Israeli navy ships attacked, several Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniyya Sea, northwest of Gaza city, on Thursday morning, causing one boat to capsize while a fisherman went missing in the aftermath of the assault.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said the fisherman, identified as Mohammad Ahmad al-Hassi, went missing after the navy sank his boat, and that Palestinian search and rescue teams are trying to locate him.
The ministry added that the navy fired live rounds at the boats, then flooded them with high-pressure water cannons.
One of the fishers said several navy ships attacked the Palestinian boats less than four nautical miles from the Gaza shore, causing excessive damage to several boats, including the boat that sank.
The attack is part of repeated Israeli violations against the fishers on Palestinian territorial waters, in the besieged and impoverished coastal region, and have led to many abductions of fishers, and scores of casualties, including several fatalities.
Given the tendency for Jewish radicals to carry the day, it is worth describing the most radical Zionist fringe as it exists now. It is common among radical Zionists to project a much larger Israel that reflects God’s covenant with Abraham. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, maintained that the area of the Jewish state stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”110 This reflects God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15: 18–20 and Joshua 1 3–4: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” The flexibility of the ultimate aims of Zionism can also be seen by Ben-Gurion’s comment in 1936 that
The acceptance of partition [of the Palestinian Mandate] does not commit us to renounce Transjordan [i.e., the modern state of Jordan]; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today. But the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.111
Ben-Gurion’s vision of “the boundaries of Zionist aspirations” included southern Lebanon, southern Syria, all of Jordan, and the Sinai.112 (After conquering the Sinai in 1956, Ben-Gurion announced to the Knesset that “Our army did not infringe on Egyptian territory… Our operations were restricted to the Sinai Peninsula alone.”113 Or consider Golda Meir’s statement that the borders of Israel “are where Jews live, not where there is a line on the map.”114
These views are common among the more extreme Zionists today— especially the fundamentalists and the settler movement—notably Gush Emunim—who now set the tone in Israel. A prominent rabbi associated with these movements stated: “We must live in this land even at the price of war. Moreover, even if there is peace, we must instigate wars of liberation in order to conquer [the land].”115 Indeed, in the opinion of Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, “It is not unreasonable to assume that Gush Emunim, if it possessed the power and control, would use nuclear weapons in warfare to attempt to achieve its purpose.”116 This image of a “Greater Israel” is also much on the minds of activists in the Muslim world. For example, in a 1998 interview Osama bin Laden stated,
[W]e know at least one reason behind the symbolic participation of the Western forces [in Saudi Arabia] and that is to support the Jewish and Zionist plans for expansion of what is called the Great Israel…. Their presence has no meaning save one and that is to offer support to the Jews in Palestine who are in need of their Christian brothers to achieve full control over the Arab Peninsula which they intend to make an important part of the so called Greater Israel.117
To recap: A century ago Zionism was a minority movement within Diaspora Judaism, with the dominant assimilationist Jews in the West opposing it at least partly because Zionism raised the old dual loyalty issue, which has been a potent source of anti-Semitism throughout the ages. The vast majority of Jews eventually became Zionists, to the point that now not only are Diaspora Jews Zionists, they are indispensable supporters of the most fanatic elements within Israel. Within Israel, the radicals have also won the day, and the state has evolved to the point where the influence of moderates in the tradition of Moshe Sharett is a distant memory. The fanatics keep pushing the envelope, forcing other Jews to either go along with their agenda or to simply cease being part of the Jewish community. Not long ago it was common to talk to American Jews who would say they support Israel but deplore the settlements. Now such talk among Jews is an anachronism, because support for Israel demands support for the settlements. The only refuge for such talk is the increasingly isolated Jewish critics of Israel, such as Israel Shamir118 and, to a much lesser extent, Michael Lerner’s Tikkun.119 [or sites like Mondoweiss]. The trajectory of Zionism has soared from its being a minority within a minority to its dominating the U.S. Congress, the executive branch, and the entire U.S. foreign policy apparatus.And because the Israeli occupation and large-scale settlement of the West Bank unleashed a wave of terrorist-style violence against Israel, Jews perceive Israel as under threat. [In Netanyahu’s critique of the UN Security Council resolution, he emphasized Palestinan terrorism as the main reason preventing a two-state solution.] As with any committed group, Jewish commitment increases in times of perceived threat to the community. The typical response of Diaspora Jews to the recent violence has not been to renounce Jewish identity but to strongly support the Sharon government and rationalize its actions. This has been typical of Jewish history in general. For example, during the 1967 and 1973 wars there were huge upsurges of support for Israel and strengthened Jewish identity among American Jews: Arthur Hertzberg, a prominent Zionist, wrote that “the immediate reaction of American Jewry to the crisis was far more intense and widespread than anyone could have foreseen. Many Jews would never have believed that grave danger to Israel could dominate their thoughts and emotions to the exclusion of everything else.”120 The same thing is happening now. The typical response to Israel’s current situation is for Jews to identify even more strongly with Israel and to exclude Jews who criticize Israel or support Palestinian claims in any way.
This “rallying around the flag” in times of crisis fits well with the psychology of ethnocentrism: When under attack, groups become more unified and more conscious of boundaries, and have a greater tendency to form negative stereotypes of the outgroup. This has happened throughout Jewish history.121
Several commentators have noted the void on the Jewish left as the conflict with the Palestinians has escalated under the Sharon government. As noted above, surveys in the 1980s routinely found that half of U.S. Jews opposed settlements on the West Bank and favored a Palestinian state.122 Such sentiments have declined precipitously in the current climate:
At a progressive synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Rolando Matalo was torn between his longtime support for Palestinian human rights and his support for an Israel under siege. “There is a definite void on the left,” said Matalo…. Many American Jewish leaders say Israel’s current state of emergency—and growing signs of anti-Semitism around the world—have unified the faithful here in a way not seen since the 1967 and 1973 wars…. These feelings shift back and forth, but right now they’re tilting toward tribalism.123
Note that the author of this article, Josh Getlin, portrays Israel as being “under siege,” even though Israel is the occupying power and has killed far more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis.
“I don’t recall a time in modern history when Jews have felt so vulnerable,” said Rabbi Martin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles…. This week, the center will be mailing out 600,000 “call to action” brochures that say “Israel is fighting for her life” and urge American Jews to contact government leaders and media organizations worldwide…. Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, said debate over the West Bank invasion and the attack on the Palestinian Jenin refugee camp is overshadowed by “a strong sense that Israel needs us, that the world Jewry needs us, that this is our wake-up call.” He said he has been overwhelmed in recent weeks by numerous calls from members of synagogues asking what they can do to help or where they can send a check…. “I have American friends who might have been moderate before on the issue of negotiating peace, but now they think: ‘Our whole survival is at stake, so let’s just destroy them all,’” said Victor Nye, a Brooklyn, N.Y., businessman who describes himself as a passionate supporter of Israel.
In this atmosphere, Jews who dissent are seen as traitors, and liberal Jews have a great deal of anxiety that they will be ostracized from the Jewish community for criticizing Israel.124 This phenomenon is not new. During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post criticized the Begin government and was inundated with protests from Jews. “Here dissent becomes treason—and treason not to a state or even an ideal (Zionism), but to a people. There is tremendous pressure for conformity, to show a united front and to adopt the view that what is best for Israel is something only the government there can know.”125 During the same period, Nat Hentoff noted in the Village Voice, “I know staff workers for the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress who agonize about their failure to speak out, even on their own time, against Israeli injustice. They don’t, because they figure they’ll get fired if they do.”126
Reflecting the fact that Jews who advocate peace with the Palestinians are on the defensive, funding has dried up for causes associated with criticism of Israel. The following is a note posted on the website of Tikkun by its editor, Michael Lerner:
TIKKUN Magazine is in trouble—because we have continued to insist on the rights of the Palestinian people to full self-determination. For years we’ve called for an end to the Occupation and dismantling of the Israeli settlements. We’ve called on the Palestinian people to follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Gandhi—and we’ve critiqued terrorism against Israel, and insisted on Israel’s right to security. But we’ve also critiqued Israel’s house demolitions, torture, and grabbing of land. For years, we had much support. But since Intifada II began this past September, many Jews have stopped supporting us—and we’ve lost subscribers and donors. Would you consider helping us out?”127
Another sign that Jews who are “soft” on Israel are being pushed out of the Jewish community is an article by Philip Weiss.128 The refusal of liberal American Jews to make an independent stand has left the American left helpless. American liberalism has always drawn strength from Jews. They are among the largest contributors to the Democratic Party; they have brought a special perspective to any number of social-justice questions, from the advancement of blacks and women to free speech. They fostered multiculturalism…. The Holocaust continues to be the baseline reference for Jews when thinking about their relationship to the world, and the Palestinians. A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail from a friend of a friend in Israel about the latest bus-bombing. “They’re going to kill us all,” was the headline. (No matter that Israel has one of largest armies in the world, and that many more Palestinians have died than Israelis). Once, when I suggested to a liberal journalist friend that Americans had a right to discuss issues involving Jewish success in the American power structure—just as we examined the WASP culture of the establishment a generation ago—he said, “Well, we know where that conversation ends up: in the ovens of Auschwitz.”
Because of Jewish ethnocentrism and group commitment, stories of Jews being killed are seen as the portending of another Holocaust and the extinction of the Jewish people rather than a response to a savage occupation—a clear instance of moral particularism writ large.
The same thing is happening in Canada….
Accusing Russia of US election hacking is a malicious Big Lie. It’s a clear attempt to delegitimize Trump’s election.
It aims undermine him before taking office, along with provocatively pushing for confrontation between the world’s dominant nuclear powers – utter madness, but that’s the mindset of neocon lunatics infesting Washington, forces Trump will have to deal with after taking office.
It’s up for grabs whether he’s strong-willed enough to go his own way or intends serving America’s deep state exclusively, wanting uninterrupted continuity – dirty business as usual across the board, especially geopolitically.
It takes a giant leap of faith to think he’ll diverge positively from longstanding deplorable practices. Yet he hasn’t begun to serve so it’s unclear precisely what he’ll do.
Bipartisan congressional headwinds alone will challenge whatever monied interests oppose. Presidents are front men for wealth, power and privilege. Their choice is going along to get along or running into storm of trouble – enough to sabotage their agenda unless willing to support consensus.
Disputing the fake news Russian hacking allegation, Trump responded with multiple tweets, saying:
“Julian Assange says Russia wasn’t his source & Pres Obama is trying to ‘delegitimize’ Trump with Russia hack claims (@sean hannity exclusive).”
“Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ – why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”
“@FoxNews: Julian Assange on U.S. media coverage: ‘It’s very dishonest.’ #Hannity pic.twitter.com/ADcPRQifH9′ More dishonest than anyone knows
“Somebody hacked the DNC but why did they not have “hacking defense” like the RNC has and why have they not responded to the terrible……”
“things they did and said (like giving the questions to the debate to H). A total double standard! Media, as usual, gave them a pass.”
“The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called “Russian hacking” was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!
America’s tweeter-in-chief has 18.7 million followers – able to reach them directly, circumventing media scoundrels overwhelmingly against him – giving bully pulpit influence new meaning.
In his waning days in office, Obama seems determined to try undermining Trump before he’s sworn in and begin serving – instead of graciously smoothing the transition process the way previous administrations operated.
Pat Buchanan said he’s acting with “bitterness” and “despair,” exiting with a “let’s wreck the place” attitude, an outrageous end to a disgraceful tenure, more evidence of his diabolical nature.
On Wednesday, he awarded himself the Medal of Distinguished Public Service, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pinning the medal on him ceremonially.
One tweeter asked if it has an ISIS emblem on it? Another said he can wear it like other brutal despots display self-awarded medals.
He long ago should have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for high crimes of war and against humanity. America honors its worst, denigrates its best, the way all rogue states operate.
The Russian hacking story gets increasingly shakier. According to Buzzfeed News, the FBI never requested access to allegedly hacked DNC servers.
Months after claiming they were compromised, they’ve yet to examine them for alleged hacking evidence, according to DNC spokesman Eric Walker, saying:
“The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and US Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.”
Instead the agency relied on tech security company CrowdStrike. It claimed Russian hacking without providing evidence proving it.
Its standard practice for the FBI to do its own cybersecurity investigative work. Why not this time? Clearly it’s because emails were leaked by one or more Democrat party insiders, not hacked by Russia or anyone else.
Accusations otherwise were fabricated. Months after initially made, no credible evidence was presented. None exists.
Whatever comes out ahead, if anything, will be fake news like everything else about this concocted issue – a shameful end to a disgraced administration.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
“RT was very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights, etc. Whatever crack, fissure they could find in our tapestry, they would exploit it,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, at a hearing about cybersecurity challenges.
In addition to hacking, Russia used fake news, social media and RT to influence the recent US elections, Clapper argued.
Though the US intelligence community has not been able to gauge the actual impact of any of these actions, “the totality of that effort, not only as DNI but as a citizen, I think is a grave concern,” he said.
A TV station in North Carolina has published a report on a strange, new billboard that has cropped up in their area that some local residents, at least those who work in the media, are having trouble figuring out.
The billboard in question is similar to the one pictured above. The artwork on it is by the British artist Banksy and depicts Mary and Joseph coming up against Israel’s apartheid wall while attempting to get to Bethlehem.
“It’s only been up for a week and a half, but if you did see it, you might be wondering what the meaning is behind it, just like we did,” says the reporter in a report which can be found here.
The billboard was paid for by If Americans Knew, the organization founded by Alison Weir, who, to the station’s credit, is given airtime in the report.
Another interesting aspect is the behavior of a local man who is also interviewed and whose obvious reticence to comment on the billboard may be–and probably is–due to fear of being accused of anti-Semitism.
“I know what the meaning of it is, that’s why I don’t want to comment on it. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory,” he says.
All this comes just a few days after I posted an article commenting on another billboard, one that went up in Detroit in 2015, and which also left local media reporters similarly puzzled–or at least pretending puzzlement. As I commented,
The poor TV reporters simply cannot fathom–or at least pretend not to fathom–what the billboard means. “Is it meant to be ant-Semitic or something else entirely? wonders one.
“What exactly does the statement on this billboard mean?” asks another, referring to it as “the million dollar question.”
What we seem to have here is an epidemic of cluelessness. Or at least feigned cluelessness. This, of course, from people whose job it is to inform the public.
Moreover, the report doesn’t endeavor to explain why a billboard in an American city–advocating that America’s interests should be placed first over Israel’s–should even be regarded as “controversial” in the first place. And of course, the reporters are obligated to trot out a member of the Anti-Defamation League to explain it all away as an “old anti-Semitic canard.”
And this is why I say it’s a perfect illustration of where we find ourselves today: Jewish power is the 3,000 pound elephant in the room. It exists. Of that fact there is no doubt. But sadly, no one can talk about it.
Interestingly, the TV report on the new billboard, in North Carolina, did not include comments from the ADL, although maybe that’s just because the ADL hasn’t gotten around to opening a branch in the Appalachian Mountains yet. What is clear, of course, is that either with or without a local ADL office, there is tremendous fear of Jewish power. It is evident in the words of the TV reporter, and especially in the demeanor of the man who refused to talk about the billboard on camera. Even the fact that billboards like this arouse such “controversy” in the first place is testimony to that fear.
America may have once been the “home of the brave,” but that doesn’t seem by and large to be the case any longer. With growing attacks on the BDS movement, with people losing their jobs or being denied tenure for saying the wrong thing, with even the president of the United States being fried, basted, and roasted for merely abstaining on a UN resolution, Americans in increasing numbers are becoming cognizant of who holds the reins of power in their country.
In late 2016, US President-elect Donald Trump made known his stance on a key military program. He assailed cost overruns for the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Lightning II fighter jet that had spiraled «out of control». The plane is to replace aging fighters used by the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps. The 15-year project has been dogged by problems and costs that have escalated to an estimated $380bn. Mr. Trump vowed to save billions of dollars on military programs once he enters office on January 20.
The statement may have far-reaching consequences as the US tactical nuclear modernization plans in Europe are intertwined with the F-35 program. The B61-12 warhead will be integrated on the Lightning II. It is going through the final development phase prior to production. If Donald Trump takes the decision to suspend the F-35, the B-61-12 upgrade program – a major obstacle on the way of reaching arms control agreements with Russia and a factor to spur an arms race in Europe – will probably be suspended too. It opens new prospects for tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) control in Europe.
The first days of New Year is always the time to reflect on the past. It brings to mind the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNI) – the spectacular breakthrough achieved without binding documents. With no agreement to sign, the parties achieved tangible progress based on mutual trust.
In September and October 1991, US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced a series of policy initiatives declaring that the United States and the Soviet Union – and later Russia – would reduce their arsenals of TNW and delivery vehicles. Russian President Boris Yeltsin reaffirmed and even expanded Gorbachev’s statement in the name of Russia in January 1992. At the December 21, 1991 conference in Alma-Ata, the Soviet Republics of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine pledged to return all Soviet tactical nuclear weapons on their territories to Russia by July 1, 1992. The three states met their commitments. The US removed the weapons from South Korea, Japan and greatly reduced their numbers in Europe.
According to experts’ estimates, Russia and the US reduced their TNW arsenals by 75% and 90% respectively in the period of 1991-2010. The reductions took into account NATO’s superiority in conventional weapons. One of the most significant results was the fact that since the PNIs became effective TNWs never went to sea.
Today the US possesses several hundred tactical nuclear warheads, of which approximately 180 are nuclear gravity bombs stored in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey). It is estimated that Russia retains 2,000 usable nonstrategic weapons, all of which are stored on the national territory. Since 2010, the Barack Obama administration has stated many times that its goal was to seek further reductions in all types of nuclear weapons. Moscow believes Washington should first withdraw all of its TNWs to the continental USA. With US nuclear-capable aircraft in Europe aging and the F-35 plans put into doubt, the plans to upgrade the existing nuclear munitions to the B61-12 version may never come to fruition.
Once the process is to become stalled due to technical reasons, it would be only logical for Russia and the US to get the issue of TNWs back to the arms control agenda. Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush was no great friend of Russia but a huge stride was made to promote arms control. As Republican Donald Trump takes office, it’s logical to revive the spirit of those days.
It is especially important to remember the success of presidential nuclear initiatives at the time the 115th Congress appears to be adamant to continue the vigorous anti-Russia policy. A PNI needs no congressional approval and, as history showed, it may be much more fruitful in pure practical terms than the agreements approved or ratified by lawmakers. Remember the 1972 ABM Treaty?
It’s not TNW only. Those where the days when the 1972 Incidents at Sea Agreement (IncSea) as well as the 1989 Agreement on Prevention of Dangerous Military Activities (PDMA) worked. Unlike today, no serious incidents occurred neither at sea, nor in air space above it. The IncSea was observed even in the heat of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Today, the texts of the agreements could be perfected with provisions included to make sure no plane or ship comes too close, no provocative steps are taken and safe distances are observed.
In 2016, Russia offered to take the bull by the horn and launch roundtable discussions to do away with the dangerous threat. For instance, installing transponders could be a significant contribution into the solution of the problem. NATO rejected the offer. It can be changed now. Russia and the US could make it a bilateral issue to make others follow. This is the time to start taking one step after another to reverse the dangerous trend leading Russia and the US to the revival of Cold War. Whatever can be done, should be done.
With Donald Trump as the US President, it would be logical to revive the spirit of PNIs – the atmosphere of trust created by Soviet-Russian leaders and conservative Republican commander-in-chief who was Ronald Reagan’s Vice President. This is a page of history to be remembered by hawks in Congress applying vigorous efforts to spoil the bilateral relationship as much as they can. Nothing prevents Russia and the US to repeat the success story of the early 1990s. President Putin and President Trump can make statements on arms control initiatives of their own. History shows it works.
Hawkish US Republican Senator John McCain has once again accused Moscow of waging a war against the United States.
McCain said on Wednesday Russia’s alleged cyberattacks against US political organizations to influence the 2016 presidential election amount to an “act of war.”
“It’s an act of war,” McCain, a staunch opponent of Russia, told reporters on the US Capitol in Washington, DC.
“If you try to destroy the fundamentals of democracy, then you have destroyed a nation,” said McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I’m not saying it’s an atomic attack. I’m just saying that when you attack a nation’s fundamental structure, which they are doing, then it’s an act of war,” he continued.
McCain also accused Moscow of committing an “act of war” against the United States last week, and demanded stronger sanctions against Russia over the hacking, which the US intelligence community claims amounted to meddling in the US election.
McCain has been a virulent critic of Russia and President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt over the claim that Russia launched cyberattacks on the US.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by McCain, is to hold the first public hearing in Congress on the alleged hacking.
McCain and other top congressional leaders have pledged to press legislation on sanctions against Russia in addition to those announced by President Barack Obama last month.
On December 22, Obama announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 presidential election through cyberattacks.
McCain has criticized the sanctions as insufficient and overdue.
However, Trump, the incoming US president, has repeatedly questioned the accuracy of US intelligence pointing to Russia’s responsibility for the hacks and has said it was time to “move on.”
The US claim has been rejected by Moscow. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which published the stolen emails, has also denied that the Russian government provided the files.