etc. He then met Ethiopian Israeli leaders, after which he declared, “We must stand together as one against the phenomenon of racism, to denounce it and eliminate it.”

Police have threatened a clampdown on any future protests, though smaller demonstrations began in Jerusalem last night. Yesterday, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of 15 of the protesters, three for 48 hours and 12 for 24 hours. Four demonstrators were released on probation provided that they stay out of Tel Aviv.

At an earlier protest last Thursday, Ethiopian Jews were attacked by police using water cannon outside Netanyahu’s residence, with at least 13 people injured.

Many Ethiopian Jews were airlifted into Israel in 1984 and 1990, at a time of civil war and famine, in a propaganda exercise, after a rabbinical ruling that they were direct descendants of the biblical Jewish Dan tribe. But the 135,500-strong community, many second-generation, has suffered racial discrimination and poverty ever since.

Israel has the second highest poverty rate in the developed world, with nearly 25 percent of its eight million citizens living below the poverty line. Jewish Israelis who came from the Middle East and North Africa—the Mizrahim—are hit particularly hard, earning 40 percent less than their European counterparts, doing less well in school, and less likely to go on to college or university.

Ethiopian households earn 35 percent less than the national average, more than half live below the poverty line, and only half of young people receive high school diplomas, compared with 63 percent nationally. Many are employed on one-year contracts without social security, before being sacked and rehired.

Immediately following the first major wave of immigration in the mid-1980s, the Chief Rabbinate, after recognizing them as Jews, insisted that Ethiopians undergo a symbolic immersion ceremony to confirm their Jewishness, sparking protests. Descendants of Ethiopian Jews forced to convert to Christianity are required to undergo actual conversion to be eligible for citizenship.

In 2012, a decision by 120 homeowners not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families provoked widespread protests in the southern city of Kiryat Malakhi.

Racist protests in Tel Aviv’s impoverished suburbs that year resulted in dozens of asylum seekers being injured, after a rally in which Miri Regev of Likud described asylum seekers as a “cancer in our body”. Demonstrators attacked shops, properties and cars belonging to the migrants and beat up men and women.

The revelation that Israeli hospitals secretly dumped blood donations from Ethiopian immigrants, citing fears of HIV infection, caused widespread outrage. Moreover, in 2013, Israeli authorities admitted to having administered birth control injections to Ethiopian Jewish women either without their consent or knowledge or through active coercion.

In January 2014, thousands of African asylum seekers marched to Rabin Square to protest measures restricting their freedom of movement, ability to work and long delays in processing refugee applications and demanding official refugee status.

President Reuven Rivlin spoke of the need to address “an open and raw wound at the heart of Israeli society,” but only while not allowing “a handful of violent troublemakers to drown out the legitimate voices of protest.”

Officers were deployed in large numbers on Monday around Jerusalem’s government complex, in anticipation of another outbreak of violence, though no demonstration materialised. Ha’aretz noted certain important features of Sunday’s protest that point to the growing alienation of young Ethiopian Israelis.

Just over 40 percent now attend state religious schools, down from 76 percent for their parents’ generation. The growth of secularism and oppositional sentiment was evidenced by how, “Plainly defying the religious laws of modesty that are widely accepted in the community, many of the young women sported snug-fitting jeans and very short skirts. And there were also many bareheaded young men among the protesters, more than a few sporting dreadlocks.”

Netanyahu Insists Iran Deal Includes His Demands

By Stephen Lendman
April 05, 2015
Global Research

 

NetanyahuThey want final say over any future agreement. Ideally, they want none at all. They want Iran isolated and weakened. They want its government ousted.

They want Israel’s main regional rival eliminated. They’re willing to wage war to achieve their objectives.

Netanyahu said any deal with Iran must include “a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dismissed his demand out of hand saying:

Agreement with Iran “is only about the nuclear issue…(It) doesn’t deal with any other(s), nor should it.”

On April 3, The New York Times headlined “With Iran Deal in Hand, White House Makes Sales Pitch to Preserve It.”

Saying Obama briefed Republican and Democrat leaders by phone before agreement was announced.

He promised more updates as talks continue. Senior administration officials began promoting the deal.

“The intensity of the campaign reflects the steep challenge Mr. Obama faces in building support among lawmakers…skeptic(al about” any deal with Iran.

Fierce anti-Iranian sentiment may kill any eventual agreement. Congressional opposition could undermine months of administration efforts to achieve something it considers successful – true or false.

The Wall Street Journal reported cracks in the Democrat/Jewish alliance over any Iran deal and Obama’s dispute with Netanyahu.

Saying “(m)any US Jewish leaders are unnerved both by the new Iran nuclear agreement and the public falling out between President Barack Obama and his Israeli counterpart, developments that are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.”

They continue warning about a nonexistent Iranian threat to Israel. They want Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu softened.

They want US/Israeli relations strengthened – regardless of its permanent war on Palestine and outrageous human rights violations.

Some want Iran held hostage to Israeli demands. Expect Tehran to face enormous obstacles ahead to achieve any kind of fairness.

Expect Israeli and US-controlled IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to invent fake claims of Iranian backtracking to obstruct lifting sanctions.

Expect things Washington accepted to be reinterpreted otherwise. Expect Iran to face an uphill battle ahead achieving much less than it deserves, including:

  • lifting all sanctions straightaway on completing a final deal with no triggering mechanism for reinstating them based on likely bogus backtracking claims;
  • ending the charade once and for all about an Iranian nuclear weapons program the whole world knows doesn’t exist – stating publicly there’s none now, earlier or likely ahead;
  • normalizing ties with Washington and other Western countries – including reestablishing diplomatic relations; and
  • recognition of Iran’s sovereign independence and right to be accepted like Western nations treat other countries.

It’s hard imagining any deal ending 36 years of intense US anti-Iranian sentiment.

Not as long as Congress, Israel and its Lobby maintain strong opposition to dealing with Iran fairly.

Or Obama demanding much more than he’ll give – on top of America’s duplicitous history of violating treaties, conventions and deals it agreed to.

It remains to be seen if business as usual continues. Odds strongly favor it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Jerusalem on the Boil

By Stephen Lendman
March 25, 2015
Global Research

 

Carte JérusalemLondon’s Guardian published what US major media won’t touch – a leaked EU report discussing a “vicious cycle of violence…increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution.”

It blames collapsed peace talks, settlement construction in “sensitive” Jerusalem areas, Al-Aqsa Mosque provocations, home demolitions and dispossessing Palestinians from their land.

The report is prepared annually by EU nations’ Jerusalem-based heads of mission. It suggests policy measures in light of Israeli actions.

Netanyahu pledged continued settlement construction and no Palestinian state on his watch if reelected.

His post-election statehood flip-flop rings as hollow as all other promises he makes. He’s a serial liar. Nothing he says has credibility.

In defiance of international law, he calls Jerusalem Israel’s exclusive “undivided capital.”

He wants Palestinians entirely excluded – forcefully removed if necessary.

Past EU reports critical of Israel accomplished nothing in the way of policy changes. Don’t bet on anything substantive this time.

The Guardian cited “well-informed European sources” favoring policy changes against Israel in the wake of a potentially more extremist government post-election than before.

They include voluntary guidelines only, not tough measures needed to address longstanding Israeli abuses. Examples include:

“(F)urther and coordinated steps to ensure that consumers in the EU are able to exercise their right to an informed choice in respect to settlement products in conformity with existing EU rules of origin and labeling, including other possible future measures.”

“Possible measures against known violent settlers and those calling for acts of violence as regards immigration regulations in EU member states.”

“Strengthen efforts to raise awareness amongst EU citizens and businesses on the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, including financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements and services.”

“Advance voluntary guidelines for EU tour operators to prevent support for settlement business in East Jerusalem.”

The Guardian said speculation mounts on whether Washington and EU countries will reassess how they treat Israel.

They’re hard-wired in place. They remain largely constant under all Israeli regimes. All are hardline. None are left-of-center.

The Guardian cited various high-profile violent incidents last year. It failed to explain Palestinians face Kristallnacht conditions daily.

It cited the EU report calling Jerusalem “one of the most emotive and problematic issues” in peace process discussions.

It omitted explaining longstanding peace process hypocrisy – the greatest scam in modern memory. Dead on arrival every time initiated.

The EU report cited “tensions, mistrust and violence which have accompanied developments in the city in the course of the year (at) extremely high levels.”

“These developments are increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution and, in turn, risk precipitating further levels of polarisation and violence.”

It said “2014 (was) distinguished by a number of specific, disturbing and often violent developments” – largely Israeli initiated.

It noted failure to address abuses will lead to “further escalation and extreme polarisation.”

“These incidents have occurred against the background of the systematic increase in settlement activity, tensions over the Haram al-Sharif and rising levels of tensions and acts of violence” largely by Israel.

“The expansion of settlements has continued, including in highly sensitive areas, (and was) followed in force by waves of demolitions and evictions.”

“Almost on a daily basis settlers and national religious activists have ascended on to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount under the protection of Israeli forces.”

Abusive security force practices were highlighted – Israeli instigated violence “le(ading) to more than 1,300 arrests (with 40% of he detainees being minors).”

Coverup, denial and whitewash reflect official Israeli policy. A regime spokesman response didn’t surprise.

It lied calling the EU report “so extremely one-sided…that it distorts reality beyond comprehension.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Behind the tensions between Obama and Netanyahu

By Bill Van Auken
March 24, 2015
World Socialist Web Sit

 

One week after the Israeli election victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, tensions between Washington and Tel Aviv remain at a level unseen in decades.

President Barack Obama on Sunday gave a videotaped interview to the Huffington Post in which he recounted a mealymouthed rebuke that he said he had delivered to Netanyahu over his 11th-hour appeals to the most reactionary and racist sections of the Israeli electorate to win the seats needed to secure his reelection.

On the eve of the vote, the Israeli prime minister issued a clear statement that as long as he remained in office, there would be no Palestinian state. Netanyahu declared that giving up Israeli-occupied territories would amount to “simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel.” Asked whether that meant there would be no Palestinian state as long as he remained Israel’s premier, he replied, “Indeed.”

On election day itself, in an openly racist appeal for right-wing Zionists to vote for Likud, Netanyahu warned: “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.”

In his interview, Obama said he had told the Israeli prime minister in a telephone conversation the day before: “…we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic. And I indicated to him that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible.”

The US president’s problem is that in his desperate bid for a fourth term in office, Netanyahu clearly proclaimed the real policies of his government and the entire ruling Zionist establishment in Israel, exposing the so-called “peace process” brokered by Washington as a cynical fraud.

For over two decades, since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Washington, Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank town of Ramallah have all promoted the notion that a “two-state solution” could be achieved at the negotiating table. During this period, the Israeli regime has steadily created new “facts on the ground,” doubling the number of Zionist settlers in the occupied West Bank to over 300,000, while leaving 2.7 million Palestinians trapped in bits of discontiguous territory divided one from the other by Israeli settlements, checkpoints, military outposts, walls and security roads.

Another 1.7 million are imprisoned within the Gaza Strip, blockaded by both Israel and Egypt and subjected to continuous military assaults such as the criminal Israeli siege of last summer that claimed the lives of over 2,300 men, women and children.

These predations have underscored the reactionary, antidemocratic character of any so-called Palestinian “state” that might emerge under the aegis of US imperialism, the Zionist ruling elite and the Palestinian bourgeoisie, should that ever come to pass. It would be an impoverished, discontinuous, demilitarized entity, essentially a prison for the Palestinian masses.

Under these conditions, the pretense that the so-called “peace talks” provided a way out for the Palestinian people was not merely a fiction, but an obscenity. Yet the pretense served a useful purpose for all those involved.

For Israel, it provided a mask for the predatory policies it pursued in effectively annexing ever-greater portions of the territories it seized in the 1967 war. For the Palestinian Authority, it served as a rationale for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s transformation into a client regime of US imperialism and an auxiliary police force for the Israeli occupation, securing in the bargain foreign aid and loans that flowed into the pockets of the corrupt leadership around PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

For Washington, the “peace process” allowed it to posture as a neutral party attempting to secure a just settlement for both Israel and the Palestinians, a lie seen as essential to its attempt to secure the collaboration of Arab states in US imperialism’s unending wars of aggression in the region.

Everyone—most of all the Palestinians—knew that the process was a fraud, but those directly involved were not supposed to say so publicly. In his explicit rejection of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu has cut across US interests in the region.

This comes on top of his March 3 anti-Iranian tirade to the US Congress, which was organized in league with the Republican Party leadership in an attempt to sabotage any negotiated agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program. The Israeli regime remains intent on using the spurious claims of a nuclear threat from Iran to draw the US into a war for regime change in order to further Israel’s own strategy of exercising unassailable dominance over the countries of the region.

This runs counter to the current policy pursued by the Obama administration, which aims at reaching at least a temporary accommodation with Tehran as Washington prepares for new military confrontations around the globe.

While Obama vowed that, his disagreements with Netanyahu notwithstanding, “our military and intelligence cooperation to keep the Israeli people safe continues,” the recent clashes underscore the crises gripping both US imperialism and its obstreperous Zionist client state. Both seek a way out of their respective crises by military means, but their immediate timetables and agendas are significantly at odds.

For both the Palestinian and Israeli working class, the reelection of Netanyahu on a platform of unconcealed Zionist aggression and reaction only underscores the absence of any way forward based on the program of nationalism.

For Jewish workers in Israel, Zionism is a trap, subordinating their interests to those of a narrow oligarchy of capitalist billionaires and multimillionaires, while the ruling establishment seeks to divert the immense tensions generated by poverty, rising prices, austerity cutbacks and record inequality into ever more dangerous military provocations against the Palestinian people, the surrounding Arab countries and beyond.

For Palestinians, the protracted fraud of the “peace process” has laid bare the dead end of Palestinian nationalism and all of its variants, from Fatah to Hamas, all of which articulate the interests not of the working masses, but of rival sections of the Arab bourgeoisie.

Nowhere is the necessity for the international unity of the working class posed more sharply than in the Middle East. There is no way out of the present impasse and the threat of ever bloodier catastrophes outside of Arab and Jewish workers uniting against imperialism and its Zionist and Arab bourgeois agents in a common struggle for the United Socialist States of the Middle East.

 

Iran, 47 Republicans and Israeli Control of Congress

By Margaret Kimberley
March 20, 2015
Black Agenda Report, March 20, 2015

 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Joe Biden, John BoehnerRepublicans and Democrats in Congress have more in common than they like to admit. There is more pretense of difference than actual divergence of ideology between the two parties. Both bend to the will of the ruling class, both support American interventions abroad, both promote austerity and are ready to cut what remains of the safety net. Republicans may agitate against raising the minimum wage, but despite all talk to the contrary, Democrats didn’t raise it either when they had control of the White House and Congress in 2009 and 2010.

Both parties are also controlled by the Israel lobby, one of the most powerful in the country. Israel and its allies exercise control over politicians with the power of fundraising. Dissenters from Zionist orthodoxy may face well funded opponents and find themselves out of office. That simple fact explains much that seems inexplicable about recent events in this country.

It is true that Republicans invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress but in the end most Democrats groveled before him just like their leader Barack Obama did. The Netanyahu speech was a spectacular piece of theater and was soon followed by another when 47 Republican senators sent an open letterto the Iranian government. The goal of the missive was to scuttle nuclear energy negotiations between Iran and the P5 +1 group, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

The Republicans looked ham fisted and are easily mocked. Yet it is important to remember that they would never have attempted to commit such mischief if they didn’t have the possibility of Democratic help. The negotiations are not bound by a treaty and as such do not need congressional approval. However if the 54 Republicans in the Senate can get 13 Democrats to join them they would have a veto proof majority in any effort to limit the president’s authority. To date, 15 Democrats have at various times expressed a willingness to go along with the Republicans and end any chance for negotiations with Iran.

It isn’t hard to sneer at the amateurish senator Tom Cotton and his cohorts but more difficult to see through the soap opera and the Democrats who have already declared themselves ready to kill this process too. Republicans and Democrats all follow the lines drawn by AIPAC and other pro-Israel power brokers in Washington. This most recent letter was not the first of its kind. There have been others written by both Democrats and Republicans which exhorted the president not to engage in negotiations with Iran.

The worthlessness of the Democratic Party and its supporters is most evident when Republicans show bad manners. At such moments even progressives use the language of the right wing, condemning Republicans for “strengthening the hard liners” in Iran and other such propagandistic drivel. They call Republicans “traitors” and demand that the seldom used Logan Act be used to prosecute them. It would be amusing if it weren’t so sad.

No one is willing to speak the truth and say that the entire process is a sham. For years Democrats have joined Republicans in telling lies about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and covering up the easily provable existence of an Israeli nuclear arsenal. Unlike the secret nuclear power Israel, Iran is a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty and has always been willing to prove its peaceful intent. Neither the corporate media nor the two-party duopoly explained these facts and the Democrats suffer because of their complicity. Now that the president wants to make a deal he and his party are stuck with all the lies they told in the past.

Both parties are true believers in American imperialism. They differ only in style, not in substance. The Republican strategy of appealing to the yokels in their base is problematic because it lets Democrats off the hook. There is no Democratic equivalent of Tom Cotton, getting facts wrong in an undiplomatic letter to a foreign country and getting sarcastic rebuke in return. But Democrats don’t stand up for peace and justice either. When Israel committed daily atrocities in Gaza every congressional Democrat joined Republicans in voting to approve the war crime.

Every Republican outrage produces a rube du jour. The 47 senators will be joined by the Koch Brothers, Russ Limbaugh, and other right wingers who are turned into bogeymen and used to keep passive Democrats within their party line. If they didn’t exist they would have to be invented. Because they exist Democrats get away with doing little or even joining in their plots.

As long as Netanyahu and friends can tell Americans what to do there will be some sort of Israeli outrage played out in Washington. There will always be congressional speeches or bizarre letters to foreign governments. One would do well to disbelieve the hype and know that the two parties are too often one and the same, and the letter signed by 47 senators may as well have been signed by 100.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Netanyahu claims victory in close Israeli election

By Patrick Martin
March 18, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

NetanyahuRight-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory after a closely contested national election in Israel. According to unofficial figures released by the Israeli election committee, Netanyahu’s Likud Party has won at least 29 seats in the 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, putting it in a strong position to form a ruling coalition.

Likud’s main challenger, the Zionist Union, won 24 seats. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog has called Netanyahu to concede defeat.

President Reuven Rivlin, a longtime Likud loyalist, will designate Netanyahu to form the next government once the distribution of seats is finalized among the ten parties that reached the threshold of 3.25 percent of the vote.

Talks began on the shape of the next coalition well before voters went to the polls. Netanyahu has pledges of support from his own Likud, two other right-wing nationalist parties, Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu, and, more conditionally, two parties of ultraorthodox Jews. These five parties combined will hold 53 seats, according to exit polls.

Herzog heads the Labor Party. His partner in the Zionist Union bloc is former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the tiny Hatnuah party. Herzog had the assured support of only the Zionist Union, the middle-class “left” Meretz Party and Yesh Atid, the secular party of former TV newscaster Yair Lapid. According to exit polls, these three parties may win 44 seats between them.

This would give the Kulanu Party, a split-off from Likud, the kingmaker role, with its ten seats bringing a new right-wing coalition to 63 seats, a narrow majority. Netanyahu has offered the finance ministry to Kulanu Party leader Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud cabinet minister.

The parliamentary arithmetic is itself an expression of intractable contradictions within Israeli society. The parties comprising the Joint Arab List, which won 13 seats, making it the third largest in the Knesset, traditionally refuse to participate in government (nor would either the Zionist right or “left” form a government dependent on Arab support).

The secular Yesh Atid backed Herzog as prime minister. It was Netanyahu’s firing of Lapid as finance minister and Livni as justice minister that broke up his previous coalition and precipitated elections two years early.

Two factors dominated the final days of the campaign: Netanyahu’s increasingly strident and racist attacks on the Palestinians, calculated to whip up his right-wing supporters, and the spineless character of his so-called “opposition,” which sought to profit from popular discontent with social inequality and the right-wing economic policies of Netanyahu, without offering an alternative.

Netanyahu was clearly shocked by the deep unpopularity of his government revealed in opinion polls in the weeks leading up to the vote. The Likud leader fired Lapid and Livni last December and forced an election two years early in the expectation of an easy victory.

But large sections of the Israeli public are weary of his constant harping on the alleged danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Netanyahu has been warning that an Iranian bomb was only months away for more than 20 years. His trip to Washington, where he addressed a joint session of Congress to denounce a prospective nuclear deal between Iran and the Obama administration, did not improve his poll numbers in Israel.

In the final days of the campaign, Netanyahu shifted focus from Iran to the Palestinians, seeking, with some success, to lure the racist and settler vote away from Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu. He publicly declared his opposition to a two-state agreement with the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, he made an unusual Election Day appearance in Har Homa, a Jewish suburb of East Jerusalem built illegally on Palestinian land, to warn that his government was in danger from a reportedly heavy turnout among Israeli Arab voters.

The Zionist Union offered only mealy-mouthed criticism of Netanyahu’s increasingly unhinged diatribes about external and internal security threats. Herzog himself boasted of his service as an officer in military intelligence. He and Livni criticized Netanyahu for aligning himself too closely with the Republican Party in the United States rather than working with the Obama administration.

The Likud campaign portrayed Livni, whose father commanded a unit of the Zionist terrorist force Irgun and who herself served as foreign minister during the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, as soft on the Palestinians. In a direct concession to these attacks, the opposition announced Monday it was abandoning its plan to split the prime ministership, with Herzog serving the first two years and Livni then taking over. Zionist Union declared that Herzog would serve the full term, up to four years, if his opposition bloc led the next government.

On economic issues, where Zionist Union sought to focus the campaign, the opposition offered little beyond highlighting the corruption and high living of Netanyahu and his unpopular wife Sara, who, according to one report, spent $24,000 on takeout food and $30,000 on hairstyling in a single year.

Herzog was hardly a convincing vehicle for populist criticism of the corrupt Zionist establishment, however, since he is a product of it—the son of former President Chaim Herzog. He occupied several cabinet positions between 2005 and 2011 in governments led by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Netanyahu.

The increasingly acute socioeconomic contradictions within Israel find no genuine expression within the existing political structure, dominated by rival Zionist factions (and an array of nationalists and Islamists appealing to the Arab minority).

According to a study by the National Insurance Institute, unemployment in Israel stands at 7.2 percent among men and 9.0 percent among women, both figures far above the overall 5.6 percent rate cited by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The new NII study asserts that previous estimates grossly undercount the number of involuntary part-timers, workers who want full-time work but cannot find it.

Israel is one of the most class-divided societies in the world, with just 20 families controlling the bulk of the country’s wealth, dominating the share markets, and calling the shots in Israeli politics.

Netanyahu on the Ropes

By Stephen Lendman
March 17, 2015
Global Research

 

Mideast Israel PalestiniansOn Tuesday, March 17, Israelis vote. Will they decide six years of Netanyahu are enough?

He was elected in March 2009. Earlier he served as prime minister from June 1996 – July 1999. At the time, he was Israel’s youngest ever leader.

In 1993, he succeeded Yitzhak Sharmir to head Likud. He strongly opposed Oslo.

He served as Israeli embassy in Washington chief of mission, UN envoy, deputy foreign minister, foreign minister, and finance minister.

He’s current Likud party chairman and Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs minister.

He’s a former Boston Consulting Group Mitt Romney colleague. In 1978, he told local television viewers:

“The real core of the conflict is the unfortunate Arab refusal to accept the State of Israel.”

He consistently blames Palestinians for Israeli crimes. He ludicrously claims to speak for Jews worldwide.

Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson says “American Jews are largely appalled by the notion that Netanyahu, or any other Israeli politician – one that we did not elect and do not choose to be represented by – claims to speak for us.”

He speaks for increasingly fewer numbers of Jews worldwide. Why Israelis tolerate him they’ll have to explain.

He’s a a world-class thug, an unindicted war criminal, a threat to world peace.

On Tuesday, Israeli voters will decide if he remains prime minister. Polls show a close race. As Likud party head, he’ll retain his Knesset seat whatever the outcome.

A Panels Research poll published Friday found 12% of eligible Israeli voters still undecided. Who they choose may decide things.

On Sunday, Netanyahu addressed thousands in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. He rallied supporters under the slogan “United for the Land of Israel.”

Demagogic bluster characterized his comments like always. Fascists dominate Israeli politics. He warned of a nonexistent left wing electoral victory.

He vowed Jerusalem would always remain Israel’s exclusive capital. He claimed main rival Zionist Union party would divide the city.

He said right-wing supporters observe Jewish tradition. They “believe in Israel’s eternal values.”

He claimed

“something is going on during this election that was hidden at first.”

“Now I’m sure everyone is aware of it. A fortune was funneled from abroad to the left-wing organization V15, with one goal, to replace the government led by me with a government led by Tzipi (Livni) and Bougie (Isaac Herzog), supported by the joint Arab party.”

“These efforts focus on one message. Just not Bibi. They’re doing it.”

Ahead of Sunday’s rally, he said

“Scandinavian governments have spent millions of dollars on a campaign to remove me from power.”

“Western governments, but mostly Scandinavian…They know perfectly well why they prefer Buji and Livni to me.”

“Foreign governments, specifically Scandinavians, are part of a worldwide campaign to topple me.”

Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg called his comments the “last refuge of the fading strongman.”

He invents enemies. He accuses “outside agitators and foreign governments” of conspiring against him. He’s his own worst enemy.

Days earlier, he noted “a very tight race. Nothing is guaranteed because there is a huge worldwide effort to topple the Likud government,” he blustered.

A Zionist Union statement called Sunday’s rally a “horror show. Bibi is the prime minister of the extreme right, and only (ZU) can halt their control of the state and the government.”

Fact: Not a dime’s worth of difference separates Likud from Zionist Union and most other competing parties.

Fact: Fascists dominate Israeli politics. So do monied interests.

Fact: Whatever new government is formed post-election, Palestinians, Israeli Arab citizens, and most Israeli Jews lose.

Fact: White supremacist privileged Jews run Israel. They’ll continue doing so like always since 1948.

Expect nothing different this time. Business as usual will continue.

Late pre-election polls show Zionist Union winning 24 of 120 Knesset seats to Likud’s 20.

Coalitions always run Israel. Winning doesn’t mean the prevailing party gets to form the new government.

Whoever wins, Netanyahu may be better able to cobble together coalition partners than Herzog.

He’s on the ropes, widely disliked, despised by many, but could remain prime minister.

It may be days post-election before a new government is formed. Likud and Zionist Union are competing for coalition partners.

Who’ll prevail remains to be seen. It bears repeating. For Palestinians, Arab Israeli citizens and ordinary Jews, it’s no more different than if Republicans or Democrats prevail in America.

Same old, same old wins every time. Don’t expect this time to be different.

Palestine will remain occupied. Racist apartheid policies will continue.

Settlements will keep expanding on stolen Palestinian land. They’ll continue being denied virtually all fundamental rights.

Israeli Arabs are considered more fifth column threats than citizens. Neoliberal harshness remains official policy. Wars of aggression will continue being waged at Israel’s discretion.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Jews in Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles want Peace and an End to the Likud Zionist Policies that Drive Global Anti-Semitism

The Five Facts that Mr Netanyahu does not want you to know as he seeks re-election next week

By Anthony Bellchambers
March 15, 2015
Global Research

 

NutsenyahuuThe expected result of a new coalition government in Israel’s Knesset on March 17, headed by a new prime minister who really wants a political settlement with the indigenous Palestinian people – now numbering over 5 million – is the fervent hope of so many Jewish communities around the world in Paris, London, NY and LA – and, yes, also in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and Herzlia.

They demand an end to Likud Zionism, extremism, the blockade of Gaza, illegal settlements and the killing of innocent civilians – some of which are currently being investigated by the UN as alleged war crimes.  The failure of the Likud agenda is palpable throughout Israel as killings on both sides increases and security is tightened amidst talk of a third intifada.

Critically also, anti-Semitic incidents around the world have risen at an alarming rate as Jews everywhere are falsely seen as supporters of far-right, Likud Zionist policies. This has led to Judaism being erroneously equated with Political Zionism – and that has manifested in serious violence against both Jewish individuals and their communities, particularly in Europe.  This is the reason why Mr Netanyahu and his Likud agenda need(ed) to be jettisoned in favour of a pragmatic political approach by a party that will bring a permanent peace to both peoples.

And that will conceivably also have a long-term, important effect on the Middle East, as a whole, by removing a resentment that has embittered the indigenous population since 1948 when it was considered politically expedient by the United States to allow the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their traditional lands. 

The 5 Facts that Mr Netanyahu does not want you to know as he seeks re-election next week 

1. Binyamin Netanyahu claims to speak for the majority of world Jewry although, in fact, he represents only a minority of Jewish Israelis (and Americans) who support his right-wing, Likud Party. To many others, particularly in Europe, he is considered a US-financed, Zionist rabble-rouser with an extremist political agenda that rejects any Palestinian state and requires the ‘transfer’ of all indigenous Arabs out of former Palestine.

2. Israeli policies such as the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state); the 8 year blockade of essential supplies into Gaza; the mis-labelling of exported fruit and vegetables to Europe and the horrific killing of hundreds of defenceless women and children in Gaza – all have the effect of exacerbating antisemitism around the world. The agenda of the Israeli government against the indigenous Arab population being the primary driver of anti-Jewish feeling both in Europe and globally.

3. Netanyahu is well aware of this link and the detrimental effect of his policies on the security of Jewish communities worldwide, and on public opinion, but he also knows that the greater the increase in antisemitism the more French, British and other Jewish nationals will be forced to sell their homes and reluctantly leave the countries of their birth to become immigrants to Israel. This is a key principle of the Netanyahu government agenda that all American, European and diaspora Jews should be ‘persuaded’ to emigrate to the Israeli state – together, of course, with their assets.

4. However, this agenda is also partly supported by millions of evangelist, Christian Zionists in America, who believe in the literal word of the bible and whose goal is for all 10 million Jews in the Diaspora to be relocated to the Israeli state where they can then be baptised and converted, en-masse, into the Christian church! Meanwhile, Israeli government ministers smirk knowingly behind their hands as they accept this support – without which their economy would surely collapse.

5. The Israel lobby in America comprises over a dozen organisations led by AIPAC, the primary Zionist political pressure group with links into Congress, which unduly influences US foreign policy around the world.

However, for many integrated European Jewish communities, Mr Netanyahu’s alleged war crimes in Gaza plus his violent, expansionist agenda with its consequent rise in antisemitism, are very bad news indeed. The head of UNICEF reported that 392 children had been killed in the last conflict between Israel and Gaza, and about 370,000 children had been traumatised.

A boycott of academic and trading links with the state of Israel, by the EU, now appears to be the inevitable consequence of the deliberate violation of the Geneva Conventions by Likud government forces.

Note

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/11470804/The-Israeli-war-widow-who-is-the-reluctant-overnight-star-of-Israels-general-election.html