NEW LEGISLATION WILL ALLOW ISRAELI SETTLERS TO ‘OWN’ ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED WEST BANK LAND – By Ariyana Love – Middle East Rising

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Notice the timing of this latest land grab move by right-wing extremists in Israel – just ahead of the much anticipated Kushner-Netayahu “Ultimate Peace Deal” soon to be unveiled to great fanfare in Washington DC and Tel Aviv (but little much elsewhere).

Netanyahu and Kushner working behind closed doors to carve-up what remains of Palestine for Israeli settlers.
The new Israeli law entitled, The “Law for the Regularization of Settlement in Judea and Samaria”, allows the state to expropriate Palestinian land on which illegal Israeli settlements were built, has already been deemed as “unconstitutional” by Israeli left-wing groups sympathetic to the native Palestinian Arab population
Palinfo reports…Clearly, this new Likud ‘land heist’ is designed to ensure that Palestinians will remain tangled in legalese and excessive jargon in order to create a permanent stalemate regardless of which way the supposed “peace deal” goes. The law will enable Jewish occupiers to maintain illegal possession of stolen land through a fraudulent ‘legal’ framework that allows the state of Israel expropriate Palestinian land on which illegal settlements were built supposedly “in good faith or at the state’s instruction,” and thereby denying the rightful Palestinian landowners of the right to use their own land “until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.” To make it seem ‘fair and balanced’ the law claims to provide a mechanism for paying-off of “compensating” Palestinians whose privately owned land was stolen from them by the state of Israel.
An Israeli newspaper said that the ministerial committee for legislation at the Knesset would study a bill on Sunday that would allow Jewish settlers to acquire land rights in the occupied West Bank.
Members of the Knesset cannot discuss bills and vote them into laws before this ministerial committee, whose members are ministers, approve them for discussion on the floor of the Knesset.
According to Haaretz newspaper, the explanatory notes affixed to the bill, which is sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), say that the current situation is based on a 1953 Jordanian law, which prevented anyone from buying land in the West Bank unless they were Jordanian citizens or citizens of another Arab country. That law remained in force after Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 six-day war.
In the early 1970s, an Israeli way was found to circumvent the law and allow settlers to buy land there through a special order stating that anybody could buy land through a company registered in the West Bank, regardless of who owned the company.
That enabled Jews to set up companies registered in the West Bank and use them to buy land, the newspaper affirmed.
Smotrich’s bill aims to eliminate this disparity and simply state that anyone can buy land in the occupied West Bank. “The fact that an Israeli currently can’t buy land there just because he is an Israeli is unacceptable,” the bill’s explanatory notes said.
Source / The Palestinian Information Center
Via TLB
Ariyana Love is a researcher/writer with The Liberty Beacon Project. She is Directing Middle East Rising & Occupy Palestine TV news channels. Ariyana is a human rights defender and Goodwill Ambassador to Palestine. She is also Chairman of an international foundation promoting humanitarian projects in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Gaza children killed by Israeli snipers, air attack – By Maureen Clare Murphy – Rights and Accountability – ELECTRONIC INTIFADA

Men and boys stand or run in front of the Gaza boundary fence with an Israeli military installation on a sand hill behind it
Palestinian protesters gather during confrontations with Israeli occupation forces east of Gaza City on 21 September.

Dawoud Abo Alkas APA images

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man during protests along the eastern boundary of the occupied Gaza Strip on Friday.

The slain protester, killed east of Gaza City, was identified by Gaza’s health ministry as Karim Muhammad Kullab, 25.

The ministry reported 300 injuries during Friday’s protests, 100 of them requiring hospital treatment. More than 50 people were injured by live fire, four of them seriously and one critically.

One Israeli soldier was reportedly lightly wounded by shrapnel.

Kullab is the sixth Palestinian in Gaza killed by Israeli forces this week.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces shot 15-year-old Muamin Abu Iyada during protests east of Rafah on Wednesday night, killing him.

Two others were shot and killed during protests on Tuesday and two more killed in an airstrike on Monday.

According to Al Mezan, a human rights group based in Gaza, Israeli warplanes launched two missiles at a group of protesters late Monday night when they approached the boundary fence east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The bodies of Naji Abu Assi, 16, and Alaa Abu Assi, 19, were recovered by Palestinian medics hours later. “Both had shrapnel injuries on various parts of their bodies and one of them was torn to pieces,” Al Mezan stated.

Around 140 Palestinians have been killed during demonstrations along Gaza’s eastern boundary since the launch of the Great March of Return series of protests on 30 March.

Those killed during the protests have included nearly 30 children, as well as two journalists and three paramedics, and three persons with disabilities, according to Al Mezan.

Some 5,500 have been injured by live fire during the protests, including 900 children.

Amnesty International has said it has not found any evidence of protesters posing a threat to the lives of soldiers behind the fence that would justify the use of deadly force.

The protests, which have been held every Friday since their launch, have increased in frequency in recent days. Protests have been held on weekdays “and include naval marches and night sit-ins near the separation fence – activities which do not threaten the life or safety of Israeli soldiers,” Al Mezan stated.

The protests are calling for an end to Israel’s blockade on Gaza, now in its 11th year, and in support of the right of refugees to return to their original lands and property on the other side of the Gaza boundary fence.

Two-thirds of Gaza’s population of two million are refugees.

“We will continue”

“We will continue our peaceful marches to fulfill our demands and liberate our lands,” one protester says in this video:

The young man urges leaders in the Arab world, whom he accuses of complicity with Israel, to stand with the Palestinian people in Gaza resisting the siege.

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Hamas movement in Gaza, said on Friday the ongoing protests show the world “how the Palestinian people on their land are a model of giving, loyalty, sacrifice and the service of humanity.”

Anticipating a rise in the number of protesters, the Israeli military deployed additional occupation forces along the Gaza boundary ahead of Friday’s demonstrations.

Occupation forces are said to be operating under orders to use live fire against Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons, which have landed in southern Israel in recent days.

Collective punishment threat

The head of COGAT, the bureaucratic apparatus of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, said that collective punishment measures would be used against the general population in Gaza.

Apparently referring to naval protests held earlier this week, Kamil Abu Rukun stated that “The Hamas terror organization is using fishermen and forcing them to participate in riots.”

Abu Rukun said that the Israeli military would “use an iron fist” against such “rioters” and would reduce the permitted fishing area from 6 to 3 nautical miles off the Gaza coast.

People stand on the beach with boats with Palestinian flags on the water in the background
Palestinian protesters sail boats during a demonstration against the Israeli blockade on Gaza along the maritime boundary with Israel near Kibbutz Zikim, north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on 17 September.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Under the 1993 Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Gaza’s fishing zone was supposed to extend 20 nautical miles out from shore. But Israel has never allowed this and the furthest Gaza’s fishers have been able to sail has been 12 nautical miles out.

Over the past decade, Israel has reduced the permitted fishing area to 6 nautical miles, and sometimes less, and has frequently fired on fishing boats.

Israel has killed eight fishers since 2000, according to Al Mezan.

‘Oslo sold us out’: Young Palestinians on the moment that shaped their generation – By Yumna Patel -MONDOWEISS

Israel/Palestine

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In September 1993 the world celebrated what it thought was the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Oslo Accords was supposed to lead to a “comprehensive peace agreement” by 1999, and eventually, a Palestinian state, with the then newly-founded Palestinian Authority (PA) serving as an interim self-government.

Twenty-five years after Oslo, the PA remains in power, and a fair and just peace agreement for the Palestinians remains far out of reach. The dream of an independent Palestinian state even further.

Mondoweiss spoke with two young Palestinians, from the so-called “Oslo generation,” as they looked back at the fateful day 25 years ago that has shaped their lives in more ways than could have been imagined.

‘The people had no say’

“What does Oslo mean to me? For me, Oslo means that the Palestinian people did not get to decide their fate as a whole.”

The words of Yasmin Abu Shakdim, a 22-year-old Sociology student from the city of Hebron, are expressive of a sentiment held by many Palestinian youth.

The Oslo Accords signified, as Abu Shakdim put it, “a decision made by a few members of the Palestinian elite” that did not represent the desires of the Palestinian people.

“The whole idea of Oslo is giving the elite Palestinians the power to control a few areas in the West Bank,” she said, “it was created to have shared benefits between the Israelis and a few Palestinians. A few Palestinians got positions of power, and Israel consolidated its control over us.”

Meras al-Azza, a 25-year-old Palestinian refugee living in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, expressed similar sentiments to Mondoweiss as he sat in his family’s modest courtyard.

“They sold out the Palestinian people,” he said matter of factly, when asked what he thought of the Accords. “Oslo was a great deal for Israel, and Israel alone.”

“Oslo signified the Palestinians giving up the rights to all the lands of pre-1948 Palestine to Israel. That’s two-thirds of our historic lands,” al-Azza, a third generation refugee, said.

One of the biggest faults of Oslo for both al-Azza and Abu Shakdim was the premise on which the Accords were signed.

“Oslo did not change anything except for the worse,” Abu Shakdim told Mondoweiss.

“The negotiators, the few that they were, they did not negotiate on the basis that Israel is an occupier or colonizer,” she continued. “They negotiated as if it was just there and we have to accept it, that Israel is a reality that we cannot change. It normalized the occupation in every way.”

“It was only Fatah that went to the negotiations, and they did not represent all the people,” al-Azza said. “It was shameful for the Palestinians to take this deal.”

“They gave up all of our land against the will of the Palestinian people.”

Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank and East Jerusalem remained occupied, swaths of land — more than 60% of the West Bank — were transferred into full Israeli control as “Area C”, and within a few years, the Second Intifada broke out, and Gaza was put under Israeli land, air, and sea blockade.

Today, the 26-foot-tall separation wall continues to be built, and military watchtowers continue to spring up across the territory.

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israeli settlement activity has continued unhampered, with the number of settlers increasing from 110,000 on the eve of the Accords in 1993 to an estimated 550-600,000 settlers living in the occupied territory today.

Both al-Azza and Abu Shakdim criticized the decision makers of Oslo, many of whom, remain in power today.

“Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) had started to rise to the center of power in Fatah around the time of Oslo, and he was one of the major decision makers in the negotiations,” al-Azza said.

“As a result of Oslo, we were given these leaders controlling us, leaders that we did not choose,” Abu Shakdim said. “They didn’t ask the Palestinian people if we should negotiate or not, or what points should we negotiate on.”

She continued: “The Palestinian people had no rights in those accords, but they are still deciding our fate today. Legally, these accords should be null and void.”

‘We have two occupations’

Over the past few years, resentment among Palestinians, particularly youth, towards the PA has grown significantly.

What was supposed to be a temporary government according to the Oslo Accords, has developed into despotic regime, focused more on quashing dissent and policing free speech than achieving liberation and statehood.

The government has become increasingly authoritarian, putting forward controversial decrees like the Cyber Crimes Law, which calls for the imprisonment of anyone found posting things online that disturb “social harmony.”

Earlier this summer, PA forces violently suppressed youth-led protests that criticized the government’s policies in Gaza and its security coordination with Israel.

“We have two occupations, the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority,” al-Azza said. “Anyone that tries to resist or get involved in politics will be arrested by either the PA or by Israeli security forces as part of their coordination. This is a result of Oslo.”

“The PA has not really given Palestinians any authority,” Abu Shakdim said. “we just have these other people controlling things for us.”

“Oslo created a whole new level in Palestinian society — that is a new elite, the people in power — that is benefiting from the existence of Israel,” she continued.

In their conversations with Mondoweiss, both al-Azza and Abu Shakdim pointed to the current form of the PA as one of the worst outcomes of Oslo.

One of the arguments they made, was that as a result of Oslo and the PA, the Palestinian people have been subconsciously forced into a dependency on the government in every aspect of life, making it nearly impossible for people to rise up against the regime.

“Before Oslo, it was popular to do everything you can to go out and fight and resist,” Abu Shakdim said, as she discussed the PA’s role in creating a culture of complacency amongst the population.

“As young people, when we discuss these things we always mention how we are so sick of our leaders and so sick of our Palestinian decision makers,” she said. “But we also know the Authority is responsible for the survival of so many Palestinian families.”

“So many people, young and old, are employed by this Authority. In ministries, as security forces, etc. So do we expect them to go against the government?” she asked.

“The way I see it, is that this PA is planting their seeds. They are basically paying people to not revolt against them. So everything stays the way they planned it from 25 years ago.”

Al-Azza says he has been offered on multiple occasions to work with the PA, but has refused.

“I refuse to have any part in the PA. People that are in the PA now only care about protecting the position they hold, and have stopped caring about Palestinian liberation,” he said.

“The PA is part of this control over peoples minds. By giving us this fake government, and making us feel like we had power, Oslo made many Palestinians forget about their morals and their beliefs about the Palestinian cause,” al-Azza continued.

“People used to care about the land and the resistance before Oslo,” he said, as he recounted stories told to him by his father, a former political prisoner in Israel.

“Now, everyone is worried about their next paycheck, how they can put food on the table, how they can educate or provide healthcare for their kids.”

An impossible future

When posed with the question “What do you envision for the future?” both al-Azza and Abu Shakdim couldn’t help but laugh.

They have been asked this question, or some variation of it, countless times before. Yet when faced with it again, they remained unhopeful.

“What I see, with the current situation that we’re living in, there is no future,” al-Azza said.

“For 25 years, the Israelis, with the help of the PA, have made people feel that they have lost their rights and their traditions that they used to live for once upon a time. In my point of view, I see there is no future if we continue on the past we have been on for the past quarter century.”

Abu Shakdim’s sentiments echoed those of al-Azza. “As young people, even if we want to set our own path, or create new opportunities, we are blocked at every turn, controlled by the Israeli occupation,” she said.

“How can we take charge of our own lives when Israel continues to control all of our resources?”

For Abu Shakdim, a Two-State solution is totally out of the question.

“How can two states be possible if one state is controlling the authority of the other state?” she asked.

“I don’t know if it’s realistic but what I hope to happen, what I think the best solution is, is a One-State solution. A single, democratic, secular state for all people who do not support zionism and Jewish supremacy, or the supremacy of any one group over another.”

For al-Azza, before any solution or so-called peace negotiations are put into place, there is hard work that needs to be done within his generation, and the new generation of Palestinian children.

“If I want to make a new plan for the future, we have to work with the new generation to instill in  them their culture and traditions, and a desire for liberation, for freedom, and for returning to their lands of 1948,” he said.

“If I were to put forward a strategy, I say we should help build and shape a new generation of Palestinians that think the way people did before Oslo: That we are a people that want freedom. Nothing less.”

yumnapatel
About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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The Deal that Lurks Behind the Calm: US, Israel Seek to Exploit Palestinian Divisions and Create More of Them – By Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D – MINT PRESS

Trump Kushner Netanyahu
“Deal of the Century”

Trump’s “deal of the century,” which lurks behind the calm, is a deal with and for everybody except the Palestinian people themselves, who are most directly affected and concerned.

OCCUPIED PALESTINE — (Analysis) This article is not written to support one Palestinian group and/or to criticize another. The writer does not condone Palestinian partisanship and factionalism. The writer strongly believes that this is the time for true open-mindedness and objectivity. The problem at hand is bigger and greater than all Palestinian groups when dealt with separately: the new calm agreement under discussion impacts the Palestinian problem and threatens the Palestinian people in their entirety.

It is no exaggeration to say that concepts such as calm, reconciliation and division have become very burdensome for the Palestinian psyche and that they have started to cause tremendous anxiety and fear. This is because these words carry so much significance for Palestinian life and destiny.

It is also no exaggeration to say that the Palestinian people have become fed up with the repeated back-and-forth discussions about reconciliation and division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. For the Palestinian people, it seems that priorities other than the Palestinian national interest and the public good have risen to the surface in the past few years, despite the fact that ending the seemingly chronic state of division has been the main demand by the Palestinian people of their leaders all along.

 

With time, this demand has become a dream. However, now it seems to have been turned into a fantasy, as the credibility of Palestinian factions to end the state of division and arrive at reconciliation has been crushed.

Most Palestinias feel that even in the most difficult times for them, there was always hope for liberation and independence. With the split among Palestinians at the present stage, this goal seems almost impossible, as no real fundamental transformation can be brought about.

Division — be it caused by internal, external, or a mix of reasons — cannot but bring about more Israeli control of, and hegemony over, the Palestinian people. Although it is difficult to speak of rigid fixed rules for how the world of politics operates, one of the absolute basics is that a house united is always stronger, more immune, and a lot more resistant in the face of the many challenges and storms. At the same time, a leaky house does not protect even those who hide in one corner or another.

As every Palestinian continued to be hopeful that the state of division would end and that reconciliation would be achieved, even in the midst of the darkest moments and the most difficult circumstances, the Palestinian problem faces today something more detrimental than even division and the absence of reconciliation: this lies in the legitimization of the state of division and the burial of the idea of reconciliation, once and for all. This may be caused by the looming, deadly, supposed calm on the horizon between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

 

Renewed Oslo

There is near consensus that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is quite catastrophic. All bases for human survival — water, food, fresh air and electricity — have reached record low levels. The United Nations and a number of non-governmental organizations have reported that the current humanitarian situation may cause untold consequences, as it is neither livable nor sustainable.

The whole Gaza Strip has been turned into the largest human prison on earth. This has made the process of teaching and learning, work, acquiring health care, and travel unattainable. It is no exaggeration to say that all human rights in the Gaza Strip have been violated. Friends and foes alike of the Palestinian people recognize that the current state of affairs cannot endure under any circumstances. There is a widespread perception in the world that the Gaza Strip stands at a critical threshold: either all bases for human life collapse completely; or alternatively, the world pretends that it is doing something to ameliorate the humanitarian situation, albeit by using deceptive, twisted political and economic tools that could in fact lead to a worse humanitarian situation in the Strip than the one that exists today.

Enemies of the Palestinian people calculate that the cost of maintaining the current situation seems to exceed, by far, the benefits they might reap by pretending to end the misery. The proposed humanitarian solutions to rescue the Strip from its dilemma are meant to lead the Palestinian people, particularly those who might participate in crafting an agreement in this regard, into a vicious circle.

Palestinian Gaza power cut

Sure, those on the frontline need, and certainly deserve, some rest. However, the timing, place for, and the circumstances surrounding any desired rest are of prime importance. Under the current conditions and circumstances — and in light of regional and international pressures, as work on implementing Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” intensifies, even without any formal declaration — a Palestinian-Israeli Agreement for “calm” does not amount to providing the necessary rest, but rather, to falling in the trap of an attempt at marginalizing all forms of resistance to the occupation.

Using the worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as grounds to justify the arrival at a new calm cannot be separated from the overall context of diabolically trying to put the “deal of the century” into effect. This is no different from using the awful humanitarian situation in the occupied territories as a justification for signing the Oslo Agreement in 1993.

Many Palestinians feel that the regurgitation of a bad experience is worse than trying it again from the start. Failure to learn the lessons of the wasteful and aimless Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that have hurt the Palestinian cause is not just a mistake: rather, it is sinful. The Palestinian problem, in its entirety, is targeted now by some of the most senseless minds. Therefore, caution and precision, in dealing with any political bait in the form of proposed solutions, are in order and required. Caution and precision are national necessities for Palestinians that, if eschewed, can only result in catastrophic consequences exceeding in their magnitude the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip today.

Critics of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement for calm that might be arrived unilaterally by Hamas remind everyone of the seriously impending dangers surrounding the Palestinian problem on the eve of signing the Oslo agreement. Various different details notwithstanding, the situation then for all Palestinians was not better than the one that exists in Gaza today. The nights and days of Israeli imposed curfews in the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967 still live in Palestinian memory. No Palestinian can forget the impact of the continued clashes with the Israeli occupation army during the Intifada (uprising) of the Stones, as it is called, in 1987.

The suffering of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora due to siege, bombardment and isolation cannot be overlooked. Many Palestinian refugees, especially in Lebanon, were reduced to eating dogs, cats and rats in order to stay alive. Scenes of the waves of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian employees working in the Gulf being expelled with their families following the Gulf Crisis of 1990-91 cannot be erased. This is on top of all the massacres Palestinians have been subjected to since the conflict with the Israeli occupation started.

Critics further argue that if the Oslo agreement had brought the Palestinian people calamity, the new looming agreement for calm on the horizon can be even more dangerous, causing more harm to the steadfast Palestinian people.

Palestinian refugee Lebanon

The new proposed calm seems to be no more than a renewed Oslo. With renewal, it is expected that the producer will pay more attention to earlier flaws in order to perfect control and oppression of the Palestinian people. The Gaza Strip, which was to come first in the Oslo accords, had witnessed a relative relaxation of tensions in the first couple of years of Oslo: it had a small airport and work was to begin for establishing a port for people to travel in and out of the Strip.

This means that it is not entirely strange for the Israeli occupation to make a promise of lifting the siege off the Strip, allow reconstruction, establish a sea pathway between Gaza and Cyprus, and even to turn Gaza into Singapore of the Arabs today, and then break its promises tomorrow, depending on how Israeli institutions interpret their national interest at a given point in time. There is no deterrent power to prevent the Israeli occupation from breaking its promises. The occupation aims at getting rid of the Palestinians who live in Gaza: the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once said unequivocally that his wish was to wake up one morning and find Gaza sunk in the sea.

Those who embrace the new calm may say that they will retaliate by withdrawing from any new agreement if the Israelis break their promises or violate the agreement. However, this is not convincing for most Palestinians, as they consider such a retaliation, if it were to take place, a reactive rather than a proactive measure. The effectiveness of any given action is often measured by its timing. Israelis might find it beneficial to make promises at this stage and to break them at another. It all depends on what their plans are at any given time.

For example, Oslo was an Israeli need at one point, while its abrogation seems to be a necessity now. Israelis needed Oslo to buy more time to help them confiscate more Palestinian land and build more Israeli settlements under the cover of the erroneous peace. In other words, what might seem to be useful today might be harmful tomorrow. Critics warn that no Palestinians should deceive themselves that they can withdraw from the calm whenever they like and when the Israelis decide to sidetrack it. Palestinians have been engulfed in the Oslo swamp for many years and unable to get out of its grip until now.

 

Why is Israel gasping behind the calm now?

Those who follow the Israeli media closely have no doubt noticed that a number of outlets have tirelessly tried to release some information that made it look like an agreement for calm has been practically reached with Hamas. About two weeks ago some outlets even confirmed that the agreement had become effective. Although there had been no confirmation from the other side, it seems that the Israeli media was interested in preparing Israeli public opinion for what might be coming, in fulfillment of the desires of Israeli leaders, especially in the mini-security cabinet. Never mind all the talk about tense discussions within the mini-security cabinet regarding the viability, utility and content of the calm agreement.

Over the past few months, especially since the start of the weekly Great Marches of Return in the Gaza Strip, one cannot help but detect serious anxiety within Israeli institutions, as they have been trying to repeatedly demonstrate Israeli strength through some airstrikes on Gaza, on the one hand, and to enter into a number of ceasefire understandings, on the other. The bombing in Gaza and entry into ceasefire agreements have been pursued almost in parallel. One could go to sleep with the news of airstrikes on Gaza, and wake up with an announcement for a ceasefire.

This signifies that the Israelis seem to be more interested in arriving at an agreement for calm with Gaza at this stage, rather than in a military confrontation. Assuming this hypothesis is valid, why then would Israel pant for an agreement for calm in the Gaza Strip, specifically at this stage? Ten reasons seem to stand behind Israeli thinking:

 

1 | Using the suggested agreement for calm as a natural prelude for Trump’s “deal of the century.”

Here, the objective is to use humanitarian and economic considerations to achieve political and legal ends. More specifically, the plan is to promise Palestinians in Gaza some humanitarian relief in exchange for some political concessions. As the saying goes, there is no free lunch.

The Trump administration has blessed the ongoing talks in Cairo between Hamas and Egyptian officials, as well as other Palestinian factions, to broker some deal. The Trump administration is convinced that an agreement for calm is consistent with, and supports its scheme to deal with the Palestinian problem in fragments. It further believes — as has been expressed in statements by Jared Kushner, Trump’s advisor to the president on the Middle East — that some humanitarian cover will have to be used, ostensibly to end the conversation around the future of Palestine by removing all viable options for a future Palestinian state through the deal of the century.

Observers can easily detect the profound paradox in recent U.S. moves: on the one hand, the Trump administration has cut its annual financial contributions to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, a clearly humanitarian organization; and on the other, the administration has declared that it supports efforts that could lead to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Cutting support to UNRWA has been most detrimental, as it led this UN organization to freeze a good number of its projects, and in the process terminate the employment of hundreds very needy Palestinian workers and staff in the Gaza Strip. As such, imagining a separation between an agreement for calm and the deal of the century is an exercise in daydreaming. All aspects are suspicious: he parallel timing, the content, and the dynamics.

UNRWA school in Beirut

 

2 | To serve Benjamin Netanyahu personally.

Some might wonder why Netanyahu has succeeded in becoming the longest-serving Israeli prime minister. It is attributable neither to the fact that Netanyahu is a pathological liar nor to any advantage in intelligence compared to others who were in his position before. Certainly, his hostility towards the peace process from the start has boosted his position among radical Israeli rightists. However, it is doubtful that this would be the determining factor that enabled Netanyahu to last so long in office and manage to stand in the way of a viable contender against him, despite the fact that he has been bombarded with allegations of financial and political corruption.

The secret behind Netanyahu’s success, compared to his political foes, can be primarily found in his ability to provide Israelis with more security relative to that provided by other prime ministers, especially since the signing of the Oslo Agreement. In a society where security is paramount, the Israeli voter does not seem to be able to find a more effective leader than Netanyahu, in spite of all his shortcomings.

Accordingly, an agreement for calm in the Gaza Strip very directly serves Netanyahu’s secret of success. It sends a strong message to Israeli society, especially to radical rightist groups. At a time when Netanyahu is quite self-centered on his political and personal ambitions, elevating them over other considerations, and is quite concerned that a military confrontation with the Gaza Strip might have some negative ramifications for his political future, he tries to sound and act tough, while deep inside he wishes for calm. No one would believe that Netanyahu might embark on an agreement for calm out of a good heart towards Palestinians. Certainly, an improved humanitarian life for Palestinians in Gaza is not high on his agenda. Nevertheless, pursuing an agreement for calm with Hamas seems to be his choice at this stage.

 

3 | Improving Israel’s image in the world.

It is worth remembering here that one of Israel’s main goals for entangling the PLO, and subsequently the Palestinian Authority, in the dark alleys of Oslo was exactly to brighten Israel’s worsening image in the world — especially in the West, where it has many friends — an image deteriorating particularly as a result of Israel’s gruesome crimes against unarmed Palestinian children, men and women during the 1987 Intifada of the Stones.

Scenes of heavily armed Israeli soldiers brutally beating unarmed Palestinians, and breaking their bones had immensely affected the image of the Israeli army as the most disciplined in the world. Mounting official criticism and increasing public protests against Israeli brutality and oppression of the Palestinian people around the world had compelled Israeli occupation institutions to search for an effective, extensive and organized public-relations campaign to show that Israel was peace-loving, and not aggressive or hostile.

In this context, Israel continued to market itself as a power searching for peace and negotiations through Oslo, while at the same time, it continued unabated confiscation of more Palestinian land; building more settlements; and, in every way possible, strengthening the occupation regime throughout all the occupied Palestinian territories.

What mattered to Israel was that it appeared as a power involved in negotiations and peace talks with the Palestinians, so as to alter world public opinion. Of course, most experts know that this marketed picture of Israel was quite deceptive because the negotiations were used only to further solidify the occupation regime. However, Israel succeeded in ending a great deal of the isolation it was experiencing as a result of its practices: once it entered into the Oslo talks, a number of countries in the region and in the world renewed their relations with Tel Aviv.

The timing could not be better now for another, more intensified public-relations campaign to revitalize Israel’s tarnished world image, and most specifically after BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — efforts have taken their toll on Israeli products and reputation. Even in countries where Israel has strong friends, BDS has been quite effective. There have been increasing expressions and moves of solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip over the past few years. Israel has found itself with a dire need to undo its negative image, especially in Western societies.

Some of Tel Aviv’s diplomatic relations have been affected. Israel has also suffered serious economic losses from Palestinian use of fiery paper kites and incendiary balloons against settlements around the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu wants to revive Israeli settler confidence in him as an effective provider of security, especially around the Gaza Strip. Israel’s improving relations with some Arab countries have not compensated for its worsening image in and relations with friendly Western countries.

Boycott Israel France

Therefore, Israel believes that pretending that it is trying hard for calm with the Gaza Strip might lessen the extent of sharp criticism it is facing from the world community, although it is widely known that Israeli leaders do not usually give much weight to protests against them in the world. They do consider themselves to be above international law. For them — whether the calm is arrived at or not, whether it succeeds or not, and regardless of how long it may last — what matters is that Israel appears as its initiator, supporter and keeper, even though it might in reality assault every semblance of human life in the Gaza Strip, as it has always done since the start of the conflict. Israel adheres to agreements only when violating them become more costly — politically, militarily, diplomatically, economically, and, above all, in terms of security.

While Palestinians in the Gaza Strip might be facing a dire humanitarian situation today due to the prolonged siege and continued bombardment, Israelis, especially in settlements around the Gaza Strip, are not reaping the fruit of security, particularly after the start of the Great Marches for return and the launching of kites and balloons.

 

4 | Subjecting Palestinians to more divisions and splits.

Colonial powers have not stopped using the traditional tactic for control, which is based on the idea of “divide and conquer.” One of the most detrimental aspects of the Oslo Agreement has been its fragmentation of Palestinians in a number of ways, politically, demographically and geographically: between returnees and insiders; West Bankers, Gazans, Jerusalemites; 1948 Palestinians and those in the diaspora; those in areas A, B and C; and those focused on varying issues subject respectively to transitional phase negotiations and permanent resolution. All these layers of division seem to have helped the Israeli occupation tighten its noose around the neck of the Palestinian people and plant more seeds of fragmentation.

Segregated Palestine Map

The calm under discussion is not the culmination of a full-fledged military confrontation: its timing and place of execution is consistent with the terms of the deal of the century that have come to the surface thus far. It is doubtful that it will bring about any real meaningful change in Palestinian life that goes beyond the symbolic and short-lived; and — because it does not have the support of most Palestinian political forces, factions and partie — it becomes then a dense recipe for more Palestinian divisions. Such a state of affairs will inevitably help the Israeli occupation regime boost its power and control, and contribute to saving its institutions at a most critical moment.

At a time when the Palestinian Authority has rejected the deal of the century, as have all other Palestinian factions, going along with one of the deals most dubious components — giving it a humanitarian face and claiming that it will bring about development, reconstruction and modernization for the Gaza Strip — is quite risky and dangerous. Among other things, this will further fragment the already divided Palestinian society. Equally true, paying lip service to the recently resurfacing confederacy option between the West and East Bank of the Jordan River is meant to disguise the assault on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their historic homeland, Palestine, and thus threatens the Palestinian national interest.

The Trump administration, which seems to live in the past when proposing this option, hastens to unmask the true objective of its policy by attempting to liquidate the Palestinian refugee question, once and for all, by completely cutting off the U.S.’ annual financial contributions to UNRWA.

 

5 | Legitimizing and boosting the split and, as a result, declaring the death and burial of reconciliation.

Division among Palestinians has already happened. Political, geographic and social division has become a part of Palestinian life. It is no secret that all attempts at ending it have failed thus far. The last thing Palestinians need is another cause to make that existing division deeper.

Each time an attempt at reconciliation fails, trust and credibility between the parties in dispute are further shattered. To be sure, no Palestinian side has come out to publicly announce that it is not concerned with ending the division and achieving reconciliation. All sides compete with each other to assert their adherence to reconciliation efforts and terms, and each works diligently to blame the other for the impending failures. Despite the fact that most statements and expressions of progress towards reconciliation have not been able to put an end to the state of division, still hope has not completely dissipated. Palestinians remain hopeful that the clouds of split overshadowing the Palestinian people will eventually pass and that the sun of reconciliation will rise again.

However, for one party to embrace the calm alone, in the midst of the most complicated regional and international circumstances surrounding the Palestinian problem, becomes a situation that legitimizes Palestinian division in all of its aspects, even if the embracing party does not accept and/or recognize this fact.

It is certainly true that the Gaza Strip has been suffering immensely under one of the most unfair sieges human history has ever recorded. It is also true that the Strip has been subjected to enormous, unprecedented bombardment in the course of three wars between 2008 and 2014. It is even more valid to suggest that the Strip has been left practically alone since the start of the siege. But it is also sound to maintain that wisdom is most needed not during times of comfort and relaxation but rather during times of crises and hardships.

Reacting to the worsening situation in Gaza because of the siege, without consensus among Palestinians and in the midst of deepening divisions, does sustain the split and makes it chronic. In effect, this could totally destroy any semblance for reconciliation thereafter, at least for an extended period of time. In addition to the already-existing reasons for the split, a single Palestinian faction unilaterally entering into an agreement for calm will add insult to injury, and thus make the potential for a true solution almost nonexistent. One major danger lies in the possibility of managing the split by Palestinians themselves, rather than in ending it. Regional and international financial tools can be used to further pull Palestinians away from each other. After all, there are a number of powerful forces of disintegration that have not wished the Palestinians well over the years.

 

6 | Provoking the Palestinian Authority, which has hitherto rejected the deal of the century, to search for a role for itself to play in dealing with new developments.

It is no secret that enemies of the Palestinian people always try to set one side against another. They always attempt to trigger unhealthy, rather destructive competition over limited opportunities and narrow benefits. Promise of the so-called peace dividends to various competing parties is a way to achieve this goal. The prevalence of relative deprivation in a society like that of the Palestinians enhances the likelihood of embracing and furthering individual and small group interests and benefits at the expense of the public good and/or the national interest. It is no surprise that Palestinian society already suffers from the widespread focus on the “I” more than the ”we.” Acceptance of the other becomes rare, especially as the primacy of the faction, family, and/or the small locality takes over.

Israeli and American planners apparently believe that by making Hamas think that some positive change will take place in Palestinian life if they enter in an agreement for calm with Israel that the Palestinian Authority might be sufficiently provoked, and hence led to follow suit. The belief even goes further to assume that the Authority might want to intensely compete with Hamas, so as to become the power In charge of any possible deal. Such planners calculate that only by further dividing Palestinian society they can get Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to become more competitive. This is the most timely moment to instill more division, so as to pave the way for the implementation of the deal of the century.

Indeed, there are some striking implications and ironies in some relevant political moves. If one reviews the record of political statements by Netanyahu and other Israeli officials before talk about the deal of the century started, one would certainly see that one of the recurring conditions for Israel to resume the political process was for the Palestinian Authority to terminate its ties with Hamas. In almost every talk or statement he gave, Netanyahu would demand of the President of the Authority, Mahmud Abbas, to choose between peace and Hamas. However, all of a sudden after the Authority declared its rejection of the deal of the century, Netanyahu finds it appropriate to work on striking a deal for calm with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, even in the absence of the Authority.

It is also interesting to note in this regard that the UN special envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, stated that he would be content with dealing with Hamas alone regarding life in Gaza, in the event the Authority does not catch up with the move towards the calm. We can surmise that Mladenov would not have made his statements without prior coordination with the United States, which has given its approval for efforts to arrive at an agreement. Such statements can only serve one purpose: to pressure and provoke the Authority to accept its role before it is too late to do so.

Even more important was what one of Israel’s foremost strategists — former head of the Israeli National Security Council, Reserve General Giora Eiland — said. In an article he wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth on August 19, Eiland was direct and quite unequivocal, as he called upon Netanyahu to drop the Palestinian Authority and its president, and to continue working on striking a long-term agreement for calm with Hamas. Again, in a dramatic shift of direction, Eiland reconstructs the discourse in a manner that serves his perspective, as he justifies his call by saying that Hamas was democratically elected in 2006. So Israel brands Hamas as a terrorist organization when such charges serve its interests, then embraces the same group as democratic and opens avenues of negotiations with it when this path seems to promise more benefits.

In any case, no one would believe that Mladenov’s statements and Eiland’s perspective aim to brighten Hamas’s picture and/or to lend legitimacy to Hamas in the world. Rather, they are meant to foment more factional discord in Palestinian society, and to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority to eventually accept the deal of the century. In so doing, Israel wants to keep Palestinian factions preoccupied with each other, so as to divert attention from the ongoing and intensifying oppressive measures by the occupation against Palestinians, particularly in Jerusalem, and more specifically in the Aqsa Mosque. Apparently this is, in part, what John Bolton, Director of the National Security Council in the U.S., wanted to achieve during his latest visit to Israel in late August.

 

7 | Extracting a Palestinian approval to abrogate the ceasefire understanding between Israel and Hamas that followed the 2014 agression on the Gaza Strip.

This understanding was not the first that Israel signed, nor will it be the last. As usual, it should have come as no surprise that Israel has repeatedly violated the terms of that understanding. However, Israeli planners often resort to legitimizing their violations of a given agreement by arriving at a new agreement. By definition, a new agreement supersedes any prior agreements on related issues. By signing a new agreement for calm, Israeli planners believe that the world will no longer view Israel as the violator of the 2014 ceasefire understanding.

 

8 | Instilling divisions within the axis of resistance — made up of some Palestinian resistance groups, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and Iran — by neutralizing Hamas in preparation for a new upcoming great war.

The possibility for a U.S.-supported and/or -led big war in the Middle East is greater than any time in the recent past. Notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. and Israel have failed in a number of wars they waged in the region, lessons of earlier experiences do not seem to be heeded. The fact that such a war has not been waged yet does not mean doing away with the idea, but rather, engaging in more preparations while buying more time.

Especially at a time when the U.S. lives one of its most difficult moments domestically because of the ongoing investigations surrounding Trump’s violations and possible collusion with Russia during the last presidential elections, the possibility of resorting to exporting the crisis externally by creating the conditions for war is not to be underestimated. Certainly, Netanyahu would not object to this kind of development: for a long time, he has been trying to drag the U.S. into a calamitous war against Iran and its allies in the region. Measured by the extraordinarily close relation between the two of them, Trump will certainly be ready to act at the right moment.

Therefore, splitting the axis of resistance from within is high on the agenda of the Israelis and the United States. Israel continues to worry about the formation of a united front by all members in the axis of resistance against it in the event of a war. Hence, fragmentation of the axis of resistance is not a matter of luxury, but rather a matter of strategic necessity.

Hamas Palestine Gaza

Israel and the U.S. did not succeed in achieving this goal through the steadfast Hezbollah: the Lebanese group was given a number of offers by the United States to attract it to drop Iran — as the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, confirmed in one of his speeches — but to no avail. Hamas is believed to be a more amenable target to fall for this ploy: through promises of reconstruction and prosperity projects for the Gaza Strip, it is believed that Hamas will go along with an extended agreement for calm, and hence with staying away from the axis of resistance. Israeli planners believe they can capitalize on a precedent in this regard: the stand Hamas took at the beginning of the Syrian Crisis in opposition to the Syrian government and in support of some armed opposition groups, in a manner that stood in total contradiction to and conflict with that taken by Hezbollah and Iran.

Therefore, the least that can be achieved, Israel calculates, is to neutralize Hamas and free a whole front with the Gaza Strip in the event of a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, or even with Iran. The Israeli thinking is that Hamas itself becomes interested in holding onto the state of calm once it sees the money pouring in for reconstructing the Gaza Strip.

 

9 | Planting seeds of conflict within the Gaza Strip between supporters and opponents of the calm.

It is an established fact now that there is no Palestinian consensus over an agreement for calm with Israel at this critical stage because of the tricky surrounding international and regional circumstances. Therefore, it is expected that the Gaza Strip will witness intense interaction between supporters and opponents. It is also no secret that those who count on Hamas’s failure cannot be overlooked. There are some who do not wish Hamas well, and as such, will do everything they can to topple any attempt towards calm. At the same time, Israel is not just sitting idly by watching what’s happening: as it has done numerous times in the past, Israel will do everything at its disposal, through its intelligence services, to heighten the level of tensions in the Gaza Strip. This would be one of the most effective ways to keep Hamas occupied with internal matters.

As Oslo created a fertile ground for lasting internal fueds and frictions among Palestinians, the calm under discussion is bound to trigger unavoidable confrontations within the Gaza Strip. At best, Hamas will inevitably find itself compelled to take harsh and necessary security measures against any disrupters of the calm. This may position Hamas to fight against other resistance groups in the Gaza Strip. Israel will surely not shed any tear over such possible developments.

 

10 | Tainting the image of Hamas as a movement for resistance in Palestinian society.

Many observers and analysts suggest that Hamas did not acquire its popularity and legitimacy in Palestinian society due to its political and ideological positions, as much as by virtue of its resistance against the Israeli occupation. In Palestinian society, the effectiveness of any movement, faction or party is usually measured by the extent to which it is involved in the national struggle and in resistance against the occupation. The popularity of political forces goes up or down depending on the size, magnitude and effect of their role in resistance efforts.

In this regard, aside from political positions, friends and foes of Hamas recognize that Hamas has played a pivotal role in resistance activities, not the least of which being its ability to withstand and remain steadfast in the face of three subsequent Israeli agressions in the last decade.

However, in spite of this recognition, many consider the timing and the context of the calm suspicious at this stage, and such considerations may alter this image of Hamas among many Palestinians. Palestinian critics argue that Gazans have been sacrificing, not so as to get a loaf of bread, so to speak, as important as it may be for human survival, but rather to achieve political and national objectives — i.e., freedom and independence. Critics also suggest that such a path has been tested before and failed: Israel does not abide by agreements it signs.

They say that the alternative is not for Hamas to go to war against Israel, but rather to cooperate with other Palestinian parties to capitalize on international solidarity with the Gaza Strip so as to end the state of siege, once and for all, without having to make detrimental political concessions.

In addition, there does not seem to be uniformity of opinion within Hamas itself regarding the calm. Some Hamas leaders, cadres, members and supporters oppose the calm under the current conditions and circumstances. Some have expressed profound disenchantment with the regurgitation of failing experiences. Arguments by the defenders of the calm from within Hamas have not been all that convincing for many rank and file members. Therefore, it is widely expected that pursuing the calm in the midst of internal disagreements can also lead to splits within Hamas itself.

 

The calm would bring anything but calm

Accordingly, the imminent dangers of the would-be calm for Palestinians are enormous, and may exceed by far the detrimental effects of the Oslo Agreement. Regional and international circumstances are less conducive for Palestinians, particularly with the burning desire of the Trump administration to put its deal of the century into effect. Even those Palestinians who have been heavily and staunchly involved in negotiations with the Israelis have come out sharply criticizing the timing and the context of the calm now.

Even in the event there is a symbolic temporary lifting of the siege off the Gaza Strip, the main beneficiary remains the Israeli occupation itself, as it controls the flow and prices of entering goods and commodities, and as it exercises total control over all entry points, from land, air and sea.

Palestinian police officers sit in a small boat as they pass near an Israeli naval vessel

It doesn’t seem to be the case that the calm under discussion will bring about much calm. Any unilateral agreement by one Palestinian party is bound to fail and take Palestinians into a more difficult situation than the one lived in the Gaza Strip today. The timing and overall context of an agreement for calm now are quite questionable, especially in light of the ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to liquidate the question of Palestine through its so-called deal of the century: it is a deal with and for everybody except the Palestinian people themselves, who are most directly affected and concerned.

The key to the way out does not lie in more partisanship and factional bickering: it is this deterioration in Palestinian cohesion that made it possible for Trump to gin up a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without the Palestinian people.

The solution lies in real unity among Palestinians, dictated by interest, necessity and circumstance. This can prove to be beneficial not only for Palestinians but, as surprising as this may sound, for all other players involved in this conflict, including the Israelis themselves.

While Israel and the United States may plan to instill more division and fragmentation among Palestinians to achieve short-term objectives, the state of chaos, and perhaps anarchy that may ensue can have far-reaching destabilizing effects for Israel. Geography is not on their side. Their schemes have not always succeeded in the past. Indeed they have been wrestling with one strategic failure after another. They should not be captivated by a sense of instantaneous gratification. The Palestinian people have persevered all along and, in spite of the impending heavy cost, they are expected to survive again, and emerge much stronger. No one can argue that the current state of affairs, or one that is worse, is sustainable.

The Palestinian people are the party that needs a genuine calm the most. The occupation has turned their life into total misery, day-in and day-out. All aspects of their life have been severely affected because the occupation is after them 24/7. At the same time, Palestinians have become quite wary of deceptive, misleading agreements for calm, which give the occupation more time to become more entrenched under the cover of peace.

The would-be agreement for calm does not promise to be any different. Actually, it more directly threatens Palestinian well-being and existence, as it is linked to the deal of the century, which aims to dissolve the question of Palestine.

What is needed is an agreement that ends the Israeli occupation of Palestine once and for all, and grants the Palestinian people their rights to real, full statehood, freedom, independence and self-determination, as dictated by international law. Any other way is bound to deepen and intensify the conflict. No one should be misled by fake cosmetic political moves here or there. Genuine calm requires genuine intentions, not a recycling of the occupation.

Top Photo | Left to right, US President Donald Trump , Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Flickr

Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D. was Chair of the Academic Senate and Chair of the Politics Department at Saint Mary’s College of California, he was a Fulbright scholar in Palestine, where he wrote his book: From Religious Salvation to political transformation: the rise of Hamas in Palestinian Society. Ahmed is the author of numerous studies dealing with the Middle East. Ahmed is frequently called upon by the local and international media for analyses of various political issues pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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The families of Khan Al-Ahmar insist on their right to remain and defend their village Israel/Palestine By Jamal Jaheleen – MONDOWEISS

One night towards the end of 1986, with the harsh December cold hovering over the hills of Jerusalem, my mother decided, after nine long months of suffering, to bring me into the world. I was a rascal, she later told me, the moment I plopped into the nurses’ waiting hands I began my battle with life. If I had known that earlier, I would have chosen to remain calm in my mother’s womb.

The village of Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, was the first land my feet touched. I spent my childhood chasing after my mother as she walked two kilometers to the nearby spring to collect water, or staying at my grandmother’s house watching her weave cloths and tent coverings from lamb’s wool and goatskin. Sometimes, I would stay at our neighbor’s house when there was no one home to watch me.

My father was busy tending the herd with my grandfather. We only had a few heads of sheep and goats to provide our daily sustenance; my grandfather lost his crops and half his riches in the war of 1948 when he was displaced from Beersheba in the south of Palestine. He wasn’t the only one who had to leave everything behind; all of my family shared the same fate. Some of them settled in Khan Al-Ahmar and others fled to Jordan and resided there. My grandmother’s eyes would silently convey the struggles they faced and their yearning for Beersheba. Injustice and tyranny became our inheritance, like a 2000-year-old Roman statue that must be preserved and held onto.

After my grandfather suffered through displacement and the pain of occupation he died, leaving us to continue the struggle. Many of the Jahalin tribe lived in Khan Al-Ahmar for many years and continue to live there today without the most basic needs; no electricity, no water, without education or healthcare or services, without anything. The best way to describe it, is that Khan Al-Ahmar passed through the twenty-first century as if it were the last century BC. Yet, it remained steadfast and strong in the face of the occupation and the flocks of settlers, and it will remain, refusing to give up or to succumb to another nakba.

When I turned six, I joined the rest of my young family members in line at the side of the main street connecting Jerusalem to Jericho. There, we waited for transportation in order to attend a school in Jericho, 30 kilometers from Khan Al-Ahmar. I clearly remember the trucks, laden with oranges, rumbling by at six in the morning on their way from Gaza to Jordan, always stopping to take a passenger or two. I also remember the daily newspaper car, heading towards Jericho each day. Those were difficult times; winter was a heavy burden on students, and the summer heat was also a lure to leave school and think about taking a job that would contribute to the household expenses. Most students didn’t even complete elementary school because of these difficulties.

In 2009, the citizens of Khan Al-Ahmar decided to build a school aided by Italian and local organizations. Modestly built, with classrooms formed by car tires and planks of wood, it was hoped that the school would provide a safe, accessible, educational environment.

But when the school opened its doors, no sooner had the 200 students settled at their desks than the desert foxes and highwaymen issued orders to have the school demolished. As if that wasn’t enough, they also issued orders to demolish residential buildings, herd shelters, and young couples’ homes. They even issued orders to demolish the mosque that had been simply built with wooden planks covered with goatskin to block the sun.

In the nine years from the day the school was built in Khan Al-Ahmar until today, the village lived through a many forms of economic, social, and psychological harassment. The army blocked any type of building materials from entering into Khan Al-Ahmar. They forbade entry to energy sources such as solar panels and electric generators, as well as medical equipment. In summary, anything that would improve Khan Al-Ahmar’s chance of survival was forbidden. But that wasn’t all. Large sections of Khan Al-Ahmar’s desert were closed off to prevent grazing, water wells were destroyed and the desert was declared a military zone. They barricaded animals, people and land and I did not realize that it was all due to building a small school. I imagine if anyone asked me the reason for this blockade and I answered that it was due to building a school, they would shake their heads at me and move onto another subject telling themselves that I was surely lying, because what power in the world would destroy a school? They would think that we must be a threat to Israel’s national security or plotting to build a nuclear reactor. When in reality, our dreams have fallen by the wayside, our hopes have been lost in the orange trucks and our talents have been smashed on the rocks of siege and the gates of oppression.

The thieving hunters’ eyes never stray from the prey, and yet we dream of finding justice one day.

However, despite nine years of legal battles to defend the right of our school’s existence, to protect our ancestors’ homes, our clansmen’s homes, the shelters of our herds and our goatskin-covered mosque. Despite our efforts to protect our children’s future, our Bedouin heritage and identity, the fabric of our society and our familial connections. In spite of our attempts to remain in the place where we were raised, among our childhood memories with ancestors and families. Despite all the resistance, all the patience and all the hard work, it was no use. In 2018, the judge’s gavel in the Israeli Supreme Court slammed down on the dreams of the rightful owners, shattering any trace of humanity, ruling in everything but justice. The Court issued a decision to demolish and vacate Khan Al-Ahmar, and I wondered to myself, “How can there be hope, for how can a grain of wheat complain about a chicken?” After the demolition order was issued, the occupation’s wolves hurried to carve roads between the houses and close all the pathways into the village. They announced that Khan Al-Ahmar was now a closed military area.

The very next day, bulldozers came into Khan Al-Ahmar to demolish the village and all that the citizens could do was to stand bare in the face of the criminal monsters and their heavy machinery. Youths, children and women were all attacked that day. Thirty people were injured and six arrested, including a 19-year-old girl who was assaulted by press cameras, her hijab ripped off, her dignity violated. After the battle, the criminal authorities ordered a curfew within the village and blocked anyone from entering or exiting, including the press corps and medical personnel. A suffocating siege ensued. After that cursed day and after another petition by the people of Khan Al-Ahmar to the ‘Chicken Supreme Court’, a temporary stay of demolition orders was granted – until the occupation could find another excuse to displace the residents. It is expected, that after many court sessions, after the people of Khan Al-Ahmar refuse all offers from the occupying forces, and insist on their right to remain and defend their village, the bulldozers will come to crush the lingering dream of survival, of preserving the heritage and the very fabric of their identity.

Translated by Lama Khouri

Editor’s Note: After a long and courageous struggle, the people of Khan Al-Ahmar lost their battle when the high court in Israel declared that the demolition can go ahead.

About Jamal Jaheleen

Jamal Jaheleen is a 30-year old Palestinian writer and poet. Jamal lives with his wife, Khawlah, in the village of Khan Al-Ahmar.

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Trump’s UNRWA Funding Cuts Part of a New Formula to Erase Most Palestinians -By MIKO PELED – MINT PRESS

UNRWA Schools Gaza budget

It is puzzling that the state of Israel claims its own legitimacy derives from the right of Jewish people to “return” to their biblical homeland after 2,000 years of exile — but demands that Palestinian refugees drop their claim to return after 70 years and forget their homeland.

WASHINGTON — (Analysis) U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to severely cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is another step in what seems to be an attempt by the U.S. and Israel to erase the Palestinian refugee issue. Festering for seven decades, the Palestinian refugee crisis has been an open wound affecting Palestine and the countries around it, and now Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claim they have found a solution: deny the existence of the refugees.

However, as much as Trump and Netanyahu may try to deny they exist, and even if the U.S. government decides to “reduce” their number by declaring that there are far fewer refugees than there really are, the fact remains that over 5 million Palestinians live in camps in extreme poverty, neglect and abuse. The reason for this: Israel has banned the refugees and their descendants from returning to their land so that it could maintain a Jewish majority.

 

 

U.S. policy

If the U.S.-Israeli “solution” goes through, as it seems it will, UNRWA will serve only the original surviving refugees, whose number naturally decreases each year. According to a report in Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network:

A bill in Congress attempts to codify this [Trump’s] new formulation. HR 6451 stipulates that only the surviving refugees qualify for resettlement and UNRWA services. The rest of the aid would be channelled to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is bound by the 2018 Taylor Force Act, prohibiting U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until certain conditions are met. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.”

 UNRWA classroom Gaza

Also according to the Al-Shabaka report: “In January 2018 the administration slashed the first $125 million installment of its annual payment to UNRWA by more than half.” Then, when  the U.S. announced that it will no longer contribute to UNRWA at all, the announcement sent “shockwaves around the Arab world.”

Clearly, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria — all countries where Palestinian refugee camps are situated, realize that the result of this will be that millions of Palestinian refugees would be left without even the little education, work, food, and healthcare they currently have. In other words, this will result in an even worse crisis, not a resolution.

 

Double standard

One of the more puzzling aspects of this issue is that the state of Israel claims its own legitimacy derives from the right of Jewish people to “return” to their biblical homeland after 2,000 years of exile. Zionists argue that, owing to connections to an ancient tribe that resided in Palestine some 2,000 years ago, they have a claim to Palestine. Now, the same state of Israel demands that Palestinian refugees drop their claim to return after 70 years and forget their homeland.

The absurdity of the 2,000 year claim to “return” needs hardly be explained, but the fact is that not a single Jewish person can point out where his or her family lived 2,000 years ago. Palestinians however, in many if not most cases, still have the keys to their homes and the deeds to their land. Many of the first generation refugees are still alive and — when given a chance, as shown in this video, — will, even in places where a village or town was totaled by the Israelis, find the exact spot where their home stood, where the well used to be, and where the school, mosque or church stood.

 

UNRWA

A report published by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) says that,

The humanitarian aid and assistance that UNRWA provides to the Palestine refugees can never be enough. But it will be required as long as the issues of statelessness, prolonged military occupation, economic marginalization and vulnerability characteristic of the Palestinian refugee crisis are not addressed.”

It goes on to say:

Because of the prolonged nature of the Palestine refugee problem, the [UNRWA] agency’s efforts to provide education and health care have been pivotal in developing the refugees’ full human potential. Indeed, education is the largest of UNRWA’s main programmes, accounting for approximately 54 percent of its General Fund Budget.”

Clearly, the host countries of Palestinian refugees have a good reason to be concerned now that funding has decreased so substantially.

UNRWA school in Beirut

“The U.S. support for UNRWA was not an act of generosity,” historian Ilan Pappe recently posted. Back in 1950, the U.S. supported the establishment of the agency, with a promise that its creation would lead to the implementation of Resolution 194, passed on December 11, 1948. While in the so-called peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority the refugee issue was designated as a “final status” issue to be discussed at an unknown date in the distant future, the UN resolution predates that and therefore should be implemented without such interminable delays. Resolution 194 states that the UN:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations …”

In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe says the following:

UNRWA was not committed to the return of the refugees as UN General Assembly Resolution 194, from 11 December 1948, had stipulated, but was set up simply to provide employment and subsidies to the approximately one million Palestinian refugees who had ended up in the camps. It was also entrusted with building more permanent camps for them, constructing schools and opening medical centres. In other words, UNRWA was intended, in general, to look after the refugees’ daily concerns.”

Recently, Pappe stated that ““UNRWA can only be dismantled if that resolution [194] would be respected.” In other words, dismantling UNRWA is fine as long as the refugees are permitted to return to their homes and their land in Palestine, as stipulated in the resolution, and be paid reparations for seven decades of dispossession.

 

Teaching humiliation

The Israeli government says it welcomes the U.S. decision to stop funding UNRWA. According to Israel, the UN agency — which in 1950 was tasked was caring for the Palestinian refugees that Zionist forces drove out of what was, until then, Palestine — is perpetuating the refugee problem.

Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani has written many short stories that reflect the lives of the Palestinian refugees in the camps. These are stories about the poverty, the humiliation and the desperation of a people who were thrown out of their land and forgotten by the world. He offers honest, heart wrenching descriptions of children “learning humiliation in the Agency schools” (Agency meaning UNRWA) and fathers who are helpless and must compromise their own integrity and dignity in order to provide for their families meager existence — and all of this because Israel has convinced the world that a “Jewish majority” is more important than humanity, people’s lives and dignity, not to mention people’s right to live free on their land.

As things stand today, the U.S. will stop funding the agency that is tasked with caring for millions of refugees — whom Israel created and is refusing to allow to return — while continuing to give Israel billions of dollars each year. Clearly, working the other way around would be more cost-effective. Stop sending Israel foreign aid, allow the refugees to return, and use the billions of dollars of foreign-aid money to facilitate their return, pay reparations, and rehabilitate the communities in Palestine that have been subjected to settler colonialism and apartheid since 1948.

Top Photo | Children wait outside an UNRWA school before attending the first day of class in Gaza City, Aug. 29, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are starting their school year in Gaza amid major budget cuts that threaten to close United Nations schools. Felipe Dana | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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Trump’s Drastic Cuts to UNRWA Spell More Poverty, Hopelessness, and Radicalization in Palestine – By Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D (MINT PRESS)

In an attempt to pressure the Palestinian people to accept his “deal of the century,” Trump decided to drastically cut the annual U.S. contribution to UNRWA from abut $350 million to $65 million and pressured other countries, including Britain and Australia, to reduce their contributions as well.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees, was established in December 1949 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 to address the basic humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who became refugees in the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

As its name reveals, UNRWA’s mission was centered on providing relief rations, basic healthcare, education and employment opportunities for the refugees who lost all of their livelihood. Underlying UNRWA’s establishment was the goal to integrate refugees into the neighboring Arab host countries, so as to diffuse tensions and promote regional peace and stability.

Motivated by political objectives, the United States and Britain have been the biggest contributors to UNRWA’s budget. This has remained the case until recently when U.S. President Donald Trump announced in February of this year his decision to drastically cut U.S. contributions to UNRWA. Over the years, these two big powers saw in this humanitarian agency an effective vehicle for containing frustration and despair among the refugees.

 

Indeed, in spite of some of its shortcomings, UNRWA has been able to provide badly needed services, particularly for destitute refugee families. UNRWA became an important apparatus of employment for many skilled refugees.

Until it began in the past few years to introduce reductions in its services, UNRWA’s schools once provided the best education to be had in their communities, employing the most talented Palestinian teachers and graduating very successful students who excelled in various fields of knowledge and expertise.

School girls listen to Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, during the launch of a global campaign to support UNRWA, at the UNRWA Rimal Girls Preparatory School in Gaza. Adel Hana | AP

In an attempt to pressure the Palestinian people to accept his “deal of the century,” Trump decided to drastically cut the annual U.S. contribution to UNRWA from about $350 million to $65 million and, against all advice from his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, he pressured some other countries, including Britain and Australia, to reduce their contributions as well.

 

The first impact of Trump’s drastic cuts

UNRWA, which had already been struggling financially to meet its increasing demands, owing to the influx of more Palestinian refugees as a result of the Syrian crisis, found its operations severely hampered at a most critical time for so many Palestinian refugees. Supposedly compelled by the financial constraints, UNRWA recently decided to further shrink most of its modest services. Then, more worrisome for the refugees, it dismissed more than 1,000 Palestinian refugee employees from work in the Gaza, which has been lingering under siege for about 12 years.

Gaza, where unemployment has exceeded 80 percent, is considered one of the most troubled places on earth for human survival. Due to the tight siege, clean water is very scarce; Gazans get fewer than four hours of electricity per day; and the healthcare system has practically crumbled, as medical supplies are not coming in. On the whole, people are tormented by, on the one hand,  the ongoing contest of powers between Hamas, which has unilaterally controlled the strip since 2007, and the Palestinian Authority, and, on the other, the Israeli occupation that dominates the airspace and sea as well as all entry points by land.

A Palestinian employee sits during a protest at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City, July 25, 2018. UNWRA staff are protesting the agency's decision to fire dozens of Palestinian staff in Gaza in the Gaza Strip. Khalil Hamra | AP

UNRWA’s decision, which seems to be the product of financial considerations, is nonetheless interpreted by many Palestinians as a politically-motivated move, owing to its timing and place of execution. Palestinians maintain that of all places where UNRWA operates, Gaza cannot be the first where such severe austerity measures should be introduced. The agony in the Gaza Strip is incalculable, especially as people have endured three wars with Israel in the past decade alone.

The new measures by UNRWA fell like a thunderbolt on refugee employees who have been dismissed, as no other opportunities for employment are available. Such measures led one of the dismissed employees, caught in despair and anguish, to try to set himself on fire in protest. Employees whose jobs were terminated have carried out an open-ended hunger strike with their families inside UNRWA headquarters.

 

Hopelessness and frustration: the breeding ground for extremism

Especially in a troubled area like the Middle East, the many crises that have developed over the years have contributed to the deepening of extremist tendencies among some groups and organizations.

By all accounts, the displacement of many refugees in the most recent conflicts during the past few years has widened the base of radicalization in the region. Radicalization becomes inevitable during times of total despair and profound frustration unless alternative creative, innovative solutions are introduced — i.e., unless some robust, systematic international programs of aid to alleviate the suffering of the refugees and to replace despair with hope are instituted.

In essence, radicalization of individuals can be viewed as a factor that leads to abnormalizing the behavior of those who fall victims to this tendency. More broadly, when radicalization spreads in a group or community, it can deform the social structure and lead to behavior that lacks balance — this may be called “the imbalancing” of communities. Creative and innovative policies are required to tackle the underlying root causes of radicalization.

Palestinian children sit next to hanged clothes, on the First day of Eid al-Fitr in a United Nations school where dozens of families have sought refuge after fleeing their homes in fear of Israeli airstrikes, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip. A U.N. inquiry has found that at least 44 Palestinians were killed and at least 227 injured by "Israeli actions" while sheltering at U.N. locations during last year's Gaza war. Secretary Ban Ki-moon said Monday, April 27, 2015, he deplores the deaths and calls U.N. locations "inviolable."

UNRWA’s measures of cutting its services and dismissing close to 10 percent of its Palestinian workforce in Gaza are bound to hamper the educational process for hundreds of thousands of students, especially as other Palestinian employees in other locations feel quite vulnerable and may, as a result, resort to protesting such measures. In effect, the learning process of Palestinian students will be impacted and their educational rights violated.

The implications of violating the educational rights of refugees cannot be overlooked. Radicalization usually finds its way among disgruntled and frustrated young people, those who believe that their future offers them nothing more than despair and anguish. The Gaza Strip has been in a state of war and under total siege for many years — thus, to begin with, services are limited if provided at all. Dismissing of employees in the thousands by the organization in whose name and for whom it was created adds insult to injury, as it threatens the very livelihood of tens of thousands of people, when accounting for the members of the families of those who are dismissed and whom they support.

 

An impact that rolls on into a darkened future

Wars, especially when compounded by chronic despair and frustration, usually affect societies both in the present and the future: while present effects might be measurable, those that might occur in the future are often accompanied by surprise. With the continuation of such measures by UNRWA, entire generations may be expected to be kept without formal education. These may be easily subjected to some kind of informal, unstructured education — i.e., indoctrination and radicalized mobilization by a number of organizations that generally thrive in an environment of chaos and anarchy.

Some scholars have studied the interplay between radicalization and feelings of deprivation. For example, Fathali M. Moghaddam (2005) has stressed the need for education to nurture feelings of tolerance and equality among different groups. Ervin Staub (2007) has focused on preventive measures against radicalization, mainly through teaching, learning and education. More recently, however, Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem (2017) drew the link between the decline in education, rise of unemployment and empowerment of radicalization.

By writing this article, the author hopes to shed light on such an important underlying problem faced by Palestinian refugees. Coming to terms with this problem now, policy-makers and strategists can avert crucial problems in the future, mainly the deepening of frustration and the potential rise of radicalization in the region.

School girls look while pass the house morning of Mohammed Ayyoub, 14, who was killed by Israeli soldiers during a protest on Gaza's border with Israel, east of Jebaliya,, April 21, 2018. Adel Hana | AP

The recent waves of hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding a number of European countries could have been averted with sound, foresighted policies. In writing this article, the author is motivated by the sense of urgency to highlight the ramifications of the ferocious assault of displacement on the rights of the refugees, particularly those pertaining to education. At the same time, the author is also motivated by his own background as a Palestinian refugee who was born and grew up in a refugee camp, Dheisheh near Bethlehem: every time I read about the plight and the agony of new refugees, I cannot help reflecting on my own upbringing and observation of the effect of deprivation on the lives of so many people around me.

Palestinian refugees have been subjected to serious injustice everywhere they went. UNRWA’s recent measures of reducing the already modest services it provides to the refugees, and its termination of thousands of jobs solely for Palestinian employees, raise a number of compelling moral and legal questions. The international community is responsible for the catastrophe endured by Palestinians. Thus, even if the United States under Trump resorts to punitive financial measures to achieve political ends, the world community should not allow UNRWA to crumble. Cutting services and dismissing Palestinian employees from their jobs is not the answer, nor is it the solution to the worsening financial problem.

 

Constructive reforms, not drastic and destructive cuts, are needed

A comprehensive assessment of UNRWA’s structure needs to be carried out, as its bureaucracy has massively expanded. It is a well-documented fact that the average salary of a foreign employee in UNRWA is about 10 times that of a Palestinian employee. UNRWA was created to serve Palestinian refugees and to employ them, as its mandate stipulates.

Attempts by the U.S. Congress to redefine the refugee status for Palestinians — i.e., to exclude all descendants from the current UNRWA definition of Palestinian refugees — aim at liquidating the problem of those refugees in time by dissolving UNRWA. The specific goal is to limit the definition to fewer than 40,000 Palestinian refugees, rather than the current 5.3 million. The calculation is that even the new limited number will further shrink, as elderly refugees will die and the definition will not apply to their descendants.

This can only exacerbate the already fragile security environment in the Middle East. Such attempts stem from many concerted efforts by Israel and its lobbying groups in the U.S. to influence American decision-makers. For example, in its annual conference in the last week of July, CUFI, Christians United For Israel in the United States, an organization that has become synonymous with AIPAC, lobbied members of Congress for redefining the status of Palestinian refugees. This is quite short-sighted, as it completely evades the political, legal and humanitarian consequences of this action. From a cost-benefit analysis, securing the necessary funds for UNRWA to maintain its operations, and actually to enhance them, is less costly than having to deal with increasing instability, deepening frustration and the resultant growing radicalization.

The High Commissioner of UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbuhl, has reflected an excellent understanding of the potential ramifications of cutting services and terminating jobs for Palestinian refugees. In a number of interviews he gave to the media, especially after Trump announced that he will be reducing U.S. contributions to UNRWA’s budget, Krahenbuhl clearly spoke of the impending radicalization among young refugees. Therefore, it is inconceivable to allow the dissolution of UNRWA to happen under his supervision. This stands in total contradiction with the reputable record he has.

With a comprehensive assessment, serious reform, and reliance on more skilled Palestinian expertise, UNRWA can be enabled to cross this threshold and continue to fulfill its humanitarian mission. Sadly, the Palestinian problem is not over, and no just settlement for the refugees has been achieved. Therefore, the outcry of Palestinian refugees should be heard at the highest level of decision-making in the UN, including that of the office of the Secretary-General himself, Antonio Guterres.

This is the time to heed the call for human justice and dignity for Palestine’s refugees. This is the time when perspicacity should override narrow political considerations. This is the time to prevent more seeds of radicalization from being planted.

Top Photo | A wall painting made by Palestinian employees is seen at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City. July 25,2018. UNWRA staff were protesting the agency’s decision to fire dozens of Palestinian staff in Gaza in the Gaza Strip. Khalil Hamra | AP

Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D. was Chair of the Academic Senate and Chair of the Politics Department at Saint Mary’s College of California, he was a Fulbright scholar in Palestine, where he wrote his book: From Religious Salvation to political transformation: the rise of Hamas in Palestinian Society. Ahmed is the author of numerous studies dealing with the Middle East. Ahmed is frequently called upon by the local and international media for analyses of various political issues pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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Alexis de Tocqueville Was Wrong – By Strategic Culture Foundation

Alexis de Tocqueville Was Wrong
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 10.08.2018

From inception, democracy in America was pure fantasy. No rule of the people ever existed – governance of, by, and for the privileged few alone at the expense of most others.

American exceptionalism and moral superiority don’t exist. The state of the nation is deplorable – more an obscenity than a responsible sovereign state. Count the ways.

Hypocrisy, not democracy, defines how America is governed – an increasingly totalitarian plutocracy, oligarchy and kleptocracy.

Elections when held are farcical. Dirty business as usual always wins. Republicans and undemocratic Dems represent two sides of the same coin on issues mattering most – differences between them largely rhetorical.

Corporate predators and high-net worth households never had things better. Protracted main street depression conditions affect most others – social justice fast eroding, heading for elimination altogether.

The world’s richest nation doesn’t give a damn about its most disadvantaged people.

Chicago’s upscale Magnificent Mile reveals a reality check. Countless numbers of homeless, hungry, desperate people line both sides of the avenue, hoping passers-by will offer loose change to help them make it through another day.

Many are combat veterans, treated with disdain by the nation they served. Others have families with children. Some have part-time work when able to find it – paying poverty or sub-poverty wages and no benefits.

On Chicago’s mean winter streets, they’re in doorways, on benches, or wherever they can huddle from winter cold – at times extreme. An uncaring nation treats them like nonpersons.

It’s permanently at war on humanity against invented enemies. No real ones exist. Peace, equity and justice are anathema notions – rule of law principles consistently breached.

America’s rage for dominance is humanity’s greatest threat. Homeland police state rule targets nonbelievers.

It’s just a matter of time before full-blown tyranny emerges, martial law replacing rule of law entirely – on the phony pretext of protecting national security at a time the nation’s only threats are invented ones.

Bipartisan neocons infesting Washington threaten everyone everywhere. Increasing online censorship is the mortal enemy of speech, media and academic freedoms.

Social and other media scoundrels are gatekeepers for wealth, power, and privileged interests – at war on dissent, making censorship the new normal, aiming to banish views contrary to the official narrative.

Truth-telling is increasingly equated with terrorism, incitement, hate speech, and harassment, considered anti-American instead of praised.

During the late 1930s and 40s, hundreds of Hollywood actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, musicians, songwriters, and other artists were accused of communist sympathies.

They were blacklisted, notable ones called the Hollywood Ten, including author/screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

His classic novel titled “Johnny Got His Gun” was a stunning anti-war polemic, one of the most powerfully moving ones ever written, a chilling account of the barbarity of war. Few soldiers in combat escape its horrors, the human cost ignored in the mainstream.

Trumbo and many others were victims of baseless slander, unscrupulous fear-mongering, and political lynchings – blacklisted for their beliefs, not for any crimes committed.

What goes around, comes around – today more malicious and dangerous than earlier. Censorship is the new normal in America, blacklisting in new form.

Dark forces running things want views opposed to the official narrative suppressed.

They want digital democracy undermined, thought control becoming the law of the land, social and other media giants serving as gatekeepers, sanitizing news, information and opinions, suppressing what’s most important for everyone to know – the hallmark of totalitarian rule.

America is unfit and unsafe to live in, fundamental freedoms eroding in plain sight, police state rule replacing it.

US imperial madness, its rage for endless wars, is worst of all – threatening humanity like never before.

stephenlendman.org

Tags: US 

AngloZionist attack options against Iran – By THE SAKER – [This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

 

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In the past few days, the Internet has been flooded with a frankly silly rumor about the US soliciting Australia’s assistance in preparing an attack on Iran.  Needless to say, that report does not explain what capabilities Australia would possess which the USA would lack, but never-mind that.  Still, the report was picked up in too many places (see here, here and here ) to be ignored.  In one of these reports, Eric Margolis has described what such a US attack could look like.  It is worth quoting him in full:

Outline of a possible AngloZionist attack on Iran

The US and Israel will surely avoid a massive, costly land campaign again Iran, a vast, mountainous nation that was willing to suffer a million battle casualties in its eight-year war with Iraq that started in 1980. This gruesome war was instigated by the US, Britain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Iran’s new popular Islamic government.

The Pentagon has planned a high-intensity air war against Iran that Israel and the Saudis might very well join. The plan calls for over 2,300 air strikes against Iranian strategic targets: airfields and naval bases, arms and petroleum, oil and lubricant depots, telecommunication nodes, radar, factories, military headquarters, ports, waterworks, airports, missile bases and units of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran’s air defenses range from feeble to non-existent. Decades of US-led military and commercial embargos against Iran have left it as decrepit and enfeebled as was Iraq when the US invaded in 2003. The gun barrels of Iran’s 70’s vintage tanks are warped and can’t shoot straight, its old British and Soviet AA missiles are mostly unusable, and its ancient MiG and Chinese fighters ready for the museum, notably its antique US-built F-14 Tomcats, Chinese copies of obsolete MiG-21’s, and a handful of barely working F-4 Phantoms of Vietnam War vintage.

Air combat command is no better. Everything electronic that Iran has will be fried or blown up in the first hours of a US attack. Iran’s little navy will be sunk in the opening attacks. Its oil industry may be destroyed or partially preserved depending on US post-war plans for Iran.

The only way Tehran can riposte is by staging isolated commando attacks on US installations in the Mideast of no decisive value, and, of course, blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz that carries two-thirds of Mideast oil exports. The US Navy, based nearby in Bahrain, has been practicing for decades to combat this threat.

There is a lot of interesting material in this description and I think that it is worth looking into it segment by segment.

First, I can only agree with Margolis that neither the USA nor Israel want a ground war against Iran: the country is too big, the Iranians too well prepared and the size of the force needed for such a campaign way beyond what the Empire can currently muster.

Second, Margolis is absolutely correct when he says that Iran does not have the means to stop a determined AngloZionist (missiles and aircraft) attack. Iran does have some modern air-defense capabilities, and the attackers will sustain a number of losses, but at this point, the size disparity is so huge that the AngloZionists will achieve air superiority fairly soon and that will give them an opportunity to bomb whatever they want to bomb (more about that later).

[Sidebar: assessing Iranian air defenses is not just a matter of counting missiles and launchers, however, and there is much more to this.  According to one Russian source Iran has 4 long range anti-aircraft missile S-300PMU-2 systems (with 48Н6Е2 Mach 6,6 interceptor missiles), 29 military anti-aircraft self-propelled missile complexes Tor-M1, some fairly advanced anti-aircraft missile complexes like the Bavar-373, a passive electronically scanned array radar (whose illumination and guidance system almost certainly includes modern Chinese electronics) and an impressive number of radar systems early warning radar of the Russian, Chinese and Iranian manufacture.   This category includes systems like the high-potential long-range radar detection and target designation Najm-802 radar (has 5120 receiving and transmitting modules, operates in the decimeter S-range and is designed to detect ballistic targets and small elements of high-precision weapons), the Russian meter radar “Nebo-SVU” advanced early warning and control system with a fixed-array radar, as well as a meter range early warning radar of the type “Ghadir” .  Most importantly, these radars are all integrated into the network-centric missile defense system of Iran. For example, the “Ghadir” radar is able to detect not only the tactical fighters of the USAF, the KSA and Israel, but also ballistic missiles immediately after launch (at a distance of about 1100 km). As a result, the presence of Iranian radio engineering units of multi-band radar detection facilities in the Western direction (the Persian Gulf) will allow the Iranians to prepare a flexible echeloned air defense to defend against high-intensity missile strikes.  And yet, no matter how much the Iranians have improved their air defenses, the sheer number of of missiles (including the new advanced AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile delivered by B-1B bombers) means that the Iranian defenses will inevitably be overwhelmed by any massive attack.]

I therefore also agree with Margolis that the Iranian oil industry cannot be protected from a determined US/Israeli attack.  In fact, the entire Iranian infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.

Margolis’ final paragraph, however, makes it sound like Iran does not have credible retaliatory options and that I very much disagree with.

Example one: Iranian capabilities in the Strait of Hormuz

For one thing, the issue of the Strait of Hormuz is much more complicated than just “the US Navy has practiced for years to combat this threat“.  The reality is that Iran has a very wide range of options to make shipping through this strait practically impossible.  These options range from underwater mines, to fast craft attacks, to anti-shipping missiles, to coastal artillery strikes, etc.

[Sidebar: Therein also lies a big danger: the Israelis and or the US could very easily organize a false flag attack on any ship in the Strait of Hormuz, then accuse Iran, there would be the usual “highly likely” buzzword from all the AngloZionst intelligence agencies and, voilà, the Empire would have a pretext to attack Iran.]

In fact, the mere fact of issuing a threat to shipping through this narrow body of water might well deter insurances from providing coverage to any ships and that might stop the shipping all by itself.  Should that not be enough, Iran can always lay even a limited amount of mines, and that will be enough (please keep in mind that while the USN could try to engage in mineclearing operations, to do so right off the coast of Iran would expose USN minesweepers to an extreme danger of attack).

Margolis does mention this issue when he writes:

While Iran may be able to interdict some oil exports from the Arab states and cause maritime insurance rates to skyrocket, it’s unlikely to be able to block the bulk of oil exports unless it attacks the main oil terminals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf with ground troops. During the Iran-Iraq war, neither side was able to fully interdict the other’s oil exports.

However, I believe that grossly under-estimates the Iranian capabilities in this context.  Let’s take one example, the Iranian submarine force.

The Iranian submarine force is a highly specialized one.  According to the 2018 Edition of the IISS’s Military Balance, the Iranians currently have 21 submarines deployed:

  • 3 Taregh-class diesel-electric submarine  (Russian Kilo-class Project-877EKM)
  • 1 Fateh-class coastal submarine
  • 16 Ghadir-class midget submarines
  • 1 Nahand-class midget submarine

When most people hear “diesel-electric,” they think of old diesel trucks, and are not impressed, especially when these are contrasted with putatively “advanced” nuclear attack submarines. This is, however, a very mistaken opinion because submarines can only to be assessed in the environment they are designed to operate in. Naval geography is typically roughly divided into three types: blue water (open ocean), green water (continental shelves) and brown water (coastal regions). Nuclear attack submarines are only superior in the blue water environment where autonomy, speed, diving depth, weapon storage capacity, advanced sonars, etc. are crucial. In comparison, while diesel-electric submarines are slower, need to resurface to recharge their batteries and are typically smaller and with fewer weapons onboard, they are also much better suited for green water operations. In shallow brown water, midget submarines reign, if only because nuclear attack submarines were never designed to operate in such an environment. Now take a quick look at the kind of environment the Strait of Hormuz constitutes:

 

Notice the interesting combination of very shallow and shallow depth typical of brown water and then the green water type of environment when going further into the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.  With this in mind, let’s see what kind of submarine force Iran has acquired/developed:

For brown water operations (Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz) Iran has a relatively large and capable fleet of midget submarines. For green water operations (the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea), Iran has three formidable Taregh/Kilo-class submarines (which are even capable of limited blue water operations, though with much less autonomy, speed, armament or sonar than a nuclear attack submarine).  Just like “diesel-electric”, the term “midget” submarine makes it sound that we are talking about a toy or, at best, some primitive third world hack which, at best, could be used to smuggle drugs. In reality, however, the Iranian “midgets” can carry the same heavyweight torpedoes (533 mm) as the Kilos, only in smaller quantities. This also means that they can carry the same missiles and mines. In fact, I would argue that Iranian Ghadir-class “midget” submarines represent a much more formidable threat in the Persian Gulf than even the most advanced nuclear attack submarines could.

[Sidebar: the USA has stopped producing diesel-electric submarines many years ago because it believed that being a hegemonic power with a typical (aircraft carrier-centric) blue water navy it had no need for green or brown water capabilities. Other countries (such as Russia, Germany, Sweden and others) actively pursued a diesel-electric submarine program (including so-called “air-independent propulsion” – AIP – ones) because they correctly understood that these submarines are much cheaper while being also much better suited for coastal defensive operations.  Ditching diesel-electric submarines was yet another major mistake by US force planners; see this article on this topic.  The new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer were supposed to partially palliate to this lack of green and brown capabilities, but both turned out to be a disaster]

The Russian Kilo-class submarines are some of the most silent yet heavily armed submarines ever built, and they could potentially represent a major threat to any US naval operations against Iran.  However, we can be pretty sure that the USN tracks them 24/7 and that the Kilos would become a prime target (whether in port or at sea) at the very beginning of any AngloZionist attack. But would the USN also be capable of keeping track of the much smaller (and numerous) Iranian midget submarines? Your guess is as good as mine, but I personally very much doubt that, if only because these relatively small subs are very easy to hide. Just take a look at this photo of a Ghadir-class submarine and imagine how easy it would be to hide them or, alternatively, create decoy looking just like the real thing. Yet this midget submarine’s torpedoes could sink any vessel in the Persian Gulf with a single torpedo.

While the US definitely has a lot of very capable reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities available to try to locate and then destroy these threats, we also know that the Iranians have had decades to prepare for this scenario and that they are truly masters at what is called maskirovka in Russian military terminology: a combination of camouflage, concealment, deception, and misdirection. In fact, the Iranians are the ones who trained Hezbollah in Lebanon in this art and we all know what happened to the Israelis when they confidently waltzed into southern Lebanon only to find out that for all their reconnaissance/intelligence capabilities they were unable to deal with even a relatively primitive (technologically speaking) Hezbollah missile capability. For all the patriotic flag-waving, the truth is that if the Iranians decide to block the Strait of Hormuz the only option left for the US will be to land a force on the Iranian shore and engage in a limited but still extremely dangerous offensive land-attack operation. At this point, whether this counter-attack is successful or not will be irrelevant, as there will be so much combat activity in this narrow bottleneck that nobody will even consider to bring ships through it.

I also believe that Margolis is wrong when he writes that all Iran could do would be to stage “isolated commando attacks on US installations in the Mideast of no decisive value“.  One very real Iranian option would be to strike US targets (of which there are plenty in the Middle-East) with various missiles.  Furthermore, Iran can also launch missiles at US allies (Israel or the KSA) and interests (Saudi oil fields).

Example two: Iranian missile capabilities

I would not trust everything the CSIS writes (they are a very biased source, to put it mildly), but on this page, they posted a pretty good summary of the current Iranian missile capability:

On the same page, CSIS also offers a more detailed list of current and developed Iranian missiles:

(You can also check on this Wikipedia page to compare with the CSIS info on Iranian missiles)

The big question is not whether Iran has capable missiles, but how many exactly are deployed.  Nobody really knows this because the Iranians are deliberately being very vague, and for obvious and very good reasons.  However, judging by the example of Hezbollah, we can be pretty sure that the Iranians also have these missiles in large enough numbers to represent a very credible deterrent capability.  I would even argue that such a missile force not only represents a capable deterrent capability, but also a very useful war-fighting one.  Can you imagine what would happen if US bases (especially airbases and naval facilities) in the region came under periodic Iranian missile attacks?  Judging by the Israeli experience during the First Gulf War or, for that matter, the recent Saudi experience with the Houthi missiles, we can be pretty sure that the US Patriots will be useless to defend against Iranian missiles.

Oh sure, just like the US did during the First Gulf War, and the Israelis did in 2006, the AngloZionists will start a massive hunt for Iranian missile sites, but judging by all the recent wars, these hunts will not be successful enough and the Iranians will be able to sustain missile strikes for quite a long time.   Just imagine what one missile strike, say, every 2-3 days on a US base in the region would do to operations or morale!

Reality check: the US is vulnerable throughout the entire Middle-East

Above I only listed two specific capabilities (subs and missiles), but the same type of analysis could be made with Iranian small speedboat swarms, electronic warfare capabilities or even cyber-warfare.  But the most formidable asset the Iranians have is a very sophisticated and educated population which has had decades to prepare for an attack by the “Great Satan” and which have clearly developed an array of asymmetrical options to defend themselves and their country against the (probably inevitable) AngloZionist attack.

You have probably seen at least one map showing US military installations in the Middle-East (if not, see here, here or here).  Truth be told, the fact that Iran is surrounded by US forces and bases presents a major threat to Iran.  But the opposite is also true. All these US military facilities are targets, often very vulnerable ones.  Furthermore, Iran can also use proxies/allies in the region to attack any of these targets.  I highly recommend that you download this factsheet and read it while thinking of the potential of each listed facility to become the target of an Iranian attack.

The usual answer which I often hear to these arguments is that if the Iranians actually dared to use missiles or strike at the US bases in the region, the retaliation by the USA would be absolutely terrible.  However, according to Eric Margolis, the initial and main goal of a US-Israeli attack on Iran would be to “totally destroy Iran’s infrastructure, communications and transport (including oil) crippling this important nation of 80 million and taking it back to the pre-revolutionary era“.  Now let me ask you this simple question: if Margolis is correct – and I personally believe that he is – then how would that outcome be different from the “absolutely terrible” retaliation supposedly planned by the USA in case of Iranian counterattack?  Put differently – if the Iranians realize that the AngloZionists want to lay waste to their country (say, like what the Israelis did to Lebanon in 2006), what further possible escalation would further deter them from counter-attacking with the means available to them?

To answer this question we need to look again at the real nature of the “Iranian problem” for the AngloZionists.

Real AngloZionist objectives for an attack on Iran

First and foremost, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran has any kind of military nuclear program.  The fact that the Israelis have for years been screaming about this urbi et orbi does not make it true.  I would also add that common sense strongly suggests that the Iranians would have absolutely no logical reason to develop any kind of nuclear weapons.  I don’t have the time and space to argue this point again (I have done so many times in the past), so I will simply refer to the US National Intelligence Estimate’s conclusion that Iran had “halted its nuclear weapons program” and leave it at that.

[Sidebar: I don’t believe that the Iranians ever had a nuclear weapons program either, but that is irrelevant: even if they once had one, that would put them on par with many other countries which took some initial steps in the development of such a capability and then gave it up.  The only point is that it is the official US position that there is no current military nuclear program in Iran.]

The real problem of Iran is very simple.  Iran is the only country in the world which is:

  1. Islamic and leads the struggle against the Saudi/Daesh/ISIS/al-Qaeda/etc. ideology of takfirism and the terrorism they promote
  2. Openly anti-Zionist and anti-Imperialist and combines conservative religious values with progressive social policies
  3. Successful politically, economically and militarily and thereby threatens the monopoly of power of Israel in the region

Any one of those features by itself would already constitute a grievous case of crimethink from the point of view of the Empire and would fully deserve a reaction of absolute hatred, fear and a grim determination to eliminate the government and people which dare to support it.  No wonder that by combining all three Iran is so hated by the AngloZionists.

This entire canard about some Iranian nuclear a program is just a pretext for a hate campaign and a possible attack on Iran.  But in reality, the goals of the AngloZionists is not to disarm Iran, but exactly as Margolis says: to bomb this “disobedient” country and people “back to the pre-revolutionary era”.

Here is the key thing: the Iranians perfectly understand that. The obvious conclusion is this: if the purpose of an AngloZionist attack will be to bomb Iran back into the pre-revolutionary era, then why would the Iranians hold back and not offer the maximal resistance possible?

Because of the threat of a US nuclear retaliation?

US nuclear attack options – not much of an option in reality

Here again, we need to look at the context, not just assume that the use of nuclear weapons is some kind of magical panacea which immediately forces the enemy to give up the fight and to unconditionally surrender. This is far from being the truth.

First, nuclear weapons are only effective when used against a lucrative target.  Just murdering civilians like what the USA did in Japan does absolutely no good if your goal is to defeat your opponent’s armed forces.  If anything, nuking your opponents “value” targets will might only increase his determination to fight to the end.  I have no doubt that, just as during the first Gulf War, the USA has already made a typical list of targets it would want to strike in Iran: a mix of key government buildings and installations and a number of military units and facilities.  However, in most cases, those could also be destroyed by conventional (non-nuclear) weapons.  Furthermore, since the Iranians have had decades to prepare for this scenario (the USA has always had Iran in its sights since the 1979 Revolution), you can be quite sure that all the peacetime facilities have been duplicated for wartime situations. Thus while many high-visibility targets will be destroyed, their wartime counterparts will immediately take over.  One might think that nukes could be used to destroy deeply buried targets, and this is partially true, but some targets are buried too deep to be destroyed (even by a nuclear blast) while others are duplicated several times (say, for 1 peacetime military headquarters there would be 4, 5 or even 6 concealed and deeply buried ones).  To go after each one of them would require using even more nukes and that begs the question of the political costs of such a campaign of nuclear strikes.

In political terms, the day the USA uses a nuclear weapon against any enemy it will have committed a political suicide from which the Hegemony will never recover. While a majority of US Americans might consider that “might makes right” and “screw the UN”, for the rest of the world the first use of nuclear weapons (as opposed to a retaliatory counter-strike) is an unthinkable abomination and crime, especially for an illegal act of aggression (there is no way the UNSC will authorize a US attack on Iran). Even if the White House declares that it “had to” use nukes to “protect the world” against the “nuclear armed Ayatollah”, the vast majority of the planet will react with total outrage (especially after the Iraqi WMD canard!). Furthermore, any US nuclear strike will instantly turn the Iranians from villains into victims. Why would the US decide to pay such an exorbitant political price just to use nuclear weapons on targets which would not yield any substantial advantage for the US? Under normal circumstances, I would think that this kind of unprovoked use of nuclear weapons would be quite unthinkable and illogical. However, in the current political context in the USA, there is one possibility which really frightens me.

Trump as the “disposable President” for the Neocons?

The Neocons hate Trump, but they also own him.  The best example of this kind of “ownership” is the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem which was an incredibly stupid act, but one which the Israel Lobby demanded.  The same goes for the US reneging on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or, for that matter, the current stream of threats against Iran.  It appears that the Neocons have a basic strategy which goes like this: “we hate Trump and everything he represents, but we also control him; let’s use him to do all the crazy stuff no sane US President would ever do, and then let’s use the fallout of these crazy decisions and blame it all on Trump; this way we get all that we want and we get to destroy Trump in the process only to replace him with one of “our guys” when the time is right“.   Again, the real goal of an attack on Iran would be to bomb Iran back into a pre-revolutionary era and to punish the Iranian people for supporting the “wrong” regime thus daring to defy the AngloZionist Empire.  The Neocons could use Trump as a “disposable President” who could be blamed for the ensuing chaos and political disaster while accomplishing one of the most important political objectives of Israel: laying waste to Iran.  For the Neocons, this is a win-win situation: if things go well (however unlikely that is), they can take all the credit and still control Trump like a puppet, and if things don’t go well, Iran is in ruins, Trump is blamed for  a stupid and crazy war, and the Clinton gang will be poised to come back to power.

The biggest loser in such a scenario would, of course, be the people of Iran. But the US military will not fare well either. For one thing, a plan to just “lay waste” to Iran has no viable exit strategy, especially not a short-term one, while the US military has no stomach for long conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq are bad enough). Furthermore, once the USA destroys most of what can be destroyed the initiative will be in the Iranians’ hands and time will be on their side. In 2006 the Israelis had to fold after 33 days only, how much time will the US need before having to declare victory and leave? If the war spreads to, say, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria, then will the US even have the option to just leave? What about the Israelis – what options will they have once missiles start hitting them (not only Iranian missiles but probably also Hezbollah missiles from Lebanon!)?

Former Mossad head Meir Dagan was fully correct when he stated that a military attack on Iran was “the stupidest thing I have ever heard”.  Alas, the Neocons have never been too bright, and stupid stuff is what they mostly do.  All we can hope for is that somebody in the USA will find a way to stop them and avert another immoral, bloody, useless and potentially very dangerous war.

The Saker

Building a Russian Bogeyman: Washington Intentionally ‘Overcharged’ Relations with Moscow for Strategic Advantage – By Robert BRIDGE (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Building a Russian Bogeyman: Washington Intentionally ‘Overcharged’ Relations with Moscow for Strategic Advantage

Robert BRIDGE | 30.07.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Last week, we considered how the Bush and Obama administrations worked in tandem – wittingly or unwittingly, but I’m betting on the former – to move forward with the construction of a US missile defense system smack on Russia’s border following the attacks of 9/11 and Bush’s decision to scrap the ABM Treaty with Moscow.

That aggressive move will go down in the (non-American) history books as the primary reason for the return of Cold War-era atmosphere between Washington and Moscow. Currently, with the mainstream news cycle top-heavy with 24/7 ‘Russiagate’ baloney, many people have understandably forgotten that it was during the Obama administration when US-Russia relations really hit rock bottom. And it had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s home computer getting allegedly compromised by some Russia hackers.

The year is 2008; welcome to the international peace tour – although ‘farce tour’ would be much more accurate. Fatigued by 8 long years of Bush’s disastrous war on terror, with over 1 million dead, maimed or on the run, the world has just let out a collective sigh of relief as Barack Obama has been elected POTUS. Due to Obama’s velvety delivery, and the fact that he was not George W. Bush, he was able to provide the perfect smokescreen as far as Washington’s ulterior motives with regards to Russia were concerned; the devious double game America was playing required a snake-oil salesman of immeasurable skill and finesse.

Just months into his presidency, with ‘hope and change’ hanging in the air like so many helium balloons, Obama told a massive crowd in Prague that, “To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year. President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold (Applause!).”

It would take another 8 years for the world – or at least the awakened part – to come to grips with the fact that America’s ‘first Black president’ was just another smooth-talking, Wall Street-bought operator in sheep clothing. In the last year of the Obama reign, it has been conservatively estimated that some 26,000 bombs of various size and power were duly dropped against enemies in various nations. In other words, nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

But more to the point, US-Russia relations on Obama’s watch experienced their deepest deterioration since the days of the US-Soviet standoff. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that the 44th US president picked up almost seamlessly where Bush left off, and then some. Initially, however, it looked as though relations with Russia would improve as Obama announced he would “shelve” the Bush plan for ground-based interceptors in Poland and a related radar site in the Czech Republic. Then, the very same day, he performed a perfect flip-flop into the geopolitical pool, saying he would deploy a sea-based variety – which is every bit as lethal as the land version, as then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted – instead of a land-locked one.

Following that announcement, Obama appeared intent on lulling Moscow into a false sense of security that the system was somehow less dangerous than the Bush model, or that the Americans would eventually agree and cooperate with them in the system. In March 2009, a curious thing happened at the same time relations between the two global nuclear powers were hitting the wall. A meeting – more of a photo opportunity than any significant summit – took place between then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. To the delight of the phalanx of photographers present, Clinton, in a symbolic gesture of “resetting relations” with Russia, produced a yellow box with a red button and the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said to general laughter. “It should be “perezagruzka” [reset],” he corrected somewhat pedantically. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”

Clinton gave a very interesting response, especially in light of where we are today in terms of the bilateral breakdown: “We won’t let you do that to us, I promise. We mean it and we look forward to it.”

As events would prove, the US State Department’s ‘mistaken’ use of the Russian word for ‘overcharged’ instead of ‘reset’ was far closer to the truth. After all, can anybody remember a time in recent history, aside from perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis, when US-Russia relations were more “overcharged” than now? In hindsight, the much-hyped ‘reset’ was an elaborate ploy by the Obama administration to buy as much time as possible to get a strategic head start on the Russians.

It deserves mentioning that the fate of the New START Treaty (signed into force on April 8, 2010), the nuclear missile reduction treaty signed between Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, hung in the balance on mutual cooperation between the nuclear powers. Nevertheless, it became clear the Obama sweet talk was just a lot of candy-coated nothing.

What is truly audacious about the Obama administration’s moves is that it somehow believed Moscow would radically reduce its ballistic missile launch capabilities, as prescribed in the New START treaty, at the very same time the United States was building a mighty sword along the entire length of its Western border.

The Obama administration clearly underestimated Moscow, or overestimated Obama’s charm powers.

By the year 2011, after several years of failed negotiations to bring Russia onboard the system, Moscow’s patience was clearly over. During the G-8 Summit in France, Medvedev expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the missile defense system with the US.

“When we ask for the name of the countries that the shield is aimed at, we get silence,” he said. “When we ask if the country has missiles (that could target Europe), the answer is ‘no.’”

“Now who has those types of missiles (that the missile defense system could counter)?”

“We do,” Medvedev explained. “So we can only think that this system is being aimed against us.”

In fact, judging by the tremendous strides Russia has made in the realm of military technologies over a very short period, it is apparent the Kremlin understood from the outset that the ‘reset’ was an elaborate fraud, designed to cover the administration’s push to Russian border.

As I wrote last week on these pages: “In March, Putin stunned the world, and certainly Washington’s hawks, by announcing in the annual Address to the Federal Assembly the introduction of advanced weapons systems – including those with hypersonic capabilities – designed to overcome any missile defense system in the world.

These major developments by Russia, which Putin emphasized was accomplished “without the benefit” of Soviet-era expertise, has fueled the narrative that “Putin’s Russia” is an aggressive nation with “imperial ambitions,” when in reality its goal was to form a bilateral pact with the United States and other Western states almost two decades ago post 9/11.

As far as ‘Russiagate’, the endless probe into the Trump administration for its alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, not a shred of incriminating evidence has ever been provided that would prove such a thing occurred. And when Putin offered to cooperate with Washington in determining exactly what happened, the offer was rebuffed.

In light of such a scenario, it is my opinion that the Democrats, fully aware – despite what the skewed media polls erringly told them – that Hillary Clinton stood no chance of beating the Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, set about crafting the narrative of ‘Russian collusion’ in order to not only delegitimize Trump’s presidency, possibly depriving him of a second term in 2010, but to begin the process of severely curtailing the work of ‘alternative media,’ which are in fact greatly responsible for not only Trump’s victory at the polls, but for exposing the dirt on Clinton’s corrupt campaign.

These alternative media sites have been duly linked to Russia in one way or another as a means of silencing them. Thus, it is not only Russia that has been victimized by the lunacy of Russiagate; every single person who stands for the freedom of speech has suffered a major setback one way or another.

Part I of this story is available here.

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