holy monsters tread the boards

In visit to Israel, Trump escalates attacks on Iran
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, May 23 2017

Donald Trump made clear from the moment of his arrival in Israel Monday that the purpose of his trip, promoted by the White House and the media as part of a quest for “Middle East peace,” is the consolidation of reactionary regional alliance in support of a military buildup against Iran. He flew to Tel Aviv directly from Riyadh, where he delivered an inflammatory speech designed to consolidate a military alliance of Sunni oil monarchies and dictatorships against Iran. Portraying the struggle as one of “good against evil” and invoking “god” nine times, Trump made a clear appeal to sectarian divisions to promote what amounts to a holy war by the Sunni regimes against the predominantly Shia Iran. While there was reportedly some disquiet in Israel over his signing of arms deals with the Toads that could total some $350b over the next decade, the speech and the turn by the Trump administration to an aggressively anti-Iranian policy went down well there. Trump kept up his anti-Iranian rhetoric in statements made during meetings with Pres Rivlin and PM Netanyahu. Speaking alongside Rivlin, Trump said:

There is growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posted by Iran. Most importantly, USrael can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, never ever, and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately.

Appearing with Netanyahu, Trump denounced the P5+1 agreement of 2015 as a “terrible thing,” saying:

We not only gave them a lifeline, we gave them wealth and prosperity and we also gave them the ability to continue with terror.

While Trump has yet to follow through on his vow to rip up the accord and has kept in place waivers on sanctions imposed in relation to Teheran’s nuclear program, the speech delivered in Riyadh and his remarks in Israel spell out a policy of regime change in Iran that threatens to unleash an even more devastating war in the Middle East. Trump’s statements have provoked expressions of unease, particularly in Europe, which has viewed the nuclear deal with Iran as an opening to new markets and sources of profit. The FT of London published an editorial Monday titled “Trump of Arabia takes sides in sectarian conflict,” warning:

Backing Sunni Arab autocrats against Shia Iran will not help the Middle East.

Le Monde editorialized:

Faschingstein was pursuing a “Cold War”-style policy in the Middle East, dividing it between two camps: the Sunni states and USraelis on one side; Iran, Syria and Russia on the other (leading to the) continuation of the endless wars ravaging the region.

The arrogance of Trump’s denunciations of Iran, which last week held a hotly contested presidential election, while praising the Toads, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies and the source of both the religious ideology and financial resources underpinning AQ, Daesh and similar Islamist groups, was denounced by the government in Tehran. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi Monday called upon Faschingstein to abandon its “policy of warmongering, meddling, Iranophobia and sales of dangerous and useless weapons to the main sponsors of terrorism.” Pres Rouhani, who was re-elected with a wide margin of victory Friday after running on a program promoting rapprochement with the West, made an indirect reference to the Toad connections to 9/11, saying:

You can’t resolve the issue of terrorism by giving money to super powers. I don’t think the people of Pindostan would trade the blood they gave on 9/11 in exchange for money raised in arms sales.

Rouhani also pointed to the hypocrisy of Trump’s speech in Riyadh, coming in the wake of the Iranian election:

Mr Trump visited the region at the time millions of our people went to the polls. He went to a country whose people haven’t even seen ballot boxes, and elections don’t have any meaning for them. I hope one day the Toads also derive their national strength through elections. Power should not pass on through inheritance, but through elections.

In what amounted to a pair of religiously-themed photo-ops, Trump, Melania, Ivanka and Jared went to both the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall Monday. The visit was the first by any Pindo president to the Old City of Jayloomia, which is regarded internationally as illegally occupied territory, seized by Israel 50 years ago. Trump’s promotion of the charade of a Pindo-brokered Israeli-Palestinian “peace” was a decidedly secondary element of his trip. He presented it almost entirely from the standpoint of a gesture needed to give cover to the reactionary Sunni Arab oil sheikhdoms so that they can openly align themselves with Israel. He said after meeting with Pres Rivlin:

King Salman feels very strongly and, I can tell you, would love to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians.

The Arab monarchies have dropped even their earlier demands for a “two-state solution” that would leave Palestinians trapped in a fragmented, Israeli-dominated mini-state, calling merely for minor concessions. A discussion paper circulated among these regimes that was obtained by the WSJ indicated that in the interests of forging an alliance against Iran, they are prepared to normalize relations with Israel in return for minimal concessions such as the freezing of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the easing of trade restrictions on the Gaza Strip. On the eve of Trump’s arrival, the Israeli cabinet approved a limited increase in the number of building permits issued to Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank, which Israel controls directly and aims to eventually annex. It also extended the opening of the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan to 24 hours a day, and allowed for the development of some industrial zones in the occupied territory. A boxtop told the Israeli media:

This is a gesture for Pres Trump’s visit, which does not harm Israel’s interests.

To say that Trump is going through the motions in terms of seeking a resumption of peace talks would be an exaggeration. He is to meet Abu Mazen during a trip Tuesday to Beit Lehem that is scheduled to last for all of one hour. While initially he was to squeeze in more religious tourism with a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, this plan was scrapped when it emerged that he would have to pass a protest tent erected in support of the Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike. Schools, public transit, banks and stores were shut down by a general strike in the occupied West Bank Monday in support of more than 1,300 Palestinian political prisoners who have been on hunger strike since Apr 17. In several demonstrations held in conjunction with the strike, Trump was burned in effigy. More than 1,000 Palestinian demonstrators converged on the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jayloomia and Ramallah carrying placards bearing Trump’s image defaced with a red shoe print declaring:

Pindo policies are a footprint of shame on humanity’s forehead.

Israeli troops attacked the demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot to death by MAGAV cops at a checkpoint northeast of Beit Lehem on Monday. An Israeli police spokesman claimed the youth had tried to stab Israeli border police, none of whom were injured in the alleged assault. Just two days earlier, 23-year-old Mutaz Hussien Hilal Bani Shamsa was shot dead by a Zionist settler who got out of his car and opened fire on a demonstration in support of the hunger strikers. In contrast to the growing militancy of the Palestinian population, the corrupt PA, which is heavily dependent upon funding from the Toads and the Gulf oil sheikdoms, is moving to accommodate itself to Trump’s mid-east policy. Abbas was among those attending Trump’s anti-Iranian diatribe in Riyadh, and he is reportedly prepared to present a new proposal for “peace” negotiations that drops all references to Jerusalem and cedes to Israel three times as much land as the PA previously offered.

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