Archive for the ‘Israeli Lobby’ Category

Israeli lawmaker vilified for addressing anti-AIPAC protest – Middle East Monitor

An Israeli lawmaker who was flown into Washington DC by AIPAC to participate in their annual conference has been vilified by the Israeli right for addressing an anti-AIPAC demonstration outside the venue.

Tamar Zandberg, who is a member of the Meretz party, was in the US capital to speak on a panel at the pro-Israeli lobby conference. She has been called human trash and filth for speaking at a rally organised by the Jewish campaign group IfNotNow who were protesting outside last Sunday.

#ResistAipac: Protestors condemn AIPACs annual conference

At the demonstration, protesters carried signs in both English and Hebrew with slogans including Reject the occupation, Reject AIPAC and Reject Trump. Another sign urged Free Palestine, reported Haaretz.

IfNotNow describe themselves as young Jews angered by the overwhelmingly hawkish response of American Jewish institutions. On its website it states that the group came together under the banner of IfNotNow to demonstrate their resistance. They oppose AIPAC and urge all American Jews to stop supporting the occupation.

Zandberg appeared briefly before the demonstrators and spoke through a megaphone.

I told them what I also said at the AIPAC panel: Support for Israel means coming out against the occupation, she told Haaretz.

There is no more patriotic action than opposing the occupation.

Zandberg was the first Meretz member to be invited to AIPAC in a long time. But her participation in the protest sparked criticism in several media outlets as well as denunciations and curses on social media.

Army Radio wondered why she had taken AIPACs money to attend a demonstration where protesters carried signs against the organisation. To that, Zandberg replied: I came as a public representative, and AIPAC knows who I represent. What, do you [at Army Radio] think my views can be bought by financing my trip?

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March 30, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Censorship of UN Report Calling Israel an Apartheid Regime. Backlash of Pro-Israeli Lobby – Center for Research on Globalization

TheRichard Falk/Virginia Tilley report, discussed in a same day article, drew strong criticism from Israeli officials as expected.

Theyre not pleased about scathing truth-telling, discussing disturbing facts about their apartheid regime, brutalizing Palestinians from inception, committing slow-motion genocide against a defenseless people.

Israels Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) for publishing the report, comparing it to Der Sturmer, a Nazi anti-Semitic publication.

Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon said the report

is despicable an constitutes a blatant lie. It comes as no surprise that an organization headed by an individual who has called for boycotts against Israel, and compared our democracy to the most terrible regimes of the 20th century, would publish such a report.

The World Jewish Congress called the report a

piece of vile propaganda that has no basis in fact. It ludicrously claimed Israeli Arab citizens have equal rights as Jews. Indisputable evidence proves otherwise.

A coalition of US Zionist organizations called on the UN to publicly reject the report, accusing the authors of launching unjustified and outrageous attacks on Israel.

Hard truths dont go down well in Tel Aviv or Washington. US UN envoy Nikki Haley called it unsurprising (that) such anti-Israel propaganda (sic) would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel

She demanded the UN withdraw the report altogether. Its in the public domain, extensively commented on, including by myself. It covers vital information Ive discussed in many articles on Israel/Palestine, a topic I revisit frequently.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spokesperson Stephane Durarric said (w)e just saw the report today. It was done without any prior consultation with the secretary general. The report as it stands does not reflect the stance of the secretary general.

Washington didnt approve his appointment to criticize Israeli, US or NATO policies, just to be a loyal imperial servant like his predecessors.

The Falk/Tilley report reveals important hard truths about Israels fantasy democracy, its dark side, its apartheid cruelty against Palestinians for praying to the wrong God, persecuting them the way Hitler treated Jews.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at[emailprotected].

His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site atsjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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As Israel Surges Further Rightward, US Under Trump Follows Suit – Common Dreams


Common Dreams
As Israel Surges Further Rightward, US Under Trump Follows Suit
Common Dreams
While the pro-Israeli lobby group J Street is concerned that that measure will "further isolate the country [and] validate Israel's critics," it coincides not only with the rise of Friedman but also with an effort within the United States to censor the
Did J Street Just Win Big By Losing David Friedman Confirmation Vote?Forward
David Friedman, Staunch Settlement Backer, Approved by Senate Panel as Envoy to IsraelHaaretz
Senate panel approves Trump's Israel envoy in near party-line voteCleveland Jewish News
JNS.org
all 72 news articles »

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Rehabilitating Bush: The Deadly Illusion Of Corporate Dissent – Dissident Voice

The title of the editorial said it all:

The Guardian view on George W Bush: a welcome return.

In a tongue-in-cheek, almost jovial, piece the Guardian unsubtly rehabilitated a man responsible for crimes that are among the most egregious in all history.

Bush was responsible for the destruction of an entire country, the killing of one million Iraqis, the wounding and displacement of countless millions more. The car bombs, the suicide bombs, the mass executions, the dead-of-night disappearances, the blow torch and electric drill tortures, the bombs in London and Madrid, the rise of Islamic State, and much, much more they all began with George W. Bush.

But the Guardian japed:

During his time in the White House, George W Bush was regarded as a warmonger and hardline conservative. As president he did an awful lot to polarise the country and was viewed as such a threat to world peace that when he left office the Nobel committee handed his successor the peace prize for not being him.

The piece continued:

It says a lot about the United States that Mr Bush can be seen now as a paragon of virtue. He sounds a lot better out of office than in it.

And so the 43rd US president should be applauded.

Not a single syllable was uttered about his literally millions of victims.

It is unthinkable, of course, that the Guardian would welcome the return of an Assad, or a Putin, or any Official Enemy, in this way. But it is normal for a newspaper that tirelessly attempts to rehabilitate Bushs great partner in war crime, Tony Blair. One of the foundations of the mainstreams Grand Propaganda Narrative is that some people are simply, somehow, permanent members of The Club respectable, well-intentioned, fundamentally decent where others are beyond the pale, to be reviled, abused, hunted and killed, if possible.

Historian Mark Curtis tweeted a link to the editorial:

Perhaps a single article can define a newspaper. The Sun: Gotcha. The Mail: Migrant Scroungers. The Guardian: this

So how did the Guardians progressive journalists respond?

George Monbiot was asked if he had a view on an editorial trying to normalise Bush and not mentioning the 100,000s deaths he caused? Monbiot replied blankly:

I dont agree with it.

In June 2011, Monbiot was rather more forthright in using his Guardian column to identify and damn a malign intellectual subculture that seeks to excuse savagery by denying the facts of the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda.

To a global audience, Monbiot named and shamed Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, David Peterson, John Pilger, and Media Lens as political commentators who take the unwarranted step of belittling acts of genocide.

In a stirring conclusion, Monbiot wrote:

The rest of us should stand up for the victims, whoever they are, and confront those trying to make them disappear.

See our discussion of these claims here.

We asked Monbiot about the need to confront the Guardian now as it disappeared the victims of George Bush. He replied:

You plainly believe theres no difference between not mentioning something and actively airbrushing it, as Herman/Peterson did.

But in 2011, Monbiot, of course, made no such specious distinction when he insisted on the need to confront those trying to make victims disappear. As former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook commented on Twitter:

Man of principle @GeorgeMonbiot suddenly lost for words as @guardian his employer glosses over Bushs crimes against humanity in Iraq

A prime example of the kind of activist Monbiot was urging to confront injustice and denial is his colleague at the Guardian, Owen Jones. In a rousing series of tweets in November 2014, Jones reported from a train carriage on what it means to walk the talk:

Just told man to take his racism + get out of (packed) carriage after he threatened to end Indian bloke for disrespecting in my country

How did the perp respond to the Guardian columnists order to vacate the carriage?

He legged it to the toilet. When he emerged he yelled Im not a racist by the way, and the carriage laughed

What a fool! And what a contrast Jones paints to his own heroic actions. How did fellow passengers react?

murmurs of well said to be fair. Wasnt bowled over though

Alas, only the author came out of the incident with real credit according to the author.

Jones responded with comparable vigour last year to obviously cynical claims, driven by Israeli lobby propaganda, that Corbyns Labour party was infested with anti-Semitism. Jones tweeted:

John McDonnell [Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer] was right to swiftly force Naz Shahs resignation but now the party has to suspend her.

One day later, Jones added:

Ken Livingstone has to be suspended from the Labour Party. Preferably before I pass out from punching myself in the face.

Joness response to the Guardians rehabilitation of George Bush was rather different:

The Trump calamity doesnt mean rehabilitating George W Bush, a man chiefly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and other horror

There were no calls for the comment editor to be suspended, or for the editor to resign. In fact, Jones made no mention of his employer and did not link to the editorial. Happily for the Guardian, many of his Twitter followers will have had no idea what he was on about.

The truth is that Guardian, Independent and BBC regulars never criticise their employers. But they do celebrate and defend them. Last December, former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook challenged Monbiot on Twitter:

Guardian, your employer, is precisely part of media problem. Why this argument is far from waste of energy. Its vital.

Monbiot replied:

thats your view. I dont share it. Most of my work exposing corporate power has been through or with the Guardian.

In March 2015, Jones tweeted:

Incredible news that @KathViner is new Guardian editor! Nearly whooped in the quiet carriage. Thats how excited I am.

Spare a thought for Joness fellow passengers. He certainly spared a thought for his outgoing boss:

Like so many others, owe so much to Alan Rusbridger. The Guardian is a global force, and thats so much down to him. Surreal hes gone

And:

Surreal hes going, that is. Hes still the boss!

After 18 months of turning a blind eye to the Guardians relentless attack on Corbyn, both Jones and Monbiot have publicly dumped him. Jones told the Evening Standard last month:

The Left has failed badly. Id find it hard to vote for Corbyn.

More recently, Jones plunged the knife in to the hilt.

Having completely ignored the medias anti-Corbyn campaign, Monbiot commented on Twitter:

I was thrilled when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, but it has been one fiasco after another. I have now lost all faith.

Monbiot added:

I hoped Corbyn would be effective in fighting the government and articulating a positive alternative vision. Neither hope has materialised.

Conclusion Status From Silence

The truth is that the free press does not tolerate authentic dissent. In the final analysis, high-profile dissidents are salaried corporate employees. They can speak no more honestly about their employers, other potential employers, or the industry in general, than someone selling cars, computers or mobile phones.

The exalted status of our most famous left-leaning media corporations is based on de facto censorship rather than truth-telling. After all, why would the public doubt the honesty of the Guardian or the Independent when they are essentially never subject to serious criticism? This matters because the role of the corporate media is not just one issue among many it is the key issue determining how all other issues are communicated to a mass audience.

The result is devastating empowered by their ill-deserved reputations, left-leaning media, in fact, relentlessly agitate for wars in countries like Libya and Syria, relentlessly attack progressive voices challenging power and, worst of all, literally sell the high-tech, climate killing, corporate-led status quo as normal.

Are we suggesting that writers of principle should resign from corporate media? Yes, it is time to stop pretending anything will ever be achieved by publishing radical journalism that will be used to draw readers into a moral and intellectual killing zone serving big business.

There are other alternatives now its time to boycott the corporate media, dump them in the dustbin of history, and build alternatives that will allow democracy and people to breathe.

Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The second Media Lens book, Newspeak: In the 21st Century by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2009 by Pluto Press. Read other articles by Media Lens, or visit Media Lens’s website.

This article was posted on Saturday, March 4th, 2017 at 7:28pm and is filed under George W. Bush, Iraq, Media, United Kingdom.

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Rehabilitating Bush: The Deadly Illusion Of Corporate Dissent – Dissident Voice

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March 5, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Russian sale of fighter jets to UAE highlights shift toward Kremlin amid US hesitancy – Fox News

In late February, Russian media reported that the country signed an agreement to sell a number of Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates and help the Gulf state develop a next-generation fighter that could enter service in seven or eight years.

News of the deal between the Kremlin and the UAE came amid murmurs that Moscow is close to capping off a similar deal to send 10 Flanker-E jets to Indonesia and that Russia is slated to send a second batch of the same warplanes to China.

These deals — and similar ones across the globe highlight the government of Russian President Vladimir Putins growing use of the Eurasian nations defense industry as a diplomatic tool on the world stage and one that appears bent on currying favor among countries with longstanding ties to the United States.

One of Russias majors goals is to reassert itself as a major global power, Hannah Thoburn, a research fellow at Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Hudson Institute, told Fox News. That means returning back to what it used to do during the days of the Soviet Union and doing things like this.

Besides being one of the countrys largest employers and huge economic driver Putin claims that Russia exported $4.6 billion in weapons and military equipment in 2016and has a contract portfolio worth more than $50 billion experts argue that the defense industry has played a crucial role in Kremlin polices in regions less hospitable to U.S. influence.

With the exception of Ukraine and the Baltic states, there is no region in the world that Russia in recent years has asserted more influence over than the Middle East.

Given U.S. reticence under former President Barack Obama to become involved in the conflict, Russias influence has been most strongly felt in Syria, where it maintains roughly 36 fighter jets and helicopter gunships to aid President Bashar al-Assads forces in the nations ongoing civil war. The lack of U.S. action in the war-torn nation — and its diminishing troop presence in places like Iraq — appears to have emboldened Russia to begin reaching out to the regions more U.S.-friendly governments.

When the U.S. didnt do anything in Syria, it let Russia take the lead and now Russia is pursuing relations with other nations in the region, Thoburn said.

This isnt the first time the UAE has shown an interest in Russian weaponry. Its army uses the Russian BMP-3 armored fighting vehicle and the country looked into buying Sukhoi Su-27M jets during the mid-1990s. But coming at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, the agreement to send the warplanes to the Arab nation is seen as a particularly bold move given that the Emirati have been one of the U.S.’ closest allies since the countrys 1971 founding.

The U.S. was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE and has had an ambassador there since 1974. The two nations have maintained a close security cooperation that increased dramatically during the first Gulf War. Currently, the U.S. Air Force bases its Lockheed Martin F-22Raptors there for operations over Syria, and the UAE is using the most advanced version of the General Dynamics F-16Fighting Falcon.

Despite these ties, the U.S. has so far denied the UAE access to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIor any of the countrys other so-called fifth generation fighter jets something government officials in the UAE have shown an interest in for several years and aviation industry insiders say this has led the Arab nation to look toward Russia for better or worse.

The UAE also has ambitions to develop its national defense aerospace industrial base, Douglas Barrie, the senior aerospace fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Aviation Week. But partnership in a Russian project is arguably not necessarily the best way to achieve this.

An alternative view might be that the move is about trying to gain leverage on the U.S. as to when and how much access the UAE might eventually get to the F-35, Barrie added.

Lockheed Martins F-35 and F-22, along with Russias PAK FA and Chinas J-20 and FC-31, are all known as fifth-generation fighters, which are defined by heaving stealth technology, high maneuverability, advanced avionics, networked data fusion from sensors and avionics and multirole capabilities. Some nations also define a fifth-generation fighter jet as being able to cruise at supersonic speeds without the use of an afterburner. As of 2017, only the U.S. has these planes currently in active service, although Chinas J-30 is in initial production.

Analysts say that the U.S.’ reluctance to sell the F-35 to the UAE or any other Middle Eastern nation is based in part on the volatility of the regions governments and in part on Washingtons close ties with Israel.

The Israeli lobby in the U.S. strongly influences sales of aircraft in the region and the government usually makes military gear available to their counterparts in Tel Aviv first. It took five years for Saudi Arabia to obtain an F-15 Eagle after Israel received them.

Observers, however, say that despite the announced deal between Russia and the UAE nothing is set in stone. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently met with senior UAE government officials to discuss bilateral defense ties. There is also widespread speculation that President Trump could be more willing to share the countrys military might than his predecessor. Furthermore, Russia has been known in the past to pull out of military deals with little notice.

This also, however, isnt the first time that Russia has used its defense industry in an attempt to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies.

The U.S. waits for other nations to come to them and propose a deal, Thoburn said. Russia takes a much more proactive approach with its defense industry in regards to building its political influence.

At the height of the 2013 controversy over allegations that the NSA monitored communications between former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her aides, Russian officials traveled to Brasilia to convince the South American nation to consider a bid for its Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet.At the time, Boeing had made a $4 billion proposal to supply Brazil with F-18 fighter jets.

In the end, Brazil eventually placed an order with Sweden’s Saab for 36 Gripen NG jets at a cost of $4.5 billion.

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Dalpra: Palestinians face perpetual injustice – Eastern Arizona Courier

One of the international issues that has been sticking in my craw for as long as I can remember is the ongoing Israeli land-grab in the Holy Land, from which about 600,000 Palestinians have been displaced since Israel was forged of Arab soil in 1946.

It seems obvious that the only solution to the settlement issue is a heavy-handed decision to ignore Israeli land-grabs and to divide the pie in an equitable manner, respecting initial Palestinian claims. The United Nations would appear to be the logical facilitator, but the organization is compromised by its security council, made up of the international power brokers, who have veto power they use to protect parochial interests. The United States is one of the select few, and its primary purpose seems to be to overrule any initiative that might be detrimental to Israeli interests.

Ideally, the United Nations should be a truly representative organization, with the full force of its collective membership, in which case it could dictate terms to Israel that would solve the Palestinian problems. The illegal settlements would be destroyed*, much as the Israelis have destroyed Palestinian real estate to make space for housing for a growing Israeli population. Compensation would become an issue, but why? Did the Israeli squatters compensate the Palestinians whose possessions they grabbed?

These thoughts are among the pipe dreams that persist in the face of realization by rational thinkers, that Israel has won and is in the process of picking the Palestinian bones clean.Part of the reason is that validity of the United Nations has been undermined, primarily by the United States and its ward, the illegitimate state of Israel.

Our public has been led to believe that the United States should always be the bottom line, and therefore an organization such as the United Nations,whose majority membership often does not see eye to eye with the worlds major superpower,has to be marginalized so its majority positions can be challenged and its mandates undermined entirely.

President Obama and, more recently, President Trump both have issued mild criticisms of Israels determination to expropriate as muchPalestinian real estate as possible, seizing territory with impunity, to undermine any hope that at some point the besieged Palestinians will experience justice. More likely,the Holy Land, believed by the Israeli purists to have been bequeathed in perpetuity to the Jews by God, will no longer face challenges to its existence.

As this is written, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to pay a visit to President Trump, who has said that continued settlement expansions by the Israelis are counterproductive. If Trump sticks to his guns, there could be fireworks, but the prime minister knows that what the president says will be of little consequence because the U.S. Congress is in perpetual lock step with an ally, which creates more problems for its strategic partner than the alliance is worth.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, in a recent interview, said the Israeli intransigence regarding making an equitable peace with the Palestinians had perpetuated a serious injustice. But the problem is that large segments of the Israeli population that have a sympathetic attitude toward the Palestinians are understandably loath to give up their government-sponsored apartments, which are at the root of the problem. A good guess would be that anyone born this year will not live to see the Holy Land live up to its name.

The Israeli issues are perhaps the most depressing example of how political considerations override what otherwise would be more sensible attitudes of our members of Congress. The House and Senate are made up of a vast majority, if the truth were known, that feel the confiscation of Palestinian holdings by the dominant Israelis is a monumental injustice, but because the Israeli lobby is so aggressive and effective, they do not have the courage to vote their consciences as defeat in the next biennial election hangs in the balance. Our government is a political animal, and when politics is involved, fairness and equity more often than not fall by the wayside.

* Ideally, the settlements built on confiscated Palestinian land should be turned over to the victims of this ongoing atrocity to compensate them for the injustices they have suffered.

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Why Hollywood Has Abandoned Brand Israel – International Middle East Media Center

Oscar nominees refusal to be paid props for Brand Israel could reflect a desire to avoid a very polarised discussion. (Todd Wawrychuck/ EPA)

via the BDS National Commitee.

AsIsraelmoves ever more dangerously rightward evidenced by the latest law legalising the statesexpropriationof private Palestinian lands and the extremely conservative appointees to the High Court Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahuseems, perhaps paradoxically, more obsessed than in the past with promoting Israels positive image in the international arena.

Indeed, the current government has poured millions of dollars into its Brand Israel campaign. Just this pastDecember, Haaretzreportedthat the tourism ministry was granted its biggest marketing budget ever in the past year as it tried to change Israels image as a travel destination and expand the range of tourism offerings.

Apparently, the government is hell bent on trying to convince the international community that the Jewish state is and remains the only democracy in theMiddle East.

This illusion appears increasingly difficult to sustain as time passes and fewer international actors seem to be buying it.

Apropos actors lets take a look at the latest reports from Hollywood. In the days before the 2017Oscarsaward ceremony, a flurry of articles were published on how the Tourist Ministry attempted to lure 26 nominees to Israel with lavish tour packages estimated at about $55,000 each.

Government officials justified their actions by insisting on the importance of regaling celebrities with the real Israel.

Clearly what is at stake here is the projection and exorbitant chorographical production of normality, where thecelebrities are usedas a vital prop in the Brand Israel campaign.

Leading media outlets, however, reported that not one of the two dozen stars had accepted the invitation. The often politically incorrect Jennifer Lawrence handed her package deal over to her parents, while Leonardo DiCaprio appears to have had enough of Israeli paparazzi, particularly given his experiences during his past visits with his then girlfriend, supermodel Bar Refaeli.

The unwillingness of these Hollywood stars to participate in Israels branding efforts could well mark an important transformation in popular United States-Israel relations.

On the one hand, these actors have not made any public declaration or come out publicly in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Therefore, their refusal to accept an all-expenses-paid and more visit to Israel should not be understood as an active or overt political statement.

On the other hand, the total absence of any signs of enthusiasm about visiting the Holy Land on the part of the Oscar nominees could point to something else, namely, a profound shift in cultural perceptions.

As Israelssettler colonial projectcontinues unabated, many younger Americans who also happen to be these celebrities main fan base consider the country and its policies incredibly divisive.

A recentPew Reporthighlights this trend. Although most Americans still sympathise more with Israel than with the Palestinians, over the past decade US public opinion has shifted quite dramatically.

Indeed,for the first time this century and thus in history liberal Democrats are about equally split between sympathising more with Israel (33 percent) and with the Palestinians (40 percent).

Furthermore, among the Millennials fewer than half (43 percent) sympathise more with Israel, while about a quarter of them (27 percent) sympathise more with the Palestinians, the highest percentage of any generation.

The Hollywood stars refusal to take advantage of Israels lavish package tours could therefore reflect a desire to avoid entering into this very polarised and incendiary discussion.

Ultimately, though, no matter what the stars convictions are vis-a-vis Israel, the overwhelming lack of response reveals, at the very least, that Israel is no longer a particularly desirable destination, even for an all-expenses paid vacation.In other words, these stars who are endlessly promoting brands and products (mostly their own) to as broad an audience as possible (but mostly to Millennials) may well have realised that endorsing the Israel brand has simply become too controversial.

The Israeli lobby, it turns out, can no longer take Hollywood for granted as part of its Brand Israel campaign. And this is significant.

Additionally, however, this also suggests that, not unlike the final years of the South African Apartheid regime, the cultural front has become an increasingly important site ofstruggle in Israel-Palestine.

READ MORE: Year of diversity at Oscars does little to even score

Indeed, just last week, another crisis erupted when only five of 11 NFL players joined a trip to Israel after the Super Bowl.

AsSeattle Seahawksdefensive end, Michael Bennett stated, he would not be used by Israel for publicity. When I do go to Israel and I do plan to go it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.

Although the fight against Israels headlong move towards apartheid will undoubtedly have to continue to be waged on a variety of fronts, stars and superstars may well have an increasingly important part to play in this very real drama.

After all, if Hollywood has taught us anything at all, it is that we should never underestimate the power or influence of popular culture.

This piece originally appeared in AlJazeera English.

Related 02/28/17BDS: Israeli Apartheid Week Begins in New York (VIDEO)

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Could Iran Trigger a Nuclear Tsunami That Wipes Out Israel? – The National Interest Online (blog)

The thought of Iran armed with nuclear weapons is terrifying to many, especially its neighbors. The world needs to have a civilized discussion about what it means should the country ever develop the technology. But conspiracy theories about tectonic super-weapons, tsunami bombs and nukes pushed out of the back of civilian airliners foul the air around the conversation.

Back on March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United States Congress and warned the world of a nuclear armed Iran. The press has written a lot about the speech, even before he delivered it.

Never has so much been written about a speech that hasnt been given, Netanyahu said March 2, 2015, during a preview of his speech at the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC.

Some of the stories were more credulous than others. One of the most provocative came from the Israeli military tabloid Debka File, which published an article about how Iran could use a nuclear bomb to trigger a tsunami in the Mediterranean, wiping out Israel in a single blow.

The title is frightening enough to get even the most hardened Internet cynic to click. Nukes are scary, yes, but could Iran develop one so powerful that it could cause a tsunami? What did Debka File know that everyone else didnt?

Not much. This nuclear bomb or device would be dropped from an IranAir civilian airliner on a regular run from Larnaca over the Mediterranean about 100 [kilometers] from the Israeli coast, according to Debka File. The delayed action mechanism would detonate the bomb and set off a tsunami.

Fortunately for Israel, the site hasnt done its research. No, a nuclear bomb couldnt cause a massive wave to kill millions and cripple Israels economy.

This is an old pseudo-scientific theory, one that whackadoo tabloids parade out anytime theres a natural disaster or nuclear threat.

Back in 2006, the Egyptian weekly Al Osboa reported that American and Israeli nuclear testing had caused an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The 2004 earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people.

The oldest conspiracies are the easiest to debunk. There is just no explosive powerful enoughatomic or otherwisethat can displace the amount of water required to create waves powerful enough to destroy cities.

The Allies carried out a lot of far-out experiments during World War II. One of the most obscure ones is New Zealands Project Seal, which allegedly tried to generate a tsunami with explosives.

It was the brainchild of Thomas Leech, a professor at Auckland University. Leech detonated explosives off the coast of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula in 1944 and 1955, according to reports dating back to the late 1990s in the New Zealand Herald.

The paper learned about the experiments after New Zealands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade released documents about the project. A sensationalized version of the story later circulated in 2013.

The experiments didnt work. The explosions werent large enough to create more than small, pitiful wavesbecause it takes an incredible amount of energy to displace water on a tsunami scale. Human militaries have yet to build a device capable of doing so, despite their best efforts.

The Tsar Bomba was the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated. The Soviet Union tested the monstrous hydrogen bomb above the Arctic Circle in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in 1961. The bomb had a 50-megaton yield and destroyed everything around it for 22 miles.

Impressive, but mother nature is far more destructive.

In 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. The quake created massive waves that devastated three Japanese prefectures and caused a nuclear meltdown. The earthquake released a TNT-equivalent of 480 megatons of energy, spread along hundreds of miles of fault line 30 miles below the surface of the Pacific.

For its part, the Pentagon also researched how explosions interact with waves. During the Cold War, the U.S. tested nukes underwater, and needed to make sure that doing so was safe. But the research raised questions about whether America could weaponize waves.

Initial interest in waves was primarily to appraise them as a hazard to testing, stated the Handbook of Explosion-Generated Water Waves. The handbook is a dense and lengthy Office of Naval Research study from 1968 that summarized everything the Pentagon knew at the time time about blowing stuff up in the ocean.

As large thermonuclear devices were developed, the report continued. Questions arose as to the tactical and/or strategic implications of the wave systems that were produced.

Some of the data in the report came from Operation Hardtack I, a series of nuclear tests conducted in the Pacific in 1958. The military designed some of the tests to see just how much water a nuclear explosion could displace.

The Umbrella and Wahoo nuclear detonations occurred in shallow and deep water, respectively. Both explosions shot huge torrents of water into the air, but neither triggered devastating, coast-destroying waves.

Theoretical and experimental studies revealed the relatively inefficient wave making potential of large explosions, the handbook explained. In many cases most wave energy is dissipated by breaking on the continental shelf before reaching shore.

The thought of Iran armed with nuclear weapons is terrifying to many, especially its neighbors. The world needs to have a civilized discussion about what it means should the country ever develop the technology.

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Could Iran Trigger a Nuclear Tsunami That Wipes Out Israel? – The National Interest Online (blog)

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February 21, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Netanyahu visit: Australia’s relationship with Israel and where it could go – SBS

In the past fortnight the Israeli leader has visited London and Washington DC for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May and old friend US President Donald Trump.

His visit to Australia this weekwill be the first for a serving Israeli Prime Minister.

His time with Malcolm Turnbull will likely cover similar ground: the Palestinian conflict, West Bank settlements, Iran, and combatting global terror.

Mr Netanyahu, accompanied by wife Sara, will also meet with Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, opposition leader Bill Shorten, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and members from Australia’s Israeli communities.

Australia’s Israeli embassy confirmed that, during Mr Netanyahu’s visit, the countries will sign two bilateral agreements. The first will focus on technological innovation, while the second will help “facilitate commercial air transport services” between Australia and Israel.

Anthony Bergin, from the Australian Strategic and Policy Institute, says the Israel-Australia relationship could be strengthened.

Its a good time for an Israeli Prime Minister to visit, and I think while weve got a lot of rhetoric about common values there isnt at the moment a lot of substance, he said.

The relationship, in many ways is underachieving. It could be developed.

The last time an Israeli foreign minister visited Australia was in 1976, so what has prompted this visit fromBenjamin Netanyahu?

The why I think comes back to common values around democracy, around shared support for human rights (and) recognition of the plight of Jewish people after the war, Mr Bergin said.

Obviously the relationship between the two countries has always been warm. Australia has always been seen by the Israelis as a friendly country.

“The ties between Israel and Australia date back to 1917, with the Australian Light Horse Brigades’ courageous charge at the Battle of Beersheba, which was a major milestone in driving out the Ottoman Empire from what is now modern Israel,” says a spokesperson from the Israeli embassy.

Leanne Piggott, from the Centre for Social Impact, told SBS News the relationship is rooted in history, shared cultural and political values and a pro-western foreign policy orientation.

Australian soldiers returned to the Middle East in large numbers during World War II. Many were stationed temporarily in Palestine and were hosted at social events by the local Jewish communities,” she said.

In both world wars, Australians and Jews living in Palestine fought side-by-side.

In 1948, Australian H.V ‘Doc’ Evatt utilised his position as President of the United Nations General Assembly to push for Israel’s formation.

And according to Dr Amin Saikal, director of the Centre for Arab Studies at the Australian National University, that’s when ties truly began to blossom.

He believes that showed in the aftermath of the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis, in which Israel, the UK and France invaded Egypt to regain western control of the Suez Canal and remove the Egyptian President from power.

I think it really goes back to the Prime Minister Menzies era and the Suez crisis, and when Gamal Abdul Nasser the President of Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956, he said.

Users of the Suez Canal had a conference in Britain and Prime Minister Menzies participated in that conference, and he was then sent as a head of a mission to discuss the issue with President Nasser and tell him to back off from the nationalisation of the Suez Canal.

When Nasser did not do that and Prime Minister Menzies came back empty-handed, then that influenced Menzies attitudes towards Egypt and towards the Arabs. And then from that point, I think Australia pursued a very much pro-Israeli position.

Senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of New South Wales, Dr Anthony Billingsley, says “Israel has become a cause of the conservative side of politics”.

“When I was growing up it was a cause of the left, but its swung round now to be a cause of the right in Australia, he said.

It also fits into the US relationship. So when the US is looking for people, a UN general assembly resolution might be adopted on Palestine and youll have a vote of 180 against three; itll be the US, Israel and Australia.

So it fits into that being nice to the Americans, and helping them out in difficult political situations.

While Australia and Israel have been clear allies for decades, there is little trade between the countries. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia ranks 23rdon Israels top principal export destinations, and 37thon imports. Australias total trade with Israel is just over $1 billion.

Thats where I think the relationship has been underdone, because we havent really focused on how we can really benefit one another in terms of interests, Mr Bergin said.

I think its fair to say Australia has not been a major policy focus of the Israelis.”

Unlike previous US administrations, successive Australian governments have rarely condemned Israel during the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

I think that the Turnbull leadership, to me, it appears, is really playing to the right-wing elements within the coalition, Dr Saikal said.

I think there are people, like Cory Bernardi – who has now gone – but there are other elements within the coalition who are very much supportive of the state of Israel.”

And in the Labor party there is “paralysis basically, according to Dr Billingsley.

The Labor party cannot really discuss Israel and the Palestinians in any meaningful way because they just wind up fighting each other.

Palestinian laborers work at a construction site in a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2017.

Dr Saikal believes there are other influences in the relationship.

One must not really forget that the pro-Israeli lobby in this country has been very strong over the years and they do have considerable amount of influence on Australian policy towards the Middle East and more specifically, towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he said.

Dr Billingsley agrees that pro-Israeli lobbies have influenced Australian government policies and positions.

I think theyve been very effective. I mean they were effective at all levels, he said.

I wouldnt underestimate the inherent sympathy that Australians have for the Jewish plight, and the Jewish history, etc. And the influence of Jews in Australia has been considerable. So there is a historic issue there as well.

I think the Zionist – if you like – movement in Australia has been very effective in promoting that sort of concern for Israel; the feeling that Israel is always under threat. So I think that also adds to the basis of that support.

But Mr Bergin disagrees.

Of course there are groups that promote Israel but there are plenty of groups that also promote the Palestinian cause,” he said.

“What Id prefer to say quite bluntly is that theres been bipartisan support for a two-state solution.

If it became clear that Israel was moving towards a one-state solution, or completely drop attempts to try and get a peace settlement, then that is going to absolutely sap the support in Australia.

Dr Amin Saikal says he hopes the Turnbull government uses Mr Netanyahus visit to condemn the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

Both Prime Minister Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are fully aware of the fact that the settlements are the major obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said.

For that reason it is about time that Australia, or the Turnbull government, moderates its position in support of Israel and join the international community in condemning that expansion of the settlements.

I think the time has come for them to move beyond that position in order to recognise the fact that the settlements are major impediments. Of course the Israeli Prime Minister would say no, this is not a major issue. It is a critical issue.

Ms Piggott says she would like to see the government reaffirm its position in support of a two-state solution.

Beyond continuing to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, deepening AustraliaIsrael bilateral relations will generate significant benefits in advancing both countries national interests, she said.

It will be necessary to select areas for cooperation that bring the highest mutual benefit.”

Mr Bergin believes the area of defence offers that.

Both countries have got strong interests in naval affairs because were both close to major choke points along maritime trade routes, he said.

We should have a regular strategic dialogue with Israel on everything from developments in Islamist terrorism, to Middle East developments, to nuclear proliferation, to US alliance issues and so forth and the defence industry.

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Netanyahu visit: Australia’s relationship with Israel and where it could go – SBS

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February 20, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Israeli lawmaker vilified for addressing anti-AIPAC protest – Middle East Monitor

An Israeli lawmaker who was flown into Washington DC by AIPAC to participate in their annual conference has been vilified by the Israeli right for addressing an anti-AIPAC demonstration outside the venue. Tamar Zandberg, who is a member of the Meretz party, was in the US capital to speak on a panel at the pro-Israeli lobby conference. She has been called human trash and filth for speaking at a rally organised by the Jewish campaign group IfNotNow who were protesting outside last Sunday. #ResistAipac: Protestors condemn AIPACs annual conference At the demonstration, protesters carried signs in both English and Hebrew with slogans including Reject the occupation, Reject AIPAC and Reject Trump. Another sign urged Free Palestine, reported Haaretz. IfNotNow describe themselves as young Jews angered by the overwhelmingly hawkish response of American Jewish institutions. On its website it states that the group came together under the banner of IfNotNow to demonstrate their resistance. They oppose AIPAC and urge all American Jews to stop supporting the occupation. Zandberg appeared briefly before the demonstrators and spoke through a megaphone. I told them what I also said at the AIPAC panel: Support for Israel means coming out against the occupation, she told Haaretz. There is no more patriotic action than opposing the occupation. Zandberg was the first Meretz member to be invited to AIPAC in a long time. But her participation in the protest sparked criticism in several media outlets as well as denunciations and curses on social media. Army Radio wondered why she had taken AIPACs money to attend a demonstration where protesters carried signs against the organisation. To that, Zandberg replied: I came as a public representative, and AIPAC knows who I represent. What, do you [at Army Radio] think my views can be bought by financing my trip?

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Censorship of UN Report Calling Israel an Apartheid Regime. Backlash of Pro-Israeli Lobby – Center for Research on Globalization

TheRichard Falk/Virginia Tilley report, discussed in a same day article, drew strong criticism from Israeli officials as expected. Theyre not pleased about scathing truth-telling, discussing disturbing facts about their apartheid regime, brutalizing Palestinians from inception, committing slow-motion genocide against a defenseless people. Israels Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) for publishing the report, comparing it to Der Sturmer, a Nazi anti-Semitic publication. Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon said the report is despicable an constitutes a blatant lie. It comes as no surprise that an organization headed by an individual who has called for boycotts against Israel, and compared our democracy to the most terrible regimes of the 20th century, would publish such a report. The World Jewish Congress called the report a piece of vile propaganda that has no basis in fact. It ludicrously claimed Israeli Arab citizens have equal rights as Jews. Indisputable evidence proves otherwise. A coalition of US Zionist organizations called on the UN to publicly reject the report, accusing the authors of launching unjustified and outrageous attacks on Israel. Hard truths dont go down well in Tel Aviv or Washington. US UN envoy Nikki Haley called it unsurprising (that) such anti-Israel propaganda (sic) would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel She demanded the UN withdraw the report altogether. Its in the public domain, extensively commented on, including by myself. It covers vital information Ive discussed in many articles on Israel/Palestine, a topic I revisit frequently. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spokesperson Stephane Durarric said (w)e just saw the report today. It was done without any prior consultation with the secretary general. The report as it stands does not reflect the stance of the secretary general. Washington didnt approve his appointment to criticize Israeli, US or NATO policies, just to be a loyal imperial servant like his predecessors. The Falk/Tilley report reveals important hard truths about Israels fantasy democracy, its dark side, its apartheid cruelty against Palestinians for praying to the wrong God, persecuting them the way Hitler treated Jews. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at[emailprotected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site atsjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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March 20, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

As Israel Surges Further Rightward, US Under Trump Follows Suit – Common Dreams

Common Dreams As Israel Surges Further Rightward, US Under Trump Follows Suit Common Dreams While the pro- Israeli lobby group J Street is concerned that that measure will "further isolate the country [and] validate Israel's critics," it coincides not only with the rise of Friedman but also with an effort within the United States to censor the … Did J Street Just Win Big By Losing David Friedman Confirmation Vote? Forward David Friedman, Staunch Settlement Backer, Approved by Senate Panel as Envoy to Israel Haaretz Senate panel approves Trump's Israel envoy in near party-line vote Cleveland Jewish News JNS.org all 72 news articles »

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March 9, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Rehabilitating Bush: The Deadly Illusion Of Corporate Dissent – Dissident Voice

The title of the editorial said it all: The Guardian view on George W Bush: a welcome return. In a tongue-in-cheek, almost jovial, piece the Guardian unsubtly rehabilitated a man responsible for crimes that are among the most egregious in all history. Bush was responsible for the destruction of an entire country, the killing of one million Iraqis, the wounding and displacement of countless millions more. The car bombs, the suicide bombs, the mass executions, the dead-of-night disappearances, the blow torch and electric drill tortures, the bombs in London and Madrid, the rise of Islamic State, and much, much more they all began with George W. Bush. But the Guardian japed: During his time in the White House, George W Bush was regarded as a warmonger and hardline conservative. As president he did an awful lot to polarise the country and was viewed as such a threat to world peace that when he left office the Nobel committee handed his successor the peace prize for not being him. The piece continued: It says a lot about the United States that Mr Bush can be seen now as a paragon of virtue. He sounds a lot better out of office than in it. And so the 43rd US president should be applauded. Not a single syllable was uttered about his literally millions of victims. It is unthinkable, of course, that the Guardian would welcome the return of an Assad, or a Putin, or any Official Enemy, in this way. But it is normal for a newspaper that tirelessly attempts to rehabilitate Bushs great partner in war crime, Tony Blair. One of the foundations of the mainstreams Grand Propaganda Narrative is that some people are simply, somehow, permanent members of The Club respectable, well-intentioned, fundamentally decent where others are beyond the pale, to be reviled, abused, hunted and killed, if possible. Historian Mark Curtis tweeted a link to the editorial: Perhaps a single article can define a newspaper. The Sun: Gotcha. The Mail: Migrant Scroungers. The Guardian: this So how did the Guardians progressive journalists respond? George Monbiot was asked if he had a view on an editorial trying to normalise Bush and not mentioning the 100,000s deaths he caused? Monbiot replied blankly: I dont agree with it. In June 2011, Monbiot was rather more forthright in using his Guardian column to identify and damn a malign intellectual subculture that seeks to excuse savagery by denying the facts of the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. To a global audience, Monbiot named and shamed Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, David Peterson, John Pilger, and Media Lens as political commentators who take the unwarranted step of belittling acts of genocide. In a stirring conclusion, Monbiot wrote: The rest of us should stand up for the victims, whoever they are, and confront those trying to make them disappear. See our discussion of these claims here. We asked Monbiot about the need to confront the Guardian now as it disappeared the victims of George Bush. He replied: You plainly believe theres no difference between not mentioning something and actively airbrushing it, as Herman/Peterson did. But in 2011, Monbiot, of course, made no such specious distinction when he insisted on the need to confront those trying to make victims disappear. As former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook commented on Twitter: Man of principle @GeorgeMonbiot suddenly lost for words as @guardian his employer glosses over Bushs crimes against humanity in Iraq A prime example of the kind of activist Monbiot was urging to confront injustice and denial is his colleague at the Guardian, Owen Jones. In a rousing series of tweets in November 2014, Jones reported from a train carriage on what it means to walk the talk: Just told man to take his racism + get out of (packed) carriage after he threatened to end Indian bloke for disrespecting in my country How did the perp respond to the Guardian columnists order to vacate the carriage? He legged it to the toilet. When he emerged he yelled Im not a racist by the way, and the carriage laughed What a fool! And what a contrast Jones paints to his own heroic actions. How did fellow passengers react? murmurs of well said to be fair. Wasnt bowled over though Alas, only the author came out of the incident with real credit according to the author. Jones responded with comparable vigour last year to obviously cynical claims, driven by Israeli lobby propaganda, that Corbyns Labour party was infested with anti-Semitism. Jones tweeted: John McDonnell [Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer] was right to swiftly force Naz Shahs resignation but now the party has to suspend her. One day later, Jones added: Ken Livingstone has to be suspended from the Labour Party. Preferably before I pass out from punching myself in the face. Joness response to the Guardians rehabilitation of George Bush was rather different: The Trump calamity doesnt mean rehabilitating George W Bush, a man chiefly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and other horror There were no calls for the comment editor to be suspended, or for the editor to resign. In fact, Jones made no mention of his employer and did not link to the editorial. Happily for the Guardian, many of his Twitter followers will have had no idea what he was on about. The truth is that Guardian, Independent and BBC regulars never criticise their employers. But they do celebrate and defend them. Last December, former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook challenged Monbiot on Twitter: Guardian, your employer, is precisely part of media problem. Why this argument is far from waste of energy. Its vital. Monbiot replied: thats your view. I dont share it. Most of my work exposing corporate power has been through or with the Guardian. In March 2015, Jones tweeted: Incredible news that @KathViner is new Guardian editor! Nearly whooped in the quiet carriage. Thats how excited I am. Spare a thought for Joness fellow passengers. He certainly spared a thought for his outgoing boss: Like so many others, owe so much to Alan Rusbridger. The Guardian is a global force, and thats so much down to him. Surreal hes gone And: Surreal hes going, that is. Hes still the boss! After 18 months of turning a blind eye to the Guardians relentless attack on Corbyn, both Jones and Monbiot have publicly dumped him. Jones told the Evening Standard last month: The Left has failed badly. Id find it hard to vote for Corbyn. More recently, Jones plunged the knife in to the hilt. Having completely ignored the medias anti-Corbyn campaign, Monbiot commented on Twitter: I was thrilled when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, but it has been one fiasco after another. I have now lost all faith. Monbiot added: I hoped Corbyn would be effective in fighting the government and articulating a positive alternative vision. Neither hope has materialised. Conclusion Status From Silence The truth is that the free press does not tolerate authentic dissent. In the final analysis, high-profile dissidents are salaried corporate employees. They can speak no more honestly about their employers, other potential employers, or the industry in general, than someone selling cars, computers or mobile phones. The exalted status of our most famous left-leaning media corporations is based on de facto censorship rather than truth-telling. After all, why would the public doubt the honesty of the Guardian or the Independent when they are essentially never subject to serious criticism? This matters because the role of the corporate media is not just one issue among many it is the key issue determining how all other issues are communicated to a mass audience. The result is devastating empowered by their ill-deserved reputations, left-leaning media, in fact, relentlessly agitate for wars in countries like Libya and Syria, relentlessly attack progressive voices challenging power and, worst of all, literally sell the high-tech, climate killing, corporate-led status quo as normal. Are we suggesting that writers of principle should resign from corporate media? Yes, it is time to stop pretending anything will ever be achieved by publishing radical journalism that will be used to draw readers into a moral and intellectual killing zone serving big business. There are other alternatives now its time to boycott the corporate media, dump them in the dustbin of history, and build alternatives that will allow democracy and people to breathe. Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The second Media Lens book, Newspeak: In the 21st Century by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2009 by Pluto Press. Read other articles by Media Lens, or visit Media Lens’s website. This article was posted on Saturday, March 4th, 2017 at 7:28pm and is filed under George W. Bush, Iraq, Media, United Kingdom.

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March 5, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Russian sale of fighter jets to UAE highlights shift toward Kremlin amid US hesitancy – Fox News

In late February, Russian media reported that the country signed an agreement to sell a number of Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates and help the Gulf state develop a next-generation fighter that could enter service in seven or eight years. News of the deal between the Kremlin and the UAE came amid murmurs that Moscow is close to capping off a similar deal to send 10 Flanker-E jets to Indonesia and that Russia is slated to send a second batch of the same warplanes to China. These deals — and similar ones across the globe highlight the government of Russian President Vladimir Putins growing use of the Eurasian nations defense industry as a diplomatic tool on the world stage and one that appears bent on currying favor among countries with longstanding ties to the United States. One of Russias majors goals is to reassert itself as a major global power, Hannah Thoburn, a research fellow at Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Hudson Institute, told Fox News. That means returning back to what it used to do during the days of the Soviet Union and doing things like this. Besides being one of the countrys largest employers and huge economic driver Putin claims that Russia exported $4.6 billion in weapons and military equipment in 2016and has a contract portfolio worth more than $50 billion experts argue that the defense industry has played a crucial role in Kremlin polices in regions less hospitable to U.S. influence. With the exception of Ukraine and the Baltic states, there is no region in the world that Russia in recent years has asserted more influence over than the Middle East. Given U.S. reticence under former President Barack Obama to become involved in the conflict, Russias influence has been most strongly felt in Syria, where it maintains roughly 36 fighter jets and helicopter gunships to aid President Bashar al-Assads forces in the nations ongoing civil war. The lack of U.S. action in the war-torn nation — and its diminishing troop presence in places like Iraq — appears to have emboldened Russia to begin reaching out to the regions more U.S.-friendly governments. When the U.S. didnt do anything in Syria, it let Russia take the lead and now Russia is pursuing relations with other nations in the region, Thoburn said. This isnt the first time the UAE has shown an interest in Russian weaponry. Its army uses the Russian BMP-3 armored fighting vehicle and the country looked into buying Sukhoi Su-27M jets during the mid-1990s. But coming at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, the agreement to send the warplanes to the Arab nation is seen as a particularly bold move given that the Emirati have been one of the U.S.’ closest allies since the countrys 1971 founding. The U.S. was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE and has had an ambassador there since 1974. The two nations have maintained a close security cooperation that increased dramatically during the first Gulf War. Currently, the U.S. Air Force bases its Lockheed Martin F-22Raptors there for operations over Syria, and the UAE is using the most advanced version of the General Dynamics F-16Fighting Falcon. Despite these ties, the U.S. has so far denied the UAE access to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIor any of the countrys other so-called fifth generation fighter jets something government officials in the UAE have shown an interest in for several years and aviation industry insiders say this has led the Arab nation to look toward Russia for better or worse. The UAE also has ambitions to develop its national defense aerospace industrial base, Douglas Barrie, the senior aerospace fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Aviation Week. But partnership in a Russian project is arguably not necessarily the best way to achieve this. An alternative view might be that the move is about trying to gain leverage on the U.S. as to when and how much access the UAE might eventually get to the F-35, Barrie added. Lockheed Martins F-35 and F-22, along with Russias PAK FA and Chinas J-20 and FC-31, are all known as fifth-generation fighters, which are defined by heaving stealth technology, high maneuverability, advanced avionics, networked data fusion from sensors and avionics and multirole capabilities. Some nations also define a fifth-generation fighter jet as being able to cruise at supersonic speeds without the use of an afterburner. As of 2017, only the U.S. has these planes currently in active service, although Chinas J-30 is in initial production. Analysts say that the U.S.’ reluctance to sell the F-35 to the UAE or any other Middle Eastern nation is based in part on the volatility of the regions governments and in part on Washingtons close ties with Israel. The Israeli lobby in the U.S. strongly influences sales of aircraft in the region and the government usually makes military gear available to their counterparts in Tel Aviv first. It took five years for Saudi Arabia to obtain an F-15 Eagle after Israel received them. Observers, however, say that despite the announced deal between Russia and the UAE nothing is set in stone. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently met with senior UAE government officials to discuss bilateral defense ties. There is also widespread speculation that President Trump could be more willing to share the countrys military might than his predecessor. Furthermore, Russia has been known in the past to pull out of military deals with little notice. This also, however, isnt the first time that Russia has used its defense industry in an attempt to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. waits for other nations to come to them and propose a deal, Thoburn said. Russia takes a much more proactive approach with its defense industry in regards to building its political influence. At the height of the 2013 controversy over allegations that the NSA monitored communications between former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her aides, Russian officials traveled to Brasilia to convince the South American nation to consider a bid for its Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet.At the time, Boeing had made a $4 billion proposal to supply Brazil with F-18 fighter jets. In the end, Brazil eventually placed an order with Sweden’s Saab for 36 Gripen NG jets at a cost of $4.5 billion.

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March 2, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Dalpra: Palestinians face perpetual injustice – Eastern Arizona Courier

One of the international issues that has been sticking in my craw for as long as I can remember is the ongoing Israeli land-grab in the Holy Land, from which about 600,000 Palestinians have been displaced since Israel was forged of Arab soil in 1946. It seems obvious that the only solution to the settlement issue is a heavy-handed decision to ignore Israeli land-grabs and to divide the pie in an equitable manner, respecting initial Palestinian claims. The United Nations would appear to be the logical facilitator, but the organization is compromised by its security council, made up of the international power brokers, who have veto power they use to protect parochial interests. The United States is one of the select few, and its primary purpose seems to be to overrule any initiative that might be detrimental to Israeli interests. Ideally, the United Nations should be a truly representative organization, with the full force of its collective membership, in which case it could dictate terms to Israel that would solve the Palestinian problems. The illegal settlements would be destroyed*, much as the Israelis have destroyed Palestinian real estate to make space for housing for a growing Israeli population. Compensation would become an issue, but why? Did the Israeli squatters compensate the Palestinians whose possessions they grabbed? These thoughts are among the pipe dreams that persist in the face of realization by rational thinkers, that Israel has won and is in the process of picking the Palestinian bones clean.Part of the reason is that validity of the United Nations has been undermined, primarily by the United States and its ward, the illegitimate state of Israel. Our public has been led to believe that the United States should always be the bottom line, and therefore an organization such as the United Nations,whose majority membership often does not see eye to eye with the worlds major superpower,has to be marginalized so its majority positions can be challenged and its mandates undermined entirely. President Obama and, more recently, President Trump both have issued mild criticisms of Israels determination to expropriate as muchPalestinian real estate as possible, seizing territory with impunity, to undermine any hope that at some point the besieged Palestinians will experience justice. More likely,the Holy Land, believed by the Israeli purists to have been bequeathed in perpetuity to the Jews by God, will no longer face challenges to its existence. As this is written, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to pay a visit to President Trump, who has said that continued settlement expansions by the Israelis are counterproductive. If Trump sticks to his guns, there could be fireworks, but the prime minister knows that what the president says will be of little consequence because the U.S. Congress is in perpetual lock step with an ally, which creates more problems for its strategic partner than the alliance is worth. Former Israeli Prime Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, in a recent interview, said the Israeli intransigence regarding making an equitable peace with the Palestinians had perpetuated a serious injustice. But the problem is that large segments of the Israeli population that have a sympathetic attitude toward the Palestinians are understandably loath to give up their government-sponsored apartments, which are at the root of the problem. A good guess would be that anyone born this year will not live to see the Holy Land live up to its name. The Israeli issues are perhaps the most depressing example of how political considerations override what otherwise would be more sensible attitudes of our members of Congress. The House and Senate are made up of a vast majority, if the truth were known, that feel the confiscation of Palestinian holdings by the dominant Israelis is a monumental injustice, but because the Israeli lobby is so aggressive and effective, they do not have the courage to vote their consciences as defeat in the next biennial election hangs in the balance. Our government is a political animal, and when politics is involved, fairness and equity more often than not fall by the wayside. * Ideally, the settlements built on confiscated Palestinian land should be turned over to the victims of this ongoing atrocity to compensate them for the injustices they have suffered.

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March 1, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Why Hollywood Has Abandoned Brand Israel – International Middle East Media Center

Oscar nominees refusal to be paid props for Brand Israel could reflect a desire to avoid a very polarised discussion. (Todd Wawrychuck/ EPA) via the BDS National Commitee. AsIsraelmoves ever more dangerously rightward evidenced by the latest law legalising the statesexpropriationof private Palestinian lands and the extremely conservative appointees to the High Court Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahuseems, perhaps paradoxically, more obsessed than in the past with promoting Israels positive image in the international arena. Indeed, the current government has poured millions of dollars into its Brand Israel campaign. Just this pastDecember, Haaretzreportedthat the tourism ministry was granted its biggest marketing budget ever in the past year as it tried to change Israels image as a travel destination and expand the range of tourism offerings. Apparently, the government is hell bent on trying to convince the international community that the Jewish state is and remains the only democracy in theMiddle East. This illusion appears increasingly difficult to sustain as time passes and fewer international actors seem to be buying it. Apropos actors lets take a look at the latest reports from Hollywood. In the days before the 2017Oscarsaward ceremony, a flurry of articles were published on how the Tourist Ministry attempted to lure 26 nominees to Israel with lavish tour packages estimated at about $55,000 each. Government officials justified their actions by insisting on the importance of regaling celebrities with the real Israel. Clearly what is at stake here is the projection and exorbitant chorographical production of normality, where thecelebrities are usedas a vital prop in the Brand Israel campaign. Leading media outlets, however, reported that not one of the two dozen stars had accepted the invitation. The often politically incorrect Jennifer Lawrence handed her package deal over to her parents, while Leonardo DiCaprio appears to have had enough of Israeli paparazzi, particularly given his experiences during his past visits with his then girlfriend, supermodel Bar Refaeli. The unwillingness of these Hollywood stars to participate in Israels branding efforts could well mark an important transformation in popular United States-Israel relations. On the one hand, these actors have not made any public declaration or come out publicly in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Therefore, their refusal to accept an all-expenses-paid and more visit to Israel should not be understood as an active or overt political statement. On the other hand, the total absence of any signs of enthusiasm about visiting the Holy Land on the part of the Oscar nominees could point to something else, namely, a profound shift in cultural perceptions. As Israelssettler colonial projectcontinues unabated, many younger Americans who also happen to be these celebrities main fan base consider the country and its policies incredibly divisive. A recentPew Reporthighlights this trend. Although most Americans still sympathise more with Israel than with the Palestinians, over the past decade US public opinion has shifted quite dramatically. Indeed,for the first time this century and thus in history liberal Democrats are about equally split between sympathising more with Israel (33 percent) and with the Palestinians (40 percent). Furthermore, among the Millennials fewer than half (43 percent) sympathise more with Israel, while about a quarter of them (27 percent) sympathise more with the Palestinians, the highest percentage of any generation. The Hollywood stars refusal to take advantage of Israels lavish package tours could therefore reflect a desire to avoid entering into this very polarised and incendiary discussion. Ultimately, though, no matter what the stars convictions are vis-a-vis Israel, the overwhelming lack of response reveals, at the very least, that Israel is no longer a particularly desirable destination, even for an all-expenses paid vacation.In other words, these stars who are endlessly promoting brands and products (mostly their own) to as broad an audience as possible (but mostly to Millennials) may well have realised that endorsing the Israel brand has simply become too controversial. The Israeli lobby, it turns out, can no longer take Hollywood for granted as part of its Brand Israel campaign. And this is significant. Additionally, however, this also suggests that, not unlike the final years of the South African Apartheid regime, the cultural front has become an increasingly important site ofstruggle in Israel-Palestine. READ MORE: Year of diversity at Oscars does little to even score Indeed, just last week, another crisis erupted when only five of 11 NFL players joined a trip to Israel after the Super Bowl. AsSeattle Seahawksdefensive end, Michael Bennett stated, he would not be used by Israel for publicity. When I do go to Israel and I do plan to go it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives. Although the fight against Israels headlong move towards apartheid will undoubtedly have to continue to be waged on a variety of fronts, stars and superstars may well have an increasingly important part to play in this very real drama. After all, if Hollywood has taught us anything at all, it is that we should never underestimate the power or influence of popular culture. This piece originally appeared in AlJazeera English. Related 02/28/17BDS: Israeli Apartheid Week Begins in New York (VIDEO)

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March 1, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Could Iran Trigger a Nuclear Tsunami That Wipes Out Israel? – The National Interest Online (blog)

The thought of Iran armed with nuclear weapons is terrifying to many, especially its neighbors. The world needs to have a civilized discussion about what it means should the country ever develop the technology. But conspiracy theories about tectonic super-weapons, tsunami bombs and nukes pushed out of the back of civilian airliners foul the air around the conversation. Back on March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United States Congress and warned the world of a nuclear armed Iran. The press has written a lot about the speech, even before he delivered it. Never has so much been written about a speech that hasnt been given, Netanyahu said March 2, 2015, during a preview of his speech at the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC. Some of the stories were more credulous than others. One of the most provocative came from the Israeli military tabloid Debka File, which published an article about how Iran could use a nuclear bomb to trigger a tsunami in the Mediterranean, wiping out Israel in a single blow. The title is frightening enough to get even the most hardened Internet cynic to click. Nukes are scary, yes, but could Iran develop one so powerful that it could cause a tsunami? What did Debka File know that everyone else didnt? Not much. This nuclear bomb or device would be dropped from an IranAir civilian airliner on a regular run from Larnaca over the Mediterranean about 100 [kilometers] from the Israeli coast, according to Debka File. The delayed action mechanism would detonate the bomb and set off a tsunami. Fortunately for Israel, the site hasnt done its research. No, a nuclear bomb couldnt cause a massive wave to kill millions and cripple Israels economy. This is an old pseudo-scientific theory, one that whackadoo tabloids parade out anytime theres a natural disaster or nuclear threat. Back in 2006, the Egyptian weekly Al Osboa reported that American and Israeli nuclear testing had caused an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The 2004 earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. The oldest conspiracies are the easiest to debunk. There is just no explosive powerful enoughatomic or otherwisethat can displace the amount of water required to create waves powerful enough to destroy cities. The Allies carried out a lot of far-out experiments during World War II. One of the most obscure ones is New Zealands Project Seal, which allegedly tried to generate a tsunami with explosives. It was the brainchild of Thomas Leech, a professor at Auckland University. Leech detonated explosives off the coast of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula in 1944 and 1955, according to reports dating back to the late 1990s in the New Zealand Herald. The paper learned about the experiments after New Zealands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade released documents about the project. A sensationalized version of the story later circulated in 2013. The experiments didnt work. The explosions werent large enough to create more than small, pitiful wavesbecause it takes an incredible amount of energy to displace water on a tsunami scale. Human militaries have yet to build a device capable of doing so, despite their best efforts. The Tsar Bomba was the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated. The Soviet Union tested the monstrous hydrogen bomb above the Arctic Circle in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in 1961. The bomb had a 50-megaton yield and destroyed everything around it for 22 miles. Impressive, but mother nature is far more destructive. In 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. The quake created massive waves that devastated three Japanese prefectures and caused a nuclear meltdown. The earthquake released a TNT-equivalent of 480 megatons of energy, spread along hundreds of miles of fault line 30 miles below the surface of the Pacific. For its part, the Pentagon also researched how explosions interact with waves. During the Cold War, the U.S. tested nukes underwater, and needed to make sure that doing so was safe. But the research raised questions about whether America could weaponize waves. Initial interest in waves was primarily to appraise them as a hazard to testing, stated the Handbook of Explosion-Generated Water Waves. The handbook is a dense and lengthy Office of Naval Research study from 1968 that summarized everything the Pentagon knew at the time time about blowing stuff up in the ocean. As large thermonuclear devices were developed, the report continued. Questions arose as to the tactical and/or strategic implications of the wave systems that were produced. Some of the data in the report came from Operation Hardtack I, a series of nuclear tests conducted in the Pacific in 1958. The military designed some of the tests to see just how much water a nuclear explosion could displace. The Umbrella and Wahoo nuclear detonations occurred in shallow and deep water, respectively. Both explosions shot huge torrents of water into the air, but neither triggered devastating, coast-destroying waves. Theoretical and experimental studies revealed the relatively inefficient wave making potential of large explosions, the handbook explained. In many cases most wave energy is dissipated by breaking on the continental shelf before reaching shore. The thought of Iran armed with nuclear weapons is terrifying to many, especially its neighbors. The world needs to have a civilized discussion about what it means should the country ever develop the technology.

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February 21, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed

Netanyahu visit: Australia’s relationship with Israel and where it could go – SBS

In the past fortnight the Israeli leader has visited London and Washington DC for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May and old friend US President Donald Trump. His visit to Australia this weekwill be the first for a serving Israeli Prime Minister. His time with Malcolm Turnbull will likely cover similar ground: the Palestinian conflict, West Bank settlements, Iran, and combatting global terror. Mr Netanyahu, accompanied by wife Sara, will also meet with Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, opposition leader Bill Shorten, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and members from Australia’s Israeli communities. Australia’s Israeli embassy confirmed that, during Mr Netanyahu’s visit, the countries will sign two bilateral agreements. The first will focus on technological innovation, while the second will help “facilitate commercial air transport services” between Australia and Israel. Anthony Bergin, from the Australian Strategic and Policy Institute, says the Israel-Australia relationship could be strengthened. Its a good time for an Israeli Prime Minister to visit, and I think while weve got a lot of rhetoric about common values there isnt at the moment a lot of substance, he said. The relationship, in many ways is underachieving. It could be developed. The last time an Israeli foreign minister visited Australia was in 1976, so what has prompted this visit fromBenjamin Netanyahu? The why I think comes back to common values around democracy, around shared support for human rights (and) recognition of the plight of Jewish people after the war, Mr Bergin said. Obviously the relationship between the two countries has always been warm. Australia has always been seen by the Israelis as a friendly country. “The ties between Israel and Australia date back to 1917, with the Australian Light Horse Brigades’ courageous charge at the Battle of Beersheba, which was a major milestone in driving out the Ottoman Empire from what is now modern Israel,” says a spokesperson from the Israeli embassy. Leanne Piggott, from the Centre for Social Impact, told SBS News the relationship is rooted in history, shared cultural and political values and a pro-western foreign policy orientation. Australian soldiers returned to the Middle East in large numbers during World War II. Many were stationed temporarily in Palestine and were hosted at social events by the local Jewish communities,” she said. In both world wars, Australians and Jews living in Palestine fought side-by-side. In 1948, Australian H.V ‘Doc’ Evatt utilised his position as President of the United Nations General Assembly to push for Israel’s formation. And according to Dr Amin Saikal, director of the Centre for Arab Studies at the Australian National University, that’s when ties truly began to blossom. He believes that showed in the aftermath of the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis, in which Israel, the UK and France invaded Egypt to regain western control of the Suez Canal and remove the Egyptian President from power. I think it really goes back to the Prime Minister Menzies era and the Suez crisis, and when Gamal Abdul Nasser the President of Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956, he said. Users of the Suez Canal had a conference in Britain and Prime Minister Menzies participated in that conference, and he was then sent as a head of a mission to discuss the issue with President Nasser and tell him to back off from the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. When Nasser did not do that and Prime Minister Menzies came back empty-handed, then that influenced Menzies attitudes towards Egypt and towards the Arabs. And then from that point, I think Australia pursued a very much pro-Israeli position. Senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of New South Wales, Dr Anthony Billingsley, says “Israel has become a cause of the conservative side of politics”. “When I was growing up it was a cause of the left, but its swung round now to be a cause of the right in Australia, he said. It also fits into the US relationship. So when the US is looking for people, a UN general assembly resolution might be adopted on Palestine and youll have a vote of 180 against three; itll be the US, Israel and Australia. So it fits into that being nice to the Americans, and helping them out in difficult political situations. While Australia and Israel have been clear allies for decades, there is little trade between the countries. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia ranks 23rdon Israels top principal export destinations, and 37thon imports. Australias total trade with Israel is just over $1 billion. Thats where I think the relationship has been underdone, because we havent really focused on how we can really benefit one another in terms of interests, Mr Bergin said. I think its fair to say Australia has not been a major policy focus of the Israelis.” Unlike previous US administrations, successive Australian governments have rarely condemned Israel during the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. I think that the Turnbull leadership, to me, it appears, is really playing to the right-wing elements within the coalition, Dr Saikal said. I think there are people, like Cory Bernardi – who has now gone – but there are other elements within the coalition who are very much supportive of the state of Israel.” And in the Labor party there is “paralysis basically, according to Dr Billingsley. The Labor party cannot really discuss Israel and the Palestinians in any meaningful way because they just wind up fighting each other. Palestinian laborers work at a construction site in a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2017. Dr Saikal believes there are other influences in the relationship. One must not really forget that the pro-Israeli lobby in this country has been very strong over the years and they do have considerable amount of influence on Australian policy towards the Middle East and more specifically, towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he said. Dr Billingsley agrees that pro-Israeli lobbies have influenced Australian government policies and positions. I think theyve been very effective. I mean they were effective at all levels, he said. I wouldnt underestimate the inherent sympathy that Australians have for the Jewish plight, and the Jewish history, etc. And the influence of Jews in Australia has been considerable. So there is a historic issue there as well. I think the Zionist – if you like – movement in Australia has been very effective in promoting that sort of concern for Israel; the feeling that Israel is always under threat. So I think that also adds to the basis of that support. But Mr Bergin disagrees. Of course there are groups that promote Israel but there are plenty of groups that also promote the Palestinian cause,” he said. “What Id prefer to say quite bluntly is that theres been bipartisan support for a two-state solution. If it became clear that Israel was moving towards a one-state solution, or completely drop attempts to try and get a peace settlement, then that is going to absolutely sap the support in Australia. Dr Amin Saikal says he hopes the Turnbull government uses Mr Netanyahus visit to condemn the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Both Prime Minister Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are fully aware of the fact that the settlements are the major obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said. For that reason it is about time that Australia, or the Turnbull government, moderates its position in support of Israel and join the international community in condemning that expansion of the settlements. I think the time has come for them to move beyond that position in order to recognise the fact that the settlements are major impediments. Of course the Israeli Prime Minister would say no, this is not a major issue. It is a critical issue. Ms Piggott says she would like to see the government reaffirm its position in support of a two-state solution. Beyond continuing to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, deepening AustraliaIsrael bilateral relations will generate significant benefits in advancing both countries national interests, she said. It will be necessary to select areas for cooperation that bring the highest mutual benefit.” Mr Bergin believes the area of defence offers that. Both countries have got strong interests in naval affairs because were both close to major choke points along maritime trade routes, he said. We should have a regular strategic dialogue with Israel on everything from developments in Islamist terrorism, to Middle East developments, to nuclear proliferation, to US alliance issues and so forth and the defence industry.

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February 20, 2017   Posted in: Israeli Lobby  Comments Closed


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