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Forgetting the ‘Dirty Dossier’ on Trump

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 10, 2017

Yes, I realize that the editors of The New York Times long ago cast aside any journalistic professionalism to become charter members of the #Resistance against Donald Trump. But the latest frenzy over a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who was dangling the possibility of information about the Democrats receiving money from Russians represents one of the more remarkable moments of the entire Russia-gate hysteria.

Essentially, Trump’s oldest son is being accused of taking a meeting with a foreign national who claimed to have knowledge of potentially illegal activities by Trump’s Democratic rivals, although the promised information apparently turned out to be a dud.

Yet, on Monday, the Times led its newspaper with a story about this meeting – and commentators on MSNBC and elsewhere are labeling Trump Jr. a criminal if not a traitor for hearing out this lawyer.

Yet, no one seems to remember that Hillary Clinton supporters paid large sums of money, reportedly about $1 million, to have ex-British spy Christopher Steele use his Russian connections to dig up dirt on Trump inside Russia, resulting in a salacious dossier that Clinton backers eagerly hawked to the news media.

Also, the two events – Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer and the Clinton camp’s commissioning of Steele’s Russia dossier – both occurred in June 2016, so you might have thought it would be a journalistic imperative to incorporate a reference or two to the dossier.

But the closest the Times came to that was noting: “Political campaigns collect opposition research from many quarters but rarely from sources linked to foreign governments.” That would have been an opportune point to slide in a paragraph about the Steele dossier, but nothing.

The Times doesn’t seem to have much historical memory either. There actually have been a number of cases in which American presidential campaigns have ventured overseas to seek out “opposition research” about rivals.

For instance, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush took a personal role in trying to obtain derogatory information about Bill Clinton’s 1970 student trip to Eastern Europe, including to Moscow.

That effort started out by having senior State Department officials rifle through the passport files of Clinton and his mother, looking for a purported letter in which some Republican operatives thought Clinton might have renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Bush and his team were called out on that caper, which became known as “Passport-gate.” During the Oct. 11, 1992 debate, Clinton even compared Bush’s tactics to Joe McCarthy’s during the 1950s Red Scare. But the Bush campaign didn’t let the issue entirely go.

Czech-ing on Bill

In the days after the debate, phone records revealed a flurry of calls from Bush’s campaign headquarters to Czechoslovakia, another stop on Clinton’s student tour. There were also fax transmissions on Oct. 14 and 15, 1992, according to a later official investigation.

On Oct. 16, what appears to have been a return call was placed from the U.S. Embassy in Prague to the office of ad man Sig Rogich, who was handling anti-Clinton themes for the Bush campaign.

Following those exchanges, stories about Clinton’s Prague trip began popping up in Czech newspapers. On Oct. 24, 1992, three Czech newspapers ran similar stories about Clinton’s Czech hosts. The Cesky Denik story had an especially nasty headline: “Bill Was With Communists.”

The Czech articles soon blew back to the United States. Reuters distributed a summary, and The Washington Times, over three consecutive days, ran articles about Clinton’s Czech trip. The Clinton campaign responded that Clinton had entered Czechoslovakia under normal procedures for a student and stayed with the family of an Oxford friend.

Despite those last-minute efforts to revive the Clinton’s loyalty issue, the Democrat held on to defeat Bush in a three-way race (with Ross Perot).

You also could go back to Republican contacts with South Vietnamese officials to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 and similar meetings with Iranian emissaries to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s Iran hostage negotiations in 1980, including a curious meeting involving senior Ronald Reagan campaign aides at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

But the Steele dossier is a more immediate and direct example of close Hillary Clinton supporters going outside the United States for dirt on Trump and collaborating with foreign nationals to dig it up – allegedly from Kremlin insiders. Although it is still not clear exactly who footed the bill for the Steele dossier and how much money was spread around to the Russian contacts, it is clear that Clinton supporters paid for the opposition research and then flacked the material to American journalists.

The Mystery Dossier

As I wrote on March 29, “An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp’s contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump’s; it was Hillary Clinton’s.

“And, awareness of this activity doesn’t require you to spin conspiracy theories about what may or may not have been said during some seemingly innocuous conversation. In this case, you have open admissions about how these Russian/Kremlin claims were used.

“Indeed, you have the words of Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, in his opening statement at [a] public hearing on so-called ‘Russia-gate.’ Schiff’s seamless 15-minute narrative of the Trump campaign’s alleged collaboration with Russia followed the script prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who was hired as an opposition researcher last June [2016] to dig up derogatory information on Donald Trump.

“Steele, who had worked for Britain’s MI-6 in Russia, said he tapped into ex-colleagues and unnamed sources inside Russia, including leadership figures in the Kremlin, to piece together a series of sensational reports that became the basis of the current congressional and FBI investigations into Trump’s alleged ties to Moscow.

“Since he was not able to go to Russia himself, Steele based his reports mostly on multiple hearsay from anonymous Russians who claim to have heard some information from their government contacts before passing it on to Steele’s associates who then gave it to Steele who compiled this mix of rumors and alleged inside dope into ‘raw’ intelligence reports.

Besides the anonymous sourcing and the sources’ financial incentives to dig up dirt, Steele’s reports had numerous other problems, including the inability of a variety of investigators to confirm key elements, such as the salacious claim that several years ago Russian intelligence operatives secretly videotaped Trump having prostitutes urinate on him while he lay in the same bed in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton used by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“That tantalizing tidbit was included in Steele’s opening report to his new clients, dated June 20, 2016. Apparently, it proved irresistible in whetting the appetite of Clinton’s mysterious benefactors who were financing Steele’s dirt digging and who have kept their identities (and the amounts paid) hidden. Also in that first report were the basic outlines of what has become the scandal that is now threatening the survival of Trump’s embattled presidency.”

The Trump Jr. Meeting

So, compare that with what we know about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, which Donald J. Trump Jr. says he agreed to because someone was claiming knowledge about Russian payments helping Hillary Clinton.

Sergei Magnitsky

Trump Jr. said Russian lawyer Natalie Veselnitskaya “stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

According to Trump Jr.’s account, Veselnitskaya then turned the conversation to President Vladimir Putin’s cancellation of an adoption program which had sent Russian children to American parents, a move he took in reaction to the so-called Magnitsky Act, a 2012 punitive law passed by the U.S. Congress in retaliation for the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian jail.

The death became a Western cause célèbre with Magnitsky, the accountant for hedge-fund executive William Browder, hailed as a martyr in the cause of whistleblowing against a profoundly corrupt Russian government. After Magnitsky’s death from a heart attack, Browder claimed that his “lawyer” Magnitsky had been tortured and murdered to cover up official complicity in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme involving companies ostensibly under Browder’s control.

Because of Browder’s wealth and political influence, he succeeded in getting the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress to buy into his narrative and move to punish the presumed villains in the tax fraud and in Magnitsky’s death. The U.S.-enacted Magnitsky Act in 2012 was an opening salvo in what has become a new Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

Only One Side Heard

The Magnitsky narrative has now become so engrained in Western geopolitical mythology that the storyline apparently can no longer be questioned or challenged. The New York Times reports Browder’s narrative as flat fact, and The Washington Post took pleasure in denouncing a 2016 documentary that turned Browder’s version of events on its head.

The documentary was essentially blocked for distribution in the West, with the European Parliament pulling the plug on its planned premiere in Brussels shortly before it was scheduled for showing.

When the documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial branded the documentary Russian “agit-prop.”

William Browder (r) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with EU parliamentarians.

The Post sought to discredit the filmmaker, Andrei Nekrasov, without addressing his avalanche of documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

The Post concluded smugly: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

Given the fact that virtually no one in the West was allowed to see the film, the Post’s gleeful editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

What the Post didn’t want you to know was that Nekrasov started off his project with the goal of producing a docu-drama that accepted Browder’s self-serving narrative. However, during the research, Nekrasov uncovered evidence that revealed that Magnitsky was neither a “lawyer” nor a whistleblower; that the scam involving Browder’s companies had been exposed by a woman employee; and that Magnitsky, an accountant for Browder, was arrested as a conspirator in the fraud.

As the documentary unfolds, you see Nekrasov struggling with his dilemma as Browder grows increasingly abusive toward his erstwhile ally. Nekrasov painfully concludes that Browder had deceived him.

But, don’t worry, as a citizen in the Free World, you probably will never have to worry about viewing this documentary, since it has been effectively flushed down the memory hole. Official references to Magnitsky are back in the proper form, treating him as a Martyr for Truth and a victim of the Evil Russians.

Plus, if you rely on The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the U.S. mainstream media for your news, you won’t have to think about the far more substantive case of the Steele Dossier in which Hillary Clinton’s allies spent gobs of money seeking out sources in Russia to serve up dirt on Donald Trump.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barbara Lee’s Slam on Trump-Putin Meeting

The Democratic Party’s embrace of the New Cold War and New McCarthyism – to counter President Trump – has spread to Rep. Barbara Lee, a brave voice against the post-9/11 war frenzy, as Norman Solomon notes in an open letter.

By Norman Solomon | Consortium News | July 10, 2017

Dear Congresswoman Lee:

More than a decade and a half ago, your eloquent words and courageous vote set a high bar as you stood up against a war frenzy on the House floor. Three days after 9/11, you implemented the kind of brave wisdom that we desperately need in a world beset by the massive violence of warfare and the overarching dangers of nuclear holocaust.

Since then, like many other people opposed to perpetual war, I’ve deeply appreciated your leadership in advocating for diplomacy instead of reckless confrontation in international relations. Year after year, following your lone vote against a blank check for war on Sept. 14, 2001, you’ve been a steadfast voice for the necessity of diplomatic initiatives.

Until now.

Your longtime wisdom is antithetical to the tweet that you sent out after the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin from your official “Rep. Barbara Lee” Twitter account: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?”

In mid-September 2001, when you implored the Congress and the country to “think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control,” the words of your speech were beacons of sanity in a propaganda storm for war. But now, as I watch a video of those two transcendent minutes, some of your old words echo in a newly haunting way.

Now it falls to peace advocates who read your new words to urge you to “think through the implications” of the political line you’ve just taken, “so that this does not spiral out of control.” And now, peace advocates must remind you of other insightful words from your historically prescient speech nearly 16 years ago: “Some of us must urge the use of restraint.”

Your declaration on Friday that you are “outraged” by a meeting between the presidents of the world’s two nuclear-weapons superpowers is the opposite of restraint. Likewise, your baiting of Trump with the question “Where do his loyalties lie?” echoes the accusations of treason hurled at you for years. Such rhetoric is far beneath you — and beneath any leader with a responsibility to encourage diplomatic discourse, especially between two nations brandishing huge arsenals of nuclear weapons.

Let’s not forget that past top-level diplomacy between Russia and the United States was hardly led by saints. Fifty years ago, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was the leader of a government far more repressive than the one headed by Vladimir Putin today, while President Lyndon Johnson was in the midst of escalating a mass-murderous war in Vietnam. Yet their Glassboro Summit was notable diplomacy that reduced tensions between the two countries and reduced the dangers of nuclear war.

Now, for whatever reasons, you have opted to participate in a profoundly irresponsible meme that castigates instead of encourages diplomatic discourse between the highest levels of the American and Russian governments. To use a word from your historic 2001 speech, it’s essential that we think through the “implications” of such a political line of attack. They include increasing the likelihood that escalated tensions between Russia and the United States could “spiral out of control.”

I’ve long thought of you as a heroic champion of pursuing alternatives to war and, quite possibly, helping to prevent a nuclear holocaust that scientists believe would render the Earth “virtually uninhabitable.” But now, you seem to have lost your way.

To counteract what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism,” we must get off a partisan bandwagon when it is heading toward military catastrophe. That requires — as you so wisely urged in 2001 — supporting diplomacy, urging restraint and thinking through the implications of our actions today.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

The Saudis Are Bombing Their Own People And Nobody’s Talking About it

Geopolitics Alert | July 8, 2017

For the past 60 days, the Saudis have imposed a devastating siege on the Shiite town of Awamiya. And of course, mainstream western media remains silent.

These photos aren’t from Yemen, they’re from the Saudi Arabian eastern town of Awamiya. Where Saudi forces are waging war against an oppressed shia minority. Saudi Arabia adheres to the extreme fundamentalist and intolerant sect of Wahhabism. Making it the country’s religious majority. This ideology is also enforced through state tactics. Which make it illegal to publicly carry out any religious practice or teaching that conflicts with Wahhabism. Even other Muslims (especially Shiites) are considered infidels by the Saudi government. And thus, all religious minorities in Saudi Arabia remain an extremely oppressed group; often lacking the same health care, public services, and wages granted to their Wahhabi counterparts; if not facing death.

While the majority of Saudi citizens adhere to Wahhabi principles, many towns in the eastern province of Qatif– like Awamiya– hold a Shia majority. Where they’ve been essentially doomed to live in “ghettos” as second class citizens. But the Saudi oppression of Shiites and other religious minorities goes way beyond just economic devastation. In fact for the past two months Saudi forces have held Awamiya under siege, destroyed buildings with bombs and shelling, and set up barricades to control free movement. This is likely a response to Shia citizens calling for basic human rights.

In videos posted to social media, it looks like Saudi security forces are using white phosphorus to drive-out citizens from their homes. Residents also report that Saudi forces are shelling homes and buildings with .50 caliber weapons. In one instance, a building was set on fire and Saudi police refused to allow firetrucks to pass through the barricades.

It’s been confirmed that a number of people have died as a result of gunfire. But it’s unclear exactly what the death toll could be since Saudi Arabia severely restricts media access. When the Saudi-run state media are reporting the numbers, they surely can’t be trusted.

Of course, instead of reporting on the Saudis brutal repression, mainstream media has framed the story (in the few articles available) as though the Saudi security forces are simply clashing with an armed Shiite “militant” uprising. Which ultimately places the Saudi security forces in the “good guy” category just simply trying to keep order.

This however completely whitewashes the fact that the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia has been brutally repressed since the Kingdom’s formation. It also completely ignores the fact that the Saudis are using American-supplied weapons to kill their own people. Which if we look at Syria, this was supposedly the west’s entire reason for their intervention against Bashar al-Assad. “Assad is bombing his own people” the headlines still read to this day.

The happenings in Qatif only further demonstrate not only the Saudis’ intolerant disregard for human life, but also their genocidal tendencies as they move further towards an apartheid state within their own borders.

SEE ALSO:

Amid Yemen’s Cholera Outbreak, Saudi Airstrikes Destroy Desalination Plant

Saudis Target Home in Yemen (Again), Killing About a Dozen Civilians

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | 5 Comments

US-Russia ceasefire deal on Syria holding – for now

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 10, 2017

The ceasefire brokered between Russia, US and Jordan in south western Syria seems to be holding for the time being. The Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he saw a new level of pragmatism in the US approach to Syria. President Donald Trump put his weight behind the ceasefire deal, posting on Twitter on Sunday, “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia.”

As for the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the agreement “is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.” The National Security Advisor HR McMaster called the ceasefire a “priority” for Washington and acknowledged that the Trump administration is “encouraged by the progress made to reach this agreement (with Russia).”

So far so good. But there is good reason to harbor anxiety and keep the fingers crossed. Evidently, there isn’t much enthusiasm in the US media regarding Trump’s deal with President Vladimir Putin. And if Senator John McCain’s reaction to the Syria deal is any indication, there aren’t going to be many takers in Washington for the idea of Trump having anything to do with Putin at all. The air out there is simply toxic.

Equally, the past experience during the Obama administration (in the pre-civil war era before Trump’s victory) has been that what the US president and state secretary said might not be the last word for the US intelligence and defence establishment. The well-known ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern has written an insightful piece in Consortiuim News on how the entrenched interest groups who thrive on wars might have an altogether different agenda of their own in the Syrian conflict. McGovern highlights a December 2016 interview with Boston Globe newspaper where the former state secretary John Kerry openly admitted that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by none other than the then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Incredible, isn’t it?

Then, there are other factors too. Tehran, for example, has given a delayed response to the US-Russia deal. It took 72 hours for the Iranians to say something at all – by the way, Saturday and Sunday are working days in Tehran. Even the best spin must take note that the Iranian reaction has been rather lukewarm.

Now, I haven’t seen any reaction to the US-Russia deal on Syria so far from Damascus or from the Hezbollah. On its part, Israel of course has outright rejected the Russian-American deal and has reserved the right to act independently. Curiously, there has been a vicious attack on state secretary Rex Tillerson in Bloomberg. It seems Tillerson has upset the Israeli lobby by piloting the deal with Russia on Syria and emerging as Trump administration’s point person on Russia.

While it is understandable that the Trump administration and Moscow have hyped up the development and would like to project the Syria deal as a ‘breakthrough’ in Russian-American relations, what cannot be overlooked is that there are multiple actors with interests of their own who are stakeholders in the Syrian situation. And, they are not going to bow out just like that in deference to the US and Russian wishes/advice.

In fact, Tillerson himself has since spoken harshly about President Bashar Al-Assad, categorically ruling out any US/Western financial support for Syria’s reconstruction so long as he remains in power in Damascus. On the contrary, it seems unlikely that the Syrian government forces and their allies will be stopped on their tracks in their military campaign to regain control over the entire country. True, the Russia air support is vital for their campaign to make rapid progress, but then, this is a two-way street, and Russia too cannot do without its allies in Syria.

Finally, Russian diplomacy has a history of overreaching. It is extremely unlikely that Russia’s allies in Syria are going to feel thrilled over the ‘breaking news’ that King Salman of Saudi Arabia is heading for Russia this month, and that Moscow feels excited that the Saudi-Russian relations are poised for a historic makeover. Of course, Russia has an impressive record of coping with contradictions in its foreign policies, but this is going to be one hell of a contradiction to reconcile – keeping Saudi Arabia and Iran equally content as allies and convincing them both that Russia is each one’s steadfast ally too. So, fasten seat belts – air pockets lie ahead.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Only the News That Fits: How American Media Erase Palestine – Even Alternative Media

Abdul-Rahman Mahmoud Barghouthi, 18 months. Photo from IMEMC.
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | July 10, 2017

An 18-month-old died in Palestine Friday. The cause of death was teargas inhalation from an Israeli invasion of his village two months ago.

It wasn’t a major invasion; just another of the routine ones that happen almost every day in the West Bank. U.S. media call these “incursions,” when they bother to mention them. Which is rarely.

The toddler’s name was Abdul-Rahman Mahmoud Barghouthi, a name that feels incongruously long for his short life.

When he was injured, Israeli soldiers held up an ambulance rushing to him, forcing medics to go to his home on foot and carry him back to the ambulance in their arms – a 60 minute round trip.

In the past three months, Israelis have killed 18 Palestinians, including an eight-year-old and 10-year-old, and Palestinians have killed two Israeli soldiers.

So far, I don’t see any US mainstream news media mentioning the end of Abdul’s short life, the final two months likely infused with pain. If an 18-month-old Israeli child had been killed by Palestinians, I suspect there would be headlines, and the President would go on CNN [LOL] and condemn the killers.

Perhaps Palestinians are killed so often that to the media it’s just not newsworthy, a little like the old saying that ‘dog bites man’ is not news, while ‘man bites dog’ is news. Israelis killing Palestinian children is not news. However, it is literally news to most Americans, since they so rarely hear about it.

My personal experience in writing about this issue for more than a decade and a half illustrates the very American tale of media omission on Palestine. Just last week another episode showed that the saga continues.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before, on more than one occasion.

The first time I wrote about tiny dead Palestinian children was 15 years ago. I described small deaths and quoted the words of poet Shawqi Baghdadi:

I remember the children

As dead angels

And injured sparrows

God was sad

A few years later I wrote about Palestinian toddlers killed by Israeli drones, and a few years later about Palestinian children shot in the head. I wrote stories about dead Palestinian mothers, such as Anatomy Of A Cover-Up: When A Mother Gets Killed Does She Make A Sound? and “Just Another Mother Murdered.” The titles give you the gist.

I could write stories like this over and over, if I could bear it. Because the deaths keep coming, and the misery and the cruelty, and the media keep ignoring so much of it.

And that’s the point of this story. Americans need to know important facts that they aren’t learning in the very filtered reporting we get. We need to know what’s happening in Palestine, and we need to know what’s enabling this in the U.S. The latter stories are even more covered up.

Until we expose and break through the media bias and omission, the children will keep dying, and the tragedy and carnage and injustice will grow and spread.

In the past I’ve conducted media studies that document the disparity in reporting on Palestinian deaths compared to Israeli deaths, and have deconstructed news reporting. Through the years I’ve periodically written articles describing the flawed system of reporting on Palestine, including a chapter for a Project Censored book on the subject.

This time I’d like to give a few small, personal anecdotes – one from last week.

In 2001 a reporter for the Gannett news chain interviewed me at length about what I had just seen firsthand in Gaza and the West Bank at the height of the Second Intifada, and about the founding of If Americans Knew. Gannett is a major chain and this would have been a significant breakthrough for information on Palestine to get to the general public. The reporter sent a photographer to take pictures of me and told me his feature was about to come out.

But it never did. The reporter later told me a higher-up had killed the story, saying it was “missing something.” He hadn’t explained what.

Another time a journalist at the other end of the media scale, a reporter working for a small town newspaper, wrote a similar story about me. It, too, was killed by a higher-up. The reporter told me this was the first time that had ever happened to him.

Awhile later, a letter I had written about Palestine had gone through the usual editorial process and was slated to be published in the Washington Post. At the last minute it, too, was blocked by a superior.

Most recently, Truthout, a progressive website with a large readership that publishes much excellent work, accepted an article I had submitted about government monitoring of Palestine activism. My piece went through the standard editing and fact-checking, and the next day the article was published on the website. Briefly. It was quickly removed when higher-ups saw it and the staff then told me courteously and apologetically it wasn’t “the right fit for Truthout.”

I asked what this meant, exactly, but haven’t heard back. We’ve now published the article on our blog.

Naturally, news organizations can’t publish everything that’s submitted to them, and all have the right to decide what they will publish and what they won’t.

But it’s unusual for pieces that have gone through the usual channels and passed the standard hurdles to suddenly get killed for unidentified reasons. And it’s disturbing when this fits into a pattern of news filtering that has life and death consequences, and has gone on year after year after year.

Many news media are telling us more than they used to about Palestine, but they continue to leave out important aspects. Sometimes a half truth is a whole lie.

Meanwhile, Israel and its partisans have rewritten the governmental definition of “antisemitism” to include criticism of Israel and embedded this new Israel-centric definition in governments and law enforcement agencies around the world, so that eventually articles like this one may be banned as “hate speech.”

But you won’t learn that in Truthout.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Mayor moves to ban Hezbollah

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | July 10, 2017

The Sunni Muslim Mayor of London seeks to ban a Shi’a party from Lebanon from the streets of Britain.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has moved to ban support for Hezbollah in Britain. This is not only an attack on free speech but a totally one-sided attempt to silence global opposition to imperialism and occupation.

Hezbollah is a political party in Lebanon with supporters and well wishers across the world. Hezbollah currently has 12 seats in the Lebanese Parliament and 2 cabinet ministers.

Hezbollah was formally organised in 1985 in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War. Like many political parties which formed in the midst of a civil war, including the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland which currently supports the British government, Hezbollah has an armed resistance faction designed to do what the Lebanese army is increasingly incapable of doing, namely, resisting continued Israeli attempts to illegally attack and occupy Lebanon as well as helping to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria.

It is patently absurd for a UK politician who carries water for the western establishment in their support of Salafist terrorists in Syria to ban support for a group which is fighting them. Hezbollah’s fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda is a fight for civilisation and for common humanity. Many Lebanese who support other parties admit this so why can’t Mr. Khan?

Britain’s streets are filled with officially sanctioned rallies of people holding various flags of extremist Sunni terrorist organisations involved in the conflict in Syria. Some of these rallies have been attended by Mr. Khan, a Sunni of Pakistani origin. This is made all the more odd by the fact that the Mayor of London has no formal foreign policy making role and has no role in the internal politics of Lebanon.

People in major cities like London support all kinds of parties. There are many Americans in London who support the Republican Party of Donald Trump, a man who Khan has attacked multiple times on Twitter. There are French people in London who support Marine Le Pen’s Front National as well as Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! The list goes on, but Khan has decided to single out for reproach, a single Lebanese party.

This is a disgraceful decision from a disgraceful man. Unless one wants to ban all foreign political parties from having support, one shouldn’t single out one party from Lebanon. One cannot say with any sincerity that the ban has anything to do with Hezbollah’s armed factions as the British Prime Minister sits with a party, the DUP, that has been supported by and has cultivated alliances with armed factions in a disputed territory of Britain that many want to see become part of a united Irish Republic. By contrast, no one disputes that Hezbollah’s heartland of southern Lebanon is anything but Lebanese. Israel’s attempts to once again occupy it have been condemned by the world as illegal acts.

One used to think that Khan was more of a mouse than a man. It turns out, he is a rat.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Committee: Convicted Israeli terrorists receive support from Israeli state

Ma’an – July 10, 2017

RAMALLAH – Amid what the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs has described as a “frenetic Israeli campaign” against Palestinian authorities’ payment of allowances to prisoners of Israel and their families, the committee published a list on Monday of Israelis convicted of murdering Palestinians and anti-Palestinian extremist organizations, who have received financial and legal support from the state of Israel.

Committee head Issa Qaraqe has accused the Israeli government of “supporting Jewish terrorists and their extremist organizations both financially, socially, and legally through organizations authorized by the Israeli government,” calling Israel “the biggest funder of official terrorism in the Middle East.”

A large number of the criminals mentioned on the list were convicted and received life sentences, “but only served only five to seven years in Israeli jails,” according to the committee. Additionally, the Israelis used “deceitful methods” to bypass law and pardon certain criminals, some of them before ever entering a prison cell, the statement added.

Rights groups have meanwhile documented the discriminatory and racist manner in which the Israel Prison Service (IPS) classifies its prisoners, specifically “to violate the rights of Palestinian prisoners defined as ‘security’ prisoners, while at the same time providing benefits to Jewish prisoners also defined as ‘security’ prisoners,” as legal NGO Adalah put it.

The Jewish Underground movement

The first item on the committee’s list was the Jewish Underground, a right-wing terror organization that carried out and plotted a string of attacks in the 1980s, with some of its members being decorated officers in the Israeli army and widely respected in the Israeli settler community.

Members of the group were convicted in 1985 of committing of a number of attacks — marking the first time a group of Israeli Jews were convicted of being part of a terrorist organization.

Among the Jewish Underground’s crimes were car bombings targeting Palestinian mayors: Nablus Mayor Bassam al-Shakaa lost both of his legs, Ramallah Mayor Karim Khalaf lost a foot, and al-Bireh Mayor Ibrahim al-Tawil was saved when the device planted in his car was discovered.

The defendants also plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, attempted to murder three Palestinian college students in Hebron, and booby-trapped Palestinian buses with bombs.

Menachem Livni, Shaul Nir, and Uziah Sharabaf received life sentences defined as lasting 24 years, while the others received terms of imprisonment ranging from three to nine years. Twenty members were released after less than two years, and none served more than five years. The three life sentences were commuted three times, finally to 10 years. With time off for good behavior, they were released in 1990.

The committee’s statement said that all have received monthly benefits, by order of Israeli law, from the Israeli Social Affairs Ministry and from Israeli National Insurance.

Three of the members of the group currently work at Israeli prime minister’s office. Nathan Nathanson, convicted of involvement in the car bombings against the Palestinian mayors, has since been employed as a political adviser for Israeli Education Minister and chairman of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett.

One of the three original founders of the cell, Yehuda Etzion, is the founder and current chairman of the right-wing Jewish group Hai Vekayam, dedicated to allowing Jewish prayer in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

A number of others have since become heads of settlement councils, according to the committee’s statement.

Dani Eizman, Michal Hillel, and Gil Fox

The second group of “Jewish terrorists,” according to the prisoners’ affairs committee, consisted of Dani Eisman, Gil Fox, and Michal Hillel, who were convicted for the 1985 kidnapping and murder of taxi driver Khamis Tutanji, a Palestinian resident of Israel. They were each sentenced to life in prison, but released after serving between five and seven years.

The three also received the usual benefits from the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and Israeli National Insurance while in prison.

The case was cited in a report, which indicated that unlike Jewish prisoners who are citizens of Israel and perpetrated acts against Arabs or Palestinians based on ideological motives, Palestinian prisoners who are citizens of Israel have yet to receive any real commutation of their sentence or early release.

David Ben-Shimol

David Ben-Shimol fired an anti-tank missile at a Palestinian bus in 1985, killing one person and injuring dozens. He was sentenced to life, serving only 11 years of his sentence. He also received benefits while in prison, according to the statement.

Ami Popper

After Ami Popper massacred seven Palestinians in 1990, he was found guilty of seven counts of murder and initially handed seven life sentences, before seeing his sentence commuted to 40 years.

He has reportedly been granted furlough more than 100 times in the 18 years since his conviction, marrying three times while in prison custody. He fathered six children while in custody, according to the prisoners’ committee.

The statement said in addition to the usual social benefits, his family has been the recipient of financial support from far-right Israeli NGO Honenu, which is reportedly indirectly funded from tax deductible US donations.

Zeev Wolf and Gershon Hershkovich

Zeev Wolf and Gershon Hershkovich were convicted of hurling a hand grenade at a market in Jerusalem in November 1992, killing one Palestinian and injuring 20 others, according to the statement which didn’t provide further details on the attack. They were released after serving six years and a half in prison, and received social benefits while in prison.

Yoram Shkolnik

Israeli settler Yoram Shkolnik shot and killed Moussa Suleiman Abu Abha multiple times at close range while the Palestinian was blindfolded, bound hand and foot, and guarded by Israeli soldiers after allegedly attempting to detonate a hand grenade in 1993. Shkolnik’s life sentence was later reduced.

In addition to the allowances Shkolnik received from the Israeli National Insurance and the Social Affairs Ministry, the prisoners’ committee said the Israeli government “gave him a grant to start a project of his own,” without providing additional details.

Nachshon Wales

According to the committee, Nachshon Wales was sentenced to life in prison for killing a Palestinian woman in August 1990 while she was tending her olive grove. His sentence was twice commuted, and he was released after serving 11 years. He currently works as a security guard in an illegal Israeli settlement, according to the committee.

Bat Ayin Underground

Members of terrorist organization Bat Ayin were convicted of parking a booby-trapped car in the yard of a Palestinian girls school in East Jerusalem in 2002. Some of the defendants remain in custody, receiving social benefits as well as financial support from the right-wing settler organization Elad, according to the committee, as well as from Honenu.

Dawabsha murderers

The committee’s statement also mentioned the two Israelis convicted of murder for the 2015 deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the occupied West Bank.

Amiram Ben-Uliel was charged with three counts of murder, while a minor was charged as an accessory to murder and unnamed by Israeli media due to gag orders on the identities of underage Israeli suspects.

The prisoners’ committee’s statement named Yoram Stenhil to have been found guilty of firebombing and killing the Dawabsha family, though it could not immediately be confirmed if this was referring to the minor convicted in the case alongside Ben-Uliel.

Stenhil, in addition to receiving social benefits from the state, allegedly also is funded by Honenu and received 600,000 shekels ($169,000) in one year, according to the statement.

Yigal Amir

After being convicted for the 1995 murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir was given a life sentence and remains in prison. He has since been married in custody and is allowed to meet with his wife in prison. He receives social benefits and has been receiving “generous donations from extremist right-wing Jewish groups,” including Honenu, the statement said.

Elor Azarya

Israeli soldier Elor Azarya shot dead Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron in March 2016 after the young Palestinian had already been shot and incapacitated by another Israeli soldier for allegedly attempting a knife attack. Azarya was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The sentence has been appealed by both the prosecution and the defense for being both too lenient and too harsh.

According to the prisoners’ committee, Azarya has continued to receive his salary from the Israeli army, while his father founded a charitable organization and named it after him. The organization has so far received more than 8 million shekels ($2.25 million) in donations, according to the committee.

Bus 300 Affair

Ehud Yatom, a former member of Israeli Knesset and former deputy chief of Israeli general intelligence, was among members of the Shin Bet involved in the Bus 300 Affair of 1984 in which Shin Bet members executed two Palestinian bus hijackers.

Yatom expressed pride over “smashing their skulls” with rocks after capturing them alive.

Yatom, Shimon Malka, and Yosi Genswar were convicted but did not go to jail due to a full presidential pardons.

Honenu organization

The committee’s statement also listed the aforementioned Honenu organization for offering financial and legal support to extremist Israelis who have been convicted or are on trial for terror attacks against Palestinians. The group, which raises funds in the US, also receives approximately 6 million shekels ($1.69 million ) from the Israeli government every year, according to the committee.

Dr. Goldstein organization

Dr. Goldstein organization, named after the US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 Palestinians inside Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994, “attempts to perpetuate the terrorist Goldstein as a national hero,” the committee said, adding that the group receives direct and indirect financial support from the Israeli government.

Rehavam Zeevi organization

The prisoners’ committee also identified the Rehavam Zeevi organization as an example of Israeli state-sponsored anti-Palestinian extremism. The organization was named after the right-wing Israeli politician who was assassinated by Palestinian gunmen affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Zeevi was known for establishing the extremist Moledet (Homeland) party that advocates for the population transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to neighboring Arab countries.

According to the committee, the group receives direct support from the Israeli government.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

The Saudi-Israeli Alliance

By Abdel Bari Atwan | YemenExtra | July 9, 2017

Riyadh (YE) – The evolving relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia is set to become a key feature of regional politics in the forthcoming phase. This goes beyond the creeping normalization of relations between the two sides and the holding of discreet contacts, to the formation of an undeclared but far-reaching alliance.

Retired Saudi general Anwar al-Eshki shed some light on this in an interview last week on the German TV channel Deutsche Welle, in which he provided insights into a number of unexplained issues: most importantly, why Saudi Arabia has been so adamant about getting the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir transferred from Egypt’s sovereignty to its own as quickly a possible.

Eshki made clear that once Saudi Arabia assumes sovereignty over the two islands, it will abide by the Camp David Accords, and that the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace deal — which cut Egypt off from the Arab world and the Palestinian cause and led to the opening of an Israeli embassy in Cairo – would cease to be a purely bilateral agreement.

The general, who has been Saudi Arabia’s main frontman in its normalization process with Israel, explained that the new maritime border demarcation agreement with Egypt places both islands within the kingdom’s territorial waters. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will therefore share control over the Strait of Tiran through which Israeli ships pass as they sail in and out of the Gulf of Aqaba, and the kingdom will accordingly establish a relationship with Israel.

True, Eshki also said that normalization of Saudi relations with Israel was contingent on the latter accepting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. But he also spoke of an Israeli peace initiative that would ‘bypass’ that plan. According to him, this proposes the establishment of a confederation that would connect the occupied Palestinian territories – he did not specify how or to whom – while postponing discussion of the fate of Jerusalem.

Eshki also used the interview to confirm what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has often reiterated: that Saudi Arabia does not consider Israel to be an enemy. He maintained that this view is shared by ordinary Saudis, and is reflected in their tweets and comments on social media which they point out that Israel never once attacked the kingdom so is not its enemy, and that these citizens support normalizing relations with Israel.

Eshki is not a policymaker but a mouthpiece. He was carefully selected for the job of saying what he is told and promoting it. To understand what his words are aimed at achieving – and the main features of the new normalization scheme that is rapidly unfolding – we need only paraphrase the statements made by the current Israeli defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman: Normalization between the Arab states and Israel should be achieved first, and then followed by a Palestinian-Israeli peace. Israel cannot accept a situation in which normalization with the Arab states is left hostage to a resolution of the Palestinian issue. After all, Israel has signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan without ending the Palestinian conflict.

The point that the handover of Tiran and Sanafir would commit Saudi Arabia to the Camp David accords, and to all obligations arising from them, was also stressed by the head of the Egyptian parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee, Gen. Kamal Amer.

The conclusion that can be drawn is that the main purpose of the rush to restore the two islands to Saudi sovereignty is to accelerate the pace of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia and ‘legitimize’ their evolving alliance. After all, Saudi Arabia possesses countless thousands of neglected islands dotted along its Red Sea and Gulf coastlines. It has no need for two additional small, barren and uninhabited outcrops. Even if it did, it managed well enough without them for 50 years during which they were either under Israeli occupation or Egyptian protection. Had it wanted, it could have waited and postponed this thorny issue for ten, twenty, or a hundred more years, so as to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian government and angering the Egyptian people.

The Saudi government’s stage-setting for normalization with the Israeli occupation state is already well underway and gaining pace. Following Eshki’s ‘academic’ visits to Israel and former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal’s security encounters, we have now begun to see Saudi ‘analysts’ appearing on Israeli TV. The next step may be for Saudi ministers and princes to do the same.

The Saudi citizens who Eshki claimed were tweeting their support for friendship with Israel on the grounds that it has never attacked their country, and who support normalizing relations with it, are soldiers in the Saudi electronic army. They number in the thousands, and work under the auspices of Saudi intelligence and police. The overwhelming majority of Saudis are opposed to any form of normalization with the occupation state, for religious, Arab nationalist, patriotic, and moral reasons. We have absolutely no doubt about that. But we can understand the pressure they are under when a single tweet expressing sympathy for Qatar or criticism of ‘Vision 2030′ can cost the tweeter 15 years in prison or a $250,000 fine.

According to Haaretz and other Israeli media outlets, Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman, who is leading the Saudi march towards normalization and alliance with Israel, occupation state visited occupied Jerusalem in 2015. He has also holds regular meetings with Israeli officials, most recently when during the Arab summit held in Amman in March.

Not long ago Riyadh hosted the American journalist Thomas Friedman. (Perhaps this was a reward for his comment after the 9/11 attacks that the US should have invaded Saudi Arabia – the real source of terrorism — rather than Iraq in retaliation.) Friedman met with a number of officials before being granted a lengthy audience with Muhammad bin-Salman. He reported afterwards that not once during the five-hour encounter did the prince utter the word ‘Palestine’ or mention the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Indeed, I challenge anyone to come up with a single instance in which the up-and-coming Saudi strongman refers to ‘Palestine’ in any of his televised interviews.

Meanwhile, priority has been given to silencing and countering Arab voices that confront this evolving Saudi-Israeli alliance and expose its aims, implications and likely consequences – whether in the social or conventional media. Riyadh’s demand for the closure of the Al-Jazeera channel affirms that the war it is currently waging is not against ‘terror’ but against critical and free media.

We, too, have been and remain on the receiving-end of that war, subject to a furious on-going assault by the Saudi electronic army and a vicious and deliberate campaign of defamation. All one can say in response is to quote the saying: the coward dies one hundred times; the brave and free just once.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Court rules Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia are ‘lawful’, despite destruction of Yemen

RT | July 10, 2017

London’s High Court has ruled that UK arms sales to the Saudi Arabian regime are “lawful” in response to a judicial review brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

The case hinged on the question of whether the UK failed to suspend sales in line with legal obligations, given the Saudi’s current war in neighboring Yemen, which has been waged in part using British manufactured military equipment.

Documents cited in court showed that civil servants had, in fact, recommended that sales should no longer go ahead, but ministers had ignored the advice.

“This is a very disappointing verdict, and we are pursuing an appeal,” Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said.

“If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.”

CAAT’s lawyer, Rosa Curling, said: “Nothing in the open evidence, presented by the UK government to the court, suggests this risk does not exist in relation to arms to Saudi Arabia.

“Indeed, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the risk is very real. You need only look at the devastating reality of the situation there.”

CAAT, who have said they will appeal, had argued that the UK’s continued sales are a breach of international law while the EU’s common council also insists that sales to nations where violations of the law might occur must be halted.

In the last two years, the UK has licensed the sales of £3 billion (US$3.86 billion) worth of arms to the Saudi government, with which Britain is a longstanding ally.

Arm sales have included Typhoon and Tornado jets and the UK has had military personnel embedded in Saudi headquarters throughout the Yemen conflict, which has raged since 2015.

The British government maintains that the personnel are there to support adherence to international law and advice on rules of engagement.

Both Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Artillery (RA) personnel have been deployed to train the Saudi military during the war.

The conflict – which has been accompanied with a blockade of major ports – has drastically worsened the humanitarian situation in the already-impoverished gulf nation.

The UN says 17 million people in Yemen are at imminent risk of famine, while dwindling medical supplies and lack of trained medical personnel have led to epidemics.

Leading humanitarian organizations, including the Red Cross, have named the aerial bombing campaign and blockade as the main causes behind the ongoing cholera epidemic in the capital, Sanaa, that has already claimed some 200 lives, while over 11,000 cases of the disease have been registered.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Iran Deputy FM: US-Russia Deal Could Be Extended to All Syria

Al-Manar | July 10, 2017

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi here on Monday described the US-Russia agreement to declare truce in some regions in Syria as ‘ambiguous’.

Speaking in his weekly press conference, Qasemi underscored that the US should stop bombarding Syria if Washington is keen on stabilizing ceasefire in the Arab county.

‘If the US-Russia agreement could be extended to all Syria and pave the way for stabilizing ceasefire, it will be definitely fruitful, he said, adding that there is ambiguity in the agreement regarding recent US measures in Syria,’

Commenting on the executive guarantee of the agreement for achieving truce in the regions which have not been discussed during Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, he said, ‘Iran neither assures the deal nor has a comment in this respect.’

Qasemi reiterated that Iran, Russia and Turkey enjoy active presence in Astana meeting on Syria.

Qasemi underscored that Iran and the Russian federation have special relations and are constantly negotiating the Syrian issue.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment