The Knesset officially declares that Israeli democracy is for Jews only – By Yossi Gurvitz (MONDOWEISS)

Middle East

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In a rare act, the Presidency of the Knesset (a ten-member group representing most parties) last week disqualified a bill moved by Israeli Palestinian parliamentarians from coming to a debate or vote. The bill in question was named “Basic Law: Israel [is a] State of All Its Citizens.”

As the names hints, the bill would have declared that Israel belongs not to its Jews but to all its residents. The Knesset Presidency decided the bill was too dangerous to come to a vote.

The bill was put forward by the Joint List, a mega-party composed of three Israeli-Palestinian parties, forced to run together because the Zionist majority hiked the percentage of votes needed for a seat in the Knesset to 4%, which none of the parties would pass on its own, in an explicit attempt to ban them.

The chances of the bill passing even a preliminary reading was slim: similar to the chance that a baked pig, an apple in its mouth, would spread its wings and fly. The following parties supported the Presidency decision: Likud, Labor, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Israel Beteinu and Torah Judaism. A member of another party, Betzalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home (Naftali Bennett’s party), abstained, saying that even though he thought the decision was justified, he did not think the Presidency had the authority to disqualify a bill.

Together with the eight Members of Knesset of the Jewish Home, the Presidency could field 95 MKs out of 120 to vote the bill down. And yet, it was considered too dangerous to debate.

Just what was so problematic in the bill? The Knesset legal counsel, Eyal Yanon, said it clearly:

“[The bill] contains several articles which are meant to change the character of Israel from the national state of the Jewish People into a state which grants equal status, from the national point of view, to the Jewish nation and the Arab nation.”

That is, the very debate about the bill would have raised troubling questions, proving yet again that a Jewish state and a democratic one cannot co-exist. They’re a contradiction in terms. A democratic country allows for a peaceful change of its form of regime. Capitalistic Great Britain lived under a socialist government. Almost every democratic country (sorry, Switzerland!) granted women the vote in the 1910’s or 1920’s. The franchise in the US today does not resemble what it was in 1791 or even 1871. Western countries have changed – not without blood and fire, true – from a regime controlled by the upper and bourgeois classes to one that, through gritted teeth, was forced to give rights to the working classes. This came about as a result of a stubborn struggle, which often had a grassroots wing, but always had a parliamentary one.

This wasn’t so long ago: As Obama noted in his Selma March speech, the marchers were “called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse – everything but the name their parents gave them.” The Selma march was the grassroots wing; the violence used by the white regime – violence which is essential, without which, without the “grave downhill” which is necessary for “taking the top” – forced the parliamentary wing, always more hesitant and “decent”, always a few steps behind the activist wing, to accept the Civil Rights Acts.

Even though relatively passive, the parliamentary wing is critical. No peaceful change can come without it.

Now the Zionist parts of the Knesset struck down the option of parliamentary change. There can be only one regime in Israel: a Jewish one. Democracy is a surplus: in Hebrew we say “medina Yehudit ve’democratit.” A state Jewish and democratic. But the “ve” meaning “and” precedes democratic. The state’s Jewishness is essential; democracy, less so.

But what is this “Jewish state” all about? Embarrassingly, the parties which disqualified the bill can’t seem to agree on that. It’s not easy, nowadays, to know the Likud’s position; as part of its metamorphosis into the monarchical party of the House of Netanyahu, it did not publish a platform in the last two elections. But there are sharp disagreements between Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid, between Labor and the Jewish Brotherhood, and even between the placeholders MKs in Lieberman and Kachlon’s parties there are endless divisions on just what “Jewish state” means.

But on one point, all these parties can agree: Be the Jewish state what it will, whatever face it will wear, it will not be the state of the Israeli Palestinians, and its features will never reflect theirs.

Liberal Zionists have been fond, for the past 50 years, of wasting precious oxygen and time on the question whether there can be a Jewish state which is also democratic. However, in reality as it is lived, not in some ideal, Platonic plane: that is, in the reality as it is shaped by the representatives of the vast majority of Israel’s Jews, 20% of the country’s citizens may not express, in the highest forum of the body politic that calls itself Israel, their views as to the ways the country should be governed and how it would express itself to its citizens.

They can vote, yes; they can even be voted into office; but they cannot have any influence. And we allow them to be elected, more and more, because we desperately need to pretend to the world we’re not Russia, not yet anyway.

The diminishing of the rights of the Palestinians MKs is a slow, slippery process. During the two earlier Knessets, no bills were disqualified. The last time this power was used, in the 18th Knesset (elected in 2009), it was used – you guessed it – to quash two bills authored by a Palestinian MK, Ahmed Tibi. Prior to this case, no use of this power was made.

At the same time, the Knesset and its homo sovieticus chairman, Yuli Edelstein, are busy promoting the Nationality Bill, which will delimit the space allowed Palestinian Israelis even more. The Knesset has made its choice; now let it live with it.

Update: ‘Adala, a human rights organization dealing with protecting the rights of Israeli Palestinians, has petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding it will declare the Presidency decision illegal.


About Yossi Gurvitz

Yossi Gurvitz is a journalist and a blogger, and has covered the occupation extensively.

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At Least 525 Palestinians Injured Today by Israeli Forces on the Gaza Border- By Middle East Monitor (MINT PRESS)

Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)
Al-Quds Day


Activists on the ground in the east of Khan Younis also reported that ambulances were being targeted with gas bombs by Israeli forces.

At least 525 Palestinians have been wounded on the Gaza border by Israeli occupation forces who violently suppressed protests as part of Al-Quds Day, the Ministry of Health said today.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said at least seven people were in critical condition as a result of their injuries. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and live ammunition at demonstrators as they called for an end to the stifling 11-year blockade. At least three journalists have been wounded as they attempted to cover the protests, with Muhammad Al-Baba suffering injuries to his right leg after a gunshot wound.

Activists on the ground in the east of Khan Younis also reported that ambulances were being targeted with gas bombs by Israeli forces.

Palestinian factions, youth organisations and national figures had called on the public to devote the last Friday of Ramadan to protest against the occupation at the border. Demonstrations also occurred in the occupied West Bank, with events held to mark the Million Man March to Jerusalem at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The latest demonstrations are the first since Palestinian paramedic Razan Al-Najjar was killed by Israeli sniper fire last week. The 21-year-old’s death sparked outrage and an outpouring of grief across the world, with thousands of Palestinians attending her funeral, dubbing her “the angel of mercy.”

At least 123 Gazans have been killed since the Great March of Return started on 30 March. The protests were launched by thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who took to the borders to demand their right of return to their original homelands, called for ending the 11-year siege on Gaza and protested against the opening of the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

Top Photo | Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel’s festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

MEMO is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.


I never went to Israel when I was young, but I had a girlfriend who had been there and she told me that the Israelis were tough. She’d had fun there: she slept on beaches and smoked dope and made a lot of friends. But the Israelis were much tougher than we were, she said both admiringly and wearily. It wasn’t just their famous rudeness but their view of life; it was hard to be around them.

Now I’m back from my 13th trip to Israel and I can say, they are too tough.

I’ve been visiting through a distinct period: Israeli violence against non-state actors, Lebanon 2006 to Gaza 2018. Israel has regularly meted out violent punishment to those who defy or provoke it or shoot rockets or don’t believe in its right to exist, five bouts of punishment, six counting the era of knife attacks. It doesn’t seem that Israel has gained anything from all that violence, the thousands or tens of thousands dead. The Israelis are more insecure than ever. When you travel through occupied territory on Route 443, the Israeli flagwaving doesn’t stop. The Palestinian cabdriver said the flag was a Big Lie: it informs the Palestinians that this is Israel when it’s not. It is the same imposture at the police station in East Jerusalem: a lot of flags and a star of David, symbols that the people who are served by the station all disdain.

Or look at the banners on the Ministry of Justice, again in Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem. The Israelis are not sure themselves that they are going to be around that long. Ahmadinejad got into their heads when he said, they will vanish from the page of time. Netanyahu’s keen desire, Joseph Massad writes in Electronic Intifada, is that Israel will be around another 30 years: “the Hasmonean kingdom survived for only about 80 years[in the second century BC],” and so he is “working to ensure that modern Israel will surpass that mark and reach its 100th birthday.”

That’s not very confident.




The New York Times did a piece suggesting that Israelis have a conscience about the violence they poured forth at the Gaza border, and they hope that it was the right thing to do. But Gideon Levy says they have lost their conscience; and that was my impression too from interviewing Israeli Jews in West Jerusalem. I talked to 20 people. Every one expressed support for the killings. There was simply no dissent, even from a Meretz supporter.

I asked why Israel was getting such bad press over the shootings; and here are some responses:

“On whose head is the blood in Gaza? 100 percent on the leftwing media that hates Israel, and is Arab owned. Hamas used their own population as  a defensive shield.” (Avraham Feld, 65)

“We behaved very, very gentle with them. It doesn’t look gentle. But out of 40,000, 60 [dead] is not many. If it wasn’t gentle, we would kill a few 100s.” (Rami, a shopowner.)

“Our problem in Israel is a very, very small group of Jews. But they have the microphone and they hate themselves. They talk against us. And that’s why those in America– they don’t like Israel. For 1000 years we are used to it– people who are against Israel and the Jews.” (Nehama, 47.)

“I think there was no other option. Just to watch and allow people passing through the fence? The problem [with the headlines]– it’s a question of hasbara.”  (Moshe Ardon, 66, Meretz).

“These are not peaceful people. If 20 percent have a flag, then 10 behind them have a gun.” (A man from Kibbutz Ruhana, not far from Gaza).

“We Israelis have a clear system when someone threatens to come to the fence. First a warning shot, then if he keeps coming, we shoot in the leg. If they do come more, we have to shoot him.” (Shmuel, 14, walking with his mother)

There is no debate. Just like Gaza 2014 and Cast Lead before that nine years ago: 90 percent of Israeli society is behind it. The people all echo the talking points and insulate themselves from world opinion. This is the way a cult works, enclosing its thinking from the outside world, including the large portion of the neighboring population who don’t buy what they say. The world’s condemnation only makes them feel more certain of their own righteousness and, surely too, their superiority to ordinary unenlightened people. They become more hardened, and self-involved.



The time my girlfriend went out, 40 years ago, Zionism was fun. Not for its victims of course. But it was the time when Israel figured for Americans, and American Jews, like such a good healthy idealistic fulfilling life-charged undertaking. You’ve seen the newsreels of the Zionists dancing in the streets of Tel Aviv, or in the dusty roads of their kibbutzim: that excitement was communicated to us. Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky, and Tony Judt all went over to work on kibbutzes in that spirit. People read Amos Oz novels about the Galilee.

Look at these photographs of Zionists celebrating the harvest in Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz not far from Gaza that I visited on Nakba Day. Grapes bow their shoulders. They dance as the combine sucks up grain…


That time is over. Now Israel is held in contempt by much of the western world, and Israelis know it even as they get down to the hard business of shooting border-crossers.



My host at an Airbnb in West Jerusalem confronted me for my views. We’d been friendly for two days, I kept praising her sparkling clean apartment; but she brought up my work and upbraided me– her guest, twice her age–  and told me what I should not write, and accused me of BDS, and called me a self hating Jew. I was upset and wrote a lot of it down:

“So you write bad things about Israel. Like what, you are for BDS?

“What do you want us to do? So–what should we do?

“But we are a democracy. You don’t have the whole picture. You shouldn’t be writing these things about us without knowing what is going on.

“You are going to compare us to the Nazis next, aren’t you? [I’d compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to her parents’ experience in Russia]

“This is our land. We are a people like any other, not a religion. It is different, and we need a state.

“No, the Palestinians are not happy, but that is their leaders’ fault. They’ve never accepted the Jewish state. Then they bombed us in the second intifada.

“You don’t have the full picture so you should not write about this. I think you are this way because you don’t like being Jewish. There are Jews who are like this.”



My next host was just as tough in his own way. He was in the kitchen after work, guiding religious Zionist tours of the Old City, when I asked him, “What is the strategy in Gaza?” His wife sighed. “Oh the people are suffering there, it is very bad in Gaza.” But he sprawled out in his armchair in a crude manner familiar to me from Israeli men, with one knee up and the other leg extended, and rubbed his scalp in a gesture of thoughtfulness.

“In Gaza you are seeing what we Israelis call – [he says the Hebrew phrase] — conflict management. No one knows how to end it so they manage it. Yesterday was a bloody day as you know [the day of 62 killed] but today was quiet. That is because the message has been sent that if they do more today, then Israel will respond, very hard, and there will be more loss of life, so they pull back. Everyone knows there could be another war, and they don’t want that.”

A young man says that killing 62 people is sending a message…

This is a big reason why American Jewish communal responses are so terrible. Jewish leaders have lots of Israeli friends who hold forth to them in such terms, as though this is a real strategy; and the Americans are at a loss to criticize.

As my mother’s best friend Golda told me when I first came out here, at age 50: Aliyah means to go up. “When we moved here [in 1968], we went up. You in the Diaspora we call yoredim. You are lower.” That is the essential relationship, and all the big American Jewish orgs have no problem with that.



One of the most striking things about this visit was how naked the apartheid is. Back in the States of course it is still a heresy to say that Israel is an apartheid country. But when you are over there it feels frank and unadorned. Everyone knows there is one sovereign between the river and the sea, and that sovereign must be Jewish. Here’s my list of evidence:

–Arriving at the Tel Aviv airport, I mill about with a couple thousand other arrivals over the 40 minutes it takes to exit, and I see just a handful of Arabs. The Massachusetts-sized country I’m coming into is half Arab, there are Arab lands all around. But these people are obviously not wanted here, are often subject to searches here. And the walls contain messages that exclude them. They avoid the place.

–Israeli forces shut down Damascus Gate on the night before Nakba Day, May 14. They are only letting some people through. A group of women in hijabs waits. I come up and the guards wave me right through. I am the correct race.

–At a demonstration against the new embassy earlier that day, several different protests were sequestered in a free speech area: notably a bunch of young mostly American Jews called All That’s Left, and a lot of Palestinian demonstrators, including legislators, waving Palestinian flags. For more than an hour the police dose out brutality against the Palestinian demonstrators for holding up Palestinian flags and chanting for the liberation of Palestine. They ignore the Jews, whose messages are chiefly about occupation.

–The two principal peoples of the land are segregated, and there is complete separation in consciousness. In the Israeli neighborhoods of West Jerusalem you see very few Palestinians. And of course the opposite goes for Palestine. “If I go into an Arab village, even inside Israel, they will kill me– make me into pieces,” Rami, the storekeeper wearing a kipa, explains earnestly to me. On May 14, the night of 62 slaughtered at the fence in Gaza, I walked to a restaurant in the German Colony on the foot/bike-path on the old train line. I heard an Israeli-American discussing new robotic technology to his son and two men discussing international media. The restaurant was full of chatter and laughter. It goes without saying that the Palestinians I talked to that day and the next were filled with anguish and sorrow, and had one subject.

–The Palestinian taxi drivers I met speak Hebrew. It’s required in schools. One’s son studies at the Hebrew University. No Israeli I met speaks Arabic. I’m told the amount of Arabic in Israeli schools is derisory. Everyone knows what the master tongue is.

–Israelis I interviewed said that they preferred a Jewish state to a democracy where Palestinians could vote. “No, they must not vote. I don’t know how many citizens of Falastin want to kill us. They would make an Arab anti-semitic prime minister. And this is the only Jewish country in the world.”—Rami, who votes Likud. And a middleaged Labor voter from Hadera who’d come to visit the Sderot lookout over Gaza says the same thing. “We can’t have majority Arabs. The problem is Hamas sends people to the fence with an ideology, Palestine is from the river to the sea, and there should be no Jewish state.” Liberal Zionists in America like to say that Israel will face a choice between being Jewish and a democracy. But Israel long ago made that choice, and took the Jewish part, not the democracy.

It is amazing that such a naked system of inequality is so successfully defended in the United States. But it is. I’ve often referred to Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross shaming Jimmy Carter in 2006 for using the word apartheid in the title of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter was ostracized from the Democratic Party, too, for saying that. Then you go there and it’s apartheid without any pretense.

Now and then the truth breaks through back home – when Stephen Robert the former chancellor of Brown wrote in The Nation that Israel is “apartheid on steroids.” Or when Palestinians speak. But it’s still rare. More often it’s David Brooks writing in the New York Times that he gets “gooey eyed” about Israel having been out a dozen times.

That’s the real miracle of Israel: the hasbara, rationalizing this situation to the west.



The American Jews at the anti-embassy rally were much more involved emotionally with Palestinians and the Palestinian story than my Israeli hosts. But those American Jews were nothing like the Palestinian demonstrators. They needed to separate themselves from the Palestinians as the Palestinians chanted “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free.”

The American have so much less at stake than the Palestinians. Look at this Palestinian woman covering her face as she protests. She has a lot to lose. The American Jews seem very entitled by comparison, and of course: We are.

But the Palestinian suffering this time has had a political effect on American Jews. Natalie Portman acted because of Palestinians being shot at the fence. Jeffrey Goldberg needed to distance himself. Writer/professor Emily Bazelon was moved by her son’s anger at the killings. “Came home and my 15 year old was on the phone with his senators asking them to condemn Israel’s actions. My main feeling: he’s expressing his Jewish values. What a terribly sad day.”

Losing Goldberg (which I’ve predicted) means there will be more defections to come. The firewall doesn’t work if it’s just Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss and Shmuel Rosner, with help from Tom Friedman. You need a powerful center. But Eric Alterman has misgivings about Israel, Eric Goldstein of the Jewish Federations can’t full-throatedly defend it anymore, and J Street is even losing a little faith.

Young Jewish journalists will be emboldened, to follow the Max Blumenthal path. I know how journalists behave. The essence of mainstream journalism (and maybe of all social interaction!) is self-censorship. Now journalists see that there are career points to be made by being critical. Natalie Portman hasn’t turned into fairy dust; and they want to show that they are as smart as a pretty actress. They see Peter Beinart (who is actually halfway honest) being more and more outspoken on the question, maybe because he also wants to keep up with Portman. They see Michelle Goldberg getting more vocal, and more and more American scholars coming out for one state. Because as everyone knows who has been there, it is the reality, one state, with apartheid.

Secretly these journalists have always agreed with Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah, there is a problem with a Jewish state, the two-state solution as imagined is a form of apartheid; but they don’t want to be crazy outliers, they want to be sure that the Dershowitz/Oren/Foxman sharks aren’t still in the water. Now they begin to think that they can have a great success by turning against Israel. And that they can express these thoughts without losing work.

Older Jews are surely afraid what will happen when the young turn on Israel entirely and say, Where were you when they were killing unarmed protesters? During the last Israeli slaughter, 2014, Emily Bazelon supported the Israeli actions against Gaza that killed 2200, and acknowledged then that American Jews and Israeli Jews are family, cousins or brothers and sisters, and need to look out for one another. She aligned herself with centrist Zionists, Yossi Klein Halevi, Jonathan Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg. But that Jewish consensus is now shattered, and Bazelon is listening to her son.



Going out there gets harder and harder. The Israelis have a high standard of living, but what are they living for? Ideals that it is hard to justify in this day and age. The Israeli Jews have lost touch with the tender filaments of human connection. Of course their relations with the Palestinians have done this to them. You cannot watch thousands of unarmed young people being shot at the Gaza border and approve it heartily without having blocked off some avenues of the soul.

I worried about my mind when I was there. The rates of depression in Palestine are incredible, pushing 40 percent, four or five times normal rates. But the Israelis are as bad off mentally in their own way as the Palestinians, or worse. They know their indifference to others’ opinions cannot last. On the day I stopped people in West Jerusalem to ask about Gaza, 20 people refused to talk. They frowned and shook their heads. They knew that the world won’t understand them, and they walked hurriedly by.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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Palestinian Resistance’s Strongest Retaliation since 2014: Barrage of Shells Hit Settlements – By Uprooted Palestinians

May 29, 2018

Palestinian fighters

The Palestinian resistance bombed Tuesday morning the settlements of the so-called “Gaza envelope” with dozens of rocket-propelled grenades in response to Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

The Israeli military confirmed that a barrage of more than 28 mortar shells was fired toward the southern occupied territories. Israeli media said the IOF attacked eastern Gaza with artillery fire.

“Rocket sirens were heard around 7 A.M. in several southern Israeli communities, including Eshkol, Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev. Residents in the vicinity reported sounds of explosions. About an hour later, a second round of rocket sirens was heard again in Eshkol. A third round of sirens was heard around 9:30 A.M. in the kibbutzim of Nirim and Ein Hashlosha,” Haaretz reported.

Israeli fire has killed more than 110 unarmed Palestinians, during protests against the Israeli aggression, which climaxed on May 14.

On Sunday, Islamic Jihad resistance movement threatened to respond to an IOF attack on Hamas targets in southern Gaza in which three of its fighters were martyred. “The Zionist enemy cannot dictate a new formula in which it will harm our people without a painful response,” the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, threatened.

Source: Websites


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Lebanon starts offshore oil and gas exploration, defying Israel – By PRESS TV (SOTT)

The photo shows a ceremony in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut

The photo shows a ceremony in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on February 9, 2018, for signing an agreement between Lebanon and an international consortium to start exploratory offshore drilling

Lebanon has started exploration of oil and gas at its offshore energy reserves in the Mediterranean waters disputed by the Israeli regime.

Lebanon’s Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said in a televised statement that the exploration project for the country’s first oil and gas reserves began on Tuesday after Lebanese officials approved a plan submitted by a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek.

Khalil expressed hope that Lebanon would launch the second phase of offshore licensing by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

The announcement came after months of tensions between Lebanon and Israel over the disputed energy reserves.

No immediate reaction has been observed on the part of Israeli officials.

In December 2017, the Lebanese government granted licenses to a consortium of three international companies to carry out exploratory drilling in Lebanon’s Block 4 and Block 9 territorial waters and determine whether they contain oil and gas reserves.

Israel lashed out at the three international firms for making “a grave error” by accepting the offer. Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman warned that Lebanon would “pay the full price” should another war erupt between the two sides.

Lebanon, however, was quick to respond to the blatant threat, with Energy Minister Abi Khalil pledging that Beirut was going to push ahead with its exploration plans.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun also vowed to use all the diplomatic powers vested in him to resolve the dispute, saying the country had a right to “defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all means available.”

The territorial dispute between Israel and Lebanon runs over 776 square kilometers (300 square miles) of waters claimed by both sides.

The underlying Levant basin of the Eastern Mediterranean has been proven to contain large natural gas reserves and maybe even crude oil.

Israel itself has long been developing a number of offshore gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea, with the Tamar gas field, with proven reserves of 200 billion cubic meters, already producing gas, while the larger Leviathan field is expected to go online in the coming months.

A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2012 that Israel’s natural gas reserves were worth around $130 billion. A Businessweek estimate later that year put the reserves’ value at $240 billion.

Israel relies heavily on gas. According to estimates by the Israel Natural Gas Lines, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories consumed around 9.5 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) in 2016. The number is expected to reach 10.1 BCM in 2018.

Comment: See also: Oil interest heats up maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon

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Documenting Palestinian invisibility for 40 years — an interview with James Zogby – By Philip Weiss (MONDOWEISS)

FeaturesUS Politics

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Mondoweiss is excited to announce that we have partnered with the Arab American Institute to republish Jim Zogby’s important book Palestinians: The Invisible VictimsThe book is a critical examination of the ideology and practice of the movement of Political Zionism and its patron, British imperialism, that together were responsible for the denial of Palestinian rights and the subsequent campaigns of disinformation and repression against the Palestinian people.

Palestinians: The Invisible Victims was first published in 1975 as a paper for the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, and then published as a book in 1981. Since then Jim Zogby co-founded the Arab American Institute, of which he is president, published several other books, and took a leadership role inside the Democratic Party. On the 70th anniversary of the Nabka, Palestinians: The Invisible Victims is just as timely now as when it was first published over 40 years ago.

Palestinians: The Invisible Victims will be available on June 1, but you can pre-order it now here

In conjunction with our publication, I interviewed Zogby by phone on May 8, to learn about how this book came into being. 

Q. You were in your late 20s when you were a grad student and undertook the research that became this book on Palestinian invisibility. Why was it important to you, and who were you in 1975?

I have to give you a long answer. I grew up in the antiwar and civil rights movements in the 60’s and 70’s, and I remember in ‘67 when the war [in the Middle East] happened being not fully aware of the issues but instinctively questioning the arguments that were being made at the UN by the US ambassador. It just didn’t compute when I put it up against Vietnam. I said there is something that we are not being told about this.

I had done some reading, of course. I mean I wasn’t totally unaware of the Palestinian issue, but at that time what I found most troubling was the role of the US in the region.

What compounded my concern was something that occurred in the antiwar group that I was part of in Syracuse, NY. The kids who were my age who were Jewish stopped coming to meetings at the time of the war. And I thought, Wait a minute, I’m opposed to all war and they are opposed to only this war [Vietnam]. That bothered me.

I remember that after the ’67 war, Life magazine had a cover of shoes they said had been left by fleeing Egyptian troops in the desert. I was so horrified by the glorification of all of that, I found it troubling.

Then I went to graduate school, and my first day at Temple University in 1967 I saw a sheet hanging out the window of one of the fraternities, that said, Go Israel, Beat Arabs. This is not going to be fun, I thought. I got involved with the civil rights and antiwar stuff on campus, but almost by reflex, I became “The Arab”. I remember I was speaking at a rally and someone said, “Why are they letting the Arab guy talk?” I thought, “Who is the Arab guy?” I was of Arab descent. To me, Arabs were people over there. I was an Arab American. No one had ever done that to me before. Having grown up in an ethnic environment, I’d never had anyone single me out for that or experienced that type of discrimination.

A few years later, I was studying comparative religions. I was doing my dissertation, preparing for my masters comprehensive and my wife was reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee [An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown] and was just infuriated by what she was reading. And the next book she picked up for some reason was, George Antonius’s, The Arab Awakening. She said, you should know more about this. This is about your people, and it’s exactly like Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. It’s about broken treaties, broken promises, people being dispossessed of their land.

So I read Antonius’s The Arab Awakening, and the parallels between that and the Native American experience were striking.

I was at the religion department at Temple, and then went over to the University of Pennsylvania for a year in their anthropology program, and started preparing a dissertation proposal thinking I would work on revitalization movements in African American religion – on how stress or societal pressures impact religious ideas and religious consciousness. I was intending to work either with Black Muslims or with the Father Divine movement, a powerful social movement that erupted in the 20’s and 30’s – how the social dislocation of that period between the two wars and the Depression impacted African American consciousness, from the Back to Africa movement of Marcus Garvey, to the Father Divine movement, to the Moorish Institute and the Nation of Islam.

The professor I had said to me, Everyone’s working on that stuff. Do something that no one is working on. He suggested, you should do something on Palestinians. This was Anthony Wallace, at the University of Pennsylvania.

I thought that would be fascinating. These are people who went through social dislocation, political dislocation, deprivation of all sorts, and obviously there were social movements among them too. I got a grant to spend the summer in Lebanon, and I spent time in a camp, collecting everyone’s stories. I still have my notebooks from it. I was taking stories down faithfully. At one point, I met with a Palestinian novelist who was also helping advise me and he said, “You are actually wasting your time in the camps. The people who are going through the biggest transformation are not in the camps, it is the Palestinian people in Israel. The refugees are freezing their traditional identity. The ones among whom it is being transformed are the Palestinians in Israel.” He introduced me to Mahmoud Darwish and Tawfiq Zayad, and I actually focused my dissertation on them.

Through that experience, I got to know Felicia Langer, who was the civil rights attorney in Israel, and she sent me some cases of people whose rights were being violated. I went to Amnesty International, and they said, we don’t take these cases here in America. If we do, we’re afraid of losing support and there will be pressure on us.

I went to other folks and I couldn’t get them to do it either. So a group of us decided we would do it on our own. I was in the Association of Arab American University Graduates at the time. They authorized me to start a human rights campaign. We started adopting Palestinian house demolitions, prisoners, victims of torture. By ‘76 we actually branched out on our own and started the Palestine Human Rights Campaign as an independent organization.  That’s how I came into it.

It came out of the civil rights and antiwar experience, but it gravitated toward the Palestinians as an extension of both sets of values and concerns that I had been applying in the broader sense of American policy, domestic and foreign, where I saw the same civil rights concern and also the antiwar concerns at play.

When I was doing my dissertation. I called it Arabs in the Promised Land: The emergence of a national consciousness among the Arabs in Israel. Through Felicia Langer, I got to know so many other victims of torture, and I had gone to interview them when they were released from prison, and dealt with a whole range of other cases.  So it became somewhat personal to me: I knew the people, I knew the victims. I knew this incredible woman who was defending them. And I knew Israel Shahak, a guy I worked very closely with in that period. So that’s how I came to this.

Q. Your family came from Lebanon. But were you raised with an understanding of the Nakba and Zionism?

No not completely. I grew up with a mother who was deeply passionate about issues of justice and women’s rights. I remember at one point coming downstairs and my mom was sitting at the table heartbroken. I could see her really saddened by something and I said what is it? And she told me it was the Rosenbergs. She said, “They just killed these two people. They had children as old as you and your brother.” I asked “Why did they kill them mom?” She responded, “Well they say they did some very wrong things, but I think they killed them because they were Jews.”

That was the kind of awareness she taught me of injustice. I think there’s a general consensus these days that the Rosenbergs probably were guilty. But I never forgot that story. She was a woman who cared about issues of injustice. She couldn’t deal with the parents of two boys being executed.

So one of my proudest moments in the Bernie Sanders campaign was leading the platform debate on ending the death penalty which is  one of the few issues that we actually won.

I grew up with that more than a specific issue.

My mother’s brother wrote a letter that she was proud of because it was in the Lebanese American Journal. He organized a petition among Lebanese Americans in 1948 to the UN calling on Palestine to be independent and free and not to be partitioned. He also advised in that letter that the Palestinians should have formed a government before the partition in order to circumvent that. So it was an issue that we knew about. But I would not say that I was steeped in that history.

Q. There’s a lot in this paper that anticipates later discussion of this question. It’s ahead of its time. The awareness of settler colonialism. The understanding that Palestinian citizens are third class citizens. The racialist trends in Zionism, that make it clear it’s exclusivist. And finally this is all about human rights, regardless of the national state structure. How much clairvoyance did you have? And how much resistance was there to it? From the ideological opponents?

Look, I wasn’t clairvoyant, there were people saying and writing about this. Certainly Israel Shahak understood that. I used to distribute what we called the Shahak Papers, back then, his translations from the Hebrew press. So I think his sense of the way that political Zionism as opposed to Buber’s Zionism or Ahad Ha’am’s and others like that obviously had an impact on me. I also think that the work I had done in civil rights had an impact on me, and the South Africa parallel and the Native American parallel were part of my own personal experience and upbringing in the movements that I’d been involved with.

There were Palestinian intellectuals who had written about the parallels between South Africa and Rhodesia. When you’re reading that history and the name Cecil Rhodes pops up, you say “Oh wait”, then you think there’s something here. It’s strange to me that people don’t make that connection more often. When you read Arthur Balfour– not the declaration itself, but his comments saying that the attitudes of the indigenous people mean nothing to him. That classic colonial mindset is something that should make anybody take pause and say, “wait, this just isn’t right”.

So I don’t think it’s clairvoyance, but it’s there to behold if you have the eyes to see it and if you have the sensitivity to feel it, and if you don’t then I really question how you deal with information, period!

Q. Did it cause a reaction?

Yes, it did. I know I got a lot of negative feedback from people. There was a dean who I studied with at Temple University who called me a neo-Nazi. Actually, he called me a “neo-Bolshevik neo-Nazi”. I wasn’t quite sure how the two went together!

I heard “antisemite” a lot, but it wasn’t me who was imposing this ideology on Jewish people and putting them at risk. It was that movement that did that. And so I was just pointing it out.

Now in recent years I’ve started seeing articles appearing in the Hebrew press saying pretty much what I was saying back then and maybe a little more. But, I have to ask, “How could you write an article in Haaretz on the clearing of the Mughrabi quarter, clearing it for the Western Wall plaza in 1967 – and not feel compelled to do something about it?”  It’s one thing to write that story, and it’s another thing to say, “holy god, a grave injustice was done to 1000 people and there should be some compensation for that”. I know that they’re writing about that stuff today, but without a sense of a connection to the grievance that leads us to where we are and the justice that is due to the people who paid the price for those actions.

Q. You took a fundamental stance as a young man. What became of this work personally to you, how did it affect your career, politically?

There were little things—invitations to do interviews that were cancelled, invitations to speak at a university that were challenged. Organized efforts when you got on campus to shout you down, or people handing out brochures. I made the ADL and the AIPAC hitlist. I find it interesting that they have sort of farmed this defaming work out to Campus Watch and Canary Mission and the like, but this is what they did themselves, the main organizations. The ADL, the AJC, and AIPAC all did it. I have all of their books and memos that were sent out to defame us. When you get written up as the propagandist for the Palestinian or a PLO propagandist, which I’m not, but when you get written up that way, you save the stuff. I have the evidence.

Did it have an impact? Of course it did. It locked me into a career track. Do I regret it? No I don’t. I didn’t want to ever be a podiatrist or a dentist and I never had an aspiration to run for office. I’ve always wanted to pursue the line of work I’m in. I wanted to be an advocate and an activist, and this made sure that’s what I’d be.

I got to nominate Jesse Jackson for President of the United States and I got to lead the platform debate in 1988 on Palestine. Each time in my career they say, “You’re not going to go anywhere in politics”. Well, I’ve been on the Democratic National Committee for 26 years and on the executive committee for 12 and was a platform drafter for Bernie Sanders. So I think that more is made of the other side’s ability to block us than is true. You can be for Palestinian rights and be for justice and you can still do pretty well. I’m very thankful that I’ve had lots of opportunities to do good things and I’ve never had to forsake my principles to do them.

Q. But the central theme of your paper is Invisibility. It’s not a conspiracy, but it’s an ideological commitment that pervades our political culture. And this won’t change till people get to know Palestinians. That invisibility hasn’t gone away. That’s a big problem, even if you have had a special career, and you have high likeability personally.

Here’s the thing. Look at what Bernie did in 2016. He came to an issue that he had not ever addressed before, he embraced it, he doubled down on it, went to the platform and fought for it, and the numbers among millennials and among Democrats and among minority communities continue to rise. And so I think that yeah, the pressure that comes from the other side is still determinative, it’s still decisive. The string of people who cover this issue from Israel and the occupied territories is still a really problematic crowd– the journalists who get that assignment have not been good. They help shape the issue. We still have not cracked the industry that creates popular culture from film and television programming etc. And the fear that is so pervasive among politicians in Washington, they don’t even want to know the issue, don’t want to talk about it, and when they do talk about it they want to roll their eyes back up in their heads and just embrace what they feel is the most comfortable position– we have not changed that. But I have to believe that change is coming, that we’re going to make a break.

What is helping to create the space for this and give me some confidence is what’s happening on the Jewish side.

When I started the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, there was a group in the Jewish community called Breira. They were demolished by incredible pressure that came down on them. The New Jewish Agenda went through the same experience.

Now look at what exists today and AIPAC and company has no ability to stop them. And I think that’s quite significant. There is now an open rebellion within the ranks and an awareness of what is right and just. People are acting on it and that’s creating opportunities for people in my community as well, to now come forward and speak out, in ways that we could not before.

Change is afoot. Back when Breira were operating they literally were alone. I mean there were a handful of people in Israel. Sure, the Labor party was strong. They were the dominant group. But they were the group that was imposing an incredibly brutal occupation on the West Bank. Back in the 70’s, if you made a Palestinian flag you were in jail. You got expelled for membership in an illegal organization, you were tortured to confess that you were a member of Fatah. And entire communities were placed under curfew for long periods of time.  Men were corralled into the center of town and forced to stay in the hot sun and then in the cold of night separated from their families while searches went on. The occupation today and the checkpoints today are humiliating and god-awful, but the sheer naked brutality of it back then, run by a Labor government, was quite a different story.

And the extensive use of torture, and the forms of torture that were used– I have way too much documentation including from American consular officials who collected it and wrote it all down for me, I still have that stuff. Sure Labor could win, but the so called left back then began the practice of the brutal and dehumanizing occupation. And they had the veneer of being the social democratic party, so it almost made the invisibility worse. They’d say “How can you attack Golda Meir?! She’s a remarkable woman”. But this woman said some of the most outrageous and dehumanizing things about Palestinians and defended policies that were grotesque.

When Likud took over, the settlements began to be built in the interior, and the confrontations got worse.  But the expulsions– they rounded up mayors and university professors– there were 1000 leaders expelled during the Labor period. Expulsions stopped in the late 70’s. Felicia Langer and Israel Shahak were part of a very small group of people – Uri Avnery and Uri Davis and very few others actually had the wisdom and had the courage to speak out. There was no B’Tselem back then. All of the things that exist today didn’t exist then.

Q. Some will say, You are privileging Jews. Or you are assigning a special place in terms of unlocking progress in America to Jews. I agree with you, but I would like you to justify that discrimination or selection.

Look, everything that we have today we had back then. Back in the 70’s Jack O’Dell was a former aide of Martin Luther King and a former aide of Reverend Jackson, and he and I wrote a book together called Afro-Americans Stand Up for Middle East Peace.

Back in the late 70’s during the Andy Young affair at the UN, we got tremendous support from African Americans.

When I started the human rights campaign– look at our founding board, it was every civil rights leader who had been with Martin Luther King who was still living. All the anti-war leaders, Don Luce, David Dellinger, Pete Seeger. Major Protestant church leaders. Etc.

What was missing was a forthright and courageous stance from American Jews who were going to speak out on this issue. There were a few individuals but there was no organized force in the Jewish community.

That’s the change that has occurred. Acknowledging it and giving recognition and tribute to it is important. I’m not privileging it. I could say, “Gee, it took you guys time. Thank you for joining this.” I don’t want to say it that way, because it sounds chiding; and I know how difficult it is to make a break within your own community. When people talk to me about a Jewish state, why can’t you support a Jewish state? I say, I’m a Maronite Christian from Lebanon who opposed a Christian state in Lebanon. I oppose a Muslim state, anywhere. Why am I now going to support a Jewish state? Especially in a complex environment you don’t want to support one religion over another, because then the religion becomes doctrinaire dogma and the state tends toward becoming an absolutist regime and an authoritarian regime that uses god language to justify its behavior. I can’t support it for any religions.  But I know how hard it is when I say that in the Christian community, how they react, so I can understand how hard it is for Jews to do that in their own community especially when the experience of the Holocaust is so there and such a decisive factor in shaping people’s opinions. When you get people willing to stand up and to speak out and develop a different approach– that’s why I was so impressed by Breira.  For a generation people said, “There is no alternative” – that was the justification for political Zionism. Breira meant [in Hebrew], there is an alternative. For them to march with us and to work with us, and then to be brutalized as they were– by the establishment. It takes a lot.

We actually got invited to speak at Hillel and Briera couldn’t get invited to Hillel. The Hillel would be told that they could not invite the Breira people. The Breira people would say to me, we can’t go but you can. Be sure you say this. I’d say Sure. The same with New Jewish Agenda. They were the principal target of attack, we were secondary. The focus of the Jewish community establishment was to snuff out any alternative information in the Jewish community. They can’t do that anymore. That’s big, that’s new and that’s important.

Q. You write that Americans don’t know Palestinians as people. That’s so important. It took me meeting Palestinians to remove my fear of them. They were other. Where are we in that American process?

I think more has been done clearly in that regard. And the Palestinian community in several parts of the country have helped make that happen. And I think that needs to be recognized. But the story is actually larger than that. I say that when most Americans think of the Arab Israel conflict, they think of it as an equation. It’s Israeli people versus the Palestinian problem. One is a people, the other is an abstraction. When given a choice between people and an abstraction, they take the people.

Go back to the negative stereotyping, which actually began in the 60’s. It didn’t begin before that. Edward Said showed they were portrayed as exotic, and sometimes as a danger. But never in the one-dimensional way as just pure evil, as they were in the 60’s and 70’s. A lot of that had to do with the Arab Israeli conflict.  And the movie Exodus has never been given the credit for distorting all of this that it richly deserves. It was funded and made as a piece of hasbara, and it did its job. It was a cowboys and Indians story transposed to the Middle East. So it became the pioneers trying to carve out a place for freedom in the wilderness and being confronted by the angry savages who were denying them the right to live as a free people. That stereotype stuck in people’s minds. When Americans hear, “Israelis” they could see faces. Their stories were in the newspaper. There is the disparity of when an Israeli child is killed, there’s an interview with the parents, and when a Palestinian child is killed, there is a mention in 13 lines just noting that a Palestinian child was killed. No name, no sense of tragedy, no interview with the parents. But even before that, you had the stories in the paper about the Israeli doctors doing the great thing, and the Israelis in the Galilee raising Arab horses and saving them from extinction, and the Israelis botanists– they are human people who are very complex and have a whole array of qualities, which we understood and respected.

Palestinians on the other hand, the American press doesn’t give you their stories or anything to relate to. They remain an abstraction. And that comes from this ideological approach that Zionism and British imperialism adopted. The Arab indigenous people mean nothing to us. They’re trees on the frontier that we have to chop down to make progress. Like the Native Americans. That was what I was looking to explain in the book: “How did this happen?”

Sure it was politics and power, and the ability to manipulate images and have an effective propaganda program. But what was the grounding for that? It was the ideology of political Zionism saying, “We’re important, they’re not. We count, they don’t. And British imperialism had the same mindset.

Look what they did in South Africa and India.

In 1971 my wife and I stopped in Britain for about a week on our way to Lebanon. It was the first time I’d ever been out of the country. That was an eventful summer, and while I was there, Northern Ireland was flaring, there was an uprising in Nigeria, something going on between India and Pakistan, something in South Africa, and something happening in Sudan. Reading the British commentary on it was in effect, “These savages were this, that and whatever.” At one point, my wife and I looked at each other and said, “Wait a minute, These bastards created every one of these problems.” I mean it was the British hand that divided and colonized South Africa, pitted the indigenous people against the settlers, created the problem with India Pakistan. They were the ones that colonized Nigeria and pitted one group against another. The same thing with settler colonialism in Ireland. Now they were saying, “Look at the savages, they can’t get along.” I saw that playing out in Palestine. The west created the problem and sided with the group that they identified as the human side. And the inhuman side was cast aside and forgotten as a matter of secondary importance.

Q. Oslo is dead, you write, but isn’t it still a requirement, that to be in the Washington establishment, you say, I’m for the two state solution.

What I find intriguing is that the support for the two state solution has now become accepted wisdom at the very point in time that it’s no longer possible to implement because politicians are unwilling to consider the steps that would have to be taken to implement it.

So if they say, “You have to be for the two state solution,” I say, “Are you willing to do what it takes to get there?” They say what’s that, and I tell them. They say, “Oh no we can’t do that.”

I say all you’re doing is using it as a touchstone, using it to absolve you from having to deal with anything more complex. I actually do think a two state solution would be a desirable end. I’d rather have that than condemn the Palestinian people to decades more of brutal occupation and dehumanization. No one in their right mind would want to wish that on people, to meet some ideologically pure end of one state with equal rights for everyone. The reality is that it’s not going to happen any time soon. It’s going to be a long bloody struggle, and I would not wish that on people.

But I also know that as much as Israelis and Americans want to impose a civil war on Palestinians to get them in a position to accept two states, they’re unwilling to impose the same pressure on Israelis to get to a two state outcome. How are you going to get 100’s of 1000’s of settlers out of the West Bank? And if you don’t, how do you construct a two state solution that is anything other a protectorate or a Bantustan?  How are you going to change the politics of the Israeli government any time soon to get a government that will surrender the Jordan Valley;  that will not insist of total security control over the entire territory. If they have security control, then there are no two states. It’s a reservation. Does anyone consider Native American reservations as separate states in America. Palestinians aren’t willing to accept it.

And to those who say, there’s no solution to the refugee problem, they’re going to have to stay there– What you’re doing is transferring the problem from Israel to Lebanon and Jordan. What right does Israel or the west have to impose that solution on Lebanon and Jordan when they are not equipped to deal with it? The issue here is let’s deal with what’s real. Politicians are unwilling at this point to accept reality. They’ve found a convenient way out by calling for two states. They don’t know what that is. There still is a willed ignorance about this. It’s not that they’re dumb people, but they don’t want to know. They would prefer to say, “Give me a short little answer that will get me out of having to dealing with this issue”.

That’s why I thought Bernie was so impressive, because he intuited that the shorthand wasn’t going to work. And he needed to know more. He didn’t know much a lot about it when he started, but he certainly has made a lot of headway now and is being quite challenging.

Q. Is this issue going to divide the Democratic base?

I think it’s not so much dividing the base as it is dividing the base from elected officials. Because elected officials still have this mindset  – ”I’m nervous how this is going to affect my reelection”. They still operate with that myth that AIPAC can beat anybody they want, even though that’s simply proven not to be true in case after case after case. And so I think that the problem is the base is moving in the right direction, it’s the elected officials who are stuck. I happen to believe that, we’re going to have a break on that at some point, just as we did on Vietnam and just as we did on gay rights.

There’s going to be a point where someone beyond Bernie is going to say “Guess what, this doesn’t play anymore.  They can raise all the money they want to beat me. There are too many people in my district who don’t agree with this.” That’s where, again it’s not privileging or segregating out the Jewish voice, but that’s where it becomes important that there is no longer a monolithic presence.

I can tell you the stories of politicians who would say to me back in the 80’s, “Zogby you know I’m really with you, but you know the Jews don’t take anything other than absolute obedience to their position, you know what the Jews are like, Zogby.” I remember saying back when, “Gee, there’s an antisemite in the room and it’s not me.” I called those politicians, Anti-Semites for Israel. They’d speak about the Jewish vote and the Jewish voice and the Jewish money and the Jewish this– and it was insulting to hear them.

Q. Maybe they were right.

No, they weren’t.  Because the issue was that, AIPAC never did control this. They controlled it with fear. Paul Findley raised more money than Dick Durbin in the Illinois congressional race [in 1982]. What happened was that the district got redistricted from a  Republican to a Democratic district, that’s why he lost. And yet it became convenient for AIPAC to say, we beat him. Chuck Percy raised more money than Paul Simon [in 1984]. I was with Percy a month after the election, and someone asked him, Senator Percy, why did you lose? He pointed across the table at me and said, “Because his friends didn’t support me.” Meaning that he lost the black vote. Harold Washington was mayor by then, and what happened was the whole time that Daley was in office, Daley would pick a conservative Democrat to run, figuring he needed that for down state, and the black vote would end up supporting the liberal Republican instead of a conservative Democrat. In that election Harold Washington asked Paul Simon the liberal Democrat to run, and the black community for one of the first times endorsed the Democrat in the statewide race and Percy lost. That was a month later that he pointed that out. But it was a couple months later that he figured out, that it would work for him to say it was the Jewish money that beat me. And that became a mantra for him. And actually Rudy Boschwitz [MN senator] used it with senators during the AWACS vote. He said If you don’t want the fate of Chuck Percy to be yours, you’ll get in line.

Then when Rudy Boschwitz ran, AIPAC tried to save him against Paul Wellstone [in 1990], they couldn’t. How many times did they try to beat Jim Moran [Virginia congressman] and couldn’t? There are so many people they tried to beat and couldn’t.  Betty McCollum [in Minnesota]. If you’re solid in your district, you’re safe. They can spend all the money they want. They make you spend more money, maybe. But they can’t beat you. The only ones who lose are like Cynthia McKinney who was losing it anyway [in 2002]. And look who replaced her, Hank Johnson, who is even better on the issue than she was. Earl Hilliard didn’t go back to his district to campaign [in 2002]. I remember talking to other members of the Black Caucus and they said he’s going to lose because he thinks he’s got this campaign won. AIPAC found a way to beat him.

More than anything, there is this myth of power that holds them in place, but that myth is now breaking down. J Street and I differ on some issues, but they have helped create space in this debate. That’s important. The more space that’s created, the greater the debate that will take place, and the greater the debate that will take place, the greater the opportunity that justice is going to win.

Palestinians: The Invisible Victims will be available on June 1, but you can pre-order it now here

About Philip Weiss

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“50 Hamas members” claim does not justify Gaza massacre – By Maureen Clare Murphy-Rights and Accountability (Electronic Intifada)

Palestinian women cheer next to the Gaza-Israel boundary fence east of Gaza City on 14 May. Mohammed Zaanoun ActiveStills

Israel has generated global outrage by picking off demonstrators – holding flags, slingshots, stones and incendiary kites, using burning tires, mounds of sand and improvised gas masks as defenses against heavily fortified soldiers armed with US-made Remington M24 sniper rifles – during weeks of protest in Gaza.

Now Israel is trying to spin away the damage by claiming that many of those killed were members of Hamas, and therefore deserved to die.

But as international law experts and international officials have stressed, the political affiliation of those killed on Monday is irrelevant when it comes to the legality of Israel’s actions.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured during the Great March of Return protests. Only one Israeli, a soldier, has reportedly suffered an injury, a minor one, in the context of the protests.

The disparity in casualties – and the photos and videos showing Israeli forces firing on protesters, medics and journalists who pose no conceivable danger – speak for themselves.

As Amnesty International documented in recent weeks, “Eyewitness testimonies, video and photographic evidence suggest that many were deliberately killed or injured while posing no immediate threat to the Israeli soldiers.”

In most of the fatal cases analyzed by Amnesty International prior to last Monday’s massacre, “victims were shot in the upper body, including the head and the chest, some from behind.”

Canadian emergency doctor Tarek Loubani told The Electronic Intifada Podcast he was shot in the leg when everything was quiet around him: “No burning tires, no smoke, no tear gas, nobody messing around in front of the buffer zone. Just a clearly marked medical team well away from everybody else.”

An hour later, a paramedic who was part of his team, and who had rescued Loubani, was himself shot and killed.

Gaza’s medical system – already on the brink of collapse before the influx of thousands of injuries comparable to that of a war situationurgently requires millions of dollars worth of drugs and medical supplies, as well as additional emergency personnel, as a result of this new crisis.

“For many, especially those who lost a loved one, who will now suffer a permanent disability or who will need intensive rehabilitation, the impacts of recent violence will be felt for months and years to come,” United Nations humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick stated on Thursday.

Israel has meanwhile been triaging the damage done to its international standing. It too may feel the impact of the violence for years to come.

A top Israeli military spokesperson acknowledged its public relations disaster during a briefing with the Jewish Federations of North America this week.

The spokesperson granted that the crisis was borne of the deadly violence that Israel warned it was prepared and planning to use both before the launch of the Great March of Return on 30 March and before Monday’s protests.

Both the bloodshed and the global backlash against Israel were preventable and predictable.

Seeking to deflect calls for accountability, Israel’s professional spin doctors have been pushing a video clip in which Hamas official Salah Albardaweel claims 50 of those killed on Monday belonged to the Islamist group.

The video has proven a major PR coup for Israel.

Israel’s military and political leadership have sought from the beginning to portray the Great March of Return as a Hamas stunt exploiting civilian protests as a cover for “terror” activities which pose an existential threat to Israeli communities near the Gaza boundary.

Israel seeks to obscure the reality that the Great March of Return is a popular mobilization that includes the participation and leadership of Palestinians of all political stripes who seek an end to the siege and to exercise their right to return to lands just over Gaza’s boundary from which their families were expelled 70 years ago.

Seven of Monday’s fatalities were children.

Several of those killed on Monday were buried in Hamas’ green flag, but not all. Fadi Abu Salmi, a double amputee, was shrouded with the flag of Islamic Jihad. Ahmad al-Adaini was buried in the flag of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

This was a point made by veteran French-Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin.

“On the Palestinian side, Hamas is presenting itself as victorious, that is to say it has annexed the dead, who most probably overwhelmingly did not belong to Hamas,” Enderlin told French television on Thursday. “Moreover, we did not see many Hamas flags during these demonstrations.”

“Doesn’t change the rules”

Whether or not Albardaweel sought to inflate Hamas’ role in the protests, the political affiliation of those killed on Monday is irrelevant when it comes to the legality of Israel’s actions.

“It doesn’t matter whether the victims were members of Hamas or not,” Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth stated on Thursday.

“Israeli snipers, entrenched behind two substantial fences, had no right to use lethal force … against anyone unless as a last resort to stop an imminent lethal threat.”

Calling the dead “ ‘terrorists’ doesn’t change the rules,” Roth added.

“This wasn’t a war where combatants were shooting at each other. It was a protest, where law enforcement rules apply.”

This is a central claim by human rights groups regarding Israel’s conduct more generally: that irrespective of the political affiliation of any of the organizers or participants, the demonstrations along Gaza’s eastern perimeter are a civilian matter of law enforcement governed by the framework of international human rights law.

Israel claims the Gaza protests and its crackdown on them are “part of the armed conflict between the Hamas terrorist organization and Israel.”

It prepared for the demonstrations “as it would for a military operation,” according to Al Mezan and Adalah, two Palestinian rights groups petitioning the Israeli high court over the use of lethal force against Gaza protesters.

Israel “invents” law

In response to the challenge from the two Palestinian organizations, as well as another petition submitted by several other human rights groups, the Israeli government told the high court: “Hamas has been leading a new tactic of terrorist activity under the cover of ‘national commemoration events’ and ‘popular protests.’”

The Israeli government claims, as summarized by Al Mezan and Adalah, “that the careful planning of the events included the use of tire-burning allegedly to conceal attempts to infiltrate Israel, and the use of Molotov cocktails to damage the border fence and the Israeli military.”

The state argues that the makeup of the protests “were unusual in their size and in the intensity of their threat,” “occasionally” posing a threat to Israeli civilians.

Israel says that its forces were prepared for a massive breach of the boundary fence and “execution of attacks by terrorist cells,” and that the threat “may be caused by a single person or a crowd.”

Thus Israel argues that “the legal framework that regulates the opening of fire is the laws of warfare,” or international humanitarian law.

It claims to be operating from a hybrid of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, stating: “The complex nature of the events require, within the laws of warfare, distinction between the opening of fire within a paradigm of hostilities … and the opening of fire within a paradigm of law enforcement.”

Adalah and Al Mezan counter that such a paradigm “does not exist as an established body of law and has been invented by Israel in an attempt to justify greater leeway to use lethal fire than provided for in the regular paradigm of law enforcement.”

Eliav Lieblich of the Tel Aviv University law school has written that “the international legal source” for this paradigm put forth by the state “is unclear,” adding that “the very few sources cited by the government do not support its existence.”

One apparent source, the International Committee of the Red Cross, has slammed Israel for distorting a Red Cross legal report in order to justify its open-fire policy.

On Monday, the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported that the ICRC “strongly disagreed” with Israel’s interpretation of its legal analysis and had “forwarded its reservations to the Israeli authorities.”

“Completely baseless”

Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard told Haaretz that “the huge number of casualties we have seen in recent weeks is a direct result of [Israel’s] legal thesis, which is completely baseless.”

He added: “It contradicts the most fundamental principles of laws governing the use of force, which adhere to the formula that endangering the lives of civilians can only be done to defend life – and nothing else.”

Sfard is among the lawyers representing human rights groups petitioning the high court, the first major review of the Israeli military’s classified open-fire regulations in decades.

“Diplomacy, external pressure and internal moral backbone have all failed here, and I hope the judiciary will not,” Sfard said.

But Israel’s high court has long championed policies towards Palestinians that violate international law.

Tel Aviv University’s Lieblich points out that “The court refrained from making any decision before the tragic events of 14 May, and a final decision might be rendered only after this particular episode of violence ends.”

UN votes for international investigation

Israel’s ambassador stated during a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday that “The loss of life could have been avoided had Hamas refrained from sending terrorists to attack Israel under the cover of the riots, while exploiting its own civilian population as human shields.”

“It is Israel, certainly not Hamas, which makes a real effort to minimize casualties among Palestinian civilians,” Aviva Raz Shechter stated.

Israel’s argument failed to persuade the Human Rights Council against adopting a resolution to establish an international commission of inquiry into recent events in Gaza.

Only two countries – the US and Australia – voted against the measure. Fourteen others abstained, including countries like the UK which have called for independent inquiries into the killing of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza. Twenty-nine states voted in favor.

Dozens of human rights groups and civil society organizations had urged the Human Rights Council to launch an inquiry ahead of the special session.

“The Israeli judicial system has demonstrated that it is unable and unwilling to ensure accountability for such serious crimes according to international standards,” nearly 100 groups stated earlier in the week.

Meanwhile the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court expressed “grave concern” over the deteriorating situation in Gaza on Wednesday.

The court launched a preliminary examination into potential war crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2015.

“Any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to the office’s legal scrutiny,” the prosecutor stated. “This applies to the events of 14 May 2018 and to any future incident.”


Is Israel Readying for War? – ByAlastair CROOKE ( STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION)

Is Israel Readying for War?

Last Thursday, General Mattis told the US Senate Armed Forces Committee that he believes a military confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria is becoming increasingly likely: “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where”.

This should not come as any surprise. Anyone who can peer out through the gossamer liquid membrane of the western bubble, can see major dynamics ‘filling and strengthening’ in such a way, to close inexorably on Israel. It becomes ‘inexorable’: Not so much because Middle Eastern states desire war (they do not); but because Israel feels culturally compelled to tie itself to President Trump and his hawkish team, which effectively places Israel as prime collaborator in the US ‘war’ to put the China-Russia-Iran political, and trade project, on a diet, and to shrink it into an uncompetitive, starved, and enfeebled body.

The hawkish rhetoric of Pompeo and Bolton may seem like a heady elixir to some Israelis; but simply: The Middle East is not the place to be a collaborator in this American new hybrid ‘war’ against these new emerging dynamics. China, Russia and Iran are absolutely resolute. It is ‘inexorable’. Israel will be fighting against the grain of events, and ultimately, in being wholly at odds with the Middle East world, Israel will try to strike at it, and weaken it (just as we have seen last week with the attacks in Syria) – and ultimately, will be striked at: in return. And then we may see a wider war.

Whether one looks at the bold, red, East-West swath of China’s massive ‘Road and Corridor’ sprawling across Eurasia (see here); or, look at Russia’s vertical, ‘McKinderesque’, heartland of energy producers (see here), stretching from the Arctic, through Russia to the Middle East, supplying the consumers to the East on one side and to the west, on the other, one thing stands out clearly: Iran, and the northern tier of the Middle East, lie smack in the middle of both maps. But just to be clear: these may be articulated as mainly trade and energy projects – but they are primordially political-cultural projects too.

These two visions – the Chinese map and the Russian – are complementary. One highlights resource influence, and the other, its flows and the concomitant economic fecundity likely to arise from the flow of energy and the ebb of manufactured goods along this corridor. In this northern sphere of the Middle East, it is Russia that has diplomatic and security ‘heft’ – and not America. In this northern tier, it is China that has economic and influence ‘heft’ – and not America.

And ‘no’, this is not smoke and mirrors resulting from some imaginary ‘void’ created by America’s serial failures in the Middle East. These are real, transformative, dynamics at work here.

For some self-absorbed westerners (and Israelis), nothing of significance is to be seen at all. We are told, by Politico, for example, that:

‘… the new Cold War is not like the original Cold War because it lacks an ideological dimension … the current tension between the United States and Russia is a Seinfeldian fight about nothing: Putin has no ideological goal beyond the elevation of the Russian state, ruled by him and his clan; he is not seeking adherents in the West, and therefore has brought about no great contest between two systems … After all, Putin does not preach worldwide revolution, which was a key doctrinal element of Soviet communism.’

How come the West is somehow ‘culturally blind’ to the major changes underway? It is true that what is occurring in parts of the Middle East and Russia is not ‘ideology’ in the sense of one coercive utopian project, one global order, ordained to correct human flaws, pitted against another, seeking to reform the whole of humanity in some other coercive way. But what is afoot, is not ‘nothing’: It seems, because precisely they deny and run counter to the very notion of a single, global, cultural human rules-based order, these projects have become wholly invisible to the West.

In the case of Israel, we cannot be surprised. Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, in his book Der Judenstaat, the founding document of Zionism wrote: “For Europe we [the Jewish State] would constitute a part of the wall against Asia: We would serve as an outpost of Culture against Barbarism.” In short, Israel was specifically founded as an European Enlightenment ‘Utopia’, and consequently, and understandably therefore, Israelis find it hard to imagine that others can culturally, or technologically ever challenge European Enlightenment ‘Culture and Science’. Hence Ehud Barak cancharacterise Israel as a ‘Villa in the Jungle’, with a clear deprecatory tone for the inhabitants of the jungle.

China, however, under Xi is portraying the Chinese Communist Party as the inheritor and successor to a 5,000-year-old Chinese empire, brought low by the marauding West, and seeking to define a Chinese identity fundamentally at odds with American modernity. The world which Xi envisions is wholly incompatible with Washington’s priorities – and therefore with those of Israel (on its present trajectory). 

Russia, too, is trying to define a ‘way of being’ that is culturally Russian, in its own individual way – and not one that apes western European models, but rather one that tends to its opposite cultural and moral pole. Iran and Syria (and possibly Iraq as well) no longer look to the western model of politics, or morals, for emulation – or gives them much esteem.

The point here, is that in the upper tier at least of the Middle East (including Iraq), the ‘Wahhabi head-choppers’ that western, Israeli and Saudi intelligence services, have either facilitated or empowered against Assad, are not just discredited – they are loathed (by Sunnis as much as anyone). There is taking shape a slow detonation of ‘blow-back’ to these policies (still being pursued incidentally, by the US giving ISIS safe-haven, along the Syria-Iraqi border). This region ultimately is lost to western influence. The Russia-China-Iran axis is already the go-to power in the area, even for Gulf States.

And Iran will be a major player. The West has pushed Russia and Iran closer strategically and militarily, and – for Beijing – Iran is an absolutely key hub of the Road and Corridor. And, as Pepe Escobar notes:

“faithful to the slowly evolving Eurasia integration roadmap, Russia and China are at the forefront of supporting Iran. China is Iran’s top trading partner – especially because of its energy imports. Iran for its part is a major food importer. Russia aims to cover this front …”

“Chinese companies are developing massive oil fields in Yadavaran and North Azadegan. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) took a significant 30% stake in a project to develop South Pars – the largest natural gas field in the world. A $3 billion deal is upgrading Iran’s oil refineries, including a contract between Sinopec and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to expand the decades-old Abadan oil refinery.”

In short, there are powerful forces arising in parts of the Middle East that are no longer sympathetic to western ‘priorities’ (nor are they particularly sympathetic to Israeli proxy-hegemony, which they see as disruptive of regional stability). These forces are already powerful, and seem destined to become more powerful yet. But America, under Trump’s MAGA vision, has declared these emerging forces as ‘revisionist powers’ or ‘rogue states’, and the US Establishment regards them as major ‘threats’ in their ‘forever war’.

It is an open question whether the US ultimately will find the means to accede to these emergent forces, or will conflict with them. This is ‘the’ question of our era. In the case of the US – if conflict be the outcome – that conflict may still remain hybrid; but for Israel, that option is unlikely: it can only move to ‘hot’ conflict.

But what is bringing the Israeli-Iranian conflict to a possibly imminent head is another major shift – one that potentially transforms Israel’s position in the Middle East. Not only is the region changing in a way that is incrementally incompatible with Washington’s ‘priorities’, but, the one quality which seemed to set the West apart – making it ‘exceptional’ – was its possession of technology — and that too now seems to be slipping away.

America’s quarrel with China is essentially about this issue: Trump asserts that China ‘stole’ America’s technology (together with American manufacturing jobs). Some technology may have been ‘lifted’, but the reality is that both jobs and technology were voluntarily off-shored to China in the interests of inflating US corporate profits. 

In any event, China, Russia (and Iran) have made technology their own – and are now are either at the cusp of surpassing western defence technology – or already, are superseding it. The US will not succeed in its project to contain, or repress, China’s technological innovation, or that of Russia’s defence technology revolution.

So, as Israel looks out upon its neighbourhood, it does perceive the US incrementally disengaging from the Middle East, and the ‘revisionist’ and ‘rogue’ powers conversely, incrementally engaging in it — “a major strategic failure with far-reaching implications” asserts leading Israeli security expert, Ehud Yaari. And it knows that the western defence technology ‘lead’ has been slipping away, like sand, through western fingers.

No wonder those on the Israeli Right are saying that Israel’s situation, its ability to respond to its new situation, will only worsen with time: That there will never be a more unreflectively supportive White House; nor will Israel’s air superiority ever again be what it once was – as more, and more widespread, and better air defences deny Israel the air space it once took for granted Carpe Diem – Seize the moment, these politicians urge, find the pretext for escalation, and the US will follow behind – on our coat-tails.

But it is not a straight-forward affair: there are those within the Israeli security and intelligence echelon who are cautious: Israel cannot sustain a conflict for more than six days (General Golan’s estimate), particularly if it involves multiple fronts. Could Israel today repeat the Six-Day war experience (in which it destroyed the Egyptian air force within the first four hours)? It is by no means certain. Iran and Hizbullah have been contriving an asymmetrical answer to Israeli air power for the last twenty years, and trialled its elements successfully in Lebanon in the 2006 war. But today, there are new missiles in the north. Can Israel be certain that it still dominates the skies? Doubtful.

So where are we today? Secretary Pompeo visited Tel Aviv last week. It seems he authorised Israel to use the smaller dimension bunker-busting bombs (GBu-39s) against Iranian armaments on 30 April, that Obama gave to Israel. It seems that he also supported Israel unilaterally widening the latter’s ‘war’ to any Iranians, anywhere, in Syria. Israel is daring Iran – or Syria or Russia – to respond to these provocations, believing that they will not – at least until after 12 May (when Trump must decide whether to waive sanctions on Iran under JCPOA, once more).

President Putin is trying to keep the lid on war, but Pompeo’s green light to Tel Aviv is pushing the Russian President to the limits of patience. His military advisors are pressing him to activate the S-300 batteries against Israeli aircraft and missiles.

And after 12 May, and Trump’s decision (whatever it will be) … Well, Iran has already promised retaliation for the T4 missile attack of 9 April – timing and method yet to be determined.

The prospect for war is finely balanced: The Israeli Right want to seize the moment (and – probably – intend to go on, to annex the West Bank, in the fog of war). The Israeli military echelon (like their US military counterparts) is cautious. They are ones to pay the price.

And Trump? Ah … the domestic pressures grow. He must take Congress in the mid-terms (or, in his own words, the “Democrats will impeach him”). There will be few domestic electoral goodies now, waiting on the electoral conveyor belt for November (for the most part, the domestic goodies are behind him). Foreign Policy is where the mid-terms might be won (or lost). A lot hangs in the balance of American domestic politics. 

The Warmakers – By The Saker


[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

Between the US strikes on Syria in April and the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, we are in somewhat of a lull in the Empire’s search for a new war to start. The always helpful Israelis, in the person of the ineffable Bibi Netanyahu, are now beating the drums for, well, if not a war, then at least some kind of false flag or pretext to make the USA strike at Iran. And then there is the always bleeding Donbass (which I won’t address in today’s analysis). So let’s see where we stand and try to guesstimate where we might be heading. To be honest, trying to guess what ignorant warmongering psychopaths might do next is by definition a futile exercise, but since there are some not negligible signs that there are at least a few rational people still left in the US White House and/or Pentagon (as shown by the mostly “pretend strikes” on Syria last month), we can assume (hope) that some residual degree of sanity is still present. At the very least Americans in uniform have to ask themselves a very basic and yet fundamental question:

Do I want to die for Israel? Do I want to lose my job for Israel? How about my pension? Maybe just my stock options? Is it worth risking a major regional war for such a “wonderful” state?

A lot depends on whether the US military leaders (and people!) will have the courage to ask themselves this question and, if they do, what their reply will be.

But, first, let’s begin with the good news:

The DPRK and ROK are in direct talks with each other.

This is indeed a truly great development for at least two reasons. First, of course, the main and objective one: anything which lowers the risks of war on the Korean Peninsula is good. But there is a second reason which we should not discount: Trump can now take all the credit for this and claim that his (empty) threats are what brought the North Koreans to the negotiating table. I say – let him. In fact, I hope that they organize a parade for Trump somewhere in the USA, with confetti and millions of flags. Like for an astronaut. Let him feel triumphant, vindicated and very, very manly. MAGA, you know?!

Yeah, that will be sickening to the thinking (not to mention counter-factual), but if a little bit of intellectual nausea is the price to pay for peace, I say let’s do it. If Trump, Bolton, Haley and the rest of them can feel that they “kicked ass” and that their “invincible military” is what brought “Rocket Man” to “give up his nukes” (he never said any such thing, but never mind that) then I sincerely wish them a joyful and highly ego-pleasing celebration. Anything to stop them from looking for another war to start, at least for a now.

Now the bad news.

The Israelis are at it again

Amazing, isn’t it? The Israelis have been whining about “imminent” Iranian nukes for years, and they are still at it. Not only that, but these guys have the nerve to say “Iran lied”. Seriously, even by the already unique Israeli standards, that is chutzpah elevated to a truly stratospheric level. If it were just Bibi Netanyahu, then this would be comical. But the problem is that Israel has now fully subjugated all the branches of the US government to its agents (the Neocons) and that they now run everything: from the two branches of the Uniparty to Congress, to the media and, now that Trump has abjectly caved in to all their demands, they also run the White House. They apparently also run the CIA, but there still might be some resistance to their lunacy in the Pentagon. The USA is now quite literally run by a Zionist Occupation Government, no doubt about it whatsoever.

So what are these guys really up to? Listen to the one man who knows them best, and whose every single word you can take to the bank, Hezbollah General Secretary Nasrallah (ever wondered why Hezbollah, which has not committed anything even remotely looking like a terrorist attack since the 1980s is called the “A-Team of terrorists”? Just saying…):

The first event is the Israeli blatant and manifest aggression against the T-4 base or airport on the outskirts of Homs, that targeted Iranian forces from the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution of Iran who were present there, hitting them with a large number of missiles, causing 7 martyrs among its officers and soldiers and wounding others. This was a new, significant and important event. Maybe some people do not pay attention to its importance and magnitude. In this operation, Israel has deliberately killed (Iranian soldiers). This is an unprecedented event. In the past, Israel has struck us [Hezbollah] for example in Quneitra, and it turned out that coincidentally Guardians [of the Islamic Revolution] officers were with us. Israel declared hastily that they did not know it, and thought that all (targeted soldiers) were Hezbollah’s. This is an event that has no precedent since 7 years, it is unprecedented since 7 years, that Israel openly targets the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Syria, killing deliberately, in an operation that caused a number of martyrs and wounded (…) I want to tell the Israelis that they must know – I wrote that statement accurately and I read it to them – they must know that they have committed a historic mistake. This is not a simple blunder. They committed an act of great stupidity, and by this aggression, they entered in a direct confrontation with Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran. And Iran, O Zionists, is not a small country, it is not a weak country, and it is not a cowardly country. And you know it very well. As a comment on this incident, I stress that it constitutes a turning point in the situation of the region. What follows will be very different from what preceded it. This is an incident that cannot be considered lightly, contrary to what happens with many incidents here. It is a turning point, a historic turning point. And when the Israelis committed this stupid act, they had some assessment (of the situation), but I tell them that their evaluation is false. And even in the future, since you have opened a new path in the confrontation, (you should ensure) not to be wrong in your evaluations. In this new path you opened and initiated, don’t be wrong in your assessment, when you are face to face, and directly (in conflict) with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I can only agree with this evaluation. As does The Jerusalem Post, NBC News, and many others. Regardless of how crazy this notion might sound to rational people (see below), there are all the signs that the Israelis are now demanding that the USA start a war against Iran, either by choice or more likely, to “stand by our Israeli allies and friends” after they attack Iran first.

Israel is truly a unique and amazing country: not only does it openly and brazenly completely ignore international law, not only is it the last overtly racist country on the planet, not only has it been perpetuating a slow-motion genocide against the Palestinians for decades, it also constantly uses its considerable propaganda resources to advocate for war. And in order to achieve these goals, it does not mind allying itself with a regime almost as despicable and evil as the Zionist one – I am talking about the Wahabi nutcases in the KSA. And all that under the high patronage of the United States. Some “Axis of Kindness” indeed!

What is their plan? Actually, it is fairly straightforward.

The Israeli plan “A” (failed)

Initially, the plan was to overthrow all the secular (Baathist) regimes in power and replace them by religious nutcases. That would not only weaken the countries infected by that spiritual rot, it would set them backwards for many decades, some of them would break up into smaller entities, Arabs and Muslims would kill each other in large numbers while the Israelis would proudly claim that they are a “western country” and the “only democracy in the Middle-East”. Even better, when the Daesh/ISIS/al-Qaeda/etc types commit atrocities on an industrial scale (and always on camera, professionally filmed, by the way), the slow-motion genocide of Palestinians would really be completely forgotten. If anything, Israeli would declare itself threatened by “Islamic extremism” and, well, extend a couple of “security zones” beyond its borders (legal or otherwise), and do regular bombing runs “because Arabs only understand force” (which would get the Israelis a standing ovation from the “Christian” Zionist rednecks in the USA who love the killing of any Aye-rabs and other “sand niggers”). At the end of all this, the Zionist wet dream: unleashing the Daesh forces against Hezbollah (which they fear and hate since the humiliating defeat the IDF suffered in 2006).

Now I will readily agree that this is a stupid plan. But contrary to the propaganda-induced myth, the Israelis are really not very bright. Pushy, arrogant, nasty, driven – yes. But smart? Not really. How could they not realize that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would result in Iran becoming the main player in Iraq? This is a testimony of how the Israelis always go for “quick-fix” short-term “solutions”, probably blinded by their arrogance and sense of racial superiority. Or how about their invasion of Lebanon in 2006? What in the world did they think they would achieve there? And now these folks are taking on not Hezbollah, but Iran. Hassan Nasrallah is absolutely correct, that is a truly stupid decision. But, of course, the Israelis now have a “plan B”:

The Israeli plan “B”

Step one, use your propaganda machine and infiltrated agents to re-start the myth about an Iranian military nuclear program. And never mind that the so-called “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” was agreed upon by all five of the UNSC Permanent Members, and Germany (P5+1) and even the European Union! And never mind that this plan places restrictions on Iran which no other country has ever had to ever face, especially considering that since 1970 Iran has been a member in good standing with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while Israel, of course, is not. But the Zionists and their Neocon groupies are, of course, quite exceptional people, so they are constrained by neither facts nor logic. If Trump says that the JCPOA is a terrible deal, then this is so. Hey, we are living in the “post-Skripal” and “post-Douma” era – if some Anglo (or Jewish) leaders say “highly likely” then it behooves everybody to show instant “solidarity” lest they are accused of “anti-Semitism” or “fringe conspiracy theories” (you know the drill). So step one is the re-ignition ex nihilo of the Iranian military nuclear program canard.

Step two is to declare that Israel is “existentially threatened” and therefore has the right to “defend itself”. But there is a problem here: the IDF simply does not have the military means to defeat the Iranians. They can strike them, hit a couple of targets, yes, but then when the Iranians (and Hezbollah) unleash a rain of missiles on Israel (and probably the KSA) the Israelis will not have the means to respond. They know that, but they also know that the Iranian counter-attack will give them the perfect pretext to scream “oy vey!! oy, gevalt!!” and let the dumb Americans fight the Iranians.

You might object that the USA does not have a mutual defense treaty with Israel. You are wrong. It does, it is called AIPAC. Besides, last year the USA established a permanent US military base in Israel, making it a “tripwire”: just claim that “the Ayatollahs” tried to attack the US base with “chemical weapons” and, bingo, you now have a pretext to use all your military forces in retaliation, including, by the way, your tactical nuclear forces to “disarm” the “genocidal Iranians who want to wipe Israel off the map” or some variation of this nonsense.

You might wonder what the point of all that would be if Iran does, as I say, not have any military nuclear program?

5My answer would be simple: do you really think the Syrians have been using chemical weapons?!

Of course not!

All this nonsense about Saddam’s WMD, the Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian chemical weapons or, for that matter, Gaddafi’s “Viagra armed raping soldiers”, and before that the “Racak massacre” in Kosovo or the various “Markale market” atrocities in Sarajevo for that matter: these were just pretexts for aggression, nothing more.

In Iran’s case, what the Israelis fear is not that they will be “wiped off the map” (that is a mistranslation of words originally spoken by Ayatollah Khomeini) by Iranian nukes; what really freaks them out is to have a large, successful Muslim regional power like Iran openly daring to denounce Israel as an illegitimate, racist state. The Iranians are also openly denouncing the US imperialism and they are even denouncing the Wahabi dictatorship of the House of Saud. That is Iran’s real “sin”: to dare defy openly the AngloZionist Empire and be so successful at it!

So what the Israelis really want to do is:

  1. inflict a maximum amount of economic damage upon Iran
  2. punish the Iranian population for daring to support the “wrong” leaders
  3. overthrow the Islamic Republic (do to it what they did to Serbia)
  4. make an example to dissuade any other country who dares to follow in Iran’s footsteps
  5. prove the omnipotence of the AngloZionist Empire’s

To reach this objective, there is no need to invade Iran: a sustained cruise missile and bombing campaign will do the job (again, like in Serbia). Finally, we just have to assume that the Zionists are evil, arrogant and crazy enough to use nuclear weapons on some Iranian facilities (which they will, of course, designate as “secret military nuclear research” installations).

The Israelis hope that by making the USA hit Iran really hard, they will weaken the country enough to also weaken Hezbollah and the other allies of Iran in the region sufficiently and break the so-called “Shia crescent”.

In their own way, the Israelis are not wrong when they say that Iran is an existential threat to Israel. They are just lying about the nature of this threat and why it is dangerous for them.

Consider this:

IF the Islamic Republic is allowed to develop and prosper and IF the Islamic Republic refuses to be terrified by the IDF’s undisputed ability to massacre civilians and destroy public infrastructure, then the Islamic Republic will become an attractive alternative to the kind of repugnant Islam embodied by the House of Saud which, in turn, is the prime sponsor of all the collaborator regimes in the Middle-East from the Hariri types in Lebanon to the Palestinian Authority itself. The Israelis like their Arabs fat and corrupt to the bone, not principled and courageous. That is why Iran must, absolutely must, be hit: because Iran by its very existence threatens the linchpin upon which the survival of the Zionist entity depends: the total corruption of the Arab and Muslim leaders worldwide.

Risks with Israel’s plan “B”

Think of 2006. The Israelis had total air supremacy over Lebanon – the skies were simply uncontested. The Israelis also controlled the seas (at least until Hezbollah almost sank their Sa’ar 5-class corvette). The Israelis pounded Lebanon with everything they had, from bombs to artillery strikes, to missiles. They also engaged their very best forces, including their putatively ‘”invincible” “Golani Brigade”. And that for 33 days. And they achieved exactly *nothing*. They could not even control the town of Bint Jbeil right across the Israeli border. And now comes the best part: Hezbollah kept its most capable forces north of the Litany river so the small Hezbollah force (no more than 1000 man) was composed of local militias supported by a much smaller number of professional cadre. That a 30:1 advantage in manpower for the Israelis. But the “invincible Tsahal” got it’s collective butt kicked like few have ever been kicked in history. This is why, in the Arab world, this war is since known as the “Divine Victory”.

As for Hezbollah, it continued to rain down rockets on Israel and destroy indestructible Merkava tanks right up to the last day.

There are various reports discussing the reasons for the abject failure of the IDF (see here or here), but the simple reality is this: to win a war you need capable boots on the ground, especially against an adversary who has learned how to operate without air-cover or superior firepower. Should Israel manipulate the USA into attacking Iran, the exact same thing will happen: CENTCOM will establish air superiority and have an overwhelming firepower advantage over the Iranians, but other than destroying a lot of infrastructure and murdering scores of civilians, this will achieve absolutely nothing. Furthermore, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is no Milosevic, he will not simply surrender in the hope that Uncle Sam will allow him to stay in power. The Iranians will fight, and fight, and continue to fight for weeks, and months and then possibly years. And, unlike the “Axis of Kindness” forces, the Iranians do have credible and capable “boots on the ground”, and not only in Iran, but also in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan. And they have the missiles to reach a very large number of US military facilities across the region. And they can also not only shut down the Strait of Hormuz (which the USN would eventually be able to re-open, but only at a cost of a huge military operation on the Iranian coast), they can also strike at Saudi Arabia proper and, of course, at Israel. In fact, the Iranian have both the manpower and know-how to declare “open season” on any and all US forces in the Middle-East, and there are plenty of them, mostly very poorly defended (that imperial sense of impunity “they would not dare”).

The Iran-Iraq war lasted for eight years (1980-1988). It cost the Iranians hundreds of thousands of lives (if not more). The Iraqis had the full support of the USA, the Soviet Union, France and pretty much everybody else. As for the Iranian military, it had just suffered from a traumatic revolution. The official history (meaning Wikipedia) calls the outcome a “stalemate”. Considering the odds and the circumstances, I call it a magnificent Iranian victory and a total defeat for those who wanted to overthrow the Islamic Republic (something which decades of harsh sanctions also failed to achieve, by the way).

Is there any reason at all to believe that this time around, when Iran has had almost 40 years to prepare for a full-scale AngloZionist attack the Iranians will fight less fiercely or less competently? We could also look at the actual record of the US armed forces (see Paul Craig Roberts’ superb summary here) and ask: do you think that the USA, lead by the likes of Trump, Bolton or Nikki Haley will have the staying power to fight the Iranians to exhaustion (since a land invasion of Iran is out of the question)? Or this: what will happen to the world economy if the entire Middle-East blows up into a major regional war?

Now comes the scary part: both the Israelis and the Neocons always, always, double-down. The notion of cutting their losses and stopping what is a self-evidently mistaken policy is simply beyond them. Their arrogance simply cannot survive even the appearance of having made a mistake (remember how both Dubya and Olmert declared that they had won against Hezbollah in 2006?). As soon as Trump and Netanyahu realize that they did something really fantastically stupid and as soon as they run out of their usual options (missile and airstrikes first, then terrorizing the civilian population) they will have a stark and simple choice: admit defeat or use nukes.

Which one do you think they will choose?


Going nuclear?

Here is the paradox: in purely military terms, using nukes on Iran will serve no pragmatic purpose. Nuclear weapons can be used in one of two ways: against military assets (“counterforce”) or against civilians (“countervalue”). The point is that by the time the Neocons and their Israeli patrons come to the point of considering using tactical nuclear forces against the Iranians, there won’t be a good target to hit. Iranian forces will be dispersed and mostly in contact with allied (or even US forces) and nuking an Iranian battalion or even a division won’t fundamentally alter the military equation. As for nuking Iranian cities just out of savagery, this will only serve one purpose: to truly get Israel wiped off the map of the Middle-East. I would not put it past the Neocons and their Israeli bosses to try to use a tactical nuclear weapon to destroy some Iranian civilian nuclear facility or some underground bunker with the very mistaken hope that such a show of force and determination will force the Iranians to submit to the AngloZionist Empire. In reality, this will only infuriate the Iranians and strengthen their resolve.

As for the currently “macronesque” Europeans, they will, of course, first show “solidarity” on the basis of “highly likely”, especially Poland, the Ukies and the Baltic statelets, but if nuclear weapons start going off in the Middle-East, then the European public opinion will explode, especially in Mediterranean countries, and this might just trigger yet another major crisis. Israel wouldn’t give a damn (or, as always, blame it all on some totally mysterious resurgence of anti-Semitism), but the USA most definitely does not want the Anglo grip on the continent compromised by such events.

Maybe a Korean scenario?

Is there a chance that all the huffing and puffing will result in some kind of peaceful resolution as what seems to be in the works in Korea? Alas, probably not.

A few months ago it sure looked like the USA might do something irreparably stupid in Korea (see here and here) but then something most unexpected happened: the South Koreans, fully realizing the inanity of Trump’s reckless threats, took the situation in their own hands and began making overtures to the North. Plus all the rest of the regional neighbors emphatically and clearly told Trump & Co. that the consequences of a US attack on the DPRK would be apocalyptic for the entire region. Alas, there are two fundamental differences between the Korean Peninsula and the Middle-East:

  1. On the Korean Peninsula, the local US ally (the ROK) does not want war. In the Middle-East it is the local US ally (Israel) which pushes the hardest for a war.
  2. In Far-East Asia all the regional neighbors were and are categorically opposed to war. In the Middle-East most regional neighbors are sold out to the Saudis who also want the US to attack Iran.

So while the risks and consequences of a conflagration are similar between the two regions, the local geopolitical dynamics are completely different?

What about Russia in all this?

Russia will never *choose* to go to war with the USA. But Russia also understands that Iran’s security and safety is absolutely crucial to her own security, especially along her southern borders. Right now there is a fragile equilibrium of sorts between the (also very powerful) Zionist lobby in Russia and the national/patriotic elements. In truth, the recent Israeli attacks in Syria have given more power to the anti-Zionist elements in Russia, hence all the talk about (finally!) delivering the S-300s to Syria. Well, we will see if/when that happens. My best guesstimate is that it might already have happened and that this is simply kept quiet to restrain both the Americans and the Israelis who have no way of knowing what equipment the Russians have already delivered, where it is located or, for that matter, who (Russians or Syrians) actually operate it. This kind of ambiguity is useful to placate the pro-Zionist forces in Russia and to complicate AngloZionist planning. But maybe this is my wishful thinking, and maybe the Russians have not delivered the S-300s yet or, if they have, maybe these are the (not very useful) S-300P early models (as opposed to the S-300PMU-2 which would present a huge risk to the Israelis).

The relationship between Russia and Israel is a very complex one (see here and here), but if Iran is attacked I fully expect the Russians, especially the military, to back Iran and provide military assistance short of overtly engaging US/Israeli/NATO/CENTCOM forces. If the Russians are directly attacked in Syria (and in the context of a wider war, they very well might be), then Russia will counter-attack regardless of who the attacker is, the USA or Israel or anybody else: the Zionist lobby in Russia does not have the power to impose a “Liberty-like event” on the Russian public opinion).

Conclusion: Accursed are the warmakers, for they shall be called the children of Satan

The Israelis can eat falafels, create “Israeli kufiyeh” and fancy themselves as “orientals”, but the reality is that the creation of the state of Israel is a curse on the entire Middle-East to which has only brought untold suffering, brutality, corruption and wars, wars and more wars. And they are still at it – doing all they can to trigger a large regional war in which many tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent people will die. The people of the USA have now allowed a dangerous cabal of psychopathic Neocons to fully take control of their country and now those, who Papa Bush used to call the “crazies in the basement” have their finger on the nuclear button. So now it all boils down to the questions I opened this article with:

Dear US Americans – do you want to die for Israel? Do you want to lose your job for Israel? How about your pension? Maybe just your stock options? Because make no mistake, the US Empire will not survive a full-scale war against Iran. Why? Because all Iran needs to do to “win” is not to lose, i.e. to survive. Even bombed out and scorched by conventional or nuclear strikes, if Iran comes out of this war still as an Islamic Republic (and that is not something bombs or missiles will change) then Iran will have won. In contrast, for the Empire, the failure to bring Iran to its knees will mean the end of its status as the world Hegemon defeated not by a nuclear superpower, but by a regional conventional power. After that, it will just be a matter of time before the inevitable domino effect breaks up the entire Empire (check out John Michael Greer’s excellent book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” for a very plausible account on how that could happen)

Okay, unlike Russia, Iran cannot nuke the USA or, for that matter, even reach it with conventional weapons (I don’t even think that the Iranians will successfully attack a US carrier as some pro-Iranian analysts say). But the political and economic consequences of a full-scale war in the Middle-East will be felt throughout the United States: right now the only thing “backing” the US dollar, so to speak, are USN aircraft carriers and their ability to blow to smithereens any country daring to disobey Uncle Sam. The fact that these carriers are (and, truly, have been for a long while) useless against the USSR and Russia is bad enough, but if it becomes known urbi et orbi that they are also useless against a conventional regional power like Iran, then that’s it, show over. The dollar will turn into monopoly money in a very short span of time.

Wars often have “Nietzschean consequences”: countries which wars don’t destroy often come out even stronger than before they were attacked, even if it is at a horrendous price. Both the Israelis and the Neocons are too dialectically illiterate to realize that by their actions they are just creating increasingly more powerful enemies. The old Anglo guard which ran the USA since its foundation was probably wiser, possibly because it was better educated and more aware of the painful lessons learned by the British (and other) Empire(s).

Frankly, I hope that the ruling 1%ers running the USA today (well, they are really much less than 1%, but never mind that) will care about their wealth and money more than they care about appeasing the Neocons and that the bad old Anglo imperialists who built this country will have enough greed in themselves to tell the Neocons and their Israeli patrons to get lost. But with the Neocons controlling both wings of the Uniparty and the media, I am not very hopeful.

Still, there is a chance that, like in Korea, somebody somewhere will say or do the right thing, and that awed by the potential magnitude of what they are about to trigger, enough people in the US military will follow the example of Admiral William Fallon and CENTCOM commander at the time who told the President “an attack on Iran will not happen on my watch”. I believe for his principled courage, the words of Christ “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9) can be applied to Admiral Fallon and I hope that his example will inspire others.

The Saker

Israeli sniper films shooting of unarmed Palestinian — and celebrates – By Jonathan Ofir and Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss)


and on 17 Comments


A video clip in which an Israeli sniper filmed himself shooting an unarmed Palestinian across the Gaza fence and then celebrating drew international outrage last night. The two Palestinian targets in the video appear simply to be walking around near the fence.

Here is the video via Electronic Intifada:

In sharing the video, Jewish Voice for Peace says the shooting took place last week:

An IDF soldier filmed himself shooting at unarmed Palestinian protesters on Gaza border this last Friday and then celebrating with his friends saying “Take that sons of bitches.” The IDF has responded that it will investigate

The New York Times has also covered it, honestly, saying the video shows “Israeli troops shooting a Palestinian man across the border fence at a time when he posed no obvious threat — and then rejoicing.”

Yesterday the Israeli army suggested that the video was taken months ago, but as the Times observed, the timing is not important. It quotes B’tselem, the human rights organization:

“Incidents such as the one in the video published today occurred hundreds of times over the past few weeks in the Gaza Strip, causing death and injuries — with the full support of policymakers and top military officials,” Btselem, an Israeli human rights organization, said in a statement. “Btselem is deeply sorrowed by the manifestly illegal commands ordering soldiers to shoot at people who pose no threat.”

The Times also quoted Breaking the Silence, the Israeli soldiers group, saying this isn’t just a few weeks old, it’s 51 years old, a reference to the occupation.

The essentials of the talk in the clip:

There appears to be a discussion with a commander in the background about which Palestinian the sniper should get. All of the figures seem to be standing rather motionless. The commander seems to be saying “take the pink one”, and a sniper answers “not the pink, the blue”. Immediately after a shot is fired (0:39).

The sniper shouts “wow, what a clip, YES!!!!”.

His comrade is in awe – “wow, wow”.

The sniper continues: “Son of a whore!”

Comrades: “did you film it?”

Sniper: “Look, now they’re coming to evacuate him – of course I filmed it!”

Comrade: “Wow, someone’s head was hit!”

Sniper: “What a clip, it’s a dream!” Another comrade: “I didn’t see it, bro!”

Comrade: “Did you see how he flew in the air with his leg like that!”

Sniper: “Take that, you sons of whores!”

Late yesterday in response to the clip, the IDF said: “Concerning the clip – apparently this concerns a case that occurred a few months ago. The case will be investigated and checked thoroughly” (cited by Channel 10 military correspondent Or Heller).

Think about it – the army promised to ‘investigate’. What will it investigate? This practice is completely in line with what B’tselem has been warning about – permission to open fire on anyone within 300 meters of fence. What could the army possibly charge the soldiers with? Celebrating the very acts for which the Defense Minister wants to reward with medals?

Here is Breaking the Silence’s statement on the shooting:

Over the past two weeks, Israeli snipers were ordered to “shoot to kill” targeted unarmed demonstrators in Gaza, killing dozens and injuring hundreds. A video released last night depicts a soldier targeting and shooting an unarmed demonstrator who posed no direct threat. Firing live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators marks the transgression of yet another red line.

Whether this video was filmed a month or a week ago, as those who served in the occupied territories, we know – over 50 years of occupation have resulted in moral corruption to the degree to which unarmed innocent demonstrators are now being killed.

What we are witnessing on the border with Gaza is no different than what we did within Gaza as Israeli soldiers. This complete disregard for the lives of the innocent is indicative of the fact that it is impossible to control millions of people against their will without morally degenerating. Responsibility for this lies first and foremost in the hands of our government, which continues to send the IDF to perpetuate the regime of occupation.
About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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