In an historic move the United Nations First Committee voted Thursday to convene a conference next March to negotiate a new treaty to ban the possession of nuclear weapons. The vote is a huge step forward in the campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons launched several years ago by nonnuclear weapons states and civil society from across the globe.
Dismayed by the failure of the nuclear weapons states to honor their obligation under Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty which requires them to pursue good faith negotiations for the elimination of their nuclear arsenals, and moved by the growing danger of nuclear war, more than 120 nations gathered in Oslo in March of 2013 to review the latest scientific data about the catastrophic consequences that will result from the use of nuclear weapons. The conference shifted the focus of international discussion about nuclear war from abstract consideration of nuclear strategy to an evaluation of the medical data about what will actually happen if these weapons are used. It was boycotted by all of the major nuclear powers, the US, Russia, UK, China and France, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, or P5.
Further meetings in Nayarit, Mexico and Vienna followed in 2014 and culminated in a pledge by the Austrian government to “close the gap” in international law that does not yet specifically outlaw the possession of these weapons. More than 140 countries ultimately associated themselves with the pledge which was fiercely opposed by the United States and the other nuclear weapons states, and in the fall of 2015 the UN General Assembly voted to establish an Open Ended Working Group which met in Geneva earlier this year and recommended the negotiations approved Thursday.
The United States, which led the opposition had hoped to limit the “Yes” vote to less than one hundred, but failed badly. The final vote was 123 For, 38 Against and 16 Abstentions. The “No” votes came from the nuclear weapons states, and US allies in NATO, plus Japan, South Korea and Australia which have treaty ties to the US and consider themselves to be under the protection of the “US nuclear umbrella”.
But four nuclear weapons states broke ranks, with China, India and Pakistan abstaining, and North Korea voting in favor of the treaty negotiations. In addition, the Netherlands defied intense pressure from the rest of NATO and abstained, as did Finland, which is not a member of NATO but has close ties with the alliance.
Japan which voted with the US against the treaty has indicated that it will, nonetheless, participate in the negotiations when they begin in March.
The US and the other nuclear weapons states will probably try to block final approval of the treaty conference by the General Assembly later this fall, but, following Thursday’s vote, it appears overwhelmingly likely that negotiations will begin in March, and that they will involve a significant majority of UN member states, even if the [major] nuclear states continue their boycott.
The successful completion of a new treaty will not of itself eliminate nuclear weapons. But it will put powerful new pressure on the nuclear weapons states who clearly do not want to uphold their obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty even as they insist that the nonnuclear weapons states meet theirs.
We have come perilously close to nuclear war on multiple occasions during the last 70 years, and we have been incredibly lucky. US nuclear policy cannot continue to be the hope that we will remain lucky in the future. We need to join and lead the growing movement to abolish nuclear weapons and work to bring the other nuclear weapons states into a binding agreement that sets out the detailed time line for eliminating these weapons and the detailed verification and enforcement mechanisms to make sure they are eliminated.
This will not be an easy task, but we really have no choice. If we don’t get rid of these weapons, someday, perhaps sooner rather than later, they will be used and they will destroy human civilization. The decision is ours.
Ira Helfand, MD, is past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility
A Venezuelan policeman died after being shot during an opposition protest late Wednesday in the province of Miranda, Minister of the Interior and Justice Nestor Reverol said, adding there were two other officers injured.
Reverol stated that the officer was shot after the police tried to disperse an opposition march to preserve public order on the Panamerican highway in San Antonio de los Altos, adding that two suspects were in custody.
“There are two people detained for questioning, and an order will be issued to begin investigations to clarify this murder,” said Reverol.
The wounded officers were taken to a private clinic, where Jose Alejandro Molina Ramirez died, shot in the abdomen and arm. Medouza Dany Daniel Briceno was shot in one hand, Davis Jose Laya Ayala was hit in one arm and Miguel Antonio Cuevas Pirela had a wound on his face from a blunt object, but all were out of danger, the doctors informed.
Reverol said the right-wing opposition was responsible for the death of officer Molina. He also confirmed that four policemen were injured in Zulia state during the protests.
“The officer killed is Jose Alejandro Molina Ramirez who was shot in the abdomen and arm.”
The right wing had called for a “Taking of Venezuela” march Wednesday, provoking clashes that led to more than a hundred injuries.
Despite some factions of the opposition agreeing to talks with the government, some of the splintered right wing have refused dialogue and instead called for a national strike on Friday and a more provocative march to the Miraflores presidential palace on Nov. 3.
Miranda’s governor is right-wing leader Henrique Capriles, who denied that opposition forces had agreed to talks with the socialist government Tuesday and has been instrumental in calling for street demonstrations and the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.
“This needs to keep growing so that the government understands once and for all that we’re doing this for real,” said two-time presidential loser Capriles.
The National Assembly, that is in contempt of the constitution, voted Tuesday to start an impeachment process against Maduro, even though any actions it takes have been declared nulled by the Supreme Court in the country.
Crowds at the protests where the officer was shot chanted “This government is going to fall!”
Clashes also broke out in the western town of San Cristobal that was an epicenter of violence during 2014 anti-Maduro protests that left at least 40 people dead.
By Sam Husseini | October 28, 2016
“Democracy Now” sadly continues its descent, which I’ve alluded to occasionally on twitter. To fully tell this story would require a very long and detailed piece, but the latest chapter of this is worth noting in more than a tweet as it happens. On this morning’s headlines, Amy Goodman claimed:
The United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to start talks aimed at abolishing all nuclear weapons. The landmark resolution will see the U.N. convene a conference next year to negotiate a legally binding instrument for worldwide nuclear prohibition. The vote was 123-38, with 16 countries abstaining. Voting against were all nine known nuclear states: China, Russia, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea as well as the United States. [Note, this is wording as broadcast, the transcript is minorly different.]
In fact, China, India and Pakistan abstained. North Korea actually voted for the resolution. As even the AP correctly reported: “The United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among the countries voting against the measure.” See country by country breakdown results from International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. See excellent map from ILPI. If you’re still skeptical, see actual pic of vote board.
As Ira Helfand — past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and currently co-president of that group’s global federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War — noted in Nukes and the U.N.: a Historic Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons:
The ‘No’ votes came from the nuclear weapons states, and U.S. allies in NATO, plus Japan, South Korea and Australia, which have treaty ties to the U.S., and consider themselves to be under the protection of the ‘U.S. nuclear umbrella.’
But four nuclear weapons states broke ranks, with China, India and Pakistan abstaining, and North Korea voting in favor of the treaty negotiations. In addition, the Netherlands defied intense pressure from the rest of NATO and abstained, as did Finland, which is not a member of NATO but has close ties with the alliance.
So, what actually happened is that the U.S. and various client states — especially, but not limited to, NATO members — voted against the nuclear weapons ban. China, India and Pakistan abstained — not voted against as “Democracy Now!” claimed. And North Korea actually voted for the resolution — U.S. client state South Korea voted with the U.S. against.
It would be interesting to see how a mistake like this could possibly happen. Icing on the cake is the way it was phrased, even above and beyond the outright falsehoods about China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Goodman claimed “as well as the United States” — as if the U.S. were an afterthought when it’s obvious that the U.S. government has been leading the effort against the vote. As the German Press Agency reported: “Due to U.S. pressure, 27 of the 28 NATO member states voted against the resolution with the Netherlands abstaining.”
Such errors are likely a consequences of a world view that seems to not fully grasp, or perhaps not want to grasp or communicate, the threat the U.S. government poses to much of humanity in terms of the actual nature of U.S. foreign policy.
RT’s YouTube channels have surpassed 4 billion views, sustaining RT’s title as the world’s leading news network on YouTube, and widening its lead on mainstream media TV news channels such as CNN and the BBC.
The record-breaking number of views from across RT’s varied news channels including RT, RT Documentary and Ruptly TV, amount to three times the YouTube views that Euronews enjoys and more than seven times those of the BBC’s news channels combined.
“The future of media is inextricably linked to the internet. Once you fall behind in this field, it’s difficult to catch up. From the very beginning RT has focused on developing its digital platforms, and this has been the key to our success,” said RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.
RT has been leading the way in YouTube news delivery since the platform became available in Russia in 2007.
At the time, RT was the first Russian TV channel to embrace the new media concept and by 2011, RT’s content had gained the recognition of YouTube and was awarded the most popular news video of the year.
The award marked the beginning of RT YouTube’s rise to international acclaim; the following year, 2012, the Pew Research Center named RT the top news producer on the platform. By 2013, RT had become the first news channel in the world to hit 1 billion views on YouTube.
“For many years now RT has been an unconditional leader on YouTube, the most popular video-hosting platform in the world. Four billion views is a new milestone, and we are aiming to raise the bar even further,” said Kirill Karnovich-Valua, RT’s Head of Online Projects.
Without doubt, 2016 has been RT’s best year to date. In April it received the People’s Choice award at the prestigious Webby Awards ahead of BBC News, ABC News, NBC Nightly News and the New York Times.
In September, RT took home seven Lovie Awards, the pan-European awards honoring online excellence. And RT finished the year on a high by solidifying its seat at the top with over 4 billion YouTube views.
Aside from its YouTube success, RT broadcasts in six languages, has more than 13 million Facebook fans, 6 million Twitter followers, and a live audience of millions around the globe.
One of the largest German newspapers, Das Bild, seriously claimed that there are “good” and “bad” bombs that are being dropped on Middle Eastern countries.
According to the newspaper, the first ones were used in Aleppo by “bad” Putin whose goal is “to level the city with 300,000 residents to the ground in order to increase his personal power and that of his regime.”
The good bombs, as the newspaper claims, are on the contrary used by the US and its allies in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Their motive, according to the article, is “to liberate the city of millions from the terrorist regime of Daesh.”
The author, Julian Reichelt, made every effort to draw things black and white: he repeatedly contrasted the Russians with the Americans and even wrote odd comments in brackets, apparently making sure that the reader is “on the right side.”
“Bombs are clearly better in the hands of those who respect elections, follow laws and are controlled by the free press (for example Obama), than in the hands of despots who react to criticism with violence and oppression and are not accountable to anyone (for example Putin),” the article said.
In his attempt to turn the situation upside down, the author went even further, saying that “American nuclear weapons have always been better than the Russian (Pakistani or Chinese) ones because they have been controlled by politicians who have much more respect for human life and the will of their voters.”
Apparently, the author seems to have forgotten that the US is the country that killed 450,000 innocent people by dropping nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In addition to his outstanding comment, the author also mentioned that Russian media, including Sputnik and RT, alongside with respected German experts like Jürgen Todenhöfer, Jakob Augstein and Gabor Steingart always distort reality and publicly spread lies.
Apparently, Mr. Reichelt seems to ignore the fact that his controversial attempts to “demonize” Russia and “idolize” the West do not resemble much of “the truth” either.
GOP nominee Donald Trump does not believe that settlements built by the Zionist regime of Israel in Palestine are illegal, his advisor on Israel says.
David Friedman, who was campaigning for the New York billionaire at a restaurant on Mount Zion (Jabel Sahyoun) in East Jerusalem al-Quds, made the comments to AFP after the Wednesday rally.
“I don’t think he believes that the settlements are illegal,” Friedman said.
He also said the former reality TV star is “tremendously skeptical” about the so-called two-state solution, promoted by the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama during his eight years in office, but to no avail.
The Obama administration has already voiced criticism over Tel Aviv’s expansionist policies, considered illegal by the international community.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under the international law. Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Guaranteeing enmity with Tehran
Some 150 people, including extremist Israelis and evangelical Christians, took part in the Trump rally in on Wednesday.
Friedman echoed previous remarks by Trump, saying the real estate mogul would recognize East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel if he wins the White House in the US 2016 presidential election.
A short video message by Trump was also played at the event, in which he said, “Together we will stand up to the enemies like Iran, bent on destroying Israel and her people. Together we will make America and Israel safe again.”
According to leaked emails from March 2015 by former US secretary of state Colin Powell, the regime has pointed 200 nuclear weapons at the Iranian capital.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign adviser, former CIA director Chris Morell – known for recommending killing Russians in Syria, and opposing the Iran nuclear agreement – has emerged with a new idea: forcibly boarding Iranian ships to help Saudi forces.
The idea to escalate support for the Saudis by engaging in such open aggression against Iran was voiced by the Democrat during a speech given to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s liberal think-tank, Center for American Progress (CAP), on Tuesday.
“Ships leave Iran on a regular basis carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen,” he said, speaking on the Iran-aligned Shia rebels fighting the government there. “I would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the US Navy boarding their ships, and if there are weapons on them, to turn those ships around.”
These ideas, as well as the former CIA director’s supportive stance on waterboarding, may sound like something out of the Republican camp, but Morell is indeed with Clinton, and in the event of Clinton winning the election, he is poised to become a driving force in American foreign policy.
He did, however, express some worry that forcibly boarding Iranian ships in foreign waters might pose some problems with regard to international law. But according to Morell, who has accused Iran of “malign behavior in the region,” taking things to the next level is exactly what is needed to “get the attention of our friends in the region to say the Americans are now serious about helping us deal with this problem.”
The Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured Yemen’s government institutions and exiled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014. The Americans believe him to be the country’s legitimate leader, and are in league with Saudi Arabia over expelling the rebels from Yemen.
Gulf countries then set about bombing Yemen in the spring of 2015, with no protests emanating from the Americans, who have engaged in active support. The death toll topped 4,000 in late October, as the Saudi-led coalition used tens of billions of dollars in US weapons aid – including laser-guided bombs and internationally-banned cluster bombs – creating a humanitarian catastrophe that has put millions of lives in danger.
One of the latest Saudi bombings hit a funeral hall and killed 140 people.
Washington, however, is careful not to brand the Houthis terrorists. Aside from enjoying a tenuous alliance with Iran, the Houthis have also been committed to fighting against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Qaeda is, after all, considered a terrorist group by Washington.
Podesta’s CAP released a fresh report last week, entitled ‘Leveraging US Power in the Middle East,’ calling for continued cooperation with the Gulf alliance and expanded action against Syria, which is allied with Iran in all of this. According to The Intercept, the report was received with open arms by UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba.
The ambassador’s position has been that the US is not doing enough to help the Sunni monarchies expand their influence, adding that he would like to see Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Jordan enjoy renewed support from Washington, “to get the band back together,” as he put it, according to The Intercept.
The US has sold more than $20 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in the past 18 months.
Morell, for his part, believes the Middle East conflict is not a struggle between Iran and the Gulf monarchies, but instead “a desire on behalf of the Iranians to be the hegemonic power in the region… and it is the Sunni Gulf states pushing back against that. That is what’s happening.”
In August, Morell told Charlie Rose in a PBS interview that Russia and Iran should suffer in Syria for their support of the government of Bashar Assad.
The former CIA director said: “What they need is to have the Russians and Iranians pay a little price. When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia, who were killing American soldiers, right? The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price.”
He suggested that the killing be done “covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it, you don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say ‘we did this.’ But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”
In the same vein, he proposed US forces bombard Syrian government installations to “scare Assad.”
Photo by Jamelle Bouie | CC BY 2.0
According to the mainstream media, in a recent speech in West Palm Beach, Donald Trump finally completely lost it. Sawing the air with his tiny hands in a unmistakeably Hitlerian manner, he spat out a series of undeniably hateful anti-Semitic code words … like “political establishment,” “global elites” and, yes, “international banks.” He even went so far as to claim that “corporations” and their (ahem) “lobbyists” have millions of dollars at stake in this election, and are trying to pass the TTP, not to benefit the American people, but simply to enrich themselves. He then went on to accuse the media of collaborating with “the Clinton machine,” presumably to benefit these “global elites” and “international banks” and “lobbyists.”
Now, a lot of folks didn’t immediately recognize the secret meanings of these fascistic code words, and so mistakenly assumed that “global elites” referred to the transnational capitalist ruling classes, and that “lobbyists” referred to actual lobbyists, and that “banks” meant … well … you know, banks. As it turned out, this was completely wrong. None of these words actually meant what they meant, not in anti-Semitic CodeSpeak. So the mainstream media translated for us. “Political establishment” meant “the Jews.” “Global elites” also meant “the Jews.” “Banks” meant “Jews.” “Lobbyists” meant “Jews.” Even “corporate media,” meant “Jews.” Apparently, Trump’s entire speech was a series of secret dog-whistle signals to his legions of neo-Nazi goons, who, immediately following Clinton’s victory, are going to storm out of their hidey holes, frontally attack the US military, overthrow the US government, and, yes, you guessed it … “kill the Jews.”
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the mainstream media’s reaction just a little bit. Or maybe Trump’s speech really was that fascistic. Judge for yourself. Read the transcript. (NPR offers a complete version of it here.) Then compare the reactions of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Inquirer, The Guardian, and other leading broadsheets, and magazines and blogs like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and a host of others, most of which rely on Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to the President, as their authoritative source on Trumpian cryptology. (Mr. Greenblatt, incidentally, should know better, given the treatment he has received from hard-line Zionist publications for refusing to demonize Black Lives Matter, and for “taking sides against” the State of Israel.)
Look, I’m not defending Donald Trump, who I consider a self-aggrandizing idiot and a soulless huckster of the lowest order, and whose supporters include a lot of real anti-Semites, and racists, and misogynists, and other such creeps. I’m simply trying to point out how the corporate media have, for months, been playing the same hysterical tune like an enormous Goebbelsian keyboard instrument, and how millions of Americans are singing along (as they were before the invasion of Iraq, which posed no threat to the USA , but which according to the media had WMDs), and how terribly fucking disturbing that is. In case you didn’t instantly recognize it, the name of the tune is “This guy is Hitler!” and it isn’t the short vulgarian fingers of Donald Trump that are tickling the ivories. And no, it isn’t “the Jews” either. It’s the corporate media, and the corporations that own them, and the rest of the global capitalist ruling classes … in other words, those “global elites.”
The thing I find particularly disturbing is how these rather mundane observations — i.e., (a) that a global ruling class exists, (b) that it’s primarily corporate in character, (c) that this class is pursuing its interests and not the interests of sovereign states — how such observations are being stigmatized as the ravings of unhinged anti-Semites. This stigmatization is not limited to Trumpists. Anyone to the left of Clinton is now, apparently, an anti-Semite. For example, Roger Cohen, in The New York Times, riding the tsunami of condemnation of the insidious verbiage of Trump’s West Palm speech, executed an extended smear-job on Jeremy Corbyn and his “Corbynistas” (they’re fond of coining these epithets, the media), denouncing their virulent “anti-Americanism,” “anti-Capitalism,” “anti-globalism,” and “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”
Which, let me hasten to add, and stress, and underscore, and repeatedly emphasize, is not to imply that the Labour Party, or the British Left, or the American Left, or any other Left, is anti-Semitism-free. Of course not. There are anti-Semites everywhere. That isn’t the point. Or it isn’t my point.
My point is that this stigmatization campaign is part of a much larger ideological project, one that has little to do with Trump, or Jeremy Corbyn, or their respective parties. Smearing one’s political opponents is nothing new, of course, it’s as old as the hills. But what we’re witnessing is more than smears. As I proposed in these pages back in July, political dissent is being gradually pathologized (i.e., stigmatized as aberrant or “abnormal” behavior, as opposed to a position meriting discussion). Consider the abnormalization of Sanders, back when he was talking about “banks,” “global elites,” and other things that matter, or the media’s portrayal of British voters as racists in the wake of the Brexit referendum. And, yes, the charges being leveled against Trump, much as we might despise the man. Anti-Semitism, inciting violence, paranoid conspiracy theorizing, insurrection, treason, et cetera — these are not legitimate arguments one needs to counter with superior arguments; they are symptoms of deviations from a norm, signs of criminality or pathology, which is increasingly how the corporate ruling classes are dismissing anyone who attempts to challenge them.
A line is being drawn in the ideological sand. On one side of it are the decent people, the normal people, in their business wear, with their university degrees, and prescriptions, and debts. On the other side are … well, the deplorables, the ignorant, racist, anti-Semitic, neo-nationalist, populist extremists. This line cuts through both the Left and the Right … supersedes both Left and Right, making bedfellows of supposed adversaries like Obama, Clinton, Kagan, Wolfowitz, Scowcroft, and their ilk on the Normal team, and a motley crew of Trumpists, Putinists, European populists, Corbynistas, Sandernistas, socialists, anarchists, Wikileakers, anti-Zionists, anti-capitalists, neo-Nazis, Black Lives Matterers, angry Greek pensioners, environmental activists, religious zealots, the Klu Klux Klan, David Graeber, most of the contributors to CounterPunch, and various other “extremist” types, many of whom detest each other, in the Deplorables’ current starting line-up.
The corporate media is sending a message … a message aimed at a much broader audience than undecided American voters (assuming such creatures really exist). The message is, “get with the fucking program, or get stigmatized as an anti-Semite, or a racist, or a Russian spy, or whatever.” The message is, “drop the populist rhetoric, shut the hell up about the Wall Street banks, and the corporations, and the ‘one percent,’ and … actually … forget about politics completely, except for identity politics, of course. Go ahead and knock yourself out with that.” The message is, “you’re either with us or against us … and it doesn’t matter why you’re against us, or what it is you think you’re for. Right, Left … who gives a shit? It’s one big Basket of Deplorables to us.”
This message, of course, displays many of the hallmarks of the classic authoritarian mentality, the need for nearly total conformity, mindless allegiance to one’s so-called superiors, delegitimization of all opposing viewpoints, and the infantile type of hero-worship figures like Obama and Clinton inspire … not the old-fashioned authoritarianism that would-be despots like Trump represent, but, rather, a more attractive version, a hopey, changey, lovey version, where there are no frightening Hitlerian leaders barking out anti-Semitic code words, and no one is exterminating thousands of people in faraway countries they want to destabilize in order to entirely dominate the region. No, this is the version where Obama sells the TPP on the Jimmy Fallon show, and wars of aggression are not wars of aggression, but “humanitarian interventions.” It’s also the version where universal healthcare is, regrettably, “unrealistic,” but $38 billion for the State of Israel so it can operate its Apartheid State, and weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, so they can bomb the shit out of farmers in Yemen, and cut off people’s heads for blasphemy, is somehow in “America’s vital interests.”
But what do I know? I’m just a satirist. I should probably leave all this complex stuff, like what is and isn’t in my interest, and what words really mean and all that, to the experts in the mainstream media. Since they did so well decoding Trump’s speech, maybe they could translate some of these other code words I’ve been having trouble with, like the ones I put in scare quotes above, or other such code words, like “enemy combatant,” “free trade agreement,” “security barrier,” “indefinite detention,” “targeted killing,” or “troubled asset relief program.”
I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t. Odds are, I’m already on the list of Putin-worshiping, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynist, neo-nationalist, non-standing up for the National Anthem, conspiracy theorizing America-haters. The last thing I need to do at this point is start jabbering about how the United States is an authoritarian corporatist dystopia ruled by a global capitalist elite that couldn’t give less of a shit about Americans (or any other actual people living in any other actual countries), where the corporate media can whip up mass fanatical support for wars of aggression, or corporate puppets, by pointing their fingers at yet another bogeyman and shouting “Hitler” at the top of their lungs. Next thing you know I’d be writing about “banks,” and “global corporations,” and “national sovereignty,” and we all know what that’s about, don’t we?
C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (US). He can reached at his website, cjhopkins.com, or at consentfactory.org.
Israel has condemned a “shameful” event hosted by the British House of Lords in which Jews were blamed for the Holocaust and Israel was compared to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The session marked the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign ahead of the Balfour Declaration centenary. The 1917 declaration pledged British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said the gathering “gave voice to racist tropes against Jews and Israelis alike.”
According to the Times, an audience member was applauded after suggesting Hitler only decided to kill Jews after being provoked by anti-German protests led by a rabbi, Stephen Wise, in New York.
“[He] made the boycott on Germany, the economic boycott… which antagonized Hitler, over the edge, to then want to systematically kill Jews wherever he could find them.”
The speaker also said Rabbi Wise told the New York Times in 1905 there were “6 million bleeding and suffering reasons to justify Zionism.” This quote is often used by Holocaust deniers to suggest the figure of 6 million Jews later killed by the Nazis was a myth.
The audience member – reportedly a member of the anti-Zionist strictly Orthodox Neturei Karta sect – also compared Israel to IS.
“Just as the so-called Jewish state in Palestine doesn’t come from Judaism. This Islamic State in Syria is nothing with Islam. It is a perversion of Islam just as Zionism is a perversion of Judaism.”
Another audience member said, to applause: “If anybody is anti-Semitic, it’s Israelis themselves.”
David Collier, a blogger who attended the session, says he “witnessed a Jew-hating festival at the heart of the British estate.”
The event run by Baroness Tonge, a former Liberal Democrat MP who sits as an independent, and the Palestinian Return Centre.
Tonge reportedly made no attempt to challenge the comments.
She has run into trouble for her own anti-Israeli outbursts and resigned as the Lib Dem whip after claiming the state of Israel was “not going to be there forever.”
The House of Lords event was also run by the Palestinian Return Centre.
Campaigners are calling on Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration and show remorse for its “past colonial crimes” in Palestine.
In April 2016, a 16-year old boy and his 23-year old pregnant sister were shot and killed near the largest Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, Qalandia. The two Israeli border guards who killed the two family members have faced no charges or discipline, and now, Israeli prosecutors have officially closed the case, and determined that no charges were warranted against the guards.
A gag order was placed on the case by Israeli officials, and only after reporters from the Israeli paper Ha’aretz asked for the removal of the gag order was it discovered that no charges will be filed against the two guards.
According to Israeli prosecutors, there is no proof that the two guards acted improperly when they killed the unarmed child and his older sister.
Maram Taha, 23, and Ibrahim Taha, 16, her brother, were walking near Qalandia checkpoint on April 27th, and were around 65 feet away from the checkpoint when the guards claim that they seemed to be acting suspiciously, and shot them both.
Their bodies were held by Israeli officials for over a month, preventing the family from carrying out burial rites.
Maram was five months pregnant, and a mother of two children; Sarah, 6, and Remas, 4.
While Israeli prosecutors claimed that surveillance video footage at the checkpoint showed Maram attempting to throw a knife, they have refused to make the alleged video public.
Initially, on the day that she was killed, Israeli officials told the media that Maram was wearing an explosive belt. But when this was clearly not the case, when it was shown that she was pregnant, they simply stopped repeating the claim. They never officially retracted that claim, but it was not mentioned when the case was submitted to the military court system for review.
Over the past year, Israeli soldiers have been witnessed planting knives on or next to Palestinians that they have killed. This has led to suspicions among Palestinians in the case of Maram and Ibrahim Taha, particularly since Israeli officials have refused to release the surveillance video of this killing.
The case against the two Israeli border guards who shot the young mother and her little brother was submitted to prosecutors with a recommendation that no charges be brought against the guards.
Israeli prosecutors apparently agreed with this assessment, and decided not to prosecute the two unnamed Israelis who killed Maram and Ibrahim.
The Taha family has no legal recourse to appeal this decision by the Israeli military authorities, which govern the Palestinian Territories with martial law.
The following historical booklet of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement was originally released in 1984 in English and Arabic by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee, based in Damascus, Syria, and is now being made available online for download and distribution by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
While focusing on depictions of Palestinian art created inside Israeli prisons – often on pillowcases, with smuggled and secreted materials, and removed covertly from the prison walls – the booklet also contains facts and descriptions about the situation faced by Palestinian prisoners in 1984.
Some of the art in this book was also featured in the Made In Palestine exhibition, which debuted in 2003 at the Station Museum in Houston, Texas. Its curator, James Harithas, was introduced to the broad spectrum of Palestinian art by featured artist Samia Halaby, whose new book of artwork commemorating the massacre of Kufr Qassem is soon to be released. (Some of the artists featured here are also included in Halaby’s work, Liberation Art of Palestine, which traces prisoners’ art as part of the overarching stream of liberation art produced by Palestinian artists in the movement.) Zuhdi al-Adawi, one of the artists featured in the booklet, traveled to New York City in 2006 for the opening of the exhibition. The film, Crayons of Askalan, also features some of these works and the story of Palestinian prisoner artists.
The booklet contains excerpts from the London Sunday Times’ 1977 investigation into torture in Israeli prisons, the same investigation that helped to bring the torture of Rasmea Odeh and Palestinian women prisoners to a Western audience. It includes an overview of the various prisons were Palestinian political prisoners were held at the time of publication in 1984, the forms of torture used under interrogation, living conditions in prisons, medical mistreatment and prisoners’ resistance. It ends with a call to people around the world to take action to support Palestinian prisoners, “form support committees everywhere,” and “unite all efforts to help secure the just demands of these prisoners and condemn the inhumane Zionist practices,” a call to action that remains just as critical today as it was 32 years ago.
The book is available for view and download below in PDF.
Download PDF (Palestinian Art Behind the Bars, 1984)