Is “remembering the Nazi Holocaust and where anti-Semitism can lead” a good thing? Unfortunately, thanks to people who constantly cite this horrible genocide in order to justify the illegal, immoral and anti-human behaviour of the Israeli state, one must answer, “it depends.”
Drawing attention to the Nazi Holocaust and anti-Semitism in Canada today often reinforces, rather than undermines, oppression and discrimination. This perverse reality was on display at two recent events in Toronto.
At a semi-annual Ryerson Student Union meeting, a Hillel member pushed a resolution calling on the union to promote Holocaust Education Week in conjunction with United Jewish Appeal-Toronto, which marked Israel’s 2014 slaughter in Gaza by adding $2.25 million to its annual aid to that wealthy country. The motion stated, “this week is not in dedication to anti-Zionist propaganda” and called for the week to focus “solely on the education of the Holocaust and not on other genocides.”
Objecting to this brazen attempt to use the decimation of European Jewry to protect an aggressive, apartheid state many students left the meeting. When quorum was lost before the vote, pro-Israel activists cried — wait for it — anti-Semitism.
“Tonight, I experienced true and evil anti-Semitism,” complained Tamar Lyons, vice-president of communications for Students Supporting Israel at Ryerson University, in a social media post republished by B’nai Brith. In it, the Emerson Fellow of StandWithUs, an organization that trains university students to advance Israel’s interests, bemoaned how “a Muslim student ‘goy-splained’ me.”
After the meeting, Lyons linked the purported anti-Jewish incident to the Ryerson Student Union endorsing the BDS movement two years earlier. She told the Canadian Jewish News it was “a direct result of [the] boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the anti-Israel sentiment that’s so prevalent on campus.”
Taking place on the eve of an Ontario legislature vote to condemn BDS activism, the national director of B’nai Brith jumped on the Ryerson affair. “What starts with BDS does not end with BDS,” said Amanda Hohmann. “More often than not, BDS is simply a gateway drug to more blatant forms of anti-Semitism.”
(Yup, take a toke of that leftist–internationalist “pressure Israel to follow international law” bud and soon you’re longing for some Neo-Nazi ‘get-the-Jews’ smack.)
As B’nai Brith hyped the Ryerson affair, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs pushed the Ontario legislature to pass a motion in support of the spurious “Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism” and to reject “the differential treatment of Israel, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
Passed 49 to 5 (with 53 absent), motion sponsor Gila Martow told the legislature: “We would not be here supporting the Ku Klux Klan on our campuses, so why are we allowing [the] BDS movement and other anti-Jewish and anti-Israel organizations to have demonstrations and use our campuses, which are taxpayer-funded?”
In an interview with the Toronto Sun after the vote the Thornhill MPP described BDS as “psychological terrorism on the campuses….The motive behind BDS is to hurt the Jewish community by attacking Israel.”
The only MPP who spoke against the motion was the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. But, even this defender of the right to criticize Israel spent much of his speech talking about how anti-Semitism “must be denounced.”
Notwithstanding the anti-Semitism hullabaloo, the BDS vote and Ryerson affair have little to do with combating anti-Jewishness. As is obvious to anybody who thinks about it for a second, comparing internationalist and social justice minded individuals to the KKK will elicit, not lessen, anti-Jewish animus. Similarly, labeling a non-violent movement “psychological terrorism” and writing about “Muslim goy-splaining” isn’t likely to endear Jewish groups to those concerned with Palestinian dispossession and building a just world.
The major Jewish organizations and trained Israeli nationalist activists scream anti-Semitism to protect Israel from censure, of course. But they also do so because few are willing to challenge them on it. As such, the anti-Semitism smears should be seen as a simple assertion of CIJA and B’nai Brith’s political, economic and cultural clout.
Possibly the best placed of any in the world, the Toronto Jewish community faces almost no discernable economic, social or cultural discrimination. Describing it as “the envy of the UJA federation world,” Alan Dershowitz told its 2014 Toronto Major Gifts dinner: “You mustnever be ashamed to use your power and strength. Never be afraid that people will say, ‘You’re too strong and powerful.’ Jews need power and strength. Without this strength — economically, morally, militarily — we can’t have peace.”
But, UJA-Toronto, CIJA, B’nai Brith, etc. aren’t seeking “peace.” Rather, they’re working to strengthen a Sparta-like, Jewish-supremacist state in the Middle East.
The Ryerson affair and vote at the provincial legislature reflect a Toronto Jewish establishment drunk with its power. But the sober reality of constantly justifying oppression by citing the Holocaust/anti-Semitism is that it undermines the power of that memory and is an insult to all those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis.
How Russia is pilloried while real news about Israel goes unreported
The drama surrounding allegations that the internet is awash with “fake news” is being promoted by the so-called mainstream media which certainly has a lot to answer for when it comes to producing material that does not pass the smell test. Does the name Judith Miller ring any bells? And the squeaks of rage coming from the U.S. Congress over being lied to is also something to behold as the federal government has been acting in collusion with the media to dish up falsehoods designed to start wars since the time of the Spanish-American conflict in 1898, if not before.
The fake news saga is intended to discredit Donald Trump, whom the media hates mostly because they failed to understand either him or the Americans who voted for him in the recent election. You have to blame somebody when you are wrong so you invent “fake news” as the game changer that explains your failure to comprehend simple truths. To accomplish that, the clearly observable evidence that the media was piling on Donald Trump at every opportunity has somehow been deliberately morphed into a narrative that it is Trump who was attacking the media, suggesting that it was all self-defense on the part of the Rachel Maddows of this world, but anyone who viewed even a small portion of the farrago surely will have noted that it was the Republican candidate who was continuously coming under attack from both the right and left of the political-media spectrum.
There are also some secondary narratives being promoted, including a pervasive argument that Hillary Clinton was somehow the victim of the news reporting due specifically to fake stories emanating largely from Moscow in an attempt to not only influence the election but also to subvert America’s democratic institutions. I have observed that if such a truly ridiculous objective were President Vladimir Putin’s desired goal he might as well relax. Our own Democratic and Republican duopoly has already been doing a fine job at subverting democracy by assiduously separating the American people from the elite Establishment that theoretically represents and serves them.
Another side of the mainstream media lament that has been relatively unexplored is what the media chooses not to report. At the present moment, it is practically obligatory to slam Russia and Putin at every opportunity even though Moscow is too militarily weak and poor to fancy itself a global adversary of the U.S. Instead of seeking a new Cold War, Washington should instead focus on working with Russia to make sure that disagreements over policies in relatively unimportant parts of the world do not escalate into nuclear exchanges. Russian actions on its own doorstep in Eastern Europe do not in fact threaten the United States or any actual vital interest. Nor does Moscow threaten the U.S. through its intervention on behalf of the Syrian government in the Middle East. That Russia is described incessantly as a threat in those areas is largely a contrivance arranged by the media, the Democratic and Republican National Committees and by the White House. Candidate Donald Trump appeared to recognize that fact before he began listening to Michael Flynn, who has a rather different view. Hopefully the old Trump will prevail.
Blaming Russia, which has good reasons to be suspicious of Washington’s intentions, is particularly convenient for those many diverse inside the Beltway interests that require a significant enemy to keep the cash flowing out of the pockets of taxpayers and into the bank accounts of the useless grifters who inhabit K-Street and Capitol Hill. Neoconservatives are frequently described as ideologues, but the truth is that they are more interested in gaining increased access to money and power than they are in promulgating their own brand of global regime change.
There is, however, another country that has interfered in U.S. elections, has endangered Americans living or working overseas and has corrupted America’s legislative and executive branches. It has exploited that corruption to initiate legislation favorable to itself, has promoted unnecessary and unwinnable wars and has stolen American technology and military secrets. Its ready access to the mainstream media to spread its own propaganda provides it with cover for its actions and it accomplishes all that and more through the agency of a powerful and well-funded domestic lobby that oddly is not subject to the accountability afforded by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 even though it manifestly works on behalf of a foreign government. That country is, of course, Israel.
And that assessment of Israel and what damage it does regarding what most Americans would regard as genuine national interests is most definitely not reported, revealing once again that what is not written is every bit as important as what is. I would note how what has recently happened right in front of us relating to Israel is apparently not considered fit to print and will never appear on any disapproving editorial page. Just this week the Senate unanimously passed an Anti-Semitism Awareness bill and also by a 99 to zero vote renewed and strengthened sanctions against Iran, which could wreck the one year old anti-nuclear weapon proliferation agreement with that country.
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is intended to give the Department of Education investigatory authority over “anti-Jewish incidents” on America’s college campuses. Such “incidents” are not limited to religious bigotry, with the examples cited in the bill’s text including criticism of Israel and claiming that the holocaust was “exaggerated.” It is a thinly disguised assault on the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is non-violent, does not criticize Jews as a religion or ethnicity, and is actually supported by many Jewish Americans who are concerned about Israel’s apartheid regime.
The Anti-Semitism bill makes Jews and Jewish interests a legally protected class, immune from any criticism. “Free speech” means in practice that you can burn an American flag, sell pornography, attack Christianity in the vilest terms or castigate the government in Washington all you want but criticizing Israel is off limits if you want to avoid falling into the clutches of the legal system. The Act is a major step forward in effectively making any expressed opposition to Israeli actions a hate crime and is similar to punitive legislation that has been enacted in twenty-two states as well as in Canada. It is strongly supported by the Israel Lobby, which quite likely drafted it, and is seeking to use legal challenges to delegitimize and eliminate any opposition to the policies of the state of Israel.
As the Act is clearly intended to restrict First Amendment rights if they are perceived as impacting on broadly defined Jewish sensitivities, it should be opposed on that basis alone, but it is very popular in Congress, which is de facto owned by the Israel Lobby. That the legislation is not being condemned or even discussed in the generally liberal media tells you everything you need to know about the amazing power of one particular unelected and unaccountable lobby in the U.S.
And there is always Iran to worry about. If the United States can successfully avoid a war with Russia, a conflict with the Mullahs could have major consequences even if the all-powerful U.S. military successfully rolls over its Iranian counterpart in less than a week. Iran is physically and in terms of population much larger than Iraq and it has a strong national identity. An attack by Washington would produce a powerful reaction, unleashing terrorist resources and destabilizing an economically and politically important region of the world for years to come. Currently, the nuclear agreement with Iran provides some measure of stability and also pushes backwards any possible program by Tehran to build a weapon. Iran does not threaten the United States, so why walk away from the agreement as some of Trump’s advisors urge? Or violate the agreement’s terms as the U.S. Congress seems to be doing by extending and tightening the sanctions regime with its just passed Iran Sanctions Extension Act? Look no further than the Israel Lobby. Hobbling Iran, a regional competitor, is a possible Israeli interest that should have nothing to do with the United States but yet again the United States government carries the water for the extreme right wing Netanyahu regime.
Israel for its part has welcomed the Trump election by building 500 new and completely illegal settler homes in what was once Arab East Jerusalem. Trump has surrounded himself with advocates for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s expectation that he will have a free hand in dealing with those pesky Palestinians is probably correct. I would like to think that Donald Trump will unpleasantly surprise him based on actual American rather than Israeli interests but am not optimistic.
Indeed, deference to perceived Israeli interests enforced by the Israel Lobby and media permeates the entire American foreign policy and national security structure. Congressman Keith Ellison who is seeking to become Democratic National Committee Chairman is being called an anti-Semite for “implying U.S. policy in the region [the Middle East] favored Israel at the expense of Muslim-majority countries, remarks ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt described as ‘deeply disturbing and disqualifying.’” Donald Trump and his senior counselor Steve Bannon have also both been called anti-Semites and several other potential GOP appointees have been subjected to the media’s fidelity-to-Israel litmus test.
The recently nominated Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who can hardly be called a moderate when it comes to Iran, has also been labeled an anti-Semite by the usual players. Why? Because in 2013 he told Wolf Blitzer “So we’ve got to work on [peace talks] with a sense of urgency. I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and [because of this] moderate Arabs couldn’t be with us because they couldn’t publicly support those who don’t show respect for Arab Palestinians.”
Mattis continued, referring directly to Israeli apartheid: “I’ll tell you, the current situation is unsustainable … We’ve got to find a way to make work the two-state solution that both Democrat and Republican administrations have supported, and the chances are starting to ebb because of the settlements. For example, if I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers to the east and there’s ten-thousand Arabs already there, and if we draw the border to include them, either [Israel] ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country.”
Mattis will no doubt be reminded of his remarks when he is up for Senate confirmation. A predecessor Chuck Hagel was mercilessly grilled by Senators over his reported comment that the “Jewish lobby” intimidates congressmen. But ironically nearly everyone who is not an Israel-firster who is involved in U.S. foreign and security policy knows that aggressive Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank and its siege of Gaza contribute greatly to terrorism against the United States, since Washington is regularly blamed for enabling Netanyahu. When General David Petraeus said pretty much the same thing as Mattis back in 2010 he was forced to “explain” his comments, retract them and then grovel before he was eventually given a pass by the Lobby.
And there is considerable self-censorship related to the alleged sensitivity of “Jewish issues,” not only in the media. I recently attended a conference on the Iraq invasion of 2003 at which the role of Israel manifested through its controlled gaggle of American legislators and bureaucrats as a factor in going to war was not even mentioned. It was as if it would be impolite or, dare I say, anti-Semitic, to do so even though the Israeli role was hardly hidden. Former Bush administration senior official Philip Zelikow has admitted that protecting Israel was the principal reason why the U.S. invaded Iraq and others have speculated that without the persistent neocons’ and Israel’s prodding Washington might not have gone to war at all. That is apparently what then Secretary of State Colin Powell also eventually came around to believe.
So let’s stop talking about what Russia is doing to the United States, which is relatively speaking very little, and start admitting that the lopsided and completely deferential relationship with Israel is the actual central problem in America’s foreign policy. Will the media do that? Not a chance. They would rather obsess about fake news and blame Putin.
With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies. Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.
A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process. These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power. With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites. We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles.
Language and Pseudo-Concepts: Subterfuges for Manipulated Choices
The usual suspects in the business of mass-manipulation describe their political leaders in the same folksy or pseudo-serious terms that they attribute to themselves: Experts/ intuitive improvisers/ trial and error ‘muddlers’. The ‘experts’ often mean wrong-headed policymakers and advisers whose decisions usually reflect the demands of their current paymasters. Their stated or unstated assumptions are rarely questioned and almost never placed in the context of the contemporary power structures. The experts determine the future trajectory for their political choices. In this way, the views expressed by ‘experts’ are primarily ideological and not some disembodied scholarly entity floating in an indeterminate space and time.
Pundits often promote ‘experience’ in describing the ‘experienced’ leader, adviser or cabinet member. They denigrate the opposition candidate adversary as ‘lacking experience’. The obvious questions to this platitude should be: ‘What kind of experience? What were the political results of this experience? Who did this experience serve?
We know that Secretaries of Defense William Gates and Donald Rumsfeld and their leading assistants, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were appointed to their high positions and praised for their ‘experience’. This ‘experience’ drove the country into repeated disastrous military engagements, political debacles and unending wars. It would be better to reject officials who are highly ‘experienced’ in creating disasters and appoint those officials experienced in conciliation and reconciliation. Unfortunately the ‘experts’ never discuss these matters in any historical context.
Many political choices are adorned with ‘titles’, such as ‘successful entrepreneur’ and/or ‘prize winning journalist’. This ignores the fact that those ‘bestowing titles’ come from a narrow band of inbred organizations with financial, military or ideological interests looking for near-future rewards from their now titled, prize winning political choice.
Highly certified candidates, we are told, are those eminently qualified to lead, whether they are university academics with prestigious degrees, or doctors, lawyers, or investors who work for leading groups. The most highly vetted officials coming from Harvard University have implemented economic policies leading to the worst crises in the shortest time in world history.
Lawrence Summers, PhD and Harvard University President-turned Treasury Secretary participated in the pillage of Russia in the 1990s and then brought his talent for sowing international chaos home by joining Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. These two ‘experts’ promoted enormous financial swindles, which led to the worst economic crash in the US in seven decades.
Money laundering by the big banks flourished under Princeton Summa Cum Laude and US Treasury ‘Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence’, Stuart Levey. Levey concentrated on implementing brutal economic sanctions against Iran shutting US businesses out of multi-billion-dollar oil deals with Tehran, promoting a huge annual $4 billion-dollar giveaway to Israel and a granting a uniquely privileged trade status for the Jewish state – which cost the US taxpayers additional billions.
Receiving ‘prestigious awards’ does not predict a successful policymaker in contemporary US politics. The underlying ideological commitments and political allegiances determine the appointment of these ‘prize-winning’ leaders. From an objective perspective, any obscure college economics graduate, eager to increase high tech US exports and sign profitable trade agreements with Iran, would have been far more successful political choice as Secretary of Treasury.
Frequently ‘identity’ colors the choice of appointees, especially favoring an ‘oppressed’ minority, even if their field of competence and their political allegiances run counter to the real interests and political needs of the vast majority of American citizens. Some ‘ethnic’ groups wear their identity on their shirt sleeves as a point of entry into lucrative or influential appointments: “Hello, I’m a Jewish graduate of Yale Law school, which makes me the best choice for an appointment to the Supreme Court … where there are already three Jews out of the ten Justices… and only an anti-Semite would consider a fourth to be an ‘over-representation’ of our tiny national minority… whereas the total absence of any WASPs (white Anglo-Protestants) on ‘The Court’ only confirms their historical degeneracy…” Who could object to that?
‘Identity’ appointees are not reluctant to employ scare tactics, including citing old historical grievances and claiming special suffering unique to their heritage, to justify their appointment to privileged, lucrative positions. Their identity also seems to insulate them from any fall-out from their policy catastrophes such as disastrous wars and economic crises, as well as providing impunity for their personal involvement in financial mega-swindles.
Race and claims of victimization often serves as a justification for being a political ‘chosen one’. We are told repeatedly that some appointee, even with a tangential link to skin color, must have suffered past indignities and is therefore uniquely qualified to represent the aspirations of an entire group, promising to eliminate all inequality, right injustices and promote peace and prosperity. Racial identity never prevented three of the worst Caribbean tyrants from robbing and torturing their people: The two Haitian dictators, ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier murdered tens of thousands Haitians, especially among mixed race educated elites. Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had to slaughter hundreds of Afro-Caribbean sugar workers in Santiago de Cuba before he could enter the exclusive ‘whites only’ Havana Golf and Country Club.
In the United States, it was a ‘man of color’, General Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, who bombed and invaded black African Somalia and implemented the policy of invading and destroying Iraq and Afghanistan. The carefully groomed ‘First Black President-To-Be’ Barack Obama, was the protégé of a Chicago-based millionaire lobby led by the fanatical ‘Israel-First’ mob, to bring ‘identity’ to its highest level. This charade culminated in the ‘First Black President’ and promoter of seven devastating wars against the poorest people of the world receiving the Nobel Peace Prize from the he Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of the King of Norway and a committee composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). Such is the power of identity. It was of little comfort to the hundreds of thousands of Libyans and South Sahara Africans murdered, pillaged, raped and forced to flee in rotting boats to Europe, that the NATO bombs destroying their country had been sent by the ‘Historic Black US President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner’. When the wounded, captive President of Libya, Muammar Gadaffi, the greatest proponent of Pan-African integration, was brutalized and slaughtered, was he aware that his tormentors were armed and supported by ‘America’s First Black President’? A video of Gadaffi’s gruesome end became a source of gleeful entertainment for the ‘Feminist’ US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who would go on to cite her ‘victory’ over the Libyan President in her bid to become ‘The First Female President of the US”.
The question is not about one’s race or identity, but whose interests are served by the Afro-American leader in question. US President Barack Obama served Wall Street and the Pentagon, whereas Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had a long and arduous history of leading peoples’ movements. MLK joined the striking Afro-American garbage workers in Memphis and the autoworkers in Detroit. Malcolm X organized and spoke for the Harlem community – while inspiring millions.
Gender labels covered the fact that a politically chosen woman ruled on behalf of a family-led tyranny, as in the case of Indira Gandhi in India. The financial lords of the City of London financiers, and the mining and factory bosses in Great Britain chose the very female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who launched multiple wars abroad and smashed trade unions at home. Madame Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who promoted seven wars resulting in the deaths, injuries, displacement and rape of 5 million African and Middle Eastern women and destruction of their families, had the unconditional support of the top 20 Wall Street banks when she ran to become the ‘First Woman President of the United States’.
In other words, political appointments chosen for their ‘gender identity’ bring no special qualities or experience that would recommend them as progressive. When political and business elites choose a female for a high political office, they do so because it serves their interests to put a progressive political gloss on their reactionary policies. The ‘gender emphasis’ is most effective on liberals and the advocates of ‘identity over class politics’. In reality it is a vacuous symbol rather than real power and highlights elite upward mobility.
Often media moguls, publicists and corporate leaders laud the ‘social background’ of a candidate. They use such criteria to groom and co-opt upwardly mobile workers, trade union officials and community militants. ‘Chosen leaders’ from minority or oppressed backgrounds are put in charge of discipline, work-place speed-ups and lay-offs. They sometimes adopt ‘workers’ language, splicing rough anti-establishment curses with their abuses as they fire workers and cut wages. One’s past social background is a far less useful criterion than current social commitments. As Karl Marx long ago noted, the ruling class is not a closed caste: It is always open to co-opting bright and influential new members among upwardly mobile labor leaders and activists.
Labor leaders receive ‘special favors’, including invitations to political inaugurations and corporate meetings with all the travel and luxury accommodations paid. Elites frequently transform past militant leaders into corporate policemen, ready to identify, exclude and expel any genuine emerging local and shop floor militants. Public and private labor relations experts frequently describe a labor militant’s ascent to the elite as an ‘up by his own bootstraps operation’ – putting a virtuous gloss on the ‘self-made worker’ ready to serve the interests of the corporate elite! The primary feature that characterizes these ‘boot-strappers’ is how their sense of ‘solidarity’ turns upward and forward toward the bosses, and not backward and downward toward the working masses, as they transform into ‘boot-lickers’.
Many examples of these ‘upward and forward’-looking political choices are found among entertainment celebrities, sports heroes, media figures and pop musicians. Rap singers become ghetto millionaires. And ‘working-class hero’ rock musicians, the well-wrinkled as well as the young, charge hundreds of dollars a seat for their rasping and grasping performances while refusing to play on behalf of striking workers.
The popular music, promoted by the elite, contain country and working class lyrics, sung with phony regional twangs to entertain mass audiences even as the successful performers flaunt their Presidential awards, luxury mansions and limos. The political and corporate elite frequently choose phony working class or ethnic identity celebrities to endorse their products, as the gullible public is encouraged to purchase useless commodities, electronic gadgets and gimmicks, and to support reactionary politicians and politics. There are a few celebrities who protest or maintain real mass solidarity but they are blacklisted, ostracized or past their peak earning power. Most celebrities prefer to shake their backsides, mouth raunchy language, snort or smoke dope and slum a bit with their bodyguards, but the political elite have chosen them to distract and depoliticize the young and discontented. They are paid well for their services.
The concepts, symbols and signs of the ruling class determine who will be the political ‘choices’ for leaders and officials. Political elites co-opt upwardly mobile ‘identities’, among minorities and workers, carefully assessing which of their qualities will contribute to the desired elite outcomes. This is how working class and community-based electorates are seduced into voting against their real class, national, community, gender and racial economic interests.
Renegades, demagogues, soothsayers and other charlatans of many races, ethnicities, genders and proclivities run for office and win on that basis.
The elite pay a relatively small fee for procuring the services of prestigious, certified, titled and diversified candidates to elect or appoint as leaders.
Elite power only partially depends on the mass media, money and power. It also needs the services of the concept and language masters, identity promoters and propagandists of the embellished deed.
Stripping away the phony veneer of the ‘chosen’ politicians requires a forceful critique of the signs and symbols that cloak the real identity of the makers and breakers of these leaders. And it requires that they be exposed for their proven failures and disasters, especially their role in leading America into an unending series of political, military and economic debacles.
Dutch secret services conducted an investigation into suspicions that Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, was strongly influenced by top Israeli military and political figures, according to reports in the Netherlands.
Wilders, the firebrand leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), was investigated by the country’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) between 2009 and 2010 over his “ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty,” according to De Volkskrant newspaper, which conducted interviews with 37 public officials and former intelligence officers.
An investigation into an opposition leader is an exceptional case in the Netherlands, the newspaper noted, citing several former intelligence officers who said such inquiries are considered an “absolute no-go” due to political sensitivity.
Wilders was an MP at the time the AIVD probe was carried out, with his party supporting the center-right coalition government led by then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, enabling it to remain in power.
The intelligence agency sanctioned the operation, citing concerns about “the possibility that Wilders is influenced by Israeli factors,” according to the newspaper.
Back in 2010, Wilders reportedly had close ties to influential people in Tel Aviv. At the time, he visited Major General Amos Gilad, former chief of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s intelligence division, and frequently met the Israeli ambassador in the Netherlands.
According to the De Volkskrant report, which cites sources from the Netherlands’ Jewish community, these contacts stalled as Wilders did not turn his agenda into policy.
The results of the AIVD investigation have never been disclosed. Both Gerard Bouman, who led the AIVD from 2007 to 2011, and Wilders himself declined to comment.
Wilders’ Israeli connections trace back to his youth, when he volunteered for a year at Moshav Tomer, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, according to the Times of Israel. He also repeatedly referred to Jews as role models for Europe and urged a complete seizure of the West Bank. At one stage, his anti-Muslim slogans made him a star among Dutch Jewish constituencies and beyond.
According to a recent poll by Maurice de Hond, Wilders’ PVV would have won 33 seats in the 150-seat lower chamber of the Dutch parliament if elections had been held on November 29. In that case, Wilders would have become the Netherlands’ next prime minister as chairman of the biggest parliamentary party.
The far-right party has 15 seats in the current parliament, having gained about 10 percent of the vote at the 2012 general election. The next election is scheduled to take place in March 2017, leaving many to believe Wilders will triumph amid growing frustration with the Netherlands’ center-right coalition.
Palestinian youth organizer Daoud Ghoul was among 14 Palestinians seized overnight by Israeli occupation forces, one week after his release from Israeli prison. Ghoul, 33, is the director of youth programs for the Health Work Committees and the Kanaan Network of Palestinian civil society organizations. He has been subject for over two years to repeated Israeli harassment and intimidation. His home was raided at 4:00 am and his personal belongings and electronics confiscated; he is currently being held at the Moskobiyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem.
On Sunday, 27 November, Ghoul was released after serving an 18-month sentence, accused by the Israeli occupation of affiliation with a “prohibited organization,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After a visit to Brussels, Belgium in November 2014 in which he presented before the European Parliament about Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem, threats to Palestinian life in the city, and attacks on Palestinian health workers, he was banned from his home city of Jerusalem by an Israeli military order. He was then banned from the West Bank and from international travel, and was forced to move to Haifa from his hometown of Silwan in East Jerusalem. On 15 June 2015, he was seized by occupation military forces one month after his HWC Jerusalem office was forcibly closed by the occupation military.
After serving his 18 month sentence ordered against him by a military court, Ghoul was welcomed last Sunday by his friends and family and by supporters around the world who had long demanded his release. The sudden re-arrest of Daoud Ghoul one week after his release recalls similar cases like that of student Bahaa al-Najjar, released from administrative detention in early November only to once again be imprisoned without charge or trial one week later, or Bilal Kayed, ordered to six months in administrative detention without charge or trial immediately following the expiration of his 14.5-year sentence.
Ghoul’s case is also similar to those of other youth activists persecuted by the Israeli occupation, as well as part of the ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem, including mass arrests, harsh sentencing of children and the stripping of Jerusalem IDs of Palestinian Legislative Council members.
Ghoul was among six young Palestinians, many former prisoners, arrested in Jerusalem last night. All of their computers and mobile phones were confiscated and Amjad Abu Assab said that the pretext of “incitement via social media” was cited in at least some of the cases. Among those arrested were Uday Abu Saad and Mohammed Salah of Shuafat refugee camp, Jihad Amira and Amin Hamad from Sur Baher, and Saleh Muhaisen from the village of Issawiya, in addition to Ghoul.
Three more Palestinians from Qabatiya, south of Jenin, Mahmoud Abu Ein, Louay Ziad Zakarneh and Musa Abdel-Salam Kamil, were seized by occupation forces, as were Bilal Anas Abu Eid and Munir Hussein Briggah of al-Khalil. More Palestinian young people were arrested in Jericho and in Beit Fajar, south of Bethlehem.
Israel Appoints Eyal Karim as the Israeli Army Chief Rabbi in Spite of His Response to Allow Soldiers Raping Palestinian Women
Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim officially took his position as chief rabbi of the IDF Thursday evening after a change of command ceremony at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv attended by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
During the ceremony, the chief of staff said, “The appointment of chief rabbi of the IDF is an extremely significant event in the army. Unfortunately, the ceremony took place a week late,” added Eisenkot. “I was convinced months ago that we are choosing Rabbi Eyal Karim for the job. He is the most fitting and appropriate choice for command and rabbinic authority in the IDF. I had no doubts.”
Following his official promotion, Karim spoke at length, saying, “During this journey of thousands of years, Israel drew its strength and spirit from the Torah—all its laws, values and morality. These are the foundation stones of the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, who asked Rabbi Goren to be chief rabbi, understood that the army has to address a wide range of people without creating a split in the army. He understood that there had to be a way for all soldiers to have a fulfilling service in the IDF together.”
Comments Karim made in 2003 when he was a civilian resurfaced after his appointment. In a column called “Ask the Rabbi” at Kipa.co.il, a popular Hebrew-language website catering to religious Jews, Karim responded to a number of anonymous letters inquiring about specificities of Jewish religious law, including a question about rape in times of war.
“Is it allowed nowadays for an IDF [Israeli army] soldier, for example, to rape girls during battle, or is such a thing forbidden?” Karim was asked. He answered: “Even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime … the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge.”
Karim’s comments first attracted notice in 2012, when dissident Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz first published them in English at +972 Magazine. Gurvitz says that when he asked the military to comment on Karim’s statements, he was rebuked by an army spokesperson and told that his query “disrespects the IDF, the State of Israel and the Jewish religion.”
The Journalist, David Shenn, noted recently that “the army is hardly the only sector of Israeli society from which sexual assaults emanate. But rape culture in the military is especially disconcerting, as its soldiers have access to deadly weapons and the license to use them. And now its chief rabbi is a man who once gave Jewish soldiers sanction to rape Palestinian women until he was shamed into retracting it.”
Karim’s defenders insist that his comments on rape were misunderstood and that he couldn’t possibly have permitted sexual assaults against Palestinian women. But threats of rape have been wielded by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians.
Long ago, anti-Semitism was an issue in America, very much so when I grew up. No longer. Today it’s in vogue to be Jewish.
As a Jew, I’m fiercely critical of Israeli ruthlessness, a state run by fascists, Zionist ideologues and religious fundamentalists. I intend no letup in my activism.
Unanimous Senate passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is a bone to Israel and AIPAC, its main US lobby. House passage followed by Obama signing it into law is virtually certain.
The measure has nothing to do with addressing a growing number of “religiously motivated hate crimes” – everything to do with targeting vitally needed Israeli criticism and BDS support, especially on college campuses.
The measure aims to “codify the definition as one adopted by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”
It disgracefully conflates justifiable criticism of Israel with attempts to “delegitimize” its status as a Jewish state, along with wanting it held accountable for crimes of war, against humanity and other human rights abuses.
America and Israel partner in each other’s high crimes. Each fascist regime supports the other.
The measure requires the Department of Education to redefine Title VI rules of alleged discrimination violations – to suppress pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses.
Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli ruthlessness? At its core, Zionism is fundamentally racist, extremist, undemocratic and militant.
It espouses Jewish supremacy, exceptionalism and uniqueness as God’s “chosen people.” It relies on occupation, oppression, violence and dispossession.
It justifies Jewish ethnocracy based on structural inequalities. It rules by force, not coexistence. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy and the rule of law.
It’s viciously undemocratic, denying Arabs the same rights as Jews, committing slow-motion genocide against millions of Palestinians – with full US support and encouragement.
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is one of many examples of governance in America off-the-rails – a nation doing more harm to more people over a longer duration than any other in history.
Students nationwide should ignore the new measure aimed solely at supporting Israeli ruthlessness. The time for dissent and civil disobedience is now- needed more than any previous time in my memory.
Either we confront growing tyranny in America or face losing all fundamental rights – ruled by bipartisan tinpot officials infesting Washington.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Donald Trump has picked Gen. (ret) James Mattis his defense secretary. Even though, Mattis is a known anti-Muslim, and pro-Israel Christian Zionist, some of his past statements are going to haunt him during his nomination approval at the US Senate like former secretary of defense Chuck Hagel.
For example in March 2012, Mattis told Senate Armed Services Committee that in order to withdraw the US-NATO forces from Afghanistan with some honor, the US needed Pakistan’s help.
Could it be the reason that Donald Trump during a telephone conversation with Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif praised him and Pakistani nation?
“You’re doing a fantastic job. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people,” Trump told Nawaz Sharif.
This is surprising considering Donald Trump during campaign had said: I love India, I love Hindus.
In July 2013, Gen. James Mattis told the Israeli goat, Wolf Blitzer (CNN) during an interview he gave at the Aspen Institute: World hate the US for backing Israel.
“So we’ve got to work on peace talks with a sense of urgency. I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and because of this moderate Arabs couldn’t be with us because they couldn’t publicly support those who don’t show respect for Palestinians,” Mattis said.
“I’ll tell you, the current situation is unsustainable. We’ve got to find a way to make work the two-state solution that both Democrat and Republican administrations have supported, and the chances are starting to ebb because of the settlements. For example, if I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers to the east and there’s ten-thousand Palestinians already there, and if we draw the border to include them, either Israel ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Palestinian don’t get to vote – apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a (South Africa) country,” added Mattis.
Jimmy Carter was treated shamefully by Alan Dershowitz and Brandeis University and the Jewish Lobby for voicing precisely the same warning, and was excluded by their pressure from speaking at the Obama Democratic National Conventions. Watch-lists have been made of academics who dare criticize the Zionist entity squatting on Palestinian-owned land.
On November 20, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called Donald Trump not to appoint James Mattis as defense chief based on his past hatred toward Israel.
“In the past Mattis revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel. Thus I urge that Mattis not be appointed defense secretary,” ZOA President Morton Klein said.
Matt Brooks, executive director of Republican Jewish Coalition, praised the appointment of James Mattis, calling him a friend of Israel who wants a strong America to defend Israel.
In 2010, one of Mattis’s predecessors in CENTCOM’s command, David Petraeus, shocked his Israeli friends, and American Jewish Lobby when prepared testimony he was to give to the Senate leaked before he appeared. The prepared remarks, which were based on a study that his staff conducted of American security interests in the Middle East, stated: “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the region. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel.
Since retirement, Gen. James Mattis has worked as a consultant to the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, US-based Zionist think tank whose fellows include Israel-Firsters Condoleezza Rice, George P. Shultz (Jewish), Thomas Sowell, Gen. John P. Abizaid, Shelby Steel (married to Jewish Rita), and Edwin Meese III.
Jewish state plans to unplug the muezzins
Here’s another dastardly twist in the religious hate war against Muslims in the Holy Land.
According to a report by The Times, mosques in the city of Lod are threatened with having their loudspeakers, which call the faithful to prayer five times a day, shut down. The first call is at 4.45 am and this is a nuisance to non-Muslim residents, so much so that the mayor recently suggested broadcasting a Jewish prayer to drown out the Muslim adhan. Imagine the pre-dawn cacaphony! No, he’s not exactly the brightest fairy-light on the Christmas tree.
The argument is that hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens routinely suffer from the noise caused by the muezzin’s calls, it’s getting them down and freedom of religion shouldn’t be allowed to undermine their quality of life.
However, a bill going through the Knesset banning the use of outside broadcast equipment by houses of worship, which had the support of prime minister Netanyahu, was stopped in its tracks when it dawned on some members that the wording could backfire on religious Jewish communities who use a siren to mark the start of the Sabbath on Friday evenings. So it’s back to the drawing board on this one. Personally I’d prefer the naturally mellifluous voice of the muezzin from a distant minaret to the electronically amplified and distorted version. It should still disturb the sleep of a useful number of Israelis, especially if muezzins punctuate their performance with an occasional blast from a musical instrument like the bugle.
This is not the first time that the dark forces of Zionism have tried to silence the Muslims of this city. Lod was originally a Canaanite town and in ancient times became the old Arab city of Lydda. Its importance grew under Ottoman rule and the British mandate and by 1948 it had become a key trading centre with an airport and rail hub and nearly 20,000 inhabitants – 18,500 Muslim and 1,500 Christian. The UN’s Partition Plan of 1947 allocated Lydda to a future Arab state.
But in July 1948 Israeli terrorist troops seized Lydda, shot up the town and drove out the population as part of their ethnic cleansing programme. In the process they silenced 426 men, women, and children…. permanently. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque. See here for the lurid details.
Those who survived were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies — men, women and children — along the way. And who was the perpetrator of this foul massacre? None other than the great hero of the Six Day War, Moshe Dayan.
The assault on Lydda was witnessed by two American news correspondents. One recorded that “practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.” The other wrote that he saw “the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge”.
Christians, especially English Christians (and indeed Swedish, Portuguese, Romanian, Georgian and Maltese) will be aware that these outrages were committed in St George’s home town. He was born and buried in Lydda.
Israeli troops carried away 1,800 truck loads of loot. Jewish immigrants then flooded in and Lydda was given its Hebrew name, Lod.
So Israelis have no right to be there in the first place. Nor Ben Gurion airport, formerly Lydda airport. All was stolen in the murderous terror raid.
There’s an amusing story where an irate airline passenger wrote: “This morning (6 May 2003) on a flight from Rome to Tel Aviv, after landing the pilot announced in the microphone: ‘Welcome to Palestine’. I think this is the most disgusting thing for a pilot to say.”
It led to a long and acrimonious argument on the forum with many demanding dire punishment for the Alitalia pilot. It seems an Air France pilot had said something similarly shocking. Had he been sacked I’d have enjoyed chairing his employment tribunal. I salute that unnamed Alitalia pilot. And the Air France one.
So next time you fly into Ben Gurion, if the pilot doesn’t announce over the tannoy the greeting: ‘Welcome to Lydda and Palestine. And may St George protect you!’ remember to whisper it to yourself. Whisper being the operative word seeing as how Israelis tend to get twitchy when confronted with the truth.
The US Senate has passed a 10-year extension of existing sanctions against Iran, sending the measure to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Senators on Thursday unanimously backed the renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) by a vote of 99 to 0.
The House of Representatives voted 419 to 1 last month to reauthorize ISA, which was first introduced in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry based on accusations that Tehran was pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
The Obama administration has expressed reservations about the utility of the legislation, but congressional aides said they expected Obama would sign it when it reached his desk. The act is set to expire at the end of 2016.
“If the sanctions architecture has expired, then we have no sanctions which we can snap back,” said hawkish Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who opposed the nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France as well as Germany – reached a landmark nuclear agreement last year, under which Tehran agreed to limit some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for removal of all sanctions.
The two sides began implementing the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16. However, members of Congress said they wanted ISA to be extended for another decade to send a strong signal that any US president would have the ability to “snap back” sanctions on Iran.
“Unless Congress acts, the congressional sanctions don’t exist after December 31,” Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday. “The ability to snap back wouldn’t be there on the congressional side.”
“While we do not think that an extension of ISA is necessary, we do not believe that a clean extension would be a violation of the JCPOA,” a senior Obama administration official said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a hawkish Republican from Tennessee, said the extension of ISA ensures President-elect Donald Trump can reimpose sanctions Obama lifted under the nuclear agreement.
He said in a statement on Thursday, “Extending the Iran Sanctions Act … ensures President-elect Trump and his administration have the tools necessary to push back” against Iran’s “hostile actions.”
Iran has warned that the renewal of sanctions will be a violation of commitments under the JCPOA, and has threatened reprisal if the US extends the longstanding act.
In a public speech on Wednesday, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned the US against the renewal of the Iran sanctions, noting that the Islamic Republic would respond if the US proceeded to renew ISA which expires at the end of 2016.
“So far, the current US government has committed several violations with regard to the nuclear agreement,” Ayatollah Khamenei told members of the volunteer Basij forces in Tehran, adding, “The most recent of them is the 10-year extension of the sanctions. If these sanctions are extended, it will surely constitute a violation of the JCPOA and they (the US) should know that the Islamic Republic will definitely react to it.”
“‘Initiating sanctions’ is no different from ‘renewing them after their expiration,’ and the latter is also [an instance of imposing] sanctions and violation of the previous commitments by the opposite side,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Last week, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Tehran has made necessary preparations and is ready to respond if the US violates the deal.
In case of the final approval of ISA, it will “certainly be a violation of the JCPOA,” he added.
Salehi noted that Iran is ready to respond to any US breach of the JCPOA, saying Tehran, however, will make necessary decisions at the appropriate time and after the assessment and analysis of Washington’s moves.
Another symbolic international day for Palestinian rights has degenerated into the usual stale observations and recommendations that do little other than try to impart a semblance of balance between the coloniser and the colonised. Perhaps the UN has preferred to remain loyal to the monstrous history it spawned by approving the Partition Plan on 29 November 1947, rather than address its complicity in the dispossession, ethnic cleansing and displacement of the Palestinians.
Departing from a jeopardising premise, Fiji’s Peter Thomson presided over the 71st session of the UN General Assembly and declared that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is “fundamental to our efforts to realise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and to ensure that they are able to enjoy lives of dignity, opportunity, prosperity and equality.” The Palestinian people have endured a history of premeditated killing for decades because the UN upholds obscurity as a priority over the anti-colonial struggle. Peace, therefore, can be eliminated from the convenient rhetoric as it is nothing but a euphemism for oblivion in the context of Israeli colonial violence and international acceptance and complicity.
Not to be outdone, the Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, João Vale de Almeida, presented a summarised version of the perpetual concerns and condemnations, but added a slight variation to the usual rhetoric. The EU, he claimed, is “alarmed by the advancement in the Knesset of the ‘Settlement Regularisation Bill’ which would allow for the ex post ‘legalisation’ of Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank and de facto confiscation of private Palestinian land.” It is mystifying, to say the least, how an international institution that is normally so well-informed can express “alarm” over violations that have occurred blatantly and in a clear, calculated sequence following the original Zionist plan for Greater Israel. There was more likely to be advance knowledge and acquiescence, not alarm, over the proposed legislation.
Almeida made another obfuscating comment regarding Gaza: “Militant activity and the dire situation in Gaza feed general instability and constitute a recipe for renewed conflict.” He provided no context for the Palestinian resistance in Gaza; no mention of how Israel’s Operation Protective Edge destroyed the enclave and displaced Palestinians in a space that is completely besieged. Hamas “and other militant groups” are also urged to stop “the illicit arms build-up.” Presumably the EU, like Israel, wishes there to be a defenceless population that is completely stripped of the right to defend itself against Israel’s state of the art military technology. Almeida’s statement encourages the abuse of Palestinian civilians by Israel whenever it chooses to field test its latest weapons on live targets before marketing them internationally and thus exposing international hypocrisy with regards to alleged support for Palestinian rights.
Perhaps the symbolic commemoration of “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” should be scrapped, since the UN, the EU and other international institutions are incapable of articulating the trajectory between the initial and the current colonial violence against Palestinians. All of the futile statements which simply rehash decades of other repetitive rhetoric do not help the Palestinians in any way. Sporting a keffiyeh for the macabre day, which is a backdoor commemoration of the UN Partition Plan as well as purported international solidarity, is humiliating, not a show of support. In the absence of a commitment to support Palestine’s anti-colonial struggle, one can conclude that the international agenda for this “day of support” is to devaluate Palestine and downgrade it even further from a symbolic presence to a passive memory.
Human rights organisation Al-Marsad has written to the EU, European governments and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council regarding the approval last month by the Israeli government to expand the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan by 1,600 settlements units; and the planned appropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan. The letter is available here.
In October, the Israeli Finance Ministry approved plans for the construction of 1,600 settlement units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Katzrin. With a population of 8,000, Katzrin is the largest Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan. It was built over the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef and Sanawber whose inhabitants were either forced to leave their homes by the Israeli army or were displaced by fighting during the Israeli occupation in 1967.
Katzrin is also home to various settlement businesses that illegally exploit the natural resources of the Occupied Syrian Golan, such as the Golan Heights Winery and Eden Springs / May Eden mineral water. In addition, Afek, an Israeli oil company that is illegally conducting oil exploration in the Occupied Syrian Golan, has an office in Katzrin. Afek is owned by a US company, Genie Energy, that includes Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and James Woolsey (former head of the CIA) on its advisory board.
Furthermore, this announcement follows approval by the Israeli government in 2014 for a $108 million investment to establish 750 Israeli settlement ‘farming estates’ on 7,100 acres of land in the Occupied Syrian Golan.
Meanwhile, under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan the Israeli authorities are seeking to appropriate 25,000 acres of land that have been used by the residents of Syrian villages, Majdal Shams and Ein Qynia, since Ottoman rule for agriculture and housing. If approved the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan would, in particular, surround Majdal Shams in the north and west. Therefore, the only area available for urban expansion of the village would be agricultural land in the south – a main source of livelihood for the local Syrian population. It is not possible to expand the village to the east given its close proximity to the fortified ceasefire line.
The designation of land by the Israeli authorities as a ‘national park’, ‘abandoned property’ or for ‘military or public needs’ is a regularly used tactic to either prevent the expansion of Syrian and Palestinian communities under occupation, or to appropriate land for settlement construction.
• Calls on the international community to strongly condemn plans for the construction of 1600 settlement units in the illegal settlement of Katzrin and the planned expropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan; and obtain binding commitments from Israel that it will stop these activities.
• Invites foreign governments and international organisations to send fact-finding missions to the Occupied Syrian Golan to witness firsthand the deteriorating human rights situation.
Al-Marsad is an independent, not-for-profit, legal human rights organisation – it is the only human rights organisation operating in the Occupied Syrian Golan. For additional information, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.