[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/22/24 10:51am
America’s universities are on fire. A protest movement against the violence in Gaza and U.S. colleges’ complicity in them has swept the nation, with encampments on college campuses in 45 of America’s 50 states. The crackdown has been swift; thousands of students have been arrested, charged, fined, lost their degrees, or even deported. Amid corporate media demanding a “Kent State 2.0”, riot police, armored vehicles and snipers have been deployed across the country to terrify those campaigning for justice into silence. Why have overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations against a foreign power’s actions been met with such a heavy-handed response? A MintPress News investigation finds that those same elite institutions have deep financial and ideological ties to the state of Israel, are funded by pro-Israel billionaires who have demanded they take action to crush the student movement, are partially funded by the Israeli government, and exist in a climate where Washington has made it clear that the protests should not be tolerated.   Israel’s Billionaire Backers The movement began on April 17 at Columbia University, where a modest Gaza solidarity encampment was established. Protestors hardly expected to be welcomed by university authorities but were shocked as university president Minouche Shafik immediately called in the NYPD – the first time the university had allowed police to suppress dissent on campus since the famous 1968 demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Shafik’s decision was no doubt influenced by the enormous pressure put on her by the university’s top donors – many of whom have deep connections to the Israeli state and its military. Robert Kraft Billionaire businessman and sports executive Robert Kraft, for example, publicly announced he was cutting the university off from his lavish funding over its failure to suppress the protests effectively enough. “I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” he said in a statement, claiming that Columbia was not protecting its Jewish students. The turning point, Kraft said, was watching a publicity stunt by Shai Davidai, an Israeli-American academic at Columbia, who claimed his access to campus was revoked. Davidai had previously called the student protestors “Nazis” and “terrorists” and called for the National Guard to be set upon the encampment, obliquely referencing the Kent State University Massacre while doing so. Kraft is one of Columbia’s most important donors, giving the institution millions of dollars, including $3 million to fund the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life. He also has deep connections to Israel, having visited the country over 100 times, including to have private lunch with his friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft.” Netanyahu is correct. Kraft is one of the Israel lobby’s primary benefactors, donating millions to groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs. He pledged a gigantic $100 million to his own Foundation to Combat Antisemitism – a group that presents critics of Israeli policy with the charge of anti-Jewish racism. He has also funded a host of pro-Israel politicians in races against progressive, anti-war challengers. A recent MintPress News investigation took a closer look at how Kraft is a key actor in trying to launder Israel’s image in America. Leon Cooperman Another billionaire benefactor pulling his Columbia funding is Leon Cooperman. The hedge fund manager suspended his donations in October, citing student support for Palestine. “These kids are fucking crazy. They dont understand what theyre doing or what theyre talking about,” he fumed, adding that they “have to be controlled.” One person who does know what he is talking about on this issue is Columbia’s Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, Joseph Massad. Yet Cooperman demanded Massad be fired after the academic took positions on Palestine he objected to. Cooperman has enormous influence at Columbia precisely because he is one of its chief income sources. In 2012, for instance, he donated $25 million to support the construction of the university’s new Manhattanville campus. However, Columbia is far from the only organization that receives lavish Cooperman cash. He is also a regular donor to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), a group that collects money to purchase supplies, equipment and support for active-duty Israeli soldiers. In addition, he was the first person to provide an endowment to Birthright Israel, an organization that provides free propaganda trips to Israel for young Jews. Len Blavatnik A third billionaire backer using his financial clout to pressure Columbia is Soviet-born oligarch Len Blavatnik, who demanded that the university protestors be “held to account.” Leaked messages reveal that for Blavatnik,  this meant using the full weight of the law against protestors. Blavatnik was a member of a secret WhatsApp group created in October 2023 that included many prominent Americans, former Israeli prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Benny Gantz, and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog. Its mission was, in its own words, to “change the narrative” in favor of Israel and “help win the war” for U.S. public opinion. This included donating to pro-Israel political candidates and trying to pressure black celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Jay-Z and LeBron James to publicly “condemn antisemitism” – i.e., attempting to conflate the protestors with racists. Blavatnik also bankrolls Birthright and the U.K. Friends of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and has funded at least 120 scholarships for former IDF soldiers. Together, Kraft, Cooperman and Blavatnik are thought to have donated nearly $100 million to Columbia. Idan Ofer From Columbia, the protests quickly spread across America, including to many of the country’s most prestigious institutions, including Harvard. From the start, the university was actively hostile to the protest movement and suspended dozens of protestors, effectively stopping them from graduating. This hostility is no doubt in part due to the university’s big-money donors pulling out en masse since October 7. Chief among these is Israeli shipping magnate Idan Ofer, who cited what he called “the lack of clear evidence of support from the university’s leadership for the people of Israel” and expressed his dismay that the Massachusetts college would not condemn Hamas strongly enough. Ofer is a crucial player in Israeli intelligence. As a previous MintPress News investigation revealed, his family’s Zodiac Maritime cargo ships have regularly been used to secretly ferry Israeli commandos around the Middle East for assassination operations. This includes the killing of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai and Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Khalil al-Wazir in Tunisia. Leslie Wexner Another billionaire apparently “stunned and sickened” by Harvard’s pro-Hamas positions is former Victoria’s Secret CEO Leslie Wexner. Apart from Wexner’s exceptionally close and well-publicized connections to child sex traffickers and Israeli intelligence asset Jeffrey Epstein, Wexner is a major donor to Israeli causes. A 2007 list of potential political donors compiled by Benjamin Netanyahu includes Wexner prominently. (Also included were Ofer’s brother Eyal, Blavtnik, and Donald Trump). In 2023, Wexner donated a six-figure sum to AIPAC, the chief pro-Israel force in American politics. Marc Rowan Nowhere, however, has the elite backlash to student protests been as bitter as at the University of Pennsylvania. Leading the charge to suppress pro-Palestine sentiment on campus there has been Marc Rowan. The billionaire investor demanded that his side must “exact a price” on students who express solidarity with Palestine. “These kids who are marching, they don’t think about it because there’s been no price to pay,” he explained, suggesting that they should never be allowed to work again: “I would not hire you if you were anti-Black. I wouldn’t hire if you were anti-gay. I wouldn’t hire you if you were anti-anything. Why would I hire an antisemite?” he stated, effectively conflating antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli government. Rowan strongly opposed UPenn’s hosting of a Palestinian literature festival in 2023, demanding that college president Liz Magill and UPenn board chair Scott Bok be fired. After October 7, Rowan and his allies succeeded in forcing both from their jobs. Rowan has tremendous influence at his alma mater, primarily because of his extraordinarily deep pockets. In 2018, for instance, he donated $50 million to the Wharton School of Business at Pennsylvania. But like with Columbia and Harvard’s big-money benefactors, he is far from a neutral actor on the subject of Israel and Palestine. In fact, he has considerable business interests in Israel. He has described himself as someone who has a “building and overwhelming commitment” to the country and “looks to the IDF and to what Israel does” for guidance. Rowan and other oligarchs, Jonathon Jacobson and Ronald Lauder, helped organize a university funding strike until their demands were met. Jacobson, who claimed that the university refuses to stand for American values, is the chairman of the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank whose current director is former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. Unsurprisingly, for a man of this background, he has a long history of making donations to pro-Israel groups in the U.S. Lauder, meanwhile, is even more ingratiated with the Israeli establishment than Jacobson. A close confidant and supporter of Netanyahu, he was appointed a negotiator for Israel with the government of Syria in 1998. His presence at a One Jerusalem rally in front of religious and nationalist extremists in 2001 led to a boycott of the Estée Lauder brand across the Muslim world.   Academic Collaboration In addition to pressure from donors, elite U.S. universities have close academic and business ties to Israel. For example, Columbia announced last year that it would open a “global center” in Tel Aviv, which would serve as a research hub for academics and graduate students. This would expand the university’s dealings in Israel, where students can already pursue a joint degree with Tel Aviv University or study abroad in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. This development, however, will only benefit Israelis, as Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere are generally barred from entering Israel. The plans for a new global center drew heavy criticism from Columbia faculty members, nearly 100 of whom signed a letter asking it to reconsider the decision, given Israel’s human rights record. Moreover, in recent years, many Columbia academics have been barred from entering Israel, likely because of their political views. These include Rashid Kalidi, the Edward Saïd Professor of Modern Arab Studies, and law professor Katherine M. Franke, who was detained and interrogated by Israeli authorities for 14 hours before being deported. Yet, when it comes to American educational institutions, Columbia’s Israeli collaboration is not unusual. In 2003, Cornell University and the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund established a program for joint agricultural research. In 2014, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs announced a joint program with the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya in Israel. (The Lauder School is named after its founder and benefactor, Ronald Lauder, a longtime advocate for the Zionist cause). The University of California signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority to increase cooperation between the two organizations. Despite the growing movement calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, intellectual collaboration between American and Israeli academics has grown. Between 2006 and 2015, there was a 45% increase in the number of articles in academic journals whose authors included researchers affiliated with both American and Israeli universities. This collaboration was primarily among elite institutions. Topping the list of schools was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which, between 2006 and 2015, had 1,835 joint publications with researchers from Israeli institutions. MIT was followed by the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard and Stanford, respectively. The most common fields of research were medicine, physics and astronomy, biochemistry and biology. Tel Aviv University was the most prevalent Israeli collaborator. Police crack down on pro-Palestinian sutdent protests on the UCLA campus, in Los Angeles, May 2, 2024. Jae C. Hong | AP   Paid for by Israel However, more controversial than the academic collaboration is the Israeli governments direct funding of American educational institutions. MIT, for example, is awash in Israeli cash. Scientists Against Genocide, a group at MIT, report that, since 2015, the university has received over $11 million in authorized research funding from the Israeli Ministry of Defense. This cash has reached various departments, including Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Biological Engineering, Physics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. MIT labs and centers receiving funding include The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, the Computer Science And Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Research Laboratory of Electronics. The money has paid for research that directly benefits the Israeli military and helps them in their campaigns against the civilian population of Palestine. For example, one MIT project funded by Israel since 2022 is titled “Autonomous Robotic Swarms: Distributed Coordination and Perception.” According to Scientists Against Genocide, the research has helped the IDF carry out aerial drone bombings, surveil protestors, and drop tear gas on Palestinians. Israel is known to be developing flocks of small autonomous drone aircraft guided by artificial intelligence to locate targets, direct airstrikes and aid military advances. Another project, “Planning and Sensing Algorithms for Underwater Persistent Monitoring,” has seen the Israeli Ministry of Defense give MIT $1.5 million to develop technology to help them police the Mediterranean Sea. Scientists Against Genocide have suggested that this has helped Israel enforce a naval blockade against Gaza, including targeting fishing ships to prevent Gazans from being able to feed themselves. Israel has long limited the amount of food entering Gaza, keeping residents on a “diet.” However, during its seven-month-long assault on the densely-populated strip, the food crisis has reached critical levels. The United Nations has warned that famine is imminent, and its high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, suggested Israel was carrying out a war crime by using starvation as a weapon.   Ties to the Military Industrial Complex It could be argued that MIT could reasonably be accused of directly abetting a genocide in Gaza. However, MIT and other elite institutions are under enormous governmental pressure from the other side. Its president, Sally Kornbluth, as well as Harvard president Claudine Gay and Pennsylvania’s Magill, were brought before Congress and grilled on their universities’ alleged support for Hamas and indifference to antisemitism. The case made national news and focused waves of pressure on universities nationwide. The U.S., of course, has an extremely close relationship with Israel, using it as an outpost of its power in the Middle East. Washington has vetoed successive bills at the United Nations that attempt to address the dire situation, including those calling for a ceasefire and full Palestinian statehood. The U.S. supplies Tel Aviv with nearly $4 billion worth of military aid each year, and in April, Congress voted to send $17 billion of additional U.S. taxpayer money. Critics have blasted the aid as pointless at best and supporting a genocide at worst. But President Biden maintains that every penny given to Israel is money well spent and has stated that if Israel did not exist, the United States would have to invent one. American support for Israel comes at more than just a monetary cost. The U.S.’s international reputation is sinking. A recent poll shows that a majority of people in Southeast Asia would now choose China over the U.S. if forced to choose, with Washington’s continued backing of Israel being a critical factor in this shift. A number of American officials have also publicly resigned from their positions in protest. Lily Greenberg Call, the first Jewish Biden appointee to publicly resign over Gaza, left her job as special assistant to the chief of staff at the Interior Department. Explaining her decision, Greenberg Call wrote: The President has the power to call for a lasting ceasefire, to stop sending weapons to Israel, and to condition aid. The United States has used nearly no leverage throughout the last eight months to hold Israel accountable; quite the opposite. We have enabled and legitimized Israel’s actions with vetoes of UN resolutions designed to hold Israel accountable. President Biden has the blood of innocent people on his hands.” The United States has long enabled Israeli war crimes and the status quo of apartheid and occupation. That status quo does not keep Israelis safe, nor Jews around the world.” Each campus protest is different. But they generally share the same goal: pressuring their universities into divesting their endowments from Israel and from companies linked to the ongoing Israeli occupation. Some have called for cutting academic ties with Israeli universities, while others, such as Cornell and Yale, have asked their schools to stop investing in weapons corporations that are making a killing from the bloodshed. These requests have precedent. After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, a host of American institutions cut off collaboration with Russia almost overnight. Going further back, student protests forced many U.S. universities to sever financial ties with Apartheid South Africa. But Israel and the military-industrial complex are so intertwined with the U.S. economy that an extensive boycott might prove difficult, especially considering elite American universities’ deep ties to the defense industry. MIT, for example, has entered into long-term partnerships with a host of top weapons manufacturers, including RTX (formerly Raytheon), Lockheed Martin and Boeing, who has leased 100,000 square feet of research and lab space at MIT’s new mixed-use building in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA. While corporate media has demonized the students as out-of-touch supporters of terrorism, they enjoy widespread support among their peers. Students approved a resolution calling on MIT to cut all research and financial ties to the Israeli military, with 63.7% of undergraduates and 70.5% of graduates voting in favor of it. American adults aged between 18 and 44 support the nationwide protests by a ratio of 4:3. A protester is arrested at S. 34th St. near the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, May 17, 2024. Steven M. Falk | AP   The Crackdown Authorities, however, have been in little mood to negotiate, and images of black-clad riot police beating up and dragging away students and faculty members have gone viral across the globe. MintPress spoke with Bryce Greene, a student organizer at the University of Indiana Bloomington, who told us how the administration collaborated with police to suppress the growing movement: The night before we put our encampment up, the administration changed the rules of the space we were using and used that rule change to launch a military-level police assault on peaceful demonstrators. The university sanctioned armored vehicles, riot troops, assault weapons, shotguns, grenade launchers, a chopper circling overhead, a surveillance drone, and even a sniper on the roof.” “On day one, militarized police swept into the camp and arrested dozens of people,” Greene said. Undaunted, protestors returned two days later and were met with similar levels of force. Greene was arrested and received a five-year ban from campus, something he attributes to his longtime student organizing. The story at Indiana is far from unique. At MIT, more than 200 armed riot police stormed the protest camp at 4 am on May 11, destroying the encampment and arresting peaceful protestors. Harvard suspended the university’s Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and has taken action against individual students. Many are now facing eviction from student housing and even deportation. Meanwhile, UPenn has blocked protest leaders from campus. Seniors believe this will affect their ability to graduate or receive their degrees. As of May 22, there have been well over 3,000 arrests nationwide.   Shredding the First Amendment After a surprise attack by Hamas, Israel began its campaign on violence in Gaza on October 7. Relentless bombing of the tightly-packed strip has caused tens of thousands of deaths and led to nearly 2 million people being displaced in what is the worst episode of genocidal violence in Palestine since the 1948 Nakba when three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forced from their homes at gunpoint to prepare the ground for a Jewish state. Multiple international bodies, including the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and Amnesty International, have used the word “genocide” in discussing Israeli actions in Gaza. President Biden, however, rejected that interpretation and gave Israel his full support. This unconditional backing is seriously harming Biden’s polling numbers. A majority of Democrat voters consider Israel’s actions to constitute genocide, and young Americans are abandoning support for him in droves. Those groups, in particular, draw on alternative sources of news for Israel and Palestine. Polls show that young people who receive their news from TikTok and other social media (and not through the filter of corporate news) are most likely to hold a negative view of Israel’s actions. The Biden administration’s response has been to simply threaten the complete closure of TikTok in the United States. But it is far from clear whether this authoritarian measure will succeed in stemming the growing tide of Palestinian solidarity that has been building for years, partially down to the tireless work of activists on campuses across the nation. Despite the campus demonstrations being overwhelmingly peaceful, authorities have chosen to crack down harshly upon them, shredding the First Amendment in the process. Why have both universities and the government shown virtually zero tolerance towards those protesting against genocide? Firstly, because so many big-money university benefactors are themselves committed Zionists and have deep ties to the Israeli state. This raises the question of whether these so-called charitable donations are so charitable in the first place. For one, America’s super-wealthy often receive tax write-offs for their contributions. Secondly, it gives them excessive power to control the directions of the institutions they are funding. Should wealthy individuals be able to dictate university policy for tens of thousands of people? Many would suggest that this is profoundly anti-democratic. As we have seen, universities themselves also have deep academic and even financial connections to the state of Israel, making the students’ divestment demands particularly sensitive. This is all happening in a context where the government continues to pledge its full support to Israel and its war aims and has moved to crack down on anti-Israel speech, attempting to make it functionally illegal to openly oppose Israel’s expansionist policies. Israel has long been a political third rail in America. The thousands of students being arrested are learning that in real-time. 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 Follow the Money: How Israel-Linked Billionaires Silenced US Campus Protests appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, academic boycott Israel, academic freedom crisis, academic repression, billionaire influence in universities, campus protests, Columbia University protests, elite universities protest suppression., First Amendment violation, free speech suppression, Gaza protests, Gaza solidarity, Harvard student arrests, Idan Ofer Harvard, Israel influence in academia, Israel lobby in education, Israel-Palestine conflict protests, Israeli military funding in universities, Len Blavatnik protest suppression, Leon Cooperman Columbia, Leslie Wexner Israel ties, Marc Rowan UPenn protests, militarized police on campus, MIT Gaza protests, MIT Israeli research funding, Palestine genocide protests, Palestine solidarity movement, pro-Israel billionaires, protestors' arrests, riot police on campus, Robert Kraft Israel, student deportations, U.S. support for Israel, U.S. universities Israel funding, university crackdown, university donor influence]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/21/24 7:47am
Controlling narratives is critical in the context of international war and the media. The UNs reported death toll from Gaza has recently come under fire; allegations suggest that the UN dramatically reduced its numbers downward. The UN has denied this accusation, but it seems to be a part of a larger disinformation operation meant to support Israeli state propaganda and hide the truth about Palestinian suffering. The UN promptly refuted the initial accusation that it had significantly altered the death toll from Gaza. In spite of this, the idea was not written off as a straightforward error in the media but rather as a conscious attempt at misinformation. The number of civilian deaths recorded by the Gaza Health Ministry—figures that are also cited by significant NGOs and the UN—has long been contested by pro-Israeli pundits and government representatives. These officials, frequently without supporting documentation, have written off these figures as Hamas propaganda for years. A May 7 debate between Piers Morgan and Israeli government spokesman Avi Hyman went viral, casting doubt on the Israeli story. Hyman faced severe criticism when he attempted to defend Israels conduct in Gaza during the interview. This event prepared the groundwork for additional fabrication of the Gaza death toll story. Three days later, The New York Sun ran an article written by M. J. Koch, a member of the infamous rich Koch family. Koch used a May 8 United Nations infographic, which showed 34,844 deaths overall, selectively quoting it. Koch, however, falsely claimed that the 10,000 individuals reported missing were deducted from the overall death toll and instead concentrated on the breakdown of 24,686 confirmed dead, which included 4,959 women and 7,797 children. In actuality, there were documented missing people in addition to the 34,844 fatalities. Koch intentionally left out context in an attempt to cast doubt on the reliability of UN statistics. Other media sites swiftly began to carry the misinformation. Using the same graphics, The Times of Israel published an item on May 10 that claimed a 17% decrease in womens and childrens mortality in just two days. The post also mentioned another from May 6. Similar to Kochs essay, this one did not discriminate between the overall and identified death tolls. Fox News ran a widely shared item on May 13 with the headline, UN revises Gaza death toll, almost 50% fewer women and children killed than previously reported. The article for Fox News, authored by British-Israeli writer Ruth Marks Eglash, who has ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, focused only on the smaller number of confirmed deaths while disregarding the entire death toll. Eglashs past assistance in reaching out to English-speaking media outlets on behalf of Israels UN envoy raises concerns about her reporting ethics and objectives. The New York Post swiftly republished the false Fox News story with the explosive headline, UN admits Gaza death toll wrong, with almost 50% fewer women, children killed than previously reported. This misleading story quickly gained traction on social media and was supported by organizations such as the publicly financed CBC in Canada. In a piece that seemed to validate the narrative, the CBC hinted that the UN had really altered the number of deaths. In response to the spreading misinformation, the UN clarified its data, reinforcing the accuracy of its records. On the same day, the Israeli government, for the first time in nearly eight months of conflict, released a statistic for civilian casualties in Gaza. This announcement was made by Avi Hyman, the same spokesperson who had been challenged by Piers Morgan just days earlier. It appears that there was a concerted attempt to sway public opinion, given the timing of Israels announcement of its civilian death toll statistic and the disinformation campaign directed at the UN. The purpose of this effort was likely to manipulate the conflicts narrative and divert public attention away from the true extent of Palestinian suffering. Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post Media Manipulation: The Truth About The Gaza Death Toll appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Avi Hyman interview, CBC Gaza death toll, Disinformation Campaign, Fox News disinformation, Gaza civilian casualties, Gaza death toll, Gaza Health Ministry, Gaza humanitarian crisis, Gaza war casualties, Gaza war reporting, Israeli government propaganda, Israeli media manipulation, Israeli propaganda, Israeli state narrative, Koch family Gaza, media bias Gaza, Palestine conflict, Palestinian Suffering, Piers Morgan Gaza, Ruth Marks Eglash, The Times of Israel Gaza, UN death toll refutation, UN Gaza infographic, UN Gaza statistics, UN OCHA Gaza statistics.]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/15/24 11:12am
Leaked files obtained by MintPress News detail the intensive interest taken in Palestinians both within and without the country by British intelligence operatives and Foreign Office-funded and directed cutouts over many years. Collectively, the material leaves little room for doubt that the British government has long sought to covertly surveil, infiltrate, and manipulate Palestinians for malign ends while exploiting their suffering to serve Londons geopolitical objectives. Throughout the Syrian proxy conflict, British intelligence ran expansive psychological warfare programs, targeting the local population and Western citizens. The objective was to destabilize Bashar Assads government and convince domestic and foreign audiences, including overseas governments and international bodies, that the Western-backed Free Syrian Army was a moderate, legitimate alternative and flood media globally with pro-opposition propaganda. A corrupt constellation of private contractors staffed by British military veterans and former spies delivered these clandestine campaigns. Innovative Communications & Strategies (InCoStrat) was a particularly prolific participant in this effort. The firm was founded by Paul Tilley, Britains former Ministry of Defence head of communications for West Asia, and Emma Winberg, a longtime MI6 officer, who subsequently married now-deceased White Helmets founder James Lemesurier. The leaked documents reveal that in Syria, she was tasked with the management and development of a local network of interlocutors, key leaders and local coordinators: [This network is] able to assist in the development of messages and influence through word of mouth, in difficult to reach areas. The knowledge gained through these interactions will generate the contextual understanding that provides the foundation for our communication campaigns, our ability to assess their effect and to provide detailed atmospheric reports that inform HMG of the developing situation in Syria.” Winberg is described as Britains lead on engagement with the Syrian armed opposition in Istanbul while serving as a Foreign Office Political-Military Officer in Turkey from 2013 onwards. She cultivated an extensive range of contacts in north and eastern Syria, meaning she was trusted and respected by moderate opposition leadership figures. This may account for why InCoStrat avowedly maintained a perfect record of safety and security for its staff in the country, even while the company secretly operated in areas under ISIS control. Winberg harvested so much crucial intelligence in this role that her resultant insights represented a core contribution to British, European and US understanding and assessment of armed groups in Syria. Intriguingly, she was transferred to Istanbul directly from the British consulate in Jerusalem, a vital regional base of operations for MI6. While there, she reported on violent extremist organizations active in Gaza, including during Operation Cloud Pillar in November 2012, for which she was commended internally. Cloud Pillar saw Israeli Occupation Forces massacre almost 200 Palestinian civilians after assassinating high-ranking Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari. This was in keeping with MI6s strategy to degrade the capabilities of rejectionists of the pro-Zionist Palestine Authority. Winbergs close-range view of these events made her a compelling candidate for overseeing Londons contribution to the proxy war from the perspective of her employers in British intelligence. Moreover, she was not alone among InCoStrat operatives in secretly surveilling Palestinian resistance firsthand. One company staffer managed a $25 million small grants programme to directly support community stabilisation, engage youth, and moderate actors in the Palestinian Territories for US intelligence cutout USAID, 2005 2007. This placed them on the frontline of the Zionist entitys embarrassing defeat by Lebanons Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 and concurrent military incursion in Gaza. Along the way, they reported on the political, economic, and security situation locally, including extensive reporting during internal instability in Gaza. Meanwhile, another InCoStrat operatives CV boasts that they travelled and studied in Israel and Palestine, focusing on religious political movements, then studied Palestinian refugees in Syria before the uprising. After that, they worked with and trained Syrian activists in several different organisations.   Improved Conditions It is a supremely striking feature that multiple InCoStrat operatives went straight from intently studying Palestinian refugees and armed groups to cloak-and-dagger management of the moderate Syrian opposition. In this context, what are we to make of the fact that British intelligence cutouts have, for many years, been heavily active in Lebanons Palestinian refugee camps? Around 300,000 Palestinian refugees inhabit Lebanon, roughly half of them in camps administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Living conditions are appalling, with overcrowding, poverty, and rampant unemployment. Discrimination towards Palestinian refugees at both a public and state level is commonplace. This intensified significantly due to untold numbers of displaced people among them many Palestinians pouring into Lebanon from neighboring Syria as a result of the grinding, 11-year Western proxy war against Damascus. Such a milieu inevitably produces a wide array of grievances among refugees, which can be malignly exploited by British intelligence. Residents watch a protest by a Palestinian resistance movement at the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, May 11, 2024. Hassan Ammar | AP Since 2009, Foreign Office contractor ARK—founded and run by MI6 operative Alistair Harris—has operated in Lebanons 12 Palestinian refugee camps. In leaked files, the company boasts of its granular understanding of the camps internal political, economic, ideological, religious and everyday dynamics. ARKs voluminous local contacts have access throughout all camps and gatherings. This means that community-level discussions and activities of all residents can be influenced and spied upon, as required. Such everyday, real-life insight is augmented by daily monitoring of neighborhood-level WhatsApp groups. Meanwhile, local engagement with a social media platform created by ARK, Nastopia, is heavily monitored. The page, run by a 24-strong team of ARK-trained youth reporters, is intended to increase demand for community engagement and improved conditions among camp residents. It promotes covertly Foreign Office-financed projects in the camps as success stories while serving as a forum for online and offline discussion about social injustices [and] virtual space to talk about topics considered taboo in the camps. ARK has spearheaded various community initiatives elsewhere in the offline realm. These include repairing and restoring streets and cemeteries, recycling, promoting small businesses, providing welfare to disadvantaged and disabled residents, managing nurseries and daycare centers, and even launching a local coffee shop. The leaked files describe this as a popular place for youth to gather and promote civic engagement in their community and a shared Palestinian identity that bridges factional differences.    Contentious Politics Insidious surveillance and manipulation components of these projects aside, one might reasonably argue that given the harsh internal environments of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, any effort to regenerate and improve conditions for residents of all ages and create a sense of community is a net positive. Yet, the ultimate purpose of these projects is to create a secret army of anti-government activists, which can be activated to stir up trouble if and when British intelligence wishes. Of course, the leaked documents do not frame that objective in such terms. One file refers to the value of highlighting success stories in the camps as enhancing the audiences confidence in their own ability to contribute to social change. In other words, encouraging Palestinian refugees to take matters into their own hands. This intention is articulated far more emphatically in a leaked March 2019 study conducted by ARK. The document identified a segment of Beiruts diverse population that could be united in opposition to Lebanons government and therefore mobilized to affect positive social change on their own initiative. The ideal target group was comprised of individuals who disavowed violence but not other forms of contentious politics and could be influenced to engage in certain behaviors, such as protests, leafleting campaigns, and other community initiatives. The analysis explicitly characterized Palestinian refugees as an important part of such an effort. Therefore, ARK pledged to both covertly and overtly promote the message that change is possible and ordinary citizens have a role to play in achieving change through propaganda campaigns and civil society initiatives. These would highlight where change has been achieved or where threats to Lebanons stability have been countered. In turn, the broader population of Lebanon would be well-educated on how barriers to reform can be overcome via direct popular action. Seven months after ARK produced this study, large-scale protests engulfed the streets of Beirut. Western media immediately spoke of revolution in the country. Few outlets acknowledged that the unrest had begun in July of that year, when thousands of refugees inhabiting several camps commenced mass demonstrations, demanding reforms to local employment laws that barred them from numerous professions. Coincidentally, in one leaked document, ARK boasts of how the company takes pride in ensuring refugees recruited to its illicit schemes receive annual leave, sick leave, and health insurance, despite this not being legally necessary due to local legislation discriminating against Palestinians.   Future Transitional Syria Lebanon was a critical organizing nucleus for the Syrian opposition, which ARK directed and embedded with before the revolution started. A document circulated among anti-Assad elements in Beirut in May 2011, secretly intercepted by Syrian security services, set out a blueprint for events in the uprising to date and precisely what would subsequently transpire in Damascus. The opposition proposed convening mass demonstrations in every major Syrian city so security forces will lose control of all regions, be taken unaware, and become exhausted and distracted. This, along with honest officers and soldiers joining the ranks of the revolution, would make toppling down the regime straightforward. Any crackdown on these protests was forecast to precipitate a Western military strike, ala Libya. The opposition foresaw major news outlets playing a significant role: Everyone should be confident that with the continuation of demonstrations today, media channels will have no choice but to cover the events…Al Jazeera will be late due to considerations of mutual interests. But we have Al Arabiya and Western media channels who will come forward, and we will all see the change of tone in covering the events and demonstrations will be aired on all channels and they will have wide coverage. The Assad government did not choose to publicize this bombshell file for unclear reasons. It only became publicly available and translated into English through the work of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA). The organization was spun out of ARK in May 2011 to prosecute Syrian officials for war crimes. Its first act was to covertly train opposition activists in basic international criminal and humanitarian law in service of a domestic justice process in a future transitional Syria. As the foreign-fomented crisis escalated into an all-out proxy war, CIJA began employing extremist groups to smuggle sensitive documentation out of abandoned government buildings in opposition-occupied areas of Syria, paying these factions including al-Nusra Front and ISIS vast sums for their services. While generating enormous amounts of fawning media coverage, the Commission convicted just two Syrian officials of war crimes, and only after the pair voluntarily defected and made numerous incriminating statements to their Western handlers. An FSA fighter holds a bullet riddled poster of President Assad in Aleppo, Syria, March 30, 2013. Sebastiano Tomada | SIPA This failure is, of course, attributable to the collapse of the British and US regime change project in Syria. Indeed, the success of CIJAs business model was wholly contingent on the violent overthrow of Assad and his government. The fact that the Commission was founded before the Syrian Arab Army was even formally deployed to Damascus amply demonstrates that CIJA and ARK had substantial grounds to believe that decisive Western intervention would be forthcoming at the earliest stages of the peaceful revolution. Per the intercepted document, so too did opposition activists in Lebanon in May 2011 the same month CIJA was founded which, of course, referenced then-ongoing NATO airstrikes on Libya. While such intervention didnt arrive as expected, arms and fighters promptly began flowing from Tripoli to Syria after that, in direct coordination with MI6. Many insurgents were former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), who were freed from prison four years earlier by Muammar Gaddafi after an intervention from one of the groups founders, Noman Benotman. Benotman claimed to have rejected political violence, embraced pacifism and democracy, and pledged to deradicalize the jailed LIFG fighters in return for their release. In 2010, he became President of the UK government-funded Quilliam Foundation, the worlds first counter-extremism think tank. In this position, he was instrumental in securing high-level defections from Gaddafis government during the civil war. The organizations avowed contribution to the NATO effort intensified existing suspicions about the spectral interests it might be serving. After Quilliam shut down in April 2021, veteran journalist Ian Cobain made a startling disclosure. The Foundation had been secretly established by the Office for Security and Counterterrorism (OSCT), a shadowy British intelligence agency. Londons spies had initially planned to fund the venture covertly, with money appearing to come in from a Middle Eastern benefactor, but channeled by MI6. Instead, overt government financing was granted, a move eventually judged within Whitehall to have been a mistake. An OSCT source lamented: Should have run it from within the agencies. They do this sort of stuff all the time. And you never find out. Palestinian-focused civil society organizations and initiatives are frequently constructed by British intelligence without participants or broader local populations learning the true sponsors and purposes they serve. With Israel openly planning to reconstruct a politically moderate, Hamas-free Gaza post-genocide, it is incumbent to reflect on how any proposed replacement leaders will almost inevitably be one way or another graduates of MI6-sponsored programs and, therefore, British assets, whether knowingly or not. Feature photo | A young Palestinian walks through the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut, Lebanon, May 15, 2024. Hassan Ammar | AP Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress 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 Leaked Docs Reveal British Intelligences Secret Exploitation of Palestinian Refugees appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, ARK organization, British intelligence operations, Commission for International Justice and Accountability, InCoStrat, Innovative Communications & Strategies, Lebanon's Palestinian refugees, MI6, MI6 involvement, palestinian refugee camps, Palestinian surveillance, Psychological warfare programs, Syrian opposition manipulation, Syrian proxy conflict]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/13/24 8:13am
MintPress News teamed up with Greg Stoker, a former U.S. Army Special Operations member turned anti-imperialist, to provide insightful analysis of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) assault on Rafah, shedding light on why it is likely doomed to fail. Stokers examination begins with a stark revelation regarding the IDFs logistical hurdles. The Israeli Army is grappling with a severe munition shortage, Stoker asserts, not just limited to aerial bombs, but also extending to artillery. This casts doubt on the IDFs capacity to sustain a prolonged assault while preserving stockpiles necessary for deterrence against Hezbollah and other regional threats. He notes, They may have enough to detonate Rafah into Oblivion, but they will not be able to level Rafah the way they want to and still maintain stockpiles for deterrence. Moreover, Stoker highlights the IDFs historical ineffectiveness in detecting tunnel systems in Gaza despite occupying the Philadelphia Corridor along the Rafah Crossing. They have thus far proven considerably ineffective, he remarks, emphasizing the operations coercive nature aimed at pressuring Hamas into acquiescence. Characterizing the entire operation as a performative public relations stunt, Stoker questions its strategic efficacy. The narrative that assaulting Rafah is requisite to defeat Hamas has been proven ludicrous, he asserts, citing Hamas continued resilience in the face of Israeli aggression. Stoker further challenges the operations legitimacy, citing Israeli intelligence veterans projections of a multi-year timeline for Hamas defeat. Stoker warns of the operations unsustainability in light of mounting casualties and dwindling resources. Despite potential declarations of victory, he emphasizes, the IDF lacks achievable goals, an exit strategy, and faces diminishing political capital. Recent statements from White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby underscore the operations waning legitimacy. The IDFs occupation of the Philadelphia Corridor along the Rafah Crossing ostensibly aims to locate and collapse smuggling tunnels from Egypt. However, Stoker highlights the IDFs historical ineffectiveness in detecting tunnel systems in Gaza. This occupation serves as a coercive tactic to pressure Hamas into accepting unfavorable terms, It is just another pressure point to force Hamas into accepting a subpar deal by collectively punishing civilians, Stoker concludes, warning of the operations unsustainability, citing a lack of achievable goals, exit strategy, and diminishing resources. For further updates and analysis on this unfolding situation, watch Stokers full analysis and follow MintPress News. Greg Stoker is an activist, anti-imperialist, US Special Forces veteran and host of the @colonialoutcasts podcast. The post IDF Rafah Assault Doomed to Fail: Analysis by Former US Special Operations Greg Stoker appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, achievable goals, aerial bombs, analysis, anti-imperialist analysis, artillery, civilian punishment, coercive tactics, deterrence, Egypt, Gaza, Gaza tunnels, Greg Stoker, Hamas pressure tactics, Hezbollah, IDF assault, IDF occupation, Israeli Defense Forces, John Kirby, logistical hurdles, MintPress, MintPress News, munition shortage, Philadelphia Corridor, Rafah, smuggling tunnels, unsustainable operation, updates]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/10/24 5:30am
New Lines Magazine purports to be an independent media organization. Yet it constantly attacks genuine alternative media who stray from Washington’s official foreign policy line, all while employing many spooks, spies and other figures at the heart of the national security state. Worse still, its parent organization, the New Lines Institute, has recently admitted to being directly funded by the U.S. government. MintPress News takes a closer look at this shady organization acting as Washington’s attack dog.   A Slick, Well-Funded Organization If you read the Wikipedia entries for many alternative media outlets, they are written off as fringe conspiracy websites pushing debunked foreign propaganda. MintPress News, for example, is described as a “far-left news website” which “publishes disinformation and antisemitic conspiracy theories.” The Grayzone is similarly smeared as a “fringe” blog known for its “misleading reporting” and “sympathetic coverage of authoritarian regimes” such as Syria, Venezuela and China. The evidence for these evidence-light smears comes primarily from the U.S. foreign policy journal, New Lines Magazine, a product of the New Lines Institute. New Lines is a very new organization that was established only in 2020. Despite this, it has already become a key player in setting U.S. agendas worldwide, boasting a staff of more than 50 and working with over 150 contributors. Headquartered on the prestigious Massachusetts Avenue NW (some of the most expensive real estate in the world), it sits between foreign embassies and many of America’s most prestigious think tanks, a stone’s throw – metaphorically and physically – from the White House. New Lines describes its goal as “seeking to shape U.S. foreign policy” based on a “deep understanding of distinct regional geopolitics and value systems.” It began by focusing solely on the Middle East but quickly expanded to cover Ukraine, China, Venezuela and other political hotspots that most concern hawks in Washington. It certainly shapes public debate, and its research and experts are regularly quoted in influential outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN.   A Rogue’s Gallery Of US Officials New Lines presents itself as an independent organization, claiming that it is “one of the few think tanks in Washington with no foreign or local agendas.” Yet its higher ranks are packed with former state officials. Chief amongst them is New Lines Institute founder and president Ahmed Alwani. Alwani served on the advisory board of the U.S. military’s Africa Command and influenced Washington’s Middle East positions. His New Lines biography boasts that he “met the commanding generals of Fort Jackson, Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Base Andrews as well as then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his staff numerous times during the Iraq War to consult on U.S. policy” – something many might not consider a badge of honor. Alwani also founded Fairfax University, a controversial private educational institution that Virginia state regulators considered shutting down in 2019. Auditors found that “teachers weren’t qualified to teach their assigned courses,” academic quality was “patently deficient,” plagiarism was “rampant,” and students’ English levels were “abysmally poor,” making Fairfax look far more like a degree mill than a legitimate university. New Lines’ senior director, Faysal Itani, has a similarly notable past. Before joining the organization, Itani was simultaneously a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council – a NATO-funded think tank that serves as the brains of the military alliance, and an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University – a department a previous MintPress News investigation exposed as a department filled with CIA agents that functions as a training ground for the next generation of American spies. Another senior director, Nicholas Heras, was central to U.S. actions in Iraq and Syria. Between 2013 and 2014, Heras was a research associate at the National Defense University (an institution funded and overseen by the Pentagon). While there, he worked with military leaders at U.S. Central Command, Special Operations Command and the broader U.S. intelligence community, briefing them on matters relating to the two countries. Other key New Lines staff members with similar pasts include Tashi Chogyal, who served in the Obama administration at the Department of Justice and as a special assistant to the administrator of USAID, an organization that has overseen a host of foreign regime change operations; Kamran Bokhari, formerly the Central Asia Studies Course Coordinator at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute; Tanya Domi, a 15-year U.S. Army veteran who also served at the State Department as a spokesperson and counsel for multiple American ambassadors to Bosnia and Herzegovina; Tammy Palacios, currently employed by the United States Military Academy as a counter-terrorism research fellow and Michael Weiss, a non-resident senior research fellow at NATO’s Atlantic Council. When it comes to attacking alternative media, Weiss, in particular, has a notable past. In late 2016, an anonymous organization called PropOrNot published a list of some 200 websites that it classified as routine peddlers of Russian disinformation. Many leading alternative media outlets were on that list, including MintPress News, WikiLeaks, Truthout, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism and Antiwar.com. The charges were false, but the effect was staggering. The PropOrNot list went viral, boosted by mainstream outlets such as the Washington Post, which insinuated that a massive, Kremlin-controlled propaganda network was responsible for Donald Trump’s electoral victory. Google, Facebook and other prominent social media platforms subsequently changed their algorithms to punish the outlets on the list and promote “authoritative” content like the Washington Post or Fox News. MintPress News lost more than 90% of its Google search traffic almost overnight, never to return. It was later revealed that PropOrNot was likely Weiss’ brainchild, meaning that the hysteria over foreign government interference in our media was probably a domestic government-funded operation. A number of other key New Lines staff also previously worked at Stratfor, an organization often referred to as the “shadow CIA,” a private group carrying out intelligence gathering on behalf of the U.S. government.   Spy Games Perhaps the most notable New Lines Institute employee, however, is non-resident fellow Elizabeth Tsurkov. Tsurkov is a Russian-born Israeli who, before joining New Lines, worked at a number of hawkish think tanks, including the Atlantic Council and Freedom House. She grew up in Israel and served for many years in Israeli military intelligence, including during Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon. She also worked directly for former Israeli Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky. In 2015, she published a photo of her at the Pentagon, claiming she was on a “special mission accompanied by the State Department.” Tsurkov was an obscure figure who only came to international attention in 2023 when she was arrested in Baghdad, carrying out what authorities described as a spying mission. The news made worldwide headlines, with many official figures in the West leaping to her defense, describing the charges as ridiculous. It transpired that she had concealed her identity, entering Iraq on a Russian passport, and presented herself as a Russian researcher and supporter of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. A 2022 video interview shows Tsurkov in Baghdad dressed in a khimar – a modest black dress and head covering. “It is clear that Muqtada al-Sadr is a patriotic figure who rejects intervention from any country, whether in the West or the East… In my opinion, this should be the position of every Iraqi political leader,” Tsurkov says, adding that the United States is an “oppressor” nation. This is a blatant deception, given that she is a former Israeli intelligence officer who worked for NATO’s think tank. In fact, Tsurkov has long taken hostile, anti-Shia positions, supported Sunni militias in Syria and championed U.S. military intervention in the region. For years, she was one of the most outspoken Syria regime change hawks online, downplaying the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels’” connections to Al-Qaeda and even promoting the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog – an online personality purporting to be a Syrian opposition organizer that was later unmasked as a pro-regime change hoax run by an American student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Tsurkov initially claimed she was in Iraq to conduct academic research for Princeton University. This was also the position taken by the Israeli government (whose laws prohibit its citizens from traveling to Iraq without special dispensation). “She is an academic who visited Iraq on her Russian passport, at her own initiative pursuant to work on her doctorate and academic research on behalf of Princeton University in the U.S.,” stated the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Princeton, however, categorically denied that it had allowed her to go to Iraq on university business. Thus, very little about her story makes any sense, leading many to conclude that Iraqi authorities were correct in their assessment of Tsurkov. Adding weight to this theory is the complete radio silence from New Lines since her arrest and imprisonment. In more than one year, neither the New Lines Institute nor its magazine has released so much as a sentence addressing the detention of one of the institute’s more senior staff members. In a video released in November, Tsurkov stated that she was actually in Iraq on behalf of the CIA and Israeli intelligence outfit Mossad. Her goals were to foment intra-Shia division and strife and to organize and support anti-corruption protests. She also said that she traveled to Syria to build ties between Israel and the (Sunni) Syrian opposition forces. Given that she had been detained for over half a year by this point, it is not clear if she was coerced into “confessing.”   Attacking Alternative Media Studying their output, it is clear that New Lines has two principal targets: nations the U.S. has deemed enemy states and alternative media outlets that question the narratives that New Lines and the U.S. government are trying to establish. Indeed, New Lines has spent years investigating alternative media, promoting a narrative that opposition to U.S. foreign policy equals being in the pay of official enemy countries. A 2022 article titled “How the Pro-Putin West Is Coping With Russian Defeat in Ukraine” presented journalists such as Max Blumenthal and Michael Tracey, as well as renowned academic Professor Noam Chomsky as Kremlin admirers, and claimed that Ukraine’s “lightning counteroffensive” and the “rapid territorial advances” had left Russia defeated. News of this defeat will no doubt surprise many reading in 2024. But this sort of disinformation about disinformation has become a common method of attacking and smearing anti-war voices. Another article describes what it calls an “echo chamber” of Syria “conspiracy theorists.” It mentions MintPress News and a host of other alternative media outlets, including Consortium News, Project Censored, Free Speech TV, Media Roots, Shadow Proof, The Grayzone, Truthout, Common Dreams and Antiwar.com. New Lines again attacked MintPress News for our coverage of Latin America, claiming that we backed “leftist dictatorships” by “looking the other way” as they crushed protests. The report appeared particularly annoyed that we did not support the 2021 Cuban protests – a movement it lionized as an anti-racist uprising led by the local hip-hop community. MintPress showed that the Cuban demonstrations were led by artists funded, trained, and supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, which are part of the same network that funds New Lines. Groups like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as well as journalist Ben Norton and author and public intellectual Vijay Prashad, were also singled out for their support for anti-imperial governments in Latin America.   State-Funded Media Considering its output, its constant support for U.S. policy and attacks on both domestic and international opponents of Washington, speculation was rife that the U.S. government was secretly funding New Lines. But the institute had always denied this, presenting itself as a neutral, agenda-free organization. That was, at least, until late last year when it announced that it had reached a “cooperative agreement” with the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy at West Point to “jointly develop actionable recommendations for U.S. global leadership to address pressing global security challenges.” In other words, to plan out American military strategy. The New Lines Institute also noted that they would now “serve as an intellectual resource for solving military problems.” Days later, New Lines’ “About Us” section was updated, removing all reference to being funded by the Fairfax Foundation and inserting a clause admitting U.S. government financial support, strongly suggesting that the military is now bankrolling it. It now reads (emphasis added): Funding for The New Lines Institute is provided by the The [sic] Washington Institute for Education and Research, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization registered in Washington DC. New Lines Institute accepts research grants and charitable donations from U.S. individuals, registered U.S. legal entities, and the U.S. Government in support of its research priorities, and only insofar as such support is in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations; aligns with the institute’s vision, mission, purpose and principles; and falls within its core areas of expertise. The news did not come as a shock to those paying close attention. “It will come as a surprise to no-one that New Lines is funded by the U.S. government,” wrote investigative journalist Matt Kennard on Twitter. There is a certain tenor to the articles of these cut-outs that is instantly recognizable. Slightly critical—to be convincing—but only up to a point which leaves state narratives robust.” It will come as a surprise to no-one that New Lines is funded by the US government. There is a certain tenor to the articles of these cut-outs that is instantly recognisable. Slightly critical to be convincing but only up to a point which leaves state narratives robust. https://t.co/lWoHt00EVI — Matt Kennard (@kennardmatt) April 3, 2024 Others were even more scathing. “Congrats to New Lines on their new collaboration with the Modern War Institute at West Point Military Academy,” quipped The Grayzone’s Aaron Maté; “A good reminder that people who smear Grayzone and other independent journalists as state-funded are often projecting.”   Servants of Empire With their quiet admission of U.S. government funding, New Lines joins an ever-growing list of organizations like Graphika and Bellingcat that present themselves as independent but are funded by the U.S. government. Former U.S. state and intelligence officials staff them and dutifully repeat U.S. government narratives and talking points. Through their reports and studies, groups like New Lines launder Washington’s narratives into the public domain, smuggled in under the guise of objectivity. Worse still, New Lines has been at the forefront of attacking and demonizing the few dissenting voices left in American society, their reports being used to further marginalize alternative media – the only place where serious domestic critique of U.S. foreign policy can occur. It is, therefore, doubly crucial that organizations like New Lines are understood for precisely what they are: the State Department’s attack dogs. 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 From PropOrNot to New Lines: How Washington is Weaponizing Media appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Investigations, National, Top Story, Ahmed Alwani, Alan MacLeod, Alternative Media, disinformation, Faysal Itani, foreign policy, geopolitics, GrayZone, independent media, Kamran Bokhari, National Security State, New Lines Institute, New Lines Magazine, Nicholas Heras, Propaganda, State Officials, Surveillance, Tammy Palacios, Tanya Domi, Tashi Chogyal, think-tanks, U.S. Government Funding]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/8/24 7:02am
A silent sentinel watches over every corner in the bustling streets of Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, where the ancient echoes of history collide with the modern hum of daily life. This sentinel is not a person but a network of surveillance technology known ominously as the Hebron Smart City. Designed by Israeli authorities, this system blankets the city in a web of cameras, sensors and even automated weapons, tracking every movement of its Palestinian residents. Palestinians in Hebron are the most surveilled people on the planet, explains journalist and activist Mnar Adley, highlighting the omnipresence of cameras and face-scanning technology. Adley says that the area, also known as al-Khalil to Palestinians, has become a testing ground for Israels surveillance apparatus, with advanced technologies like the Wolf Pack surveillance system in operation. This system collects vast amounts of data on Palestinians, including their personal details and movements, creating an atmosphere of constant surveillance. Izzat Karake, a member of Youth Against Settlements, echoes this sentiment, noting the discomfort caused by constant surveillance. Wherever I go as a Palestinian, I can see cameras, he told MintPress while pointing out dozens of Israeli military cameras lining the streets. We are constantly under surveillance. The Hebron Smart City, Adley explains, is more than just a collection of cameras and sensors; it is a symbol of Israels relentless efforts to control every aspect of Palestinian life. Face-scanning cameras, known as Red Wolf, line every street, their unblinking gaze capturing the faces of every passerby without their consent. These images are then fed into Israel’s Wolf Pack Database, a vast repository of information on Palestinians, all accessible through a mobile app, allowing them to track and monitor individuals with ease. Amnesty International has condemned this mass surveillance project, denouncing it as Automated Apartheid in a scathing report. The system, they argue, reinforces existing practices of discrimination and segregation, further eroding the rights of Palestinians in Hebron at the hands of Israeli authorities, which the human rights group says has “a record of discriminatory and inhuman acts that maintain a system of apartheid. “The Israeli authorities are able to use facial recognition software – in particular at checkpoints – to consolidate existing practices of discriminatory policing, segregation, and curbing freedom of movement, violating Palestinians’ basic rights,” the report concludes. This invasive surveillance technology that targets and monitors Palestinians compounds an already existing segregated system of apartheid in Hebron, where the city has been split into two zones, H1 and H2. These two segments of Hebron are separated by a militarized checkpoint that allows for the maintenance and expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement right in the middle of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood that overlooks the Palestinian city’s marketplace. This is where Youth Against Settlements was born after a Palestinian building that was initially occupied first by the Israeli military and later by Israeli settlers was reclaimed for Palestinian use through a nonviolent direct action and legal campaign. Once a bustling Palestinian neighborhood, Tel Rumeida now hosts over 700 illegal Israeli settlers, heavily armed and protected by the military. The main thoroughfare, formerly known as Shuhada Street, has been renamed Chicago Street by Israeli authorities in an attempt to erase Palestinian heritage. Each year, Izzat and his colleagues with Youth Against Settlements hold an annual march called Open Shuhada Street campaign that draws international attention to the illegal siege of the city. Not only has Israel occupied and fragmented this neighborhood to make room for the Israeli settlers, but it’s altering this area to Judaize the quarter – meaning planning to expand its colonization of the area to ethnically cleanse and displace Palestinians out of here, so Israeli settlers can take over. This military strategy is used to protect, expand and connect other Jewish settlements nearby in Israel’s quest to ensure an ethno-Jewish state. Hebron has seen some of the most violent settler assaults against Palestinians, especially after Hamas’ surprise attack and Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza. In many cases, the armed settlers are escorted and protected by Israeli soldiers. Barbed wire covers Palestinian homes that are fenced in to protect them from Israeli settler attacks and harassment. But the intimidation doesn’t end there. An AI smartshooter sits atop a checkpoint on Shuhada Street, pointing directly at Hebron’s marketplace, where thousands of Palestinians pass by each day. Israel installed the remote-controlled automatic turret gun in 2022. According to Israel’s Army spokesperson, the AI smart shooter “is used as a dispersal measure “as part of the Army’s improved preparations for confronting people disrupting order. However, the introduction of AI technology, such as the smartshooter, has only heightened tensions in the city. Residents walk through their own neighborhoods with a sense of unease, knowing that they are always under watchful eyes. Just as Gaza has become a laboratory and showroom for Israel’s “battle-tested” weapons, the success of the Hebron Smart City facial recognition technology and database through Wolf Pack to track Palestinians will be used for Israel to continue to profit off of its illegal military occupation of Palestine and surveillance of Palestinian civilians. This “Automated Apartheid” only further establishes segregation of Palestinians and expands Israel’s apartheid system and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh. The post Documentary | Automated Apartheid: Walking Through Hebron Smart City appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, apartheid, Automated Apartheid, Facial Recognition, Hebron, Hebron Smart City, Human Rights, human rights abuses, human rights violations, Israel-Palestine conflict, israeli military, Israeli occupation, occupation, Palestine, Palestinian Rights, surveillance state, surveillance technology, Wolf Pack Database, Wolf Pack System, Youth Against Settlements]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/7/24 6:27am
President Joe Biden is deeply concerned and worried about Israeli behavior in Gaza. We know this because corporate media constantly tell us this. Biden, we are told, is “outraged” by Israeli missile strikes that kill civilians, has privately warned that his administration’s patience is wearing thin, ordered Netanyahu to do everything in his power to protect civilians and even branded Netanyahu an “asshole”, in a sign of supposed increasing tensions between the two leaders. Yet these leaks stand in total contrast to the very public actions of President Biden and his administration, which have repeatedly stated that there are no “red lines” that Israel could cross, effectively giving it a free hand to carry out whatever violence it wishes with no consequences. In this video for MintPress News and Behind the Headlines, MintPress Senior Staff Writer and Podcast Producer Alan MacLeod delves into this disparity and explains why we are constantly told that Biden does not like what is going on and not to believe our lying eyes. Most of these stories, MacLeod notes, are based on little more than anonymous leaks from U.S. government officials and repeated credulously by sympathetic, well-connected reporters. These reporters ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary to carry weight for the administration, effectively helping them wash the blood off their hands and distance themselves from the genocide they are actively supporting. In doing so, corporate media who publish these stories are aiding the U.S. government to get away with murder and are doing a disservice to the public, who are increasingly turning against Israel and its actions. Washington, after all, has approved more than $100 billion worth of arms sales to Israel since October 7 and has gone out of its way to protect Israel diplomatically, including blocking Palestinian statehood at the United Nations and threatening the International Criminal Court. Every day, Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals and places of worship are being destroyed by U.S.-made bombs supplied to Israel with the blessing of President Biden. Corporate media, however, are trying to convince the public that Biden is deeply angry and concerned by the violence and by the positions that the Israeli government has taken. MacLeod concludes that we need a truly independent media that will hold governments and other powerful entities to account. Unfortunately, if this example is anything to go by, we are a long way from having that. 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 Biden Is Deeply Concerned About Israels Behavior, Media Claims appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Alan MacLeod, Biden administration's stance on Israel, Biden outraged by Israeli missile strikes, Biden warns Netanyahu to protect civilians, Biden-Israel tensions, Corporate media bias, Corporate media coverage of Biden's views on Gaza, Destruction in Gaza, Gaza, Independent media accountability, International Criminal Court threats, Israeli behavior, Palestinian statehood, President Joe Biden, U.S. arms sales to Israel, U.S. government stance on Israeli actions, U.S.-Israel relations]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/6/24 6:51am
In the wake of escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, MintCast brings you an exclusive interview with Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. Join MintPress as we delve into the unfolding events and gain insights into Irans perspective. As the worlds attention remains fixated on the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the subsequent global student protests, focus has shifted to the broader implications of Israels actions, particularly concerning Iran. Recently, Israels bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Syria, followed by retaliatory drone attacks from Iran, sparked fears of further escalation. However, despite hawkish rhetoric from certain quarters, both sides seemed inclined to avoid further confrontation. Against this backdrop, we sit down with Dr. Marandi to explore the mood in Iran amidst these turbulent times. Furthermore, we delve into the motivations behind Irans missile strikes on Israel, shedding light on the strategic rationale behind these actions. Moreover, Dr. Marandi addresses Irans support for various groups across the region, including Ansar Allah in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon. We examine the extent of Irans involvement and the underlying rationale guiding its foreign policy decisions. We revisit Dr. Marandis recent debate with TV host Piers Morgan, highlighting the nuances of language and the implications of demonizing terminology such as regime, offering valuable insights into the power dynamics shaping media discourse on Iran and its adversaries. Piers Morgan is being taught a lesson by Dr Marandi @PiersUncensored #Iran @s_m_marandipic.twitter.com/NKhLR2Vj38 — Soureh 2 (@Soureh_design2) April 18, 2024 In this episode, we also explore the complexities of Irans nuclear program and the implications of its enrichment activities in the aftermath of the United States withdrawal from the JCPOA. Dr. Marandi also analyzes Irans economic strategies, including its burgeoning partnerships with Russia, China, and other BRICS nations, and the potential impact on its resilience against American sanctions. Join MintPress as we unpack these pressing issues and gain a deeper understanding of Irans perspective on the evolving geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member of Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh. The post The Dust Has Settled: The Aftermath Of Irans Retaliatory Strikes On Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Ansar Allah, anti-war news, BRICS alliance, censorship campaign, Economic Cooperation, Gaza crisis, Geopolitical analysis, geopolitical insights., Iran-Israel relations, Iranian Nuclear Program, Iranian perspective, media demonization, Middle East tensions, military escalation, MintCast podcast, Mnar Adley, Patreon support, regional dynamics, Seyed Mohammad Marandi interview, US foreign policy, war profiteers, Yemen conflict]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/3/24 11:15am
Senior military officials in Sanaa have informed MintPress News of ongoing military preparations by the US, UK, and Saudi-led Coalition over the past two weeks. According to these sources, there are plans to initiate a significant aerial assault on the Yemeni mainland, focusing particularly on coastal regions in the west, as well as areas in the south near the Saudi border. This assault is expected to be accompanied by ground offensives carried out by factions aligned with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. MintPress News sources indicate a probable escalation, coinciding with significant military reinforcements. Notably, squadrons of US F-16 aircraft have been arriving at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, located less than 200 kilometers from the Yemeni border. Additionally, extensive air transport activities involving weapons and equipment have been observed over the past two weeks, with US cargo planes shuttling to and from military bases in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti. On April 29, the Aviano Air Base in Italy declared the deployment of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets from its 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to the Middle East. As stated on the Aviano Air Base website, these F-16s are set to undertake a range of missions, including safeguarding civilian vessels in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, alongside other crucial force protection and deterrence duties Sources near the Saudi-led coalition-backed government in Aden revealed to MintPress News that the United States and Britain have ramped up their dialogue with the Ministry of Defense in the Aden administration. This surge comes in response to recent Yemeni activities in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean. Military and political insiders in Sanaa informed MintPress News about the military exercise held on April 24. The event, dubbed Desert Flag 9, saw the participation of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Arab nations at the Al Dhafra base in the Emirates. This maneuver is believed to be part of preparations for the announcement of a new military coalition, ostensibly aimed at safeguarding international freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean. At the outset of the exercise, General Charles Keough, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the collaboration among allies in countering perceived Iranian threats. Numerous officials in Sanaa and among Ansar Allah have issued public warnings about alleged plans orchestrated by the United States and Britain, with support from certain Arab nations. The Supreme Political Council, the highest governing body in the northern region, has cautioned against any hostile escalation by the United States in Yemen. It asserts that ongoing suspicious preparations aimed at dissuading Yemen from supporting Gaza will prove futile. Emphasizing that any consequences of such escalation will extend beyond Yemens borders, the Council has urged Saudi Arabia to prioritize its national interests over those of the United States. It seems evident that Saudi and Emirati endeavors extend beyond merely challenging the naval blockade imposed by Ansar Allah on Israel, currently engaged in what many legal experts have termed a genocide in Gaza. Rather, indications suggest that these oil-rich nations may be poised to actively participate in an anticipated U.S. and U.K. military intervention. Their aim? To dismantle the blockade on Israel imposed by Yemeni forces and quell Ansar Allahs assaults on Israeli vessels—actions purportedly intended to halt the ongoing genocide and alleviate the siege on civilians within the embattled enclave. In addressing the Yemen-Saudi border situation, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Supreme Political Council, raised poignant questions: Why does Saudi Arabia deliberately target civilians on the Yemeni border with French Caesar’s cannons? Wouldnt it be wiser for the Saudi army to position these cannons near the borders of the northern kingdom to aid the people of Gaza? He cautioned against reckless actions, stating, Do not play with fire. We possess a strategic arsenal far beyond what you anticipate. Hussein Al-Ezzi, serving as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Sana’a government, issued a stark warning: We are well aware of Washingtons hostile intentions. Henceforth, we hold Washington accountable for any dire consequences resulting from its reckless actions against Yemen. It may soon find itself devoid of safe havens in the region, as its interests become a common target for all those who value freedom. Seeking to entangle itself anew in the Yemen conflict and forge closer ties with Israel, the United States has pledged support to Saudi Arabia. This includes assistance for a Saudi nuclear program and designating Saudi Arabia as a major non-NATO ally. Talks are ongoing to solidify a joint defense pact and enhance security cooperation, as reported by Saudi media.   Impending Assaults on Critical Assets The peril isnt just about the conflicts escalation, but also the neighboring nations getting entangled in operations beyond their control. This risks sparking another tragic conflict, impacting not only war-torn Yemen but also neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia. MintPress sources have confirmed that, in the case of a U.S.-led ground invasion of Yemen, planned assaults by Ansar Allah will target not only U.S. interests and bases within the involved nations but also critical facilities and assets belonging to those participating countries, such as oil installations. Ansar Allah has issued a grave threat of launching a large-scale and aggressive assault aimed at crucial installations, including oil facilities, in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This ominous warning mirrors previous attacks, such as the devastating strikes on the Abqaiq oil facilities in September 2019, which resulted in a significant disruption to half of Saudi Arabias oil production. Ali al-Quhom, a Member of the Political Council of Ansar Allah, wrote on X, “The stage has changed, and with it, the rules of engagement have changed. Saudi Arabia and the UAE must realize this, and seven years are enough to learn the lesson. Yemen has become stronger with the increase in military capabilities at all levels. Escalation will be met with escalation, and this is a fixed and inseparable rule that will never change, ever. As you lost before, you will lose now, but this time your loss will be greater than before.” He added: There should be no submission or surrender on the part of neighboring countries to American, British and Israeli pressure and will, indicating that any American move from the territories of neighboring countries will lead to strong Yemeni responses, these countries will be the target of Yemeni operations, We have a target bank that includes strategic and vital targets in depth and in areas of economic importance.”   Imminent Retaliation Mounting tensions in Yemen and the broader region coincide with the withdrawal of an American aircraft carrier from the Red Sea. Yemeni analysts suggest that this move signifies not only the persistence of Yemeni operations targeting maritime navigation linked to the Israeli regime but also hints at a shift towards ground-based operations for a more extensive assault on Yemeni territory. Yemeni sources indicate that the departure of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gravely from the Red Sea is part of the preparations for the coming assault. General Shamsan, the head of the Military Spokesmen Committee in the Yemeni Army, informed MintPress that concurrent with the withdrawal of the American aircraft carrier, a squadron of aircraft has arrived at Saudi bases. This development aligns with diplomatic and political maneuvers. The Americans seem compelled to pivot towards attacks from land bases to mitigate potential heavy losses from retaliatory strikes against U.S. aircraft carriers and destroyers at sea. While certain Yemenis perceive the withdrawal of the American aircraft carrier from the Red Sea as a triumph, numerous political, military officials, and analysts interviewed by MintPress regard Washingtons move with deep suspicion, framing it within the context of ongoing operational preparations, as emphasized by Brigadier General Shamsan. Last Friday, the U.S. Navy declared that USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gravely departed from the Red Sea after an almost four-month presence. Despite their deployment, the U.S. battle group was unable to impede Yemeni operations targeting maritime navigation associated with the Israeli regime, as these operations persisted. Additionally, theres a possibility, as indicated by a Yemeni source linked to the coordination between Yemeni and Iraqi resistance forces, that certain groups within the Resistance Axis, notably the Iraqi resistance, may engage in retaliatory strikes against key American and Saudi targets in the region. This prospect hints at potential conflict not only in the Red Sea but also in the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Gulf, posing a genuine threat to American interests. However, such escalation could potentially be averted or delayed, especially considering the Russian front and the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.   Mounting Tension and Military Preparations On the ground, clear signs of an impending conflict are emerging, particularly in the conflict zones of Taiz and Lahj, alongside other fronts. This coincides with significant military reinforcements being deployed by factions aligned with the Saudi-Emirati coalition from Aden to the strategic Tur al-Baha and Haifan fronts. These areas serve as vital contact points between Sanaa-aligned forces and coalition-backed militias. Tragically, in the Maqbanah area southwest of Taiz, an attack allegedly conducted by a drone affiliated with these factions resulted in the loss of two children and three women. According to Yemeni military media, an American MQ9 drone was brought down above Saada Governorate while conducting a military operation. Footage released last Friday depicted Yemeni Armed Forces successfully shooting down the US MQ-9 aircraft using a missile. مشاهد لعملية إسقاط الدفاعات الجوية للطائرة الأمريكية MQ9 أثناء قيامها بمهام عدائية في أجواء محافظة صعدةhttps://t.co/Hw6ko4NQVu#معركة_الفتح_الموعود_والجهاد_المقدس pic.twitter.com/6FcYTHoygh — الإعلام الحربي اليمني (@MMY1444) April 27, 2024 In the days, military tensions between Yemeni forces and the American and British navies have surged to unprecedented levels. Reports indicate violent explosions along the coasts of Al-Khawkhah and Al-Mokha, spanning from Khor Amira, facing Bab Al-Mandab, to the southern shores of the country Yemenis harbor a pervasive belief in the imminent likelihood of a ground invasion, a notion taken with utmost seriousness across the nation. Numerous officials, in interviews with MintPress, have openly discussed the potentiality of such an occurrence, grounded not in analysis but in raw data. Consequently, all regions, cities, and institutions have experienced a surge in recruitment efforts, operating under the banner of Al-Aqsa Flood.   Yemens Resolve Amid Escalating Tensions While Yemenis are earnestly grappling with the looming prospect of escalation, their resolve extends beyond merely halting attacks aimed at ending the conflict in Gaza and lifting the blockade. Theyve heralded an unprecedented development targeting Israeli vessels across the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, and Bab al-Mandab. On Tuesday, the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) launched strikes against two United States warships in the Red Sea and targeted the Cyclades bulk carrier, achieving precise hits. Subsequently, military media footage surfaced, showcasing the moment of the Cyclades ships bombing in the Indian Ocean, underscoring the Yemeni armys capacity to execute operations hundreds of kilometers from the Yemeni coastline. مشاهد لحظة استهداف سفينة (CYCLADES) بطائرة مسيرة والتي كانت متجهة إلى موانئ فلسطينَ المحتلة في البحر الأحمر pic.twitter.com/BNC4jPj1SM — الإعلام الحربي اليمني (@MMY1444) April 30, 2024 In a televised address to the nation last Thursday discussing the latest regional developments, Ansar Allah leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi stated that the Yemeni army is enhancing its presence in the Indian Ocean, aiming to block Israeli-affiliated vessels from navigating the Cape of Good Hope route or towards the Red Sea. He further remarked, The Yemeni front will remain open, and the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) operations in support of Palestine will continue. Since Abdul-Malik al-Houthis speech, four Israeli, American, and British vessels have been hit. The Yemeni Navy struck the British ship ANDROMEDA STAR and the Israeli MSC Darwin ship on Saturday, along with an American warship and another commercial vessel named MAERSK YORKTOWN, and the Israeli MSC VERACRUZ on April 24. Preceding these events, the Yemeni army conducted four operations targeting two Israeli ships and two American ships on April 10. Following Abdulmalik al-Houthi’s speech, four vessels affiliated with Israel, the United States and Britain were targeted by Ansar Allah. The Yemeni navy attacked the British vessel Andromeda Star and the Israeli MSC Darwinship on Saturday, as well as an American warship and a commercial vessel named Maersk Yorktown, and the Israeli MSC Veracruz on April 24. Prior to these incidents, the Yemeni army executed four operations against two Israeli ships and two American ships on April 10. Its worth noting that Ansar Allah has turned down several American offers aimed at halting their maritime attacks in support of Gaza. These offers included recognition of their group, revocation of their terrorist designation, payment of government employee salaries, and the signing of a comprehensive agreement with Saudi Arabia to end the war and initiate Yemens reconstruction. Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said in a press briefing that there are ongoing communications with Ansar Allah, urging the movement to engage in the Yemeni political process. However, she clarified that she wouldnt characterize the discussions with strong language at this point. Leaf emphasized that Washington is employing all available means, both diplomatically and militarily, to deter the Houthis from their actions, which she described as reckless in the Red Sea. Feature photo | Yemenis attend a massive rally against US-led airstrikes on Yemen and the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen, March 1, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sanaa. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media. The post Exclusive: Yemen Braces For Impending Massive US-Led Air and Ground Campaign appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Yemen Coverage, 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Aden administration, aerial assault, Al Dhafra base, American forces, Aviano Air Base, Bahrain, British forces, Desert Flag 9, F-16 aircraft, ground offensives, Gulf states, Israel, military coalition, military preparations, military reinforcements, Ministry of Defense, Operation Prosperity Guardian, Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, US-led attack, Yemen, Yemen conflict]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/3/24 7:44am
Over the past six months, we have witnessed some of the darkest moments in human history and some of the worst of its capabilities. Every day, we collectively watch in horror as an apartheid state carries out war crimes against defenseless civilian populations with almost complete impunity and with the near total support of Western leaders, who continue to funnel money, weapons and political protection to Israel. Every day, images of war crimes are beamed to our smartphones, and the screams of babies, the wails of widows and the cries of fathers carrying their deceased children ring through our ears. Tens of thousands of people have already been slaughtered. Officials in Washington simply repeat the mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself, even as it commits war crimes by destroying schools, hospitals and places of worship, deliberately starving a population under its control and heavily bombing populated civilian areas. But not only is every war crime effectively signed off by Washington, but what Israel is doing in Gaza and beyond is the standard for American foreign policy. The Israeli military has repeatedly used banned white phosphorus weapons in Gaza, burning down houses and melting peoples’ skin. Yet the United States has admitted to using the same weapons in Syria and Iraq and used depleted uranium in Fallujah. To this day, hospitals in Fallujah report a 2,200% increase in Leukemia rates and a 740% spike in the number of brain tumors. Deliberate Israeli strikes have destroyed or damaged every single hospital in Gaza. The United States itself has a very long history of targeting hospitals, including in El Salvador, Yugoslavia, Grenada, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Cambodia and Laos. In Syria in 2017, the U.S. dropped white phosphorus munitions on Syria’s Raqqa hospital, killing at least 30 civilians. Food supplies in Gaza are desperately low, with two-thirds of households currently limited to only one meal per day. The Israeli government is refusing to allow aid convoys into Gaza, leaving its residents to starve as acute malnutrition begins to set in. Yet U.S. sanctions are deliberately crafted to produce the same result and have led to shortages of food in targeted countries, such as Iran and Venezuela. Meanwhile, a U.S. government document explicitly states that their Cuba sanctions are meant to “decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and [the] overthrow of [the] government.” We should rightly be shocked at the brutal Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners, which has included zip-tying limbs so tightly they needed to be amputated. But we should also remember what the U.S. did in Abu Ghraib and continues to do in Guantánamo Bay. And while we watch ghastly videos of IDF atrocities daily, are they really so different from the “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks in 2010, which showed U.S. forces massacring Iraqi civilians, including two journalists? A crime for which no one has been charged but for which Julian Assange remains languishing in a British prison. To be clear, what Israel is doing in Gaza is terrible and amounts to genocide. But this is far from the first time this has happened; Israeli-style terrorism is standard U.S. foreign policy. What Israel is doing in Gaza is just an outward expression of what the United States has done for decades to the Global South. Since the end of World War II, the United States has dominated the world, overthrowing governments left, right and center, crushing movements for national liberation, and propping up brutal dictatorships across the planet. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. tried to change other countries’ governments 72 times during the Cold War alone. Israel has been a key outpost of U.S. power in the Middle East since its creation in 1948. But that power is slipping. After its defeats and fiascos in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and beyond and as nations like China rise, American influence is waning. And what the war in Gaza has done has exposed the moral depravity of the so-called rules-based international order, as the U.S. and other Western powers make themselves look foolish carrying water for genocide while still trying to present themselves as the arbiters of morality on the world stage. Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal, yes. But so is President Joe Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and all the other Western leaders backing Israel. What Israel is doing is rooted in a standard Western policy that needs to be addressed in our own countries. Yes, Zionism is the problem, but it’s only part of the problem. The overriding issue is Western imperialism, which creates this kind of ideology. And fortunately, we are seeing the beginnings of a moral awakening. Tens of millions of people around the world have taken to the streets for Palestine. Students across college campuses in this country are occupying their universities, demanding their campuses divest from Israel and weapons manufacturers building the bombs Israel is dropping on Gaza. We are shutting down weapons companies that supply the apartheid regime with arms like Palestine Action is doing in the UK, we are occupying the offices of our elected officials, and we are protesting on college campuses the world over. And while many of Palestine’s neighbors quietly assist Israel in its attack, Yemen, the region’s poorest country, has enforced a Red Sea maritime blockade of Israeli ships in a bid to force Israel to end its siege on Gaza. People have broken through the fog of war and see this for what it is. But we cannot rely on our elected officials to stop it because Israeli barbarity was made and perfected in the USA in the first place. Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh. The post From Gaza to Guantanamo: The Horrors of Western Imperialism appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Anti-war activism, Gaza Genocide, Global South oppression, human rights abuses, Israel war crimes, Israeli atrocities, Middle East conflict, Moral awakening, Palestine solidarity, Palestinian prisoners, United States foreign policy, us sanctions, Western imperialism, Western leaders culpability, white phosphorous, Zionism critique]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/2/24 12:23pm
On April 27, the Wall Street Journal published an investigation based on as yet unpublished U.S. intelligence community assessments and anonymous briefings courtesy of “security officials from several European capitals,” which concluded that Vladimir Putin neither orchestrated Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny’s death in prison two months earlier nor desired it to happen. It was a belated and confounding intervention in a case that, after an initially intense frenzy of mainstream speculation and accusations, quickly went cold before vanishing from mainstream consideration entirely. While exerting little domestic influence outside atypically liberal enclaves in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other major cities, Navalny was the U.S. and Europe’s most cherished and prominent Putin detractor by some margin for over a decade before his death. His every publicity stunt garnered universal media attention, and the regular publications of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) on state official embezzlement and grift in Russia invariably broke the internet. Western human rights awards were routinely forthcoming. After purportedly being poisoned on an inter-Russian flight by the FSB in August 2020, then recovering in Germany, he made a much-publicized “hero’s return” to Moscow, at which point, he was summarily jailed. Despite giving regular interviews to the Western media from prison and testifying to the rotten conditions in which he was held, Navalny had largely faded from public consciousness by the time news of his death broke on February 16. Immediately, the entire Western political, media, and pundit sphere was apoplectic. “Make no mistake. Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death!” U.S. President Joe Biden forcefully declared. Meanwhile, Navalny’s widow, Yulia, accused Russian authorities of “hiding his body” as they were “waiting for the traces of yet another of Putin’s novichoks to disappear”: My husband could not be broken. And that’s exactly why Putin killed him. Shameful, cowardly, not daring to look into his eyes or simply say his name. We will tell you about it soon. We will definitely find out who exactly carried out this crime and how exactly. We will name the names and show the faces.” Yet, on February 26, Ukrainian military chief Kyrylo Budanov “disappointed” everyone by announcing Navalny, in fact, died as a result of simple health complications namely, a blood clot. The U.S. intelligence assessments cited by the Wall Street Journal, based on “some classified intelligence and an analysis of public facts,” reportedly draw the same conclusion. Quite why this apparent confirmation took so long to surface isn’t clear, although it delivered a “coup de grâce” to any and all suggestions Navalny was deliberately assassinated. Since the invasion of Ukraine began, Western spying agencies and officials in Kiev have relentlessly spewed oft-intelligence insulting, illogical black propaganda about the proxy conflict. We must ask ourselves why the same sources that would have us believe Russian forces were at one point fighting with shovels, and Moscow blew up its own Nord Stream 2 pipeline, seek to shut down suggestions Navalny was murdered.   ‘Cataclysmic Loss’ Budanov’s declaration decisively shunted Navalny’s demise from international headlines. Such is the pace with which events move these days that it is perhaps forgotten that immediately following February 16, there was a concerted campaign by highly influential Western anti-Russian actors for the EU and U.S. to adopt a “Navalny Act.” Under its auspices, the approximately $300 billion Russian assets frozen by Western financial institutions in the wake of Moscow’s invasion would be seized and given to Ukraine. At the forefront of this effort was billionaire Bill Browder, an investment manager who reaped untold sums from privatization and asset stripping in Russia during the 1990s and supported Putin’s rise to power before being turfed from the country in 2005 on national security grounds. Since then, he has transformed himself into the Kremlin’s most pugnacious overseas critic and an “anti-corruption” campaigner, despite giving up his U.S. citizenship to evade tax. Speaking to UnHerd on February 20, Browder talked a big game: Now is the moment…Putin is willing to lose one million men, but to lose $300 billion would be a cataclysmic loss. All world leaders are looking for a way to hit Putin back for this murder. I’ve been working on confiscating these assets for the last two years, and the Navalny murder is the impetus to get it done.” Browder had good reason to believe this campaign would bear fruit. For almost 15 years, he has traveled the world telling journalists, lawmakers, and human rights organizations a shocking story of corruption, fraud, and murder at the highest levels of the Kremlin. In brief, he claims local officials forcibly seized the Russian division of his company, Hermitage Capital Management, to carry out a massive tax scam, reaping $230 million in the process. According to Browder’s narrative, he then set his “friend” Sergei Magnitsky, a gifted lawyer, on the case to determine what happened. The diligent sleuth duly uncovered the fraud and alerted authorities but ended up jailed on bogus charges for his courageous whistleblowing. He was then viciously tortured in prison in an attempt to make him retract his testimony before being beaten to death by guards for refusing. Typically, Browder’s audiences have been highly receptive. Over the years, his story has been immortalized in multiple articles, books, official reports and documentaries, influencing legislation and prosecutions in numerous countries. Every member of the “Five Eyes” global spying network and the EU have been successfully lobbied to adopt a “Magnitsky Act,” which sanctions government officials overseas—particularly in Russia—for purported human rights abuses.   ‘Navalny Act’ In reality, Browder’s entire Magnitsky fable is a tangled web of lies, fabrications, distortions, exaggerations, and libel. From the very moment he started spinning this deceptive yarn, sufficient open-source, public-domain evidence was available to disprove its every aspect comprehensively. Yet, it took a decade for mainstream journalists to conduct serious due diligence on his assertions. In November 2019, leading German news outlet Der Spiegel published a comprehensive demolition job, savagely indicting Browder’s integrity in the process. In the publication’s words, Brodwer “has a talent for selling a set of facts so it supports his own version of events.” Magnitsky was, in fact, neither a lawyer nor a whistleblower. He was a crooked accountant who had long-abetted Browder’s fraudulent financial dealings in Russia and was justly imprisoned for these activities. This was confirmed by a damning ruling in August of that year by the European Court of Human Rights in a case brought by Browder and Magnitsky’s family. While the ECHR ordered Moscow to pay Magnitsky’s relatives $37,500 due to a failure to protect his life and health, having identified shortcomings in the medical treatment he was provided in prison, no mention of murder or even unlawful killing was made in the judgment. Conversely, the court rejected suggestions his arrest and subsequent detention were “manifestly ill-founded” or that “authorities had…acted with bad faith or deception:” The Court reiterated the general principles on arbitrary detention…It found no such elements in this case. The decision to arrest him had only been made after investigators learned he’d previously applied for a UK visa, booked tickets to Kiev, and hadn’t been residing at his registered address. Furthermore, the evidence against him, including witness testimony, had been enough to satisfy an objective observer that he might have committed the offense in question.” Der Spiegel’s investigation contained a striking passage, the obvious import of which was bizarrely ignored by the outlet. In it, Zoya Svetova, a Moscow-based human-rights activist who investigated Magnitsky’s death in 2009, said: What sense would it make to murder him? Magnitsky did not reveal any secret. They wanted testimonies against Browder. That was the motivation. He should have accused Browder of not paying taxes. Magnitsky was a hostage. He himself was of no interest to them. They wanted Browder.” Anti-Russia campaigner Bill Browder speaking to the media outside the Old Bailey in London, December 19, 2018. Mr Perepilichnyy, 44, Dominic Lipinski | PA Wire In other words, it was Browder who benefited from Magnitsky’s death, not Russian authorities, which raises the grave prospect that it was the “anti-corruption” campaigner himself who was, one way or another, responsible for his accountant’s tragic passing. Such a reading is amply reinforced by the sworn deposition of Russian opposition activist Oleg Lurie in a failed legal case brought by U.S. authorities against Russian-owned company Prevezon, based on Browder’s bogus claim the firm’s owners were beneficiaries of the $230 million fraud. Western employers would “save him…they would take him out of there” in a matter of days. Lurie was concurrently incarcerated in the same prison as Magnitsky, and the pair crossed paths twice. The first time, the accountant was in a “happy mood,” boasting of how he was held in a “big special block” for “white crime inmates,” where cells had “plasma TV sets, refrigerators, kettles” and illegally installed telephones. The reason for his buoyancy, Magnitsky explained to Lurie, was that his Western employers would “save him…they would take him out of there” in a matter of days. As Browder et al. wished for Magnitsky to “keep silence about their actions” and his own crime to be “not serious,” he seemed assured that freedom was impending. Lurie warned him that “his attorneys and people who claim to be standing behind him are lying to him,” but the accountant was unconvinced. Fast-forward a few weeks, and they met again. Magnitsky was “a completely different person at that time…a tangle of nerves,” Lurie testified. Magnitsky revealed that the “Western people who stood behind him deceived him…they demanded him to sign various documents” completely unrelated to his case, which would’ve implicated him in numerous serious crimes he didn’t commit. As a result, “he had a feeling that he would never get out.” Navalny, like Magnitsky, wasn’t leaving prison anytime soon and almost certainly knew too much. Did his Western backers similarly consider it necessary to silence him? At the very least, it is supremely puzzling that the Ukrainian government effectively torpedoed the “Navalny Act.” After all, Kiev has, since the start of the proxy conflict, implored Western leaders to hand Russia’s frozen assets to them in service of the country’s reconstruction and the purchase of ever-more weapons and ammunition. The Act would’ve delivered on those demands. There was no clear need at all for Budanov to electively sabotage the narrative of Navalny as a Kremlin murder victim.   ‘British Spy’ There are also sinister echoes in the sudden mainstream “reverse ferret” on Navalny’s untimely demise with the similarly mysterious and abrupt November 2019 passing of James Lemesurier, longtime British mercenary and military intelligence operative. Immediately following his fatal fall from the window of his lavish Istanbul apartment, Western sources rushed to convict Russia without evidence, claiming his death may have been or was likely a targeted assassination. The most prominent was Mark Urban, veteran BBC “defence” editor. Within hours of Lemesurier’s lethal crash landing, Urban took to Twitter, urging Turkish authorities to “conduct a thorough investigation” and “ascertain whether there was state involvement.” His misgivings were in part perked by an “extensive black propaganda campaign by Russian and Assad media and their acolytes” in the months prior. In other words, critical, independent reporting raises grave questions about whether Lemesurier’s “White Helmets” were the crusading humanitarian group universally portrayed in the mainstream or something far darker. More substantively, “a former colleague” whether of Lemesurier or Urban isn’t clear told the BBC journeyman, “I know the flat well, [and] it’s not possible to ‘fall’ from that balcony.” They strongly suspected foul play as a result. Seismic stuff, although curiously, these posts were quickly deleted due to Urban allegedly receiving “new information.” The nature of this “information” and who supplied it has never been revealed. But immediately after that, the same sources that hitherto cried murder began labeling Lemesurier’s death an unambiguous suicide. To say the least, Urban is extremely well-connected in the Western military, security, and intelligence sphere and highly adept at withholding salient facts from public view. In July 2018, he revealed he’d serendipitously spent much of the previous year interviewing Sergei Skripal, who, along with his daughter, was purportedly poisoned in the British city of Salisbury three months earlier. In the intervening time, Urban fronted multiple BBC Newsnight reports about the incident without ever mentioning his personal relationship with the GRU defector. For Urban coincidentally once part of the same British Army tank regiment as Pablo Miller, Skripal’s MI6 recruiter, handler, and Salisbury neighbor to delete his incendiary tweets surely required a high-level intervention. At that time, as now, blaming Russia or Putin for anything and everything including quite literally the weather was a thoroughly safe option in the West, without any consequences attached. We are thus left to ponder how and why a long-serving, spook-adjacent British state ‘journalist’ was compelled to retract these charges. Evidently, though, Urban’s sources the “former colleague” who clearly said too much aside were keen that Lemesurier’s end not be perceived or investigated as murder by anyone. Turkish media reports in the aftermath may provide a rationale for this. One article revealed James and his wife, Emma Winberg, a self-professed MI6 operative, “fought violently” outside an Istanbul restaurant just before his deadly plunge. Another suggested Lemesurier a “British spy” was “likely running away from someone before his death.” Fast forward to today, and again, interested parties are eager to dismiss suggestions a high-profile Western asset’s death was the result of foul play. In Navalny’s case, as with Lemesurier, those shadowy elements the Ukrainian government and the CIA being just two publicly confirmed so far had every reason to accuse Moscow of murder. Yet, they not only didn’t but instead went to great lengths to remove any insinuation of deliberate killing from the equation. Make of that what you will. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress 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 Inside Job? Ominous New Questions Surround Navalnys Death appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, Alexei Navalny, Anti-Corruption Foundation, assassination, BBC, Bill Browder, black propaganda, blood clot, British Spy, CIA involvement, conspiracy theories, Corruption, Der Spiegel, Espionage, European Court of Human Rights, FBK, foul play, FSB, hero's return, Human Rights, intelligence assessments, international headlines, investigation, jail, James Lemesurier, Kremlin, Kyrylo Budanov, Magnitsky Act, Mainstream Media, mainstream scrutiny, Mark Urban, Media coverage, media frenzy, MI6, NATO, Navalny Act, Navalny's widow, Poisoning, political sphere, prison death, Propaganda, proxy conflict, Russian forces, Russian opposition, Salisbury poisoning, Sergei Magnitsky, Sergei Skripal, speculation, targeted assassination, Turkish investigation, U.S. intelligence community, U.S. President Joe Biden, Ukraine invasion, Vladimir Putin, Wall Street Journal, Western assets, Western influence, White Helmets, Yulia]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/2/24 7:31am
The mass protests at dozens of U.S. universities cannot be reduced to a stifling and misleading conversation about antisemitism. Thousands of American students across the country are not protesting, risking their futures and very safety, because of some pathological hate for the Jewish people. They are doing so in a complete rejection of, and justifiable outrage over, the mass killing carried out by the state of Israel against defenseless Palestinians in Gaza. They are angry because the bloodbath in the Gaza Strip, starting on October 7, is fully funded and backed by the U.S. government. These mass protests began at the University of Columbia on April 17 before covering all of U.S. geography, from New York to Texas and North Carolina to California. The protests are being compared, in terms of their nature and intensity, to the anti-war demonstrations in the U.S. against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. While the comparison is apt, it is critical to note the ethnic diversity and social inclusiveness in the current protests. On many campuses, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Native American and White students are standing shoulder to shoulder with their Palestinian peers in a unified stance against the war. None of them is motivated by fear that they could be drafted to fight in Gaza, as was, indeed, the case for many American students during the Vietnam War era. Instead, they are united around a clear set of priorities: ending the war, ending U.S. support of Israel, ending their universities’ direct investment in Israel and the recognition of their right to protest. This is not idealism but humanity at its finest moments. Despite mass arrests, starting in Columbia, and the direct violence against peaceful protesters everywhere, the movement has only grown stronger. On the other side, U.S. politicians, starting with President Joe Biden, accused the protesters of antisemitism without engaging with any of their reasonable and globally-supported demands. Once again, the Democratic and Republican establishments stood together in blind support for Israel. Biden condemned the “antisemitic protests,” describing them as “reprehensible and dangerous.” Police advance on pro-Palestinian demonstrators in an encampment on the UCLA campus, May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. Jae C. Hong | AP A few days later, the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Mike Johnson, visited the university under tight security, using language hardly suitable for a country that claims to embrace democracy, respect, freedom of expression and the right to assembly. “We just can’t allow this kind of hatred and antisemitism to flourish on our campuses,” he said, adding: “I am here today joining my colleagues and calling on President (Minouche) Shafik to resign if she cannot immediately bring order to this chaos.” Shafik, however, was already on board, as she was the one who had called for the New York Police Department to crack down on the protesters, falsely accusing them of antisemitism. U.S. mainstream media has contributed to the confusion and misinformation regarding the reasons behind the protests. The Wall Street Journal, once more, allowed writers such as Steven Stalinsky to smear young justice activists for daring to criticize Israel’s horrendous genocide in Gaza. “Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and others are grooming activists in the U.S. and across the West,” he alleged, thus once more taking a critical conversation about U.S. support of genocide into bizarre and unsubstantiated directions. U.S. establishment writers may wish to continue fooling themselves and their readers. Still, the truth is that neither Hezbollah nor Hamas ‘recruiters’ are active in Ivy League universities, where young people are often groomed to become leaders in government and large corporations. All such distractions are meant to avoid the undeniable shift in American society, one that promises a long-term paradigm shift in popular views of Israel and Palestine. For years before the current war, Americans have been changing their opinions on Israel and their countrys so-called special relationship with Tel Aviv. Young Democrats have led the trend, which can also be observed among independents and, to some extent, young Republicans. A statement that asserts that “sympathies in the Middle East now lie more with the Palestinians than the Israelis” would have been unthinkable in the past. But it is the new normal, and the latest opinion polls regarding the subject and Bidens dwindling approval ratings continue to attest to this fact. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators from the Columbia University are held in an NYPD corrections bus on April 30, 2024. John Lamparski | NurPhoto | AP The older generations of American politicians, who have built and sustained careers based on their unconditional support for Israel, are overwhelmed by the new reality. Their language is confused and riddled with falsehoods. Yet, they are willing to go as far as defaming a whole generation of their own people the future leaders of America to satisfy the demands of the Israeli government. In a televised statement on April 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the protesters as “antisemitic mobs” who “have taken over leading universities,” alleging that the peaceful protesters are calling “for the annihilation of Israel.” His words should have outraged all Americans, regardless of their politics and ideology. Instead, more U.S. politicians began parroting Netanyahus words. However, this political opportunism will generate a blowback effect, not just in the distant future but also in the coming weeks and months, especially in the run-up to the presidential elections. Millions of Americans are fed up with war, with their government’s allegiance to a foreign country, with militarism, with police violence and with the unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech in the U.S. and more. Young Americans, who are not beholden to the self-interests or historical and spiritual illusions of previous generations, are declaring: ‘Enough is enough.’ They are doing more than chanting. They are rising in unison, demanding answers, moral and legal accountability and an immediate end to the war. Now that the U.S. government has taken no action and continues to feed the Israeli war machine in its onslaught against millions of Palestinians, these brave students are acting themselves. This is certainly an awe-inspiring watershed moment in the history of the United States. Feature photo | People stand atop a pile of barricades as they lead a chant at an encampment by students protesting against Israel at George Washington University, April 30, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein | 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 America is Rising for Gaza: What Should We Expect? appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Opinion & Analysis, Top Story, Antisemitism accusations, Antisemitism allegations, Biden administration, Campus activism, Campus activism Columbia University protests, Campus activism Palestine solidarity, Gaza conflict, Human Rights, Israel-Palestine conflict, Israeli occupation, Mass protests, Palestine solidarity, Palestine solidarity Israel-Palestine conflict, political repression, Solidarity movements, student activism, Student activism Gaza war, student protests, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. government support, U.S. universities]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/29/24 7:58am
On April 13, Iran, alongside Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Ansar Allah, executed Operation True Promise, a vast wave of drone, cruise and ballistic missile strikes on Israel, launched in retaliation to Tel Aviv’s criminal bombing of Tehran’s Damascus embassy less than two weeks earlier, which killed two Iranian generals. As a result, history was made, and the world particularly West Asia will never be the same again. “This action was hugely significant. Now, the Israelis will have to be extremely careful about what they do in Syria against Tehran. The regional balance of power has permanently shifted away from the Zionists. Tel Aviv will never recover at all. It is the end of them. They have destroyed themselves. They are seen as a regime that has no place in the civilized world, a Nazi state, across the entire globe,” geopolitical expert Dr. Mohammad Marandi tells MintPress News. Iran’s first-ever strike on Israel, following decades of provocations, escalations, assassinations, incendiary threats, and determined lobbying for U.S.-led war against Tehran by Tel Aviv officials, the effort targeted airbases, Israeli Air Force intelligence HQ and a constellation of air defense systems. The U.S., Britain, and France scrambled jets to help shoot the vast payload down unsuccessfully while Jordan controversially permitted Western powers to use its airspace for the purpose. Israel claimed a 99% interception rate. However, extensive photo and video material shows that most missiles hit their targets and wrought much damage. In the process, Iran demonstrated to Tel Aviv and its Western backers a hitherto unknown ability to circumvent layer upon layer of protective measures, including top-tier fighter jets, NATO-supplied air defense systems, and the much-vaunted Iron Dome. One by one, they largely failed in their duty, leading to the astonishing sight of Iranian missiles soaring unmolested over the Knesset. This righteous scene no doubt sent untold chills through Western and Israeli corridors of power, searching vainly for spines to run up. It also dispatched a palpable message—Tehran could, if it wished, have struck the Zionist legislature but didn’t do so. For the time being, at least. The floor was now Tel Aviv’s to decide whether—and how—to retaliate. A response came on April 19 in the form of pre-dawn drone sorties across Iran. Initially framed by Western media as hugely impactful, in reality, a small swarm of Israeli quadcopters attempted to breach Tehran’s air defenses but ultimately couldn’t. An Iranian spokesperson referred to the effort as “failed and humiliating.” This characterization surely applies more widely to the pathetic state to which Tel Aviv has been reduced following Operation True Promise’s seismic success. As we shall see, Israel now has little time remaining and no good choices left to make. Iraqi military personnel inspect Israeli missile fragments found by farmers in Latifiya and Aziziya. Photo | Sabreen   ‘New Equation’ Despite its astonishing optics and unprecedented nature, some West Asian observers were disappointed that the attack on Israel wasn’t a decapitation. Such perspectives overlook Iran’s longstanding commitment to caution. Devastation of Tehran’s Syrian embassy was without historical parallel and concerned with Israel eliciting a major escalation to drag the U.S. into total war. A measured, well-advertised show of strength deterred a broader response while signaling a major shift in Iranian policy towards Israel. IRGC commander Hossein Salami has said: We have decided to create a New Equation, and that is if from now on the Zionist regime attacks our interests, assets, personalities, and citizens, at any point, we will attack against them.” Those are fighting words, and Operation True Promise demonstrated they can be backed with action. Iran has shown it can strike Israel directly from its own soil, its fleets of missiles and drones capable of traveling thousands of kilometers over both friendly and hostile airspace, separate timezones, and multiple countries. Along the way, Tehran will have gleaned an enormous amount of invaluable intelligence on the defensive capabilities and vulnerabilities of Israel and the local Western infrastructure upon which its defenses depend. Any future Iranian strike would make the most of whatever was learned on April 13, and the data yield was surely enormous. Since Russia’s “Special Military Operation” began in February 2022, defense cooperation between Moscow and Tehran has reached extraordinary levels and intensive learning and on-the-go refinement of battle strategy is core Russian military doctrine. As a nameless Ukrainian Army officer bitterly told Politico on April 3, Western weapons systems sent to Kiev “become redundant very quickly because they’re quickly countered by the Russians”: We used Storm Shadow and SCALP cruise missiles [supplied by Britain and France] successfully but just for a short time. The Russians are always studying. They don’t give us a second chance. And they’re successful in this.” If there’s a next time, too, Iran’s missile and drone fleet is likely to be considerably more sustained, playing out over several days, weeks, or even months, wave after wave, burst after burst. Estimates suggest around 300 separate projectiles were fired at Israel during Operation True Promise. Largely unsuccessful attempts to repel the blitz by Tel Aviv alone cost $1.08 1.35 billion, according to an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) general. “One Arrow missile used to intercept an Iranian ballistic missile costs $3.5 million, while the cost of one David Sling missile is $1 million, in addition to the sorties of aircraft that participated in intercepting the Iranian drones,” they told local media. Meanwhile, an Israeli think tank researcher calculates the costs “were enormous,” comparable to what Israel burned through during the entire 1973 Arab-Israeli war, which lasted almost three weeks. IDF personnel remove debris from missile intercepted during the Iranian attack in southern Israel. Photo | IDF Those sums were spent on missile interceptors, missiles, jet fuel, and other military equipment and infrastructure. It is uncertain how much Iran spent on the Operation, but it is undoubtedly a great many orders of magnitude less. Some sources have suggested $30 million, which could well be accurate. Dr. Marandi tells MintPress News that “most” of the initial “decoy” barrage, including drones, were collecting dust. “Tehran was looking for an excuse to get rid of them,” he says. “Most of the heavy-duty work attempting to counter Iran’s strike was done by the Americans anyway, not the Israelis. The Iron Dome barely factored in. The two places hit hardest the southern airbase where F35s are based and Tel Aviv’s Golan Heights intelligence base resulted in significant damage and casualties. Of course, the Zionists don’t admit this,” Dr. Marandi adds. This massive cost discrepancy is a very, very grave issue for Israel, as the U.S. can attest, given its embarrassing experiences attempting and completely failing to end Ansar Allah’s anti-genocide blockade of the Red Sea. Almost immediately, Politico reported that the Pentagon was aghast at squandering missiles costing millions to shoot down $2,000 Ansar Allah drones. A CIA officer lamented: That quickly becomes a problem because the most benefit, even if we do shoot down their incoming missiles and drones, is in their favor. We, the U.S., need to start looking at systems that can defeat these that are more in line with the costs they are expending to attack us.”   ‘Israel Goes Under’ There is no sign yet of Washington having publicly rectified this concern, which may account for why U.S. officials at the start of April offered Ansar Allah a sweeping offer of total surrender in return for ending the Red Sea blockade. This was summarily rejected. No business as usual no commerce, no trade on Yemen’s watch while Palestinians are slaughtered. In the event of any subsequent Iranian strike on Tel Aviv, too, Tehran’s drones will not be used to deter shipping either, but tie up, smoke out, and exhaust Israeli air defenses. This tactic was used to significant effect on April 13, as it has been by Russia since its airstrikes on critical Ukrainian infrastructure began in late 2022. Now, Kiev is on the verge of being de-electrified, which will cause battlefield collapse and population displacement, with potentially devastating knock-on effects on neighboring countries and states trying to keep Kiev’s lights on. It seems safe to say neither Israel nor its Western allies could sustain a serious defense to a protracted assault by Tehran, economically or materially. That conclusion is supported by an April 22 Wall Street Journal report, which revealed the Biden administration was shocked at the scale of Iran’s barrage. It “matched worst-case scenarios” outlined by U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon, an unnamed senior official despairing, “this was on the high end…of what we were anticipating.” White House Situation Room attendees on the day allegedly feared Israel and its allies would not be able to repel the assault. And they couldn’t. On top of a mass crime against humanity amounting to a 21st-century Holocaust, Israel’s genocide in Gaza has been utterly destructive to its own economy. A Financial Times investigation published on November 6 documented how the assault has ravaged personal finances, job markets, businesses, industries, and the Israeli government itself. Thousands” of companies were teetering on the brink of collapse, with entire sectors plunged into an unprecedented crisis. One in three businesses had either shuttered or were operating at 20 percent capacity. One can imagine how much worse things have gotten in the six months since, and Israel isn’t yet embroiled in an all-out war. An extended period of mass strikes from Iran, Ansar Allah and Hezbollah could completely paralyze the country economically, render entire areas uninhabitable or, at least, uninhabited destroy infrastructure, and much more. Among the infrastructure in Tehran’s crosshairs could well be the Dimona nuclear power plant, which would unleash deadly chaos on a terrifying scale. Resultantly, Israel’s “Samson Option,” under which it is committed to launch a mass nuclear strike if its existence is threatened, should no longer be taken very seriously. Israeli military theorist Martin van Creveld once boasted, “We have the capability to take the world down with us, and I can assure you that will happen before Israel goes under.” But Tehran’s hypersonic missile capabilities are in every way an effective counter-deterrent. They could even deliver a nuclear, chemical or biological payload of their own.   ‘Whoever Moves’ Israel’s Iranian drubbing is further exacerbated by its attempt to crush Hamas being an absolute disaster in every conceivable way. The fiasco’s consequences are and will remain wide-ranging and grave, to the extent they could be fatal. This may account for Netanyahu’s flailing bid to draw Tehran into all-out war. After all, the scale of the Israeli Defense Forces’ defeat is such that in a scathing op-ed for Haaretz on April 11, Zionist “journalist” Chaim Levinson lamented: We’ve lost. Truth must be told… It’s unpleasant to say, but we may not be able to safety [sic] return to Israel’s northern border…No cabinet minister will restore our sense of personal security. Every Iranian threat will make us tremble. Our international standing was dealt a beating. Our leadership’s weakness was revealed to the outside. For years we managed to fool them into thinking we were a strong country, a wise people and a powerful army. In truth, we’re a shtetl with an airforce, and that’s on the condition it’s awakened in time.” Haaretz | Apr 11, 2024 Even the Western media, which since the genocide began has been at best silent and at worst complicit and much more active in the latter sphere than the former has acknowledged Tel Aviv’s battlefield cataclysm. The Economist, a nakedly Zionist publication that has whitewashed, diminished, or outright justified every conceivable crime committed by the IDF, has condemned the Forces’ “military and moral failures” and how “its generals botched the strategy, and discipline among troops has broken down”: [Israel is] accused of two catastrophic failures. First, it has not achieved its military objectives in Gaza. Second, it has acted immorally and broken the laws of war. The implications for both the IDF and Israel are profound…Hamas fighters are still ambushing Israeli forces throughout Gaza, and the group is reasserting itself in areas the IDF has left…Accusations that Israel has broken the laws of war are plausible.” The Economist went on to slam a “lack of enforcement” of already virtually non-existent “rules of engagement” under which the IDF operates. A “veteran reserve officer” was quoted as saying commanders could arbitrarily “decide that whoever moves in his sector is a terrorist or that buildings should be destroyed.” A sapper in another unit admitted, “The only limit to the number of buildings we blew up was the time we had inside Gaza”: “Soldiers have filmed themselves vandalizing Palestinian property and, in some cases, put those videos online. On February 20, the IDF’s chief of staff published a public letter to all soldiers warning them to use force only where necessary, ‘to distinguish between a terrorist and who is not, not to take anything which isn’t ours a souvenir or weaponry and not to film vengeance videos.’ Four months into the war, this was too little, too late.” That The Economist printed such things at all reflects how far Israel has fallen since October 7, 2023. Now, it is a global pariah, viscerally loathed by the overwhelming majority of the world’s citizenry. Adversaries do not fear its once-vaunted military and its ability to unilaterally strike neighboring countries with total impunity, and no comebacks, is over. Tel Aviv’s claim to “defense” and security primacy, upon which much of its exports were successfully marketed for decades, has been amply demonstrated to be bogus. Meanwhile, Israel has suffered population collapse, with simultaneous mass brain drain and workforce freefall as settlers flee or get conscripted. Demand for mental health services has reached all-time highs. The trauma of perpetrating genocide and living under the daily threat of attack, as Palestinians have since 1948, has ravaged soldiers and civilians alike. But scores of psychiatrists have relocated elsewhere due to stressful workloads and likely won’t return. Such are the foundational flaws of a settler colonial state. “I don’t think 10 years from now Israel will exist. Zionism will die. The only solution is equal rights for Christians, Muslims, and Jews throughout Palestine. This war will continue, but direct engagement with Iran would be totally destructive, militarily. So the Israelis now target Rafah, but they will be defeated there, and they know that. As long as Netanyahu is leader, we will have a continuation of this tragedy. The only way out is a coup in Tel Aviv,” Dr. Marandi concludes. For many, these developments may be little consolation, coming as they do off the back of thousands of murdered and mutilated Palestinian children. Yet, Israel as we know it is on the brink of extinction, which wasn’t the case before Hamas breached Gaza’s concentration camp walls. Palestine is now closer to being free than at any point since Israel’s creation. And there is no going back to “normal.” Time is now and forever on the side of the tenacious, undefeated Resistance so, too, justice and virtue. We should never forget the immortal, galvanizing words of Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer, slain in cold blood by a targeted IDF airstrike on December 6, 2023: If I must die, let it bring hope.” Feature photo | A passerby, taking on his cellphone, walks past a banner showing missiles being launched from Iranian map in northern Tehran, Iran, April 19, 2024. Vahid Salemi | AP Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress 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 Military and Moral Failures: How Irans Israel Strike Reshaped the Region Forever appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, Drone strikes in Middle East, Geopolitical analysis, Geopolitical implications, Geopolitical shift, Hezbollah military action, Hezbollah retaliation, Iran missile strike, Iran missile technology, Iran-Israel conflict, Iran-Israel relations, Iran-Israel tensions, Iranian military capabilities, Israel air defense systems, Israeli Military Strategy, Kit Klarenberg, Middle East conflict, Middle East power balance, Operation True Promise, Proxy warfare in Middle East, West Asia geopolitics]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/26/24 7:50am
Throughout history, fringe religious Zionist parties have had limited success in achieving the kind of electoral victories that would allow them an actual share in the countrys political decision-making. The impressive 17 seats won by Israels extremist religious party, Shas, in the 1999 elections was a watershed moment in the history of these parties, whose ideological roots go back to Avraham Itzhak Kook and his son Zvi Yehuda Hacohen. Israeli historian Ilan Pappé referred to the Kooks ideological influence as a fusion of dogmatic messianism and violence. Throughout the years, these religious parties struggled on several fronts: their inability to unify their ranks, their failure to appeal to mainstream Israeli society and their inability to strike the balance between their messianic political discourse and the kind of language not necessarily behavior that Israels western allies expect. Though much of the financial support and political backing of Israels extremists originate in the United States and, to a lesser extent, other European countries, Washington has been clear regarding its public perception of Israels religious extremists. In 2004, the United States banned the Kach party, which could be seen as the modern manifestation of the Kooks and Israels early religious Zionist ideologues. The founder of the group, Meir Kahane, was assassinated in November 1990 while the extremist rabbi responsible for much violence against innocent Palestinians throughout the years was giving another hate-filled speech in Manhattan. Kahanes death was only the start of much violence meted out by his followers, lead among them an American doctor, Baruch Goldstein, who gunned down on February 25, 1994, dozens of Palestinian Muslim worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Prayer mats covered in blood in the aftermath of the massacre carried out by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein, February 25, 1994. Photo Al-Khalil The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers while protesting the massacre was nearly as many as those killed by Goldstein earlier in the day, a tragic but perfect representation of the relationship between the Israeli state and the violent settlers who operate as part of a larger state agenda. That massacre was a watershed moment in the history of religious Zionism. Instead of serving as an opportunity to marginalize their growing influence by the supposedly more liberal Zionists, they grew in power and, ultimately, political influence within the Israeli state. Goldstein himself became a hero, whose grave, in Israels most extremist illegal settlement in the West Bank, Kiryat Arba, is now a famous shrine, a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Israelis. It is particularly telling that Goldsteins shrine was built opposite Meir Kahanes Memorial Park, which indicates the clear ideological connections between these individuals, groups, and funders. In recent years, however, the traditional role played by Israels religious Zionists began to shift, leading to the election of Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Israeli Knesset in 2021 and, ultimately, to his role as the countrys National Security Minister in December 2022. Ben-Gvir is a follower of Kahane. It seems to me that, ultimately, Rabbi Kahane was about love. Love for Israel without compromise, without any other consideration, he said in November 2022. But, unlike Kahane, Ben-Gvir was not satisfied with the role of religious Zionists as cheerleaders for the settlement movement, almost daily raids of Al-Aqsa and the occasional attacks on Palestinians. He wanted to be at the center of Israeli political power. It is an interesting debate whether Ben-Gvir achieved his status as a direct result of the successful grassroots work of religious Zionism or because the political circumstances of Israel itself have changed in his favor. The truth, however, might be somewhere in the middle. Israels historic failure of its so-called political left—namely the Labor Party—has, in recent years, propelled a relatively unfamiliar phenomenon—the political center. Meanwhile, Israels traditional right, the Likud party, grew weaker, partly because it failed to appeal to the growing, more youthful religious Zionism constituency and also because of the series of splits that occurred after Ariel Sharons breaking up of the party and the founding of Kadima in 2005 a party that has been long disbanded. To survive, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has redefined his party to its most extremist version of all time and, thus, began to attract religious Zionists with the hope of filling the gaps created because of internal infighting within the Likud. By doing so, Netanyahu has granted religious Zionists the opportunity of a lifetime. Soon, following the October 7 Al-Aqsa Flood operation, and in the early days of the Israeli genocide in Gaza, Ben-Gvir launched his National Guard, a group which he tried, but failed, to compose before the war. Thanks to Ben-Gvir, Israel, now, per the words of opposition leader Yair, has become a country with a private militia. By March 19, Ben-Gvir announced that 100,000 gun permits had been handed over to his supporters. It is within this period that the US began imposing sanctions on a few individuals affiliated with Israels settler extremist movement, a slight slap on the wrist considering the massive damage that has already been done and the tremendous violence that is likely to follow in the coming months and years. With a portrait of late Rabbi Meir Kahane on the wall, left, a Jewish settler walks inside a building taken from a Palestinian family in Hebron, Nov. 16, 2008. Dan Balilty | AP Unlike Netanyahu, Ben-Gvirs thinking is not limited to his desire to reach a specific position within the government. Israels religious extremists are seeking a fundamental and irreversible shift in Israeli politics. The recent push to change the relationship between the judicial and exclusive branches of government was as crucial to those extremists as it was to Netanyahu himself. However, the latter has championed such an initiative to shield himself against legal accountability. Ben-Gvirs supporters have a different reason in mind: they want to dominate the government and the military with no responsibility or oversight. Israels religious Zionists are playing a long game, which is not linked to a particular election, individual or government coalition. They are redefining the state, along with its ideology. And they are winning. Ben-Gvir and his threats to topple Netanyahus coalition government have been the main driving force behind the genocide in Gaza. If Meir Kahane were still alive, he would have been proud of his followers. The ideology of the once marginalized and loathed extremist rabbi is now the backbone of Israeli politics. Feature photo | An Israeli hardline nationalist supporter of Israeli army medic Sgt. Elor Azaria, wears a t-shirt with a drawing of Rabbi Meir Kahana, who founded extreme right wing Jewish movements, the Jewish Defense League and the ultranationalist Kach political party, outside the Israeli military court in Tel Aviv. Oded Balilty | 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 How Jewish Extremists Became the New Face of Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, News, Opinion & Analysis, Top Story, Al-Aqsa Flood Operation, Avraham Itzhak Kook, Gaza Genocide, Israel, Israel-US relations, Israeli elections, Israeli Knesset, israeli military, Israeli politics, Israeli religious parties, Israeli Settlements, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Jewish extremism, Likud Party, Meir Kahane, Middle East conflict, National Security Minister, Netanyahu government, Political extremism, Political shifts in Israel, Religious extremists, Religious Zionism]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/24/24 10:24am
It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of the operation launched by Hamas and factions of the Palestinian Resistance on October 7, which forever annihilated the prestige of the Israeli army. Yet the strikes launched by Iran on April 13 and 14 are also truly historic. For the first time, the backbone of the Axis of Resistance targeted Israel directly from its territory, launching the largest missile attack ever recorded against Israel and the largest drone attack in history. We have entered a whole new phase in the Arab-Israeli and Persian-Israeli conflict, and this is the final one as all the taboos have now been broken, and new equations have been established. Israel’s deterrence capacity no longer exists. Since October 7, Hamas, Hezbollah, Ansar Allah and the Iraqi Resistance have shattered it. Still, these were Resistance movements, not a State with much more to lose. This direct action by Iran is all the more significant as Israel has been threatening to bomb Iran for decades without ever daring to do so, while Iran very quickly carried out its threats. Iran launched its strike despite U.S. and Western threats, demonstrating unparalleled courage and a readiness to enter into a regional war and directly threatening the United States and its Arab vassals in the region with direct strikes in the event of interference. This audacity foiled the bluff of the Biden administration, which officially declared that it would not support an Israeli response from which it disassociated itself in advance. Iran’s military prowess was clearly demonstrated. Despite the fact that this attack was known in advance and that the capabilities both aviation and anti-missile defenses of no less than five military powers directly assisting Israel (the United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan) were unable to stop Iran from striking Israeli territory. Israel’s defense systems were saturated, sirens sounded from north to south for hours, and yet at least twenty direct hits were recorded. Iran demonstrated its moral superiority. It strictly applied Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which authorizes the use of force in self-defense, targeted only military targets (two air bases that were destroyed according to Iran and damaged according to Israel), and gave advance warning of its strike, which enabled the countries affected to close their airspace, thus protecting the civilian airliners that Israel had been endangering for days by massively jamming GPS signals throughout the region. Finally, as Marwa Osman put it, the failure of Israel’s five layers of defense was compensated for by a sixth layer of media defense, with journalists repeating that Israel and its allies were able to intercept 99% of the projectiles. Given the impacts recorded, this would mean that Iran fired 1,000 to 2,000 drones and missiles, whereas all the Western data puts the figure below 500; the aim of this deceit was obviously to allow Israel to save face and enable it to claim victory as it supposedly was able to intercept 99% of the projectiles. Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said in 2007, “Those who make threats should have realized that military threats or attacks against Iran – in the sense of hit-and-run attacks – are no longer possible. Those who invade us will have to suffer from the devastating consequences of their actions.” While his statement has been mocked many times, particularly given the numerous Israeli attacks on Iranian bases in Syria that have cost the lives of many members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with relative impunity, no one today doubts the seriousness of this assertion. When its territory is hit, as was the case with the blatant Israeli strike against its consulate in Damascus, the aggressor is hit directly. And from now on, as Hossein Salami, the Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC, stated following Iran’s attack, any open attack against Iranian interests will be met with the same retribution, “We have established a new equation with the Zionist entity, responding directly from Iranian territory to any aggression on its part against Iranian interests, property, personalities and citizens in any part of the world. We have opened a new chapter in the confrontation with the enemy.” This is a truly tectonic shift in the equations of power and deterrence. Those who play down the importance of the attack ignore its long-term political and strategic significance, which is in line with Iran’s vision, shared by the entire Axis of Resistance, of the form, scale and timing of the struggle against Israel. As Fadi Quran, the Campaign Director of Avaaz, pointed out following the attack, “The scale of Iran’s attack, the diversity of locations it targeted, and weapons it used forced Israel to uncover the majority of anti-missile technologies the U.S. and it have across the region. The Iranians did not use any weapons Israel didn’t know it had; it just used a lot of them. But the Iranians likely now have almost a full map of what Israel’s missile defense system looks like, as well as where in Jordan and the Gulf the U.S. has installations. It also knows how long it takes to prepare them, how Israeli society responds…etc. This is a huge strategic cost to Israel, while Arab regimes are now being blasted by their peoples, particularly the Jordanian monarchy, for not doing anything to protect Gazans but then going all out to protect Israel. Crucially, Iran can now reverse engineer all the intel gathered from this attack to make a much more deadly one credible. While the U.S. and Israel will have to re-design away from their current model which has been compromised. Its success in stopping this choreographed attack is thus still very costly.” While Israel proved barely capable of defending itself, at an exorbitant cost of over a billion dollars no less, against an attack that was limited in scope, lacked the element of surprise and cost Iran a measly 35 million dollars, there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that in the event of a regional war, Israel’s defense capabilities would quickly be saturated, leaving its territory devastated and its population decimated. The Israeli population is now clearly aware of this, and the depopulation process that has already cost it hundreds of thousands of nationals since October 7 is only set to increase. For their part, the Palestinian people, abandoned by the world and Arab regimes in particular, were able to enjoy a brief respite. Gaza experienced its first hours of calm since October 7 during this unforgettable night. Palestinians were able to let their joy burst forth when they saw the epic images of the Iranian missiles flying over the Knesset and the Al-Aqsa mosque before striking the hearts of those responsible for their mass slaughter. Not unlike the psychological shock of October 7, that of the night of April 13 will forever be engraved in people’s consciences. It will galvanize the Resistance while speeding up the process of “reverse migration” of Israeli settlers who have lived through a night of terror and nightmare and are now convinced that their army is incapable of protecting them. With the senseless act of attacking the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Netanyahu sought to escape the inevitable reality of the bitter military failure of the army of occupation, despite six months of genocide and destruction, and to restore Israel’s illusion of power. The result is the opposite of what he likely expected, with Israel weaker and more isolated than ever. Israel now has only one choice: to end the war in Gaza or go forward with a suicidal escalation that will set the region ablaze. The United States has clearly announced its desire to calm tensions and reach a ceasefire. The question now is whether Netanyahu’s instinct for self-preservation (his political survival) will take over the general interest. This scenario would put the very existence of Israel at risk. Editors Note: The author of this article has chosen to publish under a pseudonym. This decision stems from residing in a European country where expressing criticism of Israel has become increasingly challenging. Sadly, governmental crackdowns on activism have compelled the author and others to take this precaution to safeguard their ability to contribute to public discourse. We believe it is crucial to respect their decision while valuing the insights and perspectives they offer in their writing. Feature photo | A woman walks past a banner showing missiles being launched, in northern Tehran, Iran, April 19, 2024. Vahid Salemi | AP The post Shockwaves to Shattered Defenses: The Myth of Israeli Supremacy Crumbles appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, News, Opinion & Analysis, Top Story, Arab-Israeli Conflict, axis of resistance, Geopolitical shifts, Global security, Iran missile attack, Iran-Israel relations, Israeli defense, Middle East geopolitics, Military deterrence, Military strategy, Military technology, Palestinian Resistance, Palestinian solidarity, Regional tensions, Strategic implications]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/18/24 6:50am
The distance between Gaza and Namibia is measured in the thousands of kilometers. But the historical distance is much closer. This is precisely why Namibia was one of the first countries to take a strong stance against the Israeli genocide in Gaza. Namibia was colonized by the Germans in 1884, while the British colonized Palestine in the 1920s, handing the territory to the Zionist colonizers in 1948. Though the ethnic and religious fabric of Palestine and Namibia differ, the historical experiences are similar. It is easy, however, to assume that the history that unifies many countries in the Global South is only that of Western exploitation and victimization. It is also a history of collective struggle and resistance. Namibia has been inhabited since prehistoric times. This long-rooted history has allowed Namibians, over thousands of years, to establish a sense of belonging to the land and to one another, something that the Germans did not understand or appreciate. When the Germans colonized Namibia, giving it the name of German Southwest Africa,’ they did what all other Western colonialists have done, from Palestine to South Africa to Algeria, to virtually all Global South countries. They attempted to divide the people, exploited their resources and butchered those who resisted. Although a country with a small population, Namibians resisted their colonizers, resulting in the German decision to simply exterminate the natives, literally killing the majority of the population. Since the start of the Israeli genocide in Gaza, Namibia answered the call of solidarity with the Palestinians, along with many African and South American countries, including Colombia, Nicaragua, Cuba, South Africa, Brazil, China and many others. Namibia rejects Germany’s Support of the Genocidal Intent of the Racist Israeli State against Innocent Civilians in Gaza On Namibian soil, #Germany committed the first genocide of the 20th century in 1904-1908, in which tens of thousands of innocent Namibians died in the most… pic.twitter.com/ZxwWxLv8yt — Namibian Presidency (@NamPresidency) January 13, 2024 Though intersectionality is a much-celebrated notion in Western academia, no academic theory is needed for oppressed, colonized nations in the Global South to exhibit solidarity with one another. So when Namibia took a strong stance against Israels largest military supporter in Europe Germany it did so based on Namibias total awareness of its history. The German genocide of the Nama and Herero people (1904-1907) is known as the first genocide of the 20th century. The ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza is the first genocide of the 21st century. The unity between Palestine and Namibia is now cemented through mutual suffering. However, Namibia did not launch a legal case against Germany at the International Court of Justice (ICJ); it was Nicaragua, a Central American country thousands of miles away from Palestine and Namibia. The Nicaraguan case accuses Germany of violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It rightly sees Germany as a partner in the ongoing genocide of the Palestinians. This accusation alone should terrify the German people, in fact, the whole world, as Germany has been affiliated with genocides from its early days as a colonial power. The horrific crime of the Holocaust and other mass killings carried out by the German government against Jews and other minority groups in Europe during WWII is a continuation of other German crimes committed against Africans decades earlier. The typical analysis of why Germany continues to support Israel is explained based on German guilt over the Holocaust. This explanation, however, is partly illogical and partly erroneous. It is illogical because if Germany has, indeed, internalized any guilt from its previous mass killings, it would make no sense for Berlin to add yet more guilt by allowing Palestinians to be butchered en masse. If guilt indeed exists, it is not genuine. It is erroneous because it completely overlooks the German genocide in Namibia. It took the German government until 2021 to acknowledge the horrific butchery in that poor African country, ultimately agreeing to pay merely one billion euros in community aid, which will be allocated over three decades. The German governments support of the Israeli war on Gaza is not motivated by guilt but by a power paradigm that governs the relations among colonial countries. Many countries in the Global South understand this logic very well, thus the growing solidarity with Palestine. A photo titled “Captured Hereros,” taken circa 1904 by German colonists in Namibia. Photo | German Historical Museum The Israeli brutality in Gaza, but also the Palestinian sumud, resilience and resistance, are inspiring the Global South to reclaim its centrality in anti-colonial liberation struggles. The revolution in the Global Souths outlook—culminating in South Africas case at the ICJ and the Nicaraguan lawsuit against Germany—indicates that change is not the outcome of a collective emotional reaction. Instead, it is part and parcel of the shifting relationship between the Global South and the Global North. Africa has been undergoing a process of geopolitical restructuring for years. The anti-French rebellions in West Africa, demanding true independence from the continents former colonial masters, and the intense geopolitical competition involving Russia, China and others are all signs of changing times. And with this rapid rearrangement, a new political discourse and popular rhetoric are emerging, often expressed in the revolutionary language emanating from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and others. But the shift is not happening only on the rhetorical front. The rise of BRICS as a powerful new platform for economic integration between Asia and the rest of the Global South has opened up the possibility of alternatives to Western financial and political institutions. In 2023, it was revealed that BRICS countries hold 32 percent of the worlds total GDP, compared to 30 percent held by the G7 countries. This has much political value, as four of the five original founders of BRICS are strong and unapologetic supporters of the Palestinians. While South Africa has been championing the legal front against Israel, Russia and China are battling the US at the UN Security Council to institute a ceasefire. Beijings Ambassador to The Hague defended the Palestinian armed struggle as legitimate under international law. Now that global dynamics are working in favor of Palestinians, it is time for the Palestinian struggle to return to the embrace of the Global South, where shared histories will always serve as a foundation for meaningful solidarity. Feature photo | Hon. Yvonne Dausab, Minister of Justice of Namibia, joined representatives of over 50 nations in presenting testimony to the International Court of Justice on the legality of the Israeli occupation. Photo | International Court of Justice 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 A Tale of Two Genocides: Namibias Stand Against Israeli Aggression appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Opinion & Analysis, African history, anti-colonialism, BRICS, colonialism, genocide, geopolitics, Global dynamics, Global South, Historical ties, Human Rights, international relations, International solidarity, Israel, Namibia, Palestine, Palestinian struggle, Political solidarity, resistance, solidarity, South Africa]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/17/24 8:10am
Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel was framed in the West as a reckless attempt to spark a major regional war, but in reality,  Israel has been attacking Iran for decades. As is routinely the case with Western-backed wars, the corporate media’s timeline begins at the moment that suits their narrative. We have seen this play out recently, with the attempt to rob the Gaza war of all contexts before October 7, 2023. Similarly, when it comes to Israel’s conflict with Iran, the two have been embroiled in what is referred to as a “shadow war,” the details of which are pretty shocking. While the international media’s attention was riveted on Iran’s retaliatory strikes against Israel, drawing great focus to some 300 drones and missiles used in the attack, no major deal was made of Israel’s strike on April 1 against the consular segment of Iran’s embassy in Damascus, Syria, that killed a dozen people, including seven Iranian officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In this unprecedented act of aggression against Iranian soil, breaking international diplomatic norms, the Israelis were shielded by the U.S. government at the United Nations Security Council, blocking any condemnation of this act. Despite an admission from British Foreign Secretary David Cameron that had the UK embassy been attacked similarly, they too would retaliate, the double-standard argument that Iran shouldn’t respond continues to dominate the airways. This is as Iran’s IRGC has received condemnation for seizing a container ship in the Persian Gulf associated with the Zodiac Maritime shipping company of Israel billionaire Eyal Ofer and his family. In 2021, the Mercer Street oil tanker, which Zodiac Maritime also operated, was struck by Iranian drones, prompting similar condemnation. Yet, little was to be said regarding the Israeli-owned company’s role in collaborating with the Israeli military and intelligence establishment to ferry arms and operatives around the region and carry out assassinations or reconnaissance missions. However, the Israel-Iran “Shadow War” did not begin with recent events. Israel has been carrying out brutal assassinations of civilian scientists on Iranian soil since 2010 while also carrying out acts of espionage that have endangered innocent civilians in the country. As early as in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, Israeli Mossad agents have been planting viruses designed to cause malfunctions in Iranian oil and nuclear power facilities. Another kind of provocative action occurred in 2018, when it was reported that an Israeli Mossad team had raided an archive facility in Tehran, stealing documents that pertained to its nuclear power program. In 2020, the New York Times and Washington Post reported that Israel planted bombs inside Iran’s Natanz Nuclear facility, which almost caused an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. Later that year, the Israeli Mossad assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Tehran. Then, in April of 2021, another explosion occurred at the Natanz facility, which the New York Times reported was Israel’s doing. The Israelis have also trained members of the MEK terrorist group to carry out attacks on civilian targets inside Iran. The list of Mossad-linked cells that have been arrested by the Iranian authorities or carried out acts of espionage and sabotage is simply too numerous to cover at length. Early last year, U.S. officials even told Reuters that a suicide drone attack targeting a factory in the city of Isfahan was an Israeli attack. More recently, in late December, Israel launched airstrikes on Damascus and assassinated IRGC official Seyed Razi Mousavi. And in January, Israel launched airstrikes in Damascus, murdering five Iranian military personnel members and Syrian citizens. Then, in early February, Israel was accused of blowing up gas pipelines in Iran. None of these actions, which would likely illicit a response by most nations, provoked Iran to launch a direct strike on Israel. In addition to all of this, Israel has been the worlds top cheerleader for the West’s crushing sanctions that have significantly impacted Iran’s civilian population, specifically access to lifesaving medical supplies. AIPAC, the powerful Israeli Lobby group in the United States, worked hard to prevent the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal from passing, then pushed for the Trump administration to unilaterally withdraw before pressuring the Biden administration to refrain from reviving the deal despite this being a campaign promise. Israel even played a role in the Trump administrations assassination of Iran’s top general tasked with battling ISIS, Qassem Soleimani. Yet, despite Israel’s long history of documented attacks against Iran and around 30 years of false predictions as to when Iran is supposedly going to develop a nuclear weapon, which is the premise for Western sanctions, the corporate media is still trying to sell the public on the lie that Israel is an innocent victim and that there was no justifiable reason for Iran to retaliate. Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post Revealed: Israels Hidden History Of Attacks On Iran appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Assassinations, Attack on Iranian soil, Iran, Israel, Israel-Iran war, Middle East, nuclear scientists, Sabotage]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/15/24 7:02am
Amal Clooney, the internationally acclaimed lawyer, is a liberal icon. She and her organization, the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), never shrink from pronouncing their global verdicts on human rights matters. And yet, despite being Lebanese and of Palestinian descent herself, Time magazine’s 2022 Woman of the Year has maintained complete silence on Israel’s continued bombardment of those very countries – a crime other human rights experts have labeled a genocide. It has now been six months since the October 7 attack, Israel’s wholesale destruction of Gaza and its attacks on Lebanon, yet Clooney has made no public statement on the matter, either in public or on social media, despite mounting calls for her to do so.   Condemning Enemy Nations, Ignoring Crimes of Friends Born in Lebanon to a Druze Lebanese father and a Sunni Muslim mother of Palestinian descent, Clooney’s family sought refuge in the United Kingdom after the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War. After practicing law for many years in the U.K. and U.S. in 2016, she founded the CFJ alongside her film star husband, George. “​​We founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice to hold perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable for their crimes and to help victims in their fight for justice,” the pair explain on their website. Today, the CFJ works in over 40 countries. This includes many countries the U.S. treats as enemy nations or candidates for regime change. Clooney and her foundation have taken strong stances against many of those nations. She has demanded that Russia be prosecuted for war crimes. Ukraine is, today, a slaughterhouse. Right in the heart of Europe, she told the U.N. Security Council in 2022. The following year, the CFJ filed three cases in Germany. The cases accused Russia of many war crimes, including leveling a civilian building in a missile strike on Odesa, killing 40 people, unlawfully detaining, torturing and killing four Ukrainians in the Kharkiv region, and sexual violence and looting in the Kiev region. The CFJ is also suing the Venezuelan government over alleged human rights abuses. In 2016, Clooney condemned Iran and North Korea for serially abusing their citizens human rights. She did this at a conference in the United Arab Emirates, attended by the country’s ruler, Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi. Far from criticizing the UAE’s dismal human rights record, she praised the government and merely offered friendly “advice” to the emirate on how it could improve. And yet, the Clooney Foundation has been entirely silent regarding arguably the dominant human rights issue of our time. A search for the words “Israel,” “Gaza,” and “Palestine” on both its website and its Twitter account elicits zero relevant results. While we cannot expect either Clooney or her organization to work on every country simultaneously, it has disappointed many of Clooney’s admirers that neither has even put out a statement about the country of her birth and the country of her ancestry being torn apart by a Western-backed power. Even when directly questioned about it, George Clooney appeared to dodge the question, stating: The whole area [the Middle East] is just on fire, and it is heartbreaking all the way around. All you can do is pray that there is some version of this that comes to some peaceful end soon. But I don’t see it happening in the very near future, and I don’t think anybody does.”  This relative silence on Gaza contrasts with other major Western human rights organizations, who have vociferously condemned the state of Israel. Amnesty International, for example, wrote that “there are alarming warning signs of Genocide given the staggering scale of death and destruction” and that “The collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population by Israeli authorities is a war crime it is cruel and inhumane.” This sentiment was shared by Human Rights Watch, which noted that “The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the Gaza Strip, which is a war crime.”   Friends in High Places Why have Clooney and her foundation shown little to no interest in Palestine (or Lebanon)? Firstly, the CFJ is sponsored primarily by large liberal institutions, such as the Ford Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and foreign sources like the German and Swedish Postcode Lotteries, none of whom have shown any interest in pro-Palestine activism. Moreover, Clooney herself has close connections to many in the Democratic Party establishment, including some of the most hardcore pro-Israel zealots anywhere. In 2016, she and her husband hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton with Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban at their mansion. Tickets for the event cost $34,000 each. Saban is one of Americas most influential political donors but considers himself a “one-issue guy.” “And my issue is Israel,” he once said. He has also called for “higher scrutiny” of Muslim Americans, suggesting they are a threat to the country’s security, and branded Muslim-American Democrats such as Keith Ellison “anti-semites.” Clinton, who describes herself as an “emphatic, unwavering supporter” of Israel, wrote Saban an open letter promising to stamp out the spread of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement by any means necessary. George and Amal Clooney, right, pose with Hillary Clinto and Bryan Lourd and Bruce Bozzi at at an event at the Clooney home in Hollywood. Photo | Instagram Moreover, Clooney has accepted a number of U.K. government posts – positions that rarely go to radical outsiders but rather to those firmly inside the establishment beltway. Those posts include being appointed to the Attorney General’s Office Public International Law Panel, meaning she represented the British government in domestic and international courts. The government also appointed her the U.K. Special Envoy on Media Freedom and the Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom. One senior position Clooney publicly rejected, however, was to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council inquiry looking into Israeli war crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge (2014). When pressed to explain her decision, she simply cited a scheduling conflict (while refusing to condemn Israel), stating: I am horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused, and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed… I am honored to have received the offer, but given existing commitments including eight ongoing cases unfortunately could not accept this role. I wish my colleagues who will serve on the commission courage and strength in their endeavors.”   “Moral Mercenary” The refusal to investigate Israeli war crimes is especially notable, given that Clooney has made her career taking controversial posts concerning the Middle East. She previously served as an advisor on Syria to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. She currently represents hundreds of Yazidi survivors of ISIS massacres and is in the process of suing cement maker Lafarge. The lawsuit alleges that the French company provided material support to the terrorist group, which kept many Yazidi women as slaves. In 2014, she defended Abdullah al Senussi, the Former Chief of Intelligence under Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. The International Criminal Court charged Senussi with crimes against humanity, who was alleged to have overseen torture, assassinations and public executions. Perhaps most surprising, however, was her appointment as legal advisor to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain during the Bassiouni Commission – a royal investigation into the events of the Arab Spring. The people of Bahrain briefly participated in their own popular anti-government uprising before the monarchy called in Saudi, Emirati and Kuwaiti forces to crush the revolt, killing hundreds and injuring or torturing thousands more. In this instance, Clooney worked on behalf not of the oppressed but of the monarchy, presumably attempting to absolve it of any blame or responsibility for the crackdown on civil liberties, leading one commentator to dub her a “moral mercenary.”   Silent on Genocide It is barely in doubt that Israel is currently engaged in some of the most egregious crimes against humanity seen anywhere in the 21st century, from genocide to attacks on schools, hospitals, mosques and churches to the deliberate targeting of journalists and other civilians, to the leveling of entire cities and the systematic starvation of a people. And despite this, Amal Clooney, who presents herself as a champion of progressive, liberal values and human rights, has had nothing to say about it. This is doubly noteworthy, given her country of birth and her ancestry. As an ethical leader with a considerable audience, any pronouncement she utters on the issue would likely make a significant impact. Palestine is so often, however, the rocks on which the moral and ethical underpinnings of liberalism are dashed. While Western liberals constantly speak in the language of human rights, using them as a weapon against enemy states and even justifying the bloodiest military interventions on their basis, they fall silent when allied nations carry out similar barbaric actions. This “progressive except for Palestine” mentality is pervasive across the Western world and highlights the profound limits of modern liberalism. While foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin, Nicolás Maduro or Xi Jinping (or even domestic ones such as Trump) are considered beyond the pale for their transgressions on human rights, beltway politicians like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are held up as heroes. This is despite their crimes, which range from using jihadists to overthrow the most prosperous country in Africa to bombing seven countries simultaneously. It should, therefore, be of little surprise that Clooney and her foundation have remained tight-lipped about the current slaughter. Those who are shocked by their inaction underestimate the moral bankruptcy of modern liberalism. Speaking on a panel with Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates (two other liberal icons), Clooney outlined the “real driving force” behind her work. “My son drew a picture the other day of a prison, and he was like, ‘Putin should be here,’” she said before continuing: I do think about in a few years when they’re more than five when they start to learn about some of these issues that we’re talking about and what’s happening in the world… When they ask us, ‘What did you do about this? What did you say about that?’ I’ve thought about what will my answer be, and I hope it will be a good one.” If Clooney’s son ever asks her what she was doing as Israel carried out war crimes across the Middle East, she will also have a clear answer: she was silent on genocide. Feature photo | Amal Clooney speaks during a conference called Press Behind Bars: Undermining Justice and Democracy at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 28, 2018. Craig Ruttle | AP 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 Amal Clooneys Silence on Gaza Shows the Limits Of Liberalism appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, Advocacy inconsistency, Amal Clooney, Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), Ethics in activism, genocide, Geopolitical alliances, George Clooney, Global human rights, Human rights activism, human rights violations, Israel, Lebanon, Liberal icon, Middle East conflict, Moral quandary, Palestine, Political affiliations, Political silence, Progressive values, Social justice advocacy, Western liberalism]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/15/24 7:00am
I want to invite you to the fight against media manipulation and censorship to help us break through the propaganda. For nearly six months, we’ve witnessed Israel openly commit genocide in Gaza while it was livestreamed right on our smartphones. For nearly six months, we’ve witnessed mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, CNN, and other Western mainstream media organizations provide the cover for Israel’s blatant war crimes – crimes that were committed using our taxpayer money. Theyve peddled unverified stories of atrocity propaganda – handed to them directly by the Israeli government, justifying Israels war that has claimed the lives of over 30,000 people. But in these dark times of manipulation and gaslighting, it falls upon us – independent journalists and media outlets – to break through the fog of war. Thats why MintPress has become a target, financially and algorithmically, to silence our decades-long investigative reporting exposing the war profiteers. We invite you to support us by becoming a member of our Patreon, which costs $10 per month and helps us continue our watchdog reporting. We want to ensure our investigative journalism is able to reach the public far and wide for free and accessible without a paywall, but we can’t do that without your financial support. MintPress was among the first to question the official narrative of October 7, revealing how an Israeli Apache helicopter killed Israelis. Weve conducted numerous investigations into conflicts of interest among authors and media commentators within corporate media that have direct ties to think tanks, lobby groups and weapon manufacturers that directly profit from this war. And we have been at the forefront of exposing how Big Tech works with the national security state, think tanks and lobby groups funded by Israel – that work to stifle free speech and control what we see in our newsfeeds. Now, MintPress is on the ground in Yemen, providing exclusive interviews with officials directly from the Red Sea and groundbreaking reporting of the humanitarian crisis there as the U.S. continues to bomb the poorest country in the Middle East. However, our efforts have not gone unnoticed. MintPress was banned from TikTok and PayPal in the past year alone, and our balance was seized. After that, GoFundMe banned us from their platform, taking down two of our fundraisers. Our journalists have been detained, surveilled, and targeted by national security agencies and special interest groups, including directly by the Israel lobby. But we wear this as a badge of honor. This is just a glimpse of the challenges weve faced as an independent outlet holding the military class accountable, as every journalistic endeavor should. Journalism is under attack, and were asking for your support to sustain our watchdog journalism. While Big Tech attempts to erase our journalism algorithmically, were ramping up efforts to circumvent censorship and provide hard-hitting reporting that empowers the people. We need your financial support to continue this mission and keep investigative journalism free and accessible without a paywall. Weve launched our annual membership drive on Patreon, and we urge you to join us in the fight against the war machine. You can also become a member directly on our website and donate to MintPress there as well.   Our History MintPress is among the few remaining independent investigative news outlets in the United States, featuring leading journalists and activists. Our team includes investigative journalist Alan MacLeod, whose work has exposed the deep ties between NATO, weapons manufacturers, and Big Tech. Rapper and activist Lowkey hosts The Watchdog podcast, uncovering the Israel lobbys surveillance tactics. Investigative journalist Kit Klarenberg explores the role of intelligence services in shaping policies across NATO nations. Our Palestine correspondent, Jessica Buxbaum, has exposed Israels collaboration with Big Tech to surveil Palestinian resistance. We regularly feature commentary by Dr. Ramzy Baroud and Miko Peled and work with internationally renowned cartoonist Carlos Latuff. As for myself, Mn​​ar Adley, founder and director of MintPress News, I established MintPress over a decade ago to revive the fourth estate in a post-9/11 world dominated by the military-industrial complex. Having lived under Israeli occupation as a Palestinian-American teen, I witnessed the medias complicity in whitewashing Israel’s atrocities. Corporate media act as PR for weapons manufacturers, justifying military adventurism that fuels the war economy. MintPress was born out of the need to hold the ruling class and military accountable, amplifying voices silenced by mainstream media. Weve been targeted for our commitment to truth, and we need your support to continue our exclusive coverage. Join us in the fight for independent journalism and accountability. Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh. The post MintPress News: Pushing Back Against Atrocity Propaganda appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Daily Digest, News]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/5/24 1:51pm
On International Quds Day, when protests are held around the world to show solidarity with Palestinians, Yemenis are once again at the forefront of worldwide solidarity with Gaza. Yemenis of all stripes took to the streets in unprecedented numbers on Friday to demonstrate their support for Palestine as well as Ansar Allahs (Houthis) Red Sea operation against Israeli, American and British ships until the war in Gaza is stopped and the blockade is lifted. This years protests came as the Biden Administration embarked upon new moves aimed at Yemens Central Bank in a bid to pressure Ansar Allah to stop targeting Israeli ships. The annual event, which falls annually on the last Friday of every Ramadan and sees rallies held across the globe in support of the Palestinian cause, is especially meaningful this year as Israels war against Gaza rages on. With the largest rallies taking place in Yemens capital city of Sanaa, over 130 cities and squares throughout Yemen filled hundreds of thousands on Friday carrying Palestinians, Yemen and Lebanese Hezbollah flags and carrying banners blaming the United States for the ongoing war in Gaza. The collective voice of the demonstrations was unified to renew their commitment to Palestinians, to stress that the Palestine issue is the most important to Yemen, that Yemen must take the initiative to liberate it whatever the cost and to call on Muslims around the world to boycott Israeli products. On March 26, the head of Yemens Supreme Political Council reaffirmed in a ceremony in Sanaa on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the Saudi-led war on Yemen that the countrys maritime operations in the Red Sea against Israeli-linked ships will only cease when Tel Avivs crimes in Gaza stop, The only way to stop Yemens operations is to stop genocide and violence against the oppressed people of Gaza, he said.   This year, a new significance Fridays protests were unique as they not only attracted crowds from across Yemens diverse political and social spectrums: Shafii, Zaydi, Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood, but also thousands of former allies of the Saudi-led coalition, who put down arms and joined Ansar Allah following the partys reaction to the Israeli aggression on Gaza and U.S. support for Tel Aviv. By God Almighty, it is an honor to be in AlSabeen Square for supporting Gaza. I deeply regret the past days in which I was on the side of the U.S. allies, protester Ahmed Mohamed Binh told MintPress. Binh was one of the leaders of the Saudi-led coalition in Marib and a staunch opponent of Ansar Allah. Yet, he returned to Sanaa after announcing that he had joined Ansar Allah because of their support for Gaza. Today, he is one of the most vocal advocates for commemorating Al-Quds Day in Sanaa. Masses of Yemenis mark Jerusalem Day (Al-Quds Day), in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, April 5, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP Ironically, the aggression against Gaza and the American participation in the ongoing massacres have made Yemenis more united than ever while increasing the popularity of Ansar Allah not only in Yemen but across the world. Activists, jurists and politicians have applauded and described them as heroes trying to stop genocide in Gaza. This is despite nine years and billions of dollars spent by Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and the U.S. to contain Ansar Allah. This years Quds Day rallies fall three days after a pro-Palestine conference titled Palestine the Central Cause of the Nation was held in Sanaa. The four-day conference discussed the Quranic vision of the Palestinian cause, the struggle of Yemenis in Palestine throughout history, the importance of economic boycotts, and Yemens political, military, and popular role in supporting Gaza. Participants from around the world who stand in solidarity with Palestine joined the conference remotely. On the first day, televised speeches were delivered by British politician and parliamentarian George Galloway, Russian philosopher and advisor to President Vladimir Putin Aleksandr Dugin, South African parliamentarian Zulivlele Mandela grandson of late South African leader Nelson Mandela and Indian writer and political activist Tushar Gandhi, grandson of the spiritual leader of India Mahatma Gandhi. Representing Cuba was Elida Guevara, daughter of Che Guevara. The conference comes as Ansar Allah is making preparations to host leaders of Palestinian resistance movements, particularly leaders from Hamas, in the event that they are expelled from Qatar due to American pressure.   Taking the war to the bank The demonstrations were not just aimed at the Palestine issue. They challenged the U.S. role in Yemen, most recently attempts by the Biden Administration to force Yemeni banks to relocate their headquarters from the capital, Sanaa (where Ansar Allah is based), to Aden, home to a number of groups allied with the U.S. On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Aden, run by Washingtons allies, issued a decision requiring banks to transfer their headquarters to Aden, threatening to implement the Anti-Terrorist Financing Law against any bank that violates the decision. The decision used the U.S. classification of Ansar Allah as a terrorist organization to justify the move, which allegedly came in response to a new 100 riyal coin issued by the Sanaa Central Bank to replace damaged 100 riyal bills. However, the justification is inconsistent with the decision of the Central Bank in Aden. The new currency issued by the Central Bank in Sanaa did not affect exchange rates. Economists have confirmed that it is not new money being created, but rather a substitute for damaged banknotes, and therefore, the banking system was not affected. Abdul-Malik al-Ajr, a negotiator for the Yemeni delegation, said of the move, What occurred was the normal process of replacing damaged currency, not printing a new one. This is a normal procedure that all governments carry out periodically, but because of the war and the siege, Yemen was unable to replace this damaged currency, and it became a problem for many residents, especially in grocery stores, taxis, public transportation, bakeries and water stations. Following the announcement of the new coin, citizens flocked to exchange points set up by the Central Bank in Sanaa. The currency was minted according to international standards, and the process of issuing it will not affect the exchange rates because its distribution will depend on replacing the damaged one by replacing each damaged 100 note with a 100 coin, the Central Bank in Sanaa said in a statement. Ansar Allas spokesperson, Muhammed Abdul Salam, said of the move, Printing a one hundred riyal coin is not in vain, but rather a necessary step taken as a substitute for a damaged paper currency. We wonder why America and European countries are upset as a result of what the Central Bank of Yemen has done in partially addressing the situation of the national currency, which has been subjected and is [stll] being subjected to a brutal war by the coalition and by America itself. Ymenis protest marking Jerusalem Day in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, April 5, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP Yemeni financial experts told MintPress that the United States Agency for International Development recently supervised the development of new systems for the Central Bank in Aden, including the Unified National Network, a financial transfer system. The Central Bank in Aden has asked banks, exchange companies, and transfer companies to join that system exclusively. For the U.S., this means that it will be able to access financial and banking data and financial transfers. Al-Tadamum Bank, the Bank of Yemen and Kuwait, the Al-Amal Microfinance Bank, the Shamil Bank of Yemen and Bahrain, and the Al-Kuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank, which together comprise over 80% of Yemens bank accounts, have already joined the Unified National Network. The decision by the Biden administration to designate Ansar Allah as a Global Terrorist group has already harmed thousands of Yemeni families, as many international banks, exchange shops, and firms have already ceased participating in commercial or financial transactions with Yemenis due to the fear of triggering U.S. sanctions. Nearly 80% of Yemenis live in areas under AnsarAllahs control, including the countrys capital, Sanaa’a and the major port of al-Hodeida. Consequently, the U.S. economic pressure will inevitably push more Yemeni civilians closer to famine. Feature photo | A Yemeni man holds a poster of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas, during a protest marking Quds Day in support of Palestinians in Gaza, Sanaa, Yemen, April 05, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sanaa. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media. The post Quds Day Rallies in Yemen Intensify Amid Bidens Strategic Shift appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, Yemen Coverage, Al-Quds Day rallies, Ansar Allah, Ansar Allah popularity surge, Ansar Allah terrorist designation, Biden administration, Central Bank relocation controversy, International Quds Day, Palestine solidarity, Red Sea operation, U.S. economic pressure on Yemen, U.S. role in Yemen, Yemen Central Bank, Yemen diverse political spectrums, Yemen financial system changes, Yemen pro-Palestine conference, Yemen protests]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 4/5/24 9:40am
Since Israel launched a war on Gaza in October, it’s been accused of genocide, been on trial for war crimes, and seen allies stop approving weapons shipments. Yet amid the storm of negative press and genocidal war, some organizations are attempting to shift the narrative in Israel’s favor by taking celebrities and social media influencers on propaganda-fueled trips to Israel. According to the Israeli newspaper Globes, the Maccabee Task Force (MTF) and Rova Media are the organizations working to send celebrities to Israel. Israeli television production company Eight Productions helps document the trips for media purposes. “We’re in contact with the IDF [Israeli military] and the hostage families, and also with the president of Israel and former prime minister Naftali Bennett. We simply produce the content together with the visiting celebrities, the whole goal being for them to come here and be our ambassadors to the world,” Eight Productions’ owner,  Dafna Danenberg, told Globes. Eight Productions confirmed to MintPress News that MTF and Rova Media fund the trips. It turns out the organization that has been bringing celebrities such as Noah Schnapp, Nikita Dragun, Michael Rapaport, Scooter Braun, Tiffany Haddish, and Debra Messing on propaganda trips to Israel is the Maccabee Task Force, a right-wing Israel advocacy group. — Josh Kadish (@kadish_josh) March 18, 2024   Who is going on these trips? The list of celebrities who’ve toured with MTF includes Nathaniel Buzolic, Michael Rapaport, Debra Messing, Scooter Braun, James Maslow, Montana Tucker, Guy Nattiv, Eve Barlow, Lee Kern, Kosha Dillz and Matisyahu. Even before the war, MTF was sending celebrities to Israel, but according to one of MTF’s media directors, Uriel Dison, these trips were less politically charged. But now we dont bring people to travel around,” Dison told Globes. “They have to come and see with their own eyes the results of the war and become sort of wartime ambassadors.” Dison added that it was challenging to convince high-profile individuals to come to Israel, but after a few trips, his “phone is bursting with requests from people. Influencers connect us to other influencers and celebrities to other celebrities, so it’s self-perpetuating.” Rova Media hasn’t disclosed who it’s sending to Israel, only mentioning to Globes that “there are journalists, social media influencers, artists, and more. However, according to their social media accounts, they’ve partnered with social media influencer Caroline D’Amore to produce content in Israel and hosted Aboriginal Australian athlete and former politician Nova Peris and social media influencer Brooke Bello in Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, the agency documented American singer Tucker’s trip. .instagram-media { margin: 0 auto !important; max-width: 100% !important; width: 100% !important; } .instagram-media { margin: 0 auto !important; max-width: 100% !important; width: 100% !important; }   MTF and Rova Media didn’t respond to requests for comment on these tours.   Who is behind the campaign? Rova Media was founded in October 2023 by Dan Luxenberg and actor Buzolic with support from BZ Media to shape Israel’s image as the war began. The organization’s Facebook page was created on October 27, 2023. Buzolic, who is a born-again Christian, has frequently traveled to Israel throughout the years and explained to the Times of Israel his mission with Rova Media: My next-door neighbors, who are Lebanese and Palestinian, tell me how deluded I am. I speak to the people in the middle, I’m trying to shift them,” Buzolic said. “One thing I’ve learned about the pro-Palestinian narrative is they just have content, no context. We want to provide context for the content we’re providing.” The company has partnered with entertainment firm Roc Nation, founded by rapper Jay-Z, and the Hostage and Missing Families Forum (“Bring Them Home”), the Israeli movement to free hostages taken by Hamas during its attack on October 7, 2023. Rabbi Ari Lamm and Justin Hayet run the New York-based BZ Media and produce pro-Israel content targeting a Gen Z audience. Lamm founded SoulShop, a faith-focused entertainment company, where Rova’s Luxenberg is CEO. Hayet was a university campus fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a pro-Israel media watchdog often targeting journalists for perceived anti-Israel coverage and paying students to write articles smearing pro-Palestine activists. He also worked for Danny Danon, a lawmaker with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, during his term as the ambassador to the United Nations. MTF was founded by the late pro-Israel billionaire donor, Sheldon Adelson, in 2015 to combat the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses, harassing activist groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and leading smear campaigns against pro-Palestine students and faculty. A DEI program coordinator at the @UofMaryland DEFENDED Hamas terrorists and justified October 7. How are Jewish students supposed to lodge antisemitism complaints to the DEI office when the program coordinator is a hateful antisemite? pic.twitter.com/nIcIp2lmZk — Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 18, 2024 Former Manhattan College professor Shellyne Rodriguez has made vile and dehumanizing propaganda targeting Jews and Zionists. And yet @Columbia invited her for a panel. https://t.co/G9eVIbUXyc — Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 18, 2024 Instead of taking accountability for creating a hostile environment for Jewish students on campus, pro-Palestine, anti-Israel student groups at @Columbia have chosen to gaslight Jewish students, claiming that the university is “silencing” pro-Palestine voices. pic.twitter.com/ALvzKEbdhE — Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 11, 2024 @Columbia supposedly one of the best Universities on the planet, allows a professor to falsely paint Israel as a “Settler Colonial State.” Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people, and rhetoric like this increases antisemitism on campus. pic.twitter.com/cLaOMjQBna — Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 5, 2024 Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson’s wife, currently serves as MTF’s president, while infamous pro-Israel lawyer Alan Dershowitz is one of the organization’s directors. Miriam Adelson’s son-in-law and new owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, Patrick Dumont, serves as treasurer. David Brog, former head of Christians United for Israel, an evangelistic Israel lobby group, is the current executive director. The Adelson family primarily funds the organization, pumping over $10 million into MTF in 2022. Joseph Fisch, founder of United States Beverage, has also contributed to the organization. MTF funds Hillels, Jewish student groups, and other Jewish life institutions on college campuses to find students for its tours. According to its most recent tax filings, it funds Jewish campus life groups at the following universities in the U.S. and Canada: American University, Arizona State University, Binghamton University, Boston University, Brandeis University, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Florida International University, Florida State University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Hunter College, Indiana University, Kent State University, Michigan State University, Northeastern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Syracuse University, Temple University, University of Arizona, University of British Columbia, University of California Los Angeles, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Florida, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan, University of Missouri, University of Southern California, University of Vermont, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech, Washington University, Wayne State University and Yale. Its largest contribution in 2022 was to Chabad on Campus International, the campus educational arm of the Chabad Lubovitch movement. This movement consists of ultra-Orthodox radicals who often carry out revenge attacks on Palestinians. It also supports Jewish student unions in Australia, New Zealand, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. In 2022, it spent over $5 million on Jewish student groups and other related organizations. While touting itself as a campus educational program, behind the scenes, MTF is financing several Israeli propaganda campaigns. The organization was one of the primary funders of Act.il, the now-defunct app set on creating an anti-BDS, pro-Israel troll army. MTF currently supports Students Supporting Israel, a pro-Israel movement working to pass university initiatives favoring Israel, like investment resolutions and stopping Israel divestment acts. MTF also funds Prager University, a billionaire-bankrolled media empire attempting to turn today’s youth into right-wing extremists. The organization is notorious for taking non-Jewish university students on trips to Israel and returning them as brand ambassadors for Israel at their schools. MTF specifically targets student “influencers,” which often translates to individuals of color and those involved in Black and Asian student unions. “They say they’re targeting ‘student leaders’ who they hope to convince to vote no on potential divestment resolutions,” University of Minnesota student Josh Spencer-Resnik told Jewish Currents in 2019. “[And it’s], especially leaders of minority student groups.” According to MTF’s donation page, it sends 25 students to Israel yearly and has boosted its efforts amid the war, saying they’ve reached thousands of students since October 7, 2023. These trips are generously subsidized. “[W]e are working to make sure campus anti-Israel groups face consequences for openly endorsing Hamas terror, and we are arranging a special Wartime Fact-Finding mission to Israel for some of our most influential non-Jewish MTF trip alumni,” MTF wrote on its website. In January, the Times of Israel profiled a recent MTF student trip. According to the publication, the trip consisted of meeting with Israelis — but not Palestinians — on the current situation. The group visited bomb shelters in the southern Israeli city of Sderot and toured Kfar Aza, a kibbutz (Jewish commune) Hamas militants attacked in October. They met with Miri Eisin, a retired colonel and former political adviser, Jonathan Elkhoury, who uses his Lebanese-Israeli nationality to advocate for Israel on U.S. college campuses, survivors of the Hamas attacks at the Nova Music Festival, and a volunteer medic about sexual assault allegedly committed by Hamas militants during the October attacks. “Campuses have become battlegrounds. We wanted students who document what life in Israel has been like since October 7 and who could make a difference on campus when they return,” MTF national director Ben Sweetwood told the Times of Israel. MTF appears to be succeeding in its campaign — churning out Israeli propaganda puppets at universities while genocide rages in Gaza. Many of its recent wartime alums are now acting as Israeli state mouthpieces on social media. .instagram-media { margin: 0 auto !important; max-width: 100% !important; width: 100% !important; }   .instagram-media { margin: 0 auto !important; max-width: 100% !important; width: 100% !important; }   .instagram-media { margin: 0 auto !important; max-width: 100% !important; width: 100% !important; }   Following his MTF trip, USC student Logan Barth wrote on Instagram, “[E]very IDF soldier I spoke to emphasized that the last thing they want are innocent Palestinians dead – they want peace. But that is difficult when the people who killed his family members are hiding behind Palestinian civilians.” “This is NOT genocide,” Barth added. Feature photo | Colombian singer Shakira visits the the Western Wall in Jerusalems Old City. Oded Balilty | AP 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 Israels Celebrity Charm Offensive: The Truth Behind the Glamorous Trips appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, News, Top Story, Celebrities in Israel, Celebrity partnership with Rova Media, Eight Productions documentary, IDF contacts with celebrities, Israel Gaza war, Israel war crimes trial, Maccabee Task Force, MTF media directors, Rova Media propaganda trips, Social media influencers in Israel]

As of 5/24/24 3:12am. Last new 5/22/24 11:56am.

Next feed in category: Zero Hedge