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The Forward publishes criticism of Alison Weir, but refuses to publish response

If Americans Knew | June 15, 2017

The website of the Forward newspaper recently published an opinion piece by political hitman Spencer Sunshine, in which he slammed the American Left and specific individuals for alleged antisemitism, including Alison Weir.

Sunshine is a writer/activist who focuses on antisemitism, and specifically on seeking it out — or inventing it — among leftists and supporters of Palestinian rights. (More on Sunshine below.)

While slurring those he disagrees with is Sunshine’s modus operandi (he throws around accusations of bigotry with the abandon of a spoiled schoolboy), we expect better of the Forward. Journalistic ethics require that media allow people to respond when they’ve been criticized, yet the Forward has failed to publish Weir’s response. (More on the Forward below.)

(The right of response is affirmed by the Society of Professional Journalists, the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism, the BBC, MediaWise, the National Conference of Editorial Writers, and many, many others. The American Society of Newspaper Editors states: “Persons publicly accused should be given the earliest opportunity to respond.”)

Below is Weir’s letter responding to Sunshine’s piece:

To the Editor,

I was disappointed to see the Forward chose to publish Spencer Sunshine’s recent reactionary screed “The Left Must Root Out Anti-Semitism In Its Ranks.” However, that Sunshine should attempt to dismiss me as an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist” did not surprise me, as Sunshine has a long history of working to silence criticism of Israel and Zionism. At a talk in Portland, Oregon he described virtually every form of Palestine solidarity as anti-Semitic.

Accusations of “left anti-Semitism” have long been used to undermine solidarity with marginalized people, a population Sunshine often seems to ignore. His article about the history of anti-racism in the United States, for example, almost entirely omitted the efforts of communities of color, focusing instead on mostly-white “antifascist” groups.

Of Sunshine’s work, the pieces I’m familiar with are hatchet jobs, misrepresenting his subjects to suit his goals and exploit his audience’s fears and gullibility.

Sunshine seems to operate according to an all-too-often successful principle: if you accuse someone of something bad enough, it doesn’t matter how wrong, sloppy, or biased you are. Certain accusations tend to be show-stoppers, tainting by default–and he employs these with shameless abandon.

Sunshine clearly hopes that simply saying the magic words “conspiracy theory” will prevent others from listening to me directly or examining my work. In fact, my book and multitude of articles and speeches are exhaustively researched and based on serious sources. All of my work is transparent, with sources clearly cited or linked, so others can read more and decide for themselves. While I’m only human and certainly not infallible, I strive to use reliable sources and be as transparent as possible about my sources and the evidence supporting my work.

Sunshine refers to a JVP statement critical of me, but fails to mention that the statement does not claim that I am anti-Semitic.  More important, he fails to make any reference to two open letters rejecting the criticism of me, signed by some incredibly prominent and principled academics, humanitarians, and thousands of activists, including many members of JVP itself. Indeed, I continue to work with many JVP chapters and individuals, who have brought me to speak in their areas and who are accomplishing important work.

Sunshine operates as a hitman for the reactionary forces who would have us never stand up against oppression for fear of not speaking carefully enough and unintentionally giving unfair offense. It is important to try to speak accurately and fairly, but when people are dying and the prospect of peace is rapidly receding for two populations (and everyone else affected by the violence and instability that radiate from the conflict), perfection is no longer the enemy of good but the enemy of peace and life itself.

Let us act, debate and try to solve this tragedy, not police each other’s words to the point of utter inaction. And let us not attack those working for justice, peace and human rights with false and malicious accusations.

If Sunshine showed half the enthusiasm for opposing atrocities and championing human rights for all humans–even Muslims, Palestinians, and people of color–that he shows for thought policing activists, he could make a positive difference In our shared world.


Alison Weir

More information:

Spencer Sunshine is an early instigator and enthusiastic champion of the campaign to silence Weir, which has been roundly rejected by numerous prominent humanitarians, academics and activists in two open letters (here and here; see also this article on CounterPunch ). He identifies himself as an “anti-fascist writer” and is close to antifa groups, a movement known for celebrating and perpetrating violence (he was apparently unfazed when violence occurred a few months ago at a protest he organized).

The Forward is a venerable newspaper founded towards the end of the 19th Century. It is a leading, or perhaps the leading, publication serving the American Jewish community. It operates as a nonprofit and appears to have assets of over $50 million. The paper leans heavily towards an Israel-centric viewpoint when reporting on Palestine and Israel. Nevertheless, it is a professional publication which should hold itself to the highest journalistic standards.

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Breaking Of The Corporate Media Monopoly

Media Lens | June 15, 2017

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn humbled the entire political and corporate media commentariat. With a little help from Britain’s student population. And with a little help from thousands of media activists.

Without doubt this was one of the most astonishing results in UK political history. Dismissed by all corporate political pundits, including the clutch of withered fig leaves at the Guardian, reviled by scores of his own Blairite MPs (see here), Corbyn ‘increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other of the party’s election leaders since 1945′ with ‘the biggest swing since… shortly after the Second World War’. He won a larger share of the vote than Tony Blair in 2005.

Corbyn achieved this without resorting to angry lefty ranting. His focus was on kindness, compassion, sharing, inclusivity and forgiveness. This approach held up a crystal-clear mirror to the ugly, self-interested cynicism of the Tory party, and transformed the endless brickbats into flowers of praise.

On Twitter, John Prescott disclosed that when Rupert Murdoch saw the exit poll ‘he stormed out of the room’.

As ever, while the generals made good their escape, front-line troops were less fortunate. Outfought by Team Corbyn, out-thought by social media activists, outnumbered in the polls, many commentators had no option but to fall on their microphones and keyboards. LBC radio presenter Iain Dale led the way:

‘Let me be the first to say, I got it wrong, wholly wrong. I should have listened more to my callers who have been phoning into my show day after day, week after week.’

The Guardian’s Gaby Hinsliff, who had written in January, ‘This isn’t going to be yet another critique of Corbyn, by the way, because there is no point. The evidence is there for anyone with eyes’, tweeted:

‘This is why I trust @iaindale’s judgement; he admits when it was way off. (As mine was. As god knows how many of ours was)’

Hinsliff promised:

‘Like everyone else who didn’t foresee the result, I’ll be asking myself hard questions & trying to work out what changed…’

Annoying as ever, we asked:

‘But will you be asking yourself about the structural forces, within and outside Guardian and corporate media generally, shaping performance?’


‘Is a corporate journalist free to analyse the influence of owners, profit-orientation, ad-dependence, state-subsidised news? Taboo subjects.’

Presumably engrossed in introspection, Hinsliff did not reply.

Right-winger John Rentoul, who insisted four weeks ago in the Independent that, ‘we are moving towards the end of the Corbynite experiment’, appeared to be writing lines in detention:

‘I was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn – The Labour leader did much better in the election than I expected. I need to understand and learn from my mistakes’

Channel 4 News presenter and Telegraph blogger, Cathy Newman tweeted:

‘Ok let’s be honest, until the last few weeks many of us under-estimated @jeremycorbyn’

Translating from the ‘newspeak’: many corporate journalists waged a relentless campaign over two years to persuade the public to ‘underestimate’ Corbyn, but were wrong about the public’s ability to see through the propaganda.

Piers Morgan, who predicted the Conservatives would win a ’90-100 seat majority’, wrote:

‘I think Mr Corbyn has proved a lot of people, including me, completely wrong.’

In a typically dramatic flourish, Channel 4’s Jon Snow’s summation was harsh but fair:

‘I know nothing. We the media, the pundits, the experts, know nothing.’

Guardian columnist Rafael Behr, who wrote in February, ‘Jeremy Corbyn is running out of excuses’, also ate humble pie:

‘Fair play to Jeremy Corbyn and his team. They have done a lot of things I confidently thought they – he – could not do. I was wrong.’

In March, Observer columnist Nick Cohen graphically predicted that ‘Corbyn’s Labour won’t just lose. It’ll be slaughtered.’ In an article titled, ‘Don’t tell me you weren’t warned about Corbyn’, Cohen indicated the words that would ‘be flung’ at Corbynites ‘by everyone who warned that Corbyn’s victory would lead to a historic defeat’:

‘I Told You So You Fucking Fools!’

Apparently frothing at the mouth, Cohen concluded by advising the idiots reading his column that, following the predicted electoral disaster, ‘your only honourable response will be to stop being a fucking fool by changing your fucking mind’.

Awkward, then, for Cohen to now ‘apologise to affronted Corbyn supporters… I was wrong’; presumably feeling like a fucking fool, having changed his fucking mind.

Tragicomically, Cohen then proceeded to be exactly as ‘wrong’ all over again:

‘The links between the Corbyn camp and a Putin regime that persecutes genuine radicals. Corbyn’s paid propaganda for an Iranian state that hounds gays, subjugates women and tortures prisoners. Corbyn and the wider left’s indulgence of real antisemites (not just critics of Israel). They are all on the record. That Tory newspapers used them against the Labour leadership changes nothing.’

Former Guardian comment editor and senior columnist Jonathan Freedland spent two years writing a series of anti-Corbyn hit pieces (see our media alert for discussion). Last month, Freedland wrote under the title, ‘No more excuses: Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for this meltdown’, lamenting:

‘What more evidence do they need? What more proof do the Labour leadership and its supporters require?’

Freedland helpfully relayed focus group opinion to the effect that Corbyn was a ‘dope’, ‘living in the past’, ‘a joke’, ‘looking as if he knows less about it than I do’. Freedland has also, now, had no choice but to back down:

‘Credit where it’s due. Jeremy Corbyn defied those – including me – who thought he could not win seats for Lab. I was wrong.’

Like Freedland, senior Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee has relentlessly attacked Corbyn. On April 19, she wrote of how ‘Corbyn is rushing to embrace Labour’s annihilation’:

‘Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Was ever there a more crassly inept politician than Jeremy Corbyn, whose every impulse is to make the wrong call on everything?’

This week, Toynbee’s tune had changed:

‘Nothing succeeds like success. Jeremy Corbyn looks like a new man, beaming with confidence, benevolence and forgiveness to erstwhile doubters…’

Apparently channelling David Brent of The Office, Toynbee added:

‘When I met him on Sunday he clasped my hand and, with a twinkle and a wink, thanked me for things I had written.’

With zero self-awareness, Toynbee noted that the Mail and Sun had helped Corbyn: ‘by dredging up every accusation against him yet failing to frighten voters away, they have demolished their own power’.

Former Guardian political editor Michael White, yet another regular anti-Corbyn commentator, admitted:

‘I was badly wrong. JC had much wider voter appeal than I realised’

Former Guardian journalist, Jonathan Cook, replied:

‘Problem is you *all* got it wrong. That fact alone exposes structural flaw of corporate media. You don’t represent us, you represent power’

White responded:

‘You’re not still banging on, are you Jonathan. You do talk some bollocks’

Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and New Statesman contributor Abi Wilkinson tweeted:

‘Don’t think some of people making demands about who Corbyn puts in shadow cabinet have particularly earned the right to be listened to…’

We paired this with Wilkinson’s comment from June 2016:

‘Any hope I once held about Corbyn’s ability to steer the party in a more positive direction has been well and truly extinguished’

Wilkinson replied: ‘oh fuck off’, before concluding that we are ‘two misogynistic cranks in a basement’, and ‘just some dickheads who aren’t actually fit’ to hold the media to account.

When a tweeter suggested that Corbyn’s result was ‘brilliant’, New Statesman editor Jason Cowley replied: ‘Yes, I agree.’ Just three days earlier, Cowley had written under the ominous title:

‘The Labour reckoning – Corbyn has fought a spirited campaign but is he leading the party to worst defeat since 1935?’

In March, Cowley opined:

‘The stench of decay and failure coming from the Labour Party is now overwhelming – Speak to any Conservative MP and they will say that there is no opposition. Period.’

Like everyone else at the Guardian, columnist Owen Jones’ initial instinct was to tweet away from his own viewspaper’s ferocious anti-Corbyn campaign:

‘The British right wing press led a vicious campaign of lies, smears, hatred and bigotry. And millions told them where to stick it’

And yet, as recently as April 18, Jones had depicted Corbyn as a pathetic figure:

‘A man who stood only out of a sense of duty, to put policies on the agenda, and who certainly had no ambition to be leader, will now take Labour into a general election, against all his original expectations. My suggestion that Corbyn stand down in favour of another candidate was driven by a desire to save his policies…’

Jones has now also issued a mea culpa:

‘I owe Corbyn, John McDonnell, Seumas Milne, his policy chief Andrew Fisher, and others, an unreserved, and heartfelt apology…

‘I wasn’t a bit wrong, or slightly wrong, or mostly wrong, but totally wrong. Having one foot in the Labour movement and one in the mainstream media undoubtedly left me more susceptible to their groupthink. Never again.’

We will see!

To his credit, Jones managed to criticise his own employer (something he had previously told us was unthinkable and absurd):

‘Now that I’ve said I’m wrong… so the rest of the mainstream commentariat, including in this newspaper, must confess they were wrong, too.’

Despite the blizzard of mea culpas from colleagues, George Monbiot also initially pointed well away from his employer:

‘The biggest losers today are the billionaires who own the Mail, Sun, Times and Telegraph. And thought they owned the nation.’

And: ‘It was The Sun wot got properly Cor-Binned’. And: ‘By throwing every brick in the house at Corbyn, and still failing to knock him over, the billionaire press lost much of its power.’

After receiving criticism, and having of course seen Jones’ mea culpa, Monbiot subsequently admitted that anti-Corbyn bias is found ‘even in the media that’s not owned by billionaires’:

‘This problem also affects the Guardian… Only the Guardian and the Mirror enthusiastically supported both Labour and Corbyn in election editorials.

‘But the scales still didn’t balance.’

This is a change from Monbiot’s declared position of three years ago, when he rejected the idea that the Guardian was part of the problem. This week, he recalled his own dumping of Corbyn in a tweet from January: ‘I have now lost all faith.’ The full tweet read:

‘I was thrilled when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, but it has been one fiasco after another. I have now lost all faith.’

Monbiot blamed media bias on the way journalists are selected – ‘We should actively recruit people from poorer backgrounds’ – and wrote, curiously, ‘the biggest problem, I believe, is that we spend too much time in each other’s company’.

We suggested to Monbiot that this was not at all ‘the biggest problem’ with ‘mainstream’ media, and pointed instead to elite ownership, profit-orientation, advertiser dependence and use of state-subsidised ‘news’, as discussed by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their ‘propaganda model’.

Jonathan Cook responded to Monbiot, describing the limits of free speech with searing honesty:

‘This blindness even by a “radical” like Monbiot to structural problems in the media is not accidental either. Realistically, the furthest he can go is where he went today in his column: suggesting organisational flaws in the corporate media, ones that can be fixed, rather than structural ones that cannot without rethinking entirely how the media functions. Monbiot will not – and cannot – use the pages of the Guardian to argue that his employer is structurally incapable of providing diverse and representative coverage.

‘Nor can he admit that his own paper polices its pages to limit what can be said on the left, to demarcate whole areas of reasonable thought as off-limits. To do so would be to end his Guardian career and consign him to the outer reaches of social media.’

The same, of course, applies to Jones, who made no attempt at all to account for corporate media bias.

Media grandee Will Hutton, former editor-in-chief of the Observer, now Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, wrote of ‘How the rightwing tabloids got it wrong – It was the Sun wot hung it’. On Twitter, we reminded Hutton of his own article, one month earlier:

‘Er, excuse us..! Will Hutton, May 7: “Never before in my adult life has the future seemed so bleak for progressives”‘

Tragicomically, given the awesome extent of his employer’s anti-Corbyn bias, John Cody Fidler-Simpson CBE, BBC World Affairs Editor, tweeted:

‘I suspect we’ve seen the end of the tabloids as arbiters of UK politics. Sun, Mail & Express threw all they had into backing May, & failed.’

We replied:

‘Likewise the “quality” press and the BBC, which has been so biased even a former chair of the BBC Trust spoke out’

Sir Michael Lyons, who chaired the BBC trust from 2007 to 2011, commented on the BBC’s ‘quite extraordinary attacks on the elected leader of the Labour party’:

‘I can understand why people are worried about whether some of the most senior editorial voices in the BBC have lost their impartiality on this.’

Conclusion – The Corporate Media Monopoly Is Broken

One week before the election, the Guardian reported that ‘a new force is shaping the general election debate’:

‘Alternative news sites are run from laptops and bedrooms miles from the much-derided “Westminster bubble” and have emerged as one of the most potent forces in election news sharing, according to research conducted for the Guardian by the web analytics company Kaleida.’

These alternative articles were ‘being shared more widely online than the views of mainstream newspaper commentators’. Remarkably, ‘Nothing from the BBC, the Guardian or the Daily Mail comes close’ to the most-shared alternative media pieces. The Canary reported that it had doubled the number of visitors to its site to six million in May. A story by Evolve Politics, run by just two people, was shared 55,000 times on Facebook and was read at least 200,000 times. These websites ‘explicitly offer a counter-narrative to what they deride as the “MSM” or mainstream media’.

Indeed, the evidence is now simply overwhelming – the 100-year big business monopoly of the mass media has been broken.

It is obvious that the right-wing press – the Daily Mail, the Sun, The Times and Telegraph – play a toxic role in manipulating the public to favour elite interests. But many people are now realising that the liberal press is actually the most potent opponent of progressive change. Journalist Matt Kennard commented:

‘The Guardian didn’t get it “wrong”. It is the mouthpiece of a liberal elite that is financially endangered by a socialist program.’

In truth, the Guardian sought to destroy Corbyn long before he became Labour leader (see here and here). This means that it did not target him because he was an ineffective leader imperilling Labour. And this hostility was no aberration, not a well-intentioned mistake that they got ‘wrong’. To this day, the Guardian remains Blair’s great cheerleader, despite his awesome crimes, just as it was Hillary Clinton and Obama’s cheerleader, and just as it was Bill Clinton’s before them.

While employing a handful of compromised fig leaves, the Guardian has ruthlessly smeared anyone who has sought to challenge the status quo: Julian Assange, Russell Brand, Hugo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, John Pilger, George Galloway and many others. It has also been complicit in the great war crimes of Iraq, Libya and Syria – accepting fake government justifications for war at face value, ignoring expert sources who made a nonsense of the claims, and propagandising hard for the West’s supposed ‘responsibility to protect’ the nations it so obviously seeks to destabilise and exploit.

In our view, the corporate journalists who should be treated with most caution are precisely those celebrated as ‘dissidents’. Corporate media give Owen Jones, George Monbiot, Paul Mason and others immense outreach to draw 100,000s of progressives back to a filtered, corporate version of the world that favours established power and stifles progressive change. Above all, as Jonathan Cook says, the unwritten rule is that they will not speak out on the inherent structural corruption of a corporate media system reporting on a world dominated by corporations.

This is crucial, because, as last week confirms, and as we have been arguing for 16 years, if change begins anywhere, it begins with the public challenging, exposing and rejecting, not just the right-wing press, but the corporate media as a whole, the ‘liberal-left’ very much included.

In the last month, we witnessed astonishing numbers of people challenging all media, all the time on every bias – we have never seen anything like it. The young, in particular, are learning that they do not need highly-paid, privileged corporate employees to tell them what to think.

We don’t need to tolerate a corporate-filtered view of the world. We can inform ourselves and each other, and we can do so with very much more honesty, courage and compassion than any corporate journalist. If there is one message from last week, it’s a simple one – dump the corporate media; all of it.

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Newly-deployed US rocket launchers may target Syrian army: Russia

Press TV – June 15, 2017

Russia says the US has deployed the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers from Jordan to its base in southern Syria, warning that the equipment could be used against Syrian government forces.

“The United States has moved two HIMARS multiple rocket launchers from Jordan to the At-Tanf US special forces base,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

It also accused the US, which is purportedly fighting terrorists, of having “repeatedly issued strikes on Syrian government forces fighting Daesh near the Jordanian border.”

Thus, the ministry said, “it’s not hard to guess that similar strikes will be continued against contingents of the Syrian army in the future using HIMARS.”

The deployment of any type of foreign weaponry on Syrian soil “must be approved by the government of the sovereign country,” it pointed out.

The statement further said Moscow is closely monitoring the situation on the Syrian-Jordanian border.

On Wednesday, an intelligence source first reported the US relocation of the HIMARS from Jordan to Syria.

The town of At-Tanf, home to a US base, is located in Syria’s Homs Province near a Syria-Iraq border crossing on the main Baghdad-Damascus highway.

On June 6, US warplanes attacked a Syrian military position on the road to At-Tanf, killing an unspecified number of people and causing some material damage.

The US claimed that the Syrian forces who came under the attack posed a threat to its forces and their terrorist allies in Syria.

On May 18, the US carried out a similar strike on a Syrian military convoy near At-Tanf.

The Syrian army has denounced the attacks, saying they demonstrate US support for terrorism, at a time when the Syrian army and its allies are making gains against Daesh militants.

The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

They have been accused of targeting and killing civilians, while failing to fulfill their pronounced goal of destroying Daesh.

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Israel attempts to block yet another UN report

MEMO | June 15, 2017

Having succeeded in blocking a recent UN report that accused Israel of maintaining a system of apartheid, Israeli officials are now attempting to remove another UN report, which has charged Tel Aviv with carrying out extrajudicial executions along with a list of other human rights violations.

The report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which previously accused Israel of apartheid, has come under fire from Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, because it states that in the period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 Israeli security forces killed 63 Palestinians, including 19 children, and wounded an additional 2,276 Palestinians including 562 children.

The previous ESCWA report, which had accused Israel of apartheid, was removed by the UN following protests by Danon and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who this week described the UN report of “reeking with anti-Israel bias”.

The new report accuses Israeli security forces of using disproportionate force against Palestinians and in some cases of “extrajudicial executions”. The report cites the UN Committee Against Torture and its concern about “Israeli practices towards Palestinian detainees”.

The list of human rights violations included in the report were also “torture or ill-treatment of Palestinian children” and “deprivation of basic legal safeguards for administrative detainees, isolation and solitary confinement of detainees, including minors, punishment and ill-treatment of hunger strikers.” The report also claimed that “no criminal investigation was opened into more than 1,000 complaints of torture or ill-treatment filed since 2001.”

Israeli sources have reported that Danon will work to have this report removed. “This is yet another blood libel against the State of Israel,” Arutz Sheva reported Israel’s envoy to the UN saying. “Just as we succeeded in having the previous preposterous report removed, we will fight relentlessly against this blatantly false distortion of the truth as well.”

Read: The ESCWA Report

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 3 Comments

Hedge fund billionaire creates charter schools that teach about Israel, “the Jewish miracle of the 20th century”

If Americans Knew – June 14, 2017

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that Michael Steinhardt, an atheist, billionaire, and “mega-philanthropist,” has poured millions into projects for American Jews. He is best known as the founder of Birthright Israel, a free, ten-day trip to Israel that is enjoyed by a large percentage of Jewish young adults. He also facilitates programming after the Birthright experience in order to maintain participants’ loyalty to Israel and Jewish culture.

Steinhardt believes that American Jewish education needs to change, and consequently has founded a network of Hebrew-language charter schools.

In these schools, Steinhardt explains, “Jewish kids… will learn a great deal about Israel… and there’s a great deal of emphasis on Israel, Zionism, stuff like that.” He adds that “Jews have accomplished so much, so inexplicably out of proportion to their numbers, in [the last] 300 years, and it’s one of the great failures of Jewish education that that’s not focused on at all.”

When pressed to explain why he, as an atheist, supports a Jewish education, he explained, “The modern state of Israel is the Jewish miracle of the 20th century, but it’s the secular part of Israel that’s the miracle… the development of a society out of nothing using Zionist ideals… Israel has become, for me, the substitute for religion.”

Steinhardt continued, “Israel is a complicated place in a strange part of the world… There are a substantial number of Jews who believe that Israel should leave the settlements, leave the West Bank… The more one understands about Israel, the more comfortable one becomes with the politics of the Israeli government.”

He went on to claim that “Israel is to me the most moral state on this planet, [even] with the occupation.”

If Americans Knew details the effects of the occupation to which Steinhardt refers: “In violation of international law, Israel has confiscated over 52 percent of the land in the West Bank and 30 percent of the Gaza Strip for military use or for settlement by Jewish civilians… From 1967 to 1982, Israel’s military government demolished 1,338 Palestinian homes on the West Bank. Over this period, more than 300,000 Palestinians were detained without trial for various periods by Israeli security forces.”

The occupation itself is illegal according to international law, as are Israeli settlements and their over 500,000 Jewish settlers, the separation wall, restriction of movement, detention without charge—including detention of minors, collective punishment, ethnic cleansing (through forced depopulation and other means), home demolition (close to 50,000 structures have been demolished since 1967), and human rights violations.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) reports on damaging effects of occupation on the Gaza Strip, including a ten-year, ongoing siege and numerous military attacks, leaving more than 80 percent of the population dependent on international assistance for survival.

AFSC emphasizes that “the situation in Gaza should not be viewed as a humanitarian crisis… [but as a] political crisis that can only be resolved through… ending the blockade and Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territory, which are at the root of the crisis.”

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

UN Last Hurdle Before Israel Can Rid Itself of the Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook | CounterPunch | June 15, 2017

Nazareth – Israeli and US officials are in the process of jointly pre-empting Donald Trump’s supposed “ultimate deal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They hope to demote the Palestinian issue to a footnote in international diplomacy.

The conspiracy – a real one – was much in evidence last week during a visit to the region by Nikki Haley, Washington’s envoy to the United Nations. Her escort was Danny Danon, her Israeli counterpart and a fervent opponent of Palestinian statehood.

Danon makes Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu look moderate. He has backed Israel annexing the West Bank and ruling over Palestinians apatheid-style. Haley appears unperturbed. During a meeting with Netanyahu, she told him that the UN was “a bully to Israel”. She has warned the powerful Security Council to focus on Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah, instead of Israel.

To protect its tiny ally, Washington is threatening to cut billions in US funding to the world body, plunging it into crisis and jeopardising peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

On the way to Israel, Haley stopped at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, demanding it end its “pathological” opposition to Israel’s decades of occupation and human rights violations – or the US would pull out of the agency.

Washington has long pampered Israel, giving it millions of dollars each year to buy weapons to oppress Palestinians, and using its veto to block UN resolutions enforcing international law. Expert UN reports such as a recent one on Israel’s apartheid rule over Palestinians have been buried.

But worse is to come. Now the framework of international laws and institutions established after the Second World War is at risk of being dismembered.

That danger was highlighted on Sunday, when it emerged that Netanyahu had urged Haley to dismantle another UN agency much loathed by Israel. UNRWA cares for more than five million Palestinian refugees across the region.

Since the 1948 war, Israel has refused to allow these refugees to return to their lands, now in Israel, forcing them to live in miserable and overcrowded camps awaiting a peace deal that never arrives. These dispossessed Palestinians still depend on UNRWA for education, health care and social services.

UNRWA, Netanyahu says, “perpetuates” rather than solves their problems. He prefers that they become the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which looks after all other refugee populations.

His demand is a monumental U-turn, 70 years in the making. In fact, it was Israel that in 1948 insisted on a separate UN refugee agency for the Palestinians.

UNRWA was created to prevent the Palestinians falling under the charge of UNHCR’s forerunner, the International Refugee Organisation. Israel was afraid that the IRO, formed in the immediate wake of the Second World War, would give Palestinian refugees the same prominence as European Jews fleeing Nazi atrocities.

Israel did not want the two cases compared, especially as they were so intimately connected. It was the rise of Nazism that bolstered the Zionist case for a Jewish state in Palestine and Jewish refugees who were settled on lands from which Palestinians had just been expelled by Israel.

Also, Israel was concerned that the IRO’s commitment to the principle of repatriation might force it to accept back the Palestinian refugees.

Israel’s hope then was precisely that UNRWA would not solve the Palestinian refugee problem; rather, it would resolve itself. The idea was encapsulated in a Zionist adage: “The old will die and the young forget.”

But millions of Palestinian descendants still clamour for a right of return. If they cannot forget, Netanyahu prefers that the world forget them.

As bloody wars grip the Middle East, the best way to achieve that aim is to submerge the Palestinians among the world’s 65 million other refugees. Why worry about the Palestinian case when there are millions of Syrians newly displaced by war?

But UNRWA poses a challenge, because it is so deeply entrenched in the region and insists on a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA’s huge staff includes 32,000 Palestinian administrators, teachers and doctors, many living in camps in the West Bank – Palestinian territory Netanyahu and Danon hunger for. The UN’s presence there is an impediment to annexation.

On Monday Netanyahu announced his determination to block Europe from funding Israeli human rights organisations, the main watchdogs in the West Bank and a key data source for UN agencies. He now refuses to meet any world leader who talks to these rights groups.

With Trump in the White House, a crisis-plagued Europe ever-more toothless and the Arab world in disarray, Netanyahu wants to seize this chance to clear the UN out of the way too.

Global institutions such as the UN and the international law it upholds were created after the Second World War to protect the weakest and prevent a recurrence of the Holocaust’s horrors.

Today, Netanyahu is prepared to risk it all, tearing down the post-war international order, if this act of colossal vandalism will finally rid him of the Palestinians.

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Another Social Leader Murdered in Colombia

teleSUR | June 14, 2017

Jose Maria Lemus, president of the Tibu Community Board in Colombia’s North of Santander state, has been killed, the Peoples’ Congress reported Wednesday.

His murder adds to the growing list of recently assassinated social, Indigenous and human rights activists in the South American country.

In May, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights raised alarm over the fact that at least 41 activists have been killed in Colombia so far this year, a record figure in comparison to previous years. The report laid bare to a troubling escalation of violence despite a historic agreement between the government and the country’s largest rebel army last year.

U.N. commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the figure shows a worsening trend of crimes against social leaders and human rights defenders.

“It’s an increase over the same period last year and the previous years, and it is very alarming,” he said during a news conference.

According to Zeid, the attacks appear to be concentrated in areas that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia previously controlled during the armed conflict and recently abandoned in order to demobilize after the signing of the peace agreement.

Official statistics show that a staggering 156 social leaders were killed in Colombia in the 14 months between Jan. 1, 2016 and March 1, 2017. Amid the crisis, rights groups have urged the Colombian government to prioritize tackling paramilitary violence that often targets progressive social leaders including campesinos, Indigenous activists and other human rights defenders.

On Monday, organizations such as the Agrarian Summit, Black Communities Process and the Peoples’ Congress protested against the criminalization of social leaders.

June 15, 2017 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment