Sunday, July 15, 2018

Khan al-Ahmar: Israel's Ethnic Cleansing by the Numbers

Forced Displacement, Again

by Carolyn Coe - VCNV.org


July 10, 2018

Voices' friend (and past delegate) Carolyn Coe writes from Khan al-Ahmar, "a Bedouin community near Jerusalem whose residents face the threat of forcible transfer to white metal housing containers on treeless, highway-sandwiched land."

Yousef and I have barely crossed the highway and climbed over the guardrail to approach Khan al-Ahmar when two Israeli police officers approach. 

They brandish papers in Hebrew and deny our entry into the village. An officer photographs our IDs and then we walk away from the village, along the highway, as we make plan B.

We flag down a ride with some Palestinian Authority (PA) employees who find another approach road.

Part of a caravan of a half dozen PA cars, we slowly snake our way down a dusty rocky road leading into a wadi. 

As we near Khan al-Ahmar, we once again climb the hillside to reach the village. This time, the police are nowhere in sight. 

Within a couple hours, 200+ Palestinian dignitaries and activists as well as foreigners join village men and some children in Khan al-Ahmar's tarped central gathering space.

The forcible transfer of the villagers has been delayed by court order for another six days, until July 16.

Abdul Khader, age 8, borrows my camera and roams the plastic-grass-floored space taking photographs. He takes a photo of village leaders sitting in a line of plastic chairs and one of the top of his spiky dark hair. Later, he takes me by the hand and guides me over to the school, whose walls are constructed out of mud-covered tires.


 

Villagers and the visiting governor of Jerusalem make speeches before a line of video cameras. Water bottles and small cups of coffee appear in timely waves. Circles form with men talking quietly beneath a tree, and other circles of people clapping and singing political songs. A group of argile smokers hang out in one corner, and boy scouts huddle in small clusters, their identifying scarfs tied around their necks.

Someone sets up a TV and a half circle forms with watchers of the France-Belgium World Cup match, the TV shut off temporarily during evening prayers.

After 11 p.m., a bus-load of activists from Hebron arrives chanting and waving Palestinian flags and the quieter energy of the evening re-transforms into exuberance. Men dance the Dabke with a village elder leading the line of dancers and twirling his cane.


 

Around 1 a.m., foam mattresses appear and I lie down. My eyes closed, someone drapes a fleece blanket over me. A few minutes later, I feel the weight of a second blanket. It must have been in the upper 90s but I take no action to remove the extra blanket. A pillow is pushed beside my head. Soon enough, someone re-appropriates the second blanket. When I find the pillow too big and push it aside, and someone takes that, too. During this bedding supply and removal process, I don't open my eyes, exhausted.

The next morning, some of us bag up the plastic bottles and paper coffee cups that litter the floor. Bread, falafel, and hard-boiled eggs appear along with coffee. By about 8 a.m., almost all have left the community except for the villagers.

Here's a link to Mazin Qumsiyeh's post about our previous Khan al-Ahmar visit on Sunday: http://popular-resistance.blogspot.com/2018/07/khan-al-ahmar.html

And to Jonathan Cook's article about the community: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/07/10/by-razing-khan-al-ahmar-israel-will-bulldoze-illusions-of-peace-process/

After the Game: The Not So Beautiful Fate of Croatia's Footballers

The Woes of Luka Modrić: Croatia, Nationalism and Football

by Binoy Kampmark - Dissident Voice


July 14th, 2018  


Juraj Vrdoljak of Telesport was convinced.

“I think half the population didn’t show up to work on the morning after the win against England.”

The victory had inspired early shop closures, a feeling of rampant escapism.

“Croatia is a country with a deep economic crisis. Every day, life is really hard. It’s full of bad stories and tough times. There is lot of poverty. A lot of people are emigrating.”

Members of Croatia’s football team have become national talismans of endurance, the shock troops of resilience and hope. Ivan Rakitić, when he takes the field against France, will be playing his 71st match of the season, the most than any top-flight player this year. Luka Modrić remains unflinching in the midfield as the team’s general. Domagoj Vida has been granite in defensive solidity.

Football teams can be held up as mirrors of the nations they represent. This sociological gazing can always be taken too far, a scholar’s fruitless pondering, but Croatia’s national side is instructive. It was Dinamo Zagreb’s Zvonimir Boban who stirred matters with his heralded assault on a police officer engaged in a violent scuffle with fans in a match against Red Star Belgrade. Croatian football was fashioned as a vehicle of protest and dissent against what was seen as a Serb-dominated federation.

In time, football kicks became shells and bullets in the murderous dissolution of Yugoslavia. To this day, a legend stubbornly holds that the truculent Bad Blue Boys of Dinamo and the countering Deljie of Red Star precipitated the first shots of that war.

Starting with its current inspirational captain, the link between social ill and patriotic performance can be seamless. When he finishes the tournament in Russia, Modrić will have to turn his mind back to his relationship with mentor and former Dinamo Zagreb executive Zdravko Mamić, a towering figure who finds himself facing a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for corruption and fraud. From Bosnia and Herzegovina, he does battle with the authorities, attempting to avoid extradition after fleeing Croatia.

A bursting feature of the case mounted against Mamić involved claims of ill-gotten gains from transfers of Modrić from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and Dejan Lovren to Lyon in 2010. Modrić, it seemed, was implicated in signing an annex to his Dinamo contract, suggesting a 50-50 split of any future transfer fee. What was significant was the timing – 2015 as opposed to any earlier dates. Through his tenure, suggestions that Mamić had conducted a “silent privatisation” of the club were rampant, producing inflated transfer prices and a cult of acquisitiveness.

Modrić, having been billed as a star witness who initially supplied anti-corruption investigators with gold dust on Mamić’s penchant for cooking the accounts, notably in terms of pocketing millions of euros of the transfer fee, froze in the dock. His memory, it seemed, had failed him; the contract annex was not signed, as he initially claimed, in 2015 but 2004. This testimony was effectively rendered worthless. Croatia’s captain now faces the prospect of a perjury charge that carries a possible sentence of five years in prison.

The Croatian Football association, in an official statement in March, was not having a bar of it, unsurprising given the powers that be within the country’s football hierarchy. The body insisted upon “the principle of innocence and considers every person innocent until proven otherwise.” It was also “deeply convinced of the correctness of Luka Modrić’s testimony before the court in Osijek, and especially because of Modrić’s behaviour since his first appearance for the Croatian U-15 team in March 2001 to date.”

While every inch the commander in the field, with his team keen to impress in their following, not all Croatian supporters are in the Modrić tent of fandom. The Bad Blue Boys have found themselves split in loyalties over the years, with some, such as Juraj Ćošić, forming a breakaway team, Futsal Dinamo. “Zdravko Mamić,” claims football sociologist Ben Perasović, “is a typical member of the new rich class.” It is a class that continues to afflict Croatian football with their depredations, a looting tendency that is only now being reined in with mixed success.

The other team members have also shown this side to be rather prickly. Vida, and the now sacked assistant coach Ognjen Vukojević, were caught on film making comments supportive of Ukrainian nationalists in the aftermath of the side’s defeat of Russia in the quarter-finals. FIFA’s benevolence prevailed, and the centre-back was permitted to play in the semi-final against England.

Such a background adds more than a touch of complexity, with all its discomforts, to the World Cup final against France. Croatia’s team will not merely be facing their opponents on the field in a battle of wits and tenacity. Off it, pens and knives are being readied and sharpened, with prosecutions being prepared.

Even now, the team is being written off by the smug pundits of football orthodoxy, though with less disdain than before. Three matches on the trot into extra-time suggest imminent exhaustion, a possible overrunning by a more refreshed French team. But desperation, in meeting talent, can be the most potent of elixirs. This Croatian team has pushed the sceptics to the edge, and threatens to leave them there. And with players like Modrić, adversity remains their closest companion.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com.
Read other articles by Binoy.

Turning Putin: Middle East Alliance Isolating Iran

Can Trump, Israel, and Gulf Allies Get Putin to Turn On Iran?

by TRNN


July 14, 2018

Days after Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow, Trump will meet with Putin in Helsinki. But despite talk of a “grand bargain” that enlists Russia in helping the US-Israel-Saudi-UAE front against Iran, don’t expect it to happen, says professor and syndicated columnist Rami Khouri.



Rami Khouri is a syndicated columnist, professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut, and non-resident senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Just Call Me LeRoy: Mueller Trumps Due Process with Lettre de Cachet

Robert Mueller Replaces US Constitution with Royal Lettre de Cachet - Counter-Intelligence Operation As Due Process

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears


July 15, 2018

Moscow - Robert Mueller (lead image), the special US prosecutor of crimes of espionage between Moscow and Washington, picked July 13 to issue his indictment of twelve alleged Russian military intelligence officers for doing their jobs on evidence collected by US intelligence officers doing their jobs.

The Russian crime alleged by Mueller in Paragraph 1 of the indictment was “large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

The US crime, revealed by Mueller but unindicted so far by the Russian General Prosecutor, was large-scale cyber operations to interfere with Russian state security.

Mueller could not have picked a more auspicious date if he weren’t an ignoramus on the history of autocracy and democracy, European and American.

For it is one day later, on July 14, when every year France celebrates the start of the French Revolution. The reason for the celebration is the end of abuse of power by kings and pretenders to state authority, and their replacement by the democratic rule of law. That revolution, like the annual celebration, isn’t quite over.

What Mueller did this year was to issue what was called, before July 14, 1789, a lettre de cachet – a letter with the royal signet or seal. In the French practice, this was a combination of indictment, conviction, and order for arrest, confiscation of property, and punishment of an individual, who had no right in law to know the charge against him; prove the evidence; appeal the sentence.

The Mueller indictment of twelve officers of the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff) is a fresh US-Government style lettre de cachet. It names the men accused, their crimes, and the punishment.

The penalties include:

“upon conviction [the twelve] shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of such violation, and any personal property that was used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of such offense.”

Mueller has neither the power nor the intention of trying the accused, or the particulars of his lettre, in an American court of law. This is why on July 13 he intended to violate the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, first introduced in Philadelphia on June 8, 1789, just a month before the lettre de cachet lost its power in Paris. The Fifth Amendment says noone shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

Read the 29-page indictment ending with Mueller’s sign here.




Instead of due process in the courtoom, retired US intelligence analysts, cyber warfare specialists, lawyers, and investigative journalists are examining the Mueller indictment point by point in the alternative media. Start here.

Suppose, however, the particulars of the indictment are true as alleged; that a US Government prosecutor has obtained from a grand jury a “true bill” revealing that a Russian intelligence agency was spying on the United States, according to evidence collected by the US intelligence services doing their reciprocal duty of spying on the Russians.




Consider the timeline recorded for the Russian espionage and the US counter-espionage following the start, on March 16, 2016, of the Wikileaks series of publications of emails from Hillary Clinton’s Secretary of State term; followed by emails from Democratic Party organizations released in June and July 2016; continuing through October (the John Podesta archive); and concluding on November 6, 2016, two days before Election Day.

At Paragraph 3, Mueller reveals that,

“starting in at least March 2016, the Conspirators [the GRU Twelve] used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton”. 

Then, according to Paragraph 4, “by in or around April 2016, the Conspirators also hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).” The dates of the data thefts are given as March 19, 21, 25, 28, April 6, 7, 12, 14, 22.

It wasn’t long – no more than a month, perhaps days — before US counter-intelligence now says it discovered the Russian operation and broke into it, without revealing to the Russians that they were exposed. Paragraph 32:

“Despite the Conspirators efforts to hide their activity, beginning in or around May 2016, both the DCCC and DNC became aware that they had been hacked and hired a security company (Company 1) [this was CrowdStrike] to identify the extent of the intrusions. By in or around June 2016, Company 1 took steps to exclude intruders from the networks.” 

A month later, according to Paragraph 40, “on or about June 14, 2016, the DNC through Company 1 publicly announced that it had been hacked by Russian government actors”.

If the Russians didn’t get the message, Paragraph 33c reveals they kept trying:

“On or about June 20, 2016, after Company 1 had disabled X-Agent on the DCCC network, the Conspirators spent over seven hours unsuccessfully trying to connect to X-Agent.”

It is now certain, Mueller declares in his true bill, not only that the US and Russian agents knew they were on to each other, but that the US agents had been able to trace the Russian intrusion signals back to their sources, identifying the agents’ names, including patronymics; their ranks and unit assignments; their operating aliases; their GRU unit numbers; and the physical addresses of their offices at 20 Komsomolskiy Prospekt, inside the Moscow city limits, and at 22 Kirova Street, Khimki, a northern suburb.



The US counter-intelligence operation was able to record that a contact with the Trump presidential election campaign was approached by the Russians. This happened many weeks after Wikileaks had started publishing openly. The US operation reportedly failed to detect contact (collusion) with the Trump campaign.

Also, the contact, according to the US espionage record, was slow to notice, and unimpressed by the value of the information. At Paragraph 44:

“On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person [Roger Stone] who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump,
‘thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?’
On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added,
‘please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.’
On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person,
‘what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.’
The person responded, ‘[p]retty standard.’”

Paragraph 47 reveals that both the Russian and American agents were closely monitoring the Wikileaks computer traffic, hacking and reading their emails, as well as providing click bait. On June 22, US agents discovered,

“Organization 1 [Wikileaks] sent a private message to Guccifer 2.0 to ‘[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.’”

This was ten days after June 12, when Julian Assange had publicly revealed Wikileaks was ready to release “upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton”. So the Mueller evidence implies the Russians were playing catch-up, with materials which, until that moment, Assange, other Wikileaks analysts and Roger Stone didn’t think much of. For analysis of what Mueller is admitting to here, read this.

“On or about June 27, 2016,” according to Paragraph 45b, “the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, contacted a U.S. reporter with an offer to provide stolen emails from Hillary Clintons staff.” 

Mueller reveals the US was monitoring Russian communications with a US journalist; by inference he also reveals that the journalist refused to publish anything from the materials offered. Which reporter and which American press outlet, its editors and management decided not to publish are not yet known. Nor the reason for the media coverup.

The Russian spies appear to have been undeterred by this rejection, and soldiered on at Wikileaks.

“On or about July 6, 2016, Organization 1 [Wikileaks] added,
if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.
The Conspirators responded,
ok . . . i see. Organization 1 explained, we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.

For details of what Assange subsequently offered to disclose about the sources of these contacts to Justice Department, FBI and CIA officials, read this. The only comment Wikileaks has made so far to the Mueller indictment refers to its timing, not its veracity.




Mueller reports at Paragraph 31 that,

“during the hacking of the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and DNC [Democratic National Committee] networks, the Conspirators covered their tracks by intentionally deleting logs and computer files.” 

Altogether, the indictment identifies four separate efforts at deletion of computer logs by the Russian agents — May 13, June 1, June 20, and a date in August. This appears to be a highly sensitive disclosure that US intelligence has the technical capability to defeat Russian methods of computer deletion, not only by detecting Russian deletion attempts when they happen, but by retrieving or reconstructing what the Russians think they have erased securely.

This is an exceptional achievement in US cyber warfare to have slipped out of its TOP SECRET NOFORN classification; it may be a signal that US cyber agents can fabricate Russian tracks to deceive other US cyber agents; Mueller too.

The sophistication, time and labour intensity of this type of warfare is expensive, at least on the US side. Mueller’s investigators report they are spending more than $750,000 per month – and this doesn’t count the cost of the National Security Agency and other cyber intelligence operations which have been provided to Mueller without charge to his budget.

His indictment reveals how much more cost-effective the Russian side is. With just twelve agents, and not counting what the US knows about their rouble paychecks, the indictment reveals at Paragraph 57:

“To facilitate the purchase of infrastructure used in their hacking activity—including hacking into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and releasing the stolen documents—the Defendants conspired to launder the equivalent of more than $95,000 through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Necessary Things: The Five Proofs I Need to Believe Russiagate

Five Things That Would Make The CIA/CNN Russia Narrative More Believable

by Caitlin Johnstone


July 14, 2018

As we just discussed, some major news stories have recently dropped about what a horrible horrifying menace the Russian Federation is to the world, and as always I have nothing to offer the breathless pundits on CNN and MSNBC but my completely unsatisfied skepticism. My skepticism of the official Russia narrative remains so completely unsatisfied that if mainstream media were my husband I would already be cheating on it with my yoga instructor.

I do not believe the establishment Russia narrative. I do not believe that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 election. I do not believe the Russian government did any election rigging for Trump to collude with.

This is not because I believe Vladimir Putin is some kind of blueberry-picking girl scout, and it certainly isn’t because I think the Russian government is unwilling or incapable of meddling in the affairs of other nations to some extent when it suits them. It is simply because I am aware that the US intelligence community lies constantly as a matter of policy, and because I understand how the burden of proof works.

At this time, I see no reason to espouse any belief system which embraces as true the assertion that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections in any meaningful way, or that it presents a unique and urgent threat to the world which must be aggressively dealt with. But all the establishment mouthpieces tell me that I must necessarily embrace these assertions as known, irrefutable fact. Here are five things that would have to change in order for that to happen:

1. Proof of a hacking conspiracy to elect Trump.

 

In most cases, it's so basic that unproven allegations by a prosecutor in an indictment shouldn't be accepted as true one need not even point it out. In this case, pointing it out will be seen as blasphemy. Everyone should want to see the evidence on which the claims are based:
Aaron Maté @aaronjmate
Based on quick read (maybe I missed something?). Mueller alleges GRU hacked DNC & covered it up. A lot of claims about what Russian officers did online. But I didn't catch any reference to what evidence Mueller has to make him believe it was them. How does he know they did it?
The first step to getting a heretic like myself aboard the Russia hysteria train would be the existence of publicly available evidence of the claims made about election meddling in 2016, which rises to the level required in a post-Iraq invasion world. So far, that burden of proof for Russian hacking allegations has not come anywhere remotely close to being met.

How much proof would I need to lend my voice to the escalation of tensions between two nuclear superpowers? Mountains. I personally would settle for nothing less than hard proof which can be independently verified by trusted experts like the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Is that a big ask? Yes. Yes it is. That’s what happens when government institutions completely discredit themselves as they did with the false narratives advanced in the manufacturing of support for the Iraq invasion. You don’t get to butcher a million Iraqis in a war based on lies, turn around a few years later and say “We need new cold war escalations with a nuclear superpower but we can’t prove it because the evidence is secret.” That’s not a thing. Copious amounts of hard, verifiable proof or GTFO. So far we have no evidence besides the confident-sounding assertions of government insiders and their mass media mouthpieces, which is the same as no evidence.

2. Proof that election meddling actually influenced the election in a meaningful way.


Even if Russian hackers did exfiltrate Democratic party emails and give them to WikiLeaks, if it didn’t affect the election, who cares? That’s a single-day, second-page story at best, meriting nothing beyond a “Hmm, interesting, turns out Russia tried and failed to influence the US election,” followed by a shrug and moving on to something that actually matters.

After it has been thoroughly proven that Russia meddled in the elections in a meaningful way, it must then be established that that meddling had an actual impact on the election results.

3. Some reason to believe Russian election meddling was unwarranted and unacceptable.


 @Consortiumnews

Highlighting the U.S.’s long history in meddling in other countries’ elections is not , but rather a highly germane point to understanding the context for allegations of Russian meddling in Election 2016, Caitlin Johnstone observes. https://consortiumnews.com/2018/02/20/americas-election-meddling-would-indeed-justify-other-countries-retaliating-in-kind/  @caitoz

America’s Election Meddling Would Indeed Justify Other Countries Retaliating In Kind

Highlighting the U.S.’s long history in meddling in other countries’ elections is not “whataboutism,” but rather a highly germane point to understanding the context for the allegations of Russian...
consortiumnews.com
The US government, by a very wide margin, interferes in the elections of other countries far, far more than any other government on earth does. The US government’s own data shows that it has deliberately meddled in the elections of 81 foreign governments between 1946 and 2000, including Russia in the nineties. This is public knowledge. A former CIA Director cracked jokes about it on Fox News earlier this year.

If I’m going to abandon my skepticism and accept the Gospel According to Maddow, after meaningful, concrete election interference has been clearly established I’m going to need a very convincing reason to believe that it is somehow wrong or improper for a government to attempt to respond in kind to the undisputed single worst offender of this exact offense. It makes no sense for the United States to actively create an environment in which election interference is something that governments do to one another, and then cry like a spanked child when its election is interfered with by one of the very governments whose elections the US recently meddled in.

This is nonsense. America being far and away the worst election meddler on the planet makes it a fair target for election meddling by not just Russia, but every country in the world. It is very obviously moral and acceptable for any government on earth to interfere in America’s elections as long as it remains the world’s worst offender in that area. In order for Russia to be in the wrong if it interfered in America’s elections, some very convincing argument I’ve not yet heard will have to be made to support that case.

4. Proof that the election meddling went beyond simply giving Americans access to information about their government.


If all the Russians did was simply show Americans emails of Democratic Party officials talking to one another and circulate some MSM articles as claimed in the ridiculous Russian troll farm allegations, that’s nothing to get upset about. If anything, Americans should be upset that they had to hear about Democratic Party corruption through the grapevine instead of having light shed on it by the American officials whose job it is to do so. Complaints about election meddling is only valid if that election meddling isn’t comprised of truth and facts.

5. A valid reason to believe escalated tensions between two nuclear superpowers are worthwhile.

 @caitoz

The Increasing Likelihood Of Nuclear War Should Straighten Out All Our Priorities | Zero Hedge https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-05/increasing-likelihood-nuclear-war-should-straighten-out-all-our-priorities 

The Increasing Likelihood Of Nuclear War Should Straighten Out All Our Priorities

"The Russiagate psyop exists because the western power establishment is trying to cripple the Russia-China tandem in order to ensure US hegemony, and if they tried to thrust us all into a new cold...
zerohedge.com
After it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia did indeed meddle in the US elections in a meaningful way, and after it has then been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia actually influenced election results in a significant way, and after the case has been clearly made that it was bad and wrong for Russia to do this instead of fair and reasonable, and after it has been clearly proven that the election meddling went beyond simply telling Americans the truth about their government, the question then becomes what, if anything, should be done about it?

If you look at the actions that this administration has taken over the last year and a half, the answer to that question appears to be harsh sanctions, NATO expansionism, selling arms to Ukraine, throwing out diplomats, increasing military presence along Russia’s border, a Nuclear Posture Review which is much more aggressive toward Russia, repeatedly bombing Syria, and just generally creating more and more opportunities for something to go catastrophically wrong with one of the two nations’ aging, outdated nuclear arsenals, setting off a chain of events from which there is no turning back and no surviving.

And the pundits and politicians keep pushing for more and more escalations, at this very moment braying with one voice that Trump must aggressively confront Putin about Mueller’s indictments or withdraw from the peace talks. But is it worth it? Is it worth risking the life of every terrestrial organism to, what? What specifically would be gained that makes increasing the risk of nuclear catastrophe worthwhile? Making sure nobody interferes in America’s fake elections? I’d need to see a very clear and specific case made, with a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list and “THE POTENTIAL DEATH OF LITERALLY EVERYTHING” written in big red letters at the top of the ‘cons’ column.

Rallying the world to cut off Russia from the world stage and cripple its economy has been been a goal of the US power establishment since the collapse of the Soviet Union, so there’s no reason to believe that even the people who are making the claims against Russia actually believe them. The goal is crippling Russia to handicap China, and ultimately to shore up global hegemony for the US-centralized empire by preventing the rise of any rival superpowers. The sociopathic alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies who control that empire are willing to threaten nuclear confrontation in order to ensure their continued dominance. All of their actions against Russia since 2016 have had everything to do with establishing long-term planetary dominance and nothing whatsoever to do with election meddling.

Those five things would need to happen before I’d be willing to jump aboard the “Russia! Russia!” train. Until then I’ll just keep pointing to the total lack of evidence and how very, very far the CIA/CNN Russia narrative is from credibility.

_______________________

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so the best way to keep seeing the stuff I publish is to get on the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, or buying my book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.



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Drifting Right: Undoing UNASUR, Undoing Social Progress in Latin America

Rightward Shift in Latin America Spelling End of Regional Integration

by TRNN


July 12, 2018

The Union of South American Nations – UNASUR – was an ambitious project to integrate South America not just on economic terms, but also on political and social terms, but the rightward drift in Latin America is leading to its dissolution, with the unfortunate help of Ecuador’s government, where its headquarters are, says former foreign minister Guillaume Long.



Guillaume Long was foreign minister under Rafael Correa from 2016-2017, as well as Ecuador’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, but resigned last January because of political differences with the Moreno administration. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Not Taken on Faith: The Holey Official Skripal Story

The Holes in the Official Skripal Story

by Craig Murray 


12 Jul, 2018 

In my last post I set out the official Government account of the events in the Skripal Case. Here I examine the credibility of this story.

Next week I shall look at alternative explanations.

Russia has a decade long secret programme of producing and stockpiling novichok nerve agents. It also has been training agents in secret assassination techniques, and British intelligence has a copy of the Russian training manual, which includes instruction on painting nerve agent on doorknobs.

The only backing for this statement by Boris Johnson is alleged “intelligence”, and unfortunately the “intelligence” about Russia’s secret novichok programme comes from exactly the same people who brought you the intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programme, proven liars. Furthermore, the question arises why Britain has been sitting on this intelligence for a decade and doing nothing about it, including not telling the OPCW inspectors who certified Russia’s chemical weapons stocks as dismantled.

If Russia really has a professional novichok assassin training programme, why was the assassination so badly botched? Surely in a decade of development they would have discovered that the alleged method of gel on doorknob did not work? And where is the training manual which Boris Johnson claimed to possess? Having told the world – including Russia -the UK has it, what is stopping the UK from producing it, with marks that could identify the specific copy erased?

The Russians chose to use this assassination programme to target Sergei Skripal, a double agent who had been released from jail in Russia some eight years previously.

It seems remarkable that the chosen target of an attempt that would blow the existence of a secret weapon and end the cover of a decade long programme, should be nobody more prominent than a middle ranking double agent who the Russians let out of jail years ago. If they wanted him dead they could have killed him then. Furthermore the attack on him would undermine all future possible spy swaps. Putin therefore, on this reading, was willing to sacrifice both the secrecy of the novichok programme and the spy swap card just to attack Sergei Skripal. That seems highly improbable.

Only the Russians can make novichok and only the Russians had a motive to attack the Skripals.

The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

There is of course the possibility that Skripal was attacked by a private gangster interest with which he was in conflict, or that the attack was linked to Skripal’s MI6 handler Pablo Miller’s work on the Orbis/Steele Russiagate dossier on Donald Trump.

Plainly, the British governments statements that only Russia had the means and only Russia had the motive, are massive lies on both counts.

The Russians had been tapping the phone of Yulia Skripal. They decided to attack Sergei Skripal while his daughter was visiting from Moscow.

In an effort to shore up the government narrative, at the time of the Amesbury attack the security services put out through Pablo Miller’s long term friend, the BBC’s Mark Urban, that the Russians “may have been” tapping Yulia Skripal’s phone, and the claim that this was strong evidence that the Russians had indeed been behind the attack.

But think this through. If that were true, then the Russians deliberately attacked at a time when Yulia was in the UK rather than when Sergei was alone. Yet no motive has been adduced for an attack on Yulia or why they would attack while Yulia was visiting – they could have painted his doorknob with less fear of discovery anytime he was alone. Furthermore, it is pretty natural that Russian intelligence would tap the phone of Yulia, and of Sergei if they could. The family of double agents are normal targets. I have no doubt in the least, from decades of experience as a British diplomat, that GCHQ have been tapping Yulia’s phone. Indeed, if tapping of phones is seriously put forward as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.

Their trained assassin(s) painted a novichok on the doorknob of the Skripal house in the suburbs of Salisbury. Either before or after the attack, they entered a public place in the centre of Salisbury and left a sealed container of the novichok there.

The incompetence of the assassination beggars belief when compared to British claims of a long term production and training programme. The Russians built the heart of the International Space Station. They can kill an old bloke in Salisbury. Why did the Russians not know that the dose from the door handle was not fatal? Why would trained assassins leave crucial evidence lying around in a public place in Salisbury? Why would they be conducting any part of the operation with the novichok in a public area in central Salisbury?

Why did nobody see them painting the doorknob? This must have involved wearing protective gear, which would look out of place in a Salisbury suburb. With Skripal being resettled by MI6, and a former intelligence officer himself, it beggars belief that MI6 did not fit, as standard, some basic security including a security camera on his house.

The Skripals both touched the doorknob and both functioned perfectly normally for at least five hours, even able to eat and drink heartily. Then they were simultaneously and instantaneously struck down by the nerve agent, at a spot in the city centre coincidentally close to where the assassins left a sealed container of the novichok lying around. Even though the nerve agent was eight times more deadly than Sarin or VX, it did not kill the Skripals because it had been on the doorknob and affected by rain.

Why did they both touch the outside doorknob in exiting and closing the door? Why did the novichok act so very slowly, with evidently no feeling of ill health for at least five hours, and then how did it strike both down absolutely simultaneously, so that neither can call for help, despite their being different sexes, weights, ages, metabolisms and receiving random completely uncontrolled doses. The odds of that happening are virtually nil. And why was the nerve agent ultimately ineffective?

Detective Sergeant Bailey attended the Skripal house and was also poisoned by the doorknob, but more lightly. None of the other police who attended the house were affected.

Why was the Detective Sergeant affected and nobody else who attended the house, or the scene where the Skripals were found? Why was Bailey only lightly affected by this extremely deadly substance, of which a tiny amount can kill?

Four months later, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were rooting about in public parks, possibly looking for cigarette butts, and accidentally came into contact with the sealed container of a novichok. They were poisoned and Dawn Sturgess subsequently died.

If the nerve agent had survived four months because it was in a sealed container, why has this sealed container now mysteriously disappeared again? If Rowley and Sturgess had direct contact straight from the container, why did they not both die quickly? Why had four months searching of Salisbury and a massive police, security service and military operation not found this container, if Rowley and Sturgess could?

I am, with a few simple questions, demolishing what is the most ludicrous conspiracy theory I have ever heard – the Salisbury conspiracy theory being put forward by the British government and its corporate lackies.

My next post will consider some more plausible explanations of this affair.

US Kills Estimated 54 Civilians in Latest Syria Bombing

US Airstrike Kills 54 Civilians Near Abu Kamal in Push to Control Syrian Border 

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News


July 13, 2018

With the U.S. now unable to prevent Syrian government control of the Syria-Jordan border, Friday’s strikes are a sign that the U.S. effort to oust the Syrian government from Abu Kamal is likely to only grow stronger as its occupation of Syrian territory faces an uncertain future.

Around midnight on Friday, U.S.-led coalition warplanes in Syria conducted intensive airstrikes near Abu Kamal in the Deir ez-Zor province, with estimates of civilian casualties ranging from 30 to 54.

Syrian state media agency SANA has claimed that at least 30 were killed and that most of the dead were women and children. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), often cited by international and particularly Western media, has asserted that 54 were killed.

According to local reports, the U.S.-led coalition strikes targeted the towns of al-Souseh and al-Baghouz Fowqani, east of the Euphrates river in the countryside around Abu Kamal. The bombings resulted in dozens of houses in the towns collapsing, resulting in numerous civilian deaths, as whole families were crushed by the rubble while they were sleeping.

The U.S. coalition did not confirm or deny its role in the strike, stating only that it “may have” been responsible. However, the bombing comes after the coalition announced in early May it would intensify airstrikes targeting Daesh (ISIS), particularly in Eastern Syria along the Syria-Iraq border.

Abu Kamal, where last night’s strikes took place, is a strategic border town on the Syria-Iraq border and is the only Syria-Iraq border crossing currently controlled by Syrian government forces.

Western media reports have claimed that Daesh militants were among the dead, but survivors of the attack contest this claim, instead suggesting that they had been targeted for their unwillingness to cooperate with local U.S.-backed militias.

Locals told SANA that U.S. claims that the strikes were intended to target Daesh were false and instead suggested that two towns had been targeted for refusing the entry of the U.S.-backed opposition militias, particularly the Qasad militia.

Reports in Arabic media from earlier this year (English translation) have claimed to provide evidence that many former Daesh members have joined the Qasad militia, both in the province of Deir Ez-Zor and al-Hasakah.

Such reports are consistent with U.S. support for other militia groups, such as the Deir Ez-Zor Military Council (DMC), that also include significant numbers of former Daesh fighters who had surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the proxy force of the coalition, over the course of the past year.

Losing influence elsewhere in Syria, the U.S. sets sights on Abu Kamal


The strike comes at a delicate time for the U.S. coalition in Syria, as its most important alliances, which enable its occupation of more than 30 percent of Syrian territory, threaten to dissolve while local resistance to the presence of foreign troops continues to grow.

MintPress has recently reported on these developments — regarding first the rise of local resistance to the U.S. presence from Arab and Kurdish tribes in U.S.-occupied Syria, and then the agreement between the Syrian government and factions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG, the backbone of the U.S. proxy force, the SDF) behind the back of the U.S. coalition. Both developments threaten to make the U.S. occupation of Syrian territory not only ultimately unsustainable but indeed short-lived.

The U.S. has also lost influence elsewhere in Syria, particularly in Syria’s south owing to the Syrian government’s recent, highly successful campaign in the area. The offensive has seen the Syrian government reclaim nearly all of the Syrian-Jordan border and is likely to result in the U.S. abandoning its long-standing presence in al-Tanf, the strategic area where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq meet.

The U.S. has maintained a military base at al-Tanf, where it has trained proxy fighters for the past several years, and has occupied a 34-mile zone surrounding that facility. Losing that location is a blow to U.S. influence in Syria and would mean a consolidation of U.S. occupation forces in the Eastern portion of Syria nominally controlled by the SDF.

For that reason, the recent strikes on Abu Kamal are notable, as they build on other recent coalition strikes in the area. Indeed, there is no Daesh presence in Abu Kamal aside from the pockets of Daesh that intermittently attack the Syrian government-held city from the area of Syria occupied by the U.S.

In addition, recent coalition bombings in and around Abu Kamal have shown that these strikes have nothing to do with wiping out Daesh. For instance, another recent coalition strike in the Abu Kamal area, which took place last month, did not target Daesh at all but instead Syrian government forces and allied Iraqi militias.

Though the U.S. never publicly admitted responsibility for the attack and an anonymous U.S. official had blamed the strike on Israel, forensic evidence analyzed and collected by Iraqi forces showed that the U.S. was indeed responsible.

The U.S. interest in Abu Kamal is aimed at wresting the strategic outpost from the control of the Syrian government, which would result in the Syrian government losing its only road access to both Iraq and Iran. Cutting off this supply line, particularly the connection between Syria and Iran, has long been acknowledged as an important U.S. goal in its occupation of Northeastern Syria.

With the U.S. now unable to prevent Syrian government control of the Syria-Jordan border, Friday’s strikes are a sign that the U.S. effort to oust the Syrian government from Abu Kamal is likely to only grow stronger as its occupation of Syrian territory faces an uncertain future.

If the high death tolls from the recent strike are any indication, the U.S. seems to have few qualms about killing scores of civilians in pursuit of its geopolitical goals in Syria.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.


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Facebook's Information Tar Sands

Mark Zuckerberg and his empire of oily rags

by Cory Doctorow - Boing Boing


July 13, 2018

Surveillance capitalism sucks: it improves the scattershot, low-performance success-rate of untargeted advertising (well below 1 percent) and doubles or triples it (to well below 1 percent!).

But surveillance captialism is still dangerous: all those dossiers on the personal lives of whole populations can be used for blackmail, identity theft and political manipulation.

As I explain in my new Locus column, Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags, Facebook's secret is that they've found a way to turn a profit on an incredibly low-yield resource -- like figuring out how to make low-grade crude out of the oil left over from oily rags.


Image: Jason McELweenie, CC-BY; Ppari, CC-BY-SA

But because the margins on surveillance data are so poor, the business is only sustainable if it fails to take the kinds of prudent precautions that would make it safe to warehouse these unimaginably gigantic piles of oily rags.

It’s as though Mark Zuckerberg woke up one morning and realized that the oily rags he’d been accumulating in his garage could be refined for an extremely low-grade, low-value crude oil. No one would pay very much for this oil, but there were a lot of oily rags, and provided no one asked him to pay for the inevitable horrific fires that would result from filling the world’s garages with oily rags, he could turn a tidy profit.

A decade later, everything is on fire and we’re trying to tell Zuck and his friends that they’re going to need to pay for the damage and install the kinds of fire-suppression gear that anyone storing oily rags should have invested in from the beginning, and the commercial surveillance industry is absolutely unwilling to contemplate anything of the sort.

That’s because dossiers on billions of people hold the power to wreak almost unimaginable harm, and yet, each dossier brings in just a few dollars a year. For commercial surveillance to be cost effective, it has to socialize all the risks associated with mass surveillance and privatize all the gains.

There’s an old-fashioned word for this: corruption. In corrupt systems, a few bad actors cost everyone else billions in order to bring in millions – the savings a factory can realize from dumping pollution in the water supply are much smaller than the costs we all bear from being poisoned by effluent. But the costs are widely diffused while the gains are tightly concentrated, so the beneficiaries of corruption can always outspend their victims to stay clear.

Facebook doesn’t have a mind-control problem, it has a corruption problem. Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters. - Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags [Cory Doctorow/Locus]

Reviving Europe’s Ugly Ethno-Nationalism

How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms 

by Jonathan Cook - Middle East Eye


13 July 2018

Israel preserved a tribal idea of citizenship that followers of Trump and Europe’s far-right now seek to emulate

Polarisation within western societies on issues relating to migration and human rights has been intensifying over recent weeks and months. To many observers, it looks suspiciously as if an international order in place since the end of the second world – one that emphasised universal rights as a way to prevent dehumanisation and conflict – is rapidly unravelling in Europe and the United States.

In the past few weeks in Donald Trump’s America, it has emerged that thousands of migrant children have been snatched from their parents while trying to enter at the southern border, with some held in cages; the US Supreme Court has upheld the right of border officials to bar entry to Muslims from proscribed countries; and the Trump administration has quit the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, a key institution for monitoring human rights violations.

Meanwhile, far-right parties across Europe have ridden to electoral success on the back of mounting fears at a wave of migrants displaced from North Africa and the Middle East by wars and famines.

Joining the trenchant anti-immigration stances of governments in Hungary and Poland, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini has turned away boatloads of migrants from his country’s ports. He called last month for the European Union to “defend its border” and deny access to human rights groups, while also threatening to cut his country’s budget to Europe unless action was taken against migrants. Salvini is among the Italian politicians demanding the expulsion of the Roma minority.

Other European governments led by Germany, fearful of internal political instability that might undermine their continuing rule, called a hasty summit to consider options for dealing with the “migrant crisis”.

And casting a long shadow over the proceedings is Britain’s efforts to negotiate its exit from the EU, a blow that might eventually lead to the whole edifice of the European project crumbling.

Two ideas of citizenship


These are not random events. They are part of a quickening trend, and one that signals how an international order built up over the past 70 years and represented by pan-national institutions like the United Nations and the EU is gradually breaking down.

While the evidence suggests that there is no particular migration crisis at the moment, there are long-term factors that readily provoke populist fears and can be readily exploited, especially over the depletion of key global resources like oil, and environmental changes caused by climate breakdown. Together they have stoked resource conflicts and begun to shrink world economies. The effects are ideological and political shockwaves that have put a system of long-standing international agreements and norms under unprecedented strain.

The emerging struggle faced today is one that was fought out a century ago in western Europe, and relates to differing conceptions of citizenship. In the early 20th century, Europe was riven by ethnic nationalisms: each state was seen as representing a separate biological people – or in the terminology of the time, a race or Volk. And each believed it needed territory in which to express its distinct heritage, identity, language and culture. In the space of a few decades, these antagonistic nationalisms tore Europe apart in two “world wars”.

At the time, ethnic nationalism was pitted against an alternative vision of citizenship: civic nationalism. It is worth briefly outlining how the two differed.

Civic nationalists draw on long-standing liberal ideas that prioritise a shared political identity based on citizenship inside the stable territorial unit of a democratic state. The state should aspire – at least in theory – to be neutral towards ethnic minorities, and their languages and cultures.

Civic nationalism is premised on individual rights, social equality and tolerance. Its downside is an inherent tendency to atomise societies into individuals, and cultivate consumption over other social values. That has made it easier for powerful corporations to capture the political system, leading to the emergence of neoliberal capitalist economies.

Minorities scapegoated


Ethnic nationalists, by contrast, believe in distinct peoples, with a shared heritage and ancestry. Such nationalists not only resist the idea that other groups can integrate or assimilate, but fear that they might weaken or dissolve the ties binding the nation together.

Ethnic nationalists therefore accentuate an imagined collective will belonging to the dominant ethnic group that guides its destiny; emphasise threats from external enemies and subversion from within by those opposed to the values of the core group; encourage the militarisation of the society to cope with such threats; and anxiously guard existing territory and aggressively seek to expand borders to increase the nation’s resilience.

Even before Europe’s two great wars, most western states were a hybrid of civic and ethnic nationalist impulses. But in a political climate of competition over resources and paranoid vigilance against rivals that prevailed before the second world war, especially fears among western elites about how best to counter the growing threat of Soviet Communism, ideas associated with ethnic nationalism tended to dominate.

It was for this reason that ethnic minorities – especially those, such as Jews and Roma, whose loyalties to the core nation were considered suspect – found themselves scapegoated and faced rampant discrimination. This took different forms.

In Britain, ethnic nationalism contributed to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a document proposing that British Jews be transplanted to the Middle East. In part this was a colonial project to create an outpost of Jews in the Middle East dependent on British favour for their security. But as noted by Edwin Montagu, the only Jew in the British cabinet at the time, the Balfour Declaration had strong anti-semitic overtones, reinforcing the idea that Jews did not belong and should be relocated elsewhere.

Ethnic nationalism in France was evidenced by the notorious Dreyfus Affair. A Jewish captain in the French army, Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of treason in 1894 for leaking military secrets to Germany. In fact, as it later emerged, another French officer was responsible for the leak, but the military preferred to falsify documents to ensure that blame rested with Dreyfus.

And in Germany, racism towards minorities like Jews and Roma culminated in the Nazi concentration camps of the 1930s and a short time later a policy of mass extermination that claimed the lives of many millions.

Rebuilding a post-war Europe


After the devastation of the second world war, western Europe had to be rebuilt, both physically and ideologically. With the dangers of ethnic nationalisms now apparent, greater emphasis was placed on civic nationalism.

This trend was encouraged by the US through its Marshall Plan, an economic recovery programme to reconstruct western Europe. The US wanted a united, peaceful Europe – its ethnic antagonisms a thing of the past – so that a culture of individualism and consumerism could be fostered, guaranteeing an export market for American goods. A US-dependent Europe could also be relied on as a bulwark against Washington’s chief ideological rival, Soviet communism.

By the end of the 20th century, these developments would lead to the emergence of a common market, later the European Union, a single currency and the dropping of border controls.

At the same time, in the immediate post-war period, it was decided to put safeguards in place against the recent slaughter. The Nuremberg Trials helped to define the rules of war, and classed their violations as war crimes, while the UN’s 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions began the process of formalising international law and the concept of universal human rights.

All of that post-war order is now unravelling.

Bucking the trend


Israel was established in 1948, the year of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, which was itself intended to prevent any return to the horrors of the Holocaust. Israel was presented as a sanctuary for Jews from a depraved Europe that had been overrun by aggressive racial ideologies. And Israel was extolled as a “light unto the nations”, the political fruit of the new international legal order to promote the rights of minorities.

But paradoxically, the “western” state that most visibly bucked the trend towards civic nationalism in the post-war period was Israel. It stuck rigidly with a political model of ethnic nationalism that had just been discredited in Europe. Today Israel embodies a political alternative to civic nationalism – one that is slowly and increasingly helping to rehabilitate ethnic nationalism.

From the outset, Israel was not what it appeared to most outsiders. It had been sponsored as a colonial settler project by western patrons that variously included Britain, the Soviet Union, France and, latterly, the US. Set up to be an explicitly “Jewish state”, it was built on the ruins of the native Palestinian people’s homeland after a campaign of expulsions historians have characterised as “ethnic cleansing”.

Israel was not the liberal democracy claimed in its campaigns of self-promotion, known as hasbara. In fact, far from being an antidote to ethnic nationalism, Israel was decisively a product – or more specifically, a mirroring – of this form of nationalism.

Israel’s tribal ideology


Its founding ideology, Zionism, was deeply opposed to civic nationalism and attendant ideas of a common political identity. Rather, it was a tribal ideology – one based on blood ties and religious heritage – that spoke the same language as Europe’s earlier ethnic nationalisms. It agreed with the racists of Europe that “the Jews” could not be assimilated or integrated because they were a people apart.

It was this shared ground with the ethnic nationalists that made the Zionist movement deeply unpopular among the vast majority of European Jews until the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. After the horrors of the Nazis, however, growing numbers of Jews concluded that, if you could not beat the ethnic nationalists, it was better to join them. A highly militarised, nuclear-armed Israel – sponsored by Europe and belligerent towards its new, relatively weak Arab neighbours – appeared the best solution available.

It is that shared ground that today makes Israel an ally and friend to Trump and his political constituency in the US and to Europe’s far-right parties.

In fact, Israel is revered by a new breed of white supremacists and anti-semites in the US known as the alt-right. Their leader, Richard Spencer, has termed himself a “white Zionist”, saying he wants the US to become a “secure homeland” to prevent “the demographic dispossession of white people in the United States and around the world” in the same way Israel achieved for Jews.

Making racism respectable


Israel preserved the model of ethnic nationalism and is now seeking to help make it respectable again among sections of western public opinion.

Just as historically there were different varieties of ethnic nationalisms in Europe, so there are among the popular and political movements in Israel.

At the most disturbing extreme of the spectrum are the religious settlers who have actively taken up the task of once again uprooting the native Palestinian population, this time in the occupied territories. Such settlers now dominate the middle ranks of the Israeli army.

In a handbook for further dispossession known as the King’s Torah, influential settler rabbis have justified the pre-emptive killing of Palestinians as terrorists, and their babies as “future terrorists”. This worldview explains why settlers massed outside a court in Israel last month taunting a Palestinian, Hussein Dawabshe, whose 18-month-old grandson, Ali, was among family members burnt alive by settlers in 2015. As the grandfather arrived, the settlers jeered “Where is Ali, Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill.”

Even more common, to the extent that it passes almost unnoticed in Israel, is the structural racism that keeps the fifth of the population belonging to a Palestinian minority apart from the Jewish majority. For decades, for example, Israeli hospitals have been separating women in maternity wards based on their ethnicity. Last month, in a familiar pattern, it was revealed that a municipal swimming pool in the Negev was quietly segregating Jewish and Palestinian bathers – all citizens of the same state – by offering different hours.

At least the pool accepted Palestinian citizens. Almost all communities in Israel are segregated, with many hundreds using admissions committees to ensure they bar Palestinian citizens and remain exclusively Jewish.

There have been weeks of angry protests among Jewish residents of the northern city of Afula, after the first Palestinian family managed to buy a home in a neighbourhood. Deputy mayor Shlomo Malihi observed:

“I hope that the house sale will be cancelled so that this city won’t begin to be mixed.” 


The ‘danger’ of intermarriage


Last month Miki Zohar, a legislator in the ruling Likud party, observed not only that there is a “Jewish race”, but that it represents “the highest human capital, the smartest, the most comprehending”.

At the same time, the government’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, noted that the future of the Jewish people in countries like the US kept him awake at night. “If we don’t act urgently, we’re going to be losing millions of Jews to assimilation,” he told a conference in Jerusalem.

This is a common refrain on the Israeli left too. Isaac Herzog, the former leader of the supposedly socialist Labour party and the new chair of the Jewish Agency, shares Bennett’s tribal impulse. Last month he warned that Jews outside Israel were falling victim to a “plague” of intermarriage with non-Jews. He bewailed that on a visit to the US last year:

“I saw the children of my friends marrying or living with non-Jewish partners”.
He concluded:
“We have to rack our brains over how to solve this great challenge.” 

An ethnic fortress


But the problem is not restricted to the prejudices of individuals and communities. It has state sanction, just as in Europe a century ago.

That can be seen not only in rampant institutional racism in Israel – some 70 laws that explicitly discriminate based on ethnic belonging – but in Israel’s obsession with wall-building. There are walls sealing off Gaza, and the densely Palestinian-populated parts of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In another indication of the ethnic fortress mentality, Israel has built a wall to block the entry of African asylum seekers through the Sinai peninsula as they flee wars. Israel has been deporting these refugees back to Africa – in violation of international conventions it has ratified – putting their lives in danger.

And while western liberals have grown exercised at the separation of children from their parents by the Trump administration, they have ignored decades of similarly brutal Israeli policies. In that time, thousands of Palestinian children have been seized from their homes, often in night-time raids, and jailed in trials with a near-100 per cent conviction rate.

Extrajudicial violence


Throughout its history, Israel has glorified in its military prowess and brazenly celebrated a tradition of extrajudicial violence against opponents. That has included practices such as torture and political assassinations that international law seeks to prohibit. The sophistry used by Israel to defend these actions has been enthusiastically taken up in Washington – in particular, when the US began its own programmes of torture and extrajudicial murder after the Iraq invasion of 2003.

Israel has readymade rationalisations and specious soundbites that have made it much easier to sell to western publics the dismantling of international norms.

The upending of international law – and, with it, a reversal of the trend towards civic nationalism – has intensified with Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza over the past decade. Israel has subverted the key principles of international law – proportionality, distinction and necessity – by hugely widening the circle of potential targets of military action to include swaths of civilians, and using massive force beyond any possible justification.

That has been graphically illustrated of late in its maiming and killing of thousands of unarmed Palestinian protesters for being supposedly too close to the perimeter fence Israel has built to encage Gaza. That fence simply delimits the Palestinian land occupied by Israel. But in another success for Israeli hasbara, western reporting has almost universally suggested that the fence is a border Israel is entitled to defend.
Israeli expertise in demand

Israel’s expertise is increasingly in demand in a west where ethnic nationalisms are again taking root. Israel’s weapons have been tested on the battlefield, against Palestinians. Its homeland security systems have proven they can surveill and control Palestinian populations, just as western elites think about their own protection inside gated communities.

Israel’s paramilitary police train and militarise western police forces needed to repress internal dissent. Israel has developed sophisticated cyberwarfare techniques based on its efforts to remain a regional superpower that now satisfy the west’s politically paranoid atmosphere.

With an abiding aversion to the Communist ideology of their former Soviet rulers, central and east European states have led the move towards a renewal of ethnic nationalism. Civic nationalism, by contrast, is seen as dangerously exposing the nation to outside influences.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is among the new brand of eastern European leader brazenly stoking an ethnic politics at home through anti-semitism. He has targeted the Hungarian Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros for promoting a civic nationalism, suggesting Soros represents a wider Jewish threat to Hungary. Under a recent law, popularly known as “STOP Soros”, anyone helping migrants enter Hungary risks a prison sentence. Orban has lauded Miklos Horthy, a long-time Hungarian leader who was a close ally of Hitler’s.

Nonetheless, Orban is being feted by Benjamin Netanyahu, in the same way the Israeli prime minister has closely identified with Trump. Netanyahu called to congratulate Orban shortly after he was re-elected in April, and will welcome him in a state visit this month. Ultimately, Netanyahu is angling to host the next meeting of the Visegrad group, four central European countries in the grip of far-right ethnic politics Israel wishes to develop closer ties with.

For leaders like Orban, Israel has led the way. It has shown that ethnic politics is not discredited after all, that it can work. For Europe and America’s new ethnic nationalists, Israel has proven that some peoples are destined for greatness, if they are allowed to triumph over those who stand in their way.

It will be a darker, far more divided and frightening world if this logic prevails. It is time to recognise what Israel represents, and how it does not offer solutions – only far greater problems.