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vocativ unexpectedly yields a good one

The Burkini Controversy Reaches Italy, Via Facebook
Anna Momigliano, Vocativ, Aug 24 2016


In response to controversy in France over the burkini, the body-covering bathing suit designed for religious Muslim women, Izzeddin Elzir, an imam in Florence, Italy, posted a photo of seven Catholic nuns joyfully bathing in the sea on his Facebook wall. The nuns were all fully dressed in traditional habits and veils. The imam’s post was shared more than 3,000 times. But by Friday morning his account was blocked, not by local authorities, but by Facebook. Elzir explained in a telephone conversation with Vocativ:

I just wanted get people to stop and think. That’s why I posted the photo alone, without writing a single word. I didn’t want to take sides but rather to spur a healthy debate.

The burkini originates in Australia, where it was launched in 2004 by a clothing designer who had immigrated from Lebanon with her family when she was a toddler. Aheda Zanetti’s design was inspired by a government-sponsored campaign to integrate Muslim citizens into Australian life. It was worn by the country’s first female Muslim lifeguard and is regarded in Australia as a symbol of diversity and successful integration. But in France the skin-covering garment, which resembles the wet suit worn by divers, has sparked controversy. Recently, the mayors of five towns banned women from wearing the burkini in public, with police fining three women (so far) for defying the new law. Manuel Valls, the Socialist prime minister, supported the mayors’ ban, saying the garment was “not compatible with the values of France.”

Italian supporters of the far right have suggested adopting the ban in their country as well. This spurred a heated debate both online and offline. On Wednesday Elzir, who is also the president of Ucoii, an umbrella organization for the country’s Muslim communities, posted the image of the nuns in order to make a point: If they can go to the beach covered from head to toe, why shouldn’t Muslim women be allowed to do the same? The burkini controversy comes at a time when tension regarding Islam is running high in Europe, with several EU countries increasingly at odds with their Muslim minorities as they struggle with Jihadi-inspired terrorism. In Italy the construction of mosques was one of the hottest political topics of the year. Since Elzir is a public figure in his own right, his having posted the photo of the nuns at the beach on his Facebook wall was reported widely by local media. Many speculated that Elzir’s post might have been mistaken for some kind of threat against the Catholic clergy. After two men who said they were inspired by ISIS murdered a French priest last month, concern has been growing that Christian clergy have become a target for Jihadis. The odd thing about this theory is that Elzir, a Palestinian from Hebron, has an established reputation for being at the forefront of interfaith dialogue. In fact, in 2014 he was awarded the Golden Florin, Florence’s highest prize for community service, together with Florence’s archbishop and its chief rabbi. Elzir tells Vocativ his account was blocked by Facebook and not by the Italian authorities. The social network platform’s official explanation, he says, is that someone had reported his profile as a possible fake. He said:

I asked an internet-savvy friend to help me out and we sent a message to the administrators. They told us my account was reported and asked me to send them a scan of my ID.

Vocativ was not able to verify this with Facebook. After the imam provided Facebook with his ID (and after the Italian online media had reported widely on the incident), the account was restored within 24 hours. He said:

The whole incident seemed very strange to me. Do really people block an account just because someone falsely claims it’s a fake one? I cannot help but think it had something to do with the picture I posted and the buzz it created.

Italy’s police recently cracked down on the online activities of groups that are perceived as extremists, shutting down websites and social media accounts of far right activists and jihadi sympathizers, since social network are increasingly perceived as a channel for radicalization and hate speech. Elzir said:

My post was widely shared by my Catholic friends on Facebook. The way I see it, social media is also a tool for dialogue among people of different faith, although I personally prefer interaction that takes place in person.

bullets are cheaper

Israel using basic needs to blackmail Palestinians
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Aug 23 2016

More than a dozen Israeli human rights organizations are condemning Israel’s attacks and smears against humanitarian aid agencies in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister has announced a plan to use basic humanitarian needs to blackmail Palestinians in the occupied West Bank into submitting quietly to Israeli military rule. The human rights groups, including Adalah, B’Tselem, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, “urge the Israeli government to refrain from impeding the activities of these organizations, and to avoid vilifying the vital work of the aid community.” Their statement comes after Israel arrested officials from two international agencies in Gaza, accusing them of helping the military resistance wing of Hamas. The Israeli human rights groups said:

On the basis of these indictments, Israeli authorities have made sweeping, far-reaching and irresponsible allegations claiming that humanitarian operations in the Gaza Strip as a whole are connected to Hamas and serve the organization. (Even if the two men were guilty as accused), this will not detract from the importance, integrity and dedication of international humanitarian organizations assisting residents of the Gaza Strip.

Many of the nearly 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid because of the devastation to the territory’s economy after three successive Israeli military assaults and a decade-long Israeli siege. In June, Israel detained the Gaza director of global Christian aid and development charity World Vision, interrogated him for more than 50 days and then charged him with diverting up to $50m to the military wing of Hamas. Mohammad El Halabi’s detention only came to light earlier this month. Halabi’s lawyers have said he was tortured and prevented from seeing an attorney for three weeks. World Vision leaders have said he had limited control over funds, and pointed out that the Israeli accusations fly in the face of the facts: the group’s entire budget in Gaza over the last decade was about $22.5m, less than half the $50m that Israel claims Halabi diverted in just six years. The UNDP also revealed that Israel had detained one of its employees in Gaza, accusing him of providing rubble to Hamas for use in construction. Israeli officials then launched a full-scale smear campaign against aid agencies working in Gaza, accusing them of supporting “terrorism.” Israel’s accusations against World Vision and other groups have been picked up by its apologists in an effort to cut off humanitarian aid to Gaza altogether. Writing in The Jewish Chronicle, Melanie Phillips argued that Western government financing for UNRWA, as well as groups like World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam, amounted to funding the “mass murder” of Jews. Marco Rubio sent a letter to Obama and Jackass Kerry demanding what could amount to a government witch hunt against those who support Palestinians. He wrote:

I urge you to investigate every allegation and use all resources to ensure Pindosi taxpayer dollars as well as individual private donations of Pindosis are not being used to fund terrorism, (and to) suspend all Pindosi assistance to Gaza until a review of the controls in place to prevent a diversion of funds can occur.

Last week, Israeli defense minister Avigdor ‘Yvette’ Lieberman announced a new “carrot and stick” policy that amounts to depriving Palestinians of basic needs unless they willingly submit to occupation. This is another demonstration that Israel sees resources for humanitarian needs as weapons to subdue the Palestinians who live under its military rule. According to Ynet, areas from where there is no “terrorism” (as Israel terms any form of Palestinian resistance) will be allowed to build hospitals, kindergartens and other basic infrastructure. But villages that have “bred many terrorists” will be subjected to “heavy security” amounting to the already ongoing policy of collective punishment, which is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention that governs Israel’s occupation. Only allowing Palestinian communities to meet their basic needs as long as no one resists also looks like a clear violation of international law. As the ICRC notes, the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates:

To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.

Lieberman’s intention, according to Haaretz, is to bypass the Palestinian Authority, talk to Palestinians “directly” and “cut out the middlemen.” ‘Yvette’ asked:

If there are intellectuals, academics, outstanding municipal officials, why should they talk to us through Mahmoud Abbas?

Ahmed Majdalani, an aide to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, and a member of the PLO’s executive committee, compared Lieberman’s plans to the short-lived “village leagues” of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Israel armed and funded these collaborationist bodies in the West Bank to act as “representatives” of the population after dismissing elected mayors who were affiliated with the PLO. The aim of the village leagues was to bypass the PLO, which at that time Israel saw as a threat and an enemy. But since the Oslo accords of the early 1990s, the PLO, whose bureaucracy and resources were effectively transferred over to the PA, has become Israel’s partner in administering the occupation. Despite Lieberman’s routine bluster against Abbas, Israel continues to rely on the PA to suppress any Palestinian resistance, a policy known as “security coordination.” This close relationship involves PA security agencies collaborating with Israel to arrest and torture Palestinians. Despite near universal Palestinian rejection of it, Abbas has called the close relationship with the occupation “sacred.” Lieberman is optimistic indeed if he thinks he can find Palestinians any more willing to do Israel’s bidding than the PA.

pilger on milosevic & trump

Provoking Nuclear War by Media
John Pilger, Aug 23 2016

The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica. Far from conspiring with the convicted Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Milosevic actually “condemned ethnic cleansing”, opposed Karadzic and tried to stop the war that dismembered Yugoslavia. Buried near the end of a 2,590-page judgement on Karadzic last February, this truth further demolishes the propaganda that justified Nato’s illegal onslaught on Serbia in 1999. Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006, alone in his cell in The Hague, during what amounted to a bogus trial by a Pindo-invented “international tribunal.” Denied heart surgery that might have saved his life, his condition worsened and was monitored and kept secret by Pindo officials, as WikiLeaks has since revealed.

Milosevic was the victim of war propaganda that today runs like a torrent across our screens and newspapers and beckons great danger for us all. He was the prototype demon, vilified by the western media as the “butcher of the Balkans” who was responsible for “genocide”, especially in the secessionist Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Prime Minister Tony Blair said so, invoked the Holocaust and demanded action against “this new Hitler.” David Scheffer, the Pindo ambassador-at-large for war crimes (sic), declared that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59” may have been murdered by Milocevic’s forces. This was the justification for NATO’s bombing, led by Bill Clinton and Blair, that killed hundreds of civilians in hospitals, schools, churches, parks and television studios and destroyed Serbia’s economic infrastructure. It was blatantly ideological; at a notorious “peace conference” in Rambouillet in France, Milosevic was confronted by Sec State Madeleine Albright, who was to achieve infamy with her remark that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were “worth it.” Albright delivered an “offer” to Milosevic that no national leader could accept: unless he agreed to the foreign military occupation of his country, with the occupying forces “outside the legal process,” and to the imposition of a neo-liberal “free market,” Serbia would be bombed. This was contained in an “Appendix B” which the media failed to read, or suppressed. The aim was to crush Europe’s last independent “socialist” state.

Once NATO began bombing, there was a stampede of Kosovar refugees “fleeing a holocaust.” When it was over, international police teams descended on Kosovo to exhume the victims of the “holocaust.” The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines.” The final count of the dead in Kosovo was 2,788. This included combatants on both sides, and Serbs and Roma murdered by the pro-NATO KLA. There was no genocide. The NATO attack was both a fraud and a war crime. All but a fraction of Pindostan’s vaunted “precision-guided” missiles hit not military but civilian targets, including the news studios of Radio Television Serbia in Belgrade. Sixteen people were killed, including cameramen, producers and a make-up artist. Blair described the dead as part of Serbia’s “command and control.” In 2008 Carla del Ponte the prosecutor of the ICTY, revealed that she had been pressured not to investigate NATO’s crimes. This was the model for Washington’s subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, by stealth, Syria. All qualify as “paramount crimes” under the Nuremberg standard. All depended on media propaganda. While tabloid journalism played its traditional part, it was serious, credible, often liberal journalism that was the most effective, the evangelical promotion of Blair and his wars by the Guardian, the incessant lies about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction in the Observer and the NYT, and the unerring drumbeat of government propaganda by the BBC in the silence of its omissions.

At the height of the bombing, the BBC’s Kirsty Wark interviewed General Wesley Clark, the NATO commander. The Serbian city of Nis had just been sprayed with Pindosi cluster bombs, killing women, old people and children in an open market and a hospital. Wark asked not a single question about this, or about any other civilian deaths. Others were more brazen. In Feb 2003, the day after Blair and Bush had set fire to Iraq, the BBC’s political editor Andrew Marr stood in Downing Street and made what amounted to a victory speech. He excitedly told his viewers that Blair had “said they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right.” Today, with a million dead and a society in ruins, Marr’s BBC interviews are recommended by the Pindo embassy in London. Marr’s colleagues lined up to pronounce Blair “vindicated.” The BBC’s Washington correspondent, Matt Frei, said:

There’s no doubt that the desire to bring good, to bring Pindosi values to the rest of the world, and especially to the Middle East … is now increasingly tied up with military power.

This obeisance to Pindostan and its collaborators as a benign force “bringing good” runs deep in Western establishment journalism. It ensures that the present-day catastrophe in Syria is blamed exclusively on Assad, whom the West and Israel have long conspired to overthrow, not for any humanitarian concerns, but to consolidate Israel’s aggressive power in the region. The Jihadi forces unleashed and armed by Pindostan, Britain, France, Turkey and their “coalition” proxies serve this end. It is they who dispense the propaganda and videos that becomes news in Pindostan and Eurostan, and provide access to journalists and guarantee a one-sided “coverage” of Syria. The city of Aleppo is in the news. Most readers and viewers will be unaware that the majority of the population of Aleppo lives in the government-controlled western part of the city. That they suffer daily artillery bombardment from western-sponsored AQ is not news. On Jul 21, French and Pindosi bombers attacked a government village in Aleppo province, killing up to 125 civilians. This was reported on page 22 of the Guardian. There were no photographs.

Having created and underwritten the Jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s as Operation Cyclone, a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union, Pindostan is doing something similar in Syria. Like the Afghan Mujahidin, the Syrian “rebels” are UKUSA’s foot-soldiers. Many fight for AQ and its variants. Some, like Jabhat al-Nusra, have rebranded themselves (like big macs, no doubt – RB) to comply with Pindostani sensitivities over 9/11. The CIA runs them, with difficulty, as it runs Jihadis all over the world. The immediate aim is to destroy the government in Damascus, which, according to the most credible poll (YouGov Siraj), the majority of Syrians support, or at least look to for protection, regardless of the barbarism in its shadows. The long-term aim is to deny Russia a key Middle Eastern ally as part of a NATO war of attrition against the Russian Federation that eventually destroys it. The nuclear risk is obvious, though suppressed by the media across “the free world.” The editorial writers of the WaPo, having promoted the fiction of WMD in Iraq, demand that Obama attack Syria. Hillary Clinton, who publicly rejoiced at her executioner’s role during the destruction of Libya, has repeatedly indicated that as president, she will “go further” than Obama. Gareth Porter, reporting from Washington, recently revealed the names of those likely to make up a Clinton cabinet, who plan an attack on Syria. All have belligerent cold war histories. Former CIA director Leon Panetta says:

The next president is gonna have to consider adding additional special forces on the ground.

What is most remarkable about the war propaganda now in floodtide is its patent absurdity and familiarity. I have been looking through archive film from Washington in the 1950s when diplomats, civil servants and journalists were witch-hunted and ruined by Joe McCarthy for challenging the lies and paranoia about the Soviet Union and China. Like a resurgent tumour, the anti-Russia cult has returned. In Britain, the Guardian’s Luke Harding leads his newspaper’s Russia-haters in a stream of journalistic parodies that assign to Vladimir Putin every earthly iniquity. When the Panama Papers leak was published, the front page said Putin, and there was a picture of Putin, never mind that Putin was not mentioned anywhere in the leaks. Like Milosevic, Putin is Demon #1. It was Putin who shot down the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Headline:

As far as I’m concerned, Putin killed my son.

No evidence required. It was Putin who was responsible for Washington’s documented and paid-for overthrow of the elected government in Kiev in 2014. The subsequent terror campaign by fascist militias against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine was the result of Putin’s “aggression.” Preventing Crimea from becoming a NATO missile base and protecting the mostly Russian population, who had voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia, from which Crimea had been annexed, were more examples of Putin’s “aggression.” Smear by media inevitably becomes war by media. If war with Russia breaks out, by design or by accident, journalists will bear much of the responsibility. In Pindostan, the anti-Russia campaign has been elevated to virtual reality. The NYT columnist Paul Krugman, an economist with a Nobel Prize, has called Donald Trump the “Siberian Candidate” because, he says, Trump is Putin’s man. Trump had dared to suggest, in a rare lucid moment, that war with Russia might be a bad idea. In fact, he has gone further and removed Pindosi arms shipments to Ukraine from the Republican platform. And he said:

Wouldn’t it be great if we got along with Russia!

This is why Pindostan’s warmongering liberal establishment hates him. Trump’s racism and ranting demagoguery have nothing to do with it. Bill and Hillary’s record of racism and extremism can out-trump Trump’s any day. This week is the 20th anniversary of the Clinton welfare “reform” that launched a war on African- Black Pindosis. As for Obama: while Pindo police gun down his fellow African- Black Pindosis, the great hope in the White House has done nothing to protect them, nothing to relieve their impoverishment, while running four rapacious wars and an assassination campaign without precedent. The CIA has demanded Trump is not elected. Pentagon generals have demanded he is not elected. The pro-war NYT, taking a breather from its relentless low-rent Putin smears, demands that he is not elected. Something is up. These tribunes of “perpetual war” are terrified that the multi-billion-dollar business of war by which Pindostan maintains its dominance will be undermined if Trump does a deal with Putin, then with China’s Xi Jinping. Their panic at the possibility of the world’s great power talking peace, however unlikely, would be the blackest farce were the issues not so dire. Vice-Pres Biden bellowed at a rally for Clinton, with her nodding beside him:

Trump would have loved Stalin! We never bow! We never bend! We never kneel! We never yield! We own the finish line! That’s who we are! We are the Celestial Empire of High & Holy Pindostan!

In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has also excited hysteria from the war-makers in the Labour Party and from a media devoted to trashing him. Lord West, a former admiral and Labour minister, put it well. Corbyn was taking an “outrageous” anti-war position “because it gets the unthinking masses to vote for him.” In a debate with leadership challenger Owen Smith, Corbyn was asked by the moderator:

How would you act on a violation by Vladimir Putin of a fellow NATO state?

Corbyn replied:

You would want to avoid that happening in the first place. You would build up a good dialogue with Russia … We would try to introduce a de-militarisation of the borders between Russia, the Ukraine and the other countries on the border between Russia and Eastern Europe. What we cannot allow is a series of calamitous build-ups of troops on both sides which can only lead to great danger.

Pressed to say if he would authorise war against Russia “if you had to,” Corbyn replied:

I don’t wish to go to war. What I want to do is achieve a world that we don’t need to go to war.

The line of questioning owes much to the rise of Britain’s liberal warmakers. The Labour Party and the media have long offered them career opportunities. For a while the moral tsunami of the great crime of Iraq left them floundering, their inversions of the truth a temporary embarrassment. Regardless of Chilcot and the mountain of incriminating facts, Blair remains their inspiration, because he was a “winner.” Dissenting journalism and scholarship have since been systematically banished or appropriated, and democratic ideas emptied and refilled with “identity politics” that confuse gender with feminism and public angst with liberation, and wilfully ignore the state violence and weapons profiteering that destroys countless lives in faraway places like Yemen and Syria, and beckons nuclear war in Europe and across the world. The stirring of people of all ages around the spectacular rise of Jeremy Corbyn counters this to some extent. His life has been spent illuminating the horror of war. The problem for Corbyn and his supporters is the Labour Party. In Pindostan, the problem for the thousands of followers of Bernie Sanders was the Democrat Party, not to mention their ultimate betrayal by their great white hope. In Pindostan, home of the great civil rights and anti-war movements, it is Black Lives Matter and the likes of Code Pink that lay the roots of a modern version. For only a movement that swells into every street and across borders and does not give up can stop the warmongers. Next year, it will be a century since Wilfred Owen wrote the following. Every journalist should read it and remember it.

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

toilet humor best handled in small quantities

A previous, highly informative article on the Mercers is here – RB

Trump’s New Billionaire Backer Also Funds Huge Stockpile of Human Urine
Jon Schwartz, Intercept, Aug 23 2016

A cartoon from the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine newsletter illustrates how urine analysis can increase your Life Remaining.

The NYTWSJ and WaPo have all noticed that Robert Mercer, co-CEO of the giant hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, has emerged as a key backer of Donald Trump. Mercer, who first spent over $10m trying to make Ted Cruz president, just gave $2m to a super-PAC supporting Trump. Mercer is also a top investor in the Breitbart News Network. According to the WaPo, Mercer’s daughter Rebekah nudged Trump to bring in Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s executive chairman, to run his campaign. But here’s what the mainstream media won’t tell you: Robert Mercer and his daughter have also funded a gigantic stockpile of human urine in Oregon. The urine stockpile is the project of Arthur Robinson, a chemist and founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Starting in 2005, the Mercer Family Foundation contributed at least $1.4m to OISM, enabling Robinson to buy freezers to store his 14,000 samples of urine. Robinson wants still more urine, as much as possible, and issues frequent appeals to the public to contribute. According to the OISM newsletter:

(The aim is to) calibrate analytical procedures that can revolutionize the evaluation of personal chemistry and thereby improve our health, our happiness and prosperity, and even the academic performance of our children in school.

How exactly this will work is unknown. Robinson told Bloomberg earlier this year:

We’ve completed experiments here, which we could easily publish, but we want to wait until they are perfect.

This might make you suspect that Robinson is a troubled crank, but on the other hand … well, there actually is no other hand. He also believes that global warming is a myth and feels that public education is Pindostan’s “most widespread and devastating form of child abuse and racism.” The key political question now is whether Robert Mercer will be able to bring together his interest in Trump and urine. There’s no way to be certain how this will play out, but here are some potential paths that could be taken by a Trump administration:

  • Out: The Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In: The Strategic Urine Reserve.
  • All Pindosi Muslims must donate urine. This will both serve as a token of good citizenship and allow analysis of whether urine can be tested for terrorism.
  • Trump and Putin meet at a summit. In gesture of goodwill reminiscent of Pindosi and Russian astronauts shaking hands in space, they are photographed exiting a bathroom together, each holding a full, warm paper cup.
  • All Pindo currency now backed by “liquid gold.”

The name of the Super PAC that Mercer is funding to elect Trump is — this is absolutely not made up — Make America Number 1.


Israel sold weapons to Argentina at height of Falklands War, reveal declassified Foreign Office files
David Blair, Telegraph, Aug 24 2016

Israel sold weapons to Argentina at the height of the Falklands War in 1982, according to newly declassified Foreign Office files. British diplomats cited evidence that Israel had supplied the Argentine military junta with arms that were used against the Task Force during the campaign to liberate the islands. Israeli military exports before the war included the Skyhawk jets that would later be used to bomb British warships, killing dozens of soldiers, sailors and marines. Four British warships were sunk by bombs dropped from Skyhawks, including RFA Sir Galahad, a troop carrier that was set ablaze while anchored in Bluff Cove, killing 48 sailors and soldiers. Simon Weston, the badly burned veteran, was among the survivors. Another four ships were damaged by Skyhawks.

A book published in Argentina in 2011 exposed how Israel armed General Galtieri’s junta, dispatching weaponry to Buenos Aires on secret cargo flights routed through Peru. The Foreign Office files provide further evidence. The documents state that Israeli military exports to Argentina continued after the Falklands War and were still happening in 1984. By then, Israel had abandoned its previous policy of denying that any weapons sales were taking place. Instead, the country’s argument was that deals with Argentina were essential to sustain its domestic arms industry, and Britain was also supplying munitions to Israel’s enemies in the Arab world. A memorandum from C W Long, then head of the MENA Dept at the Foreign Office, states:

Israel was one of the few countries to supply Argentina with arms during the Falklands conflict and has continued to do so.

The document, released by the National Archives and dated Nov 16 1984, adds that Israel was, at that time, poised to sell Argentina spy planes designed to gather electronic and signals intelligence. The document states that Sir Geoffrey Howe, then foreign secretary, had personally asked Israel’s government not to go ahead. But Mr Long thought Israel would pay no attention. He wrote:

I do not believe the Israelis are to be moved on this issue. This is not satisfactory, but Israeli interests in Argentina will outweigh any readiness they might otherwise feel to be helpful to us.

The document is filed alongside a copy of an article from a specialist journal stating that Israel had sold Skyhawk jets to Argentina’s air force before the Falklands War. In his book Operation Israel, the Argentine journalist Hernan Dobry writes that Israel provided the spare parts and long-range fuel tanks needed to keep these aircraft in action against the Task Force. When British diplomats confronted their Israeli counterparts with evidence of arms sales, they were met with blanket denials. The official history of the Falklands War, written by Lawrence Freedman, states:

British troops entering Port Stanley at the end of the war came across Israeli equipment.

Menachem Begin, then Israel’s prime minister, had begun his career as commander of the Irgun, the Jewish underground which fought the British in Palestine in the 1940s. A fellow Irgun fighter, Dov Gruner, was hanged by the British in 1947. In Operation Israel, Mr Dobry suggests Begin saw arming Galtieri as a way of exacting revenge against Britain. After authorising the sale of weapons during the Falklands War, Begin reportedly said:

Dov up there is going to be happy with the decision.

jason on the ball again

Pentagon: ‘Exclusion Zone’ in North Syria Not Technically a No Fly Zone
Jason Ditz,, Aug 22 2016

After warning Syria not to fly planes in the Hasakeh Province or risk getting them shot down by Pindo planes in the area, the Pentagon is struggling to convince reporters that there is some sort of distinction between this zone you can’t fly in and a “no-fly zone.” Fighting erupted between Syrian Army and Kurdish YPG forces in the city of Hasakeh late last week, with the YPG attempting to take the rest of the city, which had long been jointly held and jointly defended, As the fighting escalated, Syrian warplanes bombed Kurdish forces. Pindostan has its troops embedded with the Kurdish forces, and argued that the Syrian airstrikes were endangering them. Over the weekend they repeatedly scrambled fighter jets to chase off the Syrian planes, warning they were going to ‘defend themselves.” The Pentagon has since expanded this to declaring the area “an exclusion zone,” which is distinct from a no-fly zone because the Pentagon says it is a different thing. Spox P Cook insisted that Pindostan has warned Syria not to fly planes in the area for a long time now. In practice, the move is a dramatic escalation, and Cook’s arguing of semantics didn’t mean much of anything, as he spent the rest of the press briefing railing against the Syrian military for contesting control of Aleppo with AQ’s Jabhat al-Nusra, and insisted that the Kurds would continue to enjoy Pindo military support in the fighting. Every indication is that the Kurds started this fight over Hasakeh, and that the military was more than content to leave the city jointly-held. Russia has been trying to get the two sides to stop fighting, with the only condition being that the Kurds return seized checkpoints to the military. Pindostan, by contrast, seems more than eager to keep the fighting going, and to expand the war.

Pentagon: Exclusion Zone in Syria Is Not a ‘No Fly Zone’
Robert Burns, AP, Aug 22 2016

Syria has been warned not to fly warplanes in areas where Pindo troops are advising Kurdish and Arab forces fighting ISIS, the Pentagon said on Monday. But it insisted this does not amount to a “no fly zone.” Reporters pushed spox P Cook to explain the distinction. He told them:

Our warning to the Syrians is the same that we’ve had for some time, that we’re going to defend our forces and they would be advised not to fly in areas where our forces have been operating. It’s not a ‘no fly zone.’

Later, he said:

You can label it what you want.

Twice last week, Pindostan scrambled fighter aircraft to protect American special operations forces and partner forces after Syrian government warplanes flew near the north-eastern Syrian city of Hasakeh. Cook said there have been no similar incidents since Friday, but he added:

If need be we will send aircraft again to defend our forces.

Cook said the most recent warnings to Syria not to fly in areas near Pindo troops were communicated through the Russian military, which is operating in support of the Syrian government in its fight against opposition forces, including ISIS. Asked whether the Pindo policy is to shoot down a Syrian or Russian aircraft if it poses a threat to Pindo troops on the ground, Cook said:

We’re going to defend our forces on the ground, absolutely.

Cook was highly critical of Syrian military action in and around the divided city of Aleppo, which has become a main battlefield in Syria’s civil war. Relentless shelling and airstrikes have killed more than 300 civilians in the city since rebels broke through a government blockade of the opposition-held east on Jul 31.

The Syrian regime aided and abetted by its allies, Russia and Iran, is driving the escalation with its indiscriminate bombing campaign. Bombing densely populated urban areas, interrupting water and electrical services and maiming civilians is only adding fuel to Syria’s civil war and does nothing to degrade extremist groups, which was of course Russia’s original reason for its military intervention in Syria.

Pentagon: Pindo hasn’t created a de facto no-fly zone over northern Syria
Tara Copp, Stars & Stripes, Aug 22 2016

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon said Monday that Pindostan has not created a de facto no-fly zone in northern Syria, despite back-to-back incidents in which jets were scrambled to protect troops on the ground. Providing air support for ground troops in Syria is complicated for Pindostan because some of its allies are also targets of the Syrian government. Several of the ‘moderate’ (my sneer quotes – RB) Syrian rebels partnered with Pindostan to fight ISIS are also targets of airstrikes conducted by Assad’s regime. Pentagon spox Cook said:

Our warning to the Syrians is the same we’ve had for some time. They would be advised not to fly where our forces are operating. On Friday, two F-22s responded to two Syrian Su-24s that approached the city of Hasakeh, where Pindo forces have been on the ground ‘training’ (my sneer quotes – RB) Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces fighting ISIS. That incident followed one on Thursday when two Pindo aircraft responded to Syrian jets conducting airstrikes around Hasakeh. In both instances, Pindostan tried to warn off the Syrians by relaying a message through the Russians that the planes were threatening Pindo-protected forces. We’re going to defend our forces on the ground, absolutely. But that does not mean we have established a no-fly zone over the city. We will continue to support our coalition forces and our partnered operations on the ground in Syria. We’ve been clear from the start that the forces that are fighting ISIS will enjoy the support of Pindostan.

Did Washington Just Declare a ‘No Fly’ Zone in Syria?
Daniel McAdams, Ron Paul Institute, Aug 22 2016

Reading between the lines in today’s Pentagon press briefing, a bombshell Pindo policy shift is becoming more apparent: Syrian forces and their Russian partners are being told that conducting military operations in some parts of Syrian airspace opens them up to being shot down by the Pindo military. Pentagon spox P Cook was asked numerous times in numerous ways whether this amounts to a Pindo “no fly zone” over parts of Syria. His first response was vague but threatening:

We will use our air power as needed to protect coalition forces and our partnered operations. …We advise the Syrian regime to steer clear of (these) areas.

The policy shift was so apparent that, one-by-one, the press corps asked for clarification. Does this mean that Pindostan would shoot down Russian or Syrian planes if they attacked any Pindo-backed partners, even if th latter were engaged against Syrian government forces? Are those “coalition forces” and “partnered operations” receiving Pindo protection against attack from the air always in receipt of that protection, or only when they are actively engaged in military operations? What are the rules of engagement? There was no clear answer from the Pentagon spokesman. He said:

Is this a ‘no-fly’ zone, then?

Cook responded:

It’s not a “no-fly zone.

Another journalist tried to get some clarity:

How is telling Syria not to fly in certain areas not a ‘no fly’ zone?

Cook eventually said:

Call it what you will.

Another journalist asked:

Do you think the Syrian regime has the right to fly over its own territory?

Same answer:

We will use our air power as needed to protect coalition forces and our partnered operations.

The anti-Russia rhetoric in Cook’s comments was inexplicable as well. According to him, the suffering in parts of Aleppo is not due to its ongoing occupation by Nusra, but rather by Russian and Syrian government attempts to expel Nusra from the city. Cook’s explanation defied logic:

Russian actions in Aleppo are only adding fuel to Syria’s civil war and (do) nothing to degrade extremist groups, which is Russia’s original reason for its military intervention in Syria.

This sentence only makes sense if one accepts the premise that AQ in Syria is not an extremist group, as it makes no sense to argue that bombing a certain group does nothing to weaken that group. Unless the Pentagon is suggesting that Russia and Syria are only bombing the civilian population, presumably for fun? Whatever the case, this is a trial balloon. If this de-facto “no fly zone” becomes a fact on the ground, it will be expanded beyond Hasakah and may be a last-ditch effort to prevent Syrian government forces, aided by Russia, from taking back Aleppo and thus breaking the back of the foreign-backed insurgency. This is endgame time.

another normandy and he’ll nuke the lot of them

Russian, German, French leaders to discuss Ukraine at G20 summit in China
TASS, Aug 23 2016

Putin, Merkel and Hollande will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China to discuss Ukraine. The Kremlin’s press service says they agreed to hold such a meeting in a telephone conversation earlier on Aug 23. The news release says:

The three leaders agreed to maintain personal contacts over Ukraine, in particular, to hold a joint meeting on the sidelines of the Sep 4-5 summit of the Group of 20 in China.

Lavrov in early August said Ukraine had proposed a meeting of the Normandy Quartet leaders at the G20 summit in China. Lavrov added that Russia would support that initiative on the condition Germany and France agreed and if China, the host country, provided a site for the negotiations. On Aug 10, Russia’s FSB said it had detained a group of saboteurs in Crimea and prevented a series of terrorist attacks plotted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence department. Putin said shortly afterwards that it would make senseless to have a Normandy format summit in a situation like this. Normandy Quartet talks on a settlement in Donbass have been held since Jun 2014. At the ceremony timed for the 70th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany for the first time discussed a settlement of the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine. There have been several meetings at ministerial and summit level in this format since then.

a new hagiography of the white helmets

‘We run toward the screams’: Meet the Aleppo
rescue team that saved 5-year-old Omran

Louisa Loveluck, WaPo, Aug 23 2016

imrs.php Image from video posted online, Aleppo, Apr 24 2016. (Syria Civil Defense via AP video)

As the volunteers scrabbled through smashed cinder blocks, the whimper they’d been hearing for hours grew louder. It was the only sign that this rubble had once been someone’s home. “Go slowly, go slowly,” shouted one as the noise turned into a sharp cry. This was always the critical moment, a time when the person making that sound hovered between life and death and one wrong move could push them over the edge. It was Aug 2013 in Aleppo, Syria, and this was Khaled Khatib’s first rescue mission. In the video, it’s the leg that appears first, then a bloodied hand and, finally, the head of a 7-year-old boy, bent underneath his body as if trapped in a backward roll. Khatib says:

You don’t forget the first time you see a child pulled out like that. In that moment, you are so happy. You know we brought someone back into life.

Khatib is a member of the Syria Civil Defense force, a grass-roots volunteer group that assists civilians in the aftermath of airstrikes and is popularly known as the White Helmets. The group’s daily rescue missions, running toward the sites of attacks as others flee, are among the most dangerous in the world. Made up of almost 3,000 volunteers, the group is believed to have saved more than 60,000 lives since Syria’s conflict began in 2011. This month, that dedication has earned the White Helmets a second Nobel Peace Prize nomination in as many years. Khatib says:

You hear the explosion before the radio call. It shakes the ground, it shakes the buildings. Then we run toward the screams.

Sometimes, the volunteers use diggers to remove mounds of shattered concrete to free trapped survivors. On other occasions, the volunteers dive right in with just their hands. The State Dept said earlier this year that USAID provides $23m (/yr? – RB)

Syria’s ‘White Helmets’ are redefining what it means to be brave & heroic.

Monitoring groups say the Assad regime has killed more civilians than any other side in the five-year-old war. Most have died from airstrikes and barrel bombs, the sorts of attacks the White Helmets wake up and wait for. It’s exhausting, says rescue worker Bebars Mashal, “but it’s a huge duty, we have to save those lives.” The 31-year-old with a degree in English unwittingly shot to global fame last week when a video showing his team’s rescue of Omran Daqneesh, the dazed and bloodied 5-year-old pulled from rubble in Aleppo, was shared millions of times around the world. Mashal says:

We see cases like this all the time. No-one thought it would go viral.

The child’s image became a symbol of the war’s human cost, appearing on newspaper front pages and bringing television anchors to tears. More than 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo since the end of July, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this weekend. Hundreds have been injured, many surviving only because they were pulled from the rubble. Few of the White Helmets volunteers had medical experience before the war. Saleh, the group’s founder, was an electronics engineer in Idlib province. Others like Khatib were still in high school. At night, the young man watches the footage he has captured again and again, finessing a final package for official broadcast. The scenes make their way into his nightmares. He says:

When I close my eyes, those first rescues are still there. After the boy in the rubble, we saw many massacres and carried back many victims. I still see their legs severed off onto the ground, their hands in pieces. Getting it right, that’s the most important thing.

One-hundred-and-thirty-five volunteers have been killed in the line of duty. Most died in what have come to be known as double-tap airstrikes, where warplanes bomb an area, then bomb again, often after rescuers have arrived. The group’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize has won at least 130 endorsements from “qualified persons,” a phrase that usually refers to individual members of governments, former peace laureates or former members of the Nobel Committee. In comments last week, Wendy Chamberlin, president of the Washington-based Middle East Institute, which nominated the group, told AP that the White Helmets represented “the true values of the Nobel Peace Prize.” But in Syria, the volunteers had other things on their mind. As he mulled his answer to what the prize would mean for his team, a rescue worker who identified himself simply as Majd stopped abruptly, saying:

I’m sorry, but I’ll have to think about this later. There’s been another bomb.

phil on everything

Let’s talk about Russian influence
Philip Weiss, MondoWeiss, Aug 23 2016

Over the weekend there was a lot more talk about Donald Trump and his operatives loving Russia, and about how Vladimir Putin wants Trump to win. “The hand of the Kremlin has been at work in this campaign for some time,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager said on ABC. The Russian influence must be true, because it’s all over our media; but you can be sure it’s only half true because they’re saying it so loud. The other half of the truth is that Russia is going to lose, big (because the media are talking about it and because Trump is going down). And the media have a guilty conscience, because they know the Pindosi power structure is beholden to Israel, but they can’t talk about that foreign influence. No one talks about the hand of Israel; but Hillary Clinton promises her biggest donor, Haim Saban, whose one issue is Israel, that she’ll work against the boycott campaign and she’ll meet Benjamin Netanyahu in her first month of office: the same Netanyahu who tried to undermine our president’s signature foreign policy achievement by speaking and lobbying Congress under the president’s nose, Netanyahu who said that Pindostan could be easily moved, Netanyahu who pushed the Iraq war in 2002 to transform the Middle East, even as Hillary Clinton was voting for that war. The latest batch of Clinton emails show that then-Sec State Clinton was shuffling her schedule to meet with big Clinton Foundation donors who care about Israel. “I’m on shuttle w Avigdor Liberman…. I want to stop by to see hrc tonite for 10 mins,” wrote one of them. When Donald Trump tried to take a “neutral” position on Israel, Hillary Clinton told AIPAC that he had “no business” being president and she was going to take the relationship with Israel “to the next level.” When Bernie Sanders tried to stake out a neutral position on Israel, Clinton’s catspaw at the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, complained privately, “The Israel stuff is disturbing.” Or as Anne Lewis, Clinton’s political guru who is also a Zionist, said:

The role of the president of Pindostan is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel.

Both Clinton, this summer, and Obama, four summers ago, squashed the party’s grass roots when they made a move to change the party platform on Israel, because the nominees worried about losing big Jewish Zionist donors– whose influence over the Democratic party is “gigantic” and “shocking,” JJ Goldberg and Stephane Schriock of Emily’s List said this spring. So Clinton made sure that the word “occupation” didn’t appear in the platform, in this the 50th year of the occupation. Just as Neera Tanden, the Clinton aide who heads a Democrat Party thinktank, censored articles that were critical of Israel; and a few months later the authors of those articles were no longer employed by her think-tank; and meantime Tanden kissed up to Netanyahu, at the very time that he was undermining Obama on the Iran deal, and months after he had used racist appeal, saying “Arab voters are coming out in droves,” to win another term.

But let’s talk about Russian influence. It has now been ten years since The Israel Lobby paper was published in London; not here, because it couldn’t be published here. Notwithstanding the article and book’s impact, it’s a shadow impact; everyone in the shadow of the establishment has read it and everyone in the establishment has read it too, but with a plain brown cover on it, as Colin Powell’s former chief of staff joked. Because to be in the establishment you must deny its importance. The Atlantic, which commissioned and killed the original paper, continues to publish Jeffrey Goldberg, who once served in the IOF, and who helped give us the Iraq war with bad reports in 2002, and who tried to undermine the Iran deal and who calls the fascistic defense minister Avigdor Lieberman by his nickname “Yvette” and the milquetoast centrist Yitzhak Herzog by his nickname “Boogie.” And everyone in Pindosi public life calls the fascistic prime minister of Israel by his nickname, Bibi. Including PBS. I don’t know what Vladimir Putin’s nickname is, and I don’t want to know. The central idea of the Israel lobby is simple and it has been confirmed a hundred times but the media will never report it directly. Here it is: Pindostani support is an existential issue for Israel; but non-Jewish voters and leaders cannot be counted upon to love Israel on their own, and therefore the tiny Pindo-Jewish community must speak in one voice and (unified checkbooks) to persuade Pindo leaders that it’s in Pindostan’s best interest to do so. Israel supporters confirm this idea again and again.

What keeps me up at night is the dependence of Israel on Pindostan — Abe Foxman

Pindostani Jews had a deferential attitude toward Israel. They saw their job to support Israel, to provide Israel with financial and political support it asked for” — Dov Waxman

Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in Pindostan … Pindo Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel” – Irving Kristol

We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel … because the essence of Zionism is… you shape your destiny, you don’t let others do it” — Dennis Ross

But let’s talk about Russia’s influence. Israel’s influence has distorted our politics for nearly 40 years. Tom Friedman told a British interviewer that Bush 43 abandoned the peace process because he saw his father take on the Israel lobby and lose a second term. Tom Friedman said the Congress is “bought and paid for” by the Israel lobby. Tom Friedman told an Israeli interviewer that if you had put 25 neocons on a desert island in 2002, we wouldn’t have had an Iraq war. But Friedman never wrote about the lobby head on, a dereliction of duty if ever there was one. It is just too embarrassing or hurtful to talk about the role of Zionist Jews in Pindosi public life. The idea has to be suppressed because (a) we all know that there is a dual loyalty element implicit in Zionism and talking about the lobby brings up the whole international-Jew canard; and (b) the lobby has been effective by working behind the scenes as a “nightflower,” so its purpose is defeated when people talk about it and everyone gets to weigh in. But if you don’t talk about it, then everyone just accepts it as the given of the Pindosi power structure, which is where we are now. Chris Matthews is constantly doing Irish Catholic identity politics when Irish Catholic Americans come on his show, but he’s afraid to say boo about the powerful pro-Israel Jews who own/run his employer Comcast, the largest media company in the country: Brian Roberts who participated in the Maccabee Games in Israel and David Cohen who once headed the local Jewish Federations.

From the start, empowered Jewish journalists denied that there was a lobby or it was powerful. Jeffrey Goldberg told the Center for Jewish History that it was no different from the ball-bearings lobby. David Remnick made the joke that if there wasn’t an Israel lobby, Osama bin Laden would be able to go back into the construction business. And meanwhile he was publishing Jeffrey Goldberg’s reporting about Saddam’s links to AQ and Saddam’s acquisition of WMD that helped Pindostan get into Iraq. Why did Goldberg push this stuff? Was it out of concern for Israel? There’s never been an accounting. And three years after his Osama joke, Remnick gave an interview to a Hebrew publication in which he acknowledged that the Pindosi Jewish community had sustained the occupation, saying:

How long can you expect that they will love unconditionally the place called Israel? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967… Sorry, it can’t go on this way. The  Jewish community is not just a nice breakfast at the Regency.

But like Friedman, Remnick doesn’t publish this analysis under his byline. It’s out of the side of his mouth. He knows there’s a price to be paid. With the exception of Yousef Munayyer, Remnick publishes Zionists: people like Ari Shavit, who works for AIPAC and lobbies Jewish kids on campus, and David Makovsky, of the AIPAC spinoff WINEP, who has said that checkpoints won’t be so burdensome when Israel uses “appropriate biometrics” for Palestinians in those lines. The magazine’s go-to reporter on Israeli political trends is Bernard Avishai, who’s very good, but let’s be clear, a cultural Zionist. If you don’t like Russia, you can surely still make your way in public life, but if you don’t like Israel, it’s a CLM, as they say at Goldman Sachs. Career Limiting Move. When Jim Clancy accused pro-Israel groups of doing “hasbara” around the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, he lost his job at CNN. When Jimmy Carter accused Israel of practicing apartheid, he got attacked on air by Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross and was exiled from the Democratic Convention. And four reporters at the NYT have had kids in uniform for Israel, including columnist David Brooks, the go-to pundit on NPR and PBS who said after his dozenth trip to Israel that he is “gooey-eyed” about Israel. And the NYT bureau chief in Israel lives in an addition to a house that was stolen from a prominent Palestinian journalist in 1948; and that journalist’s daughter the physician and activist Ghada Karmi has written and spoken about visiting that house to try and overcome her pain; but one thing you can be sure of: That story won’t be in the NYT. Josh Marshall will tell you all about Russia influencing Trump, and meantime he names his baby after an Israeli war hero, but ho hum.

But let’s talk some more about the Kremlin. The media is all about how much money Paul Manafort got from the Ukrainians, but the media won’t tell you that the two guys advocating the bombing of Assad in the NYT work at a think-tank, WINEP, that the Israel lobby group AIPAC spun off, and one of those authors has called for Pindosi Jews to be “advocates for Israel,” not for Palestinians. It won’t tell you that Sheldon Adelson regrets wearing a Pindostani uniform and wishes he had worn an Israeli one. It will never put all the facts together and name the trend, as I am doing here right now, out of my back pocket. So I remember that Samantha Power once described the Israel lobby as “a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” and as a result had to make the execrable rabbi Shmuley Boteach her consort in the right-wing Jewish community, so as to get the lobby’s approval for her appointment to the UN job. And that Chuck Hagel once said that “the Jewish lobby intimidates people” on Capitol Hill, and he almost didn’t become Sec Def because of that, and his grilling by the Senate resulted in a Saturday Night Live sketch that didn’t air in which Hagel was asked if he would “fellate a donkey for Netanyahu.” That’s one good thing, everyone is now in on the joke. Even if the media can’t discuss it, everyone knows it. Our system is rigged. But enough about all that. Let’s talk about Russian influence.

forward seems 2b defending BLM

Churches Split Over BLM Criticism of Israel
Sam Kestenbaum, Forward, Aug 22 2016

African-American Black Pindosi churches are split over BLM’s stand on Israel, with younger clergymen rallying to the activists’ defense after a group of more conservative pastors rejected the group’s harsh criticism of the Jewish state. The schism, which reflects broader divisions between emerging activists and more conservative leaders, was brought into sharper relief when a BLM-affiliated platform came out on Aug 1, calling Israel an “apartheid state.” Hundreds of black church leaders jumped to condemn the platform’s criticism of Israel. And on Aug 22 a group of six African-American Black Pindosi leaders and advisors to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which serves some 9 million people altogether, also condemned the platform, writing in a joint statement:

It was a vitriolic attack against Israel laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism and an agenda that is not embraced by the broader African American community. The anti-Semitism and misinformation found in this small segment is so misleading that it makes an experienced leader question the entire document and thus the intentions of the organization.

But religious figures affiliated with Black Lives Matter dismissed the church leaders as “misguided.” Nyle Fort, a young African-American Black Pindosi minister aligned with BLM, said:

Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. He lived under occupation and was ultimately lynched for speaking truth to power.

The church leaders were criticizing a section of the Black Lives Matter-aligned platform that called Israel an “apartheid state” committing genocide against the Palestinians. The platform also called for free education for blacks and reparations for slavery. As generations of black leaders have done before, the leaders pointed to the emotional legacy of the civil rights movement to stress the need for blacks and Jews to work together. Bishop Lawrence Wooten, head of the council of churches that distanced themselves from BLM’s Israel stance, wrote:

Anyone who studies Pindosi history will no doubt find the names of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, two Jews and an African-American a Black Pindosi, who lost their lives trying to provide civil rights for Blacks in the south. We cannot forget their noble sacrifices. Neither should BLM.

Many in the Jewish community applauded Wooten’s words. The bishop’s support of Israel, the Jewish Press gushed, “should bring any self-loving Jew to tears.” In Religion News Service, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin wrote an earnest letter of thanks to the black clergy “that stood up to the anti-Israel forces in BLM.” In many churches of yesteryear, “the ideal of Israel was sacrosanct,” said Robin Kelley, a UCLA professor of Black studies. Mainstream Pindosi Jewry cherish the notion of the “golden era” of Black-Jewish relations Wooten evoked in his letter. But it may not have been so golden. African-American Black Pindosi and Jewish Pindosi activists and organizations did come together during the civil rights movement, but even then the dynamics were complex and often troubled, observed Cheryl Greenberg, author of “Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century.” African-Americans Black Pindosis struggled even at the time, Greenberg said, with the ways in which most Jews did not recognize how “they benefited from white privilege.”

Now, despite the church council’s letter and its warm reception, a revival of those moments of fellowship is unlikely. While a few left-wing organizations came out in support of the BLM platform, most Jewish groups recoiled from the characterization of Israel. Some rejected the entire platform. Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) condemned it, saying they “reject participation in any coalition that seeks to isolate and demonize Israel.” And, in fact, it was the St Louis chapter of the JCRC that drew the church council’s attention to the controversy generated in the Jewish community by the new platform, the JTA reported. But conservative black churches have taken a backseat in the BLM movement. Instead, there are more left-leaning clergy who have emerged as what some call “Movement Pastors.” These are figures are, according to BLM, “radically transforming the idea of what the 21st-century black church should be.” On the BLM website, the organization notes that today’s movement has “a very different relationship to the church than movements past.” Today protesters “patently reject any conservative theology about keeping the peace, praying copiously, or turning the other cheek,” BLM wrote in 2015 on their website. Fort, who some said was “at the heart” of early BLM protests, said he used to feel like he didn’t a place in the church. He said:

I was trying to fuse these two things together, my commitment to God and to social justice. I was so upset … I felt like there were no churches I could go to and express my rage.

So he forged his own path, leading protest infused with radical Christian liturgy. Fort also went on a trip to Palestine last May and said he was transformed by the experience. Fort visited the sites where Jesus Christ is said to have walked, and described him as a “brown-skinned Palestinian Jew.” He said:

I think about the description of Jesus a lot, and what it means for a Black Christian to stand with Palestine.


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