By our reporters
4 June 2018
The above message was displayed above the stage of musician Roger Waters’ “Us + Them 2018” concert in Berlin, Germany on June 2.
Roger Waters was part of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd from 1965 to 1985. For the past 33 years, he has continued a solo career, which has included staging the largest live concert event in history.
Throughout his long career, singer-songwriter Waters has spoken out publicly against war, oppression and injustice.
He emailed the World Socialist Web Site last month to convey his support for international action to defend Julian Assange.
The massed missile strikes assumed to have been launched by Israel caused extensive damage to local infrastructure in the southern outskirts of Damascus and killed at least two people, but Syrian air defenses managed to intercept two of them, according to state media.
The Syrian Arab News Agency has released dramatic security camera footage showing the moment air defenses brought down an Israeli missile in the al-Kisweh area about 12 km southwest of the capital. The footage appears to show the flaming wreckage of missile parts as they fall out of the sky following a big explosion.
A medical source told SANA that at least two people, a local man and his wife, were killed in an explosion caused by one of the two interceptions. Western monitoring groups claim Tuesday night’s attacks have also killed Iranian nationals. Earlier, a source at Beirut International Airport told Sputnik that Israeli jets violated Lebanese airspace at the time of the suspected attack. The Israeli military has refused to comment. The al-Kisweh area is known to be home to numerous Syrian military bases.
Yesterday PM Netanyahu provided a fascinating glimpse into a psychotic tribal mind. A clown who sits on a huge pile of WMDs, an arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons designed to kill millions, is crying foul, complaining that another state in the region may attempt to equip itself with similar weapons as a means of deterrence. Netanyahu’s performance looked like a raging toddler pointing to another toddler’s nappies while his own pampers are dripping from every direction.
Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East. Israel has never allowed any international body into its nuclear and other WMD facilities.
The international community was unimpressed by Bibi’s absurd theatrics. A senior European diplomat told Reuters: “We knew all of this and what especially stands out is that Netanyahu doesn’t speak of any recorded violations of the 2015 Iran deal.” It does not take a genius to gather that if Iran stored its 1999-2003 nuclear research archive in an unprotected warehouse, it didn’t regard the information as a strategic or sensitive asset.
Why are Netanyahu and the Israelis horrified by the Iranian nuclear project? Most likely, Projection. Israel operates as the regional bully. Its relationship with its neighbours is defined by crude violence and abuse. It is only human and natural for abusers to assume that their victims are as violently inclined as they themselves are. The Israelis tend to attribute their own violent traits to the Palestinians, to the Iranians and to Muslims in general. This psychological tendency is called projection. It is a vicious cycle, the more abusive you are, the more haunted you are by the notion that your victims may be as malevolent as you have been.
Jesus Christ identified this psychological trait in his fellow Hebrews and counselled them on how to counter this barbarian tendency. Instead of believing their neighbors evil, he told them to Love their neighbor and turn the other cheek. It didn’t take long before Jesus was nailed to the cross. But his message has remained with much of humanity. I would like to believe that when the Bibis of the world find their path towards compassion the Jewish State will be redeemed and matured. I don’t hold my breath for that to happen anytime soon.
The good news from Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Iran’s “secret atomic archive” yesterday is that it was so cheaply theatrical that it is being widely dismissed as vaudeville. He used the word secret 15 times, and in the encore pulled back a black curtain on his evidence, proclaiming, “I just revealed something the world has never seen before.”
The bad news is that the world doesn’t matter; Netanyahu obviously pitched his message to one person, Donald Trump, who is moved by cheap theatrics; and lobbying Trump to go to war against Iran looks to be a far better bet than lobbying his predecessor, Barack Obama. Under similar pressure three years ago, Obama said that only one country in the world was against the deal, Israel, and that it would be an “abrogation of my constitutional duty” to defer to Israel rather than the American people.
Alas, Trump isn’t so fussy.
The overnights on the speech were almost all negative. Reuters:
Intelligence experts and diplomats said he did not seem to have presented a “smoking gun” showing that Iran had violated the agreement, although he may have helped make a case on behalf of hawks in the U.S. administration who want to scrap it.
Most of the purported evidence Netanyahu unveiled dated to the period before the 2015 accord was signed, although he said Iran had also kept important files on nuclear technology since then, and continued adding to its “nuclear weapons knowledge”.
Former Obama security aide Rob Malley:
For those who have followed the Iranian nuclear file, there is nothing new in Bibi’s presentation. All it does is vindicate need for the nuclear deal But the Israeli prime minister has an audience of one: Trump And he’s unfortunately unlikely to reach the same conclusion.
Can anyone remember the last time a Head of Government announced a major emergency address to his nation, then spoke in a foreign language using graphics incomprehensible to his own citizens?
Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing an amazing job making the case for an international agreement to provide unprecedented monitoring and inspections of Iran’s nuclear program to ensure it cannot produce nuclear weapons.
The concern is that Netanyahu is whispering in Trump’s ear for a war on Iran in Syria– even as Israel has struck Syria again, killing 26 people, and is preparing to carry out another massacre on Israel’s border with Gaza. “The bogus pretext for war: Iran lied about their nuclear program before the nuclear deal, therefore the nuclear deal should be scrapped, even though inspections are ultra-invasive and foolproof,” writes one anonymous foreign policy observer.
J Street tweeted out Netanyahu’s last successful push for an American war, the invasion of Iraq. Netanyahu told Congress in 2002:
If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region…. I think people sitting right next door in Iran will say the time of such regimes, such despots is over…
There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing toward the development nuclear weapons.. No question whatsoever.. Once he acquires them, history shifts immediately.
This time Netanyahu is missing some of his neoconservative consort. One soldier who’s absent this time, Jeffrey Goldberg; the Atlantic calls the Netanyahu presentation “strange” and says it’s all based on old conduct. Another unimpressed warhorse, Richard Haass of CFR, is retweeted by Obama’s former ambassador Daniel Shapiro:
Nothing stated by Israel PM or WH contradicts that Iran in compliance w JCPOA and best US policy is to live with it, counter Iranian push for regional primacy
Unfortunately the New York Times is parroting Netanyahu. It publishes a wheedling page 1 article by David Halbfinger, David Sanger, and Israeli hawk Ronen Bergman in which you have to wait until paragraph 17 to discover it’s all about the past, nothing new at all, on a par with Netanyahu’s cartoon bomb diagram at the UN. Lest you forget:
The foreign minister of Iran reminds us of that stunt:
BREAKING: The boy who can’t stop crying wolf is at it again. Undeterred by cartoon fiasco at UNGA. You can only fool some of the people so many times.
Today Netanyahu has released more of the magic act, this one where he pulls black curtains on loose leaf binders and CDs.
“Iran lied through its teeth,” he says in that performance, two days after telling Mike Pompeo, “Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other.”
Netanyahu now promises to lobby Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, just days after they met with Donald Trump.
Few are pointing out what should be noted: Netanyahu is under investigation at home for corruption, with many expecting indictments. “Any report on Netanyahu’s speech about Iran must explain that many, in Israel and elsewhere, believe he is distracting from the multiple corruption probes that are targeting him and his wife, Sara,” writes James North. The NY Times article doesn’t mention Netanyahu’s fears of investigation(s) until the 33rd paragraph, right near the end. The Washington Post never mentions it.
It’s springtime for neocons. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is pushing the Netanyahu line.
Simple takeaway from Netanyahu presentation: Iran regime conducted nuclear weaponization activities, lied to the IAEA and to the world & hid 100,000+ documents, videos, photos with the instructions to restart a nuke weapons program at a time of its choosing.
FDD cites Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, who is a visiting fellow at the Foundation, Jacob Nagel. Sort of like Ronen Bergman the promoter of the Mossad working for the New York Times. This pinball machine never Tilts.
Thanks to Scott Roth.
Something has shifted in the discourse of Israel since the Friday killings of 17 Palestinian protesters in Gaza, many of them plainly unarmed, by Israeli snipers from across a security fence: the hasbara– Israeli propaganda– is not working.
The country has plainly done something indefensible. The usual defenders are silent, and the criticism from the left/center is stronger than ever. Senator Bernie Sanders’s sharp criticism is actually leading the U.S. discussion of the event.
Ori Nir of Americans for Peace Now captures the moment, tweeting in Hebrew (roughly translated):
“National Public Radio” Morning Edition, the United States’s largest radio network, opened its news: Israel says it will not investigate the circumstances of the 15 Gaza residents killed on Friday’s clashes. Another propaganda achievement of the government whose army is the most moral in the world.
“A pro-Palestinian narrative” is dominating international media, The Times of Israel reports; and fingers are being pointed throughout the Israeli government about who allowed Israel to be led into this PR “trap” by Palestinians. Michael Oren who can spin anything can’t spin this one.
Michael Oren, for one, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who is responsible for diplomacy, said Israel was patently unprepared for the crisis on the diplomatic and media battlefield, and that the word he was getting from abroad was that the Israeli narrative is losing “big time” to the Palestinian narrative.
A crisis indeed. Usually-vehement Israel defenders in the U.S. are keeping quiet. They surely hope this will blow over. Bill Kristol has nothing to say about the killings. Neither does the voluble Bret Stephens. Jennifer Rubin has been silent on twitter.
The liberal Zionist group Ameinu sent out a Passover greeting today with talk of the African refugees, but not a word about the killings. As for J Street– bupkus on twitter. Nothing on the blog either.
Jacob Magid of the Times of Israel dismisses the effort by the Israeli government to justify the killings by saying the army identified 10 of the 15 killed as “Hamas activists.” As if “this in and of itself was enough a reason to shoot them dead,” he said.
If the IDF wants to put out a statement saying the men were in the middle of carrying out an attack when soldiers engaged, that’s one thing but saying they were “Hamas activists” means little
The Republican Jewish Coalition is also reduced to slinging pathetic, patently-false story-lines. It tweets:
Gaza March Used Civilian (Including Children) Human Shields to Trap Israel
While AIPAC tweets an article by David Horovitz in the Times of Israel that brims with Israeli paranoia:
Gaza’s terrorist rulers make no secret of their agenda. They are out to destroy Israel. Suicide bombers, rockets, and tunnels have failed. So now it’s mass marches on the border.
It is a sign of the discourse shifting that the Republican Jewish Coalition is now fastened on–Bernie Sanders.
Violent, militarized “protesters” were attempting to cross the Gaza border fence, but
@SenSanders would have the Israeli’s sit back and take it. That isn’t leadership, it’s cowardice.
You’d think Sanders would be beyond the pale But no, the moral leader of the left in the U.S. is at center stage. Sanders took a little while to condemn the killings, but he has been extremely strong. Here is Ynet’s report:
Sanders attacked Israel on Saturday with a tweet, saying, “The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response.”
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sanders was asked if he accepted Israel’s version that most of the Palestinian dead were terrorists who directed attacks against Israel under the cover of protesters.
“No, I don’t,” Sanders responded. “My understanding is you have tens of thousands of people who were engaged in a non-violent protest. I believe now 15 or 20 people, Palestinians, have been killed, and many many others have been wounded. So I think it’s a difficult situation, but my assessment is that Israel overreacted on that.
Yet more evidence of the fact that Israel is getting thrashed in the international response is, the New York Times op-ed page has had nothing to say about these atrocities, while a Washington Post foreign affairs writer, Ishaan Tharoor, is condemning them outright: “For Israel, there’s little political cost to killing Palestinians.”
Tharoor’s article is clear about the moral outrage here, and about the reason, Israel’s impunity.
“These are the predictable outcomes of a manifestly illegal command: Israeli soldiers shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian protesters,” said Amit Gilutz, a spokesman for B’Tselem, a Jerusalem-based leftist organization that monitors human rights abuses in the occupied territories. “What is predictable, too, is that no one — from the snipers on the ground to top officials whose policies have turned Gaza into a giant prison — is likely to be ever held accountable.”
The Israeli leadership had reason to feel comfortable in its defiance. The most vocal criticism from abroad came from Iran and Turkey; censure from either country is more likely a source of relish for Netanyahu than unease. And at the United Nations, the Trump administration blocked the Security Council from issuing a statement that called for an “independent and transparent investigation” and affirmed the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest.
Tharoor links to Eric Umansky, deputy managing editor of Pro Publica, who has produced a lacerating and eloquent series of tweets on the optics of the murders:
1/ I know our capacity for outrage has been sapped, but the images coming from Gaza are truly shocking. 2/ Here’s a video —shared by the Washington Post—of a young man shot and killed as he was *rolling a tire away from the border* 3/ Here’s a video of a man shot as he was praying with others 4/ Israel says videos are fabricated. Except multiple videos show same thing. 5/ Here’s another young man who was shot in the head as he was watching the protests and puffing a cigarette. 6/ Sixteen Palestinians were shot to death, hundreds more wounded. You’ve heard of Bloody Sunday, right? That’s when British troops killed 14 protesters in N. Ireland. I wonder how history and we will remember Gaza, if at all. 7/ There may be plenty left to know about what happened. But Israeli officials aren’t interested in finding out. An investigation? Defense Minister Lieberman said, “There won’t be one” He said “all the soldiers deserve a medal.”
Finally, even mainstream Israeli figures are jumping ship. A leading radio host might be fired for saying he’s “ashamed to be Israeli.” Haaretz:
Top Israeli radio host Kobi Meidan has been silenced on Army Radio after posting on Facebook that he’s “ashamed to be Israeli” after 15 Gazans were shot dead during mass Gaza protests along the Israel-Gaza border last week.
After talking with the media personality, Army Radio commander Shimon Elkabetz ordered the station to no longer broadcast Meidan on the air, but it remains to be seen whether temporarily or permanently.
We will of course be closely monitoring the international response to the killings, including in official forums. But the media narrative is hardening, Israel went way too far. No wonder a local friend asked me yesterday, Has Israel lost its mind?
Thanks to Ofer Neiman, James North, and Todd Pierce.
2018-02-24 12:56 GMT+8
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing tremendous pressure from an ongoing corruption investigation. With the former director general of the Ministry of Communications, Shlomo Filber, as a state witness, Netanyahu may be indicted and even convicted, or he might choose to resign. Whatever the outcome there is little doubt Israel’s political landscape will undergo a significant reshuffle in the near future.
Several alleged scandals challenge Netanyahu’s political reputation and future career. The first is the “Case 1000,” which opened officially in December 2016 and investigates the close relationship between the Netanyahu family and several wealthy merchants inside and outside Israel.
The second is the “Case 2000,” which is looking into the “special” relationship between Netanyahu and the Israeli mainstream media, Israel Hayom (Israel Today) and Yedioth Ahronoth (Latest News) specifically.
The third is “Case 3000,” which investigates Netanyahu’s role in the Israeli Navy’s purchase of three Dolphin-class submarines and four Sa’ar 6-class corvettes from Germany. Some Israeli analysts believe these purchases were not actually necessary for the navy and some suspect that Netanyahu and other political and military leaders received bribes from the German defense industry.
The fourth is “Case 4000,” which investigates the relationship between the Israel Ministry of Communications, controlled by Netanyahu after 2015, and Israel’s largest telecommunications company Bezeq.
Meanwhile, “Case 1270” investigates whether Netanyahu once offered an “appointment bribe offer” to a candidate for the position of Attorney General in exchange for dropping a case against Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attending a ceremony at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Feb. 20, 2018. /VCG Photo
Besides all these cases, Netanyahu’s family have also been in a number of personal scandals.
His wife has been criticized for humiliating her housekeepers, while Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son and the widely perceived “successor” of the “Netanyahu dynasty,” was recorded by his own personal driver commenting on girls in strip clubs using “impertinent remarks” in a conversation with friends.
All these scandals disclose a wide range of interests connecting Israeli politicians, energy companies, telecommunication companies, newspapers and even the justice department – not only linking them to Netanyahu and his family but also to some senior military and political officials.
Protesters supporting and opposing Netanyahu have been organizing their own protests in different cities in Israel, such as Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv. Supporters of Netanyahu believe these scandals are “conspiracies” designed by the Israeli left-wing media and social groups, while opponents believe Netanyahu is a “crime minister” and should resign immediately.
Israelis taking part in a demonstration titled the “March of Shame” against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government corruption in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on December 23, 2017. /VCG Photo
If Netanyahu does resign or is arrested, it might be not easy to find a good replacement. Having led four cabinets, Netanyahu has become the second longest-serving prime minister since Israeli independence in 1948; only founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion lasted longer. Although Israel is a small state with fewer than 9 million people, its society is fragmented and political groups are split into different camps along left-right ideological lines as well as religious-secular factions. It is not easy to find a politician in today’s Israel political arena to replace Netanyahu.
Future candidates include Yair Lapid, the leader of centrist-wing “Yesh Atid” (Future Party); Moshe Kahlon, the leader of centrist-wing Kulanu (everyone of us); Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing party “Habayit HaYehudi” (Jewish Home Party); Avigdor Liberman, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home Party); Avi Gabbay, the leader of left-wing Mifleget HaAvoda (Labor Party); and Tzipi Livni, the leader of left-wing “Hatnuah” (Movement Party).
However, none of these is as qualified as Netanyahu.
Israeli MP and chairperson of the centre-right Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid /VCG Photo
Yair Lapid, Moshe Kahlon Tzipi Livni and Avi Gabbay lack “defense department” experience, which is important for Israeli voters; Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman need to shift from a right-wing agenda to a right-centrist-wing agenda to attract more voters. And no politician is likely to be able to unite different political camps to form a stable and sustainable government once Netanyahu leaves.
The answer to whether Netanyahu will remain as “prime minister” or resign or be arrested as “crime minister” will emerge in the coming weeks.
(Wang Jin is a PhD candidate at the School of Political Science, University of Haifa and a research fellow at the Syria Research Center, Northwest University. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the view of CGTN.)
Corruption charges against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continue to stack, and as the noose tightens, the distractions grow.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL (Analysis) — On February 13, Israeli police recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted in two corruption cases on suspicion of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust. Under Israeli law, prime ministers do not need to resign unless they have been convicted of a serious crime. However, as noted by the New Yorker, precedent suggests that prime ministers under indictment should not be able to serve — the rationale being that such a figure cannot properly lead a country while busy preparing a legal defense to a criminal charge.
Ironically, the case against the Israeli prime minister has nothing to do with the various crimes his administration is committing against the Palestinian people and the people of Syria and Lebanon, and the egregious violations of the UN Charter with respect to Iran. Merely threatening war against another nation is a breach of international law, yet Netanyahu continues this warmongering policy on multiple fronts, with little to no criticism from international or domestic media.
In fact, Israel’s current acts of aggression against sovereign nations in the Middle East are most likely undertaken primarily as distractions from his own domestic failures, even though they are more than worthy of separate investigations of their own. While the many in the media continue to turn a blind eye to the thousands of people who have taken to the streets on a routine basis to protest against Netanyahu, very few people seem remotely as concerned with the various internationally criminal actions he has been conducting for years, when compared to the public outrage over Netanyahu’s domestic charges of corruption and bribery.
The case against Netanyahu
After more than a year of investigation, Israeli police have said they believe there is sufficient evidence against the prime minister to indict him on suspicion of giving political favors in exchange for gifts worth almost $300,000, and of cutting a deal with a prominent Israeli newspaper for more favorable coverage.
According to The Washington Post, Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, must now decide whether or not to indict Netanyahu, a process that could take months.
The first case against Netanyahu is referred to as “Case 1000” and concerns allegations that Netanyahu received $280,000 worth of gifts from Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who worked on movies such as Fight Club and Pretty Woman, as well as from Australian businessman James Packer. According to leaked reports, these gifts included Cuban cigars, worth $5,000 a month, as well as jewelry and expensive “pink champagne” for Netanyahu’s wife. Packer, on the other hand, allegedly paid for trips for Netanyahu and his family, including stays at luxury hotels.
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According to the New Yorker, Netanyahu hasn’t actually denied receiving the gifts. What he has denied is what is termed in legal parlance as the mens rea of the offense; the element of deliberate intention. Netanyahu maintains that these gifts were not intended as bribes but instead were mere tokens of friendship. Even if that were the case, Israeli law prevents public representatives from receiving gifts that aren’t “of small value and reasonable in context.” While this is an ambiguous law for the attorney general to interpret, the fact remains that police officers reportedly found receipts in Milchan’s office for the purchase of cigars and other goods worth around $100,000 — arguably not “of small value.”
The alleged return for the lavish gifts was the promise that Netanyahu would lobby for a law that would extend the period in which Israelis returning to Israel, having lived overseas for 10 years, could enjoy a tax holiday. Yair Lapid — the head of the opposition party Yesh Atid, and Netanyahu’s arch-rival — has given evidence to the police investigation that Netanyahu had indeed lobbied him in pursuit of this legislative agenda. According to the New Yorker, at around the same time, Netanyahu also allegedly lobbied then Secretary of State John Kerry to extend Milchan’s visa in the U.S., as well as further helping him with investments in Israeli television.
The cases are piling up
The second case, known as “Case 2000,” involves a deal made between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth. The agreement supposedly allowed the prime minister to receive more favorable coverage from the Yedioth newspaper if he agreed to weaken its rival daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, owned by the powerful billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Surprisingly, the far-right Adelson has actually been a pro-Israeli Netanyahu ally for some time, having funded the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a pro-Israeli neoconservative think tank that has worked closely with the United Arab Emirates to target Iran. He also contributed heavily to Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign, writing an opinion piece for The Washington Post that outright endorsed the reality-TV star as a future president.
By 2014, Adelson allegedly had lost as much as $200 million through his investment in Israel Hayom. Last year, Adelson reportedly told Israeli police that Netanyahu had attempted to convince him not to expand the newspaper, even after the outlet had attacked Netanyahu’s opponents.
In Case 2000, the evidence includes recorded conversations between Netanyahu and Mozes, which reportedly include Mozes offering to do “everything in his power” to help Netanyahu stay in power “for as long as [he] want[s].”
Beyond the damning effect of Cases 1000 and 2000, new allegations against Netanyahu are continuing to surface even as we speak.
According to The Washington Post, another investigation now referred to as “Case 3000” could potentially force Netanyahu out of power for good. As of yet, Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect, even as close members of his inner circle have been arrested and questioned in relation to a multi-billion dollar submarine deal with German contractor Thyssen Krupp.
The case centers around alleged interference in the Israeli Defense Ministry’s acquisition of these submarines and other vessels from Germany, which saw a businessman bribing Israeli government officials to become the negotiating agent for the German contractor. To date, Thyssen Krupp’s Israeli agent has cooperated with the investigation, as has Netanyahu’s cousin and personal lawyer, David Shimron, and his legal partner Yitzhak Molcho.
The Israeli leader’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, has also been facing a trial over alleged misuse of public funds amounting to some $100,000. She is accused, among other offenses, of using money set aside for the prime minister’s official residence for furniture and improvements in the pair’s private home. According to The New York Times, a further allegation against Netanyahu includes suspicion that one of Netanyahu’s aides, former spokesman Nir Hefetz, tried to bribe a judge to quash the criminal case involving Sara Netanyahu.
A separate case, dubbed “Case 4000,” alleges that Netanyahu – or one of his aides – traded lucrative regulatory approvals for favorable coverage on a news website owned by Bezeq, Israel’s biggest telecommunications network, which is valued at $2.9 billion. Channel 2 TV reported that Netanyahu received favorable coverage from the Walla news site, which is a Bezeq subsidiary, in exchange for regulations that earned its controlling shareholders hundreds of millions of shekels (for reference, one million shekels would be worth between $250,000 – $300,000).
The latter allegation could also potentially include charges of money-laundering, breach-of-trust and securities laws violations, as well as possible obstruction of the Securities Authority’s investigation into this particular matter. Netanyahu previously served as communications minister between 2014 to 2017, hardly a mere coincidence in the eyes of the Israeli police investigation.
Just this week, Shlomo Filber, a personal appointment of Netanyahu’s to head the Communications Ministry, along with top executives at Bezeq, were arrested in relation to this telecommunications case. Filber has already agreed to provide testimony. Altogether, at least seven Israelis have been arrested in connection with Case 4000.
Furthermore, not too long ago, an Indian billionaire visiting Israel was also compelled to give testimony to the police regarding further allegations of corruption involving Netanyahu. Reportedly, the police questioned him for two hours in relation to claims that the billionaire gave Netanyahu gifts valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels.
And the corruption charges continue to mount. Just recently, police commissioner Roni Alsheikh – a former Shin Bet operative – went on Israel’s most-watched news magazine show and announced that Netanyahu had told him at the time of his appointment that he would be promoted to head the Shin Bet if Netanyahu were to remain as prime minister. According to Alsheikh, this was a bid to secure his loyalty, even while the investigation had already commenced against Netanyahu.
In a not entirely unrelated matter, a left-wing Israeli think tank called Molad has just sued Yair Netanyahu as well. Yair is the prime minister’s 26-year-old son.
Netanyahu’s political future
Netanyahu has remained staunchly defiant in the face of all this mounting evidence. He has called the charges against him a “media witch hunt,” stating that the matter was “another baseless investigation under pressure from the media.” He also called the allegations against him “hallucinatory.” In Trump-style fashion, he has often denounced Israeli media’s detailing of the charges against him as “fake news.”
According to the Times of Israel, a recent poll by Israeli television network Channel 10 found that 66 percent of respondents thought Netanyahu should resign if police recommended bribery charges be brought against him. The Independent also noted that the scandal has drastically affected Netanyahu’s approval ratings at home.
The Los Angeles Times also outlined that three polls, taken in the 48 hours following the police announcement, indicated many Israelis believe the police evidence against Netanyahu and have not accepted Netanyahu’s cries of victimization. Thousands of people have marched against Netanyahu, demanding his resignation. These protests continue to garner little traction in Western media, even though the frequency of anti-corruption protests targeting Netanyahu have been quite staggering.
Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief of prominent Israeli outlet Haaretz, lamented that “with the police’s recommendations to indict Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, the prime minister begins the countdown to the end of his political life.”
Benn predicts that those remaining politicians who continue to support Netanyahu will be committing a form of political suicide:
In the coming days, they will have to explain to the public why they still support a corrupt leader who preaches corruption in prime-time.”
The media will do well to remember that after months of incessantly berating Donald Trump’s surprise presidency, Trump’s tomahawk strike on the Syrian government in April last year appeared to put him in good stead with the corporate media and, in turn, raised his standing in the eyes of the American public, albeit temporarily.
One may have noticed that in recent days, media stories regarding Israel have not necessarily been fixated on the charges against Netanyahu, but instead, the media circus has been inundated with stories about the broader geopolitical struggle in which Israel is currently embroiled.
Just days ago, at the Munich Security Conference, Netanyahu again turned to scapegoating Iran instead of dealing with his own domestic issues, speaking directly to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in regard to an alleged Iranian drone that was downed by Israel in recent weeks.
“Do you recognize it? You should. It’s yours. Don’t test us,” he said to Zarif.
As well as constantly obsessing over Iran, Israel recently held a joint military drill with the U.S. that was specifically aimed at confronting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Last year, Israel held its largest military drill in 20 years, which again simulated a full-on invasion of Lebanon to counter Hezbollah. In recent days, Israel has launched a full-scale attack on Syria, claiming the aforementioned drone as justification for its assault on Syrian territory, even though in reality it is Israel that has violated Syria’s (and Lebanon’s) airspace over 100 times since the Syrian war broke out in 2011.
Even this week, Israel has launched bombing raids on the Gaza Strip, and continues its nonstop subjugation of the Palestinian people, the perfect scapegoat for improving Netanyahu’s domestic standing as he refuses to cower in the face of Palestinian “aggression.” What was that “aggression?” A largely ineffective offensive made almost entirely of home-made devices — hardly a serious threat to a country that secretly maintains a stockpile of 200 nuclear weapons.
It is quite apparent that regardless of who retains Israel’s leadership post, Israel will continue its regional ambitions to confront Syria and Iran. What should concern us now, however, is that the more desperate Netanyahu becomes to keep media and public attention away from the specific allegations against his character, the greater his need to resort to something more drastic to completely turn eyes away from the allegations against him. In other words, while Israel and Iran are likely to remain enemies for years to come, Netanyahu is more likely to capitalize on this dire relationship now as a distraction from his failing presidency.
It is worth noting that the thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets to protest Netanyahu are not protesting the detainment of a teenage girl who is being tried in a military court for defending her home; or the fact that Israel routinely bombs Syria in direct contravention of international law and may drag the country into a regional confrontation; or Netanyahu’s inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people for that matter.
It is, therefore, safe to say that in the eyes of Israel’s domestic population, the only crimes Netanyahu is guilty of committing are the ones that have drawn corruption and bribery charges. In that light, probably the only thing that can save his political career is an international distraction akin to what we are already seeing unfold before our very eyes.
Considering that Israel has launched numerous assaults on Syrian territory, and most recently has claimed to have hit an Iranian target on the ground in Syria for the first time, it seems increasingly likely that this may be only a small sample of what’s to come. If Netanyahu becomes even more desperate to avoid the embarrassment and political damage of an indictment, we may well see Israel launch further strikes at a known adversary, including Iranian-supported militia on the ground in Syria, under the guise of protecting Israel from Iranian hostility and aggression.
However, the real reason for an illegal assault on a sovereign nation in the Middle East, whether Syria or Lebanon — is a ploy to disguise the political failure of a corrupt, easily bribed, potential war criminal, who has apparently run his course as prime minister.
Top Photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Feb. 11, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/AP)
Darius Shahtahmasebi is a practicing attorney with an interest in human rights, international law, and journalism. He is a graduate of the University of Otago, where he obtained degrees in Law and Japanese. Follow him on Twitter at @TVsLeaking.
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Waving a piece of an Iranian drone, allegedly downed over northern Israel last week, the Israeli Prime Minister last Sunday warned Tehran against testing Israel’s resolve. “We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself,” Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Munich Security Conference, after Israeli forces conducted a massive cross-border intrusion into Syria to strike Iranian targets.
The threat seems to have struck a nerve in Tehran. Iranian conservative politician, Mohsen Rezaee, who is also secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, warned that the Islamic Republic stands ready to retaliate and strike Tel Aviv before the Israeli PM even gets a chance to flee the capital.
“About Netanyahu’s unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground and will not give any opportunity to Netanyahu to flee,” Rezaee told al-Manar news channel on Monday, according to Fars News Agency. “The US and Israeli leaders don’t know Iran and don’t understand the power of resistance and therefore, they continuously face defeat.”
Tel Aviv has repeatedly warned Iran against meddling in Israeli affairs by supplying advanced missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel also remains very concerned over the foothold the Islamic Republic has in Syria. Netanyahu, who branded the milestone nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers a “historic mistake” and a threat to Israel’s survival, also continues to argue that that the deal is flawed and allows Iran to potentially produce hundreds of nuclear weapons that can strike Israel.
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The Israel Securities Authorities has opened an investigation into allegations that the country’s largest telecommunications company Bezeq received benefits so as to deal with positive media coverage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Several senior executives from the Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq, including two close associates of Benjamin Netanyahu, have been arrested as part of the corruption probe into the Israeli Prime Minister’s alleged corruption activities.
The detainees include Communications Ministry Director General Shlomo Filbert, who is accused of handing confidential documents to Bezeq to add to the company’s favorable treatment and provide positive media coverage of Netanyahu.
Police also nabbed Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq, who is suspected of communicating with the Israeli Prime Minister.
The arrests came just a few days after the Israeli police said that they had collected enough evidence to support claims that Netanyahu committed fraud and took bribes. The police promised to hand over the relevant investigative materials and its indictment recommendations to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Right now, Netanyahu faces charges of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy supporters, in the form of cigars, champagne and jewelry in return for advancing their interests.
The second investigation looks into allegations that Netanyahu arranged to obtain favorable coverage from the popular newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in return for creating problems for its rival, the Israel Hayom paper.
Additionally, the Israeli Prime Minister may be accused of alleged involvement in a multimillion dollar submarine deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. Netanyahu vehemently denies any wrongdoing, claiming that he is the victim of a smear campaign launched by his political opponents.
Late December saw thousands of people protesting in the streets in Tel Aviv to demand Netanyahu’s resignation over alleged corruption, in the “March of Shame” demonstration which continued for the fourth consecutive week at the time.
The beginning of January saw the continuation of anti-corruption protests against Netanyahu, with more than 2,000 people taking to the streets in Tel Aviv.
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A crisis is brewing between Warsaw and Tel Aviv over a new Polish law criminalizing mention of the role some Poles played in the German genocide of Jews during World War II.
The law passed in the lower house and is expected to pass in the senate and be signed by the president before it takes effect.
From Israel’s perspective, the problem is how to appear sufficiently upset in order to maintain the self-declared Jewish state’s self-appointed role as the guardian of the memory of the millions murdered.
It’s an awkward balancing act since in the 21st century, anti-Semites and even some Holocaust deniers are among Israel’s closest and most fervent allies.
Over the last year, Israel has kept a low profile whenever its anti-Semitic friends have shown their true colors.
A year ago, when the Trump White’s House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day message omitted any mention of Jews, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained silent even as American Jewish organizations and – implicitly – the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum voiced sharp criticism.
Months into the new administration, the Anne Frank Center warned of “alarming parallels” between history and the present day United States.
Just days later, on 11 and 12 August, torch-bearing Nazis marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us,” before one of their number allegedly carried out a vehicular attack killing anti-racism activist Heather Heyer.
Trump received blistering criticism for his lackluster response that seemed to give a wink to the far-right extremists. But on that occasion too, Israeli leaders maintained a conspicuous silence.
Netanyahu also tightened his embrace of Viktor Orban, the far-right pro-Israel prime minister of Hungary who lionizes Hitler ally Miklos Horthy, the man who sent hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews to their deaths.
And lawmakers from Netanyahu’s Likud Party have given a warm embrace to neo-Nazis who surged in elections in Germany and Austria – because those far-right extremists now offer solid support to Israel.
Nazi genocide in Poland
The official Polish view enshrined in the new law is that Poland and its people – Jewish and non-Jewish – should be viewed entirely and only as victims of the Nazi occupation regime.
And there is no doubt that they were victims. In a statement criticizing the Polish law, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recalls that from 1939-45, “approximately three million Jews – 90 percent of Poland’s Jewish population – had been murdered in mass shootings and at stationary killing centers in occupied Poland, Auschwitz-Birkenau being the most well known.”
It also notes that “many Poles risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors.”
At the same time as the extermination of the country’s Jewish population was going on, the museum explains, some “two million non-Jewish Polish civilians – including tens of thousands of Catholic priests, intellectuals, teachers and political leaders – were killed by the Germans and millions more were imprisoned and subjected to forced labor. Over 1.5 million Poles were deported as forced laborers.”
Yet a full accounting of history, according to the museum, requires discussion and research into the fact that as “German forces implemented the mass murder of Jews, they drew upon some Polish agencies, such as Polish police forces and railroad personnel, in the guarding of ghettos and the deportation of Jews to the killing centers.”
Moreover, individual Poles “often helped in the identification, denunciation and hunting down of Jews in hiding, often profiting from associated blackmail, and actively participated in the plunder of Jewish property.” And notoriously, the museum recalls, in July 1941, Polish residents of the town of Jedwabne “participated in the murder of hundreds of their Jewish neighbors.”
The Polish law’s attempt to criminalize even discussion of these facts is simply too embarrassing for Israel to remain silent. So Israel’s ambassador went to meet with a top Polish official to express her government’s displeasure.
According to The Times of Israel, the ambassador “reiterated Israel’s concern that the legislation violates freedom of speech and would limit the discourse surrounding the Holocaust in Poland and its victims.”
And, Israel – like Poland – also builds its modern national myth on the denial of history.
As Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who sits in Israel’s parliament, writes for +972 Magazine, Israel has for several years had legislation restricting commemoration of the Nakba, the well-planned ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 and afterwards by Zionist militias and the Israeli state.
“Isn’t the Nakba Law also an attempt to rewrite history? To hide and deny certain parts of it?” Zoabi asks. “It is true that the Nakba Law does not – yet – criminalize individuals. But in its essence, it is a law that seeks to silence, just as the Polish law does, and allows the effective denial of the Palestinian catastrophe.”
“As a Palestinian, I feel a kinship with the victims of the Holocaust,” Zoabi says, “I am angry at all those who continue to murder and remain silent, those who force others to remain silent.”
Another person expressing anger – albeit from a different direction – is Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who was reportedly “flabbergasted” by Israel’s “violent and very unfavorable reaction” to the new law that he supports.
Duda’s surprise is perhaps understandable, since Israel and its lobby groups cannot claim they didn’t know about the Polish leadership’s Holocaust revisionist tendencies even as they cozied up to them.
In a leaked briefing paper obtained by The Electronic Intifada in December, the European Leadership Network, a pro-Israel lobby group, reported that assurances were recently given by Polish officials that Israel “can count” on Poland during Warsaw’s two-year term on the UN Security Council that began on 1 January.
“Israel looks to Poland as one of the friendliest countries in the European Union,” the briefing paper states.
The lobby group went so far as to allege that Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is “in denial” over how Polish citizens were involved in murders of Jews during the Holocaust, something it is prepared to overlook because of the party’s pro-Israel stance.
But Israeli leaders don’t have to rely on their Brussels lobbyists to tell them this. In recent months, Israeli officials themselves spoke at a conference hosted by an anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Polish group aimed at whitewashing Poles’ role in the murder of Jews.
In the Israeli publication Ynet, commentator Sever Plocker expressed his consternation and outrage at the “participation of a minister and a Knesset member from Israel in a conference aimed at distorting the memory of the Holocaust and legitimizing Poland’s racist-nationalist (and anti-Semitic, despite all its denials) right.”
Old alliance renewed
The alliance of Zionism with anti-Semites, first with anti-Semitic Protestant Christian Zionists and later with the Nazis, was foundational to the movement – despite Israel’s claim that it represents the very antithesis of anti-Semitism.
It is an alliance reinvigorated by a shared hatred of Muslims, who have superficially replaced Jews as an acceptable target for the kind of scapegoating and vilification that was supposed, in the wake of the Holocaust, to have ended in Europe.
Understanding this is essential to understanding why Israel today is at the vanguard of the global far-right, the model for authoritarian states and the guiding light and alibi for ethno-nationalists and racists.
That is why in the struggle against all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, Jews and Palestinians committed to equality and human rights stand together on one side, while Israel, Zionists and their bigoted cheerleaders are on the other side.
- Holocaust Memorial Day
- Holocaust denial
- Donald Trump
- Anne Frank Center
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Viktor Orban
- Miklos Horthy
- Likud Party
- Sever Plocker
- Haneen Zoabi
- Nakba Law
- Nakba denial
- Andrzej Duda
- European Leadership Network