Sunday, May 27, 2018

NATO Expansion Fever Takes Scandinavia

US, NATO Militarizing Scandinavia as Anti-Russia Hysteria Grows 

by TRNN


May 27, 2018

Journalist Eirik Vold says the United States and NATO are further militarizing Scandinavian nations, while claiming Russia poses a threat of war.

See Pt I here.




US military presence is growing in NATO members like Norway, as non-members Sweden and Finland are being pressured to join.

Not So Quiet Along Empire's Southwestern Front

Nicaragua,Venezuela: One Enemy, One Fight For Democracy

by Tortilla Con Sal - TeleSur


May 26, 2018

All the signs are that – just as in Venezuela – people at the grassroots level in Nicaragua won't get fooled again, writes Tortilla Con Sal.

Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are all targets of the U.S. government because they challenge control of Latin America and the Caribbean by Western corporate elites and their local allies.

By means of soft coups these interests have – at least for now – taken power in Brazil and Argentina, hijacked the government in Ecuador and derailed the peace process in Colombia.

Currently, U.S. efforts at regime change focus most urgently on Venezuela and Nicaragua, while reverting to the failed policy of punitive sanctions against Cuba and biding their time for the moment in Bolivia.

Despite the relentless psychological warfare campaign to discredit them, the governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela defend their peoples' fundamental democratic rights to peaceful economic development focused on human needs rather than corporate profit. This is especially important to understand in the case of Nicaragua. There, the government has democratized the economy to the point where the cooperative, associative and family-based small- and micro-business sectors generate 70 percent of employment, contributing over 50 percent of GDP.

In their different ways, these four countries – all members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) – have developed viable economic models directly opposed to Western corporate monopoly finance capitalism. They all face illegal actions by the U.S. government and its allies aimed at destabilizing – and, if possible, overthrowing – their legitimate governments. They all promote diverse models of genuine political and economic democracy for their peoples. Theirs is a common struggle against the U.S. and European imperial elites, whose governments are desperate to brake their own accelerating decline relative to China, Russia and other majority world countries.

Nicaragua and Venezuela: Similarities


While the endless war on Venezuela aims at controlling the country's enormous oil and mineral resources, Nicaragua also has significant natural resources. It has Central America's most abundant water resources, well over 60 percent of Central America's natural eco-systems and also around seven to 10 percent of the world's biodiversity.

The geostrategic position of Nicaragua and Venezuela enables their governments to project into the Caribbean and their respective neighboring countries the political and economic vision of a multi-polar world based on solidarity and cooperation rather than the subjugation and pillage now rampant in Brazil, Argentina and elsewhere.

The minority opposition – led by the private business, media and NGO sectors in both Venezuela and Nicaragua – have consistently failed electorally and politically, resorting to insurrectional violence aimed at regime change, rejected by the countries' majorities.

The political opposition is deeply divided in both countries, incapable of offering the electorate a viable inclusive program of sustainable national human development that meets everyone's needs in every sphere of civil, political, economic, social and cultural life.

The governments of both countries have repeatedly demonstrated their institutional legitimacy in serial elections.

Both countries are surrounded by U.S. and allied military bases.

Both countries are committed to regional integration initiatives – Venezuela in Unasur, Nicaragua in the Central American Integration System (SICA), while both are strong supporters of CELAC.

In the United Nations and other international forums, Venezuela and Nicaragua defend international law, condemning the criminal actions of the United States and its allies against, for example, Palestine, Syria and Iran.

Both governments insist on dialogue and mutual respect to resolve both domestic national conflicts and regional and global international conflicts.

De Facto Popular Front


Differences between the two countries result directly from their different geography and economic structure. Venezuela was able to decide to leave the Organization of American States because its status as a supplier of oil and mineral resources give it sufficient autonomy. Nicaragua, more dependent on agricultural and commercial trade with regional partners, has chosen not to abandon the OAS. That decision may well be partly in order to maintain the number of OAS member countries resisting pressure to legitimize the illegal U.S. war on Venezuela. But Nicaragua's government also thinks maintaining dialogue with this North American-dominated forum will help disarm potentially strongly aggressive measures from the U.S. government against Nicaragua's vulnerable economy.

That is also probably why Nicaragua remains a faithful ally of Taiwan, while U.S. client states such as Costa Rica and Panama have abandoned Taiwan in favor of the People's Republic of China, a key investment and trading ally of Venezuela. However, its loyalty to Taiwan has not prevented Nicaragua from working with China to develop the proposal for a new inter-oceanic canal to complement the Panama Canal by expanding shipping capacity across the Central American isthmus. Nicaragua also maintains excellent commercial and development cooperation relations with South Korea and Japan, as well as various Arab nations, as well as Iran. Venezuela and Nicaragua share this eclectic approach to international relations. Both have very important trade and investment relations with Russia and are developing relations with India.

In effect, the ALBA countries form a modern-day Popular Front. Regionally, they resist the determination of the region's fascist corporate elites to seize or keep power and subordinate their countries' economies to North American and European corporate interests. Globally, they defend the vision of a multi-polar world based on solidarity and international law against repeated criminal imperialist economic and military aggression from the United States and its allies. Nicaragua is under attack now because it is a vital component of that regional Popular Front, both for strong political and economic reasons and, too, for deep historical and cultural reasons.

Current National Developments 


After five years of unprecedented siege, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has again defeated the U.S. government and its allies, decisively winning the May 20 elections. Now the war on Venezuela will intensify even more: economically, diplomatically and militarily.

Similarly, U.S. government efforts to overthrow Nicaragua's elected government will also fail.

In what amounts to a war of attrition, President Ortega and his government team are systematically dismantling the illegitimate pretensions of the minority opposition's makeshift coalition, despite cynical manipulation by the mediating Episcopal Conference trying to gerrymander the National Dialogue for Peace in the opposition's favor.

Just as in Venezuela, public opinion in Nicaragua is strongly against the violent tactics of extortion and intimidation by the minority opposition. Even OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has denounced the lies of the opposition representatives in Nicaragua.

The Inter American Commission for Human Rights has acknowledged that the deaths and injuries mentioned in its preliminary report have yet to be investigated.

As the facts come out, a truer picture will emerge confirming that most of the deaths and injuries have been of government supporters or bystanders caught up in the violence.

For example, testimony from one of the protesters unable to square events with his conscience alleges that the two students killed on April 20 in Esteli were shot by paid opposition thugs. Similar testimonies will confirm that the violence in Nicaragua was deliberately instigated by the opposition – exploiting genuine protest – to discredit the government unjustly, just as in Venezuela.

This weekend, campesino leader Comandante Jorge Diaz, president of a demobilized ex-combatants association, withdrew from the opposition side of the National Dialogue urging his rank and file to dismantle their roadblocks, a phenomenon that has paralyzed the country for weeks. He denounced manipulation of his rural worker membership by some of the bishops and the opposition. That move recalls the clear-sighted remarks of assassinated former Nicaraguan Contra leader Comandante Franklin to a Sandinista leader after the 1990 elections:

"The oligarchy used you to overthrow Somoza. Now they have used us to overthrow you." 

All the signs are that – just as in Venezuela – people at the grassroots level in Nicaragua won't get fooled again.

Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.

Venezuela Charges NATO "Global Partners" Plans Threat to South American Stability

Venezuela: 'Colombia Joining NATO A Threat To Regional Peace'

by TelSur


May 27, 2018

Colombia will be the first "global partner" of NATO in Latin America, beginning next week, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Friday.

Venezuela has rejected the announcement by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos that his country will be entering the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a "global partner."

Likewise, Venezuela reiterated that it supports the historical position of the region to distance itself from the politics and wars of NATO, and from "any other army or military organization that desires to apply force to the suffering of the people, to impose and guarantee the hegemony of a particular political and economic model." 

"Venezuela denounces once more before the international community the intention of Colombian authorities to lend themselves to introduce, in Latin America and the Caribbean, a foreign military alliance with nuclear capacity, which in every way constitutes a serious threat for peace and regional stability," a statement by the foreign ministry said.

The statement asks that the Colombian government fulfill its obligations toward peace and peaceful solutions to regional controversies.

NATO was founded during the Cold War and was primarily a means for Western nations – led by the United States – to suppress the Soviet Bloc militarily and economically.

It continues to play a major role in modern conflicts, and has engaged in major military interventions in sovereign countries, most recently the removal and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Casualties and Accounting for CBC Coverage of Gaza: "Most shot by Israeli soldiers"

Open letter to Mr. Derek Stoffel, CBC Correspondent in Jerusalem, about his coverage of the Palestinian protests in Gaza

by Peter Larson, Ph.D. - Canada Talks Israel/Palestine Committee


May 27, 2018

Dear Mr. Stoffel, I have just returned from a week in Gaza, where I observed first hand the Palestinian “Great March of Return”. While there, I attended the protests in two different locations on two separate days. I talked to medical staff, protesters, onlookers and even several of the organizers. I also talked to many who were not at the protests, including students, university professors and taxi drivers.

Based on what I saw and heard, I am concerned about the quality and balance of your reporting on this important event. In your report on the “World at Six” on May 23rd , for example, you referred to the massacre on May 14th, saying, “Sixty-two Palestinians (were) killed while demonstrating, most shot by Israeli soldiers (emphasis mine)”.

Most were shot by Israeli soldiers, Mr. Stoffel? That seems to imply that others were shooting too. Mr. Stoffel, are you aware of ANYBODY else (other than Israeli soldiers) doing any shooting?

Reporting like this makes me concerned that you might be relying excessively on information and perspective provided to you by Israeli sources, perhaps even Israeli military sources back in Jerusalem. That leads me to ask you several pertinent questions:

Since the Great March of Return began on March 30th, how many of the protests have you actually been to (i.e. inside the Gaza Strip, not “on the Israeli side looking in”)?

Have you interviewed any of the men, women or children at the protests to find out why they are there? If so, did you sense that they were being forced to go, or were they going because they are sick and tired of poor living conditions, having 4 hours of electricity a day, lack of employment and generally frustrated by the punitive Israeli blockade?

Have you interviewed Palestinian medical staff in Gaza? Medics told me that Israel is sometimes using expanding bullets which tear huge holes in the body and rip off limbs. They also reported that Israel is trying a new kind of tear gas that apparently attacks the nervous system and causes convulsions? Do you have any information on this?

Did you interview any of the organizers of the March? Did you talk to, for example, Mr. Isam Hammad, Vice-Chair of the International Committee of the Great Return March? Or young Mr. Ahmed Rtema, the 33 year old whose December Facebook post is credited with having set the March in motion? Or Mosheer Amer, GRM spokesperson for foreign audiences?

Did you interview any officials from Hamas, who Israel claims has “orchestrated” the march. Hamas has said that the demonstrations are to be non-violent, and in fact despite over one hundred deaths and thousands of seriously wounded Palestinians, Hamas has not sent any rockets in to Israel and no Israelis have been reported hurt by gunfire. What does Hamas say about their role in the events? (You don’t have to believe them, but wouldn’t it make sense to try to interview them?).

As Chair of a small Canadian NGO called “Canada Talks Israel Palestine” (CTIP), I think it is critically important for Canadians to have accurate and balanced information based on first hand interviews and investigation by reliable and competent journalists. We look to CBC to be such a source of information.

Mr. Stoffel, I look forward to your answers, which I will be happy to share with those who have been copied on this email.


Thank you for your attention.

Cc. Jennifer McGuire jennifer.mcguire@cbc.ca,
General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News

Jack Nagler jack.nagler@cbc.ca,
Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement.

Bcc. CTIP membership and friends


Peter Larson, Ph.D.,
Chair,
Canada Talks Israel/Palestine Committee
www.canadatalksisraelpalestine.ca
chair.ctip@gmail.com
 

How the West Spreads Wahabbism, Saudi-Style

Indonesian Islam – “Eat What Even Saudis Would Not Touch Anymore”

by Andre Vltchek - NEO


May 27, 2018

When the Saudi Crown Prince gave an interview to the Washington Post, declaring that it was actually the West that encouraged his country to spread Wahhabism to all corners of the world, there was a long silence in almost all the mass media outlets in the West, but also in countries such as Egypt and Indonesia.

Those who read the statement, expected a determined rebuke from Riyadh. It did not come. The sky did not fall. Lightning did not strike the Prince or the Post.

Clearly, not all that the Crown Prince declared appeared on the pages of the Washington Post, but what actually did, would be enough to bring down entire regimes in such places like Indonesia, Malaysia or Brunei.

Or at least it would be enough under ‘normal circumstances’.

That is, if the population there was not already hopelessly and thoroughly indoctrinated and programed, and if the rulers in those countries did not subscribe to, or tolerate, the most aggressive, chauvinistic and ritualistic (as opposed to the intellectual or spiritual) form of the religion.

Reading between the lines, the Saudi Prince suggested that it was actually the West which, while fighting an ‘ideological war’ against the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, handpicked Islam and its ultra-orthodox and radical wing – Wahhabism – as an ally in destroying almost all the progressive, anti-imperialist and egalitarian aspirations in the countries with a Muslim majority.

As reported by RT on 28 March 2018:

“The Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Washington Post.

Speaking to the paper, bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia’s Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union…

The interview with the crown prince was initially held ‘off the record’. However, the Saudi embassy later agreed to let the Washington Post publish specific portions of the meeting.”

Since the beginning of the spread of Wahhabism, one country after another had been falling; ruined by ignorance, fanatical zeal and fear, which have been preventing the people of countries such as post-1965 Indonesia or the post-Western-invasion Iraq, to move back (to the era before Western intervention) and at the same time forward, towards something that used to be so natural to their culture in not such a distant past – towards socialism or at least tolerant secularism.

*

In reality, Wahhabism does not have much to do with Islam. Or more precisely, it intercepts and derails the natural development of Islam, of its strife for an egalitarian arrangement of the world, and for socialism.

The Brits were behind the birth of the movement; the Brits and one of the most radical, fundamentalist and regressive preachers of all times – Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

The essence of the Wahabi/British alliance and dogma was and still is, extremely simple:

“Religious leaders would force the people into terrible, irrational fear and consequent submission. No criticism of the religion is allowed; no questioning of its essence and particularly of the conservative and archaic interpretation of the Book. Once conditioned this way, people stopped questioning and criticizing first the feudalist, and later capitalist oppression; they also accepted without blinking the plunder of their natural resources by local and foreign masters. All attempts to build a socialist and egalitarian society got deterred, brutally, ‘in the name of Islam’ and ‘in the name of God’”.

Of course, as a result, the Western imperialists and the local servile ‘elites’ are laughing all the way to the bank, at the expense of those impoverished and duped millions in the countries that are controlled by the Wahhabi and Western dogmas.

Only a few in the devastated, colonized countries actually realize that Wahhabism does not serve God or the people; it is helping Western interests and greed.

Precisely this is what is right now happening in Indonesia, but also in several other countries that have been conquered by the West, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Were Syria to fall, this historically secular and socially-oriented nation would be forced into the same horrid direction. People there are well aware of this, as they are educated. They also see what has happened to Libya and Iraq and they definitely do not want to end up like them. It is the Wahhabi terrorist fighters that both the West and its lackeys like Saudi Arabia unleashed against the Syrian state and its people.

*

Despite its hypocritical secular rhetoric, manufactured mainly for local consumption but not for the colonies, the West is glorifying or at least refusing to openly criticize its own brutal and ‘anti-people’ offspring – a concept which has already consumed and ruined both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In fact, it is trying to convince the world that these two countries are ‘normal’, and in the case of Indonesia, both ‘democratic’ and ‘tolerant’.

At the same time, it has consistently been antagonizing almost all the secular or relatively secular nations with substantial Muslim majorities, such as Syria (until now), but also Afghanistan, Iran (prior to the coup of 1953), Iraq and Libya before they were thoroughly and brutally smashed.

It is because the state, in which the KSA, Indonesia and the present-day Afghanistan can be found, is the direct result of both Western interventions and indoctrination. The injected Wahhabi dogma is giving this Western ‘project’ a Muslim flavor, while justifying trillions of dollars on ‘defense spending’ for the so-called ‘War on Terror’ (a concept resembling an Asian fishing pond where fish are brought in and then fished out for a fee).

Obedience, even submissiveness – is where, for many reasons, the West wants its ‘client’ states and neo-colonies to be. The KSA is an important trophy because of its oil, and strategic position in the region. Saudi rulers are often going out of their way to please their masters in London and Washington, implementing the most aggressive pro-Western foreign policy. Afghanistan is ‘valued’ for its geographical location, which could potentially allow the West to intimidate and even eventually invade both Iran and Pakistan, while inserting extremist Muslim movements into China, Russia and the former Soviet Central Asian republics. Between 1 and 3 million Indonesian people ‘had to be’ massacred in 1965-66, in order to bring to power a corrupt turbo-capitalist clique which could guarantee that the initially bottomless (although now rapidly thinning) natural resources could flow, uninterrupted and often untaxed, into places such as North America, Europe, Japan and Australia.

Frankly, there is absolutely nothing ‘normal’ about countries such as Indonesia and the KSA. In fact, it would take decades, but most likely entire generations, in order to return them to at least some sort of nominal ‘normalcy’. Even if the process were to begin soon, the West hopes that by the time it ends, almost all of the natural resources of these countries would be gone.

But the process is not yet even beginning. The main reason for the intellectual stagnation and lack or resistance is obvious: people in countries such as Indonesia and KSA are conditioned so they are not able to see the brutal reality that surrounds them. They are indoctrinated and ‘pacified’. They have been told that socialism equals atheism and that atheism is evil, illegal and ‘sinful’.

Hence, Islam was modified by the Western and Saudi demagogues, and has been ‘sent to a battle’, against progress and a just, egalitarian arrangement of the world.

This version of religion is unapologetically defending Western imperialism, savage capitalism as well as the intellectual and creative collapse of the countries into which it was injected, including Indonesia. There, in turn, the West tolerates the thorough corruption, grotesque lack of social services, and even genocides and holocausts committed first against the Indonesians themselves, then against the people of East Timor, and to this day against the defenseless Papuan men, women and children. And it is not only a ‘tolerance’ – the West participates directly in these massacres and extermination campaigns, as it also takes part in spreading the vilest forms of Wahabi terrorism and dogmas to all corners of the world. . All this, while tens of millions of the followers of Wahhabism are filling the mosques daily, performing mechanical rituals without any deeper thought or soul searching.

Wahhabism works – it works for the mining companies and banks with their headquarters in London and New York. It also works extremely well for the rulers and the local ‘elites’ inside the ‘client’ states.

*

Ziauddin Sardar, a leading Muslim scholar from Pakistan, who is based in London, has no doubts that ‘Muslim fundamentalism’ is, to a great extent, the result of the Western imperialism and colonialism.

In a conversation which we had several years ago, he explained:

“Trust between Islam and the West has indeed been broken… We need to realize that colonialism did much more than simply damage Muslim nations and cultures. It played a major part in the suppression and eventual disappearance of knowledge and learning, thought and creativity, from Muslim cultures. The colonial encounter began by appropriating the knowledge and learning of Islam, which became the basis of the ‘European Renaissance’ and ‘the Enlightenment’ and ended by eradicating this knowledge and learning from both from Muslim societies and from history itself.
It did that both by physical elimination – destroying and closing down institutions of learning, banning certain types of indigenous knowledge, killing off local thinkers and scholars – and by rewriting history as the history of western civilization into which all minor histories of other civilization are subsumed.”
“As a consequence, Muslim cultures were de-linked from their own history with many serious consequences. For example, the colonial suppression of Islamic science led to the displacement of scientific culture from Muslim society. It did this by introducing new systems of administration, law, education and economy all of which were designed to impart dependence, compliance and subservience to the colonial powers.
The decline of Islamic science and learning is one aspect of the general economic and political decay and deterioration of Muslim societies. Islam has thus been transformed from a dynamic culture and a holistic way of life to mere rhetoric. Islamic education has become a cul-de-sac, a one-way ticket to marginality.
It also led to the conceptual reduction of Muslim civilization. By which I mean concepts that shaped and gave direction to Muslim societies became divorced from the actual daily lives of Muslims – leading to the kind of intellectual impasse that we find in Muslim societies today. Western neo-colonialism perpetuates that system.”

*

In Indonesia, after the Western-sponsored military coup of 1965, which destroyed the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and brought to power an extreme pro-market and pro-Western regime, things are deteriorating with a frightening predictability, consistency and speed.

While the fascist dictator Suharto, a Western implant after 1965, was said to be ‘suspicious of Islam’, he actually used all major religions on his archipelago with great precision and fatal impact. During his pro-market despotism, all left-wing movements and ‘-isms’ were banned, and so were most of the progressive forms of arts and thought. The Chinese language was made illegal. Atheism was also banned. Indonesia rapidly became one of the most religious countries on Earth.

At least one million people, including members of the PKI, were brutally massacred in one of the most monstrous genocides of the 20th century.

The fascist dictatorship of General Suharto often played the Islamic card for its political ends. As described by John Pilger in his book, “The New Rulers of The World”:

“In the pogroms of 1965-66, Suharto’s generals often used Islamicist groups to attack communists and anybody who got in the way.
A pattern emerged; whenever the army wanted to assert its political authority, it would use Islamicists in acts of violence and sabotage, so that sectarianism could be blamed and justify the inevitable ‘crackdown’ – by the army…”

‘A fine example’ of cooperation between the murderous right-wing dictatorship and radical Islam.

After Suharto stepped down, the trend towards a grotesque and fundamentalist interpretation of the monotheist religions continued. Saudi Arabia and the Western-favored and sponsored Wahhabism has been playing an increasingly significant role. And so has Christianity, often preached by radical right-wing former exiles from Communist China and their offspring; mainly in the city of Surabaya but also elsewhere.

From a secular and progressive nation under the leadership of President Sukarno, Indonesia has gradually descended into an increasingly radically backward-looking and bigoted Wahhabi-style/Christian Pentecostal state.

After being forced to resign as the President of Indonesia during what many considered a constitutional coup, a progressive Muslim cleric and undoubtedly a closet socialist, Abdurrahman Wahid (known in Indonesia by his nickname Gus Dur), shared with me his thoughts, on the record:

“These days, most of Indonesian people do not care or think about God. They only follow rituals. If God would descend and tell them that their interpretation of Islam is wrong, they’d continue following this form of Islam and ignore the God.”

‘Gus Dur’ also clearly saw through all the tricks of the military and pro-Western elites. He told me, among other things, that the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta was organized by the Indonesian security forces, and later blamed on the Islamists, who were actually only executing the orders given to them by their political bosses from the pro-Western military regime, which until now is being disguised as a, ‘multi-party democracy’.

In Indonesia, an extreme and unquestioning obedience to the religions has led to a blind acceptance of a fascist capitalist system, and of Western imperialism and its propaganda. Creativity and intellectual pluralism have been thoroughly liquidated.

The 4th most populous nation on the planet, Indonesia, has presently no scientists, architects, philosophers or artists of any international standing. Its economy is fueled exclusively by the unbridled plunder of the natural resources of the vast, and in the past, pristine parts of the country, such as Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan), as well as on the brutally-occupied Western part of Papua. The scale of the environmental destruction is monumental; something that I am presently trying to capture in two documentary films and a book.

Awareness of the state of things, even among the victims, is minimal or outright nonexistent.

In a country that has been robbed of its riches; identity, culture and future, religions now playthe most important role. There is simply nothing else left for the majority. Nihilism, cynicism, corruption and thuggery are ruling unopposed. In the cities with no theatres, galleries, art cinemas, but also no public transportation or even sidewalks, in the monstrous urban centers abandoned to the ‘markets’ with hardly any greenery or public parks, religions are readily filling the emptiness. Being themselves regressive, pro-market oriented and greedy, the results are easily predictable.

In the city of Surabaya, during the capturing of footage for my documentary film produced for a South American television network TeleSur (Surabaya – Eaten Alive by Capitalism), I stumbled over an enormous Protestant Christian gathering at a mall, where thousands of people were in an absolute trance, yelling and lifting their eyes towards the ceiling. A female preacher was shouting into a microphone:

“God loves the rich, and that is why they are rich! God hates the poor, and that’s why they are poor!”

Von Hayek, Friedmann, Rockefeller, Wahab and Lloyd George combined could hardly define their ‘ideals’ in more precise way.

*

What exactly did the Saudi Prince say, during his memorable and ground-breaking interview with The Washington Post? And why is it so relevant to places like Indonesia?

In essence, he said that the West asked the Saudis to make the ‘client’ states more and more religious, by building madrassahs and mosques. He also added:

“I believe Islam is sensible, Islam is simple, and people are trying to hijack it.”

People? The Saudi themselves? Clerics in such places like Indonesia? The Western rulers?

In Teheran, Iran, while discussing the problem with numerous religious leaders, I was told, repeatedly:

“The West managed to create a totally new and strange religion, and then it injected it into various countries. It calls it Islam, but we can’t recognize it… It is not Islam, not Islam at all.”

*

In May 2018, in Indonesia, members of outlawed terrorist groups rioted in jail, took hostages, then brutally murdered prison guards. After the rebellion was crushed, several explosions shook East Java. Churches and police stations went up in flames. People died.

The killers used their family members, even children, to perpetrate the attacks. The men in charge were actually inspired by the Indonesian fighters who were implanted into in Syria – the terrorists and murderers who were apprehended and deported by Damascus back to their large and confused country.

Many Indonesian terrorists who fought in Syria are now on their home turf, igniting and ‘inspiring’ their fellow citizens. The same situation as in the past – the Indonesian jihadi cadres who fought against the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan later returned and killed hundreds and thousands in Poso, Ambon and other parts of Indonesia.

Indonesian extremists are becoming world-famous, fighting the battles of the West as legionnaires, in Afghanistan, Syria, Philippines and elsewhere.

Their influence at home is also growing. It is now impossible to even mention any social or god forbid, socialist reforms in public. Meetings are broken up, participants beaten, and even people’s representatives (MP’s) intimidated, accused of being “communists”, in a country where Communism is still banned by the regime.

The progressive and extremely popular Jakarta governor, Ahok, first lost elections and was then put on trial and thrown into jail for “insulting Islam”, clearly fabricated charges. His main sin – cleaning Jakarta’s polluted rivers, constructing a public transportation network, and improving the lives of ordinary people. That was clearly ‘un-Islamic’, at least from the point of view of Wahhabism and the Western global regime.

Radical Indonesian Islam is now feared. It goes unchallenged. It is gaining ground, as almost no one would dare to openly criticize it. It will soon overwhelm and suppress the entire society.

And in the West ‘political correctness’ is used. It is lately simply ‘impolite’ to criticize Indonesian or even the Saudi form of ‘Islam’, out of ‘respect’ for the people and their ‘culture’. In reality, it is not the Saudi or Indonesian people who get ‘protected’ – it is the West and its imperialist policies; policies and manipulations that are used against both the people and the essence of Muslim religion.

*

While the Wahhabi/Western dogma is getting stronger and stronger, what is left of the Indonesian forests is burning. The country is literally being plundered by the Western multi-national companies and by its local corrupt elites.

Religions, the Indonesian fascist regime and Western imperialism are marching forward, hand in hand. But forward – where? Most likely towards the total collapse of the Indonesian state. Towards the misery that will come soon, when everything is logged out and mined out.

It is the same, as when Wahhabism used to march hand in hand with the British imperialists and plunderers. Except that the Saudis found their huge oil fields, plenty of oil to sustain themselves (or at least their elites and the middle class, as the poor still live in misery there) and their bizarre, British-inspired and sponsored interpretation of Islam.

Indonesia and other countries that have fallen victims to this dogma are not and will not be so ‘lucky’.

It is lovely that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke publicly and clarified the situation. But who will listen?

For the Indonesian people, his statements came too late. They did not open many eyes, caused no uprising, no revolution. To understand what he said would require at least some basic knowledge of both the local, and world history, and at least some ability to think logically. All this is lacking, desperately, in the countries that have found themselves squashed by the destructive imperialist embrace.

The former President of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, was correct: “If God would come and say… people would not follow God…”

Indonesia will continue following Mr. Wahab, and the capitalist dogma and the Western imperialists who ‘arranged it all’. They will do it for years to come, feeling righteous, blasting old North American tunes in order to fill the silence, in order not to think and not to question what is happening around them. There will be no doubts. There will be no change, no awakening and no revolution.

Until the last tree falls, until the last river and stream gets poisoned, until there is nothing left for the people. Until there is total, absolute submission: until everything is burned down, black and grey. Maybe then, few tiny, humble roots of awakening and resistance would begin to grow.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

What Koreas Need Isn't Canada's Mythological Self-Regard

Canada, the Korean Dispute and Foreign Policy Mythology

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice


May 26th, 2018

Repeat after me: Canada is seldom a force for good in the world, Canada is seldom a force for good in the world.

Thomas Walkom’s “Canada should board Korean peace train” is yet another example of how the progressive end of the dominant media has been seduced by Canadian foreign policy mythology.

The leftist Toronto Star columnist offers an astute analysis of what’s driving rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula.

He points out that the two Koreas are moving the process forward and that Pyongyang believes “complete denuclearization” of the Peninsula includes the US forces in the region aiming nuclear weapons at it.

Former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel
Peace Prize Laureate, Lester B. Pearson

But, Walkom’s column is cloaked in naivety about Canada’s role in the geopolitical hotspot.

He ignores the international summit Ottawa and Washington organized in January to promote sanctions on North Korea. In a highly belligerent move, the countries invited to the conference in Vancouver were those that fought against North Korea in the early 1950s conflict.

We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea,” General Curtis LeMay, head of US air command during the fighting, explained three decades later. 
“Over a period of three years or so, we killed off … twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure.”

Continuing its aggressive diplomatic posture, Chrystia Freeland brought up North Korea at the Munich Security Conference in Germany in February and the next month Canada’s foreign minister agreed with her Japanese counterpart to send a “strong message” to Pyongyang at the upcoming Group of Seven meetings.

(During another dreadful chapter in Korean history Canada supplied war materials to the Japanese army that occupied Korea before World War II.)


In a subsequent get together, Freeland and Japanese officials pledged to maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea. After “welcoming South Korea’s critical role in maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea” in March, Freeland responded gingerly to Seoul and Pyongyang’s joint announcement last month to seek a formal end to the Korean War and rid the Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

“We all need to be careful and not assume anything,” said Freeland.

Walkom also ignores the Canadian Forces currently seeking to blockade North Korea. Three weeks ago Ottawa announced it was a sending a CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft and 40 military personnel to a US base in Japan to join British, Australian and US forces monitoring efforts to evade UN sanctions. Earlier in the year a Vancouver Island based submarine was sent across the pond partly to bolster the campaign to isolate North Korea.

Canadians are also part of the UN military mission in Korea. The first non-US general to hold the post since the command was created in 1950, Canadian Lieutenant General Wayne Eyre was recently appointed deputy commander of the UN force stationed there.

(To be fair, Walkom hints at Ottawa’s belligerence, noting that Canada is “still technically at war with North Korea” and is among countries that “traditionally take their cue from the U.S.”)


In my forthcoming book Left, RightMarching to the Beat of Imperial Canada I discuss how leftist intellectuals concede a great deal to the foreign policy establishment’s outlook. Laziness is a simple, though not unimportant, reason why these writers mythologize Canadian foreign policy. Buried amidst a mass of state and corporate generated apologetics, critical information about Canada’s role in the world takes more effort to uncover. And the extra work is often bad for one’s career.

A thorough investigation uncovers information tough to square with the narrow spectrum of opinion permitted in the dominant media. It’s nearly impossible to survive if you say Canadian foreign policy has always been self-serving/elite-driven or that no government has come close to reflecting their self-professed ideals on the international stage. Almost everyone with a substantial platform to comment sees little problem with Canadian power, finding it expedient to assume/imply Canada’s international aims are noble.

Rather than a story titled “Canada should board Korean peace train”, Walkom should have written about how “Canada must step off the belligerence bus”. His conscious or unconscious naivety regarding Canada’s role in Korea is part of a mainstream left trend that partly explains why Canadians overwhelmingly believe this country is a benevolent international actor despite a long history of supporting empire and advancing Canadian corporate interests abroad.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation .
Read other articles by Yves.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Palestine's Trail of Tears

Palestinians - 70 Years of Suffering

by Eric Margolis


May 26, 2018

To date, 62 Palestinians have been shot dead in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army and over 5,500 wounded by gunfire. Their crime: protesting the loss of their ancestral homes in the West Bank.

Here was an example of Gandhi-style passive resistance that failed. Israeli sniper teams just fired at will at the protesters, some of who were throwing rocks or firing sling shots.

High concentration tear gas was dumped by drones on the demonstrators.

Israel claimed it was killing ‘terrorists.’

The United States, Israel’s patron and financier, reveled in the move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move seen by Bible Belt religious fundamentalists as a key step to the return of the Christian Messiah and Armageddon. The rest of us, Jews included, are fated to be burned alive.

The American Republicans, who have become a far-right theocratic party, cheered this good news. The Trump administration, by now an extension of Israel’s hard right Likud Party, was cock-a-hoop.

There was no joy in Gaza. This miserable, squalid human garbage dump is a giant open-air prison packed with 2 million Palestinian refugees driven from the newly created state of Israel in 1948. Israel and its close ally Egypt keep Gaza bottled up on its land and sea borders. Palestinians are only allowed to fish along the shore. Coastal gas and oil reserves have been expropriated by Israel and Egypt.

Gaza’s two million people subsist on the edge of starvation. Israel openly boasts that it allows just enough food into the enclave to prevent outright starvation. Chemicals to treat water are banned. Electricity runs only a few hours daily because the power plant was bombed by Israel’s US-supplied air force. Hospitals have almost no medicines. In short, wartime conditions in the open-air prison. Even the wretched animals in Gaza zoo are starving.

The intensive punishment of Gaza, a crime under international law, began after its people voted in a free election for the Hamas movement over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which is more or less run by Israel and the United States. Israel helped found Hamas in 1987, but then sought, with the US, to destroy the organization, branding it ‘terrorist.’

Israel has extensively used US-supplied arms and money to fight Hamas in Gaza, a clear violation of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 that bars the use of American weapons against civilian populations.

The question remains, where did all the Palestinians come from? Israel long claimed there were no such people, or a made-up nationality. This was a pretty rich claim coming from Israelis, many of whom hailed from Russia, Poland and Eastern Europe and who had assumed biblical identities and asserted a direct link to the Hebrews who had lived two thousand years earlier in the Levant.

When Israel was created by the US and UN (with Soviet support) in 1948, from 750,000 to one million native Palestinians were driven from their ancestral home at gunpoint or panicked to flight by massacres and ethnic cleansing. Their villages were bulldozed.

When Israel conquered and annexed the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, another 500,000 Palestinians were made refugees. Some 50,000-250,000 Syrians were driven by Israel from the strategic Golan Heights. Bedouins were driven from Israel’s Negev Desert.

By our era, the number of homeless Palestinians has grown to 5 million refugees helped by the UN and at least another million scattered about the Mideast. The actual number could reach as high as 8-9 million thanks to the Palestinian’s high birth rate and strong family values.

Half of Jordan’s people are Palestinian refugees. Kuwait had 400,000 Palestinians until they were expelled in 2002-03 after their leader, Yasser Arafat, foolishly backed claims by Saddam Hussein that he was occupying Kuwait in order to trade it for a Palestinian state. This was the biggest Palestinian expulsion since 1948. Egypt’s brutal dictator, Gen. al-Sisi, is now the biggest persecutor of Palestinians after Israel, keeping them locked away in the Gaza prison.

The Arab states have done very little for the Palestinians save slogans and hot air. The Saudis are now in cahoots with Israel to repress the Palestinians lest they spread modern secular ideas in the medieval Mideast. Interestingly, some of the most extreme Palestinians, like George Habash, were Arab Christians. Palestinians remain some of the best educated and most commercial of the Mideast’s peoples. For a long while they ran most of the Gulf Emirates until replaced by Indians.

‘Sand in the eye of the Mideast’ is what I called this oppressed people without a home. Their plight could be greatly eased by the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank. But this would interfere with plans for Israel’s right-wing government for planned expansion. So, the future for Palestinians is bleak.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2018

Israeli Courts OK Gaza Fence Shooting

Israeli snipers may be encouraged to shoot & kill protesters by court’s decision–Palestinian NGO

by RT


May 26, 2018

Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld the military’s use of live ammunition against protesters in Gaza, ruling that lethal force is justified because the protesters are part of an “armed conflict” between Israel and Hamas.



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Resurrection: Koreas Will Save Themselves

After Trump Cancels Summit, Koreas Try To Save It (Pt. 1/2)

by TRNN


May 25, 2018

After cancelling his June 12th summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump now says talks are still possible. We speak to journalist Tim Shorrock about North Korea’s overlooked and misunderstood concerns and how Mike Pence and John Bolton stand in the way of peace.


Tim Shorrock, is a correspondent for the Nation, whose blog Dispatch Korea is available at TimShorrock.com.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Were Korea Talks Born to Die?

Trump-Jong Un Meeting Cancelled, But Can the Talks Survive?

by TRNN


May 24, 2018

Denuclearization, Libyan model, military exercises, and criticism in South Korea, we discuss it all with columnist James Dorsey, in Singapore.


 

BC Supremes Squash Squamish on Kinder Morgan Non-Consultation Claim

Wilderness Committee supports Squamish Nation’s rights to protect their homeland

by Wilderness Committee


May 24, 2018

VANCOUVER - The Wilderness Committee is disappointed with the B.C. Supreme Court decision on Squamish vs British Columbia, over the Kinder Morgan pipeline, announced today.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled the provincial government’s consultation with the Squamish Nation before it issued permits for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion was adequate. The judge pointed out the federal government has more jurisdiction and a greater responsibility to consult and that process is still under review at the Federal Court of Appeal.

“We look forward to the day Indigenous rights are fully recognized and protected in B.C. and Canada,” said Wilderness Committee Co-Executive Director Joe Foy.

“We are of course disappointed that today’s court ruling did not protect Squamish Nation’s right to protect their homeland from this dirty pipeline project. But we note that the fight to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline is far from over.”

The Squamish Nation is one of five nations awaiting the results of their challenge against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the Federal Court of Appeal, which is one of more than a dozen outstanding court cases pertaining to the pipeline expansion.

“The days of forcing megaprojects through without consent from Indigenous nations are over,” said Wilderness Committee Vancouver Island Campaigner Torrance Coste.

“There can be no reconciliation in this country until the right of consent is respected, and we stand in solidarity with the Squamish and other nations fighting for their territories and their rights to self-determination.”

–30–

For Immediate Release

For more information, please contact:

Joe Foy | Co-Executive Director
joe@wildernesscommittee.org

Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner
torrance@wildernesscommittee.org

Related Campaign:
Stop Kinder Morgan's Tar Sands Pipeline

Democracy As Real As You Believe It

The Simulation of Democracy

by CJ Hopkins - CounterPunch 


May 23, 2018

One of the most complicated and frustrating aspects of operating a global capitalist empire is maintaining the fiction that it doesn’t exist. Virtually every action you take has to be carefully recontextualized or otherwise spun for public consumption.

Every time you want to bomb or invade some country to further your interests, you have to mount a whole PR campaign. You can’t even appoint a sadistic torture freak to run your own coup-fomenting agency, or shoot a few thousand unarmed people you’ve imprisoned in a de facto ghetto, without having to do a big song and dance about “defending democracy” and “democratic values.”

Naked despotism is so much simpler, not to mention more emotionally gratifying. Ruling an empire as a godlike dictator means never having to say you’re sorry. You can torture and kill anyone you want, and conquer and exploit whichever countries you want, without having to explain yourself to anyone.

Also, you get to have your humongous likeness muraled onto the walls of buildings, make people swear allegiance to you, and all that other cool dictator stuff.

Global capitalists do not have this luxury. Generating the simulation of democracy that most Western consumers desperately need in order to be able to pretend to believe that they are not just smoothly-functioning cogs in the machinery of a murderous global empire managed by a class of obscenely wealthy and powerful international elites to whom their lives mean exactly nothing, although extremely expensive and time-consuming, is essential to maintaining their monopoly on power. Having conditioned most Westerners into believing they are “free,” and not just glorified peasants with gadgets, the global capitalist ruling classes have no choice but to keep up this fiction. Without it, their empire would fall apart at the seams.

This is the devil’s bargain modern capitalism made back in the 18th Century. In order to wrest power from the feudal aristocracies that had dominated the West throughout the Middle Ages, the bourgeoisie needed to sell the concept of “democracy” to the unwashed masses, who they needed both to staff their factories and, in some cases, to fight revolutionary wars, or depose and publicly guillotine monarchs. All that gobbledegook about taxes, tariffs, and the unwieldy structure of the feudal system was not the easiest sell to the peasantry. “Liberty” and “equality” went over much better. So “democracy” became their rallying cry, and, eventually, the official narrative of capitalism. The global capitalist ruling classes have been stuck with “democracy” ever since, or, more accurately, with the simulation of democracy.

The purpose of this simulation of democracy is not to generate fake democracy and pass it off as real democracy. Its purpose is to generate the concept of democracy, the only form in which democracy exists. It does this by casting a magic spell (which I’ll do my best to demystify in a moment) that deceives us into perceiving the capitalist marketplace we Westerners inhabit, not as a market, but as a society. An essentially democratic society. Not a fully fledged democratic society, but a society progressing toward “democracy” … which it is, and simultaneously isn’t.

Obviously, life under global capitalism is more democratic than under feudal despotism, not to mention more comfortable and entertaining. Capitalism isn’t “evil” or “bad.” It’s a machine. Its fundamental function is to eliminate any and all despotic values and replace them with a single value, i.e., exchange value, determined by the market. This despotic-value-decoding machine is what freed us from the tyranny of kings and priests, which it did by subjecting us to the tyranny of capitalists and the meaningless value of the so-called free market, wherein everything is just another commodity … toothpaste, cell phones, healthcare, food, education, cosmetics, et cetera. Despite that, only an idiot would argue that capitalism is not preferable to despotism, or that it hasn’t increased our measure of freedom. So, yes, we have evolved toward democracy, if we’re comparing modern capitalism to medieval feudalism.

The problem is that capitalism is never going to lead to actual democracy (i.e., government by and for the people). This is never going to happen. In fact, capitalism has already reached the limits of the freedom it can safely offer us. This freedom grants us the ability to make an ever-expanding variety of choices … none of which have much to do with democracy. For example, Western consumers are free to work for whatever corporation they want, and to buy whatever products they want, and to assume as much debt as the market will allow to purchase a home wherever they want, and to worship whichever gods they want (as long as they conform their behavior to the values of capitalism and not their religion), and men can transform themselves into women, and white people can deem themselves African Americans, or Native Americans, or whatever they want, and anyone can mock or insult the President or the Queen of England on Facebook and Twitter, none of which freedoms were even imaginable, much less possible, under feudal despotism.

But this is as far as our “freedom” goes. The global capitalist ruling classes are never going to allow us to govern ourselves, not in any meaningful way. In fact, since the mid-1970s, they’ve been systematically dismantling the framework of social democracy throughout the West, and otherwise relentlessly privatizing everything. They’ve been doing this more slowly in Europe, where social democracy is more entrenched, but, make no mistake, American “society” is the model for our dystopian future. The ruling classes and their debt-enslaved servants, protected from the desperate masses by squads of hyper-militarized police, medicated in their sanitized enclaves, watching Westworld on Amazon Prime as their shares in private prisons rise and the forces of democracy defend their freedom by slaughtering men, women, and children in some faraway country they can’t find on a map, and would never visit on vacation anyway … this is where the USA already is, and where the rest of the West is headed.

Which is why it is absolutely crucial to maintain the simulation of democracy, and the fiction that we’re still living in a world where major geopolitical events are determined by sovereign nations and their leaders, rather than by global corporations and a class of supranational elites whose primary allegiance is to global capitalism, rather than to any specific nation, much less to the actual people who live there. The global capitalist ruling classes need the masses in the West to believe that they live in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and so on, and not in a global marketplace. Because, if it’s all one global marketplace, with one big global labor force (which global corporations can exploit with impunity), and if it’s one big global financial system (where the economies of supposed adversaries like China and the United States, or the European Union and Russia, are almost totally interdependent), then there is no United States of America, no United Kingdom, no France, no Germany … or not as we’re conditioned to perceive them. There is only the global capitalist empire, divided into “national” market territories, each performing slightly different administrative functions within the empire … and those territories that have not yet surrendered their sovereignty and been absorbed into it. I think you know which those territories are.

But getting back to the simulation of democracy (the purpose of which is to prevent us from perceiving the world as I just suggested above), how that works is, we are all conditioned to believe we are living in these imperfect democracies, which are inexorably evolving toward “real” democracy but just haven’t managed to get there quite yet.

“Real” being the key word here, because there is no such thing as real democracy. There never has been, except among relatively small and homogenous groups of people.

Like Baudrillard’s Disneyland, “Western democracy” is presented to us as “imperfect” or “unfinished” (in other words, as a replica of “real democracy”) in order to convince us that there exists such a thing as “real democracy,” which we will achieve … someday.

This is how simulations work. The replica does not exist to deceive us into believing it is the “real” thing. It exists to convince us that there is a “real” thing. In essence, it invokes the “real” thing by pretending to be a copy of it. Just as the images of God in church invoke the “god” of which they are copies (if only in the minds of the faithful), our imperfect replica of democracy invokes the concept of “real democracy” (which does not exist, and has never existed, beyond the level of tribes and bands).

This is, of course, ceremonial magic … but then so is everything else, really. Take out a twenty dollar bill, or a twenty Euro note, or your driver’s license. They are utterly valueless, except as symbols, but no less powerful for being just symbols. Or look at some supposedly solid object under an electron microscope. Try this with a tablespoon. As that bald kid in The Matrix put it, you will “realize that there is no spoon” … or, rather, that there is only the spoon we’ve created by believing that there is a spoon.

Look, I don’t mean to get all spooky. What that kid (among various others throughout history) was trying to get us to understand is that we create reality, collectively, with symbols … or we allow reality to be created for us. Our collective reality is also our religion, in that we live our lives and raise our children according to its precepts and values, regardless of whatever other rituals we may or may not engage in on the weekend. Western consumers, no matter whether nominally Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, or of any other faith, live their lives and raise their children according to the values and rules of capitalism. Capitalism is our religion. Like every religion, it has a cosmology.

In the cosmology of global capitalism, “democracy” is capitalist heaven. We hear it preached about throughout our lives, we’re surrounded by graven images of it, but we don’t get to see it until we’re dead. Attempting to storm its pearly gates, or to create the Kingdom of Democracy on Earth, is heresy, and is punishable by death. Denying its existence is blasphemy, for which the punishment is excommunication, and consignment to the City of Dis, where the lost souls shout back and forth at each other across the lower depths of the Internet, their infernal voices unheard by the faithful … but, hey, don’t take the word of an apostate like me. Go ahead, try it, and see what happens.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.
More articles by: CJ Hopkins

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Apartheid Model Failing Israel

Why the Emerging Apartheid State in Israel-Palestine is Not Sustainable 

by Jeff Warner/Victor Rothman - CounterPunch


May 24, 2018 
 
The powerful juxtaposition of the U.S. delegation in Jerusalem on May 14 opening up the new U.S. Embassy while Israeli snipers picked off and killed 61 Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza again brings the Israel-Palestinian crisis to everyone’s attention. To better understand these two connected events – totally at odds with each other – let’s assess the Israeli government’s long-term goals, Netanyahu’s tactics to reach these goals, and why these goals and tactics are built on an unsustainable house of cards.

Photo: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC BY 2.0

The Strategic Goal: Permanent Occupation


According to many distinguished social scientists, such as Professors Ran Greenstein, Richard Falk, Virginia Tilly,Gershon Shafrir, Yoav Peled, and Andy Clarno, under Netanyahu’s leadership, the Israeli government is making its post-1967 occupations of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem permanent.

This means that Israel’s systematic construction of “facts on the ground” effectively precludes a two-state resolution of this conflict. It also results in the incremental creation of an apartheid state. While Israel still brands itself a democracy, it is actually an ethnocracy. Palestinians residing within its 1948-1967 borders are second-class citizens, while Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank live under various forms of military occupation. As for those in Gaza, these Palestinians are caged in by an indirect military occupation reinforced by a permanent siege.

Even some prominent Israeli politicians have come to the same apartheid conclusion, such as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barack. According to Barack, “As long as in the territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Israel’s Primary Tactics for Constructing an Apartheid State


+ Cultivating the United States government as its foremost foreign patron, increasingly eschewing Democrats, while aligning itself with the Trump wing of the Republican Party and Islamophobic Christian fundamentalists.

+ Relying on the intense lobbying by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, buttressed by the likes of gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson and fawning son-in-law Jared Kushner.

+ Depending on the U.S. government to provide Israel with $4 billion in annual military aid, use its veto power at the UN Security Council to protect Israel from international sanctions, and allow $1 billion in IRS tax-exempt private philanthropy to back settlers.

+ Soliciting political support from xenophobic regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary, Poland, Georgia, and Russia.

+ Selling enormous quantities of weapons to two emerging superpowers, China and India.

+ Circumventing any direct negotiations with Palestinians, instead cultivating an inside-out strategy based on an anti-Iran alliance with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

+ Constructing Jewish-only neighborhoods, town, and cities, – euphemistically called settlements – in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

+ Moving Israeli Jews into these heavily fortified, totally segregated neighborhoods, town, and cities, now numbering about 600,000 people.

+ Erasing all former 1948-67 state boundaries, called the Green Line, from Israeli maps, media reports, and textbooks, while using the Biblical terms, Judea and Samaria, for these occupied Palestinian territories.

+ Building a network of restricted, Israeli-only highways to link these towns and cities to pre-1967 Israel.

+ Maintaining direct and indirect military occupation over these conquered territories.

+ Dividing Gaza from the West Bank by forming two rival Palestinian political authorities, one of which, the Palestinian Authority, has numerous police and intelligence agencies founded, funded, and trained by the United States.

+ Establishing an extensive public relations effort, dubbed hasbarah in Hebrew, to counter criticisms of Israel with labels of anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred. Through the Israeli government’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, it also brands opponents, even those who turn to Gandhian tactics, like Gazans, as terrorists.

+ Offering free political junkets to Israel for foreign reporters, public officials, and police chiefs.

+ Offering young adults from the Jewish diaspora free propaganda-filled trips to Israel through Birthright.

+ Lumping all Arab nations together, and then claiming they are universally anti-Israel, harboring deep and often hidden Jew-hatred – even though Egypt, Jordan, and the PLO have fully honored their official peace treaties with Israel.

+ Ignoring repeated peace proposals from the entire Arab world over the past 70 years, including the Saudi-initiated Arab Peace Initiative. This proposal is fully supported by the Arab League and non-Arab Muslim countries, including Iran. If Israel agreed to this initiative, the resulting treaties would grant it full diplomatic recognition in exchange for compliance with United Nations land-for-peace resolutions, 224 and 338.

+ Unleashing death squads, snipers, and heavily armed attacks, like Cast Lead, on Palestinians who oppose long-term Israeli military occupation.

+ Garnering strong support from the Israeli Jewish public through intense nationalism based on Biblical quotations, racism against Arabs, Islamophobia, xenophobia against Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers, and a procession of alleged existential threats, such as Iran, Palestinian protests, and the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)

Apartheid Built on a House of Cards


The most important questions going forward are:

How long can the Israeli government successfully exercise these tactics?

Can these tactics sustain a long-lived apartheid state?

Many obstacles lie in the way, and like a wooden block game, one or more of Israel’s tactics could crash to the ground, undermining the Israeli government’s efforts to maintain an apartheid state. The following scenarios make this clear:

The United States is a declining global power.


Its hegemonic role in the Middle East is continually slipping, while the Israeli government’s demands for U.S. support continue to grow. More specifically, Iran freed itself of U.S. domination nearly 40 years ago, while the U.S. government’s efforts to woo Syria’s Assad totally failed. Meanwhile, Turkey is withdrawing its ambassador from the United States and moving closer to Russia. As for Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan, U.S. efforts to topple their regimes resulted in weak or totally failed states with new, spreading Jihadist militias. Other authoritarian U.S. allies, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, present their own problems. Egypt has been unable to quell a long-term ISIS insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. As for Saudi Arabia, it has successfully curried the Trump administration’s favor by buying billions of U.S. weapons, but it has not demonstrated any military capacity to use them, other than participating in deadly U.S.-managed bombing forays over nearby Yemen.

If or when a U.S. attack on Iran finally happens, it will trigger a predictable global economic crisis and long-term war of attrition radiating out from the Persian Gulf in all directions. These events could transform power relationships among the large powers competing for position in the Middle East, while also generating new political forces within each country, similar to the Arab Spring. As a result, the fragile alliances between the U.S. and its remaining client states could shatter. By castings it long-fate with the only global power willing to support permanent occupation and apartheid, Israeli will have painted itself into a political corner.

Loss of Fear.


During the Great March of Return, Palestinians in Gaza seem to have lost their fear of deadly Israeli military force. This is no different from parallel developments in other countries, where authoritarian regimes crumpled when oppressed groups no longer ran from their gunfire. This already happened in two other U.S.-supported regimes: South Africa and Iran. In the latter case the Shah’s forces slaughtered hundreds of protesters at Teheran’s Jaleh Square in 1978, but this only emboldened the regime’s opponents. Shortly afterward the Shah had to flee for his life. History suggests that Gazan-style protests, if repeated, will also work in the Palestinian’s favor. In this regard, Prof. Richard Falk points out that in most cases when a colonized people rose up, they eventually prevailed.

Indirect Military Occupation.


The Israeli strategy of contracting out its military occupation to the U.S.- and EU-subsidized Palestinian Authority (PA) could easily falter. The PA has little respect on the West Bank, and Republican lawmakers have further undermined its authority by slashing U.S. aid and reducing funding for the UN refugee agencies operating schools and clinics in the West Bank and Gaza.

Christian Fundamentalists.


The Israeli government’s tactic of securing the Trump Administration’s support for its long-term occupation faces many barriers. Donald Trump is only supported by a third of the U.S. population, and even less within the American Jewish community. More importantly, Trump and Netanyahu’s courting of Christian fundamentalists contains the seeds of its own self-destruction because it is anathema to most American Jews. While Evangelical fundamentalist interpretations of Biblical prophesy support Israeli domination over Palestinians, it also calls for the mass conversion of Jews to Christianity in order to vanquish the anti-Christ and usher in a messianic era. Could this bizarre and opportunistic relationship backfire because it drives a wedge between Israel and it mainstream supporters within American Jewry and the U.S. foreign policy establishment? Absolutely.

In Jerusalem the Trump administration brought this disconnect to the surface when it chose two Dallas-based mega-church ministers to present the embassy ceremony’s opening and closing prayers. John Hagge and Robert Jeffries are notorious for their anti-Jewish pronouncements, with Jeffries also frequently voicing his antipathy to Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, other non-Christian religions, and gays. According to Ha’Aretz columnist Chemi Shalev, this “Messianic U.S.-Israel axis showcased at the Jerusalem Embassy ceremony is a gut-punch for most American Jews.”

Changes in the Democratic Party.


Considering the Trump and Netanyahu administrations’ animosity to the Democratic Party, there is no guarantee that carte blanche U.S. government support for Israeli apartheid will continue unabated after the U.S. Presidential elections of 2020 or 2024. In fact, recent public opinion polls already reveal deep political cleavages among Democrats when asked about their support for the Israeli government’s policies. When Democrats eventually regain control of the White House and Congress, U.S. policies regarding Israel would be in flux and likely subject to major changes.

Alliance with Saudi Arabia.


Israeli’s new inside-out strategy of dodging Palestinian negotiators and instead wooing Saudi Arabia’s autocrats, as well as its Jihadist proxies in Syria, means that Israel offers aid to Al Nusra, an Al Qaeda offshoot. Considering the long antipathy of such zealous Muslim groups to Israel, allying with them because they are the enemies of Israel’s enemies – Hezbollah and Iran – is fraught with danger. If regime change succeeds in Syria, these Sunni religious extremists could become a Syrian ruling party whose hostility to Israel goes far beyond Shiite Iran’s verbosity.

Economic Inequality.


Israel suffers from extreme economic inequality compared to other industrialized countries, and it is getting worse. Anyone who has visited Israel recently has heard locals complain about outright poverty, low wages, and the high cost of living, especially housing. While the Israeli government has taken advantage of this situation by offering subsidized apartments to Jewish Israelis willing to live in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in the long run its key tools to placate the Israeli public’s economic plight are religion and exclusive nationalism. At some point, these ploys may not be sufficient to paper over Israel’s growing class divide.

Change Will Come Quickly


When, not if, this house of cards begins its collapse, change will quickly appear. Some liberal Israelis and diaspora Jews anticipate that this crisis will finally usher a two-state resolution of the conflict, especially if the U.S. is replaced by another hegemon, such as China or Russia. More progressive Israeli and Palestinian groups, such as the new One Democratic State movement, have come to a different conclusion. They argue that a two-state solution is no longer possible because of Israeli “facts on the ground.” For them the only option is transforming an apartheid state into a binational state, such as Belgium or Canada. This is in contrast to other one state advocacy groups, which propose a one-person / one-vote state to supplant Israel and it occupied Palestinian territories.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that assures these outcomes. Considering that the collapse of an apartheid state would coincide with regional or even global warfare, other scenarios, some worse and some better, could easily remake the entire Middle East, including Israel and Palestine.

Jeff Warner is the Action Coordinator of LA Jews for Peace.
Victor Rothman is a California-based policy analyst. Please send any comments or questions to info@lajewsforpeace.org.
 
More articles by: Jeff Warner – Victor Rothman

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