US Republican presidential hopefuls and some other GOP lawmakers were in the state of Nevada on Saturday to attract big donors for their campaign funding.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Senator Rob Portman (OH), Governor Mike Pence (IN), and Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), all Republicans, were in Las Vegas for the annual Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring meeting which began on Thursday.
The candidates wrapped up 3 days of lobbying for Israel to attract potentially billions of dollars in donations in the biggest gambling hub in the US.
They were there to win big donations from casino tycoons, most notably Zionist Sheldon Adelson who is the largest campaign donor in the US.
As far as the GOP contenders in Las Vegas are concerned, the fight to win Adelson’s support and others in Las Vegas is all about showing support and solidarity for Tel Aviv.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said, “Ignoring the lessons of history, our president aims to sign an agreement with… the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“Sadly, the American friendship and alliance with Israel has never been more imperiled than it is right now today under this administration,” said Ted Cruz, one of the Republican presidential candidates.
About 800 members of the summit enthusiastically cheered the consecutive slaps on Obama and on a potential nuclear agreement with Iran and promises of loyalty to Tel Aviv.
In fact, Adelson was not there on Saturday, according to local media, because that’s when the session was open to the media.
It is reported that Adelson has a favorite candidate so far, and that’s Senator Marco Rubio who the tycoon “speaks to once every 2 weeks.”
Adelson spent almost $150 million in the last presidential election in 2012 and he is set to throw in millions of more dollars behind his favorite contender in 2016.
Adelson, a Jewish American and the country’s eighth-wealthiest person, has said that he will not invest in the 2016 elections based on personal loyalty but on a more strategic aim.
He is a prominent supporter of Israel’s Likud Party, which is currently headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is also known for his anti-Iran rants.
During a speech at Yeshiva University in New York City in October 2014, Adelson said that the US should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran before beginning negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.
As the fear campaign advances into ever-more delirious extremes, Westerners continue to be submerged in sensationalist headlines about ‘homegrown terrorism’ and ‘ISIS recruits.’
The American, Australian, Canadian, British, French, German and other governments have been on the hunt lately, swooping up a handful of would-be ISIS recruits before they could make their journey to Syria and Iraq. The arrests appear to be part of a stage-managed public relations effort to 1) keep up the false pretense that the West is actually trying to stop people from joining ISIS, when in fact they have been gleefully turning a blind eye to it if not aiding and abetting it, and 2) to justify the growing surveillance state across the West.
ABC News tells us that more than 2000 Westerners, mostly from immigrant communities but also a number of white converts to Islam, have joined ISIS and other terrorist groups fighting to topple the Syrian government. Knowing the high level of surveillance and monitoring that Western agencies already employ against Muslim communities, it beggars belief that all of these individuals simply evaded the all-seeing eye of Western intelligence which includes the “Five Eyes” spy network consisting of the combined espionage might of the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia. The massive resources of the spy agencies of those countries in conjunction with the data mining brigands of the NSA makes it hard for one to believe that they’re just unable to track and intervene before Western citizens depart for the phony ‘jihad’ against Israel’s adversaries in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.
The Intercept revealed that in a recent FBI ‘bust’ of an alleged ISIS sympathizer who was purportedly planning an attack inside the US, the suspect was goaded by FBI informants, as is the case with nearly every major foiled ‘terror plot’ in recent American history. John T. Booker Jr., the Kansas man accused of plotting a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS, had checked himself into a mental hospital about a year before his arrest. The Intercept reports that the two FBI informants who initiated contact with Booker Jr. “provided the 20-year-old with the materials and support that led to his arrest on Friday on charges stemming from his alleged plans to carry out an attack against Fort Riley in support of the Islamic State.”
This example is merely one of many hundreds of cases involving the FBI’s army of 15,000 plus informants who infiltrate Muslim communities then work to incite and coerce impressionable, dejected young Muslims into completely inept and doomed-to-fail ‘terror plots.’
Canadian authorities have been caught mimicking the FBI’s duplicitous and unethical tactics of fabricating terror plots by way of informants. One recent case involved a bumbling British Columbia couple, John Nuttall and his wife Amanda Korody, who were prodded and pushed into a laughable ‘terrorist conspiracy’ by undercover RCMP agents. The Vancouver Sun reported that the undercover agents “spent more than four months in a futile attempt to have John Nuttall articulate a real [terrorist] plan.” Another Sun report described the ‘terror couple’ as “impoverished addicts” and delineated how an undercover agent coddled and encouraged them every step of the way, making suggestions about explosives and targets.
A story that broke earlier this year unveiled the West’s two-faced gambit as it relates to ISIS. The Turkish government exposed the identity of a Syrian national on the payroll of Canadian intelligence who was acting as a human trafficker for ISIS, escorting dozens of Europeans through Turkey and delivering them to ISIS strongholds in Syria, including three British schoolgirls.
“Turkish news agencies reported … that a foreign intelligence agent detained in that country on suspicion of helping the [three British] girls travel to neighbouring Syria to join ISIL was working for the Canadian government,” stated an Ottawa Citizen report on the scandal. The agent in question, Mohammed Mehmet Rashid, told Turkish authorities that he made routine trips to the Canadian embassy in Jordan where he received his marching orders from CSIS, Canada’s spy agency. That embassy was headed by Bruno Saccomani, a former RCMP officer and the former chief of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s security detail. Harper handpicked Saccomani to be the ambassador to Jordan.
Another issue routinely overlooked by mainstream media is that ISIS is not the only violent radical group that Western citizens are bustling to join. Hundreds of Canadians, Americans, Australians and Europeans have joined the Israeli military over the years, participating in the murder of thousands of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, the mass destruction of property and other war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In an article entitled “Supporting ‘terror tourism’ to Israel gets Canadian tax credits,” Yves Engler, an expert on Canadian foreign affairs, observes that in Canada “[i]t is illegal for Somali Canadians to fight in that country but it is okay for Canadian Jews to kill Palestinians in Gaza. And the government will give you a charitable tax credit if you give them money to support it.” Engler documents the activities of pro-Israel charities operating freely in Canada that recruit young Jews to fight for Israel. “At least 25 volunteers from the Greater Toronto Area fought in Gaza during Israel’s 22-day 2008/2009 assault that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead,” notes Engler, adding that “during Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon the Canadian Jewish News reported that ‘Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army.’”
“The double standard is extreme,” Engler writes, pointing out how Canadians are proscribed from recruiting for foreign militaries under the Foreign Enlistment Act, but this law apparently doesn’t apply to Jews who enjoy a privileged status in Canada and other Western countries.
The Canadian government’s pro-Israel extremism showed its ugly face in 2014 when the Harper administration added IRFAN-Canada, a Muslim charity which helped raise funds for the besieged people of Gaza and the occupied West Bank, to its list of banned ‘terrorist organizations.’ According to the Harper regime’s skewed Zionist logic, Muslim charities that work with the democratically elected leadership of Gaza in order to dispense humanitarian aid to the suffering Palestinians are engaged in ‘supporting terrorism.’ Yet Jewish-Zionist charities are allowed, even aided and abetted by the Canadian state through ‘tax credits’ for donors, to raise funds for the Israeli military and even to recruit radicalized Canadian Jews to fight in Israel’s bloody wars of aggression – but this somehow does not constitute material support for terrorism.
Evidently, in Harper’s pro-Zionist fantasy world ‘terrorist’ is a smear word applied exclusively to the opponents of Israeli imperialism, whereas a state birthed through ethnic cleansing and maintained by way of bribery, blackmail, and state-sponsored mass murder is praised to the heavens merely for allowing its privileged Jewish citizens and disenfranchised Arab subjects to vote for whichever hawkish Zionist politician will continue the policies of terror in the holy land.
Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez
Aqraba, Occupied Palestine – On 25th April 2015 ISM volunteers met with the mayor of Aqraba, Ayman Bani Fadl, who has asked internationals to document the intrusive Israeli occupation forces’ actions over the past week. The Israeli forces have been using civilian farm land to carry out training operations. The military have an encampment where they have stationed around ten tanks and approximately fifteen more armored vehicles, as well as numerous troops.
Israeli occupation forces present on Palestinian land near Aqraba (Photo by Aqraba Muncipality 24.04.15)
The military training in this area is hugely damaging to the farming economy, due to the fact that this seasons harvest began earlier in the month. Farmers are now prevented from carrying out their harvest by the presence of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The mayor stated that it is likely the military chose the time and area in a deliberate attempt to disrupt the harvest and the livelihoods of the civilian population. He also claimed the actions of the IOF were strategically designed to expropriate the land, forcing the farmers to leave the area. He went on to say that the military have already designated 150,000 dunams of Aqraba land as a military zone. Meaning, the military have full control of the area. Despite this, the IOF have chosen to carry out their present training operations on the 10,000 dunams that remain accessible to the farmers.
These military operations occur on a regular basis and have a permanent and damaging effect on the community. Not least of which is the unexploded ordinance, carelessly left by the military, which has been responsible for killing four individuals and maiming tens of others, mostly children.
To add to the continuing persecution of Aqraba civilians, four months ago the electricity network, financed by the Belgian government, was demolished by Israeli forces. Due to a lack of funds, the municipality has only been able to temporarily reconstruct a portion of the network.
Furthermore, this continual land grab results in Israeli control over highly fertile agricultural soil and cuts off Palestinian access to the Jordan Valley, restricting freedom of movement and their right to cultivate their own farming land.
The present military operation in Aqraba is just one example of the ongoing violent harassment and disruption that is one of many tactics used by Israeli forces, to make life so intolerable for Palestinians they will leave and abandon their land. Oppressive tactics of a similar nature are rife throughout the West Bank, with towns and villages in and around the Jordan Valley being particularly subject to persecution from the Israeli forces.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Peter Rushton, a historian and political commentator from London, and Lawrence J. Korb, a former US Assistant Secretary of Defense in Washington, to discuss Washington’s delivery of new F-35 fighter jets to Israel.
Rushton says the delivery of fighter jets truly shows that the policies of US President Barack Obama are totally in line with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, adding the most worrying fact is that the White House continues its military deals with Tel Aviv despite the regime’s longstanding aggressive policies.
The analyst slammed the recent military deal with Israel, which is the sole possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East, saying such an accord strips Washington of any means of leverage that could enable the US to contain Tel Aviv’s warmongering policies.
Meanwhile, Korb believes the US is selling the equipment to Israel only to bolster the regime’s deterrence power in the face of dangers in the region.
Norwegian doctor Mads Frederick Gilbert (C) treats a Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli airstrike at al-Shifa hospital on July 17, 2014
Partisans of Israel are not content merely to murder and maim Palestinian civilians. They also launch “weaponized words” against anyone who speaks out against their crimes . . . including the world’s most prestigious medical journals.
The Zionists’ latest verbal salvo has targeted The Lancet, the world’s best-known medical journal. Medical apologists for Israel’s July 2014 assault on Gaza have posted a letter claiming The Lancet’s July 22 2014 article on Israeli war crimes constitutes “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda.” It seems the Israel lobby’s medical division has declared war on The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, and its publisher, Reed Elsevier.
The Zionists, who have bought up the Western mainstream media and are currently targeting Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians in the biggest wave of hate propaganda in history, are hardly qualified to issue such accusations.
The Zionist doctors’ letter accuses The Lancet of a long list of vague and portentously-worded alleged misdeeds. But it offers virtually no specifics whatsoever to back up its hyper-general accusations. The vacuous list of charges against The Lancet includes “ethical and scientific lapses” (such as?), “failure to apply the normal rigorous standards of honesty and transparency” (with no examples given), failure to “publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed” (without offering a single concrete example of anything the Lancet published that required any such correction).
The Zionist letter attacks The Lancet’s July 22 2014 article “An open letter for the people in Gaza.” The angry authors bombastically assert: “ ‘An open letter for the people in Gaza’ by Manduca et al contains false assertions, unverifiable dishonest ‘facts’, many of them libellous, and glaring omissions.”
But the Zionists cannot name a single false assertion. They are just blowing smoke, hoping that nobody is paying close attention.
The Lancet Ombudsman had already investigated “An open letter for the people in Gaza” and found no false statements. According to HandsOffTheLancet.com, the Ombudsman did cite a “’regrettable statement’ that, because only 5% of Israeli academics had supported an appeal to” Israel to end the “military operation in Gaza (Gur-Arieh 2014), the authors had been ‘tempted to conclude that … the rest of the Israeli academics [had been] complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza.’”
But what is regrettable about such a statement? Can there be any doubt that the vast majority of Israeli academics, indeed a virtual unanimity of Zionists in Occupied Palestine, were actively or passively complicit in the massacre, and the larger genocide? While it may be regrettable that the Zionists in Occupied Palestine are complicit in Tel Aviv’s war crimes, and its larger ongoing program of genocide, it is not the slightest bit regrettable that The Lancet writers have pointed out such a disturbing but indisputable fact. (Polls show that virtually all Zionists in Occupied Palestine support the Gaza massacres, including the so-called Cast Lead in 2008-2009 and Protective Edge last summer.)
The roughly 500 Zionist doctors who are fulminating against The Lancet ought to have their licenses to practice medicine revoked. Then they ought to be put on trial for complicity in genocide propaganda. They are a disgrace to the medical profession, like the Nazi doctors who were indirectly responsible for brutalizing helpless people in World War II Germany because they averted their gazes from the crimes of their countrymen.
Unlike the Nazi Doctors (and their mirror images, the Zionist Doctors), the authors of “An open letter for the people in Gaza” could not avert their gaze:
“The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes…”
The Zionist Doctors have not demonstrated a single factual error in the above words, nor in any other passage from “An open letter for the people in Gaza.”
The current assault on The Lancet is not the first Zionist war on a leading medical journal. In 2004, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published “Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes.” According to the article:
“Two thirds of the 621 children (two thirds under 15 years) killed at checkpoints, in the street, on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half of cases to the head, neck and chest – the sniper’s wound… Clearly, soldiers are routinely authorized to shoot to kill children in situations of minimal or no threat.”
The BMJ article was unprecedented. For first time in history, one of the world’s leading medical journals had documented the murder by sniper fire of more than 600 helpless Palestinian children – many of them “hunted for sport” as described by one horrified eyewitness, the journalist Chris Hedges, in his famous article “Gaza Diary.”
The Zionist reaction was swift. BMJ was castigated with the usual blustering Zionist rhetoric. But not a single factual mistake was found. As usual, the Zionists used vicious ad hominem attacks to obscure the hollowness of their arguments.
On December 9th, 1946, an American military tribunal charged twenty-three leading German physicians with crimes against humanity. Sixteen were convicted, and seven were executed.
Will the Zionist Doctors, whose complicity in genocide propaganda has been demonstrated by their attack on The Lancet, one day meet a similar fate?
Hints of the dark place he is taking us
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | April 24, 2015
Obama has been quoted saying he “takes full responsibility” for the two hostages, one American and one Italian, killed recently in a drone attack. At the same time, Obama praised the United States for its transparency in such matters.
What in God’s name does he mean? How can you have responsibility with no consequences? Isn’t that a bit like patting yourself on the back for high principles, having just committed murder? And transparency? That also is a word without meaning when applied to a country which runs a string of secret wars and coups, a country which spies on virtually the entire planet, and a country whose warehouses bulge with so many classified documents it would take a thousand years to review them.
Obama’s use of words has no meaning, much like the lack of meaning inherent in the kind of world into which he is eagerly helping to pitch us.
He has killed two innocent people in the course of an extrajudicial killing of others who were themselves, as is usual in these attacks, mere suspects.
And it is not the first time he has done this, only the first time where we know the names and faces of his victims. We only know the names and faces here because they were an American and an Italian. Our feeble and utterly corrupt press never lifts a finger to investigate who the thousands of others have been.
Estimates vary, but something on the order of 2,500 people have been murdered this way by the United States, almost all of them innocent, ordinary people, and even America’s intended targets, supposed terrorists, are guilty of nothing in law.
If a leader uses the word terror today, he can pretty much do anything he or his sadistic military/ security/ intelligence creeps want to do. I do not see any difference in these acts from those of the former military juntas in South America who made thousands of “undesirable” people simply disappear.
There’s an old saying about democratic governments that you pretty much deserve the government you get, but the glib saying is, of course, considerably less than true. Besides, it is not a great stretch to say of America today that it is about as much a democracy as was the former Soviet Union, with the key difference being voters in America get two choices instead of one on their ballots, each of them however ready to do exactly the same things, with only minor stylistic variations. You might say the choices represent two fashion statements in one official party.
However, if Western people in general just quietly accept the institutional barbarism Obama represents, they will indeed deserve the governments they get.
And what’s hurtling towards us, far more quickly than many realize, is government entirely by and for elites – wealthy, wealthy people with their paid mouthpiece political leaders and the vast military/ security apparatus they employ – the rest of humanity being reduced to unimportant mobs to be kept under control at the smallest sign of their becoming difficult, not so very much different from prisoners and perhaps even livestock.
We actually have an early prototype of the kind of society our leaders are working towards. We see it in Israel. The word “terror” there plays the same ugly role, almost like an air raid siren, justifying literally any response.
Has the world said one word of the 2,200 people slaughtered in Gaza recently and left to rot in its rubble? How about Israel’s treatment of refugees of color? I see no protest over their being horribly abused and even being turned away against international laws and conventions.
And now Israel uses dirty tricks like shipping refugees off to questionable African states whose leaders have been paid bribes to take them. Can you imagine a bright future for any of them under such circumstances? They too are more than a little likely to disappear.
Of course, assassination in many forms and in many places has played a large role in Israel’s brief history. Anyone Israel does not like is expendable, and America’s whole response to “terror” is right out of an official Israeli manual.
Israel loves to sing tired songs about democracy, but half the people under its control have no rights, no vote, no future, and are frequently openly told they are undesirable and should get out. Thousands are kept in prisons, and brutal acts like spraying farm land with filthy waste-water or with potent herbicides or cutting off power supplies are fairly regular events. When those on the receiving end get too uppity, they will be either assassinated or bombed or have their homes stolen through some of the most unjust laws on the planet.
Apart from the ghastly lives enforced upon millions of non-Jews by the “Jewish state,” Israel’s Jewish population demonstrates another part of the social model. Ordinary Israelis have quite unpleasant lives by Western standards, with home ownership out of reach, the price of everything exorbitant, being subject to oppressive army service, and living in a place which in many ways resembles a high security prison with guards, spies, and restrictions everywhere. The elites of Israel do very handsomely, thank you, just as oligarchs anywhere do, all the groaning mass of other residents’ problems and limits providing them with boundless opportunities, and most of the oligarchs freely move back and forth between continents with their dual passports to cut deals or avoid troubles.
That set of conditions and practices has become a model now for the United States, and where the United States goes, so go its weak-kneed allies like Britain, France, Germany, and even our once fair-minded Canada.
BETHLEHEM – The South African minister of higher education said late Thursday that he had been denied entry to Palestine by Israeli authorities in revenge for political stances against Israeli policies.
“This is not only an act against him, but also an act against him as a member of the Cabinet, so by extension it’s an anti-government protest by Israel,” spokesperson KhayeNkwanyana told South African news website News24.
Minister Blade Nzimande was due to travel to the West Bank for a six-day working visit to discuss collaborations between the University of Johannesburg and Palestinian universities, a follow up to an agreement signed when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited South Africa last year.
The Ministry said, however, that the Israeli consulate refused to grant him a visa as a result of his political views in what is being labeled an “attack” on the South African government itself in the local press.
Nkwanyana said that the visa rejection was creating a “serious diplomatic problem,” noting that it effectively barred all South African officials from visiting both Palestine as well as Israel.
All travel in and out of the West Bank is controlled by Israel, meaning that Israeli military authorities hold ultimate control over any individual trying to reach the Palestinian territories.
“We must just boycott Israel,” the minister said in a statement to the press, adding that Israel was trying to “minimize the number of people who can actually see what is happening on the ground.”
He also said that he would urge South African institutions of higher education to cut their ties to Israeli institutions.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki condemned the move in a statement released on the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
“Israel’s policies would not succeed in isolating the Palestinians,” he said.
“It will only embolden them into more struggle for ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.”
South Africa is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and numerous government officials have repeatedly compared the Israeli occupation and the systematic discrimination practiced against Palestinians to the racial apartheid policies practiced by the South African government against its black citizens until 1994.
Israeli authorities have repeatedly denied entry to officials from other countries and even from international bodies such as the United Nations that it feel have taken antagonistic political stances.
In January, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes, and consequences, Rashida Manjoo said she had been denied entry by Israel.
She said she had tried for months to get permission to enter in order to undertake a fact-finding mission, but had been refused entry.
In November, Israeli authorities banned the Colombian foreign minister from visiting the West Bank after discovering that she did not plan to meet with Israeli officials as well.
Academia is far from the bastion of free thinking and free speech it would like to claim for itself, as a newly confected “row” involving the leading medical journal The Lancet confirms.
Recently Southampton University in the UK caved in on hosting an important conference examining Israel and international law, following an intensive campaign of intimidation from Israeli apologists.
Now some 400 medical professors are blackmailing Reed Elsevier, publishers of The Lancet, by threatening to boycott its publications unless the company sacks editor Richard Horton – or as they duplicitously phrase it, “enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship”.
By refusing to publish papers or peer review them, the professors, including five Nobel winners, hope Reed Elsevier will capitulate from fear that such a boycott might bring it to its knees.
Why target Horton? Because he has committed the cardinal sin of transforming what was once a sleepy academic publication into a journal dealing seriously with global health issues, including – and here’s the rub – reporting on the medical implications for Palestinians of Israel’s occupation, especially its attack on Gaza last summer.
According to the eminent professors, this is “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda” and “dishonest and malicious material that incites hatred and violence”.
What the professors would like is for The Lancet to follow the medical establishment’s traditional Three Wise Monkeys approach: they see, hear and speak no evil when it comes to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, including its documented torture, even of children, in its prisons, overseen by Israeli doctors.
Much is at stake here. Very gradually, the space to have an honest and critical debate about Israel is opening up in places where once it was almost impossible, including in the media, in academia and even among the conservative medical community. Those committed to protecting Israel at all costs are desperate to shut down those spaces. It is important that we don’t let them succeed.
There are signs that the apologists’ hand is weakening. Note that Southampton University was so incapable of justifying its decision to shut down the conference on academic or ethical grounds, it was forced to lie and claim that, despite police assurances that they could cope with any protests, the conference could not go ahead because of “safety concerns”.
Therefore, we should support Horton and The Lancet and make sure Reed Elsevier understands that there is also a price to pay if it capitulates to the authoritarian professors. It is good to see that a rival set of medical academics has already written to Reed Elsevier in support of Horton and The Lancet here.
US Vice President Joe Biden said that Israel will be getting a shipment of the United States’ new F-35 fighter jet so that its military can retain its “qualitative edge” in the Middle East.
Biden made the announcement in Washington, DC while giving a speech during a celebration of Israel’s Independence Day, Reuters reported. The relationship between Israel and the US has been strained over the past few years due to disagreements about Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and Iran’s nuclear program, but the two nations continue to maintain strong military ties.
“Next year we will deliver to Israel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, our finest, making Israel the only country in the Middle East to have this fifth-generation aircraft,” Biden said.
According to Haaretz, the deal involves Israel purchasing 14 F-35 jets for $110 million each. That is in addition to a previous agreement in 2010 that saw Israel agree to buy 19 jets. The first two planes are set to arrive in Israel in 2016, with the others making their way into the country by 2021.
While the US has invested a lot of time and money into the high-tech, high-powered F-35, questions remain about its effectiveness. The trillion-dollar program has suffered numerous setbacks over the years and issues continue to crop up.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee learned that the jet’s software maintenance system gives false-positive readings 80 percent of the time. The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is meant to flag issues with the plane so that maintenance teams can repair them, but Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told lawmakers it still “has a long way to go.”
“We have taken steps in the last two years to change fundamentally the way we develop ALIS, but it takes time to realize those results,” Bogdan said, though he added that the software is not a central part of the plane. A smaller version is being developed that should be ready in July.
Before that, news reports stated that a computer glitch kept the aircraft’s four-barreled rotary cannon from firing, potentially delaying the jet from being fully operational until 2019.
Last year, the vice president of the Super Hornet and Growler programs at Boeing – a rival of Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the F-35 – questioned the stealth capabilities of the jet, arguing that it’s not as effective against Chinese and Russian air defense systems as other aircraft are.
Isam Abu Mohareb, a Palestinian farmer from Gaza, did not think that the Israeli agricultural aircraft’s spray on Tuesday would ruin all his hopes of compensating his loss in the Israeli aggression of 2014.
As the farmers finished their night shift, Israeli agricultural aircraft were spraying unknown pesticides over large farming areas to the south and north of Kissufim military site.
Unaware of the gravity of the spray, Abu Mohareb left the farm and came the next morning to find that the watermelon, pepper, yard-long cucumber, squash, and mallow plants had withered and lost color. He then knew that the aircraft spray had destroyed the crops over 500 meters to the north of Gaza-Israeli borders, with another 700-meter agricultural area destroyed by the pesticides carried by the eastern wind.
The Israeli agricultural aircraft repeatedly sprayed the Gaza agricultural border lands this week, destroying tens of agricultural fields. The Ministry of Agriculture has not estimated the losses yet.
Abu Mohareb said, “We have been in a 30,000-Shekel debt since the last Israeli aggression as the Israeli forces bulldozed a water well, a warehouse of agricultural tools, water networks, and a number of our houses. The Israeli agricultural aircraft destroyed our crops and dashed our hopes. We use the money we earn from our farming to sustain 60 family members.”
Workers of the farm witnessed the incident as the Israeli aircraft flew at 10-meter height above the crops and sprayed foul-smelling pesticides.
Marwan Abu Mohareb, Isam’s brother, appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture and the concerned officials to protect the border farmers from what he called Israeli “displacement campaigns” that target the Palestinian farmers on the Gaza borders.
Marwan continued, “A friend took me on his motorcycle to Abdullah Abu Mughseib’s farm. The land there is low and the Israeli watchtowers and espionage balloons appear clearer.”
Abu Mughseib expressed his surprise as he saw the withered almond and grape buds and the destroyed red-colored squash, beans and okra plants.
He added, “The crops are not in 300-meter buffer zone. Israel destroyed a 500-meter wide strip of our lands and the winds carried the pesticides to destroy another area over 700 meters deep.”
Ahmad Abu Sawaween, a farmer of the destroyed lands, had to increase the irrigation water hoping to recover the destroyed squash and bean plants.
During the last Israeli aggression on Gaza, Israeli forces destroyed Abu Sawaween’s house, murdered one of his brothers, and arrested another.
He said that the Israeli pesticides destroyed the squash, okra, and bean crops, as well as many other vegetable seedlings. He added, “We had to harvest the bean plants ahead of time, and we lost a huge amount of the crops over an area of around 20 acres. This is the second time we lose this season. We are going to remain heavily in debt. We are going to feed the crops for the livestock.”
Israeli deliberate policy
The agricultural engineer, Ahmed Abd Al-Hadi, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture in Deir Al-Balah governorate, said it was the second time for the Israeli agricultural aircraft to spray chemical pesticides over the Gaza farms.
Abd Al-Hadi went on, “The first time was in January following the Israeli aggression of 2014. It is probably pesticides similar to herbicides. It destroyed crops, vegetables, and trees over 90 acres in Wadi Al-Salqa village alone, in addition to large areas in eastern Al-Qarara town.”
Abd Al-Hadi confirmed the Israeli deliberate efforts to destroy the agricultural lands on its borderline with the Gaza Strip. He also asserted that several human rights and humanitarian organizations have recently documented the incident, including the Red Cross, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and other local and international organizations.
The Palestinian residents on Israel-Gaza borders said that Israel, that used to continuously bulldoze the borders and destroy the crops under security pretexts, has started implementing a new tactic to destroy the crops and evacuate the farmers without military vehicles.
The University of East Anglia’s student body has endorsed the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, in a motion passed last Thursday.
Meeting for the final time this academic year, the Council of the Union of UEA students passed the motion “in support of international law and human rights in Palestine” with 41 in favour and 15 against, with 11 abstentions.
The motion commits the SU to severing ties with companies that “facilitate Israel’s human rights abuses, military capacity, or settlement expansion”, as well as to opposing any university contract with complicit companies.
The SU also resolved to lobby the university “to adopt an academic boycott of Israeli universities” and provide scholarships for Palestinian students.
The motion describes Israel as “an apartheid state” and mentions specific crimes and abuses including illegal settlements, atrocities in Gaza, and “systematic” discrimination in both the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and inside Israel’s pre-1967 lines.
Israel’s “expansion” in the oPt is described as “a settler-colonial project, predicated on the ethnic cleansing and expulsion of its indigenous people.”
Proposed by a member of the campus Amnesty International group and seconded by the Ethnic Minorities Officer, the motion notes recent pro-BDS resolutions at NUS National Executive Council, NUS Women’s Conference, NUS Postgraduate Conference and NUS Black Students Conference.
In addition, it was recalled that students have voted for boycotts of Israel on campuses across the UK, including “Kent, Goldsmiths, Birkbeck, Kingston, Swansea, Exeter, Brunel, the University of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Dundee, Essex, Sussex and SOAS.”
The case for BDS, according to the motion, is based on “Israel’s multitude of human rights and international law violations” and its lack of accountability. The motion affirms Palestinian students’ right to education unhindered by discrimination, and the necessity of international solidarity from students in response to the BDS campaign.
The motion asserts that “global boycotts are a non-violent, legitimate and effective tactic”, that “all other methods of pressuring Israel and the ending of the occupation have failed,” and that members of an academic community “have a responsibility to ensure that ethical considerations and social justice are at the heart of research and academia.”
The Union Council rejected a proposed amendment which would have removed BDS from the motion. Procedural motions to delay the vote were also voted down.
There are many illusions about what is happening to the Yarmouk district of Damascus and its Palestinian refugee population. The district was originally set aside in 1957 for Palestinian refugees already living there, whom Israel had expelled from their homes in 1948, with periodic additional populations thereafter. Today it is home to around one million Syrians and Palestinians, of whom the Palestinians number roughly 170,000. Palestinians in Syria have all the rights of Syrian citizens except voting, and in Yarmouk their homes are indistinguishable from those of the Syrian residents.
Starting in 2012, armed elements trying to overthrow the Assad government gained a foothold in Yarmouk. Most Palestinians disapproved, since this violated the traditional exchange of Syrian hospitality for Palestinian neutrality. However, there was no consensus among Palestinians to forcibly expel the intruders.
By June, 2013, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had established a siege on the camp in order to prevent further encroachment toward the center of Damascus, which already receives a daily dose of random mortar attacks. (Three landed just outside my hotel in April, 2014, one killing three people.) Most of the population fled, until only 18,000 remained by October, 2013, according to Fateh leader Abbas Zaki, as reported to Ma’an News. Many thousands are now living outside the camp, in shelter provided by the Syrian government and Syrian humanitarian aid organizations.
In April, 2014 I visited a school that had been converted to living quarters for Yarmouk refugees. The accommodations were immensely crowded and by no means comfortable, a consequence of having to provide for nearly 8 million displaced people in government areas, doubling the normal population for those areas. Nevertheless, food is being provided, as well as education and health services.
Until Daesh (ISIS or the Islamic State) entered the camp on April 1, 2015, the figure of 18,000 residents continued to be reported consistently for the next year and a half despite a siege that cut off electricity and water and reduced the availability of essential food and medical supplies. More than a hundred civilians are reported to have died of starvation or lack of medical treatment during those eighteen months. Who are the remaining civilians and why are they refusing to evacuate to outside shelter like so many others?
Local humanitarian relief supervisors report (personal communication) that some of them are not from Yarmouk and some are not Palestinian. They include the families of Syrian and foreign fighters that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government by force of arms, and some of them came from districts adjacent to Yarmouk, such as the Daesh stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad. It is hard to know how many are being forcibly prevented from leaving by the armed groups in the camp and how many choose not to leave because they are afraid of the potential consequences.
Some might be considered “human shields”, used by the fighters to deter attacks against them. But they might equally be concerned about becoming “human hostages” if they leave, i.e. of being used to pressure fighters to surrender. The motivations can be complex, but no evidence has been presented to show that the Syrian government is preventing civilians from leaving the camp. In fact, 90% of the population has already left.
Is the Syrian government preventing the distribution of food and medicine in the camp?
Siege is one of the most common military strategies of the SAA. Typically, the army lays siege to an area and prevents food, medicine and of course arms from entering, to the extent possible. On the other hand it welcomes evacuation of civilians, and provides humanitarian aid to those who leave.
The objective is to remove the civilians from the area as much as possible and then attack the enemy or provoke surrender, sometimes with amnesty as an inducement. This is classic military strategy, though hard on the civilians, as usual.
In the case of Yarmouk, there is another dimension to the siege. The Syrian government has a long-standing agreement with the Palestinian governing council of the camp that it will not enter without their request. However, the council has never made such a request and the Syrian authorities have never asked for permission. This agreement still holds, although Palestinian forces defending the camp against Daesh have recently formed a joint command and are coordinating their efforts with the Syrian military, which has been providing artillery and aerial support. In addition, the army has been attacking areas adjacent to Yarmouk that are Daesh strongholds, in order to impede their access to Yarmouk and prevent resupply to Daesh forces in the camp.
There is no indication that the SAA is preventing humanitarian aid from being distributed in Yarmouk. Despite the siege, it has allowed the stockpiling of supplies on the edge of the camp and it has permitted civilians from inside to collect and distribute the aid. However, the government wants the civilians to leave, not to introduce additional persons into the camp, so it is reluctant to allow outsiders to enter, especially in consideration of the fact that they have no means of assuring their safety. Nevertheless, it has permitted humanitarian NGOs, including UNRWA, to distribute aid roughly half the time.
The result has been a modest but insufficient flow of aid to camp residents until Daesh captured much of the area. In the fighting to defend the camp and retake the Daesh-occuped areas, it has been much too dangerous for anyone to undertake aid distribution, with horrific consequences on the remaining civilians. As a result, the number of civilian residents has probably dropped to less than half of the 18,000 initial estimate, despite their qualms about evacuating.
Has the Syrian military been using barrel bombs on Yarmouk?
There is no recorded use of barrel bombs in Yarmouk before the entry of Daesh in late March, 2015. Their use in April, 2015 is confirmed, although the number of casualties due to such ordnance is astonishingly small. One or possibly two barrel bombs appear to have been dropped on the street outside the Palestine Hospital in the camp, but with no reported casualties. Higher numbers have been mentioned, but without evidence.
During the heaviest fighting, the Syrian Air Force (SAAF) has used both conventional bombs delivered by jet aircraft and “barrel” bombs in the Daesh stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad and the adjacent part of Yarmouk. Residents report hearing dozens of explosions, but it is unclear how many were in Yarmouk, how many casualties there may have been and how many were civilians. A total of 18 civilian casualties were counted in all of Yarmouk during a week of intensive fighting at the beginning of April, but none have been attributed to the barrel bombs and it is uncertain who is responsible for the killings.
Does the Syrian army massacre civilians?
One of the main complaints against barrel bombs and the tactics of the SAA is that they cause massive civilian casualties. There is no doubt that disproportionate numbers of civilian casualties have occurred on specific occasions. Overall, however, the number of civilians killed by government forces and loyalists is less than the number of casualties in the fighting forces themselves, possibly as low as two combatants for each civilian. Not since World War One has this been the case for US forces.
As for the “barrel bombs”, the claims of their use against civilians and their exaggerated savagery do not hold up. Like any bomb, they are made of high explosives, sometimes with projectiles added. In this respect they are no different from many types of explosive ordnance used in military forces throughout the world. They are designed for destruction, including destruction of life.
The complaints against them are that a) they are by nature indiscriminate and hit unintended targets and b) they are almost invariably used against civilians. The first is patently untrue. Conventional bombs are usually delivered by fighter-bombers at high speed and often in proximity to the target. In Syrian and other engagements, the speed of delivery offers protection from ground fire. Such speed also reduces accuracy, but the relative proximity to the target compensates substantially for this disadvantage.
Barrel bombs are usually deployed from relatively a greater height that is out of range of ground fire. However, they are dropped from stationary helicopters, which provides greater accuracy that compensates for the height disadvantage. There are few if any reports of barrel bombs failing to hit their intended target (although occasionally the selected target might be the result of poor intelligence).
It has been reported that thousands of barrel bombs have been used by the SAAF since 2012, when they were first deployed, and that there have been thousands of casualties from such weapons. Unfortunately, little more is known except for anecdotal cases. Although some bombs have resulted in only material destruction, others have caused two dozen or more casualties. The available data do not provide much statistical help, such as the average number of casualties per use. Is it more or less than for convention bombs or for US drone weapons, for example? How many of the casualties are civilians and how many combatants? We do not know, but the overall civilian casualty rate remains unusually low compared to most other conflicts in the past century.
What seems clear is that the western press, governments and NGOs have treated barrel bombs as the devil’s weapon. The reason seems to be that while conventional bombs are capable of inflicting just as much damage and loss of life (and are being used extensively by the Ukrainian government), western arsenals do not contain barrel bombs. If these weapons can be sufficiently vilified as a weapon type rather than by their manner of use, Syrian military forces can be blamed for inhumane weaponry without the taint falling upon nations that use different weapons, even ones that are equally or more destructive. Oddly enough, the inhumane DIME and white phosphorous weapons used in Gaza did not provoke equal condemnation, even though the ratio of Israeli military to civilian casualties has been as much as 100 times higher than for the Syrian military.
Why, then, are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Chris Gunness of UNRWA, and most western press agencies condemning the Syrian government for the use of barrel bombs, for starving camp residents, and for preventing residents from leaving? Palestinians and their supporters are accustomed to false and biased reporting on the subject of Palestine. They know that the western media work overtime to protect Israel. That is their agenda. Do they think that these agencies are unbiased with respect to Syria?
The west, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and many sycophants and puppets of western powers have made abundantly clear that they intend to overthrow the Syrian government, in violation of the UN Charter and other international law prohibiting wars of aggression, and against Syrian national sovereignty. AI, HRW, and other human rights imperialists have never once recognized these facts vis-à-vis Syria. In fact, they have supported the west’s illegal push for regime change.
Is it not also clear that western institutions and media are distorting their coverage of Syria in order to promote this goal? Apparently not, even to persons who should know better and are accustomed to seeing such distortions in the reporting on Palestine.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.