A delegation of Israeli officials, including Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, has traveled to France in a bid to hamper a deal on Iran’s nuclear program as marathon talks on the issue are entering a critical juncture.
The delegation, includes the Israeli intelligence minster, Yossi Cohen, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and some other senior figures in Israel’s Foreign Ministry and intelligence community.
The Israeli officials are scheduled to hold talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and members of the French negotiating team in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program on Monday.
Steinitz was “on a mission from Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] for a short visit to Europe in an attempt to influence the details of the emerging agreement on the Iran nuclear issue,” a statement by Eyal Basson, an spokesman for the Israeli Intelligence Ministry said.
Netanyahu delivered an anti-Iran speech at the US Congress on March 3, where he called on Washington not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Tehran.
In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers have ruffled the feathers of one aggressive and occupying regime, whose existence hinges on belligerence.
“The regime, which has been after atomic weapons, has already produced nuclear bombs and stockpiled a large number of the bombs in defiance of international law and unseen by international observers as it does not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to oversee its nuclear facilities by refraining from signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” Rouhani said.
The latest round of nuclear negotiations ended in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Friday after six days of intense and serious discussions among representatives of Iran, the United States and the European Union. The talks will resume on March 25.
Talks between the US and Iran are part of broader negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group -the US, Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China – to reach a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program as a deadline slated for July 1 draws closer.
On February 8, Netanyahu turned up the rhetoric against Iran, saying Tel Aviv will do everything to prevent a “bad and dangerous” nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1. Addressing a weekly cabinet meeting, he said Iran and the six major powers “are galloping toward an agreement” which would pose a danger to Israel….” “We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement,” Netanyahu said.
Similarly, in an address at the UN General Assembly in September 2012, the Israeli premier claimed that Iran had reached 70 percent of the way to completing “plans to build a nuclear weapon.” “By next spring (2013), at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb,” Netanyahu alleged at the time.
In addition to its new law against ‘condoning terrorism,’ the French regime also plans to outlaw ‘conspiracy theories’ and prevent French citizens from accessing websites deemed conspiratorial.
On Jan. 27 France’s President Francois Hollande told a Jewish-Zionist audience at a Holocaust Memorial ceremony:
“We need to act [against the dissemination of conspiracy theories] at the European level, and even internationally, so that a legal framework can be defined, and so that Internet platforms that manage social networks are held to account and that sanctions be imposed for failure to enforce [censorship].”
As a first step in the crackdown on theories not consonant with government propaganda and lies, the French regime banned five websites.
Non-Aligned Media holds that the Ottawa shooting, the Sydney Siege, the Charlie Hebdo attack and the recent assault in Copenhagen were all staged-managed PR events designed to validate a government crackdown on terrorism-skeptics.
The British, Australian and Canadian governments have all forwarded similar pleas to silence skeptics of war on terror mythology and the official interpretations of 9/11, 7/7 and other false flag events which bear Israeli and Western fingerprints.
Britain’s David Cameron in particular equated 9/11 and 7/7 skeptics with ISIS terrorists during a speech at the United Nations.
After the October 22 Ottawa shooting in Canada, Sun News, a neocon Fox News clone outlet, dubbed the phrase ‘terrorist truthers’ to describe anyone not sufficiently sheep-like.
Copyright 2015 Non-Aligned Media
France Now an Obedient, Cowardly Nation
There are several machine gunners in front of the Charlie Hebdo building in Paris. These are cops, wearing bulletproof vests, carrying powerful weapons. They stare at occasional pedestrians in their special, revolting and highly intimidating way. Charlie Hedbo editors are well protected, some of them postmortem.
If you think that France is not as much a police state, as the UK or the US, think twice. Heavily armed military and police are visible at all train stations and many intersections, even at some narrow alleys. Internet providers are openly spying on their costumers. Mass media is self-censoring its reports. The regime’s propaganda is in “top gear”
But the people of France, at least the great majority of them, believe that they live in an ‘open and democratic society.’ If asked, they cannot prove it; they have no arguments. They are simply told that they are free, and so they believe it.
Employees of Charlie Hebdo go periodically out of the building for a smoke. I try to engage them in a conversation, but they reply in very short sentences only. They do their best to ignore me. Somehow, intuitively, they sense that I am not here to tell the official story.
I ask them why don’t they ever poke fun at the Western neo-colonialism, at the grotesque Western election system, or at the Western allies that are committing genocides all over the world: India, Israel, Indonesia, Rwanda, or Uganda? They impatiently dismiss me with their body language. Such thoughts are not encouraged, and most likely, they are not allowed. Even humorists and clowns in modern France know their place.
They soon let me know that I am asking too many questions. One of the employees simply looks, meaningfully, in the direction of armed cops. I get the message. I am not in the mood for a lengthy interrogation. I move on.
In the neighborhood, there are several sites carrying outpours of sympathy for the victims; 12 people who died during the January 2015 attack on the magazine. There are French flags and there are plastic white mice with Je Suis Charlie written on their bodies. One big poster proclaims: Je suis humain. Other banners read: “Islamic whores”, with red color correction, replacing Islamic with “terrorist” – Putain de terroristes.
There is plenty of graffiti written about freedom, all over the area. “Libre comme Charlie”, “Free like Charlie”!
A woman appears from the blue. She is very well dressed; she is elegant. She stands next to me for a few seconds. I realize that her body is shaking. She is crying.
“You’re a relative…?” I ask her, gently.
“No, no”, she replies. “We are all their relatives. We are all Charlie!”
She suddenly embraces me. I feel her wet face against my chest. I try to be sensitive. I hold her tight, this stranger – this unknown woman. Not because I want to, but because I feel that I have no other choice. Once I fulfill my civic obligation, I run away from the site.
Fifteen minutes walk from the Charlie Hebdo building, and there is the monumental National Picasso Museum, and dozens of art galleries. I make sure to visit at least 50 of them.
I want to know all about that freedom of expression that the French public is so righteously longing for and ‘defending’!
But what I see is endless pop. I see some broken window of a gallery and a sign: “You broke my art”. It is supposed to be an artwork itself.
Galleries exhibit endless lines and squares, all imaginable shapes and colors.
In several galleries, I observe abstract, Pollock-style ‘art’.
I ask owners of the galleries, whether they know about some exhibitions that are concentrating on the plight of tens of thousands of homeless people who are barely surviving the harsh Parisian winter. Are there painters and photographers exposing monstrous slums under the highway and railroad bridges? And what about French military and intelligence adventures in Africa, those that are ruining millions of human lives? Are there artists who are fighting against France becoming one of the leading centers of the Empire?
I am given outraged looks, or disgusted looks. Some looks are clearly alarmed. Gallery owners have no clue what am I talking about.
At the Picasso Museum, the mood is clearly that of ‘institutionalism’. Here, one would never guess that Pablo Picasso was a Communist, and deeply engaged painter and sculptor. One after another, groups of German tourists consisting mainly of senior citizens are passing through well-marked halls, accompanied by tour guides.
I don’t feel anything here. This museum is not inspiring me, it is castrating! The longer I stay here, the more I feel that my revolutionary zeal is evaporating.
I dash to the office and summon a junior curator.
I tell her all that I think about this museum and about those commercial galleries that are surrounding it.
“Those millions who were marching and writing messages around Charlie Hedbo… What do they mean by ‘freedom’? There seems to be nothing ‘free’ in France, anymore. Media is controlled, and art has just became some sort of brainless pop.”
She has nothing to say. “I don’t know”, she finally replied. “Painters are painting what people want to buy.”
“Is that so?” I asked.
I mention “798” in Beijing, where hundreds of galleries are deeply political.
“In oppressed societies, art tends to be more engaged”, she says.
I tell her what I think. I tell her that to me, and to many creative people I met in China, Beijing feels much more free, much less brainwashed or oppressed, than Paris. She looks at me in horror, then with that typical European sarcasm. She thinks I am provoking, trying to be funny. I cannot mean what I say. It is clear, isn’t it, that French artists are superior, that Western culture is the greatest. Who could doubt it?
I give her my card. She refuses to give me her name.
I leave in disgust, as I recently left in disgust the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
At one point I walk into a cafe, to drink a cup of coffee and a glass of mineral water.
A man and his enormous dog walk in. Both park at the bar, standing. A dog puts its front paws on the bar table. They both have a beer: the man from a glass, his dog from a saucer. A few minutes later, they pay and leave.
I scribble into my notepad: “In France, dogs are free to take their beer in cafes.”
In the same neighborhood, I rediscover an enormous National Archive, a beautiful group of buildings with gardens and parks all around.
The place is holding a huge exhibition: on how France collaborated with the Nazi Germany during the WWII. The retrospect is grand and complete: with images and texts, with film showings.
For the first time in days, I am impressed. It all feels very familiar, intimately familiar!
At night I found myself in that enormous new Philharmonic, at the outskirts of Paris, near Porte de Pantin. I managed to smuggle myself to the invitation-only-opening of an enormous exhibition dedicated to French composer, conductor and writer – Pierre Boulez. That same Pierre Boulez who has been promoting, for ages, the idea of a public sector taking over French classic music scene!
Nobody protested at the exhibition, and I did not hear any jokes directed at Pierre Boulez. It was all brilliantly orchestrated. Great respect for the establishment cultural figure, for the cultural apparatchik!
I heard a technically brilliant concert of contemporary classical music, with new instruments being used.
But nowhere, in any of those tremendous spaces of the Philharmonic, did I hear any lament, any requiem, for the millions of people literally slaughtered by the Empire, of which France is now an inseparable part. No new symphonies or operas dedicated to the victims of Papua, Kashmir, Palestine, Libya, Mali, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Iraq.
My new friend, Francois Minaux, is writing an opera about the US carpet-bombing of the Plane of Jars, during the ‘Secret War’ conducted by the West against Laos. I am helping him with this enormous and noble project. But paradoxically (or logically?), Francoise is not living in France, but in the United States.
When I shared my thoughts with him, on Charlie Hebdo, and on freedom of expression in France, he summarized:
“It’s terrible. The art scene sucks. People are zombies. The mass reaction to the Charlie H attack is disgusting and depressing. ‘1984’ is happening but people are too blind to see it.”
A few hours later, I received an email in which Francoise reflected on his complex relationship with his native land, and its culture:
“Being French nowadays and being free to express yourself is impossible. Back in the early 2000’s, I could not accept the frame that culture would impose on its artists, and they could not accept my questioning and different approach to art making. They either spat on me or even worse, went mute. So, I left. You must travel outside of Europe and live and work outside, to feel the world.
I felt also that politically engaged works of art were not considered real art in Paris. There is this thing in France: any political engagement is seen either as propaganda or as advertisement. Back in the early 2000’s, we were supposed to make art for art’s sake. We were living under the glass dome of the conservatory. We were ‘protected by the government’.
They let us know that we should not talk about politics or religion in public. Maybe French secularism was a good idea but not to the present extent, when politics and religion became taboo. There is this climate of fear: our elders and teachers hardly discuss politics and religion. And so we didn’t know! Certain things are forbidden to be known in France.
Life in Paris became suffocating. Opinions were not expressed. We were not allowed to understand others. Live became boring: we had nothing substantial to talk about. And so we discussed greasy food and French wine. Economists describe the French economy as “austere”, but I would go further by saying that French behavior as well as French identity is austere. But the French people can’t see it because they now all think the same. They are trying so hard to stay French but they are forgetting, how the world has bled, so their French-ness could be preserved. Their culture was built from the blood flowing from the French colonies, and on the foundations of the modern-day French Empire.”
So where are those brave French minds now; people so many of us were admiring for their courage and integrity?
They were never ‘perfect’, and they erred, like all humans do, but they were often standing on the side of oppressed, they were calling for revolutions and some even for the end of colonialism. They were holding Western culture responsible for the horrors our planet has been facing for centuries.
Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, then later Sartre, Camus, Malraux, Beauvoir, Aragon…
What do we have now? Michel Houellebecq and his novels, full of insults against Islam, as well as of ‘tears of gratitude’ felt after each blowjob his characters get from their girlfriends.
The legacies of Houellebecq and Charlie are somehow similar. Is this the best France can do, these days? Is kicking what is on the ground, what was already destroyed by the West, what is humiliated and wrecked – called courage?
Are pink poodles on silver leashes, exhibited in local galleries, the essence of what is called the freedom of speech? Such stuff would pass any censorship board even in Indonesia, or Afghanistan! No need for the freedom of expression. It is cowardly and it is selfish – exactly what the Empire is promoting.
Christophe Joubert, a French documentary filmmaker, told me over a cup of coffee:
“First I was sad, when I heard about what happened to people at Charlie Hedbo. Then I got scared. Not of terrorism, but of the actions of the crowd. Everybody was indoctrinated: thinking the same way, acting the same way. Like Orwell and his 1984! More precisely, ‘the 8th day.”
“People in France know nothing about the world”, continues Christophe. “They believe what they are told by propagandist mass media”.
“I am not allowed to speak”, the Eritrean Ambassador to France, Hanna Simon, explained to me. “They invite me to some television show where they present a film criticizing my country. They speak openly, but when I try to respond, they shut me up.”
“I know nothing about what you are saying”, my good Asian friend replies, with sadness, after I tell him about the tremendous global rebellion taking place against the West, in Latin America, China, Russia, Africa… He is a highly educated man, working for the UNESCO. “You know, here we hear only one side; the official one.”
I am wondering whether, perhaps in 70 years from now, the National Archive will have another huge exhibition: one on France’s collaboration with neoliberalism, and on its direct involvement in building the global fascist regime controlled by the West.
But for now, as long as dogs can have a beer at the bar, fascism, imperialism and neoliberalism do not seem to matter.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
In effort to boost its intelligence gathering, France is pushing for a law to allow authorities to spy on the digital and mobile communications of anyone linked to a “terrorist” enquiry without any judicial authorization.
The government presented the draft law to parliament on Thursday.
“Facing an increasing jihadist threat, we have to further enhance the effectiveness of the surveillance against terrorists,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said at a news conference two months after 17 people died in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris.
“Today, one of the two people who arrived in Syria has been detected before his departure, so we have to … tighten the net of surveillance of radicalized and dangerous individuals.”
Valls said the text of the draft provided the intelligence services the means enough to fight terrorism, yet respecting individual freedoms – a view, not supported by many human rights organizations and lawyers.
The draft law would give the intelligence services the right to perform “security interceptions” of e-mails and phone conversations, to install radio beacons in a suspect’s cars, as well as microphones and cameras in their home. It could also be able to track what a suspect types on a computer keyboard with the use of special software, and also force internet service providers to hand over data to the security services.
However the prime minister underlined that the draft “is not a French-style Patriot Act,” referring to the anti-terrorism laws introduced in the US after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001 that strengthened security controls. The future law only legitimizes the actions, already common among the intelligence services, so Valls added that “There will be no more grey zone,” as cited by Reuters.
Human rights watchdogs and lawyers have slammed the project as “devastating” for individual freedom. The Paris Bar Association also expressed their disapproval over the “text made without any prior coordination with the judiciary.”
Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, said on Thursday, “I am concerned about the strict security approach that characterizes the discussions and the text of the legislation aimed at intensifying the fight against terrorism.”
Amnesty International stated that it “is concerned that several of these measures may pave the way for violations of international and regional human rights standards that are binding on France, in particular those regarding the rights to freedom of expression and to private life.”
In January, following the attacks in Paris where 17 people were killed, Manuel Valls revealed plans to boost anti-terrorism strategies. The prime minister announced that France will employ 2,680 extra anti-terror operatives with a €425 million increase in funding.
The popular French comedian Dieudonne has been found guilty by a French court of ‘defending terrorism,’ making the comic one of dozens convicted of the Orwellian speech offence since the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
The charges stem from a Facebook comment Dieudonne made in the aftermath of the shooting, saying “I feel like I am Charlie Coulibaly,” a play on the ludicrous catch phrase “I am Charlie.”
Haaretz reports that the Paris court sentenced Dieudonne to a suspended sentence of two months in jail.
The French state has been criticized for its blatant double standards as it relates to free speech. Government ministers voiced support for Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish anti-Muslim cartoons, but concurrently issue orders for the arrest of people critical of Jews and Israel.
Copyright 2015 Non-Aligned Media
Zéon (pictured above, far left) is a French cartoonist, illustrator and painter. He is 31 years old and lives in Paris. He publishes some comic strip albums, and is running a group of dissident French cartoonists blacklisted by the mainstream press. He together with other artists produce comic books such as “L’Almanach pour tous“.
Brandon Martinez of Non-Aligned Media conducted an exclusive interview with Zéon who was recently arrested and charged with a ‘hate crime’ in France for an anti-Zionist graphic he designed in 2009.
Brandon Martinez: How long have you been doing politically-themed artwork?
Zéon: I began my first Zeon cartoons in 2007.
BM: When did you become aware of the Zionist issue and its relevance to France?
Zéon: In 2003, when the French humorist Dieudonné was banned from official media for a sketch he did about Israel.
BM: You were recently arrested for the crime of “offending Israel” with some of your artwork. What is the status of this case and what exactly are they charging you with?
Zéon: The judge charged me with “provocation leading to racial and religious discrimination by offensive words, in writtings, pictures or electronic communication means”, for a cartoon I did of a stabbed Palestinian child with an Israel map shaped knife. I drew it in 2009 at the time of the Gaza massacre.
BM: Many are enraged by the hypocrisy of the French government who on the one hand champion free expression for Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Muslim cartoonists, but on the other hand mercilessly persecute dissidents who critique Israel or Jews (yourself included). Is this double standard widely recognized by the French public or are people unaware of it?
Zéon: A good part of the people know it, mostly in the youth of today, mainly in the working classes.
BM: After the Charlie Hebdo shooting, we’ve seen the French regime enact stiff laws making it basically illegal to question the government’s neocon foreign policy. Will this have an impact on artists such as yourself?
Zéon: Yes, sure! After the Charlie Hebdo shooting, a lot of people were charged with the ‘defending terrorism’ law, including a young child of 8 years!
BM: What’s the feeling in France with regards to the Charlie Hebdo affair? Many are saying that it was staged or at the very least allowed to happen. What’s your opinion on this?
Zéon: There’s an emotional wave who stay in the public debate for the moment, but it can’t last forever and the rational thinking will shortly come back… “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time!” About the Charlie Hebdo shooting, I’m not a specialist, but my opinion is that these kinds of terrorist acts are most of the time supervised and controlled by the secret services. They’re the only ones who have the means and the logistics to bring these operations to fruition. There are many examples, like the September 11 attacks or the Toulouse and Montauban shootings… They infiltate radical groups, detect and use the most fanatical members to do violence. I think we’re in this kind of situation with the Charlie Hebdo affair.
BM: We saw the great march of the hypocrites shortly after the shooting, featuring some of the world’s worst war criminals, including Netanyahu. Are people in France not disgusted at how the shooting has been used by politicians to curtail freedom as well as push forward more war in the Middle East on behalf of Israel?
Zéon: Yes, everyday more and more people are waking up, fighting against this kind of manipulation. That’s a big problem for the François Hollande regime. They’re trying by all means to bring us back to the unique and automatic way of thinking, “la pensée unique”, they want us to believe everything the official media says, and finally manage us like sheep.
BM: What’s your association, if any, with Alain Soral’s Egalite Reconciliation group?
Zéon: I work regularly with them and their publishing house “Kontre Kulture”. For example, we’ll bring out in a few days a little cartoon book: “Je ne suis pas Charlie… Et j’t’emmerde!” (“I’m not Charlie… And go to hell!”) to respond with humor to this oligarchy who want us to choose between two camps, the “Charlies” or the “terrorists”.
BM: Where can people find your artwork and how can they support you?
Zéon: You can find my artwork on the internet or in my web blog: https://zeondessinateur.wordpress.com To support me, you can take a look at my comic strip “Yacht People” that I’ve done with Dieudonné et Alain Soral, unfortunately it’s only in french for the moment… But we are working on a 3D cartoon film which will be translated into English and Spanish.
President François Hollande of France has explained to the world why nuclear weapons must be banned and eliminated. Not intentionally, of course. Not because he made the fallacious argument that nuclear weapons make France more secure in a dangerous world (although he did); not because he lumped every conceivable and inconceivable threat to France into a confusing hash and came up with nuclear weapons as the final answer to every one (although he did that, too); and not because be shamelessly contradicted himself on the fundamental point that France is a champion of nuclear disarmament but finds its own “nuclear deterrent” indispensible (all the nuclear-armed States suffer from that particular mental health problem, as Sue Wareham has diagnosed it elsewhere on this blog).
In fact, his speech on February 19 to the French military and political elite at Istres Air Force Base was more frightening than that. I don’t want to twist his words, so here’s exactly what President Hollande said, taken from the English translation of the speech released by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“Our nuclear forces must be capable of inflicting absolutely unacceptable damages for the adversary, upon its centres of power, its political, economic and military nerve centres.” And since “the Head of State is the first citizen in France to speak and decide,” it’s up to President Hollande (or one of his successors) to decide if and when nuclear weapons will be used to “preserve the life of our nation.”
Never mind that this is delusional Cold-War thinking at its worst, since any use of nuclear weapons by France would almost certainly result in the use of nuclear weapons against France, rendering the “integrity of [it’s] territory” somewhat tentative. Never mind that the entire concept of nuclear deterrence—“to prevent any threat of blackmail by another state”—is itself the most extreme threat of blackmail. Never mind that every word of this speech ignores the evidence about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons presented at three international conferences over the past two years and is an arrogant attempt to rescue nuclear weapons from stigmatization.
No, what makes the French president’s tribute to “the credibility of our deterrence force” truly terrifying is that he has claimed the right to use nuclear weapons, more or less on his own say so, in order to make sure no one messes with France’s (or, I kid you not, Sony’s) “vital interests.” Apparently no price, not even the end the world (which would be a bit inconvenient for French citizens in a permanent season of nuclear winter), is too high to pay for “independence, freedom, and the ability to ensure our values prevail.” Which begs the question, what values are those, exactly, that prepare one to inflict “absolutely unacceptable damages” on millions upon millions of people?
Perhaps the rest of us lack President Hollande’s poetic vision. “France has, with its partners,” he said, “built a community of destiny,” with nuclear weapons as the ultimate expression of “heartfelt solidarity.” In a way, he’s right. But how many of you care to join him in that destiny?
Since the Charlie Hebdo attack, which bore many hallmarks of a false-flag operation, nearly 100 people have been jailed in France for speech deemed to fall under the rubric of “defending terrorism.” Immediately after the attack, the French government passed draconian anti-terror laws which proscribed certain forms of speech that doesn’t suit the Paris regime’s neocon agenda. Among those arrested for “defending terrorism” have been children (an 8-year-old boy), alcoholics and mentally disabled people.
Many have pointed out the sheer hypocrisy of the French government which, in response to the murder of a dozen Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, declared itself a defender of “free speech.” French President Hollande led the ‘free speech’ march alongside a gaggle of hypocrite heads of state from dozens of countries which themselves have repressive anti-free speech laws.
Shortly after the Charlie Hebdo incident, the French government arrested wildly popular comedian Dieudonne for one sentence he wrote on Facebook: “I feel like I am Charlie Coulibaly.” The comic has faced dozens of charges in the past few years relating to his satirizing of Jews and Israel. Another Frenchman, dissident writer Alain Soral, has similarly been harassed by the French government for publishing material deemed offensive to the Zionists. He is currently involved in multiple court battles which aim to convict him of ‘hate speech’ offences.
The ultimate irony of the Charlie Hebdo fiasco was demonstrated on March 3, 2015, when a French artist, Zeon, was arrested and charged under ‘hate crime’ legislation due to his anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli depictions. The French state champions the anti-Muslim cartoons of Charlie Hebdo, whilst concurrently hunting down and prosecuting even the mildest critics of Israel or Jews.
Former French foreign minister, Roland Dumas, confirmed what many suspect is a Zionist-controlled regime in Paris. Dumas told a French television channel that France’s prime minister Manuel Valls is “under Jewish influence.”
As is the rest of the French establishment, who dutifully follow the dictates of France’s reprehensible Zionist lobby.
Copyright 2015 Non-Aligned Media
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has slammed a move by three French lawmakers to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I want to condemn this initiative with the greatest strength,” Valls said on Thursday.
“For parliamentarians to go without warning to meet a butcher…. I think it was a moral failing,” he said.
A French Parliamentary delegation headed by French Senator Jean-Pierre Vial, Chairman of the Syrian-French friendship Committee, met with Assad on Wednesday.
“We met Bashar al-Assad for a good hour. It went very well,” Jacques Myard, an MP from the opposition Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party, also said.
The French lawmaker described the trip as “a personal mission to see what is going on, to hear [and] listen.”
According to the Syrian state television, the two sides had discussed “the state of Syrian-French relations, as well as the developments in the Arab world and Europe, especially with regard to terrorism.”
During the meeting, Assad said fighting terrorism demands real political will and belief in the fact that the outcome will be in the interest of all people while the dangers will threaten all countries.
“If this issue could be tackled based on this principle, surely we will soon witness tangible positive results,” added the president.
France cut diplomatic ties with Syria in 2012 and supports the militants in Syria, who seek the removal of Assad from power.
The US and its allies, including France, have been throwing their weight behind Takfiri ISIL militants, currently wreaking havoc on Syria and Iraq, in past years.
Reports say US military instructors trained the militants at a secret base in Jordan in 2012. According to reports, some 1,000 French nationals from a wide range of backgrounds are estimated to have left the European country to join the Takfiri militants in Iraq and Syria. Some 400 of them are thought to be currently operating on the ground, while almost 50 were killed.
France’s highest court prevented the extradition of an Argentine alleged torturer, Mario Sandoval, Wednesday.
According to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), a lower court ruled that Sandoval should be extradited to Argentina to face charges of crimes against humanity, deprivation of liberty and acts of torture causing death. France’s supreme court, the Cour de Cassation, overturned that ruling but also ruled that the case should be re-examined.
Sandoval was a federal police officer during Argentina’s so-called “dirty war” where the military dictatorship targeted leftist activists, disappearing and killing as many as 30,000 people. He moved to France after the fall of Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship and obtained French citizenship in 1997. He is accused of having committed over 600 human rights violations.
According to Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, Sandoval also gave classes to his colleagues on the “anti-subversive fight” that included methods of torture during interrogations.
The extradition request was based on the case of Hernan Abriata, an architecture student and political activist who was kidnapped from his home in 1976. Sandoval is alleged to have taken him to a clandestine prison in 1976, where an estimated 5,000 people were taken and disappeared.
The Argentine government’s lawyer expressed disappointment at the court’s ruling, which according to Sandoval’s lawyer was based on a technicality.
“This is a bad decision, but we can still salvage it somehow,” said Sophie Thonon-Wesfreid, representing Argentina’s government.
In France, once courts rule for an extradition, it must be further approved by governmental decree.
Though Israeli “journalist” Zvika Klein’s Paris “walk on the wild side” through allegedly Muslim Paris neighborhoods aroused indignation in Israeli and western media, the story aroused skepticism in French media. The French publication Les Inrocks published an investigative piece and interview with Klein which undermined many of the claims and assumptions on which his video was based. Thanks to reader Deir Yassin for bringing the article to my attention.
As I noted in an earlier post, Klein claims he walked through Paris for “ten hours,” yet the entire video is 1:36. Almost half of the video shows him walking with no interaction with anyone (let alone being insulted). So there is less than one minute of negative interaction with Parisian Muslims.
At one point, Klein claims a woman spat at him. Yet you cannot see what he claims on the video itself. He admits in his NRG article that he also was accompanied by a “security guard” because of “tense conditions” in the city. One wonders if Klein half expected or hoped that he would be attacked by an Islamist in order to get a really good story.
In an interview with Les Inrocks, Klein claims to have walked through the 23rd Arrondissement. There are only 20 in Paris. He also claims he walked through Barbes in the Parisian suburbs when it’s in the city center. He claimed he was constantly harassed in Saracelles, but one-third of this neighborhood is itself Jewish. Apparently, Jewish residents have figured out a way to live with their Muslim neighbors.
As you read him, Klein’s fear and racist assumptions about Paris’ Muslims becomes ever clearer:
At times, it feels like wandering around Ramallah. Most of the women wore veils and hijabs and the men had distinctively Muslim faces. Arabic was heard everywhere… I would be lying if I didn’t say I was frightened.
Klein’s own video puts the lie to his claims about the dress of women he passed. In only one short section are the heads of women covered at all and no women wear hijabs in all the video footage he displays. In fact, the hijab is legally prohibited in France.
A French reader who walks in Paris daily says the last time she saw anyone wearing a hijab was months ago. As for “distinctively Muslim faces” you can see many such faces in Israel, and they are the faces of Mizrahi Jews, not Muslims. She lives in the 19th Arrondissement, a popular new neighborhood where Orthodox Jews have flocked since they were driven out of the Marais by gentrification. She sees scores of kippot each day on the streets and in the Metro. Apparently these French Jews don’t face the problems Klein found.
The Les Inrocks article also displays a tweet Klein published during Operation Protective Edge in which he quotes Meir Habib, a member of the French legislature who represents overseas French voters in Israel. Habib is also the former Likud Party spokesperson in France.
French MP Meyer Habib to http://www.nrg.co.il : “Unfortunatley, I don’t think there is a future for Jews in France”.
Read the interview Klein published with Habib in NRG. None of the quotations he included in the article have Habib saying what he claimed in the tweet. At no time does he say there is no future for Jews in France. And even if he did, Habib is little more than a Likud appointee dutifully representing the views of his master, the Israeli prime minister, who’s called publicly for all Jews to leave not just France, but all of Europe. I asked Klein to explain the discrepancy, but he hasn’t responded.
Klein’s foray into the heart of the Paris’ Muslim beast is an extension of the Robert Spencer fake “No-Go” claims about UK cities like Birmingham. The truth is that there are no No-Go neighborhoods in any European city where Jews may not walk without being in fear of their lives. If you create a provocation and act suspiciously as Klein did taking a cameraman and security guard with him into such a neighborhood, then of course you will arouse suspicion. And why wouldn’t you?
The French publication also researched Klein’s background, job history, and previous social media activity. Earlier in his career, he served in the IDF spokesman’s unit responsible for outreach to the Orthodox community. After that, he did similar work for Bnai Akiva, the Orthodox Zionist youth organization. You’ll remember that the world leader of B’nai Akiva, Rabbi Noam Perel, urged the IDF to avenge the kidnap-murder of three Israeli youth by collecting the foreskins of 300 Palestinians, just as David had offered 200 Philistines foreskins as a bride price to King Saul for his daughter. That should tell you quite a bit about Klein’s own views of “Arabs.”
Consider also this distinguished part of Klein’s journalistic oeuvre: a profile of an American motorcycle gang, Defenders of Liberty, which boasts on its Facebook page that it will demonstrate in Washington in favor of Bibi Netanyahu’s speech.
On a related subject, the leader of a distinguished French Jewish organization fighting anti-Semitism has roundly condemned Netanyahu’s pandering to French Jews. This is a translation by Walid of an article in Le Figaro :
In an interview of Alain Jakubowicz, the President of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism by Le Figaro, he said Jews in France have a future there since they have a past and that he has asked Netanyahu to stop encouraging French Jews to return to Israel. Jakubowicz said that it was to be expected for Israeli leaders to do it but that Netanyahu’s repeated calls to do so are devastating. There is a way that this should be asked but the way Netanyahu is doing it is menacing and cataclysmic. Netanyahu conveys to French Jews that they are second class citizens that their country can no longer protect.
Jakubowicz went on to say that Netanyahu is re-asserting that Jews have dual loyalties and that they aren’t really French, which feeds anti-Semitism. He also said that the reunification of all the world’s Jews in Israel to create a village worthy of Asterix would be a disaster for the world and for the Jews. It is often thought there is an exodus of French Jews, which is an exaggeration. In fact, thousands have chosen to go to Israel and elsewhere; some of these had problems living their Judaism according to the Torah in neighbourhoods of a secular society, but this is not an exodus and it shouldn’t become one. There is a difference between what happened with Merah (Toulouse) and Charlie Hebdo; this must be deconstructed to show that it’s a matter of French citizens.
Zvika Klein might’ve done better to publish an interview and profile of Jakubowicz than gallivant around Paris needlessly provoking a harsh Muslim response.
The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders.
Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko announced on Friday that she hopes to see the money begin to flow in by early March. But Ukraine must meet conditions that seem almost impossible: It must implement an honest budget and start reforming its corrupt oligarchs (who dominate in the Rada and control the bureaucracy), implement more austerity, abolish its environmental protection, and make its industry “attractive” to foreign investors to buy Ukraine’s land, natural resources, monopolies and other assets, presumably at distress prices in view of the country’s recent devastation.
Looming over the IMF loan is the military situation. On January 28, Christine Lagarde said that the IMF would not release more money as long as Ukraine remains at war. Cessation of fighting was to begin Sunday morning. But Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh announced that his private army and that of the Azov Battalion will ignore the Minsk agreement and fight against Russian-speakers. He remains a major force within the Rada.
How much of Ukraine’s budget will be spent on arms? Germany and France made it clear that they oppose further U.S. military adventurism in Ukraine, and also oppose NATO membership. But will Germany follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on Kiev in order to stop a renewal of the fighting? For the United States bringing Ukraine into NATO would be the coup de grace blocking creation of a Eurasian powerhouse integrating the Russian, German and other continental European economies.
The Obama administration is upping the ante and going for broke, hoping that Europe has no alternative but to keep acquiescing. But the strategy is threatening to backfire. Instead of making Russia “lose Europe,” the United States may have overplayed its hand so badly that one can now think about the opposite prospect. The Ukraine adventure could turn out to be the first step in the United States losing Europe. It may end up splitting European economic interests away from NATO, if Russia can convince the world that the epoch of armed occupation of industrial nations is a thing of the past and hence no real military threat exists – except for Europe being caught in the middle of Cold War 2.0.
For the U.S. geopolitical strategy to succeed, it would be necessary for Europe, Ukraine and Russia to act against their own potential economic self-interest. How long can they be expected to acquiesce in this sacrifice? At what point will economic interests lead to a reconsideration of old geo-military alliances and personal political loyalties?
This is becoming urgent because this is the first time the EU has been faced with such war on its own borders (if we except Yugoslavia). Where is the advantage for Europe supporting one of the world’s most corrupt oligarchies north of the Equator?
America’s Ukrainian adventure by Hillary’s appointee Victoria Nuland (kept on and applauded by John Kerry), as well as by NATO, is forcing Europe to commit itself to the United States or pursue an independent line. George Soros (whose aggressive voice is emerging as the Democratic Party’s version of Sheldon Adelson) recently urged (in the newly neocon New York Review of Books) that the West give Ukraine $50 billion to re-arm, and to think of this as a down payment on military containment of Russia. The aim is the old Brzezinski strategy: to foreclose Russian economic integration with Europe. The assumption is that economic alliances are at least potentially military, so that any power center raises the threat of economic and hence political independence.
The Financial Times quickly jumped on board for Soros’s $50 billion subsidy. When President Obama promised that U.S. military aid would be only for “defensive arms,” Kiev clarified that it intended to defend Ukraine all the way to Siberia to create a “sanitary cordon.”
First Confrontation: Will the IMF Loan Agreement try to stiff Russia?
The IMF has been drawn into U.S. confrontation with Russia in its role as coordinating Kiev foreign debt refinancing. It has stated that private-sector creditors must take a haircut, given that Kiev can’t pay the money its oligarchs have either stolen or spent on war. But what of the €3 billion that Russia’s sovereign wealth fund loaned Ukraine, under London rules that prevent such haircuts? Russia has complained that Ukraine’s budget makes no provision for payment. Will the IMF accept this budget as qualifying for a bailout, treating Russia as an odious creditor? If so, what kind of legal precedent would this set for sovereign debt negotiations in years to come?
International debt settlement rules were thrown into a turmoil last year when U.S. Judge Griesa gave a highly idiosyncratic interpretation of the pari passu clause with regard to Argentina’s sovereign debts. The clause states that all creditors must be treated equally. According to Griesa (uniquely), this means that if any creditor or vulture fund refuses to participate in a debt write-down, no such agreement can be reached and the sovereign government cannot pay any bondholders anywhere in the world, regardless of what foreign jurisdiction the bonds were issued under.
This bizarre interpretation of the “equal treatment” principle has never been strictly applied. Inter-governmental debts owed to the IMF, ECB and other international agencies have not been written down in keeping with private-sector debts. Russia’s loan was carefully framed in keeping with London rules. But U.S. diplomats have been openly – indeed, noisily and publicly – discussing how to “stiff” Russia. They even have thought about claiming that Russia’s Ukraine loans (to help it pay for gas to operate its factories and heat its homes) are an odious debt, or a form of foreign aid, or subject to anti-Russian sanctions. The aim is to make Russia “less equal,” transforming the concept of pari passu as it applies to sovereign debt.
Just as hedge funds jumped into the fray to complicate Argentina’s debt settlement, so speculators are trying to make a killing off Ukraine’s financial corpse, seeing this gray area opened up. The Financial Times reports that one American investor, Michael Hasenstab, has $7 billion of Ukraine debts, along with Templeton Global Bond Fund. New speculators may be buying Ukrainian debt at half its face value, hoping to collect in full if Russia is paid in full – or at least settle for a few points’ quick run-up.
The U.S.-sponsored confusion may tie up Russia’s financial claims in court for years, just as has been the case with Argentina’s debt. At stake is the IMF’s role as debt coordinator: Will it insist that Russia take the same haircut that it’s imposing on private hedge funds?
This financial conflict is becoming a new mode of warfare. Lending terms are falling subject to New Cold War geopolitics. This battlefield has been opened up by U.S. refusal in recent decades to endorse the creation of any international body empowered to judge the debt-paying capacity of countries. This makes every sovereign debt crisis a grab bag that the U.S. Treasury can step in to dominate. It endorses keeping countries in the U.S. diplomatic orbit afloat (although on a short leash), but not countries that maintain an independence from U.S. policies (e.g., Argentina and BRICS members).
Looking forward, this position threatens to fracture global finance into a U.S. currency sphere and a BRICS sphere. The U.S. has opposed creation of any international venue to adjudicate the debt-paying capacity of debtor nations. Other countries are pressing for such a venue in order to save their economies from the present anarchy. U.S. diplomats see anarchy as offering an opportunity to bring U.S. diplomacy to bear to reward friends and punish non-friends and “independents.” The resulting financial anarchy is becoming untenable in the wake of Argentina, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other sovereign debtors whose obligations are unpayably high.
The IMF’s One-Two Punch leading to privatization sell-offs to rent extractors
IMF loans are made mainly to enable governments to pay foreign bondholders and bankers, not spend on social programs or domestic economic recovery. Sovereign debtors must agree to IMF “conditionalities” in order to get enough credit to enable bondholders to take their money and run, avoiding haircuts and leaving “taxpayers” to bear the cost of capital flight and corruption.
The first conditionality is the guiding principle of neoliberal economics: that foreign debts can be paid by squeezing out a domestic budget surplus. The myth is that austerity programs and cuts in public spending will enable governments to pay foreign-currency debts – as if there is no “transfer problem.”
The reality is that austerity causes deeper economic shrinkage and widens the budget deficit. And no matter how much domestic revenue the government squeezes out of the economy, it can pay foreign debts only in two ways: by exporting more, or by selling its public domain to foreign investors. The latter option leads to privatizing public infrastructure, replacing subsidized basic services with rent-extraction and future capital flight. So the IMF’s “solution” to the debt problem has the effect of making it worse – requiring yet further privatization sell-offs.
This is why the IMF has been wrong in its economic forecasts for Ukraine year after year, just as its prescriptions have devastated Ireland and Greece, and Third World economies from the 1970s onward. Its destructive financial policy must be seen as deliberate, not an innocent forecasting error. But the penalty for following this junk economics must be paid by the indebted victim.
In the wake of austerity, the IMF throws its Number Two punch. The debtor economy must pay by selling off whatever assets the government can find that foreign investors want. For Ukraine, investors want its rich farmland. Monsanto has been leasing its land and would like to buy. But Ukraine has a law against alienating its farmland and agricultural land to foreigners. The IMF no doubt will insist on repeal of this law, along with Ukraine’s dismantling of public regulations against foreign investment.
International finance as war
The Ukraine-IMF debt negotiation shows why finance has become the preferred mode of geopolitical warfare. Its objectives are the same as war: appropriation of land, raw materials (Ukraine’s gas rights in the Black Sea) and infrastructure (for rent-extracting opportunities) as well as the purchase of banks.
The IMF has begun to look like an office situated in the Pentagon, renting a branch office on Wall Street from Democratic Party headquarters, with the rent paid by Soros. His funds are drawing up a list of assets that he and his colleagues would like to buy from Ukrainian oligarchs and the government they control. The buyout payments for partnership with the oligarchs will not stay in Ukraine, but will be moved quickly to London, Switzerland and New York. The Ukrainian economy will lose the national patrimony with which it emerged from the Soviet Union in 1991, still deeply in debt (mainly to its own oligarchs operating out of offshore banking centers).
Where does this leave European relations with the United States and NATO?
The two futures
A generation ago the logical future for Ukraine and other post-Soviet states promised to be an integration into the German and other West European economies. This seemingly natural complementarity would see the West modernize Russian and other post-Soviet industry and agriculture (and construction as well) to create a self-sufficient and prosperous Eurasian regional power. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently voiced Russia’s hope at the Munich Security Conference for a common Eurasian Union with the European Union extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok. German and other European policy looked Eastward to invest its savings in the post-Soviet states.
This hope was anathema to U.S. neocons, who retain British Victorian geopolitics opposing the creation of any economic power center in Eurasia. That was Britain’s nightmare prior to World War I, and led it to pursue a diplomacy aimed at dividing and conquering continental Europe to prevent any dominant power or axis from emerging.
America started its Ukrainian strategy with the idea of splitting Russia off from Europe, and above all from Germany. The U.S. playbook is simple: Any economic power is potentially military; and any military power may enable other countries to pursue their own interests rather than subordinating their policy to U.S. political, economic and financial aims. Therefore, U.S. geostrategists view any foreign economic power as a potential military threat, to be countered before it can gain steam.
We can now see why the EU/IMF austerity plan that Yanukovich rejected made it clear why the United States sponsored last February’s coup in Kiev. The austerity that was called for, the removal of consumer subsidies and dismantling of public services would have led to an anti-West reaction turning Ukraine strongly back toward Russia. The Maidan coup sought to prevent this by making a war scar separating Western Ukraine from the East, leaving the country seemingly no choice but to turn West and lose its infrastructure to the privatizers and neo-rentiers.
But the U.S. plan may lead Europe to seek an economic bridge to Russia and the BRICS, away from the U.S. orbit. That is the diplomatic risk when a great power forces other nations to choose one side or the other.
The silence from Hillary
Having appointed Valery Nuland as a holdover from the Cheney administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the hawks by likening Putin to Hitler. Meanwhile, Soros’s $10 million on donations to the Democratic Party makes him one of its largest donors. The party thus seems set to throw down the gauntlet with Europe over the shape of future geopolitical diplomacy, pressing for a New Cold War.
Hillary’s silence suggests that she knows how unpopular her neocon policy is with voters – but how popular it is with her donors. The question is, will the Republicans agree to not avoid discussing this during the 2016 presidential campaign? If so, what alternative will voters have next year?
This prospect should send shivers down Europe’s back. There are reports that Putin told Merkel and Holland in Minsk last week that Western Europe has two choices. On the one hand, it and Russia can create a prosperous economic zone based on Russia’s raw materials and European technology. Or, Europe can back NATO’s expansion and draw Russia into war that will wipe it out.
German officials have discussed bringing sanctions against Ukraine, not Russia, if it renews the ethnic warfare in its evident attempt to draw Russia in. Could Obama’s neocon strategy backfire, and lose Europe? Will future American historians talk of who lost Europe rather than who lost Russia?
Michael Hudson’s book summarizing his economic theories, “The Bubble and Beyond,” is now available in a new edition with two bonus chapters on Amazon. His latest book is Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He can be reached via email@example.com
 Fin min hopes Ukraine will get new IMF aid in early March – Interfax, http://research.tdwaterhouse.ca/research/public/Markets/NewsArticle/1664-L5N0VN2DO-1
5:40AM ET on Friday Feb 13, 2015 by Thomson Reuters
 “The west needs to rescue the Ukrainian economy,” Financial Times editorial, February 12, 2015.
 Elaine Moore, “Contrarian US investor with $7bn of debt stands to lose most if Kiev imposes haircut,” Financial Times, February 12, 2015.