nazi israel

Pompeo spells out the new normal: All criticism of Israel is ‘anti-Semitic’
Jonathan Cook, Middle East Eye, Nov 24 2020

A woman calls for a boycott of Israeli goods at the Ofer checkpoint near Ramallah, Aug 6 2019 (AFP)

It is tempting to dismiss last week’s statements by Pompeo equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and suggesting the global movement to boycott Israel is driven by hatred of Jews, as the last gasp of a dying administration. But that would be foolhardy. Pompeo’s decision to label all but the most tepid criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism is fully in line with the current redrawing of the limits of western political debate about Israel. To underscore his message, Pompeo issued his statement as he headed to an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank, the first such official visit by a US Sec State. New guidelines announced that in future the US would mark settlement goods as “Made in Israel,” concealing the fact that they are produced in the occupied Palestinian territories. For good measure, Pompeo added:

The US government will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups. We want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is.

The settlement visit was doubtless intended as affirmation by the departing Trump administration of its recognition of Israel’s right to annex swaths of the West Bank seized by settlers. That position was cemented into a so-called “peace plan” earlier in the year. Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian peace negotiator,warned that Pompeo’s declarations would be hard for the Biden administration to reverse, either rhetorically or substantively, when it takes office in January. She said:

Such malicious measures are intended to corner the incoming US administration with layers of legal and administrative measures that maintain the destructive Trump legacy beyond his disruptive term.

To change course, Biden will have to declare the settlements illegal and come to the defence of the BDS movement, incurring the wrath of Israel’s lobbyists in Washington and opposition from the overwhelming majority of his own lawmakers in Congress. It is fanciful to imagine he will do either. The reality is that Israel’s endless facts on the ground, all ultimately pushing towards annexation, will continue as before, whether Biden or Trump is in charge. More significantly still, however, Pompeo’s statement marks the logical endpoint of a new foreign policy consensus on Israel that has rapidly taken shape in the US and Europe. By this stage, only concerted action from western states to penalise Israel can alter the cost-benefit calculus that has so far made expanding the settlement enterprise pain-free. But trenchant criticism of Israel, of the kind so urgently necessary, is now increasingly off-limits. Instead western states are actually defaming and outlawing even the most limited forms of grassroots, non-violent action against Israel, like the BDS movement. Pompeo’s statement, in fact, marks a complete inversion of the UN’s decision in 1975 to declare Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” At the time, supporters of Resolution 3379 made a self-evident case: any state is structurally racist if its founding ideology, as with Zionism, accords superior rights to citizens based on their ethnicity or religion.

Palestinians call for a boycott of Israeli goods at the Ofer checkpoint near Ramallah, Aug 6 2019 (AFP)

An international convention further makes clear that such a political arrangement amounts to apartheid. While in the 1970s Israel made efforts to obscure its ideological character, it has long since abandoned such pretence. In 2018 Israel passed the Nation-State Law making its apartheid explicit. The law affirmed superior legal rights for Jewish citizens over a large minority of Palestinian citizens. In late 1991, however, the UN was browbeaten into revoking the “Zionism is racism” resolution after the Soviet Union fell and the US, Israel’s patron, emerged as the sole global superpower. We have now reached the point where, as Pompeo’s statement underscores, it is criticism of Israel and Zionism that is viewed as racism. In this topsy-turvy worldview, nuclear-armed Israel is the victim, not the Palestinians who have been dispossessed and ethnically cleansed by Israel for decades. This derangement is so entrenched that last year the House of Representatives passed a near-unanimous resolution pushed by AIPAC denouncing any boycott of Israel as anti-Semitic. Some 32 US states have passed legislation uniquely denying First Amendment rights to those who support a boycott of Israel in solidarity with oppressed Palestinians. Other states have similar legislation in the pipeline.

The absurdity extends beyond the US. The German parliament passed a resolution last year that declared boycotting Israel, a state occupying Palestinians for more than five decades, comparable to the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews.” Bonn has the power to deny public funds to any group that supports, however tangentially, such a boycott. Last month, Israeli Jewish academics in Berlin became the latest group targeted. Their art school removed their web page and cut funding for a series of workshops critical of Zionism after an outcry from German anti-racism groups and the media. A similar inversion of reality is taking place in the UK, where the government has ruled that local authorities are not allowed to divest pension funds from Israel. These investments, some in illegal Jewish settlements, are assessed at nearly £3.5b, meaning ordinary Britons heavily subsidise Israel’s occupation. The decision by Boris Johnson’s government was struck down by Britain’s highest court in April, but the government has vowed to bring in new anti-BDS legislation that would nullify that ruling. In France, meanwhile, support for boycotting Israel has long beentreated as a criminal offence under anti-discrimination legislation. A group of 12 Palestinian solidarity activists lost a series of court battles in France after they were convicted a decade ago of calling for a boycott outside a supermarket. The activists received a reprieve in June only after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that their convictions violated Europe’s human rights convention.

That judgment serves only to highlight the growing chasm between the political and legal environments being shaped by lobbyists in individual western states on one side and the principles of international law and human rights established in the wake of WW2 on the other. Pompeo’s claim that opposition to Zionism, the ideology oppressing Palestinians, is anti-Semitic has taken widespread root because pro-Israel activists have managed to advance an entirely novel definition of anti-Semitism. In 2016 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a highly contentious and politicised “working definition” of anti-Semitism promoted by Israel. The definition is illustrated with 11 examples, seven of which refer to various criticisms of Israel, including that it is a “racist endeavour.” A conclusion reached by the UN 45 years ago, that it is racist for a state to promote rights based not on our shared humanity but on ethnic or religious difference, is now defined as anti-Semitic. Donald Trump used an executive order to incorporate this weaponised definition into the Civil Rights Act last year, thereby chilling speech about Israel, especially on US campuses. The IHRA definition is now widely accepted in the West, making it all but impossible to mount a defence against the malicious characterisation of support for Palestinian rights as equivalent to hatred of Jews. Pompeo is simply echoing a discourse that has rapidly become entrenched.

Protesters outside Germany’s Representative Office in Ramallah following the Bundestag’s
condemnation of the BDS movement, May 22 2019 (AFP)

This became obvious when the British Labour party found itself plunged into a manufactured controversy in early 2016 that overnight it had become uniquely and institutionally anti-Semitic. The campaign began shortly after the membership elected as leader Jeremy Corbyn, one of a handful of socialist MPs in Labour and a vocal advocate of Palestinian rights. The degree to which Israel has become untouchable, even when criticisms accord with international law, was highlighted when the UN compiled a list of businesses colluding with Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Publication of the database was repeatedly delayed for fear of the backlash the UN would receive for offending Israel and its lobbyists. The list finally saw daylight last February. But the firms identified in the list have not come under any significant pressure to pull out of the settlements. In fact, what pressure they have faced has been for them to stay put, or otherwise face accusations of unfairly discriminating against Israel. Countervailing pressure on them could come through the actions of popular, grassroots groups calling for a boycott. But western states now characterise the BDS movement that organises such boycotts as antisemitic too. Quiescence and inaction are the only options allowed, if one wishes to avoid being labelled anti-Semitic.

Pompeo’s remarks in support of the settlements last week were foreshadowed by reports last month that the State Dept is considering a mechanism for labelling the world’s most prominent human rights groups as anti-Semitic. The US would then urge other states not to deal with organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam. Pompeo’s approach, ridiculous as it might have seemed a decade ago, does not stray far from the current logic in western capitals. Their officials have ridden roughshod over international law for some time, especially with their “interventions” in Arab states such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. As the Palestinian cause is progressively sidelined by both western states and Arab states, groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have found themselves solitary critical voices on Israel. They are almost alone in continuing to articulate concerns about Israel’s egregious violations of international law, especially in relation to the settlements. As a result, Pompeo’s moves to silence them may face much less resistance than many observers might assume. They have been strong-armed into the dock and must prove to their accusers the impossible: their innocence, measured not in concrete, public positions but in what supposedly lies behind them, in the form of private and unprovable motives. This is safe ground for right-wing politicians and lobby groups. Anti-Semitism is the insidious charge that sticks to anything it touches. The stain is all but impossible to remove. Which is why those standing up for human rights, and against racism and oppression, are going to find themselves ever more aggressively condemned as anti-Semitic.  This is a path not towards peace and reconciliation but towards greater tribalism, confrontation and violence. It strips out the tools of argument and persuasion, as well as non-violent forms of pressure like boycotts, and ensures a world ruled by “might makes right.”

Trump Administration Displays Its Love for Israel
Philip Giraldi, Unz Review, Nov 24 2020

Trump’s gifts to Israel in the last few weeks of his administration are, quite frankly, incomprehensible based on any consideration that US foreign policy should be reflective of American national and international interests. On the contrary, the nearly worldwide assessment of the US as a completely rogue nation headed by someone who is quite plausibly insane and led by the nose by Israel has done considerable damage to America’s ability to lead on important issues like nuclear proliferation and climate change. Much of the bad decision making by Trump is derived from his having bought into the Israeli view of Iran, which, in reality, does not threaten Americans or US interests. On his recent visit to Israel, Pompeo added new sanctions against Iran while also releasing a State Dept statement defending Trump’s “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic. He boasted about the damage being done to the Iranian economy:

The Maximum Pressure campaign against the Iranian regime continues to be extraordinarily effective. Today, Iran’s economy faces a currency crisis, mounting public debt, and rising inflation. Prior to the Maximum Pressure campaign, Iran was exporting nearly 2.5mb/d of oil. Now it struggles to export even a quarter of that volume.

Hostility towards Iran also means continuing a military presence in Syria as well as in Iraq. Whatever troop withdrawals Trump is envisioning between now and the time he leaves office will certainly not include Syria and he will surely be leaving a considerable presence in Iraq, deferring to Israeli interests. Trump and Pompeo have doubled down on pleasing Israel, even though Netanyahu was quick off the mark in acknowledging that Biden had indeed won the presidential election. Netanyahu was able to do so because he knows that his influence over the White House is matched by his ability to get favors from both major parties in the US Congress. And if all else were to fail, unlikely as that is, the Israeli leadership is confident that it can make the American media dance to its tune. In other words, no matter what Netanyahu does vis-a-vis the US election, Israel would find itself well positioned to manipulate America’s foreign policy to favor its own interests.

Pompeo’s latest and just concluded trip to the Middle East involved the usual stops in Israel to be given his marching orders but he also was bearing gifts. His visit was clearly intended to deliver the message that as far as the Trump Administration is concerned Israel can do whatever it wants relating to the Palestinian West Bank, which is now home to 700k illegal settlers. Pompeo accomplished that part of his mission in two ways. First, he visited both the annexed Golan Heights as well as an illegal Israeli settlement at Qasr el Yahud on the Jordan River. He also stopped at a winery located on land blatantly stolen from Palestinians, whose Florida-based Jewish “owners” had previously named a wine in his honor. It was the first time that a US Sec State had visited a settlement, and it was a signal that Washington no longer regards the exclusively Jewish enclaves as an obstacle to peace and no longer considers them illegal. Second, Pompeo, while in Israel last Thursday, made two significant statements regarding US policies on Israel and the Palestinian territories, revealing stronger support for Israel’s presence in the West Bank. He said that as a result of the State Dept taking a “reality-based foreign policy approach,” products exported to the US from the illegally occupied territory shall be marked as Israeli. He elaborated:

In accordance with this announcement, all producers within areas where Israel exercises the relevant authorities, most notably Area C under the Oslo Accords, will be required to mark goods as ‘Israel,’ ’Product of Israel’ or ‘Made in Israel’ when exporting to the US.

In other words, the US is now endorsing the reality that much of the formerly Palestinian West Bank is now both de facto and de jure part of Israel. Area C comprises 60% of it. The move was immediately denounced by former Palestinian Chief Negotiator Hanan Ashrawi as “an attempt to legitimize the theft of Palestinian land and plunder of Palestinian resources that runs counter fundamental principles of international law and the global consensus.” And so it is, but it was followed by a second statement which no doubt pleased the Israelis but which should concern all Americans who are troubled about the dramatic erosion of free speech in the US. Pompeo, standing next to Netahyahu, said the BDS movement was “a cancer” and anti-Semitic, adding the US would work to stop its funding. Netanyahu called the move “wonderful.” Formed in 2005, BDS is non-violent. It is active in many countries around the world and calls for a total boycott of Israel, including cultural, economic and academic activities, over the brutal Israeli repression of the Palestinian people. Pompeo personally pledged:

The US government will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups. We want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is.

An accompanying State Dept press statement issued by Pompeo elaborated:

It is the policy of the US to combat anti-Semitism everywhere in the world and in whatever form it appears, including all forms of discrimination and hatred rooted in anti-Semitism. The US strongly opposes the global discriminatory BDS Campaign and practices that facilitate it, such as discriminatory labeling and the publication of databases of companies that operate in Israel or Israeli-controlled areas. As we have made clear, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. The US is, therefore, committed to countering the Global BDS Campaign as a manifestation of anti-Semitism. To advance this policy, I have directed the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to identify organizations that engage in, or otherwise support, the Global BDS Campaign. In identifying such organizations, the Office of the Special Envoy will consider whether an organization is engaged in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, or otherwise limit, commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel.

The Pompeo statement is a declaration of war against a non-violent group that seeks to bring about change through peaceful means. Many US states have already taken steps to punish BDS and its supporters and there is legislation in Congress that will make it guilty of hate speech as well as anti-Semitism due to its criticism of the Jewish state. The legislation includes substantial fines and prison time. In France, for example, it is already illegal to advocate a boycott of Israel.

While Pompeo was in Israel, lest there be any doubt about the Trump Administration’s love for the Jewish state, the president himself, speaking from Washington, announced that Sudan would be establishing diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. He added that many more countries would be doing likewise in the next two months. That Sudan made its decision under intense American pressure and due to suffocating sanctions imposed by Washington was not mentioned by President Trump. Trump also responded favorably to another request from Netanyahu. Last Friday his Justice Dept blocked any extension of the travel limitations imposed by the terms of the parole of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. The move came over the objections of many in intelligence and national security communities, but was intended to please Israel. Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, is now free from any travel restrictions and will move to Israel, where he is regarded as a hero and has been granted citizenship in absentia. He was the most damaging spy in US history, having revealed top secret information on US intelligence sources and communications, some of which was passed on to the Soviet Union by Israel in exchange for allowing the emigration of Russian Jews. It is being argued that both Trump and Pompeo have ulterior motives for expressing their warm feelings towards Israel and all its works. Pompeo would like to be the GOP presidential candidate in 2024 and Trump would like to retain his control over the party. Either would benefit from the powerful support of the Israel Lobby in the US and through solidifying their positions as being among the greatest friends of the Jewish state. The tragedy is that what benefits two more politicians on the make has absolutely nothing in it for the American people. And from Joe “I’m a Zionist” Biden we certainly can expect more of the same, both because the outgoing Trumpsters are creating a web of complications around what is taking place both with Iran and Israel that will be difficult to unravel and because the new president would fear taking any steps not approved by Netanyahu.

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