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[l] at 9/29/22 8:43am
Brussels (THE GRAYZONE) — A French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Natalie Louiseau, has delivered a letter to EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, demanding the European Union place personal sanctions on all international observers of the recent votes in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and certain Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine. Obtained by The Grayzone from an EU source, the letteEr is currently being circulated among European parliamentarians in hopes of securing a docket of supportive signatures. “We, as elected members of the European Parliament, demand that all those who voluntarily assisted in any way the organization of these illegitimate referendums be individually targeted and sanctioned,” Louiseau declared. The French MEP’s letter came after a group of formally Ukrainian territories held a vote on whether or not to officially incorporate themselves into the Russian Federation in late September. Through the popular referendum, the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which announced their respective successions from Ukraine in 2014 following a foreign-backed coup against the government Kiev, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation. Louiseau singled out Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who traveled to the region to monitor the vote. Extending her complaint well beyond the referendum, the French MEP accused Beeley of “continuously spreading fake news about Syria and acting as a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin and Bashar el [sic] Assad for years.” Louiseau, a close ally of French President Emanuel Macron, specifically demanded Beeley be “included in the list of those sanctioned.” Beeley responded to Louiseau’s letter in a statement to The Grayzone: “Imposing sanctions on global citizens for bearing witness to a legal process that reflects the self-determination of the people of Donbass is fascism. Should the EU proceed with this campaign, I believe there will be serious consequences because the essence of freedom of speech and thought is under attack.     Russia’s referendums: drawing a line with NATO In mid-September 2022, Beeley and around 100 other international delegates traveled to eastern Europe in order to observe a vote to join the Russian Federation in the regions of Kherson, Zaporozhia, and the independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. Why did their presence trigger such an outraged response from Western governments? The answer lies in the recent history of these heavily contested areas. The formally Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia fell under Russian control earlier this year as a result of the military campaign launched by Moscow in February, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared their independence from the government in Kiev in 2014. Russia began its special military campaign in Ukrainian territory on February 24. The operation followed Moscow’s decision that same week to formally recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (the Donbass Republics) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass have been embroiled in a bloody trench battle with the US-backed government in Kiev since 2014. Ukraine’s civil conflict broke out in March 2014, after US and European forces sponsored a coup in the country that installed a decidedly pro-NATO nationalist regime in Kiev which proceeded to declare war on its minority, ethnically Russian population. Following the 2014 putsch, Ukraine’s government officially marginalized the Russian language while extremist thugs backed by Kiev massacred and intimidated ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine. In response, separatist protests swept Ukraine’s majority-Russian eastern regions. The territory of Crimea formally voted to join Russia in March of that year, while the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region declared their unofficial independence from Kiev that same month. With support from the US military and NATO, Ukraine’s coup government officially declared war on the Donbass in April 2014, launching what it characterized as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in the region. Russia trained and equipped separatist militias in Donetsk and Lugansk throughout the territories’ civil campaigns against Kiev, though Moscow did not officially recognize the independence of the Donbass republics until February 2022. By then, United Nations estimates placed the casualty count for Ukraine’s civil war at roughly 13,000 dead. While Moscow offered support to Donbass separatists throughout the 2014-2022 period, US and European governments invested billions to prop up a Ukrainian military that was heavily reliant on army and intelligence factions with direct links to the country’s historic anti-Soviet, pro-Nazi deep state born as a result of World War II. Russia’s military formally entered the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, following Moscow’s recognition of the Donbass republics. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defined the liberation of the Donbass republics as the primary objective of the military operation, he also listed the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine as a goals of the campaign. As such, Russian troops have since secured control of Ukrainian territories beyond the Donbass region, including the territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia. Facing increased Western investment in the Kiev-aligned bloc of Ukraine’s civil war, authorities in the Donbass republics announced a referendum on membership in the Russian Federation in late September 2022, with Moscow-aligned officials in Kherson and Zaporozhia announcing similar ballot initiatives. Citizens in each territory proceeded to approve Russian membership by overwhelming majorities. The results of the referendum not only threatened the government in Kiev, but its European and US backers. Western-aligned media leapt to characterize the votes as a sham, claiming Moscow’s troops had coerced citizens into joining the Russian Federation at the barrel of a gun. Their narrative would have reigned supreme if not for the hundred or so international observers who physically traveled to the regions in question to observe the referendum process. Observers like Vanessa Beeley now face the threat of returning home to the West as wanted outlaws. But as Loiseau’s letter made clear, the British journalist was in the crosshairs long before the escalation in Ukraine.   Beeley among European journalists targeted and prosecuted for reporting from Donetsk Vanessa Beeley was among the first independent journalists to expose the US and UK governments’ sponsorship of the Syrian White Helmets, a so-called “volunteer organization” that played frontline role in promoting the foreign-backed dirty war against Syria’s government through its coordination with Western and Gulf-sponsored media. Beeley also played an instrumental role in revealing the White Helmets’ strong ties to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, as well as its members’ involvement in atrocities committed by Western-backed insurgents. Beeley’s work on Syria drew harsh attacks from an array of NATO and arms industry-funded think tanks. In June 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which receives funding from a variety of NATO states, corporations and billionaires, labeled Beeley “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria prior to 2020. (According to ISD, Beeley was somehow “overtaken” by The Grayzone’s Aaron Mate that year). The group did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its assertions. Though Beeley has endured waves of smears, French MEP Natalie Loiseau’s call for the EU to sanction the journalist represents the first time a Western official has moved to formally criminalize her work. Indeed, Loiseau made no secret that she is targeting Beeley not only for her role as an observer of the referendum votes, but also on the basis of her opinions and reporting on Syria. Loiseau’s push to issue personal sanctions against EU and US citizens comes on the heels of the German government’s prosecution of independent journalist Alina Lipp. In March 2020, Berlin launched a formal case against Lipp, who is a German citizen, claiming her reporting from the Donetsk People’s Republic violated newly authorized state speech codes. Prior to Lipp’s prosecution, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a media campaign portraying her as a disseminator of “disinformation” and “pro-Kremlin content.” In London, meanwhile, the UK government has imposed individual sanctions on Graham Philips, a British citizen and independent journalist, for his reporting from Donetsk. And in Brussels, Louiseau’s campaign against Beeley appears to have emerged from a deeply personal vendetta. Nathalie Louiseau and French Pres. Macron   Who is Natalie Louiseau? In April 2021, Beeley published a detailed profile of Louiseau at her personal blog, The Wall Will Fall, painting the French MEP as a regime change ideologue committed to “defending global insecurity and perpetual war.” Beeley noted that Lousieau served as a minister in the government of French President Emanuel Macron when it authorized airstrikes in response to dubious allegations of a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma in April 2018. Beeley also reported that Louiseau has enjoyed a close relationship with the Syria Campaign, the public relations arm of the White Helmets operation. This same organization, which is backed by British-Syrian billionaire Ayman Asfari, was the sponsor of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report which branded Beeley a “top propagator of disinformation” on Syria. Louiseau has taken her activism into the heart of the European parliament, using her position as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense to silence colleagues who ask to many questions about the Western campaign for regime change in Syria. During an April 2021 hearing, MEP Mick Wallace attempted to question Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Fernando Arias about allegations he personally aided the censorship of an OPCW investigation which concluded no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria in April 2018. Louiseau immediately descended into a fit of rage, interrupting Wallace and preventing him from speaking. “I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” Loiseau fulminated. Wallace responded with indignation, asking, “Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more? Today you are denying me my opinion!” A year later, Wallace and fellow Irish MEP Clare Daly sued the Irish network RTE for defamation after it broadcast an interview with Loiseau during which she baselessly branded them as liars who spread disinformation about Syria in parliament. Now, Louiseau appears to be seeking revenge against Beeley, demanding that she be criminally prosecuted not just for serving as a referendum observer, but for her journalistic output. Feauture photo | Left, French MEP Nathalie Louiseau Right:, Journalist Vanessa Beeley | Credit, Grayzone Max Blumenthal is the founder and editor of The Grayzone, the author of several books and producer of full-length documentaries including the recently released Killing Gaza. Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal. Anya Parampil is a Washington, DC-based journalist. She previously hosted a daily progressive afternoon news program called In Question on RT America. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on the ground reports from the Korean peninsula and Palestine. The post EU Parliamentarian Calls to Sanction Vanessa Beeley and All Observers of Donbass Referendums appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, News, Donbass, France, Nathalie Louiseau, referendum, Russia, sanction, Ukraine, Vanessa Beeley]

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[l] at 9/29/22 8:18am
The arrest of a prominent Palestinian activist, Musab Shtayyeh, and another Palestinian activist, by Palestinian Authority police on September 20 was not the first time that the notorious PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS) has arrested a Palestinian who is wanted by Israel. PSS is largely linked to the routine arrests and torture of anti-Israeli occupation activists. Several Palestinians have died in the past as a result of PSS violence, the latest being Nizar Banat who was tortured to death on June 24, 2021. The killing of Banat ignited a popular revolt against the PA throughout Palestine. For years, various Palestinian and international human rights groups have criticized the PA’s violent practices against dissenting Palestinian voices, quite often within the same human rights reports critical of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. The Hamas government in Gaza, too, has its fair share of blame. In its January 2022 World Report, Human Rights Watch said that “the Palestinian Authority (PA) manages affairs in parts of the West Bank, where it systematically arrests arbitrarily and tortures dissidents.” This was neither the first nor the last time that a human rights group made such an accusation. The link between Israeli and Palestinian violence targeting political dissidents and activists is equally clear to most Palestinians. Some Palestinians may have believed, at one point, that the PA’s role is to serve as a transition between their national liberation project and full independence and sovereignty on the ground. Nearly thirty years after the formation of the PA, such a notion has proved to be wishful thinking. Not only did the PA fail at achieving the coveted Palestinian State, but it has morphed into a massively corrupt apparatus whose existence largely serves a small class of Palestinian politicians and business people – and, in the case of Palestine, it is always the same group. PA corruption and subsequent violence aside, what continues to irk most Palestinians is that the PA, with time, became another manifestation of the Israeli occupation, curtailing Palestinian freedom of expression and carrying out arrests on behalf of the Israeli army. Sadly, many of those arrested by the Israeli military in the West Bank have experienced arrest by PA goons, too. Scenes of violent riots in the city of Nablus following Shtayyeh’s arrest were reminiscent of the riots against Israeli occupation forces in the northern West Bank city or elsewhere in occupied Palestine. Unlike previous confrontations between Palestinians and PA police for example, following the killing of Banat this time, the violence was widespread, and involved protesters from all Palestinian political groups, including the ruling Fatah faction. Perhaps unaware of the massive collective psychological shift that took place in Palestine in recent years, the PA government was desperate to contain the violence. Subsequently, a committee that represents united Palestinian factions in Nablus declared on September 21 that it has reached a ‘truce’ with PA security forces in the city. The committee, which includes prominent Palestinian figures, told the Associated Press and other media that the agreement restricts any future arrests of Palestinians in Nablus to the condition that the individual must be implicated in breaking Palestinian, not Israeli, law. That provision alone implies a tacit admission by the PA that the arrest of Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbaileh was motivated by an Israeli, not a Palestinian agenda. But why would the PA quickly concede to pressure coming from the Palestinian street? The answer lies in the changing political mood in Palestine. First, it must be stated that resentment of the PA has been brewing for years. One opinion poll after another has indicated the low regard that most Palestinians have of their leadership, of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and particularly of the ‘security coordination’ with Israel. Second, the torture and death of political dissident Banat, last year, has erased whatever patience Palestinians had towards their leadership, demonstrating to them that the PA is not an ally but a threat. Third, the Unity Intifada of May 2021 has emboldened many segments of Palestinian society throughout occupied Palestine. For the first time in years, Palestinians have felt united around a single slogan and are no longer hostage to the geography of politics and factions. A new generation of young Palestinians has advanced the conversation beyond Abbas, the PA and their endless and ineffectual political rhetoric. Fourth, armed struggle in the West Bank has been growing so rapidly that the Israeli army Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, claimed on September 6 that, since March, around 1,500 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank and that, allegedly, hundreds of attacks against the Israeli military have been thwarted. In fact, evidence of an armed Intifada is growing in the Jenin and Nablus regions. What is particularly interesting, and alarming, from the Israeli and PA viewpoint, about the nature of the budding armed struggle phenomenon, is that it is largely led by the military wing of the ruling Fatah party, in direct cooperation with Hamas and other Islamic and national military wings. For example, on August 9, the Israeli army assassinated Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a prominent Fatah military commander, along with two others. Not only, did the PA do little to stop the Israeli military machine from conducting more such assassinations, six weeks later, it arrested Shtayyeh, a close comrade of Nabulsi. Interestingly, Shtayyeh is not a member of Fatah, but a commander within the Hamas military wing, Al-Qassam. Though Fatah and Hamas are meant to be intense political rivals, their political tussle seems to be of no relevance to military groups in the West Bank. Unfortunately, more violence is likely to follow, for several reasons: Israel’s determination to crush any armed Intifada in the West Bank before it is widespread across the occupied territories, the looming leadership transition within the PA due to Abbas’s old age, and the growing unity among Palestinians around the issue of resistance. While the Israeli response to all of this can easily be gleaned from its legacy of violence, the PA’s future course of action will likely determine its relationship with Israel and its western supporters, on the one hand, and with the Palestinian people, on the other. Which side will the PA choose? Feature photo | Palestinian security forces arrest a Palestinian protester following a raid against resistance fighters in the West Bank city of Nablus, Sept. 20, 2022. Nasser Nasser | AP Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net  The post The Nablus Riots and the Future of the Palestinian Authority appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Israel, Musab Shtayyeh, Palestinian Authority, Preventive Security Service]

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[l] at 9/29/22 8:18am
The arrest of a prominent Palestinian activist, Musab Shtayyeh, and another Palestinian activist, by Palestinian Authority police on September 20 was not the first time that the notorious PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS) has arrested a Palestinian who is wanted by Israel. PSS is largely linked to the routine arrests and torture of anti-Israeli occupation activists. Several Palestinians have died in the past as a result of PSS violence, the latest being Nizar Banat who was tortured to death on June 24, 2021. The killing of Banat ignited a popular revolt against the PA throughout Palestine. For years, various Palestinian and international human rights groups have criticized the PA’s violent practices against dissenting Palestinian voices, quite often within the same human rights reports critical of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. The Hamas government in Gaza, too, has its fair share of blame. In its January 2022 World Report, Human Rights Watch said that “the Palestinian Authority (PA) manages affairs in parts of the West Bank, where it systematically arrests arbitrarily and tortures dissidents.” This was neither the first nor the last time that a human rights group made such an accusation. The link between Israeli and Palestinian violence targeting political dissidents and activists is equally clear to most Palestinians. Some Palestinians may have believed, at one point, that the PA’s role is to serve as a transition between their national liberation project and full independence and sovereignty on the ground. Nearly thirty years after the formation of the PA, such a notion has proved to be wishful thinking. Not only did the PA fail at achieving the coveted Palestinian State, but it has morphed into a massively corrupt apparatus whose existence largely serves a small class of Palestinian politicians and business people – and, in the case of Palestine, it is always the same group. PA corruption and subsequent violence aside, what continues to irk most Palestinians is that the PA, with time, became another manifestation of the Israeli occupation, curtailing Palestinian freedom of expression and carrying out arrests on behalf of the Israeli army. Sadly, many of those arrested by the Israeli military in the West Bank have experienced arrest by PA goons, too. Scenes of violent riots in the city of Nablus following Shtayyeh’s arrest were reminiscent of the riots against Israeli occupation forces in the northern West Bank city or elsewhere in occupied Palestine. Unlike previous confrontations between Palestinians and PA police for example, following the killing of Banat this time, the violence was widespread, and involved protesters from all Palestinian political groups, including the ruling Fatah faction. Perhaps unaware of the massive collective psychological shift that took place in Palestine in recent years, the PA government was desperate to contain the violence. Subsequently, a committee that represents united Palestinian factions in Nablus declared on September 21 that it has reached a ‘truce’ with PA security forces in the city. The committee, which includes prominent Palestinian figures, told the Associated Press and other media that the agreement restricts any future arrests of Palestinians in Nablus to the condition that the individual must be implicated in breaking Palestinian, not Israeli, law. That provision alone implies a tacit admission by the PA that the arrest of Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbaileh was motivated by an Israeli, not a Palestinian agenda. But why would the PA quickly concede to pressure coming from the Palestinian street? The answer lies in the changing political mood in Palestine. First, it must be stated that resentment of the PA has been brewing for years. One opinion poll after another has indicated the low regard that most Palestinians have of their leadership, of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and particularly of the ‘security coordination’ with Israel. Second, the torture and death of political dissident Banat, last year, has erased whatever patience Palestinians had towards their leadership, demonstrating to them that the PA is not an ally but a threat. Third, the Unity Intifada of May 2021 has emboldened many segments of Palestinian society throughout occupied Palestine. For the first time in years, Palestinians have felt united around a single slogan and are no longer hostage to the geography of politics and factions. A new generation of young Palestinians has advanced the conversation beyond Abbas, the PA and their endless and ineffectual political rhetoric. Fourth, armed struggle in the West Bank has been growing so rapidly that the Israeli army Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, claimed on September 6 that, since March, around 1,500 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank and that, allegedly, hundreds of attacks against the Israeli military have been thwarted. In fact, evidence of an armed Intifada is growing in the Jenin and Nablus regions. What is particularly interesting, and alarming, from the Israeli and PA viewpoint, about the nature of the budding armed struggle phenomenon, is that it is largely led by the military wing of the ruling Fatah party, in direct cooperation with Hamas and other Islamic and national military wings. For example, on August 9, the Israeli army assassinated Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a prominent Fatah military commander, along with two others. Not only, did the PA do little to stop the Israeli military machine from conducting more such assassinations, six weeks later, it arrested Shtayyeh, a close comrade of Nabulsi. Interestingly, Shtayyeh is not a member of Fatah, but a commander within the Hamas military wing, Al-Qassam. Though Fatah and Hamas are meant to be intense political rivals, their political tussle seems to be of no relevance to military groups in the West Bank. Unfortunately, more violence is likely to follow, for several reasons: Israel’s determination to crush any armed Intifada in the West Bank before it is widespread across the occupied territories, the looming leadership transition within the PA due to Abbas’s old age, and the growing unity among Palestinians around the issue of resistance. While the Israeli response to all of this can easily be gleaned from its legacy of violence, the PA’s future course of action will likely determine its relationship with Israel and its western supporters, on the one hand, and with the Palestinian people, on the other. Which side will the PA choose? Feature photo | Palestinian security forces arrest a Palestinian protester following a raid against resistance fighters in the West Bank city of Nablus, Sept. 20, 2022. Nasser Nasser | AP Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net  The post The Nablus Riots and the Future of the Palestanian Authority appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Israel, Musab Shtayyeh, Palestinian Authority, Preventive Security Service]

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[l] at 9/29/22 4:23am
The Most Censored News with Lee Camp hosted by comedian/ writer/ raconteur/ provocateur/ saboteur Lee Camp is a twice-weekly look at the most censored stories within corporate media hosted by the new video platform Behind the Headlines – a MintPress video project that is 100% viewer supported.  Camp both brings to light stories that are (intentionally) ignored by the corporate media and digs deeper when the mainstream media only reports on the surface-layer reality. Having been a professional stand-up comic for 20 years, a writer for The Onion, and the host/head writer of Redacted Tonight, Camp is also uniquely suited to bring humor to these topics. Eleven million dollars per minute! That’s how much all the countries in the world spend to subsidize fossil fuels. That’s what we pay. We know we’re in a climate crisis now. Hopefully, you know that and if you don’t, then stop licking the bottom of the public pool. That’s not good for you. Even Bloomberg News admits that “in three decades, more than 100 million Americans will live in an ‘extreme heat belt’ where at least one day a year, the heat index temperature will exceed 125° Fahrenheit (52° Celsius)” And of course, many more days will be a completely unbearable 100° Fahrenheit. It’s like how being punched in the face is awful unless you’ve just been pounded in the balls. Getting hit in the face is downright neighborly after a testicle tackle. And in case you think 2050 is a long way off, we live closer to the year 2050 than we do to 1990. I don’t know why, but that makes me feel old. That and the fact that the first “Home Alone” came out closer to the Vietnam War than to today. Macaulay Culkin needs to answer for that. So hopefully, by now, you understand how dire things are. By the way, my favorite idiot climate deniers are those who say it’s clearly not happening because Leonardo DiCaprio flies in a private jet sometimes. Who cares about Leo? All the plants are dying. Leo doesn’t matter! That’s like if you were in the middle of a blizzard, dying of hypothermia, and refusing to build a fire to survive because you saw Tom Hanks without a jacket on.“ The point being, we need to stop fossil fuel use and large-scale animal agriculture immediately, as those are the two biggest drivers of climate catastrophe. But instead, we’re going in the opposite direction. Project Censored’s new book comes out soon, and in it, they list the 25 most censored stories of the past year. One of them this year is that the “Fossil Fuel Industry is Subsidized at a Rate of $11 Million per Minute.” This is a quote from the book: A comprehensive study of 191 nations, published by the International Monetary Fund in September 2021, found that globally the fossil fuel industry receives subsidies of $11 million per minute, … fossil fuel companies received $5.9 trillion in subsidies in 2020, with support projected to rise to $6.4 trillion by 2025, according to the IMF report.” So we’re helping pay for our own planetary death to the tune of $11 Million a minute. Isn’t it strange that if you met a guy who was funding your death – like you personally – you’d hate that guy? You’d be like, “Hey asshole, stop paying to have me killed.” But if it’s a company that is killing the future for all of us, we’re like, “Yeah, who? Exxon? Let’s give them money. I like them. They have my favorite kind of beef jerky in the little store. So it’s fine that they’re killing us all. I’m cool with it.” Watch the full report above. Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of Behind The Headlines’ new series: The Most Censored News With Lee Camp. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years. The post Fossil Fuels Subsidized at Rate of $11 Million Per Minute appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, National, Top Story, Climate Change, Fossil Fuel, Lee Camp, Project Censored, subsidies]

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[l] at 9/28/22 11:18am
  On September 19, activists gathered outside the White House to commemorate one year since the mass deportation of Haitian asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas. The commemoration came as a popular uprising in Haiti entered its third week, sparked by International Monetary Fund-imposed fuel price hikes amid spiraling inflation and a state of total insecurity. Interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry has sought to avoid blame, telling citizens that, We will have to readjust the price of gas. I know there are people who will try to heat up your heads, tell you to take to the streets so that gas does not come back to its normal price… Violence has no place. Violence wont get us anywhere. I put out a call for calm to everyone.” The U.S. and its junior partners, however, have sought to shift blame for the unrest onto local economic interests and so-called “gangs.” U.S. President Joe Biden told the United Nations General Assembly, “We continue to stand with our neighbor in Haiti as it faces political-fueled gang violence, and an enormous human crisis, and we call on the world to do the same,” adding that, “we have more to do.” “If you look at the protests that are taking place as a result of the end of fuel subsidies, they are financed by economic actors,” top Biden advisor and National Security Council Director Juan Gonzales commented. In attendance at the White House protest was former U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti Daniel Foote, who warned that if Washington does not train a Haitian National Police unit to crush Haiti’s so-called “gangs”, it will launch a full scale invasion. “The U.S. has two choices: Either reinforce the police now, probably using military trainers, so send a company of special forces trainers to teach the police and set up an anti-gang task force, or send 25,000 troops at some undetermined but imminent period in the future,” Foote declared. Foote resigned from his post in September 2021, citing the inhumane treatment of Haitians at the border as the breaking point. “I realized I could no longer have the positive impact and push Haiti towards where it needs to go in my role as special envoy because of the guy in that building right there,” he told the crowd, pointing at the White House. The resignation earned him praise from prominent intellectuals including filmmaker Raoul Peck, who called Foote’s congressional testimony “shattering and redemptive,” saying that it “restored some measure of honor to decades of shameless American intervention.” Since his resignation, Foote has been vocally opposed to continued U.S. support for Haitian Interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who remains in office despite being implicated in the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Rather than withdrawing support for Henry, Washington has sought to unite him with his principal rival, a coalition of traditional political parties and dozens of so-called civil society groups, known as the Montana Accord. Described as a “Haitian-led” alternative to Henry, the Montana coalition proposes a two-year transitional government leading to elections. This Accord is headed by Magali Comeau Denis, who, like Ariel Henry, was a key figure in the 2004 U.S.-orchestrated coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. So far, the Biden administration’s attempts to unite the two coalitions have proven unsuccessful. Despite Henrys ongoing premiership, the Montana Accord is increasingly favored by Washington, with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols publicly endorsing it. As the uprising rocked Henry’s government, the flagship U.S. think tank, The Council on Foreign Relations, published a strategy paper endorsing the Montana Accord as “the most credible Haitian plan on the table,” saying “the United States should still help Haitians initiate its implementation.” Early in 2022, as the Biden administration pressured the Montana group to compromise with Ariel Henry, the accord fractured. The Movement of Haitian Liberty and Equality for Fraternity, How Britain’s Labour party became a criminal conspiracy against its members known as MOLEGHAF, pulled out, accusing Montana of partaking in “an international plot” and saying, “We’re not going to facilitate the work of the imperialists.” The Lavalas Family party of former President Aristide followed suit. As these members have broken off, Foote and the liberal establishment have promoted the accord as the ideal partner for the United States and its institutions. “They need somebody with whom the international community, the IMF, the donors, can trust and work with and the Haitian people can trust and work with to improve their lives and move towards choosing their own leaders,” he explained. While Foote advises who should lead Haiti, he is careful to project the opposite. When MintPress News asked if the Montana Accord is a mechanism to arrive at such leadership, he replied, “Let’s not call it that because then I’m offering preference for one group or another. A consensus, let’s call it. And the Montana Group, last October 31, I think, of 2021, signed a consensus agreement and broadened it significantly by January to the point that 80 percent plus of the actors in Haiti, everyone that wanted in on, was in on it. And that’s adequate consensus.” However, the very same day, while leading discussion of a Haiti advisory group on the sidelines of the UNGA, Trudeau listed several foreign powers who he insists will be involved in Haiti’s future. “Regional partners like CARICOM and global partners like Canada, the U.S., France, the European Union and others have an extremely important role to play as well,” he said. Foote, Washington and its partners primary objective is to eliminate the so-called gangs. “The gangs went from [former president Jean Bertrand] Aristide’s guys that he would pay to go out on the streets to raise hell and get things done, have developed into very sophisticated, heavily armed criminal organizations at this point in time,” Foote described. Despite the criminal acts of groups like the 400 Mawazo, which kidnapped American and Canadian missionaries last year, the U.S’s top target is its rival – a federation of armed groups known as the Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies, or G9. “The G9 coalition, they were a year ago at least, the best organized and the best funded,” Foote said. This coalition, which calls for social revolution, is led by former police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier. The U.S. government, through the National Endowment for Democracy, has accused Cherizier of committing a series of massacres, though has presented no evidence, qualifying its charges as alleged.” Nonetheless, Cherizier is the only so-called gang leader in Haiti under U.S. sanctions. Cherizier has gained support over the past 2 years as his calls for revolution have resonated amid ever worsening conditions. Foote, in Haiti’s largest daily newspaper, warned Haitians to not listen to Cherizier, calling him a “criminal” that must be “hunted down.” “The issue is they have no natural predator in Haiti. The police can’t take them on,” Foote lamented. “They can’t compete with the gangs, they’re outmanned, outgunned and everything.” Cherizier has taken center stage in the ongoing uprising, blocking the country’s largest fuel terminal, and clashing with Haitian National Police. Top Human rights figure Pierre Esperance, head of the Haitian National Network for Defense of Human Rights, which is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, claimed that Cherizier is actually stamping out protests on behalf of Ariel Henry, though offering no proof for his allegation. Cherizier, manning a barricade outside the fuel terminal, addressed Ariel Henry. “Ariel Henry, get ready for what’s coming,” Cherizier said, brandishing a rifle. “This time, we will run over your legs. You can continue to give the little hungry thieving politicians money, continue to give hungry, greedy journalists money, who say that we are getting money to destroy the movement. We are the movement! The Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies, we are the movement! Ariel is on our ass. Haitian people, stand behind your barricades!” As special envoy, Foote advocated U.S. deployment of special forces to train a Haitian National Police unit to take out so-called “gang leaders” like Cherizier. “Did you ever propose any kind of military intervention to Haiti,” CBS’ Margaret Brennan asked. “I proposed sending a company or so of U.S. special forces to train an anti-gang task force within the Haitian National Police. So you’re talking about 30, 60 people,” Foote responded. As Haiti spirals out of control under Henry, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Geneus make similar proposals. The proposition I put on the table is that we must have an international program of support for the training and equipping of the police,” Guterres said, “but it will be necessary to have in this perspective a robust force capable of putting an end to the action of the gangs.” “The national police is able to carry out its work but it needs robust assistance from our partners and it needs adequate training on the ground with aid from the international community,” Geneus told UNGA, speaking in place of Ariel Henry. Other political forces are calling for an international force to do the job. Following meetings with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, and top US officials, the Dominican Republic has sent troops to its border and called for an international invasion of Haiti. Dominican President Luis Abinader: “The crisis that overflows the borders of Haiti is a threat to the national security of the Dominican Republic.” Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez: “It must be focused, we have repeated numerous times, in the immediate peacekeeping, a robust force is necessary that is capable of recuperating peace and bringing an end to the violence unleashed by the armed groups.” Abinader: “We must not only with Nancy Pelosi, but with Senator Charles Schumer of New York, and we also touched on this topic when me met with the  [Senate] Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and also with when we met with USAID Director Samantha Power. I believe all that’s left is to coordinate the means.” Abinader: “Now we [CARICOM and Dominican Republic] have the same opinion, it has to be a “special force” that pacifies that country.” U.S. led aid to the Haitian National Police has been extensive. From 2010 to 2020, the United States pumped in $312 million for weapons and training. In 2021, The White House and State Department sent a combined $20 million. In July 2022, the State Department bolstered the SWAT training program with a $48 million package. The United Nations has sent another $28 million, and Canada 12 million. While the U.S. reinforces Haitian police, they have sought to cut off arms trafficking otherwise, intercepting shipments smuggled through ports, and making arrests. The Biden administration is pressing the UN Security Council to enact its own sanctions against Cherizier, and those who it alleges are arms traffickers. But Haiti is awash with weapons, and the Haitian National Police is an anemic force. Although they have attacked G9 neighborhoods and arrested and killed multiple leaders, the police have been unable to crush this neighborhood federation. State Department officials have publicly said that a U.S.-led training program, working with France, Brazil and Canada, is underway. On July 30, Mike Stokes, a State Department police trainer in Haiti, complained in a Facebook post that “Only US politicians could think sending 8 instructors down here could make a difference. Haiti needs Military action if it wants true change.” But Foote says the Biden administration is reluctant to ramp up US involvement with Ariel Henry in office. “It’s a critical step, and the appetite is because they are, I believe, very reticent to work and jump in with both feet with Ariel Henry despite the fact that the US anointed,” Foote said. With Washington conscious of popular sentiment in Haiti against foreign interference, critical to its designs is the Montana Accord’s image as “Haitian-led.” A switch from Henry to the Montana Accord would create credibility for more U.S. involvement. The Council on Foreign Relations notes that “For the United States, working in greater partnership with such organizations … could help restore Haitian confidence.” Montana Accord founding member Ted St. Dic wrote on September 7 that  “to give this process a fighting chance of success, the United States should use creative and aggressive tactics to intercept criminal activity in Haiti.” While “Haitian-led” is a useful slogan for public consumption, U.S. and Canadian policy makers seek to lead from behind. “We cannot continue to see external elements, no matter how well meaning, try to determine the future of Haiti,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference, adding, “Haitians themselves need to be at the center.” Later that day, he led a discussion of a Haiti advisory group, saying that “Regional partners like CARICOM and global partners like Canada, the U.S., France, Europe, European Union and others have an extremely important role to play as well.” “I also think just leaving it up to Haitians to solve their problems is a line that I think ignores a really really concerning and deteriorating situation inside the country,” commented Juan Gonzales. “I’ve heard your answers about your overall goal of a Haitian-led democratic process. I share that, but what is our initiative to try to create some semblance of security,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) asked Todd Robinson, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, at a December 21, 2021, congressional hearing. “We INL are working very closely with the Haitian National Police, the new director general, we are going to send advisors,” Robinson responded. However, Russia and China voted to shorten the U.S. police advisor mandate, prompting Washington to look for a way around international bodies. “Why do you think Russia and China stop this,” Menendez (D-New Jersey) rhetorically asked, continuing, “Because they want total unrest in the hemisphere… Authoritarianism.” Menendez concluded, “At some point, we have to think about how to circumvent that.” Washington has done just that. A 2019 law called the Global Fragility Act has created a framework for U.S. intervention. The Act aims to strengthen U.S control of so-called “fragile states” as part of the 2017 National Security Strategy’s focus on great power competition. It is a joint State Department, USAID and Department of Defense program that would direct the U.S. military to “play a critical role in facilitating basic public order and build the capacity of foreign security forces. U.S. forces would operate “through small-footprint, coordinated, partner-focused activities” – similar to Daniel Foote’s formula. Pentagon methods also include “psychological operations and information operations engagements.” The Global Fragility Act and Montana Accord work in conjunction. The Council on Foreign Relations summarizes the U.S. strategy as “A more targeted form of international assistance through the Global Fragility Act, with Haitians playing the principal role.” If the U.S. doesn’t achieve its military objectives alongside the Haitian National Police, Foote says an invasion of Haiti – the fourth in a century – is guaranteed. “Train the police, give the police their capacity back, or we’re going to have to send 25,000 troops in a combat stabilization mission, which will accomplish what it sets out to do, but there’s no sustainability there whatsoever,” Foote said. While Foote and Biden officials disagree on tactics, they agree that U.S. intervention is the answer. “The other has been to try to strengthen the Haitian National Police so that an international presence is not necessary – that is challenging and a long term undertaking,” Gonzales said. Regardless of whether Ariel Henry remains in power or the Montana Accord replaces him, the U.S. is locked and loaded, with options for all scenarios. Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000. The post Ex-U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Dan Foote: Send Special Forces to Haiti or 25,000 troops appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Inside Stories, Investigations, Top Story, ariel henry, Dan Foote, Haiti, Invasion, military intervention, United States]

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[l] at 9/28/22 10:37am
For many years, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters have claimed that he, and they, were targeted in a coordinated attack from the right of the party, comprising a majority of Labour MPs as well as senior party staff. The aim was to sabotage Corbyn’s chances of taking power. Those allegations were dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory by the British media. But the first independent verification came as early as April 2020, shortly after Corbyn stepped down as leader, with the leak of a cache of internal Labour Party documents. They showed that Labour bureaucrats, responsible to the party’s general secretary Iain McNicol rather than to Corbyn, plotted to bring about their leader’s downfall, even prioritizing his destruction over winning the closely fought 2017 general election. The impression that all was not quite how it seemed was further suggested by the absurd twists and turns in the logic of a report into Corbyn’s Labour Party published in late 2020 by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). That this politicized, establishment body had agreed to investigate a mainstream political party for racism, directly interfering in the democratic process, was itself unprecedented. Next, in July, a much-delayed report from an inquiry commissioned by Corbyn’s successor, Sir Keir Starmer, confirmed the contents of the leaked documents. Despite its careful wording and bogus even-handedness, the Forde Inquiry conceded that the Labour right had indeed waged a dirty factional war against Corbyn and the left of the party, weaponizing antisemitism to tar them. Now, over the past few days, Al Jazeera has aired a shocking three-part investigation, “The Labour Files”. Running close to four hours in its online format, it is based on even more leaked documents, and reveals the complete sabotage of the party’s democratic processes by the Labour right, including by many of its senior MPs. Those processes were hijacked to carry out purges of the party’s left based in most cases on false accusations, fabrications, misrepresentations and smears.   One of the victims of those purges described the past few years in Labour as a “criminal conspiracy against its members”. Al Jazeera’s documentary series proves he is not exaggerating. The Labour right was able to assert its power to act cruelly and unfairly against left-wing party members when Corbyn, the left’s champion, was leader. Now that the Labour right enjoys the protection of Starmer, Corbyn’s successor, it has the freedom to be utterly ruthless. The Al Jazeera investigation finds that, although the Labour right soon settled on antisemitism as the most effective tool to vilify its enemies, it was willing to invent any smear that could be weaponized. One of the Labour right’s earliest demonization campaigns – based, as Al Jazeera shows, on fabrications and unsubstantiated hearsay – was that Labour MP Angela Eagle, who is gay, had faced a sudden wave of homophobic abuse and attacks from her pro-Corbyn constituency members. The smears provided a convenient rationale for her early attempt to challenge Corbyn as leader. But antisemitism as a smear was generally preferred because trenchant criticism of Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestinians has long been a distinctive marker of the left’s anti-racist politics and consistent with its earlier trenchant criticism of South Africa’s apartheid policies towards the country’s black population. All the Labour right needed to do was blur distinctions between criticism of Israel and criticism of Jews, a conflation that was all too easily engineered when most of the public had long been confused by Israel and its most ardent supporters about that very distinction.   The establishment conspiracy The smears were necessary because the Labour right faced two threats to its power. Greater democratization of party rules under a previous leader, Ed Miliband, had allowed Corbyn to be elected leader with the overwhelming backing of party members – to the dismay of the majority of Labour MPs. And Corbyn’s democratic socialism unleashed a wave of political engagement from large parts of the electorate that had felt disenfranchised by a two-party system in which both parties – Labour and Conservative – agreed on many right-wing fundamentals, such as neoliberal economics at home and neocolonial policies abroad. Corbyn’s victory led to a surge of interest in politics. New members flooded into Labour, quickly making it the largest party in Europe and turning it into a potential grassroots movement in which the Labour right would be entirely marginalized and its agenda subsumed. A fightback was desperately needed to reverse the tide and revoke the democratic processes that Corbyn had been able to ride to the top of the Labour Party. The Labour right had plenty of allies in this battle. In fact, it could rely on the assistance of an entire British establishment that felt equally threatened by the rise of Corbyn: the military and security services, the ruling Conservative Party, big business, the state broadcaster and the rest of the corporate media, as well as official think tanks and establishment bodies like the EHRC. In a very real sense, this was a conspiracy. Or, put in blunter political language, it was class war. The playbook was well thumbed. The Labour right would claim that the party was being subjected to a hostile takeover, with Corbyn’s blessing, by the “far left”. This supposed far left – those seeking a fairer, more equal and inclusive society – would be vilified by the establishment media with a well-established trope: the “far left” would be equated with the far-right, with the implication that both shared the same brutish, undemocratic, racist impulses. What quickly emerged was the British equivalent of the ”Bernie Bro” narrative in the United States, when the left-winger Bernie Sanders tried to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for president against the establishment-friendly Hillary Clinton. Sanders’ supporters were falsely characterized as overwhelmingly male, bullying, aggressive and misogynistic. In the U.K., Labour members supportive of Corbyn – drawn to him by his prominent career as an anti-racist, his support for greater wealth redistribution, and his criticism of British human rights abuses abroad – soon found themselves being tarred and purged from Labour as the equivalent of neo-Nazis. The Labour left have been reeling ever since.   The Israeli spy To grasp the scale and sophistication of this establishment operation, it is necessary to assess the latest Al Jazeera investigation, “The Labour Files”, in the context of an earlier documentary series, “The Lobby”, broadcast five years ago by the same channel. Together, the two series show the bigger picture of how Israel and its lobbyists found enthusiastic allies in the Labour right and the wider establishment, as well as a common purpose: to subvert Corbyn’s leadership simultaneously from within and without. The 2017 Lobby series charted the meddling of an Israeli spy, Shai Masot, in U.K. politics. It is worth considering how that earlier exposé was treated by the British media and political class to better understand what has amounted to a comprehensive assault on British democracy. The four-part investigation made headlines when it aired footage – shot by an undercover reporter – showing Masot actively trying, in Masot’s own words, to “take down” Sir Alan Duncan, a foreign office minister for the ruling Conservative party. Masot was operating out of the Israeli Embassy. Ostensibly he was one of its officials, but in reality, he was almost certainly working for Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, known for its black ops against prominent critics of Israel. Masot is filmed covertly meeting a sympathetic Conservative parliamentary aide. He tells her he wants to dig up dirt on Duncan with the goal of getting him kicked out of office. Duncan was considered a liability on Israel. He had repeatedly called for Palestinian statehood – the two-state solution that is supposed to be official British policy – and had been critical of Israel’s settlements, built for Jews only on Palestinian territory and in violation of international law – a core reason why a growing body of analysts believe Israel qualifies as an apartheid state.   It is not difficult to understand why Masot singled Duncan out from the rest of the ruling Conservative Party. Almost every Tory MP is a member of the party’s Israel lobby in parliament, known as the Conservative Friends of Israel. They can be relied on to stand staunchly behind Israel, however blatant its law-breaking. Last year, it was revealed that a third of the Tory cabinet were funded by either Israel or its lobbyists. Duncan’s ability to exert influence over British policy towards Israel appears to have been non-existent. During his time in office, no progress was made on Palestinian statehood, the settlements expanded aggressively, and Britain continued to sell arms to Israel to oppress the Palestinian people. The Tory party aide tells Masot she “thought we had, you know, neutralized him just a little bit” – presumably a reference to making Duncan’s life harder over Israel and thereby intimidating him into toning down his criticisms. But Masot was unsatisfied. He and the Israeli government behind him did not want a prominent critic of their illegal actions speaking with the credibility conferred by having a platform inside the British establishment. After the episode aired, British newspapers reported – even if mutedly – Masot’s role in trying to “take down” Duncan. The government quickly issued a low-key statement that Masot had been removed from the U.K. The shared narrative of the British government and media, as well as the Israeli government, was that Masot was an Israeli embassy official acting on his own initiative who had gone rogue. The matter was barely referred to again outside the fringes of social media.   The Labour connection That was shocking in itself. But actually something even more staggering occurred in “The Lobby”. The undercover footage of Masot trying to “take down” Duncan filled only a half of one of the series’ four episodes. The other three and half showed Masot covertly helping to establish a sophisticated network of pro-Israel activists in the youth wing of the Labour Party to help take down Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition. The Israeli operation to meddle in Labour’s internal processes may have been more complex and more difficult to grasp than a single recorded conversation about trying to take down Duncan, but the implications for British democracy were far more serious. Duncan was an outlier in the Conservative Party with little real influence. Corbyn, by contrast, was a potential prime minister in waiting, a politician poised to take the reins of power and shape the policy agenda at home and abroad. But whereas there was a short-lived outcry over the treatment of Duncan, one that led to Masot’s hurried departure, Al Jazeera’s investigations into the Israeli operation against Corbyn made no impression on the political or media debate in Britain at all. The significance of the revelations went entirely unremarked upon. It was as if espionage to subvert a potential prime minister was less important than espionage to remove a marginal government minister. Britain’s political and media priorities appeared completely back to front. But, in fact, the situation was even worse than that assessment suggests. And to understand how, it is necessary to trace the career trajectory of Masot’s seeming protégé inside Labour, Ella Rose. At the time of the 2017 Al Jazeera documentary, Rose was the director of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), a long defunct pro-Israel lobby group that was revived in 2015 specifically to fight against Corbyn. The need for the JLM’s resuscitation was clear: Corbyn was a life-long anti-racist, one of the few British politicians who had actively struggled against apartheid South Africa and had continued the same struggle against apartheid Israel. He supported the rights of Palestinians as vocally as he once supported the rights of black South Africans. The implications of having such a politician as prime minister were not lost on Israel’s most fanatical supporters in the U.K. Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter filmed Rose stating not only that she had worked at the Israeli Embassy immediately before taking over the reins of the JLM, but that she had worked directly with Masot. In footage not broadcast, she also said she knew Masot “very well”, and told the undercover reporter that she could help him get a job at the Israeli Embassy. Masot himself is caught on camera speaking about the fact that it was part of his job to set up a private company in the UK – a front for the Israeli government, as he confides – to wage a secret war on activists critical of Israel. He is shown trying to establish a youth movement in Labour, again as a front for the Israeli government. Ella Rose and the JLM appear to have been integral to this plot.   The non-investigation So how did Al Jazeera’s documentary affect Rose and her relationship with the Labour Party? Was she investigated and booted out of Labour for her role in efforts to oust the leader of the opposition, just as Masot was kicked out of the U.K. for discussing how to take down Duncan? Not a bit of it. True, Rose was investigated by Labour, but not at the party’s instigation and not over her close relationship with Masot. Rose’s brief difficulties arose over an entirely different matter. She was shown in “The Lobby” making a threat to physically attack Jackie Walker, a black Jewish Labour activist critical of Israel and well known for her support for Corbyn. After watching the Al Jazeera documentary, several Jewish supporters of Corbyn, including Naomi Wimborne Idrissi, submitted an official complaint to Labour’s disciplinary unit about Rose’s threats of violence. That unit was staffed by officials hostile to Corbyn, as confirmed by “The Labour Files”, Al Jazeera’s follow-up investigation. At the time of the complaint, as “The Labour Files” also shows, the disciplinary unit had been summarily suspending or expelling Corbyn supporters, including a disproportionate number of Jews, after scouring social media for obscure posts, often criticizing Israel. Such members were disciplined either on the basis that such criticisms qualified them as antisemites, or because they had supposedly “brought the party into disrepute”. But leaked email exchanges aired in “The Labour Files” between Rose and the disciplinary unit show Labour officials being highly sympathetic to Rose, even though her threats of physical violence against a black Jewish woman had been broadcast on international TV just a few days previously. In an astonishing email, Sam Matthews, head of the disputes team, wrote to Rose supportively about her violent threats, echoing her own claim – in flagrant denial of reality – that “there isn’t, nor will there ever be, any public record of you using such language”. In stark contrast to Corbyn supporters who often found themselves facing months and years of investigation by the disciplinary unit, Rose was immediately cleared. Efforts by Wimborne Idrissi and others to appeal the decision to Iain McNicol (now Baron McNicol), the party’s general secretary and another opponent of Corbyn, were dismissed out of hand. Attempts to get Rose’s case heard by the National Executive Committee (NEC), Labour’s governing body, were secretly stymied.   Tearful testimony Rose’s exceptional treatment was far from over, however. In 2019, two years after Al Jazeera revealed Rose’s covert alliance with Masot, she was back on TV, this time as witness for the prosecution in a BBC Panorama special supposedly exposing Corbyn as indulgent of antisemitism in the Labour Party, if not antisemitic himself. The program was a mess of unsubstantiated allegations and misleading information, as I set out in a review at the time and as “The Labour Files” shows too. The BBC program began with tearful testimony from Rose speaking out against Corbyn and a supposed endemic problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Like other Jewish “witnesses” featured by the BBC, Rose was not named and her affiliation with the Jewish Labour Movement was never identified. She was presented as an ordinary Jewish party member shocked at the antisemitic taunts she said she had received at Labour’s annual party conference. There was no way the Panorama team did not know who Rose was. It was in the public record that she had been a former Israeli embassy employee. She had admitted working with Masot, an Israeli spy who was filmed trying to “take down” a British government minister and setting up a network of advocates for Israel in Labour to take down Corbyn. She was the head of an organization, the JLM, whose barely concealed mission was to advocate for Israel in the Labour Party and damage Corbyn. And she had been filmed boasting extravagantly about using Israeli martial arts to attack a black Jewish woman at a time when she herself was claiming to be a frightened, vulnerable member of the Labour Party being victimized by antisemites. All of this was highly relevant if viewers were to assess the credibility of Rose and the other anonymized members of the JLM who acted as witnesses against Corbyn. And yet none of this background was referred to by Panorama – a violation of journalistic ethics, as well as the BBC’s duty to deal fairly with British viewers who are required by the government to pay for its services. That the BBC misrepresented the evidence of antisemitism in Labour is all the graver because the corporation is Britain’s state broadcaster. The program amounted to blatant interference by the British establishment’s chief media platform against the opposition leader only months before an election. Rose and the JLM further interfered in the British political process on behalf of Israel and the British establishment by initiating complaints of racism against Corbyn’s Labour Party to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The EHRC agreed to investigate Labour while rejecting parallel demands to investigate the Conservative party at a time when black, Asian and Middle Eastern Tory members, including former government ministers, had repeatedly pointed to evidence of systematic racism in the party’s ranks, including from the then prime minister, Boris Johnson. What has happened since? Rose’s career in the Labour Party has flourished. Last December, she was selected as a Labour council candidate for Barnet, North London, and won a seat in the May elections. Last year, it was announced that Rose had been accepted to one of 360 highly prized places on Labour’s “future candidates program”, seen as a stepping stone to Westminster. It was reported that thousands of other applicants were rejected.   Crushing party democracy Al Jazeera’s new documentary, “The Labour Files”, differs from its predecessor, “The Lobby”, in showing how the Israeli Embassy and its activists were pushing at an open door when it came to subverting Corbyn’s leadership. If the lobbyists worked covertly, it was not because the Labour Party bureaucracy had any interest in foiling their activities. It was out of necessity: to make sure their concocted antisemitism claims were harder to rebut and sounded more credible to the general public, and to avoid exposing the machinations of Labour’s right-wing officials who were as keen to see the back of Corbyn as Israel itself was. What Rose and other pro-Israel activists were doing was colluding with the Labour right to crush Labour’s brief experiment in party democracy that had mistakenly allowed a popular left-wing figure in Corbyn to come within sight of No. 10, Downing Street. As mentioned earlier, the British establishment was genuinely alarmed at the prospect of someone like Corbyn fighting them publicly and from within. Corbyn seriously tried to redistribute wealth and limit corporate power, and challenged the British state’s lightly veiled colonialism: its foreign policy bullying; its arming of allies that systematically violate human rights; and its waging of wars to control global resources. Rose and the other activists not only had assistance from Israel and its agents like Shai Masot, but from every wing of the British establishment. Singing in unison, the establishment’s chorus about antisemitism and a supposedly racist Labour left could drown out and vilify any countervailing voices, however plausible. That very much included Corbyn’s long-time, anti-racist allies on the Labour left, especially its black and Jewish members radicalized by their experiences of dealing with the racism of British society and the British establishment. Wimborne Idrissi, who founded Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) as a counterweight to the JLM and to demonstrate that many Jews in the party supported Corbyn, has been repeatedly investigated and suspended by party bureaucrats. She is, remember, the Jewish member who tried unsuccessfully to get Rose disciplined over her violent threats against Jackie Walker, a black Jewish party member. This month, Wimborne Idrissi was the only Jew elected by the membership to Labour’s NEC, its governing body. But Starmer’s officials quickly suspended her once again – apparently to deprive her of a seat on the body that oversees disciplinary cases and has been singling out Corbyn-supporting Jews, like herself and her allies in JVL. The party machinery has been carefully rigged under Starmer to make sure that no dissenting voices on its purges of the left are heard. Confident that there would be no negative coverage from the establishment media, in stark contrast to the constant barracking of Corbyn, Labour officials stripped Wimborne Idrissi of her pass to the annual party conference this week. One can only imagine how the media would have reacted had Corbyn’s officials barred Ella Rose or any other JLM member. Wimborne Idrissi is clearly seen as the “wrong kind of Jew” by the Labour right and the establishment media, including The Guardian newspaper that cheerled the campaign against Corbyn and has barely bothered, despite its profession of concern about antisemitism, to report on Labour’s systematic abuse of the JVL’s membership.   Fantastical claims The Labour Files is replete with examples of Labour Party officials and the media, especially the BBC, applying double standards, deceiving the public, misrepresenting events, making fantastical claims, and promoting outright lies in promoting the Labour antisemitism narrative. There are far too many instances to mention them all. Here are just a few of the nadirs: • BBC’s Panorama program against Corbyn prominently featured a claim by Ben Westerman, a member of Labour’s disputes team, that he personally faced antisemitic abuse during a meeting to investigate antisemitism. He did not mention that it was two elderly Jewish women whom he met. In the program, he wrongly claims that one of the Jewish women asked him if he was from Israel. A tape recording made by the women shows that, in fact, she asked him what branch of the Labour Party he was from. • Panorama selectively edited and misrepresented an email sent by Corbyn’s chief of staff, Seumas Milne. Panorama wrongly suggested that it was evidence of Corbyn’s office actively interfering in the handling of disciplinary hearings to clear political allies accused of antisemitism. In fact, Milne offered his view only after Labour HQ’s most senior staff asked for his guidance. His comment, far from constituting interference, referred to difficulties the party bureaucracy faced in the optics of investigating a Holocaust survivor for antisemitism. Milne rightly suggested that the party was getting involved in the Jewish community’s internal political arguments about Israel – or as he put it, “muddling up political disputes with racism”. • Panorama broadcast incredible and entirely unsubstantiated claims by Izzy Lenga, a colleague of Rose’s in the JLM whose affiliation was not identified. She alleged that “every single day” she faced antisemitic abuse “telling me Hitler was right, Hitler did not go far enough”. In fact, as a search of earlier media reports confirm, Lenga appeared to be referring to a problem with neo-Nazi posters at her university in 2015. There was no suggestion in those contemporaneous reports that the Labour Party or any of its members were responsible. It appears to have been the work of far-right activists. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – something Panorama seems to have recklessly ignored in advancing claims that damaged Corbyn. • Halim Khan, who worked for the investigations team under Starmer, says she was instructed to scour through social media posts of identified individuals to find any material that could be construed as antisemitic, and that “Palestine” was one of the search term they were supposed to use. Staff, she says, were expected to respond immediately when The Jewish Chronicle or Jewish News contacted them with a name. She further notes that when she asked if her job might be at risk for expressing support for the freedom of the Palestinians, the response was: “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” • Several of the groups most vocal in fighting against Corbyn and Labour’s supposed “antisemitism crisis” had a history of being closely involved with Islamophobic far-right groups like the English Defence League. One, who has been convicted of aggressive bullying in his attempts to silence Corbyn supporters, was nonetheless seen as a suitable person to be invited on to the BBC to criticize Corbyn as a racist. The blog of another Jewish anti-Corbyn activist with an EDL past became the source of several anti-Corbyn stories that the establishment media eagerly turned into front-page stories. • The Labour Files unearths video footage of Dan Fox, a former director of Labour Friends of Israel, which represents a third of Labour MPs, attending a small private meeting at the home of Sharon Klaff, an active Jewish EDL supporter. He is seen referring to her as “an old friend” as others at the meeting express opposition to Labour’s Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London because he is a Muslim. Fox is the partner of prominent anti-Corbyn MP Stella Creasy. • The entire membership of the pro-Corbyn Wallasey constituency party, in Merseyside, was suspended for more than a year by Labour HQ on the basis of a dossier compiled by an anti-Corbyn local councillor, Paul Stuart, claiming that 17 people at a constituency meeting had overheard horrifying homophobic abuse of its anti-Corbyn MP, Angela Eagle. These claims received widespread and supportive media coverage. Leaked documents reveal that, in fact, the only evidence supplied by Stuart were claims made by four of his relatives. Stuart also manufactured evidence against the head of the constituency party to get him removed. He further claimed to have found a strategy note circulating in Wallasey proving that the pro-Corbyn Momentum group was plotting a hostile takeover of the Labour Party through “Trotskyite entryism” – a tactic ascribed to the far-left Militancy Tendency back in the 1980s. The media widely reported the document as proof of the nefarious practices of the Corbyn left. In fact, the alleged Momentum document had been copied verbatim from an old book review on the Militant Tendency. • One of the anti-Corbyn Labour activists whose name keeps appearing is Luke Stanger. He hounded a prospective Labour parliamentary candidate, Pamela Fitzpatrick, with accusations of antisemitism and Holocaust denial after her Harrow East constituency voted to affiliate with the pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice for Labour rather than the anti-Corbyn Jewish Labour Movement. Other Labour activists in Brighton and Hove found Stanger regularly writing threatening and abusive messages accusing them of antisemitism. • Despite being suspended pending investigation by Labour HQ for his bullying and threats, often against women and Jews, he found protection from the Labour right. He remained on the campaign team for Hove’s anti-Corbyn MP, Peter Kyle. His response to the disputes unit was secretly written by Luke Akehurst, who sits on Labour’s governing body, the NEC, and is also the director of the lobby group, We Believe in Israel. Stanger was represented by one of London’s most prestigious and expensive law firms, Mischon de Reya. Some 14 right-wing Labour MPs rallied to his defense, writing character references, including the current shadow justice minister, Steve Reed. And John Stolliday, the former head of the governance and legal unit, offered his support. When Labour’s top disciplinary body eventually voted to expel Stanger, the expulsion was never carried out. • The very same senior Labour staff who claimed to be deeply concerned about institutional racism towards Jews in the party under Corbyn are shown in the leaked files to be regularly sharing private messages that express the most ugly racism towards black party members and MPs. Under Starmer, this racism appears to have intensified. Labour head office has colluded in concealing law-breaking, covert surveillance and data collection of Asian party members, as a prelude to suspending the entire London constituency of Newham, apparently because it is heavily dominated by the local ethnic minority community. And ethnic minority staff in Labour head office who have raised complaints about these actions have been dismissed from their jobs.   Media silence The question that keeps surfacing as Al Jazeera documents this and much, much more about the endless smear campaigns is how has it been left to a Qatari TV network to bring these revelations to public attention? How has none of this been visible on the British media’s radar for the past seven years? The answer is highlighted by the complete lack of coverage of Al Jazeera’s latest revelations. The British media has not just failed to report on what should have been staring them in the face over five years of Corbyn’s tenure as leader and the past two years of Labour’s purges, under Starmer, it has also refused to report on, or investigate further, the evidence when it has been handed to them on a plate by Al Jazeera, now and back in 2017. In recent days, media outlets have turned a blind eye to evidence of malpractice, rule-breaking and fraud by Labour Party staff, just as five years ago they turned a blind eye to the role of Masot in subverting the Labour Party and to the evidence of his close ties to groups like the JLM. And that is for a very obvious reason. The entire British media willfully colluded in those smear operations, precisely because they feared Corbyn, and what he represents, as much as the Labour right and the rest of the establishment did. Which BBC program will acknowledge Al Jazeera’s revelations, let alone pursue them further, when the BBC’s flagship news investigation program, Panorama, is deeply implicated in the very smears Al Jazeera exposed. The BBC would in effect be investigating its own malpractice. And similarly for the Guardian. To investigate the leaked documents would convict the paper – traditionally seen by many Labour voters as their house journal – of colluding in a bogus antisemitism narrative against the Labour left that it played a central role in building. The Guardian would expose itself not as it wishes to be seen – as a fearless, independent newspaper confronting the British establishment with uncomfortable truths – but as a key pillar of that very establishment. The reality is that no one with a major platform in Britain wishes to stand up for a genuinely popular or pluralistic politics. The system is as rigged as it looks. Labour’s democratic processes can be sabotaged, the wishes of its members subverted, the rule book torn up, and the only significant voice that will be raised is a Gulf-owned website – one that can be dismissed, however much evidence it marshals and however many experts and witnesses it cites, as axe-grinding or antisemitic. Which is why there will be little to no pressure on the BBC or the Guardian to dig deeper into a story with huge ramifications for the future of Britain. And Keir Starmer will continue to go unchallenged as he falsely claims – in a party that now requires its members to sing an anthem glorifying the rule of kings – that Labour is a vibrant, democratic party. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Jonathan Cook is a MintPress contributor. Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. The post How Britain’s Labour Party Became a Criminal Conspiracy Against its Members appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Top Story, antisemitism, Israel, Israel Lobby, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, Labour Files]

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[l] at 9/28/22 9:39am
The Most Censored News with Lee Camp hosted by comedian/ writer/ raconteur/ provocateur/ saboteur Lee Camp is a twice-weekly look at the most censored stories within corporate media hosted by the new video platform Behind the Headlines – a MintPress video project that is 100% viewer supported.  Camp both brings to light stories that are (intentionally) ignored by the corporate media and digs deeper when the mainstream media only reports on the surface-layer reality. Having been a professional stand-up comic for 20 years, a writer for The Onion, and the host/head writer of Redacted Tonight, Camp is also uniquely suited to bring humor to these topics. A few weeks ago the Israeli military admitted that famed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by a bullet shot by an Israeli Occupation Forces sniper. This is something the entire world already knew, but it’s nice to see them admit it.  It always amazes me when the military does something awful and then they act like they need months to review the situation.  This is just the latest well-known event where the Israeli military murdered journalists. You see, the IOF has a long, impressive history of war crimes and morally bankrupt behavior. They’re like Bill Bryson except instead of charming bestselling books with light British humor, they have a long list of child murders. Even the UN found the IDF deliberately shot children a few years ago on the Gaza border. This is a horrific fact but it’s also interesting that, as a society, we’re far more upset about Israel killing innocent children than innocent adults. I feel like if you’re murdering innocent people, all of them should matter, not just the short ones. Sorry kids.  IOF war crimes have become so common that many hardly take notice. As major newspaper Ha’aretz put it, “…such acts have become the norm.” And it’s not like you have to do anything to get attacked by the Israeli military. One journalist was arrested the other day for posting on Facebook. You may wonder, “If the Israeli military is involved in so many disgusting acts, how do they manage to get millions of Israelis to sign up to do it?” It’s not that hard. Military service is mandatory in Israel. They don’t have a choice.  By the way, we really need to stop calling what soldiers do service. That implies that every action by a soldier is a service. I don’t feel like bombing villages, arresting peaceful activists and intentionally killing unarmed children should be listed as a “service we provide.”  The reason Israel has enough military personnel to keep their apartheid state going is that they make it mandatory. However, an increasing number of young people are actually refusing to sign up to be hitmen for the state.  +972 Magazine interviewed some of the teens who took this stand, “Conscientious objectors, commonly nicknamed “refuseniks,” are typically tried at the Recruitment Center and sentenced to prison terms of between 10 and 21 days. Upon their release, they are called to report back to the Recruitment Center, where they usually announce again that they still refuse to enlist.” This process can be repeated until the army decides to discharge them. Some end up spending months in prison for their courage. Here are some of the reasons these brave teenagers gave for refusing to join the IDF: One said, “I realized that there was no way I could serve in an army that for decades has been responsible for a violent regime.” Another stated, “if I join the army, regardless of the role, I am still part of an organization that has been oppressing the Palestinians for decades.” Another said, “the main goal of the army is the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews… This is something I cannot abide by — neither ideologically nor morally.” Basically, these teenagers have decided they don’t want to be a part of a racist, oppressive, murderous organization. That sounds incredibly rational. Watch the full report above. Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of Behind The Headlines’ new series: The Most Censored News With Lee Camp. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years. The post The One Thing The Israeli Military Is Terrified Of appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, News, Top Story, conscientious objectors, conscription, IDF, Israel, Lee Camp]

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[l] at 9/26/22 9:49am
Israel wants the world to believe that it is a majority Jewish state with a 20% Arab minority and that the Arab population enjoys a good standard of living and full equal rights. And while this is easy to disprove, it is still part of the mainstream discourse on Israel. It is true that at around two million people, the Palestinian citizens of Israel represent about twenty-one percent of Israeli citizens. However, Israel counts its Jewish citizens regardless of where they reside throughout the country – including the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and all Jewish Israelis are citizens. In contrast, Palestinians are only counted as citizens in certain parts of the country so that the government can present the numbers in a way that looks good. There are approximately seven and a half million Palestinians living in Palestine and under Israeli control. The total population of historic Palestine is approximately twelve million. One does not have to be a math genius to see that seven and a half is more than twenty percent of twelve. A lot more. Israel only counts the Palestinians who reside in the pre-1967 borders as citizens, but it counts Israeli Jews even if they live in the West Bank (or, as Israel calls it, Judea and Samaria.) This allows the Zionist State to pretend that five million Palestinians do not exist, even though it controls every aspect of their lives.   Minority Rule A Jewish majority has been an obsession for Zionists from the earliest days of their project in Palestine, and it continues to dominate the discourse today. While Israel tries to paint a picture of a Jewish majority state with an Arab minority, it is, in fact, the other way around. While the exact numbers of the population are somewhat disputed, there is no question that at best the Israeli and Palestinian populations in historic Palestine are at least equal, though more than likely Palestinians are a slight majority, perhaps by as much as one million. So at best it is an apartheid state where one half of the population controls the resources, the government, the armed forces, the police and the laws. What is more likely is that a minority of settlers who came to Palestine to colonize it over the last century are ruling a majority of Palestinians who are the natives of the land.   Who cares? If indeed the vision of a free Palestine is one of an egalitarian, non-racial democracy where every persons vote is counted and carries equal weight, then what does it matter which side is the majority? Well, it matters a great deal. To begin with, a free, democratic Palestine will need to have a constitution. And in this constitution, the rights of minorities must be protected. Furthermore, it is important to show that Israel is not a majority Jewish state but is very close to becoming, if it has not already, a state ruled by a minority of Jewish settlers. Israel wants to imagine that like France, where the majority of the population are French and European, so in Israel the majority of the people are Israel and mostly European. Also, as in France where the Arabs are immigrants, so in Israel the Arabs are immigrants. But this must be refuted and shown to be wrong. Israel is a settler-colonial project that has its roots in European settler-colonialism, and the Palestinians are the majority and the native population.   Legitimacy For Israel, a state that was established through theft, lies, and terrorism, legitimacy is the holy grail. They must create the myth of legitimacy and then protect it with everything they have got. And indeed, so they do. Any person, any organization, any idea that challenges its legitimacy is immediately labeled anti-Semitic and thus racist, and lacking in legitimacy itself. We who fight to liberate Palestine must stand on this issue and not allow Israel to get away with lies, violence, and the legitimizing of the theft in which it is engaged for close to one hundred years. So, back to the numbers. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the population of Israel is around nine million. Two million of those – or around 21% – according to the Bureau, are Palestinians. Even though they are not usually counted separately, they are part of a separate and distinct nation, the Palestinian nation. The population of what is commonly (albeit wrongly) referred to as Palestine – meaning the West Bank without the Jewish settlers and the Gaza Strip – stands at 5.38 million, according to several sources, including Worldometer. Together with the two million Palestinian citizens of Israel, that makes it close to seven and a half million Palestinians living within historic Palestine. The rest, about seven million, are Israeli Jews.   Jewish and undemocratic Whether or not Israel is in fact a Jewish state is a subject for another time. Because Zionism is a racist, nationalistic ideology, and Judaism is a religion, the two are in fact incompatible. However, even if we assume for a moment that this claim is true and that Israel is actually a Jewish state, a state that was established in an Arab country and which refers to itself as “Jewish” cannot claim to be democratic. At least half of the population that Israel governs is not Jewish, and so in order to be a so-called Jewish state, it must maintain a regime of apartheid. “A Jewish and democratic state,” as many Zionists like to call Israel, is in fact an oxymoron because this state is in Palestine which is a Muslim majority, Arab country. It means that the state denies citizen rights to at least half of the population it governs. The problem is larger than just numbers and citizenship rights. Israel is engaged in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide. And it is getting away with it. One way to combat this is to find these absurd contradictions between what Zionists claim is true and what Israel actually does and expose them. Israel is not a democracy, it never was, it is a criminal rogue regime with a shameless yet powerful terrorist organization for an army and all of this must be pointed out at every opportunity. Feature photo | Israeli policemen block an elder Palestinian woman from the streets during Jerusalem Day celebrations. Matan Golan | Sipa via AP Images Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books areThe Generals Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, and Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. The post Failing to Count the Arabs: the Myth of the Democratic Jewish State appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Top Story, Census, democaracy, Israel, Jewish State, Palestine, palestinian citizens of israel]

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[l] at 9/26/22 9:27am
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — Energy and food bills are soaring. Under the onslaught of inflation and prolonged wage stagnation, wages are in free fall. Billions of dollars are diverted by Western nations at a time of economic crisis and staggering income inequality to fund a proxy war in Ukraine. The liberal class, terrified by the rise of neo-fascism and demagogues such as Donald Trump, have thrown in their lot with discredited and reviled establishment politicians who slavishly do the bidding of the war industry, oligarchs and corporations. The bankruptcy of the liberal class means that those who decry the folly of permanent war and NATO expansion, mercenary trade deals, exploitation of workers by globalization, austerity and neoliberalism come increasingly from the far-right. This right-wing rage, dressed up in the United States as Christian fascism, has already made huge gains in Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Bulgaria and France and may take power in the Czech Republic, where inflation and rising energy costs have seen the number of Czechs falling below the poverty line double. By next spring, following a punishing winter of rolling blackouts and months when families struggle to pay for food and heat, what is left of our anemic western democracy could be largely extinguished. Extremism is the political cost of pronounced social inequality and political stagnation. Demagogues, who promise moral and economic renewal, vengeance against phantom enemies and a return to lost glory, rise out of the morass. Hatred and violence, already at the boiling point, are legitimized. A reviled ruling class, and the supposed civility and  democratic norms it espouses, are ridiculed. It is not, as the philosopher Gabriel Rockhill points out, as if fascism ever went away. “The U.S. did not defeat fascism in WWII,” he writes, “it discretely internationalized it.” After World War II the U.S., U.K. and other Western governments collaborated with hundreds of former Nazis and Japanese war criminals, who they integrated into western intelligence services, as well as fascist regimes such as those in Spain and Portugal. They supported right-wing anti-communist forces in Greece during its civil war in 1946 to 1949, and then backed a right-wing military coup in 1967. NATO also had a secret policy of operating fascist terrorist groups. Operation Gladio, as the BBC detailed in a now-forgotten investigative series, created “secret armies,” networks of illegal stay-behind soldiers, who would remain behind enemy lines if the Soviet Union made a military move into Europe. In actuality, the “secret armies” carried-out assassinations, bombings, massacres and false flag terror attacks against leftists, trade unionists and others throughout Europe. See my interview with Stephen Kinzer about the post-war activities of the CIA, including its recruitment of Nazi and Japanese war criminals and its creation of black sites where former Nazis were hired to interrogate, torture and murder suspected leftists, labor leaders and communists, detailed in his book Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, here. Fascism, which has always been with us, is again ascendant. The far-right politician Giorgia Meloni is expected to become Italy’s first female prime minister after elections on Sunday. In a coalition with two other far-right parties, Meloni is forecast to win more than 60 percent of the seats in Parliament, though the left-leaning 5-Star Movement may put a dent in those expectations. Meloni got her start in politics as a 15-year-old activist for the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, founded after the World War II by supporters of Benito Mussolini. She calls EU bureaucrats agents of “nihilistic global elites driven by international finance.” She peddles the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that non-white immigrants are being permitted to enter Western nations as part of a plot to undermine or “replace” the political power and culture of white people. She has called on the Italian navy to turn back boats with immigrants, which the far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did in 2018. Her Fratelli d’Italia, Brothers of Italy, party is a close ally of Hungary’s President, Viktor Orban. A European Parliament resolution recently declared that Hungary can no longer be defined as a democracy. Meloni and Orban are not alone. Sweden Democrats, which took over 20 percent of the vote in Sweden’s general election last week to become the country’s second largest political party, was formed in 1988 from a neo-Nazi group called B.S.S., or Keep Sweden Swedish. It has deep fascist roots. Of the party’s 30 founders, 18 had Nazi affiliations, including several who served in the Waffen SS, according to Tony Gustaffson a historian and former Sweden Democrat member. France’s Marine Le Pen took over 41 percent of the vote in April against Emmanuel Macron. In Spain, the hard-right Vox party is the third largest party in Spain’s Parliament. The far-right German AfD or Alternative for Germany party took over 12 percent in federal elections in 2017, making it the third largest party, though it lost a couple percentage points in the 2021 elections. The U.S. has its own version of fascism embodied in a Republican party that coalesces in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump, embraces the magical thinking, misogyny, homophobia and white supremacy of the Christian Right and actively subverts the election process. Economic collapse was indispensable to the Nazis’ rise to power. In the 1928 elections in Germany, the Nazi party received less than 3 percent of the vote. Then came the global financial crash of 1929. By early 1932, 40 percent of the German insured workforce, six million people, were unemployed. That same year, the Nazis became the largest political party in the German parliament. The Weimar government, tone deaf and hostage to the big industrialists, prioritized paying bank loans and austerity rather than feeding and employing a desperate population. It foolishly imposed severe restrictions on who was eligible for unemployment insurance. Millions of Germans went hungry. Desperation and rage rippled through the population. Mass rallies, led by a collection of buffoonish Nazis in brown uniforms who would have felt at home at Mar-a-Lago, denounced Jews, Communists, intellectuals, artists and the ruling class, as internal enemies. Hate was their main currency. It sold well. The evisceration of democratic procedures and institutions, however, preceded the Nazis’ ascension to power in 1933. The Reichstag, the German Parliament, was as dysfunctional as the U.S. Congress.  The Socialist leader Friedrich Ebert, president from 1919 until 1925, and later Heinrich Brüning, chancellor from 1930 to 1932, relied on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to largely rule by decree to bypass the fractious Parliament. Article 48, which granted the president the right in an emergency to issue decrees, was “a trapdoor through which Germany could fall into dictatorship,”  historian Benjamin Carter Hett writes. Article 48 was the Weimar equivalent of the executive orders liberally used by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, to bypass our own legislative impasses. As in 1930s Germany, our courts  — especially the Supreme Court — have been seized by extremists. The press has bifurcated into antagonistic tribes where lies and truth are indistinguishable, and opposing sides are demonized. There is little dialogue or compromise, the twin pillars of a democratic system. The two ruling parties slavishly serve the dictates of the war industry, global corporations and the oligarchy, to which it has given huge tax cuts. It has established the most pervasive and intrusive system of government surveillance in human history. It runs the largest prison system in the world. It has militarized the police. Democrats are as culpable as Republicans. The Obama administration interpreted the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force as giving the executive branch the right to erase due process and act as judge, jury and executioner in assassinating U.S. citizens, starting with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Two weeks later, a U.S. drone strike killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar’s 16-year-old son, who was never linked to terrorism, along with 9 other teenagers at a cafe in Yemen. It was the Obama administration that signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, overturning the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force. It was the Obama administration that bailed out Wall Street and abandoned Wall Street’s victims. It was the Obama administration that repeatedly used the Espionage Act to criminalize those, such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who exposed government lies, crimes and fraud. And it was the Obama administration that massively expanded the use of militarized drones. The Nazis responded to the February 1933 burning of the Reichstag, which they likely staged, by employing Article 48 to push through the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. The fascists instantly snuffed out the pretense of Weimar democracy. They legalized  imprisonment without trial for anyone considered a national security threat. They abolished independent labor unions, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press, along with the privacy of postal and telephone communications. The step from dysfunctional democracy to full blown fascism was, and will again be, a small one. The hatred for the ruling class, embodied by the establishment Republican and Democratic parties, which have merged into one ruling party, is nearly universal. The public, battling inflation that is at a 40-year high and cost the average U.S. household an additional $717 a month in July alone, will increasingly see any political figure or political party willing to attack the traditional ruling elites as an ally. The more crude, irrational or vulgar the attack, the more the disenfranchised rejoice. These sentiments are true here and in Europe, where energy costs are expected to rise by as much as 80 percent this winter and an inflation rate of 10 percent is eating away at incomes. The reconfiguration of society under neoliberalism to exclusively benefit the billionaire class, the slashing and privatization of public services, including schools, hospitals and utilities, along with deindustrialization, the profligate pouring of state funds and resources into the war industry, at the expense of the nation’s infrastructure and social services, and the building of the world’s largest prison system and militarization of police, have predictable results. At the heart of the problem is a loss of faith in traditional forms of government and democratic solutions. Fascism in the 1930s succeeded, as Peter Drucker observed, not because people believed its conspiracy theories and lies but in spite of the fact that they saw through them. Fascism thrived in the face of “a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.” He added, “nobody would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.” As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation. Hett defines the Nazis as “a nationalist protest movement against globalization.” The rise of the new fascism has its roots in a similar exploitation by global corporations and oligarchs. More than anything else, people want to regain control over their lives, if only to punish those blamed and scapegoated for their misery. We have seen this movie before. Feature photo | Original illustration by Mr. Fish Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. The post Chris Hedges: The Return of Fascism appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Insights, National, Chris Hedges, Christian fascism, fascism, Italy, United States]

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[l] at 9/26/22 9:10am
The introduction of an Israeli Mossad agent as the latest Marvel movie character crosses the line, even by Hollywoods poor moral standards. However, the Israeli superhero, Sabra, must be understood within the rational progression of the Israelification of Hollywood, a phenomenon that is surprisingly new. Sabra is a relatively old character, dating back to a Marvel comic, the Incredible Hulk, in 1980. On September 10, however, it was announced that the Israeli character will be included in an upcoming Marvel film, ‘Captain America: New World Order’. Expectedly, many pro-Palestine activists in the United States and around the world fumed. It is one thing to introduce an ordinary Israeli character, with the mere aim of normalizing Israel, an unrepenting apartheid state, in the eyes of Marvel’s impressionable young audiences; but it is far more sinister to normalize a state intelligence agency, the Mossad, known for its numerous bloody assassinations, sabotage and torture. By adding Sabra to its cast of superheroes, Marvel Studios has shown its complete disregard for the massive campaign by millions of fans around the world who, in 2017, protested the inclusion of a former Israeli soldier, Gal Gadot, as Marvel’s Wonder Woman. Gadot is a vocal supporter of the Israeli government and military. In response to the news, many rightly highlighted Hollywoods inherent bias, starting in the 1960’s movie, Exodus, by Otto Preminger, with Paul Newman as the lead actor, which provided pseudo-historical justification for the colonization of Palestine by the Zionists. Ever since, Israel has been elevated, celebrated and included in an ever-positive context by Hollywood, while Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians continue to be vilified. Although Israel was represented in a positive light by Hollywood filmmakers, the Israelis themselves were quite marginal in the content creation process. Until recently, the Israel construct was mostly built on behalf of Israel, not by Israel itself. “Things began to change in 1997,” wrote Brian Schaefer in ‘Moment Magazine’. It was then that the L.A. Federation’s Entertainment Division and the Jewish Agency launched the project, the ‘Master Class’, which, “for nearly 15 years brought countless actors, directors, producers, agents, managers and top studio and network executives to Israel, introducing many of them to the country for the first time, and taught Israelis how to pitch their projects.” The indoctrination of American actors and filmmakers through these visits and the introduction of many Israeli actors and filmmakers to Hollywood paid dividends, leading to a major change of narrative on Israel. Instead of simply communicating Israel to American and international audiences using references to historical victimization, positive association or even humor, Israelis began to make their case through Hollywood directly. And, unlike the haphazardness of past messages good Israel, bad Arabs the new messages are far more sophisticated, tailored around specific ideas, and designed with full awareness of the politics of each era. Steven Spielberg’s movie, Munich (2005), was released within the cultural context of the US invasion of Iraq as part of Washington’s so-called ‘war on terror’, where human rights were violated on a global scale. Munich was a selective ‘historical’ account of the supposedly difficult choices that Israel, namely the Mossad, had to make to fight its own ‘war on terror’. That was the era when Tel Aviv tirelessly underscored its affinity to Washington, now that both countries are purportedly victims of ‘Islamic extremists’. Unlike Munich, the widely popular TV series Homeland was not just another pro-Israel American argument that justifies Israeli wars and violence. The series itself, one of the most racist, islamophobic shows on television, was entirely modeled after the Israeli show HaTufim ‘Prisoners of War’ or ‘Abductees’. The writer and director of the Israeli show, Gideon Raff, has been included in the American version of the show, serving as an executive producer. The change in the ownership of the narrative may seem superficial as pro-Israel Holywood propaganda is being replaced by organic Israeli propaganda. However, this is not the case. The pro-Israel agenda of the past the romanticization that followed the creation of Israel in 1948   did not last long. The Israeli defeat of Arab armies in 1967 thanks to the massive US military support of Tel Aviv replaced the image of nascent, vulnerable Israel with that of the brave Israeli army, capable of defeating several militaries at once. It was then that Israeli soldiers toured US colleges and schools talking about their heroism on the battlefield. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent massacres, like that of Sabra and Shatila, forced a rethink. Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, Israel largely existed in Hollywood as a comic relief, from shows like Friends, Frasier and, more recently, the Big Bang Theory. References to Israel were often followed by a laugh a clever, and effective way of linking Israel with positive, happy associations. The ‘war on terror’, starting in 2001, coupled with the creation of the ‘Master Class’ project, allowed Israel to return to the Hollywood universe, not as an occasional reference, but as a staple, with Israeli shows, or joint US-Israeli productions, defining a whole new genre: making difficult choices to fight terrorism and ultimately save the world. The exploitation of Israeli women on Magazine covers for example, Maxim was a whole different shady business, catering to a different audience. The half-naked Israeli army girls have succeeded, in the minds of many, in justifying war through sexual imagery. This genre became particularly popular following the bloody Israeli wars on Gaza, which killed thousands. Israel’s growing influence on the Marvel movies is a combination of all of these elements: the sexualization of the supposedly strong, empowered woman, the normalization of those who carry out Israeli crimes Gadot, the soldier, Sabra, the Mossad agent and the direct injection of Israeli priorities as part of everyday American reality. Yet, there is a silver lining. For decades, Israel has hidden behind false, romanticized historical notions, making its case to the US and other western public, often indirectly. The wars on Gaza, the exponential growth of the Palestinian boycott movement and the proliferation of social media have, however, forced Israel out of hiding. The new Hollywood Israel is now a warrior, often forced to make difficult moral choices, but it is, like its American counterpart, ultimately a force for good. Whether Israel will succeed in maintaining this image will depend on several factors, including the pro-Palestinian communities’ ability to counter such falsehood and hasbara. Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post From Exodus to Marvel: The Israelification of Hollywood appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Captain America: New World Order, Hollywood, Israel, Mossad, Sabra]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/23/22 11:14am
  The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. Lowkey begins this latest episode by delving into recent revelations around the case of Shamima Begum, a British national who fled the U.K. as a teenager and joined ISIS in Syria.  Lowkey examines the new admission that a Canadian secret service agent trafficked at least 140 British citizens into Syria. He also examines Turkish police claims that this agents handler was believed to be British intelligence working out of the Canadian Embassy. It is important to remember that the British Monarch is the head of state in Canada. When asked about these activities, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau responded that his intelligence agencies must be creative and flexible. To gauge the response to this, Lowkey is joined by Sally Letts, the mother of Jack Letts, a Canadian citizen who is currently detained in a prison in Northern Syria after travelling there during the war. Both Letts and Begum have had their British citizenship stripped by the government, despite the question marks surrounding their journeys there. As a direct reply to Trudeau, Sally Letts suggests his statement could be read as meaning that it is “perfectly acceptable for the Canadian Security Service here to engage in child trafficking.” Richard Walton, former head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, sought to justify this policy: If you are running agents on the ground, you are acquiescing to what they are doing. You are turning a blind eye”. During the podcast, Sally and Lowkey explored the Active Change Foundation and its curious role in obtaining the conviction of her and her husband for funding terrorism. Their son had been imprisoned three times by ISIS and his family sought to rescue him. Discussing how this Prevent-backed counter-extremist organization, which initially portrayed itself to be an ally to the family, was secretly gathering intel and giving false impressions to the family about rescuing their son. This in turn led to the conviction of Jack’s parents. Thus, the steps taken by Active Change Foundation toward the Letts family are eerily reminiscent of FBI entrapment cases in the United States. Sally Letts identifies parallel similarities between her son’s case and Shamima Begum, pointing out that the person who facilitated Jacks journey to Syria has gone uncharged by the police, despite ample evidence. Sally told Lowkey that the family now believes it likely that the person that facilitated Jacks entry is an informant of the intelligence services. She laments the dehumanization of both Shamima Begum and her son Jack have been, Demonized as monsters. They are not given human rights like other people…universal human rights seem to have been thrown out the window in all of these cases under the guise of terrorism.” Join Lowkey today for a critically important discussion about current events and the future of the world, and do not forget to subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times. The post How Western Intelligence Agents Trafficked Teens into ISIS’ Hands, with Sally Letts  appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Podcasts, Top Story, active change foundation, ISIS, Jack Letts, Lowkey, Sally Letts, shamima begum]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/23/22 10:03am
Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes. “By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israels authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet. Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms. Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.   Marvel and Israel’s deepening relationship Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War. Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation League, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology. The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019. President Trump shakes hands with Isaac Ike Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica. Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians. Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book. Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project. She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson. Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities. Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater. The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.   Marvel’s links to US Militarism and Intelligence Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe. In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise. The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War. With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years. With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News. The post Marvel Heads Revealed to be Closely Connected to Israeli Intelligence appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Inside Stories, National, Top Story, Isaac Perlmutter, Israel, Marvel, Propaganda, Shira Haas]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/23/22 10:03am
Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes. “By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israels authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet. Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms. Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.   Marvel and Israel’s deepening relationship Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War. Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation League, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology. The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019. President Trump shakes hands with Isaac Ike Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica. Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians. Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book. Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project. She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson. Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities. Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater. The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.   Marvel’s links to US Militarism and Intelligence Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe. In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise. The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War. With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years. With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News. The post Marvel Heads Revealed to be Closely Connected to Israel Intelligence appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Inside Stories, National, Top Story, Isaac Perlmutter, Israel, Marvel, Propaganda, Shira Haas]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/23/22 10:03am
Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes. “By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israels authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet. Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms. Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.   Marvel and Israel’s deepening relationship Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War. Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation League, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology. The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019. President Trump shakes hands with Isaac Ike Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica. Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians. Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book. Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project. She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson. Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities. Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater. The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.   Marvel’s links to US Militarism and Intelligence Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe. In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise. The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War. With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years. With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News. The post Marvel Heads Revealed to be Closely Connected to Israel Lobby appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Inside Stories, National, Top Story, Isaac Perlmutter, Israel, Marvel, Propaganda, Shira Haas]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/23/22 8:10am
In his anticipated speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is expected to, once more, make a passionate plea for the recognition of Palestine as a full member. Abbas’ ‘landmark speech’ would not be the first time that the President of the Palestinian Authority has lobbied for such a status. In September 2011, the PA’s quest for full recognition was stymied by the Barack Obama Administration, forcing Palestinians to opt for the next best option, a ‘symbolic’ victory at the General Assembly the following year. In November 2012, UNGA Resolution 67/19 granted the State of Palestine a non-member observer status. In some ways, the Resolution proved to be, indeed, symbolic, as it altered nothing on the ground. To the contrary, the Israeli occupation has worsened since then, a convoluted system of apartheid deepened and, in the absence of any political horizon, Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements expanded like never before. Moreover, much of the occupied Palestinian West Bank is being actively annexed to Israel, a process that initiated a slow but systematic campaign of expulsion, which is felt from occupied East Jerusalem to Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron hills. Proponents of Abbas’ diplomacy, however, cite such facts as the admission of Palestine into over 100 international treaties, organizations, and conventions. The Palestinian strategy seems to be predicated on achieving full sovereignty status at the UN, so that Israel will then be recognized as an occupier, not merely of Palestinian ‘territories’ but of an actual state. Israel and its allies in Washington and other Western capitals understand this well, thus their constant mobilization against Palestinian efforts. Considering the dozens of times Washington has used its veto power at the UN Security Council to shield Israel, the use of veto is also likely, should Palestinians return to the UNSC with their full-membership application. Abbas’ international diplomacy, however, seems to lack a national component. The 87-year-old Palestinian leader is hardly popular with his own people. Among the reasons that resulted in his lack of support, aside from the endemic corruption, is the PA’s continued ‘security coordination’ with the very Israeli occupation that Abbas rages against in his annual UN speeches. These ‘coordinations’, which are generously funded by Washington, translate into the daily arrest of anti-occupation Palestinian activists and political dissidents. Even when the Donald Trump Administration decided to cut off all aid, including humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in 2018, the $60 million allocated to funding the PA’s security coordination with Israel remained untouched. Such a major contradiction has taught Palestinians to lower their expectations regarding their leader’s promises of full independence, albeit symbolic. But the contradictions did not start with Abbas and the PA, and certainly do not end with them. Palestine’s relationship with the world’s largest international institution is marred with contradictions. Though the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 remains the main historical frame of reference to the colonization of Palestine by the Zionist movement, United Nations Resolution 181 was equally, and to some extent, even more important. The Balfour Declaration’s significance stems from the fact that colonial Britain which was later granted a ‘Mandate’ over Palestine by the League of Nations, the predecessor of today’s UN has made the first officially written commitment to the Zionist movement to grant them Palestine. “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” the text read, in part. This quest, or ‘promise’, as known by many, would have culminated to nothing tangible, if it were not for the fact that the Zionist movement’s other colonial, western allies successfully managed to turn it into a reality. It took exactly 30 years for the Zionist quest to translate the pledge of Britain’s Foreign Secretary at the time, Arthur James Balfour, into a reality. UN Resolution 181 of November 1947 is the political basis upon which Israel existed. Though the current boundaries of the State of Israel by far exceed the space allocated to it by the UN’s partition plan, the Resolution nonetheless is often used to provide a legal foundation for Israel’s existence, while chastising the Arabs for refusing to accept what they rightly perceived then to be an unjust deal. Since then, the Palestinians continue to struggle in their relationship with the United Nations, a relationship that is governed by numerous contradictions. In 1947, the United Nations “was largely a club of European countries, English white-settler states and Latin American countries ruled by colonial Spanish-descendant elites,” former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestine, Michael Lynk, wrote in a recent article regarding the partition of historic Palestine. Though the geographic and demographic makeup of the UN has vastly changed since then, real power continues to be concentrated in the hands of the former western colonial regimes which, aside from the US, include Britain and France. These three countries represent the majority of the UNSC permanent members. Their political, military and other forms of support for Israel remain as strong as ever. Until the power distribution at the UN reflects the true democratic wishes of the world’s population, Palestinians are deemed to remain at a disadvantage at the UNSC. Even Abbas’ fiery speeches will not alter this. In his memoir, referenced in Lynk’s article, former British diplomat, Brian Urquhart, ‘who helped launch the UN’, wrote that “the partition of Palestine was the first major decision of the fledgling United Nations, its first major crisis and, quite arguably, its first major misstep”. But will the UN’s current power paradigm allow it to finally correct this historic ‘misstep’ by providing Palestinians with the long-delayed justice and freedom? Not quite yet, but global geopolitical changes underway might present an opening which, if navigated correctly, could serve as a source of hope that there are alternatives to western bias, US vetoes and Israel’s historic intransigence. Feature photo | Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, attends the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 at U.N. headquarters. Mary Altaffer | AP Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Will the United Nations Finally Deliver Justice for Palestine? appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, general assembly, Israel, Palestine, UNGA Resolution 67/19, United Nations]

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[l] at 9/23/22 4:00am
The Israel Files is a new MintPress series exploring and highlighting the many revelations about the Israeli occupation of Palestine that WikiLeaks documents disclosed. It hopes to shed light on many of the most important and underreported revelations the publishing group exposed.  As Israel was launching a deadly assault on Gaza, killing thousands of civilians and displacing more than 100,000 people, many of America’s top TV, music and film producers were organizing to protect the apartheid state’s reputation from widespread international condemnation. Together, the Sony Archive – a cache of emails published by Wikileaks – prove that influential entertainment magnates attempted to whitewash Israeli crimes and present the situation as defending itself from an impending “genocide”, liaised with Israeli military and government officials in order to coordinate their message, attempted to cancel those who spoke out against the injustice, and put financial and social pressure on institutions who hosted artists criticizing the apartheid government’s actions.   As Israel attacks, Hollywood plays defense “[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives. This was in response to the unprovoked 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, one of the bloodiest chapters in over half a century of occupation. Named “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli military engaged in seven weeks of near-constant bombing of the densely populated coastal strip. According to the United Nations, over 2,000 people were killed – a quarter of them children. 18,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless. The Israeli military deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant and shutting down its water treatment plants, leading to economic, social and ecological devastation in an area Human Rights Watch has labeled the world’s largest “open air prison”. Many in Hollywood expressed deep concern. “We must make sure that never happens again”, insisted producer Ron Rotholz. Rotholz, however, was not referring to the death and destruction Israel imposed on Gaza, but to the fact that many of the entertainment world’s biggest stars, including celebrity power couple, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, had condemned Israel’s actions, labeling them tantamount to “genocide.” . “Change must start from the top down. It should be unheard of and unacceptable for any Academy Award-winning actor to call the legitimate armed defense of ones territory…genocide” he continued, worrying that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a worldwide campaign to put economic pressure on Israel in an attempt to push it to meet its obligations under international law – was gaining steam in the world of the arts. Israel’s legitimacy rests upon political and military support from the U.S. Therefore, maintaining support among the American public is crucial to the long term viability of its settler colonial project. Rotholz then attempted to organize a silent, worldwide pressure campaign on arts venues and organizations, including the Motion Picture Academy in Hollywood and the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, to stamp out BDS, writing, What we can do is urge the leaders of major film, TV and theater organisations, festivals, markets and potentially the heads of media corporations to issue official statements condemning any form of cultural or economic boycotts against Israel.” Others agreed that they had to develop a “game plan” for opposing BDS. Of course, when influential producers, festivals and heads of media corporations release statements condemning a certain position or practice, this is, in effect, a threat: stop taking these positions or suffer the professional consequences.   Loach on the brain The Sony emails also reveal a near obsession with British filmmaker and social activist Ken Loach. The celebrated director’s film, “Jimmy’s Hall” had recently been nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the wake of Israel’s assault on Gaza, he had publicly called for a cultural and sporting boycott of the apartheid state. This outraged many in Hollywood. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, a film producing company responsible for financing more than 200 movies, demanded that not only Loach, but the whole Cannes Film Festival be cancelled. “The studios and networks alike must join together and boycott cannes,” he wrote. “If we dont we are sending a message that another holocaust is fine with Hollywood as long as it is business as usual,” he added, framing the Israeli attack on a near-defenseless civilian population as a Palestinian genocide of Israelis. Others agreed. Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and producer of shows such as “The Office”, “The Biggest Loser” and Ugly Betty” said that the industry should “boycott the boycotters”. Rotholz, meanwhile, wrote to the head of the Cannes Film Festival, demanding that he take action against Loach for his comments. “There is no place for [Loach’s intolerant and hateful remarks] in the global world of film and filmmakers”, he insisted. . Others came up with another way of countering Loach. “How about we all club together and make a documentary about the rise of new anti-Semitism in Europe,” suggested British film producer Cassian Elwes, adding, I would be willing to contribute and put time into it if others here would do the same. Between all of us Im sure we could figure out a way to distribute it and get it into places like Cannes so we could have a response to guys like Loach. Perhaps we try to use it to rally support from film communities in Europe to help us distribute it there”. “I love it,” replied publishing oligarch Jason Binn, “And I will promote it in a major way to all 3.2 million magazine subscribers across all on and offline platforms. I can even leverage Gilts 9 million members,” he added, referring to the shopping and lifestyle website he managed. “Me too,” said Amy Pascal, the Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Meanwhile, Mark Canton, producer of movies such as “Get Carter”, “Immortals” and “300” busied himself drumming up more Hollywood support for the idea. “Adding Carmi Zlotnik to this growing list”, he replied, referencing the TV executive. This whole correspondence was from an email chain of dozens of high-powered entertainment figures entitled “Happy New Year. Too bad Germany is now a no travel zone for Jews,” which ludicrously claimed that the European country had become a Muslim-controlled Islamic theocracy. . “It is horrible. But in the end, it is no surprise, because apologists for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians will go to any length to prevent the people opposing them,” Mr. Loach said, when asked for comment by MintPress. “We shouldn’t underestimate the hatred of those who cannot tolerate the idea that Palestinians have human rights, that Palestine is a state; and they have their country,” he added.   Shutting down free expression The pro-Israel group in Hollywood also put serious pressure on American institutions to crack down on support for Palestinian human rights. Silverman revealed that he had written to Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, in an effort to shut down a performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer”, an opera that tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of an airliner by the Palestine Liberation Front. “I suggest though that we each call him on Monday at his office at the Met and your point about the Met’s donors’ leverage is important,” he advised the other entertainment oligarchs, thereby shining a light on how the powerful move in secret to silence speech they do not approve of, and how they use their financial clout to coerce and strong-arm others into toeing their line. A lot of pressure was necessary, because, as Silverman explained, “as members of the artistic community it is very hard to be pro free speech only some of the time and not all of the time.” Ultimately, the performance did go ahead, but not without a large and coordinated protest both inside and outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as individuals attempted to shut down the performance, claiming it was “antisemitic.”   Liaising with the IDF The email conversations of many of Hollywood’s most influential individuals show that they believe they are on the verge of a worldwide extermination of Jews, and that Israel – and themselves – are the only things standing in the way of this impending fate. As Kavanaugh wrote, “Its our job to keep another Holocaust from happening. Many of you may think that cant happen, that is extreme…[but] If you pull newspapers from pre Holocaust it seems eerily close to our world today.” Rotholz was of a similar opinion, writing that, It is imperative that leading figures in the LA/NY film, tv, media, digital and theater communities who support a strong and potent Jewish state develop a strategy for liasing with colleagues in London and Europe and also with the creative communities here and in Europe to promote and explain the Israeli cause.” The Sony Archive emails also show that, not only were Tinsel Town’s top brass coordinating strategies to silence critics of Israel, but that they were also closely liaising with the Israeli government and its military. Producer George Perez, for example, messaged his colleagues in the chain email to introduce them to an IDF colonel, stating (emphasis added), Everyone please use this reply all list from here on.  I have included Kobi Marom a retired commander in the Israeli army. Kobi was kind enough to give my family and I a jeep tour of the Golan Heights during our June trip to Israel.  He also took us to visit an army base on the border of Israel and Syria, an area which has been in the news lately.  Hard to imagine that the kids that we met at the base are most likely engaged in combat with our enemies.” Seeing as the large majority of those who died were Palestinian civilians, it is unclear whether he considers all Palestinians or just Hamas as enemies of Hollywood. Perez also noted that “Kobi works closely with the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) who are in need of donations,” and advised that Hollywood needed to “dig deep to help in the constant struggle for the survival of Israel.” Hollywood celebrities, including famed producer Haim Saban and actress Fran Drescher, pose with IDF soldiers at the FIDF Western Region Gala The group also attempted to recruit Israeli-American movie star Natalie Portman into their ranks. But the Academy Award-winning actress appeared more concerned that her personal details were being shared. “How did I get on this list? Also Ryan Seacrest?” she replied, before directly addressing Kavanaugh, writing, [C]an you please remove me from this email list? you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i dont know have my personal info. i will have to change my email address now.  thank you”. While Portman’s open contempt for the group of rabidly pro-Israel producers is notable, more so was Kavanaugh’s response, which revealed how close the connection between the Israeli state and Hollywood is. Kavanaugh wrote back, Sorry. You are right Jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and Cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important than your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies…I had lunch yesterday with Israel consulate general who brought J street up to me. He was so perplexed confused and concerned when he heard you supported them that he begged me to connect you two.” Thus, the leaked emails prove beyond any doubt that both the Israeli government and the IDF liaise with some of the most powerful people in the entertainment world in order to push forward a pro-Israel message and stamp out any deviance from that line.   Hip hoppers for apartheid While their efforts at recruiting Portman fell flat, one star who responded enthusiastically was hip hop mega producer Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and the brother of Joseph “Rev.Run” Simmons, one third of Run DMC. Simmons has recently been the subject of controversy, after 20 women have come forward, charging him with rape or other sexual misconduct. The emails reveal that promoting engagement with Israel within the African-American community is one of Simmons’ primary interests. When asked if he had any ideas how to improve Israel’s image, he said, “Simple messaging from non Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and Israels right to exist…We have resources and the desire to win rather than lose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews.” . What these resources were, he explained, We have hundreds of collaboration programs between Imams Rabbis and their congregations We have many respected imams who would join former chief rabbi metzker (spelling) rabbi Schneier and non Jews in promoting the Saudi peace plan”. “Through this campaign we will be helping Israel,” he concluded.   Turning the tide Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state. Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “[T] veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.” Nevertheless, U.S. government support for Israel continues to rise. Between 2019 and 2028, it is scheduled to send nearly $40 billion in aid, almost all of it military, meaning that American taxpayer funds are contributing to Palestinian oppression and displacement. Loach was even more upbeat on the issue, telling us that those who stand in the way of justice will be judged poorly by history, stating, The denial of human rights of the Palestinians is one of the great crimes [of the modern era] and Palestinian rights is one of the great causes of last century and this century. We should all support the Palestinians. If you have any care for human rights, there is no question: the Palestinians have to be supported. And these people who oppose them, in the end, will fade away. Because history will show this was a terrible crime. Palestinians suffered ethnic cleansing of their homeland. We have to support the Palestinians, full stop.” Those people, however, have no intention of “fading away”, and continue to organize on behalf of the Israeli government. Thanks to the leaked documents, those who care about Palestinian self-determination have a clearer understanding of how they operate. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post The Israel Files: Wikileaks Docs Show Top Hollywood Producers Working with Israel to Defend its War Crimes appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Inside Stories, Investigations, National, Top Story, Hollywood, Israel, Palestine, Sony Archive, Wikileaks]

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[l] at 9/21/22 9:31am
In late July, a shocking interview with a captured Azov Battalion fighter began circulating online. In the clip, the prisoner-of-war claimed that Oleksiy Arestovych, once a key advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, had, prior to the war, ordered his Neo-Nazi regiment (among other military units) to carry out and film “brutal murders” of captured Russian soldiers in service of an “information campaign.” The purpose of this effort, the Azov fighter claimed, was to transmit the grisly footage to Russia in order to stoke anti-war sentiment among the population, and thus protests and upheaval. Incendiary confessions and allegations emanating from prisoners-of-war should always be treated with intense skepticism. The likelihood they will be made under significant duress, and/or result from extensive coaching, is invariably high. Nonetheless, there are sound reasons not to reflexively discount the nameless combatant’s testimony. While you would barely know it from Western media reporting, countless Russian soldiers have been tortured and killed in the most savage ways imaginable post-capture, each and every horrifying incident representing a grave war crime. There are numerous reports of prisoners being burnt with blowtorches and/or having their eyes gouged out before execution, and even those kept alive are frequently shot in their kneecaps to cripple them for life. Accompanying clips are voluminous, and have traveled widely. As such, questions can only abound over whether this is a matter of dedicated strategy for Kiev, rather than the isolated, vengeful actions of individual soldiers or units, particularly given numerous officials have made dire public threats about the fate that awaits Russians should they participate in the war. For example, a senior battlefield doctor told Ukrainian state media in late March he had ordered his staff to castrate captives, as they were “cockroaches”. Arestovych has also over the years made numerous deeply concerning comments endorsing ISIS, in particular the terror group’s “cruelty for show,” which he believes to be a “wise strategy.” “They are acting very correctly…Those methods, the world needs them, even though this means terrorism, medieval levels of cruelty, burning people alive, shooting them or cutting off their heads. This is absolutely the way of the future,” he said in one TV interview. Even more compellingly, leaked documents reviewed by MintPress show covert plans to “achieve influence” with Russians and turn them against the war and their government have been drawn up by a shadowy British intelligence contractor, led by an individual intimately tied to a previous clandestine effort aimed at achieving the same end, using atrocity propaganda from the Syrian crisis, in which Ukraine was also central. As we shall see, there is no reason to believe this effort will be anything but counterproductive, and in the process put the liberty if not lives of Russians at significant risk, while emboldening the Kremlin significantly, and furthering its informational objectives.   ‘A stream of narrative opportunities’ The proposals were crafted by Valent Projects, exposed by MintPress in July as running a sinister social media censorship operation on behalf of U.S. intelligence front USAID, in conjunction with Chemonics International, which its own founder has admitted was created so he could “have my own CIA.” The contractor was the primary conduit via which U.S. funds and equipment reached bogus Syrian humanitarian group the White Helmets. Submitted to the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine, a support mechanism created by the governments of Britain, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S., the pair pledged to “map audiences critical to the Kremlin’s efforts, and identify opportunities to impact their narratives,” in order to support Kiev’s “strategic communications efforts.” This would provide key decision makers within the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and the Office of the President “a stream of ‘narrative opportunities’” with which to “influence” and “engage” audiences not only in Russia, but “other key states” including India and Turkey, via news outlets and social media. Valent pledged to not only identify potential target demographics, but “their prevailing worldviews, how they access information and what narratives are likely to influence them,” and monitor their online interactions in real-time, in particular identifying when “key audiences express potential tension with official positions,” which could be exploited by Kiev. This data could be segmented for different government departments, if say Defense chiefs were “interested in different audiences” than their Foreign Affairs counterparts. Overall, the entire Ukrainian administration would, it was pledged, be able to “affect measurable attitudinal and behavioral change amongst key Russian audiences” with Valent’s help. While no mention is made in the document of this setup being used to further Arestovych’s macabre purported plans, it would certainly provide an efficacious means of achieving them. What is more though, there are sinister echoes in the proposal of an operation conducted by British intelligence contractor InCoStrat during the Syrian crisis, which was led by Valent’s founder-and-chief, Amil Khan. Dubbed “Project Aurelius”, it sought to “increase the cost to the Russian leadership of sustained or increased intervention in the Syrian conflict by sensitizing Russian public opinion to the opportunity costs of their intervention in the conflict” – in the process not only ending the country’s decisive military involvement in the West’s dirty war, but destabilizing the government by disrupting its “domestic balancing act.” A document related to the connivance spells out a “basic mechanism to achieving” its lofty objectives. In brief, it entailed “leveraging the reality of Russia’s Syria intervention as depicted in Syrian opposition media and presenting it to key Russian audiences, including mainstream news consumers.” InCoStrat avowedly had “a number of assets already available to build this mechanism,” including “access to opposition-made media products” producing content refuting “Russian claims”, “the ability to task Syrian opposition media activists to capture raw material,” and “international communications specialists” based in Jordan with “the ability to establish and manage the effort” – Khan being chief among them.   ‘Embedded with terrorists’ Such boasts significantly underplay the staggering scale of InCoStrat’s cloak-and-dagger machinations in Damascus. The contractor played a pivotal role in London’s long-running propaganda efforts over the course of the dirty war, which sought to disrupt and displace the government of Bashar al-Assad, convince citizens and international bodies that rabid Western and Gulf-backed militant groups rampaging across the country were a credible, “moderate” alternative, and would then flood media internationally with pro-opposition agitprop. In service of this effort, InCoStrat trained hundreds of “stringers” across the country who fed content to three separate media production offices it managed, and established 10 separate FM radio stations, as well as numerous print magazines. On top of extensive domestic consumption in both occupied and government-controlled areas of Syria, the company fed this output to a network of “over 1,600 journalists and people of influence” globally. InCoStrat furthermore carried out various elaborate “guerrilla” operations, which it described as “[using] the media to create [an] event” and “[initiating] an event to create media effect.” One example of these activities was “[exploiting] the concentrated presence of journalists” during the Geneva II conference in January 2014 “to put pressure on the regime.” The company produced “postcards, posters and reports” to “draw behavioral parallels” between the Assad government and ISIS and dishonestly further the fiction that “a latent relationship exists between the two.” The company alleged in Foreign Office submissions that these productions were subsequently republished by “major news outlets” including the Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera. In another, InCoStrat smuggled materials emphasizing alleged government atrocities – such as pictures “depicting the aftermath of a barrel bomb attack or victims of torture” – into “regime-held” areas of Syria, including Damascus. The company sought to “keep regime perpetration of war crimes in the spotlight at a crucial time when media attention has shifted almost exclusively towards ISIS and some influential voices are calling for co-operation with the Syrian regime to combat ISIS.” This work placed the company and its staff in extremely close quarters with numerous armed militias guilty of monstrous abuses, who have been credibly accused of orchestrating “false flag” events to precipitate Western intervention, including chemical weapons strikes, which may have necessitated choreographed massacres by the individuals and groups staging them. For instance, InCoStrat bragged of having contacts with violent gangs in “some of the most impenetrable areas in the country,” such as Syria’s “eastern front,” which, at the time of writing, was dominated by ISIS. Its stringers were said to have “access to a variety of groups,” including Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, “with whom they have conducted interviews.” Amil Khan may well have been fundamental to cultivating these connections. In one leaked file, InCoStrat is asked to provide evidence of its “proven track record of establishing and developing contacts in Arabic-speaking conflict affected states.” Khan’s alleged history of having “established relationships with, and embedded himself into terrorist organizations in the UK and the Middle East,” experience granting him “unique insight into their narratives, communication methods, recruitment processes and management of networks,” is cited as an example of the company’s prowess in this field.   ‘Undermine the Russian position’ To say the least, then, InCoStrat had “a number of assets available” to carry out Project Aurelius effectively. The “only” public-facing element of the operation was a “Russian anti-Kremlin activist collective” based in Ukraine, “with access to foreign journalists and opinion influencers with media profiles,” who were able to “establish and run Russian social media pages” and infiltrate Russian opposition networks online on InCoStrat’s behalf. Financing for the effort was markedly opaque, sent from Amman to a Syrian-run “media activist group” registered in Germany, which then dispatched regular payments to a parallel organization created in Kiev, covering its staffing and running costs, and expenses. Publicly, the money appeared to flow from a “Syrian interlocutor”, running crowdfunders and “eliciting donations from wealthy Syrians.” The output of InCoStrat’s assorted Syrian media assets – and other opposition communications platforms – were monitored by a team led by Khan in Jordan, to “[identify] products that undermine the Russian position,” which were then compiled according to a “distribution plan that aims to maximize negative impact on Russian narratives around the intervention in Syria,” with a specific focus on “points of vulnerability.” This material was then circulated to the Ukraine-based activists, translated, and spread across social media via private chats and social media groups. It was hoped the entire breadth of the Russian media, from opposition outlets such as Meduza and Novaya Gazeta, establishment liberal newspapers including Kommersant, and even “directly controlled pro-government media” would in turn pick up the stories, leading to wider civil society debate about the Syrian intervention, and corrosion in the government’s position at home and abroad. It’s uncertain whether Aurelius succeeded in its goal of flooding Russian opposition channels with damaging disinformation, or how many journalists and publications recycled this targeted content believing it to be organic and grassroots in nature, but Moscow’s Syrian mission certainly doesn’t appear to have been deterred one iota. Today, despite ongoing Israeli airstrikes, crippling Western sanctions and US occupation of its oil-producing areas, the country is steadily rebuilding itself and overwhelmingly under government control, in no small part due to Russian intervention. It seems likely the proposal of Valent and Chemonics will be similarly impotent, not least because the brutality reserved for captured Russian soldiers, as apparently advocated by Arestovych, has surely reduced to zero the opportunity for Kiev to stage timely interventions, and exploit “potential tension with official positions” with target audiences in Russia. As the nameless Azov Battalion prisoner acknowledged in their testimony, such behavior “caused negativity in world public opinion,” least of all in Russia itself. Other callous developments, including the widespread scattering of petal mines in civilian areas across the Donbas, indiscriminate attacks on the majority Russian Crimea, and Ukrainian soldiers using the cellphones of slain Russians to call and laughingly taunt their victims’ mothers back home, have inevitably been exploited by the Kremlin to further and legitimize its narratives about Kiev being a rabid, murderous fascist regime in urgent need of “denazification” and “demilitarization”. One might argue that as a country embroiled in a David and Goliath battle, it is not only morally necessary, but eminently sensible, for Ukraine to explore any and all possible methods of evening the playing field. Yet Project Aurelius amply underlines the significant dangers and inherently counterproductive nature of covert Western information warfare initiatives. Several media outlets identified as fruitful targets for Aurelius product have since fallen victim to Moscow’s Draconian, debilitating “foreign agent” laws, or simply been shut down by court order. In recent years, harassment and closure of opposition NGOs and information providers in Russia has frequently been triggered by the exposure of illicit – or insufficiently clear – Western funding and sponsorship. The onset of conflict in Ukraine means an even less safe space for dissent in Russia. Thousands have reportedly received fines or prison sentences for opposing the war, while Kommersant reporter Ivan Safronov has been jailed for 22 years on dubious charges of treason. What fate would befall a journalist who wrote up content surreptitiously broadcast to them by Kiev courtesy of Valent and Chemonics, or a private citizen who shared it?   A noble lie? If this war is won by Ukraine, it certainly will not be via covert psyops campaigns. Yet both Kiev and its Western backers have a significant vested interest in propagandizing the public in North America and Europe. Stories true or false of victimhood, heroism and battlefield success are key to ensuring the endless flow of weaponry and financial aid to a country outgunned and outmanned by its much larger neighbor, the economy and industry of which has already been comprehensively crippled. During the Syrian crisis, the U.S. spent potentially in excess of one trillion on regime change efforts, a core component of which was a failed $1 billion secret dirty war led by the CIA. Britain pumped at least $400 million into achieving the same goal, a figure that does not take into account black operations conducted by intelligence agencies or covert military units. The sums involved in the Ukraine conflict will likely dwarf those totals. International aid tracker DevEx calculated in late August that in the first six months of the war, over $100 billion had been committed to Kiev by Western countries, only a tiny fraction of which was “humanitarian-focused”. Seemingly each and every month, if not more frequently, yet further billions are allocated to Kiev by Washington, meaning the country is on track to become the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance since World War II. Europe has likewise committed vast resources. Along the way, major arms manufacturers are making a literal killing, in every sense. Despite a general downturn in stock markets the world over, the share prices of companies including BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Thales have remained strong. In a particularly brash manifestation of the Military Industrial Complex in effect, Zelensky is scheduled to deliver a headline speech at a major U.S. defense industry conference on September 21st. There are legitimate and reasonable arguments for and against regular arms shipments to Kiev, although consideration of the latter perspective has been almost entirely absent from mainstream discourse. As such, one cannot help but wonder if the ultimate intended target audience of the kind of informational connivance plotted by Valent and Chemonics is, as with Syria, Western publics. After all, it is their support and acquiescence that keeps the war machine ever-whirring – and the profits rising. And if enemy state citizens, journalists, and civil society activists end up as collateral damage, who cares. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPresss News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg. The post How Covert British Information Wars Target Russia, Threatening Civilians and Journalists  appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Inside Stories, Investigations, Top Story, InCoStrat, leak, Project Aurelius, Propaganda, Russia, Syria, Valent]

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[l] at 9/20/22 10:37am
In the November 15, 2013, issue of The New York Times, there was a piece by Jodi Rudoren titled, “To a Philosopher-General in Israel, Peace Is the Time to Prepare for War.” This article was about Israeli general Herzi Halevi, who at the time was a brigadier general and commander of the Northern Galilee region. Earlier this month, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz announced that he chose Levy to be the new IDF Chief of Staff. As the Israeli press extolled the general’s virtues, the Times piece was also mentioned. So what exactly are the virtues that this Israeli general possesses, which made him worthy of a New York Times exposé in 2013 and the new IDF Chief of Staff in 2022? Rudoren listed a few in her piece: General Halevi, 45, a triathlete and father of four who said his university studies in philosophy proved more salient to military leadership than courses in business administration. Considered a top candidate to someday lead the military as chief of staff, General Halevi is a former paratrooper and commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit.” If words on a page made noise, Rudoren’s description of Halevi would certainly sound like a standing ovation. One may expect that now that he was selected, she feels that her view of him was indeed insightful.   A history of war crimes As a career officer in the Israeli infantry, there can be no doubt that he participated in countless attacks on civilians, and has no experience whatsoever in facing an actual army. The Israeli papers had mentioned his participation in the 1994 abduction of Mustafa Dirani, a Lebanese Shi’a leader of what was then the Amal movement. He was taken from his home in Southern Lebanon during a commando raid. The Israelis were expecting that under interrogation, Dirani would tell them the whereabouts of Air Force navigator Ron Arad, captured eight years earlier after his plane was downed in Lebanese territory. Dirani told them nothing and after ten years of being held in Israel jails without charge, he was released in a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah. While some may view this abduction of a foreign national by Israeli commandos as some kind of heroism, it is in fact an act of piracy and a severe violation of international law. As commander of the IDF paratrooper brigade, Halevi participated in the 2008-massacre in Gaza which Israel refers to as “Operation Cast Lead.” It was an unprecedented assault against a defenseless civilian population; close to 1500 people were killed. Thousands more were injured and an estimated twenty thousand people were made homeless. The assault ended the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States. Obama did not condemn the assault or the killing of civilians. One has to wonder why Jodi Rudoren did not ask him about this massive war crime, especially as he was a leading commander in its execution. Palestinians carry the bodies of three toddlers killed in an Israeli strike, Jan. 5, 2009 during Operation Cast Lead. Hatem Moussa | AP On June 6, 2018, Halevi became the head of Israels Southern Command, which oversees the IDF activity around the Gaza Strip. In November 2019, he commanded an assault on Gaza in which more than twenty people were killed, including several children. The list of the Philosopher General’s accomplishment includes the First Intifada, the Second Intifada, and “Operation” Defensive Shield, in which Israeli forces attacked, killed and destroyed Palestinian cities throughout the West Bank, including the famous battle and massacre at the Jenin refugee camp. He also participated in the Second Lebanon War, where Hezbollah soundly beat Israeli ground forces, yet still resulted in over one million refugees in Southern Lebanon. The list continues to the present day, every massacre, every brutal assault against Palestinians – whether they were fighters or civilians – Halevi was there. It was on the backs of Palestinians that he earned his stripes, so to speak. Yet none of this was mentioned by the New York Times. Indeed, if one was to believe Jodi Rodoren, this was a deeply thoughtful, perhaps even moral general with a philosophical outlook on life, which allowed him to carry his important work. What she should have said is that this is yet another Israel war criminal with hands soaked in the blood of innocent Palestinians.   Six Brigade Commanders Earlier this month, six brigade commanders, all holding the rank of colonel, were interviewed by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. The interview was published on Ynet, the paper’s internet edition. They addressed among other things the rules of engagement, or in other words, the rules under which a soldier is permitted to open fire. Israel came under attack with claims being made that the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh was possible because the rules were too lax. However, Prime Minister Lapid and Defense Minister Gantz defended the military’s rules of engagement, highlighting that soldiers must not be afraid to pull the trigger – as though they ever were – and that the military establishment will stand by the men and women in the front lines. The report quotes Israeli military sources that in 2021, seventy-nine Palestinians were killed. However, by August 2022, eighty-five had already been killed, and this, according to one commander, “is an accomplishment.” The brigade commanders state clearly that the “soldiers are not afraid to shoot,” “look how many Palestinians were already killed in 2022,” states Colonel Elbaz, commander of the Binyamin Brigade. His command includes the cities of Ramallah, El-Bire, Bir Zeit, the towns of Silwad and Kufr Aqab. Mourners pray over the bodies of six Palestinians including children killed by Israeli forces in Jebaliya refugee camp, Aug. 6, 2022. Abdel Kareem Hana | AP Colonel Moyal, commander of the Menashe Brigade, seconds his friends opinion. “In my command, we killed twenty-nine Palestinians this year, compared with only nine in 2021.” The Menashe Brigade includes the cities of Jenin and Tul-Karem as well as Ya’bed, Barta’a and Kabatiya. It also controls the refugee camps Jenin, Nur El-Shams and Fahma. According to the Ynet report, due to the increase in “activity” in the regions of “Judea and Samaria”, these six commanders are now the busiest in the Israeli army. The increase in Palestinian deaths is considered an accomplishment.   Massive Force Both the New York Times story about General Halevi and the Ynet article about the six brigade commanders fail to point out a few details. For many decades, the Israeli military has been engaged in nothing but killing Palestinians who are either unarmed or armed with little more than semi-automatic rifles, that are usually old and ineffective. Whatever accomplishments the armed fighters have to show are due to their courage and willingness to engage with the enemy, and not due to military hardware. Any person who rises to the rank of Colonel or above has to have been engaged either directly or closely in support of war crimes – certainly the subjects of the stories mentioned here. Yet no mention is made of this in either report. Furthermore, Palestinians are fighting against a massive, well armed, well-fed and extremely well financed military force that has nothing to do but kill them. When the Israeli military faces off with Palestinians, they “come heavy” with everything they havve got. Israeli forces use intelligence, reconnaissance, air support, evacuation capabilities, medical units, logistical support, and when all is done they have a warm meal and a safe bed to return to. Palestinians, if they manage to survive, are left to live in fear of the next assault on them, their children, their towns and their homes. Yet the world looks at the two sides and still, shamelessly, dares to glorify the killers and the oppressors. Feature photo | Palestinians carry the bodies of three toddlers killed in an Israeli strike, Jan. 5, 2009 during Operation Cast Lead. Hatem Moussa | AP Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books areThe Generals Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, and Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. The post Despite What Media Claim, New IDF Chief of Staff is a Particularly Gruesome War Criminal appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Top Story, Herzi Halevi, IDF, Miko Peled, Palestine, War Crimes]

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[l] at 9/20/22 8:18am
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — The mounting social inequality is fueling protests around the globe. The global ruling class is determined to prevent these protests from employing the weapon that can bring them down — strikes. The ruling oligarchs are terrified that, for tens of millions of people, the economic dislocation caused by inflation, stagnant wages, austerity, the pandemic and the energy crisis is becoming unendurable.  They warn, as Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and NATO Secretary GeneraJens Stoltenberg, have done, about the potential for social unrest, especially as we head towards winter. Social unrest is a code word for strikes — the one weapon workers possess that can cripple and destroy the billionaire class’s economic and political power. Strikes are what the global oligarchs fear most. Through the courts and police intervention, they will seek to prevent workers from shutting down the economy. This looming battle is crucial. If we begin to chip away at corporate power through strikes, most of which will probably be wildcat strikes that defy union leadership and anti-union laws, we can begin to regain agency over our lives. The oligarchs have spent decades abolishing or domesticating unions, turning the few unions that remain — only 10.7 percent of the workforce is unionized — into obsequious junior partners in the capitalist system. As of January 2022, private-sector unionization stood at its lowest point since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. And yet, 48 percent of U.S. workers say they would like to belong to a union. As a result of crushing conditions workers have been subjected to for years, the nation is facing its first major rail strike since the 1990s. The transportation industry, of which most rail workers are a part, has a higher than average union density compared to other parts of the private sector. A rail strike could mean a loss in economic output of $2 billion a day, according to a trade group representing railroad companies. It was announced by the Biden White House, which hopes to avoid the optics of forcing striking workers back to the job, that the leaders of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), among others, reached a tentative agreement with major freight companies, including Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) and Union Pacific. The tentative agreement was made amid intense pressure from the Biden administration.   Union officials stressed that the wording of the agreement is yet to be finalized and workers may not see the details of the agreement for three to four weeks, after which point union rank-and-file members will still have to vote on the proposed settlement. The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) and The Real News have done detailed reporting on the contract negotiations. BNSF announced a net income of nearly $6 billion in 2021, up 16 percent from the previous year. Union Pacific reported a net income of $6.5 billion, also up 16 percent from 2020. CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway have also posted large gains. The economic deregulation of Class 1 rail freight carriers in the 1980s saw the number of freight carriers drop from 40 to seven, a number expected to soon fall to six. The workforce has shrunk from nearly 540,000 in 1980 to some 130,000. Service on the nation’s rail lines, along with working conditions and wages, have declined as Wall Street squeezes the big railroad conglomerates for profits. It appears that the proposed contract will meet few of the railroad workers’ core demands including redressing years of declining wages, the need for cost-of-living adjustments to deal with inflation, an end to onerous attendance policies, guaranteed time off and sick days, massive lay-offs that have put tremendous pressure on remaining rail workers and an end to the practice of one-man crews. Rail moves roughly two-fifths of long-distance American freight and one-third of exports. It lies at the heart of a complex global supply chain that includes cargo ships, trains and trucks. It is almost certain that the Biden White House would intervene to prevent a nationwide rail strike, which would be a body blow to the nation’s tottering supply chain and shaky economy. The oligarchs targeted unions after World War II. Through a series of strikes in the 1930s, unions pressured Franklin Delano Roosevelt into passing New Deal legislation. Unions gave workers weekends off, the right to organize and strike, the eight-hour workday, health and pension benefits, safe working conditions, overtime and Social Security. The red baiting of the 1930s and 1950s was directed primarily at labor organizers and radical unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known as Wobblies, or the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). In the crusade against “reds,” the most militant unions and union leaders, some of whom were Communists, were turned into pariahs. A series of anti-labor laws, including the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act and Right-to-Work laws, which outlaw union shops, were put into place. When the Taft-Hartley Act was passed about a third of the workforce was unionized, peaking in 1954 at 34.8 percent. The Act was a frontal assault on unions. It prohibits jurisdictional strikes, wildcat strikes, solidarity or political strikes, and secondary boycotts, whereby unions strike against employers who continue to do business with a firm that is undergoing a strike. It forbids secondary or common situs picketing, closed shops and monetary donations by unions to federal political campaigns. Union officials are forced by the Act to sign non-Communist affidavits or lose their positions. Companies are permitted under the Act to require employees to attend anti-union propaganda meetings. The Federal government is empowered to obtain legal strikebreaking injunctions if an impending or current strike imperils “national health or safety.” The Act disempowers labor. It legalizes the suspension of civil liberties, including freedom of speech and the right to assembly. U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court, with judges drawn from corporate law firms, have since issued a raft of new anti-union rulings to keep workers in bondage. The right to strike in the U.S. barely exists. Widespread strikes, a necessity if we are to prevail, will be declared illegal, no matter which party is in the White House. Those who lead strikes will be targeted for arrest, and corporations will attempt to replace workers with scabs. It will be a very, very ugly fight. But it is our only hope. An interview with Seattle Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant about organizing tactics and the importance of union militancy can be viewed here. The earlier generation of labor organizers understood that union organizing was about class war. “Big” Bill Haywood told delegates at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905: Fellow Workers, this is the Continental Congress of the working-class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working-class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working-class from the slave bondage of capitalism. The aims and objects of this organization shall be to put the working-class in possession of the economic power, the means of life, in control of the machinery of production and distribution, without regard to capitalist masters. “Big” Bill Haywood Let his words be our credo. After the end of World War II, two generations of workers in the United States were blessed with a period of unprecedented prosperity. Wages for the working class were high. Jobs were stable and came with benefits and health insurance. Unions protected workers from abuse by employers. Taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations were as high as 91 percent. The public school system provided a quality education to the poor and the rich. The nation’s infrastructure and technology were cutting edge. Steel workers, auto workers, mill workers, construction workers and truck drivers were part of the middle class. In 1928, the top 10 percent held 23.9 percent of the nation’s wealth, a percentage that steadily declined until 1973. By the early 1970s the oligarch’s assault against workers expanded. Wages stagnated. Income inequality grew to monstrous proportions. Tax rates for corporations and the rich were slashed. Today, the top 10 percent of the richest people in the United States own almost 70 percent of the country’s total wealth. The top 1 percent control 31 percent of the wealth. The bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population hold 2 percent of all U.S. wealth. Infrastructure is outdated and in disrepair. Public institutions, including schools, public broadcasting, the courts and the postal service, are underfunded and degraded. You can see an interview I did with Louis Hyman, professor of economic history at Cornell University and author of Temp: The Real Story of What Happened to Your Salary, Benefits and Job Security, about the decades-long assault on workers here. The oligarchs, as they did in the 19th century, exploit workers, including child labor, in Dickensian sweatshops in countries such as China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. You can see my interview with Jenny Chan who with Mark Selden and Pun Ngai wrote Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn and the Lives of China’s Workers here. Workers, bereft of union protection and lacking industrial jobs, have been forced into the gig economy, where they have few rights, no job protection and often earn below the minimum wage. The rise in global food and energy prices, coupled with the weakening of democratic institutions and impoverishment of workers, have become a potent recipe for revolt. Weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, decreased by 3.4 percent from August 2021 to August 2022, and real hourly earnings fell by 2.8 percent in the same period. Hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, have fallen for the past 17 months. The lopsided priorities — billions of dollars in “security assistance” being sent to Ukraine by the Biden administration and other NATO members — predictably saw Russia slash gas supplies to Europe. Russia will not resume the flow until sanctions imposed on the country are lifted. Russia provides 9 percent of European Union (EU)  gas imports, down from 40 percent before the invasion. Big oil, meanwhile, is posting obscene profits as it gouges the public. The most vulnerable countries — Haiti, Myanmar and Sudan — have descended into chaos under the economic onslaught. Social spending in such countries as Egypt, the Philippines and Zimbabwe have been slashed. Nor are the industrialized nations immune. About 70,000 people in Prague took to the streets on September 4 to protest rising energy prices and call for a withdrawal from the EU and NATO. Industries in Germany, one of the world’s top three exporters, are crippled, paying as much for electricity and natural gas in a single month, post-Russian-invasion, as they did for all last year. Protesters from across the political spectrum in Germany have called for regular Monday demonstrations against the rising cost of living. In the U.K, already beset with 10 percent inflation, energy companies are expected to increase their rates by 80 percent in October.  Electricity bills in the U.S. have increased 15.8 percent over the past year. Natural gas bills have risen by 33 percent in the U.S. over the past year. Total energy costs in the U.S. have risen by 24 percent in the last 12 months. Consumer staples, the food and items needed for daily survival, have increased by an average of 13.5 percent. This is only the start. Sign posted by Associated Supermarkets of Alphabet City on Avenue C and the corner of 8th Street in Manhattan. At what point does a beleaguered population living near or below the poverty line rise in protest? This, if history is any guide, is unknown. But that the tinder is there is now undeniable, even to the ruling class. The United States had the bloodiest labor wars of any industrialized nation. Hundreds of workers were killed. Thousands were wounded. Tens of thousands were blacklisted. Radical union organizers such as Joe Hill were executed on trumped up murder charges, imprisoned like Eugene V. Debs, or driven, like Haywood, into exile. Militant unions were outlawed. During the Palmer Raids on November 17, 1919, carried out on the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, more than ten thousand alleged Communists, Socialists and anarchists were arrested. Many were held for long periods without trial. Thousands of foreign-born emigrés, such as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Mollie Steimer, were arrested, imprisoned and ultimately deported. Socialist publications, such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses, were shut down. The Great Railway Strike of 1922 saw company gun thugs open fire, killing strikers. Pennsylvania Railroad President Samuel Rea alone hired over 16,000 gunmen to break the strike of nearly 20,000 employees at the company’s shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the largest in the world. The railroads mounted a massive press campaign to demonize the strikers. They hired thousands of scabs, many of whom were Black workers who were barred by union management from membership. The Supreme Court upheld “yellow dog” contracts that forbade workers from unionizing. The establishment press, along with the Democratic Party, were, as always, full partners in the demonization and defanging of labor. The same year also saw unprecedented railway strikes in Germany and India. Striking shopmen show their strength as the rail strikers parade through the Burnside district on Aug. 20, 1922, in the afternoon. At the head of the parade are former servicemen who carried a banner with the words: “We fought the world war so this country might live; let us live.” (Chicago Tribune historical photo) To prevent railroad strikes, which disrupted nationwide commerce in 1877, 1894 and 1922 the federal government passed The Railway Labor Act in 1926 – union members call  it “The Railway Anti-Labor Act” – setting out numerous requirements, including the appointment of The Presidential Emergency Board, which Biden set up, before a strike can be called. Our oligarchs are as vicious and tight-fisted as those of the past. They will fight with everything at their disposal to crush the aspirations of workers. Alexander Herzen, speaking  to a group of anarchists about how to overthrow the czar, reminded his listeners that it was not their job to save a dying system but to replace it: “We are not the doctors. We are the disease.” All resistance must recognize that the corporate coup d’état is complete. It is a waste of energy to attempt to reform or appeal to systems of power. We must organize and strike. The oligarchs have no intention of willingly sharing power or wealth. They will revert to the ruthless and murderous tactics of their capitalist forebearers. We must revert to the militancy of our own. Feature photo | Original illustration by Mr. Fish Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. The post Chris Hedges: Strike, Strike, Strike appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Insights, National, Top Story, biden, Chris Hedges, inflation, strikes, union, wages, workers]

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[l] at 9/19/22 7:39am
Though Washington insists that it is not interested in a direct military conflict with Moscow, the latter claims that the US is, in fact, directly involved. But who is telling the truth? On September 8, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared in Kyiv on an unannounced visit. He carried with him pledges of yet another military and financial package of nearly $3 billion, mostly to Ukraine but also to other Eastern European countries. According to a report published by the New York Times last May, US financial support to Ukraine has exceeded $54 billion. Devex’s Funding Platform states that “a relatively small percentage of that funding is humanitarian-focused”. The same source also indicates that the total amount of mostly military aid provided by the West to Ukraine between February 24 and August 16 has topped the $100 billion mark. For such a massive military arsenal to operate, one can imagine the involvement of legions of military experts, trainers and engineers. Washington’s latest package includes hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid, such as more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). And more is coming. According to Blinken, “President Biden will support the people of Ukraine as long as it takes.” The Russians, however, have no illusions that the US military support for Ukraine is confined to mere shipments of weapons or limited to financial transactions. On August 2, the Russian Defense Ministry accused the US of being “directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine”. The Ministry’s statement was citing an admission by Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence, Vadym Skibitsky, who told the British Telegraph newspaper that “Washington coordinates HIMARS missile strikes”. This is not the first time that Russia accuses the US of direct involvement in the war. In fact, as early as March 25, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the West has declared “total war” on Russia. In this instance, Moscow’s top diplomat was referencing every aspect of this “real hybrid war”, including unprecedented sanctions that were meant to break the back of Russia’s economy and the will of its military forces. Since then, US Western embargo on Russia has exceeded 10,000 sanctions, an unprecedented number in modern conflicts. Also, since then, the nature of American involvement in the war has changed. The type of weapons that were first provided to Kyiv by Washington quickly transformed from weapons of defensive capabilities with limited outreach, to weapons of offensive capabilities with long-range artillery systems, including HIMARS and M270. Much of the US involvement can be understood through common sense. Consider Politico’s report on August 29, alleging that “since the early days of the war, Kyiv has seized the initiative as missile strikes and mysterious explosions have wreaked havoc on the Russian fleet, sinking several vessels … and devastating its Crimea-based air wing in a dramatic attack this month”. If these details are accurate, it is hard to imagine that such success would have been carried out by, as described by Politico itself, a “small Ukrainian navy”. When American weapons are provided and operated by American military experts, and when the movement of Russian forces is monitored by American satellite coordinates, one should easily conclude that the US is indeed at direct war with Russia. This argument is strengthened by the fact that the US is utilizing all of its expertise in economic warfare, used against Iraq, Cuba and others, to devastate the Russian economy. But why does the US refuse to accept that it is engaged in direct war against Russia? Successive US administrations have perfected the art of engaging in military conflicts without making such a declaration. As the US fought its protracted war in Vietnam starting in the mid-1950s, it engaged in many other military conflicts that were mostly kept secret. These undeclared wars included the Nixon Administration’s secret bombing campaigns of Cambodia, which resulted in the estimated death of 100,000 people. To curtail the power of the president to conduct war without notifying Congress, the US Congress passed the War Powers Resolution of 1973, also known as the War Powers Act. Despite a presidential veto, a two-third majority in Congress managed to pass the resolution into law. Still, successive administrations found ways around the law, including the US involvement in the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and again, in the US war on Libya in 2011. In fact, it was in Libya that the phrase “leading from behind” was used in abundance. Americans seemed to have found a brilliant way of engaging in war while avoiding its costly political consequences. This way, Obama could be involved in several wars all at once, without being called an interventionist or a war-mongering president. To understand the extent of America’s ongoing, undeclared wars, marvel at this July 1 report by The Intercept, which obtained the data using the Freedom of Information Act. This was “the first official confirmation that at least 14” military operations known as 127e programs were active in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region in 2020 and that between 2017 and 2020, US commandos carried out 23 separate operations. So, even if the US engages in direct combat against Russia, chances of war being declared are almost nil. Therefore, the extent of the US involvement can only be gleaned from evidence on the ground. Call it ‘leading from behind’, ‘proxy war’ or ‘hybrid war’, Washington is very much a party in the devastating war in Ukraine, which is paying a heavy price for Washington’s desire to remain the world’s only superpower. Feature photo | A man holds his child at a Memorial Wall of Dead Ukrainian soldiers in Kiev, Ukraine, Sept. 8, 2022. Efrem Lukatsky | AP Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post ‘Leading from Behind’: Is Washington at War with Moscow? appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, financial aid, miltiary aid, Russia, Ukraine, United States, War]

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[l] at 9/16/22 8:06am
The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. In this episode of The Watchdog, former Google employee Ariel Koren joins Lowkey and articulates her experience at the big tech giant, claiming it has gradually developed an institutionalised pro-Israeli bias. She also reveals ways in which employees attempting to hold the company accountable for unethical contracts, such as that of Project Nimbus, are being targeted and intentionally silenced. Google, alongside Amazon, has signed a contract worth $1.2 billion, titled “Project Nimbus”, which will provide a cloud system service for both the Israeli military and the Israeli government. Disturbingly, the project was announced May in 2021, the same month Israel killed at least 260 Palestinians in Gaza. Adding insult to injury, it was during this period that Amnesty International found Israel guilty of practising Apartheid against the Palestinian people. Former employee Ariel Koren claims that: Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights – to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear…in my experience, silencing dialogue and dissent in this way has helped google protect its business interest with the Israeli military and government”. According to Google’s spokesperson, Shannon Newberry: The Project [Nimbus] includes making Google cloud platform available to government agencies for everyday workload, such as finance, healthcare, transportation, and education.” However, there is also evidence that Project Nimbus will also empower Israeli mechanisms of surveillance, data collection and even interrogation. As Lowkey explains: In one Nimbus Training Webinar, a google engineer confirmed to an Israeli customer that it would be possible to process data through Nimbus in order to determine if someone is lying”. Lowkey then posits Project Nimbus as the climax of a long push by Israel to harness Google to do what it wants. Lowkey points to a mission creep over the last decade which saw several key Israeli organisations set up to move both big tech jobs to the apartheid project and former Israeli military personnel into the companies themselves. The aim of this, he asserts, is to make a meaningful BDS project an impossibility, by integrating Israel into big tech companies vital to the global economy. Want to hear more about this issue? Join Lowkey and Ariel Koren today for a critically important discussion. Keep updated for many more interesting topics to be discussed by subscribing on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times. The post No Tech For Apartheid Israel: Google Whistleblower Ariel Koren Exposes Project Nimbus appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: National, Podcasts, Top Story, Ariel Koren, Bias, Google, Israel, Lowkey, Project Nimbus, whistleblower]

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