Category Archives: Uncategorized

it takes a moment or two

lies

Israeli MKs, NGO Monitor Invent False Anti-Semitic Claims Against BDS
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, Aug 22 2016

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USraeli Jewish media have become willing facilitators of yet another fraud perpetrated by right-wing MKs and their NGO counterparts. The Knesset foreign affairs committee began the fraud by titling the hearing, “Singling Out Jewish Students by BDS on Pindo Campuses.” MK Anat Berko, who touts herself as a former IDF colonel and “expert” on Islamist terror, made flagrantly false claimsthat the BDS movement compiled lists of Jewish students along with their addresses. Berko is the solon who claimed Palestine doesn’t exist because there is no “P” in Arabic. Not to be outdone, MKs from Yesh Atid and Labor also chimed in supporting this hash of a hearing. The charges were formulated as if this were BDS’s first step toward a Final Solution of the Israel Problem. For those pro-Israelists without a sense of humor, the above sentence was meant entirely ironically. Arutz Sheva ran this headline: “Jews Persecuted Around the World.” A video of some of the proceedings (in Hebrew) is here. NGO Monitor, a group whose leader was sued successfully for libel by an Israeli Palestinian non-profit group, even claimed that BDS’ anti-Semitic activism could be criminal in nature. Another NGO, Reservists to the Front, which was founded to combat Breaking the Silence, joined in claiming (without any evidence) that there were 941 anti-Semitic incidents in Pindostan in 2015. 90 were committed on campuses. He added, for good measure:

Jewish students are the most persecuted minorities on Pindosi campuses, bar none.

Former Shin Bet chief and current Likud MK Avi Dichter testified not just to his histrionic view of BDS, but his abject racism:

BDS is an anti-Semitic wave against Jews. To my sorrow, it exists in nations considered enlightened and campuses considered intellectual. The style of BDS activists may bring an Olympic judo medal, but nothing respectable. A great portion of BDS activism springs from the frustration of recent years, when the subject of Palestine has sunk from the international agenda.

Dichter continued his delusional rant by thanking the Reservists group for the fake claims they offered:

The things done against Jewish students are carried out with the intent of harming Israel.

The former domestic security agency chief was alluding to a bit of guerrilla theater in which Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) placed “eviction notices” under the dormitory room doors of students at NYU. Jewish students who received the notices filed complaints with the administration that they were targeted because they were Jews. In reality, two dormitories received the flyers. One of them contained a Shabbat elevator for observant Jewish students. Both buildings contained both Jewish and non-Jewish students and there is no evidence that Jewish students were the only ones targeted for the notices.
NGO Monitor claimed that SJP deliberately distributed eviction notices to non-Jewish students so it could not be prosecuted for a hate crime. Again, an evidence-free claim. This action did not involve, as the media reports allege, any lists of Jewish students, their mail or e-mail addresses. None of the reports substantiate this claim with any evidence whatsover. There is no evidence. Even the ADL, not known for its fondness for BDS, acknowledged this in the Forward:

According to our research, there is no evidence pointing to Students for Justice in Palestine compiling specific lists of Jewish students.

Even more virulent pro-Israel groups stepped back from Berko’s hoax:

Officials from the Zionist Organization of America and Stand With Us … told the Forward they had no knowledge of this sort of activity taking place.

But that didn’t stop other members of the pro-Israel media. The Times of Israel, which Jeffrey Goldberg calls a “highly credible” publication, wrote:

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian student advocacy group, has been compiling lists of Jewish students on college campuses in North America and detailing their dorm address information, raising fears for the students’ safety, Israel Radio reports. The report came as the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee met earlier Tuesday to discuss Israel boycott efforts at Pindo colleges. Israel HaYom also went to town on the report. It’s come to smell like a bunch of flies buzzing around a corpse of a story. That’s what all the lies amount to:dDefending the indefensible. You get tired of having to defend Israel’s oppression, and so you turn the tables and blame the accusers, the victims. They’re not the real victims, you are. They hate you , want you dead. You? You did nothing wrong. It’s all their fault. Focus it all on them. Then they won’t be able to shine the light back at you and what you’ve done.

evil ones pound gaza

pindostan merely reassigned forty advisors

Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two Month Old Misleading News
Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel, Aug 20 2016

This Reuters exclusive is getting a lot of careless attention. Here’s what a careless reader learns:

EXCLUSIVE: PINDOSTAN WITHDRAWS STAFF FROM SAUDI ARABIA DEDICATED TO YEMEN PLANNING

From that headline, particularly the use of the present tense, you might assume that Pindostan is in the process of withdrawing its Yemen-related staff from Saudi Arabia, perhaps in response to the Saudi war crimes earlier this week. But here’s what the story actually reports: the staff withdrawal happened in June, and was in no way a response to this week’s war crimes.

The June staff withdrawal, which Pindo boxtops say followed a lull in air strikes in Yemen earlier this year, reduces (sic) Washington’s day-to-day involvement in advising a campaign that has come under increasing scrutiny for causing civilian casualties.

In spite of the fact that this “exclusive,” which has since been reported by other outlets with similarly misleading headlines, describes two-month-old news, it nevertheless obscures that fact with its editorial choices, as here where it suggests the move “reduces,” in present tense, staff numbers, or the headline which hides that, in fact, Pindostan already withdrew these staffers. In fact, the report goes on to admit that this was not a response (which would have required a time machine in any case).

Pindo boxtops, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduced staffing was not due to the growing international outcry over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians. But the Pentagon, in some of its strongest language yet, also acknowledged concerns about the conflict, which has brought Yemen close to famine and cost more than $14b in damage to infrastructure and economic losses. “Even as we assist the Saudis regarding their territorial integrity, it does not mean that we will refrain from expressing our concern about the war in Yemen and how it has been waged,” Stump said.

I’d also suggest that reports about what non-uniformed Pindosi personnel are doing in Yemen’s immediate neighborhood would be a better gauge of the support we’re giving the Toads beyond refuelling their aistrikes, the latter of which have not stopped at all. It’s not until the last line two paragraphs of the story that we learn what this misleading news is really about:

Rep Ted Lieu (D-Cal), a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, said he believed such strikes could help galvanize votes for limiting arms transfers to the Toads. “When its repeated air strikes that have now killed children, doctors, newlyweds, patients, at some point you just have to say: Either the Toads are not listening to Pindostan, or they just don’t care,” Lieu said.

Not long ago, Pindostan announced $1.5b in new arms sales to the Toads. Congress has a narrow window to affirmatively veto that sale, and people like Ted Lieu and Rand Paul and Chris Murphy are trying to do just that. The arms sale was announced such that Congress has just one day after they come back in session to reject the transfer. Stories like this, suggesting that Pindostan is not as involved in this war as it really is, will make the task all the more difficult. The reality remains that Pindostan, even the overt uniformed operations, continues to provide key support to the Toads’ war, and therefore their war crimes. Selling them more arms in the wake of these most recent war crimes only doubles down on the complicity.

jason ditz’ summary of shrillary

Clinton Campaign Manager: Trump A Kremlin Puppet
Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, Aug 2, 2016

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On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook was pressed on the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of massive foreign donations and last week’s comments that she would only stop accepting such money if she gets elected. Mook quickly and emphatically dodged this question, insisting only that “millions of people” depend on the foundation, and instead started accusing Trump of being “just a puppet for the Kremlin.” This reflects an ongoing strategy of the campaign since the DNC, during which a WikiLeaks release of emails was blamed on the Russian government, and then suggested to have been done as an attempt to get Trump elected. Trump had faced considerable focus on the “Russia connection,” leading to the removal of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had worked on political campaigns in Ukraine supporting pro-Russian candidates under Yanukovich. Mook insisted that Manafort’s removal wasn’t enough, and that Trump needed to explain just how much Russia has run his campaign. Mook went on to accuse Trump of “parroting” Putin in public comments, and further accused retired Lt-Gen M Flynn, who has supported Trump, of being in league with Putin because of his appearances on RT. This strategy is unlikely to end questions about the Clinton Foundation’s conflict of interest problems, but at the very least has derailed that conversation for a day or two, while everyone once again wrings their hands about Kremlin plots.

what is that banner

‘Pindostan to send team to Turkey’ for Fethullah Gulen probe
Al-Jazeera, Aug 21 2016

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The Pindo Dept of Justice will dispatch a team to Turkey in the coming days to pursue allegations by the Turkish government of criminal activity by Fethullah Gulen, according to a Pindo media report. If true, the move, first reported on Friday by Bloomberg News citing a Pindo administration official, would mark the first sign of progress in Turkey’s attempts to have the Pennsylvania-based Turkish-born religious leader extradited. “Sooner or later, Pindostan will make a choice. Either Turkey or FETO,” Erdogan said last week. However, the WaPo, quoting an official at the Pindo Justice Dept, reported on Friday that the extradition request refers only to alleged activities before the failed coup attempt. The official said:

It’s actually tied to allegations of certain alleged criminal activities that pre-date the coup. At this point, Turkish authorities have not put forward a formal extradition request based on evidence that he was involved in the coup. (The Justice Dept) are working alongside their Turkish counterparts to make sure we understand everything contained in the evidence. If there is probable cause for extradition, ultimately a court will determine whether the evidence is sufficient. … We are still a way down the line from even knowing whether that’s possible.

Pindo boxtops have said that even if the Justice Dept decides extradition is warranted, a court case and possible appeals could take years.

In another development on Friday, officials in Azerbaijan said they had arrested four men over suspected ties to Gulen. The four are accused of an “abuse of power” while working for a mobile phone company for having passed on private information about subscribers and their call history, Azeri prosecutors said. During a search of the home of one of the accused, investigators discovered “religious literature, disks, brochures containing speeches by Fethullah Gulen and other documents,” they said in a statement. A close ally of Turkey, Azerbaijan earlier this week opened a criminal investigation into supporters of Gulen. Azerbaijan last month shut down a private television channel over plans to broadcast an interview with Gulen, “in order to avoid provocations aimed at damaging the strategic partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan.” The Azeri move came shortly after Danish media reported that hundreds of Turks in Denmark had withdrawn their children from schools with alleged links to Gulen. A document circulating on Facebook listed 14 private schools in Denmark as being linked to Gulen and urged parents to “Save your children from Fethullah Gulen’s terror organisation’s schools,” according to a translation from Turkish by broadcaster TV 2. A total of 366 students had been pulled out of the schools after the summer break, the broadcaster said. Gulen’s Hizmet organisation has affiliated schools around the world, including in the former Soviet Kazakhstan, normally funded by wealthy Turkish businessmen.

hillary’s hawks etc

Pindo Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria
Daniel Lazare, Consortium News, Aug 21 2016

War, like politics, is filled with surprises. While the focus in Syria has been on a Pindo-backed rebel offensive in Aleppo that has succeeded in turning tables on Assad’s government, a new and unexpected flashpoint has developed 200-plus miles to the east where Pindo jets are engaged in a dangerous showdown with Syrian warplanes near the city of Hasakah. The trouble began on Wednesday when, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Kurdish forces advanced on the pro-government National Defense Forces that controls portions of the city. When the NDF responded with arrests, the fighting took off. This is not the first time that Kurdish and government forces have clashed in Hasakah, which is divided among Kurds, Arabs, Aramaic-speaking Assyrians, and a small number of Armenians. But what makes the latest confrontation so serious is that the Pindo quickly upped ante by scrambling two F-22 fighters to intercept a pair of Syrian Su-24s bombing Kurdish positions. NBC News reported that the jets came within a mile of one another on Thursday and were in visual contact before the Syrian aircraft left the scene. Pindo jets chased away two more Su-24s the next day as well. Noting that the Kurdish units are part of a Pindo-backed coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces and that Pindo SOF were in the area at the time, Pentagon spox Capt J Davis said that Pindostan was resolved to protect the safety of both. He declared:

We view instances that place coalition personnel at risk with the utmost seriousness and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when Pindo forces are at risk. As we’ve said in the past, the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to interfere with coalition forces or our partners.

Such statements are little less than Orwellian since Pindostan has essentially invaded Syria by inserting military forces without Syrian government permission in violation of international law. What Davis was saying, therefore, is that Pindostan will prevent Syria from protecting its own forces on its own soil, which was rather like the Wehrmacht condemning Poland for daring to defend its own territory in Sep 1939. The upshot is the latest example of how Washington’s vast pro-war foreign-policy establishment continues to get its way despite Obama’s efforts to limit military involvement in the Middle East. Establishment of a no-fly zone in northern Syria has long been a neocon priority. Indeed, Hillary Clinton, a neocon favorite at this point, reiterated her call for a no-fly zone as recently as April during a televised debate with Bernie Sanders. Obama has opposed a no-fly zone because it would draw Pindostan into a direct conflict with the Assad government and likely its Russian and Iranian backers as well. But now with Pindostan promising to continue patrolling the skies over Hasakah, he finds himself backing into a no-fly zone regardless.

The confrontation begs the question of who is really calling the shots with regard to Syria, the President or well-placed hawks whose specialty is maneuvering the White House into doing their bidding. It also raises the question of the role of the Clinton presidential campaign. The White House is obviously coordinating closely with Clinton’s campaign headquarters, and with prospects of a landslide victory that will give Democrats control of both houses of Congress plus the presidency, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But since a quick and easy victory over Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies would vindicate the neocon position, the issue is whether pro-Hillary forces are pulling strings to make events in Syria go her way as well. This is not conspiracy-mongering but simply the way policy in Washington is made. Hawks and doves are constantly jockeying for advantage with Obama standing haplessly in the middle. Moreover, the hawks seem to be winning since Pindo foreign policy has turned distinctly more robust since the DNC in Philadelphia in late July. Around that time, retired four-star Marine General John Allen was warning Pindostan’s enemies:

You will fear us.

Gold Star parent Khizr Khan was telling Trump to go home and read the Constitution, Obama gave Ashtray Carter, his interventionist Sec Def the go-ahead to bomb ISIS positions in Libya. On Jul 31, three days after Clinton gave her acceptance speech, Syrian rebels led by Jabhat al-Nusra launched its powerful offensive in Aleppo. Whether or not Washington OK’d the offensive, citing reports of massive arms shipments to the rebels, the well-informed Moon of Alabama website argues persuasively that it did, there is no doubt that it encouraged and helped coordinate a powerful propaganda campaign that has followed in its wake. Omran Daqneesh, the dazed and dirt-encrusted five-year-old boy who has become “a symbol of Aleppo’s suffering,” according to the NYT, is one example of how the campaign has borne fruit. Lina Sergie Attar’s powerful Aug 13 op-ed “Watching My Beloved Aleppo Rip Itself Apart” was another, while the rabidly anti-Assad Guardian has hardly let a day go by without running a heart-rending tale about this or that horror that Assad and Putin have visited on Syria’s civilian population. (Examples herehere, and here.)

Context, balance, and plain accuracy have fallen by the wayside as various media outlets hop on the pro-war bandwagon. Why, for example, focus on one the fate of one child in rebel-held eastern Aleppo when the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the mainstream media’s favor go-to source for Syrian casualty figures, reports that virtually the same number of civilians have died from random rebel shelling of government-held western Aleppo as from Syrian or Russian aerial bombardment in the east, i.e. 163 versus 162? While trumpeting the fate of Omran Daqneesh, who was shaken but apparently not seriously hurt, why has the NYT failed to report the plight of 12-year-old Abdullah Issa, whose throat was slit last month by members of a Pindo-backed rebel force known as Harakat Nour’al-Din al-Zinki because he had allegedly fought on the government side? The fighters bragged before finishing the boy off:

We are even worse than ISIS!

Yet even though the entire gruesome image was caught on video, the “paper of record” has refused to report a single word. The same goes for Lina Sergie Attar’s stirring NYT op-ed. Although it invokes the infamous 2013 Queiq River massacre to describe the suffering that Assad has heaped upon the people of Aleppo, it fails to mention that the slaughter was most likely the work of Jabhat al-Nusra. Why spoil a good story with the facts? Much the same can be said for Hasakah where the WSJ blandly reported:

Syrian government bombers had been striking Kurdish positions near the city of Hasakah, where Pindostan has been backing Kurdish forces in the fight against Islamic State.

Since Pindostan is battling the Islamic State, the quintessence of evil, its role must be above reproach while the Syrian government is plainly up to no good. Nonetheless, the questions continue to multiply. If Pindosi military personnel are helping the Kurds battle ISIS, why are the Kurds fighting with pro-government forces instead? Since the Syrian Observatory says they started the fight, did the Pindosis do anything to restrain them or call them off? Or did they encourage them to attack in order to provoke a wider conflict? What, moreover, happens if Pindostan ends up downing a Syrian plane? Clinton will cheer. But what happens if Russia decides to join in the fray? A happy romp in the skies over Hasakah would serve the Clinton campaign well. It would show that toughness pays, as Clinton has repeatedly argued. But the trouble with war is that it is rarely goes according to plan. Indeed, the Syrian conflict grows more complicated by the day. Syria and Russia are battling ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other Islamist groups while Pindostan is battling ISIS as well while indirectly aiding Jabhat al-Nusra by channeling arms to allied Islamist groups with which it shares weaponry and coordinates battlefield tactics. Pindostan has so far steered clear of conflict with Assad, although Hasakah may signal a change of heart.

Turkey’s megalomaniacal Pres Erdogan, meanwhile, opposes ISIS but supports Jabhat al-Nusra outright, saying that “it should not be considered as a terrorist organization” since it opposes Islamic State, he declared in a recent interview, but reserves his real enmity for Pindostan’s Kurdish allies. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are battling Assad in Hasakah but at the same time fighting alongside Assad’s forces against Pindo-backed rebels in Aleppo. China has declared its support for Assad and has even sent military advisers to help his regime in its fight with the rebels, thereby introducing yet another explosive element into the mix. This is more intervention than one small country can handle, and tripwires are therefore multiplying. Obama’s aggressive actions in Hasakah may help Clinton against Trump but they could all too easily blow up in the administration’s face. War, indeed, packs just as many surprises as politics.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

fascist terrorism from david horowitz

Adelson launches multimillion-dollar effort to boost Israel’s image terrorism on campuses
Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, Aug 21b 2016

Robert Gardner rarely heard anything about Israel growing up in South Los Angeles. But at UCLA, he started learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and seeing parallels with conflicts close to home. The African American senior likened Israeli crackdowns on Palestinian protesters to police violence against black Americans. So he joined Students for Justice in Palestine and an international movement known as BDS, which advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against companies deemed players in Israeli human rights violations. Earlier this year, though, he was shocked to see his name listed on a poster outside a Westwood market as one of 16 UCLA “Jew haters” and terrorist allies. Since then, he says:

I’ve received death threats online, and people have followed me.

The poster was part of a multimillion-dollar effort to combat the BDS movement, led by Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. While this kind of attack campaign is one tactic, a key aim is to win back hearts and minds for Israel via social media pushes, cultural fairs and subsidized trips to the Jewish state. The effort kicked off this last semester at six California campuses, including UCLA, UC Irvine and San Jose State University, and will expand to 20 more college campuses this fall. The Adelsons and other supporters of Israel are alarmed by the precipitous growth in young Americans’ support for Palestinians. A Pew Research Center poll in May found that 27% of millennials now sympathize more with Palestinians, up from 9% in 2006, while their generation’s support for Israel has declined in the same period from 51% to 43%. A main cause, Israel supporters say, is the mushrooming BDS campus movement. In the last four years, student governments at eight of nine UC undergraduate campuses have voted to support the campaign. David Brog, executive director of the new Adelson-funded task force, said of BDS:

It’s the #1 nonmilitary threat to Israel and the Jewish people. Our goal is to change the younger generation from neutral, if not opposed to, Israel to support of Israel.

The Maccabee Task Force, named after a small Jewish rebel group who prevailed over the Greeks two millennia ago, mainly aims to beef up positive education about Israel with such methods as hosting “peace tents” for dialogue during anti-Israel campus events and Israel cultural fairs, complete with free falafel and iced coffee. But Brog said the campaign also will target what he called “lies” about Israel perpetuated by Students for Justice in Palestine and BDS. Pro-Palestinian protests on campus regularly compare Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with South Africa under apartheid and oppression against people of color, and activists are using such comparisons to broaden their base, forging links with other campus movements. The posters were one element of “Stop the Jew Hatred on Campus,” a task force-funded campaign launched in February by the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles. Horowitz declined to disclose the size of the grant he received but said it helped him wage what he called a “guerrilla” campaign this spring, with posters of “Jew haters” on five California campuses. The posters were condemned by some Jewish student groups, including J Street U and Jewish Voice for Peace. Jerry Kang, UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, criticized them as “thuggish intimidation” and accused the effort of promoting

guilt by association, of using blacklists, of ethnic slander and sensationalized images engineered to trigger racially tinged fear.

Gardner called the poster’s accusations false, saying he does not support terrorists or hate Jews. His group, he said, explicitly condemns unlawful violence by anyone. But the 25-year-old says:

I’m worried about people coming to campus to attack me.

Horowitz, however, defends what he’s done and said he is planning more posters, speaking engagements and actions at 17 campuses, including six in California, this fall. He said:

What the Maccabees are doing is an important service not just to Jews but to all Americans. It’s the one hope we have. I wish there were more.

The Maccabee Task Force has not disclosed how much cash it plans to disburse. But Brog said initial reports of a $50m investment were inaccurate. This year, he said, the task force has spent less than $10m on pilot projects mostly aimed at making a “proactive case for Israel.” One organization that accepted such money was Hillel at UCLA, though Rabbi Aaron Lerner said the Maccabee grant was a “tiny fraction” of Hillel’s $2m annual budget. Lerner said:

The grant helped Hillel send 40 students, most of them non-Jews, to Israel. They were able to meet activists from both sides trying to work together, learn about Israel’s past peace overtures and experience the country’s vibrant diversity. The facts on the ground are very different from apartheid and genocide, but you can get away with lying if people are not educated. Hillel also used some of the money to stage a more elaborate annual Israel Fest, complete with a DJ and free food, and expand its programs during Israel Independence Week in May. The organization, which aims to enrich the lives of Jewish students, hosted a campus dinner to promote USrael ties. Such activities will change campus conversations about Israel from black and white … to one about complexity, nuance and dialogue, which is better suited to a university.

They also are in keeping with the new Principles Against Intolerance, which were passed by the University of California Board of Regents in March. The policy urges university leaders to combat anti-Semitism and other bias primarily with “more speech” to preserve 1st Amendment freedoms. And more speech, or perhaps a war of words, is exactly what both sides plan. Gardner said new support for the Palestinian cause by the Movement for Black Lives has galvanized students of color and their allies. The network recently unveiled a platform that mostly addresses domestic criminal justice, economic and political issues but also supports the BDS movement, calling Israel an “apartheid state” committing genocide against Palestinians. That language provoked scathing criticism from the ADL and others. But supporters of Israel acknowledge the significant challenge posed by growing alliances between communities of color and pro-Palestinian groups. Lisa Armony, who directs Hillel programming at UC Irvine:

It’s very worrisome, and Jewish students then get shut out of dialogues about social justice. We are looking at that situation very carefully to create greater understanding.

Brog says the Maccabees are just warming up in their fight to turn the campus tide toward Israel. In the spring, they took South African students to Israel, then (they had to sing for their supper! – RB) to San Jose State University to speak to Black Student Union members about what they had seen on their trip. The message: Israel is not an apartheid state as South Africa once was. He said of the BDS movement:

We will invest. We will maintain our presence. And we will have the persistence to defeat it.

Miguel Olvera, a UC Irvine student of Mexican descent, said his evangelical Christian upbringing instilled reverence for Israel as “God’s country,” and his conversion from “unquestioned loyalty to Israel” to support for Palestinians came slowly. Friends in an Arabic class, a course on Third World cinema and his own research eventually swayed him to regard Zionism as an oppressive ideology rather than a liberation movement. Olvera also began making connections with his own heritage. Israel’s West Bank separation barrier seemed to him akin to Donald Trump’s vision of a wall on the Pindo border with Mexico. Palestinians, he said, seemed to be stereotyped as terrorists just as Mexican immigrants often are cast as criminals who take jobs from Americans. Olvera, 21, who is studying comparative literature and Spanish:

I was almost scared about talking bad about Israel because I thought I’d be struck by lightning. But the wall was a very strong visual representation of the occupation, one I could connect to as a child of immigrants.

His Chicano student group works with Students for Justice in Palestine. In May, they co-sponsored a controversial protest against a documentary about Israeli soldiers. Gardner, a political science and urban planning major, said his interest in the Middle East was first piqued by the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. He began researching and concluded that both Palestinians and African Americans suffered from “racialized state violence” and “mass incarceration.” Segregated housing in Israel, he said, reminded him of Jim Crow laws. Despite his initial fears about the poster, Gardner plans to keep protesting. He says:

At the end of the day, I feel passionate that I’m on the right side of history, and I’m fighting for justice and equality.

turd on the run

Trump, Netanyahu, Breitbart and Jewish anti-Semites
Chemi Shalev, Haaretz, Aug 19 2016

Last year, Breitbart News launched its bureau in Jayloomia. In honor of the occasion, Breitbart’s President and CEO Larry Solov wrote about the moment the controversial right-wing news site started to transform from one blogger’s hobby to a conservative media empire. It happened in Israel, he wrote, when Solov accompanied his friend, the late Andrew Breitbart, on a junket for conservative bloggers financed by pro-Israeli hasbara groups. At the top of the article there is a photograph of the happy bloggers, along with one Benjamin Netanyahu, then Leader of the Opposition. In a week that Breitbart’s spirit may have taken over Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, it is a photo that is worth recalling.

Left-wing conspiracy theorists have long alleged that Netanyahu was the mastermind behind breitbart.com, though Solov and Breitbart don’t seem to have needed any encouragement. Solov wrote:

One thing we specifically discussed was our desire to start a site that would be unapologetically pro-freedom and pro-Israel. We were sick of the anti-Israel bias of the mainstream media and J-Street.

And they kept their promise. Over the years, Breitbart News has heaped as much praise on Netanyahu as it has poured poison on Barack Obama: “Mr President, You Disgust Me” was one such tasteful offering. The site summed up Netanyahu’s Mar 2015 speech in Congress against the Iran nuclear deal with the headline:

Netanyahu’s Speech Unites Congress and Diminishes Obama.

Breitbart, who died in 2012 at the age of 43, described himself as a reformed liberal who realized the error of his ways. He thrust himself at jaundiced journalism and partisan punditry with all the zeal of the newly converted. In 2010, The New Yorker described Breitbart’s organization as “The Rage Machine” for its ability to incite its readers against Obama, Hillary Clinton and other liberals and to make a handsome profit in the process. This was the same year in which Breitbart catapulted the Tea Party movement to national prominence and, in turn, was ensconced there himself. According to the New Yorker profile, Breitbart believed in a spectacularly crackpot theory that Obama was a Marxist who was part of a plot against Pindostan hatched in the 1930’s by the Frankfurt School, the group of critical theorists who operated in Germany between the two world wars and again after the end of WW2, and whose ranks included Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin and Breitbart’s main culprit, Theodor Adorno, whose father was an assimilated Jew as well. In this and many other expressions, Breitbart and other Jews working for his website exemplified the kind of radical right-wing Jews who hate their liberal co-religionists most of all: in many ways, they are auto-anti-Semites.

Breitbart died in 2012 at the age of 43, but his web site continued to serve as the standard bearer for an extreme brand of anti-Islamic nationalism, fortified by a hefty dose of general anti-establishment sentiments. The site was known as a home base for several well-known anti-Islamic agitators, including David Horowitz, also a born-again ultra-conservative who, in an article published in May of this year, described Bill Kristol, conservative pundit and head of the right-wing Emergency Committee for Israel, as a “renegade Jew” for refusing to support Donald Trump. Even though Breitbart has employed several Orthodox Jews in its ranks, it was accused by commentators on both the left and the right of being anti-Semitic. Together with the other right-wing provocateur, Matt Drudge, who taught a young Andrew Breitbart everything there is to know about grade A mud-slinging, breitbart.com has been one of the most supportive right-wing outlets for Trump’s presidential bid. At least one senior editor is known to have enjoyed the fruits of this collaboration by drawing a salary from both. When Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused by Breitbart journalist Michelle Fields of assault, the website refrained from backing her up. Breitbart columnist Ben Shapiro, who has been accused of harboring Kahanist views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resigned in protest. In an article in the Daily Wire this week, Shapiro described Breitbart’s executive chairman Stephen Bannon, who was put in charge of Trump’s campaign this week, as a manipulative bully who turned Breitbart into the mouthpiece of the anti-establishment “alt-right” movement with its dominant racist, anti-Semitic and anti-establishment strains. In another interview he described Bannon as “a tornado of turd.”

Bannon comes across as a political brawler who prefers to fight dirty, if he can. Bloomberg News described him last year as “the most dangerous political operative in Pindostan.” Bannon supported Sarah Palin and even produced a film “The Undefeated” that was aimed at bolstering her supposed chances to compete for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He has proven to be a nemesis for Clinton, producing the film and graphic book “Clinton Cash” about her alleged and illicit ties to corporate and foreign donors. When Bannon’s appointment was announced, Breitbart was proud to display the Clinton campaign’s response: the news site, Clinton’s people said, was racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic. Bannon’s appointment makes it quite clear that Trump has no intention of pivoting to the center, as right-wing presidential candidates are supposed to do at this stage. After all, Bannon and former Ted Cruz pollster Kellyanne Conway, who was also taken on by Trump, have usurped if not formally replaced Paul Manafort, who had himself replaced Lewandowski in March and had tried to persuade Trump to tone down his rhetoric and to start behaving more “presidential.” Trump’s inability and possibly lack of motivation to collaborate created the kind of campaign mayhem that contributed at the very least to his resent crash in the polls. Bannon reportedly belongs to the “let Trump be Trump” school of advisers. Like Lewandowski before him, he wants Trump to get back to basics and to recreate the winning formula that beat his GOP opponents in the primaries, but to turbo-charge it in the process. If Trump was foul-mouthed until now, he can be expected to be downright vulgar. If he embraced nationalism, he will probably increase the accompanying doses of chauvinism and xenophobia. If he fought dirty before, he’ll fight filthy in the future. If he’s doomed to lose to Clinton and to the lying mainstream media that supports her, he may as well go out in a blaze of glory.

At this stage it may be premature to automatically assume that Trump will go from bad to worse, though most observers seem to believe that a new, hit-them-harder-than-before strategy will fail to win over reluctant Republicans or persuade wavering independent voters. At the same time, tougher tactics are sure to increase the partisan divide, inject copious amounts of venom into he campaign and probably inflame already tense relations between Trump-supporting whites and different groups of minorities. Traditional GOP donors will find it even harder to support Trump, at least in the open, and Republican Congressional candidates in more moderate states will probably try to distance themselves from Trump as if he lived on Mars. Inside the Republican Party, the split between conservatives could very well grow into a long-lasting schism. Before Trump’s latest reshuffle of his staff, the reasonable scenario had Clinton winning the White House, the Democrats waging a fierce war to capture the Senate and the GOP retaining control of the House of Representatives. If the Bannon gambit flops, however, the Republican defeat could start to resemble Barry Goldwater’s electoral catastrophe in 1964, when the Arizona Senator won only 38% of the popular vote and only six states in the Electoral College. Such a defeat could pulverize the party for many years, perhaps even for generations, as Michael Gerson noted in a WaPo article this week. Gerson points out that Trump enjoys the support of only one in five voters under the age of 35. First-time voters who will support Clinton because of their aversion to Trump are likely to stay loyal to the Democrats in future elections as well. Trump therefore may be about to bestow a long period of political hegemony on the Democrats.

Which brings us back to Netanyahu, the Republicans’ favorite foreign leader who turned local hero because of his willingness to stand up to Obama when necessary and to humiliate him when possible. By nature, the more Republicans embraced Netanyahu, the more Democrats became uncomfortable with him, especially as the partisan divide in Washington grew steadily wider. After Netanyahu openly promoted Mitt Romney in 2012 and brazenly colluded with GOP leaders in Congress in advance of his 2015 speech against the Iran deal, parts of the Democrat Party, though not all of it, for sure, detached itself from Israel altogether, at least for as long as Netanyahu remains in power. This is especially true of the younger generation, the same one that has failed to warm to Trump. If we extend Gerson’s logic, the damage wrought by Netanyahu in recent years could also last for generations to come. Netanyahu still maintains that his speech to Congress was “essential,” and he more or less denies that it caused any damage to Israel’s standing in Pindostan. Nonetheless, this time around, Netanyahu is being extra careful not to appear as intervening in the Pindo elections, not only because he’s once bitten and is now twice shy, but also because of his obvious reservations about Trump, and his realization that Clinton could be a last line of Israeli defense if the Democrats emerge triumphant from the November vote. Netanyahu put all his eggs in the GOP basket, but a Trump defeat could unravel it altogether. Thus, it’s not too far fetched to imagine that at nights Netanyahu might sometimes dream of an October surprise that will be followed by a November sensation in which Trump is elected with the help of an Islamic-bashing and Netanyahu-adoring wave, guided along by Breitbart’s Bannon and the website itself. If such a fantastic scenario materializes, the supposedly routine meeting between Netanyahu and Breitbart in Jayloomia nearly a decade ago will suddenly seem, with the benefit of hindsight, as truly historic.

they lied that they drove them off

Pindostani jets scramble against Syrian aircraft bombing Kurdish rebels
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Aug 20 2016

In a move starkly pointing to the risk of all-out war between the major powers in the Middle East, the Pindo military said yesterday that it had scrambled fighter jets Thursday against government bombers inside Syria, to protect Pindo SOF operating with Kurdish rebel militias. Assad’s regime had sent two Su-24 bombers to bomb Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces advancing on government-held positions in the city of Hasakah. The bombers nearly hit Pindo SOF who are deployed illegally in Syria, embedded in the YPG. Pindo officials tried to contact Syrian government and Russian forces operating in the region, and Russian officials replied that their bombers were not involved. The Pindo fighter planes arrived after the Syrian bombers had left the area, and no Pindo SOF were injured. Washington then stepped up its air patrols in the region, however. Yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Capt J Davis warned of military action against any threat to Pindo forces, saying:

(Pindostan will) take whatever action is necessary. We will ensure their safety, and the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to do things that place them at risk. … We view instances that place the coalition at risk with utmost seriousness, and we do have the inherent right of self defense.

Davis also criticized the Assad government for suddenly attacking the YPG, which until recently served as its de facto ally against CIA-backed Islamist militias, saying:

This is very unusual, we have not seen the regime take this type of action against YPG before.

Davis’ barely veiled threat that the Pentagon could attack Syrian government forces to protect its troops, which are operating in Syria in violation of the country’s sovereignty and without even the fig leaf of a UNSCR, point to the basic war aims of Washington and its European allies vassals. Claims that their intervention is aimed at fighting Islamist terror groups, which evolved out of militias they supported against the Assad regime, are a political fraud. The imperialist powers’ goal was and remains regime change. As the CIA arms the AQ-linked Jabhat al-Nusra in Aleppo against Assad’s forces, the Pentagon is supporting the offensive of the YPG, which recently renamed itself the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after absorbing a few smaller, ethnic-Arab militias. Washington’s reckless threats to use force against Syrian government forces risk escalating the conflict into a catastrophic global war of Pindostan and its European allies vassals against the major powers intervening in Syria to defend the regime: Iran, Russia, and now China. Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have all presented their operations in Syria as missions to fight Islamist terror groups alongside Washington.

After Russia intervened in Syria militarily last year, Moscow and Washington developed channels of communications to prevent simultaneous Pindosi and Russian air strikes in Syria from accidentally leading to a military clash between the world’s two leading nuclear powers. The façade of international unity built around agreements to bomb ISIS was, however, superficial and false. Washington and powerful forces in the EU still aimed for regime change, and deeply-rooted conflicts persisted between the major powers. Moscow and Beijing fear the drive for hegemony in the Middle East mounted by Washington after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, especially the regime change policy applied in the illegal 2003 Pindosi invasion of Iraq, the 2011 NATO war in Libya, and then Syria. As Washington stoked conflict with Russia after toppling a pro-Russian regime in Ukraine in 2014, and with China over the South China Sea and North Korea, Moscow and Beijing manifestly concluded that they cannot sanction yet another violent, Pindosi-led regime change in Syria. Pindo threats have not succeeded in whipping Russia and China into line. Instead, Russia and China are escalating their involvement in Syria. The near-confrontation between Pindo and Syrian jets points to the danger that this situation will trigger a military clash, either with an accidental collision between Pindo, Russian, or allied forces in Syria, or a deliberate attack aimed as a signal to the opposing side—that could escalate into all-out war.

The Syrian government launched more air strikes against YPG forces near Hasakah yesterday. Fighting had broken out earlier this week between Kurdish forces and the pro-regime National Defense Forces (NDF) militia in Hasakah, and the Syrian army issued a statement declaring it had “responded appropriately” to Kurdish attempts to conquer the city. Hasakah residents are reporting that both the Pindo-backed YPG and pro-government forces are using heavy weaponry in the city. Hasakah resident Lina al-Najjari told the WSJ:

This is the first time the regime used warplanes to strike in Hasakah. The bombing is very strong. This is the first time the relationship between the two sides reaches this level. We live in an area that is surrounded by the fighting. We have prepared our suitcases to leave once we get the chance. But we cannot leave our house at the moment. We cannot step outside.

The Kremlin also launched large-scale air strikes on Islamist targets across Syria, in the north near Aleppo and in the northeast around Deir-ez-Zor, from warships in the Black Sea and strategic bombers flying out of bases in Iran and Syria. Meanwhile, Chinese officials continued to voice support for the Assad regime, after Beijing took the unprecedented step of sending a high-level military delegation earlier this week to Damascus. Admiral Guan Youfei, the director of the Chinese military’s Office for International Military Cooperation, agreed with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij to step up personnel training and aid from China for the Syrian army. The Chinese army’s English-language China Military Online web site declared:

There are already Chinese military advisors in Syria, focusing on personnel training in weapons, since the Syrian government forces are buyers of Chinese weapons, including sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and machine guns. Moreover, while many Syrian-Chinese arms deals were suspended due to the war, now there could be engagement again over these contracts.

Citing Middle East Studies Professor Zhao Weiming of Shanghai International Studies University, the site also stated that Beijing’s new Syria policy was retaliation for the Pindo “pivot to Asia” aiming to isolate China, writing:

Since Pindostan has been interfering militarily in China’s backyard in the South China Sea, this could be push-back from the Chinese military into an area, the Middle East, that is usually considered a Pindo sphere of military influence.

A major factor in the sudden public intervention of China into the Syrian conflict, Chinese analysts explained, is last month’s failed Pindo-backed coup in Turkey. Wang Lian of the School of International Studies at Peking University said:

In developing a closer relationship with Syria, one has to take into account the changes at hand in Syria and the region, including the fast recovering relations between Turkey and Russia.

The Assad regime’s bombing of the YPG points to some of the geostrategic concerns that underlay Washington’s decision to give at least tacit backing to the coup attempt. Washington’s search for reliable proxies in Syria, and in particular the Pentagon’s choice of the Kurdish YPG as a suitable candidate, ultimately united a wide coalition of countries against it. Turkish officials were deeply concerned that YPG victories in Syria would stoke Kurdish separatist sentiment in Turkey itself. The Syrian regime, backed by Russia and China, was preparing an attack on the YPG to keep it from gaining too much influence and setting up a Pindo-backed regime in northern Syria. The failure of the coup in Turkey and the subsequent purge of pro-Pindo Turkish officers suspected of sympathy for the coup, however, only shifted Ankara closer to the Russian and Syrian regimes. The main danger that arises is that, in order to salvage its intervention in Syria, the Pindo government and its allies vassals will mount an even more reckless military escalation.

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