The rest of the world thinks the US media’s Trump-Russia collusion allegation is a “joke” given the history of the US in the last 135 years. If we are worried about foreign interference, Israel already influences more of American politics than Russia could ever hope to. Democracy Now! interview with Noam Chomsky:
“Take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke.”
“First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support,” he said.
“Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done,” Chomsky said.
“I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies—what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015. Did Putin come to give an address to the joint sessions of Congress trying to—calling on them to reverse U.S. policy, without even informing the president?”
“And that’s just a tiny bit of this overwhelming influence.”
“I must say I don’t pay much attention to television,” he said about the news media’s coverage of Russia in general. “So I don’t know a great deal about it. But, in general, I think the media—first of all, Fox News is, by now, basically a joke. It’s, as you said, state media. The other media, I think, are focusing on issues which are pretty marginal. There are much more serious issues that are being put to the side.”
Chomsky also said the president is “perfectly right when he says we should have better relations with Russia. Being dragged through the mud for that is outlandish.”
“Russia shouldn’t refuse to deal with the United States because the U.S. carried out the worst crime of the century, in the invasion of Iraq, much worse than anything Russia has done. But they shouldn’t refuse to deal with us for that reason, and we shouldn’t refuse to deal with them for whatever infractions they may have carried out, which certainly exist. This is just absurd,” he said.
“Instead, what’s being—there is a focus on what I believe are marginalia.”
by Miko Peled September 15, 2018
In the months leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the U.S. has colluded with Israel in a string of policies and decisions that completely undermine the legitimacy of the agreement, not to mention Palestinian claims to justice, freedom, and ultimately peace.
As these policies unfold, one cannot help recalling the words of Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, who said talking with the Israelis is “a conversation between the sword and the neck.”
There is a clear common thread that binds several of the U.S. policies enacted by President Donald Trump since last December. Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; pulling out of the Iran agreement; defunding UNRWA, and closing the PLO mission in DC all satisfy the objectives of the Israeli government while not benefiting the United States in the least.
One might imagine the United States is executing Israel’s policy, reading as it were from a menu that was provided by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Trump administration is every Israeli prime minister’s dream.
Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was reckless, dangerous, and absurd. The occupation and annexation of Jerusalem by Israel was in violation of UN resolution 181 from November 1947, which states in “Part III, City of Jerusalem:”
The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.”
Resolution 194 from December 1948 — in other words, more than a year after Resolution 181 was passed and the eastern half of Jerusalem was occupied and subjected to a total full ethnic cleansing, where not one Palestinian was permitted to remain — reiterates:
8 | Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu’fat, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control …
For this reason, all diplomatic missions to Israel are situated in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. The diplomatic missions in Jerusalem mostly pre-date the establishment of the State of Israel and are considered sovereign and independent of their countries’ embassies in Tel Aviv. Even the U.S. consulate until recently reported directly to Washington, and the consul general was in fact an ambassador.
This was not unlike placing the U.S. embassy to France in Berlin and — according to sources I spoke to at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem — now that the ambassador’s office has moved to Jerusalem, the place is in a state of confusion and it is not at all clear who is responsible for what.
In addition to all of the above, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel legitimizes the crime of ethnic cleansing and destruction which Israel has perpetrated in Jerusalem since 1948. This move did not benefit the U.S. in any way, but it boosted Benjamin Netanyahu’s political power, and can be viewed as nothing less than a personal political gift from the president of the United States to Netanyahu.
State Department looking into legality of accepting private donation from GOP mega-donor to help cover $500 million price tag to relocate diplomatic mission.
It’s not clear if there is any precedent, nor whether government lawyers would give the green light to accept Adelson’s or anyone else’s donations.
Kathy Bethany, the former cost management director for the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, said she couldn’t recall the US government ever accepting donations to build embassies during her tenure, which ended in 2014.
“I don’t know how well that would work,” Bethany said. “Would we be beholden to putting their name on the building? I’ve never heard of that.”
There are several ways, in theory, that it could work. Citizens could cut a general check to the US Treasury and unofficially “earmark” their dollars as being intended to offset the embassy’s cost.
The State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual also lays out a formal process for accepting gifts, including real estate, requiring a rigorous review to ensure the gift “would not give the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Adelson is a major Netanyahu supporter and finances Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu newspaper distributed free throughout Israel. Adelson donated $5 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and is the Republican Party’s biggest donor having paid $55.7 million thus far in 2018.
Israel (and Netanyahu in particular), have been against the nuclear deal with Iran from the very beginning. Needing a diversion from its own war crimes and violations of international law, Israel for many years pointed to Iran as a threat to itself and the rest of the world.
This was a point of serious disagreement between the Obama administration and Israel. Then Donald Trump put the disagreement to rest and the US withdrew from the agreement.
According to a piece in Rand.com, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement “despite a lack of evidence Iran is violating the agreement. To the contrary, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s compliance numerous times.”
The article continues, “the implications of this decision could be disastrous for the Middle East under any conceivable scenario.”
A piece in the British Independent bluntly claims:
The president’s foreign policy is marked by a significant ratcheting of tensions with Iran, driven by his administration’s noted friendliness towards Israel, which opposes the Iran nuclear deal.”
“Since Implementation Day, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.” The report states:
Since 16 January, 2016 [JCPOA Implementation Day], the Agency has verified and monitored Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments in accordance with the modalities set out in the JCPOA.”
The report states clearly Iran was and continues to be compliant in all areas of the agreement. All the other countries that are signatories to the agreement remain committed to it, and they all insisted that a U.S. withdrawal was a mistake.
Only one person insisted the US must withdraw, and that is Benjamin Netanyahu. He is the one person whose claims President Trump decided to accept. Once again, the United States had nothing to gain and everything to lose from the withdrawal, and once again, Netanyahu personally gained political strength as the sole voice to which the president of the United States listens.
The United States can see no benefit whatsoever in denying United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) funding; yet this is what the Trump administration decided to do. The very agency responsible for providing relief, albeit inadequate, to the refugees of Palestine was receiving $300 million per year, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of relief and of course in terms of the US government’s total budget.
In an open letter to Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff, dated September 1, 2018, Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General, writes:
The need for humanitarian action … in the case of Palestine refugees, was caused by forced displacement, dispossession, loss of homes and livelihoods, as well as by statelessness and occupation. … The undeniable fact remains they have rights under international law and represent a community of 5.4 million men, women, and children who simply cannot be wished away.”
“The attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is disingenuous at best,” the commissioner said, responding to claims made by Netanyahu “UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees.”
Netanyahu also stated UNRWA “perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return,’” which the state of Israel fears — and therefore, according to Netanyahu, “UNRWA must disappear.”
According to The New York Times, this move was pushed hard by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, “as part of a plan to compel Palestinian politicians to drop demands for many of those refugees to return.” The right of the refugees to return is enshrined in UN Resolution 194, and one wonders why the U.S. should object to Palestinian demand for return of the refugees to their homes?
Once again this is a gift to Netanyahu, who wants to see the refugee issue disappear.
The bill, combined with even more aid given to Israeli missile defense, would give $38 billion to Israel over the next ten years, roughly equivalent to $23,000 for every Jewish family living in Israel over the next decade.
The $3.3 billion military aid package was only one of the bills passed by the House that is set to benefit Israel. Another bill, which has also been largely overlooked by the media, would seek to create a special government envoy tasked with monitoring “anti-Semitism” and criticism of Israel worldwide.
According to the text of the bill – officially titled the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017” – the envoy would “serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries,” and have the rank of ambassador. Only two members of the House voted against the bill: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA).
While an effort to combat “anti-Semitism” is a noble cause, the recent endorsement of a controversial definition of the term by Congress, which defines certain criticisms of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic, makes it likely any envoy appointed to this position would be focused on clamping down on domestic and international criticisms of the Israeli government.
Given the potential dangers such a position could pose to free speech, not just in the US but abroad, it is surprising this bill’s passage by an overwhelming majority received next to no media attention. Yet, in light of the media blackout also surrounding the imminent approval of the US’ massive aid package to the Israeli military, it is perhaps not so surprising.
A product of the Oslo Accords, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington is the de facto embassy of Palestine, the face and the voice of the Palestinian Authority in the US. Now, almost exactly on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Accords, the Trump administration announces the closing of the mission.
It came as no surprise when Netanyahu, who fiercely opposed the Accords, applauded the U.S. administration decision. This was yet one more insignificant step for the U.S., and one giant gift to Benjamin Netanyahu.
Is criticism of Israel always anti-Semitic?
No. Anti-Israel activity crosses the line to anti-Semitism when:
- All Jews are held responsible for the actions of Israel.
- Israel is denied the right to exist as a Jewish state and equal member of the global community.
- Traditional anti-Semitic symbols, images or theories are used.
Israel is a country like any other, with some policies that are good and others that are not so good. Israel’s press is often critical of its own government’s policies and politicians. So are many Israeli citizens.
We don’t have to agree with criticism of Israeli policy. But we can’t say it is beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse, and it surely isn’t anti-Semitism.
But sometimes criticism or condemnation of Israel is transparently a cover for anti-Semitism, such as when it uses traditional anti-Semitic imagery or stereotypes, blames all Jews for the actions of Israel, or denies or questions Israel’s right to exist.
(Editor’s note: All of the above are excerpts from recent articles on the subject of Israel meddling in US policy, charting the Trump administration’s course of action. These excerpts are cultivated from several sources, as referenced in the blue hyperlinks.)