Saturday, September 09, 2017

Florida's Nuclear Plants

Florida's Nuclear Plants

September 9, 2017

Tragedy of Atlantic Salmon on the Pacific Coast

The Tragedy of Atlantic Salmon on the Pacific Coast

by Susanne Lawson

Sept. 7, 2017 

Wickaninnish Island

The diminishing returns of the Pacific salmon to west cost rivers can be attributed to many factors but the introduction of Atlantic salmon, to be raised on fish farms on the west coast, may mean the demise of wild salmon.

Atlantic Salmon are so different from our west coast salmon that it is inconceivable that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, (DFO) could ever permit them here. They are more like a steelhead than a wild salmon, having lighter colored flesh than a salmon, more like a trout, (the reason fish farms feed them red dye for coloring their flesh).

The big factor in the loss of our wild salmon, other than the massive disease and sea lice problems the fish farms generate is the fact that Atlantic salmon don't return to die in the rivers like Pacific salmon do...they move in and out of the rivers throughout their 6 or more years of life, eating salmon smolts and trout that are living in the fresh water.

Atlantic salmon are voracious feeders, hanging out in mid or lower depths in the rivers, eating any small fish they see. They grow quickly on the smolts and young trout and migrate in and out of the rivers at will.
The escaped Atlantic farmed salmon can survive and reproduce on the west coast as has been proven in studies by professor John Volpe of UVic.

These factors along with the hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon that have escaped from farms on the west coast may spell disaster for the once magnificent wild west coast salmon. The struggle for survival of Pacific salmon after rampant logging and siltation in west coast rivers left their numbers in peril and DFO ignored obvious results, opting for fish farming of foreign species rather than protection, removing any laws that favored wild salmon. Here we are today with more sick and pellet fed Atlantic fish in our waters than exist on the Atlantic coast.

Counts of salmon in rivers on the west coast, where there have been over half a million escaped farmed fish, used to list the Atlantic salmon but now they are lumped in a category as "Other" in the counts by DFO. The department pretended to have an Atlantic salmon reporting site but that was never monitored or attended to - no one was there.

Our government should be sued for introducing a foreign species and held accountable for their removal Once and for All; including removal of fish farms before it is entirely too late for the wild Pacific salmon and all that depend upon them.

How the UN has Evolved to Enable "Aggressive War"

U.N. Enablers of ‘Aggressive War’

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

September 8, 2017

Special Report: U.N. investigative reports, like a new one condemning Syria for alleged sarin use, are received as impartial and credible, but are often just more war propaganda from compromised bureaucrats, reports Robert Parry.

Many still want to believe the U.N. engages in impartial investigations, and is more trustworthy than, self-interested governments, whether Russia or the United States. But trust in U.N. agencies is not well placed; what independence they may have once had has been broken, a reality relevant to recent “investigations” of Syrian chemical weapons use.

There is also the larger issue of the U.N.’ peculiar silence about one of its primary and original responsibilities, shouldered after the horrors of World War II – to stop wars of aggression, which today include “regime change” wars organized, funded and armed by the US and other Western powers, such as the Iraq invasion in 2003, overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011, and series of proxy wars including the ongoing Syrian conflict.

After World War II, the Nuremberg Tribunals declared that a “war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

That recognition became a guiding principle of the United Nations Charter, which specifically prohibits aggression or even threats of aggression against sovereign states.

The Charter declares in Article One that it is a chief U.N. purpose “to take effective collective measures … for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” Article Two, which defines the appropriate behavior of U.N. members, adds that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state…”

However, instead of enforcing this fundamental rule, the United Nations has, in effect, caved in to the political and financial pressure brought to bear by the United States and its allies. A similar disregard for international law also pervades the U.S. mainstream media and much of the European and Israeli press as well.

There is an assumption that the United States and its allies have the right to intervene militarily anywhere in the world at anytime solely at their own discretion. Though U.S. diplomats and mainstream journalists still voice outrage when adversaries deviate from international law – such as denunciations of Russia over Ukraine’s civil war – there is silence or support when a U.S. president or, say, an Israeli prime minister orders military strikes inside another country. Then, we hear only justifications for these attacks.

Shielding Israel

For instance, on Friday, The New York Times published an article about Israel conducting a bombing raid inside Syria that reportedly killed two Syrians. The article is notable because it contains not a single reference to international law and Israel’s clear-cut violation of it. Instead, the article amounts to a lengthy rationalization for Israel’s aggression, framing the attacks as Israeli self-defense or, as the Times put it, “an escalation of Israel’s efforts to prevent its enemies from gaining access to sophisticated weapons.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in 2012, drawing his own “red line” on how far he will let Iran go in refining nuclear fuel.

The article also contains no reference to the fact that Israel maintains a sophisticated nuclear arsenal and is known to possess chemical and biological weapons as well. Implicit in the Times article is that the U.S. and Israel live under one set of rules while countries on the U.S.-Israeli enemies list must abide by another. Not to state the obvious but this is a clear violation of the journalistic principle of objectivity.

But the Times is far from alone in applying endless double standards. Hypocrisy now permeates international agencies, including the United Nations, which instead of pressing for accountability in cases of U.S. or Israeli aggression has become an aider and abettor, issuing one-sided reports that justify further aggression while doing little or nothing to stop U.S.-backed acts of aggression.

For instance, there was no serious demand that U.S. and British leaders who organized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, should face any accountability for committing the “supreme international crime” of an aggressive war. As far as the U.N. is concerned, war-crimes tribunals are for the little guys.

This breakdown in the integrity of the U.N. and related agencies has developed over the past few decades as one U.S. administration after another has exploited U.S. clout as the world’s “unipolar power” to ensure that international bureaucrats conform to U.S. interests. Any U.N. official who deviates from this unwritten rule can expect to have his or her reputation besmirched and career truncated.

So, while harshly critical of alleged abuses by the Syrian military, U.N. officials are notoriously silent when it comes to condemning the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and other countries that have been “covertly” backing anti-government “rebels” who have engaged in grave crimes against humanity in Syria.

The U.S. and its allies have even mounted overt military operations inside Syrian territory, including airstrikes against the Syrian military and its allies, without permission of the internationally recognized government in Damascus. Yet, the U.N. does nothing to curtail or condemn these clear violations of its own Charter.

Breaking the Independence

The reason is that, for much of this century, the U.S. government has worked to bring key agencies, such as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), under U.S. control and domination.

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

This drive to neutralize the U.N.’s independence gained powerful momentum after the 9/11 attacks and President George W. Bush’s launching of his “global war on terror.”

But this effort continued under President Obama and now under President Trump.

In 2002, after opening the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and effectively waiving the Geneva Convention’s protections for prisoners of war, Bush bristled at criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary C. Robinson.

Soon, Robinson was targeted for removal. Her fierce independence, which also included criticism of Israel, was unacceptable. The Bush administration lobbied hard against her reappointment, leading to her retirement in 2002.

Also, in 2002, the Bush administration engineered the firing of OPCW’s Director General Jose Mauricio Bustani who was viewed as an obstacle to the U.S. plans for invading Iraq.

Bustani, who had been reelected unanimously to the post less than a year earlier, described his removal in a 2013 interview with Marlise Simons of The New York Times, citing how Bush’s emissary, Under-Secretary of State John Bolton, marched into Bustani’s office and announced that he (Bustani) would be fired.

“The story behind [Bustani’s] ouster has been the subject of interpretation and speculation for years, and Mr. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, has kept a low profile since then,” wrote Simons. “But with the agency [OPCW] thrust into the spotlight with news of the Nobel [Peace] Prize [in October 2013], Mr. Bustani agreed to discuss what he said was the real reason: the Bush administration’s fear that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would conflict with Washington’s rationale for invading it. Several officials involved in the events, some speaking publicly about them for the first time, confirmed his account.”

The official U.S. explanation for getting rid of Bustani was incompetence, but Bustani and the other diplomats close to the case reported that Bustani’s real offense was drawing Iraq into acceptance of the OPCW’s conventions for eliminating chemical weapons, just as the Bush administration was planning to pin its propaganda campaign for invading Iraq on the country’s alleged secret stockpile of WMD.

Bustani’s ouster gave President Bush a clearer path to the invasion by letting him frighten Americans with the prospect of Iraq sharing its chemical weapons and possibly a nuclear bomb with Al Qaeda terrorists.

Dismissing Iraq’s insistence that it had destroyed its chemical weapons and didn’t have a nuclear weapons project, Bush launched the invasion in March 2003, only for the world to discover later that the Iraqi government was telling the truth.

Compliant Replacements

In comparison to the independent-minded Bustani, the biography of the current OPCW director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, a career Turkish diplomat, suggests that the OPCW could be expected to slant its case against the Syrian government in the current Syrian conflict.

Not only has Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, been a key player in supporting the proxy war to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Uzumcu also served as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, which has long sought regime change in Syria and has publicly come out in favor of the anti-government rebels.

Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat and director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Another one-time thorn in the side of the U.S. “unipolar power” was the IAEA when it was under the control of Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian. The IAEA challenged the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq having a nuclear program, when one really didn’t exist.

However, being right is no protection when U.S. officials want to bring an agency into line with U.S. policy and propaganda. So, early in the Obama administration – as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pushing for a hardline on Iran over its nascent nuclear program – the U.S. government engineered the insertion of a pliable Japanese diplomat, Yukiya Amano, into the IAEA’s top job.

Before his appointment, Amano had portrayed himself as an independent-minded fellow who was resisting U.S.-Israeli propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program. Yet behind the scenes, he was meeting with U.S. and Israeli officials to coordinate on how to serve their interests (even though Israel is an actual rogue nuclear state, not a hypothetical or fictional one).

Amano’s professed doubts about an Iranian nuclear-bomb project, which even the U.S. intelligence community agreed no longer existed, was just a theatrical device to intensify the later impact if he were to declare that Iran indeed was building a secret nuke, thus justifying the desire of Israeli leaders and American neoconservatives to “bomb-bomb-bomb” Iran.

But this U.S. ploy was spoiled by Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning’s leaking of hundreds of thousands of pages of U.S. diplomatic cables. Among them were reports on Amano’s hidden collaboration with U.S. and Israeli officials; his agreement with U.S. emissaries on who to fire and who to retain among IAEA officials; and even Amano’s request for additional U.S. financial contributions.

The U.S. embassy cables revealing the truth about Amano were published by the U.K. Guardian in 2011 (although ignored by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. news outlets). Despite the silence of the major U.S. news media, Internet outlets, such as, highlighted the Amano cables, meaning that enough Americans knew the facts not to be fooled again. [For details, see’s “Did Manning Help Avert War with Iran?”]

A Collective Collapse

So, over the years, there has been a collective collapse of the independence at U.N.-related agencies. An international bureaucrat who gets on the wrong side of the United States or Israel can expect to be fired and humiliated, while those who play ball can be assured of a comfortable life as a “respected” diplomat.

A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military.

But this reality is little known to most Americans so they are still inclined to be influenced when a “U.N. investigation” reaches some conclusion condemning some country that already is on the receiving end of negative U.S. propaganda.

The New York Times, CNN and other major U.S. news outlets are sure to trumpet these “findings” with great seriousness and respect and to treat any remaining doubters as outside the mainstream. Of course, there’s an entirely different response on the rare occasion when some brave or foolhardy human rights bureaucrat criticizes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Then, the U.N. finding is just a sign of anti-Israeli bias and should be discounted.

In the far more frequent cases when a U.N. report is in line with U.S. propaganda, American journalists almost never turn a critical eye toward the quality of the evidence or the leaps of logic. We saw that happen this week with a thinly sourced and highly dubious U.N. report blaming the Syrian government for an alleged sarin incident on April 4. A major contradiction in the evidence – testimony given to OPCW investigators undercutting the conclusion that a Syrian warplane could have dropped a sarin bomb – was brushed aside by the U.N. human rights investigators and was ignored by the Times and other major U.S. news outlets.

But what is perhaps most troubling is that these biased U.N. reports are now used to justify continued wars of aggression by stronger countries against weaker ones. So, instead of acting as a bulwark to protect the powerless from the powerful as the U.N. Charter intended, the U.N. bureaucracy has turned the original noble purpose of the institution on its head by becoming an enabler of the “supreme international crime,” wars of aggression.

[For more on this topic, see’s “How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies.“]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and


Friday, September 08, 2017

Syrian Government Reports Lethal Israeli Air Attacks Aimed at Bolstering Failing ISIS

Army General Command: Israeli warplanes target one of the Syrian military positions near Massyaf, killing two army personnel

by R.J/H.Zain SANA

September 7, 2017
Damascus - General Command of the Army and Armed Forces affirmed that the Israeli warplanes fired several rockets from the Lebanese airspace at 02:42 a.m. on Thursday targeting one of the Syrian military positions near Massyaf in Hama countryside , killing two army personnel and causing material damage to the site.

“This aggression comes in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of the ISIS terrorists after the sweeping victories achieved by the Syrian Arab Army against terrorism on several fronts, and it affirms the direct support provided by the Israeli entity to the ISIS and other terrorist organizations,” the Army Command said in a statement.

The Command warned against the dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region, reiterating determination to eliminate terrorism and uproot it from all the Syrian territories whatever the type of support provided to these terrorist groups is.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Always Israel’s War

The Conflict In Syria Was Always Israel’s War

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

September 04th, 2017

Because Israel has staked first its survival and ultimately its growth into a dominant regional power on the disunity of its neighboring nations, it comes as no surprise that, faced with a winding-down of the Syrian conflict, it is now moving sharply against that development.

After years of fomenting the Syrian conflict from the shadows, the U.S. has recently seemed to back away from its push to militarily intervene in the embattled nation, instead choosing to focus its saber-rattling and destabilization efforts on other theaters. The consequence of this has seemingly been the winding down of the long-running conflict, now entering its seventh year.

Buoyed by Russia, Iran and Lebanon, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has managed to retake vast swaths of territory, all while surviving and growing stronger over the course of a largely foreign-funded onslaught. As a result, many of the governments that were instrumental in funding and arming the so-called “moderate” opposition have begun to extricate themselves, unwilling to further test the resilience of Assad or the Syrian people.

With some anticipating the long-awaited conclusion of the Syrian conflict, recent threats from Israel’s government to assassinate Assad by bombing his residence seemed to appear out of the blue. According to the Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a recent visit to Russia warned the Kremlin that if Iran continues to “extend its reach” in Syria, Israel would bomb the presidential palace in Damascus. 

Israel’s comments should come as no surprise, however, as the foreign-funded and manufactured conflict in Syria was always Israel’s war. The only real surprise is Israel’s growing isolation in pushing for the further escalation of the conflict.

WikiLeaks sheds light on the origins of the war

Though it has successfully avoided being labeled a major player in the effort to oust Assad, Israel has long been the mastermind of the plan, which stems in large part from the long-standing hostilities between the two nations as well as Israel’s own regional ambitions. State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have shown that in 2006, five years before the conflict in Syria manifested, the government of Israel had hatched a plan to overthrow the Assad government by engineering sectarian strife in the country, creating paranoia within the highest-ranks of the Syrian government, and isolating Syria from its strongest regional ally, Iran.

Israel then passed this plan along to the United States, which would then involve Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt in fomenting the “breakdown” of the Assad regime as a way of weakening both Iran and Hezbollah — with the effect of empowering both Israel and the Gulf monarchies, two seemingly disparate forces in the region that are becoming increasingly allied.

Leaked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton further reveal Israel’s role in covertly creating the conflict and its clear role in securing the involvement of the U.S. and other nations in executing its plan for Assad’s removal. One email, forwarded by Clinton to her advisor Jacob Sullivan, argues that Israel is convinced that Iran would lose “its only ally” in the region were Assad’s government to collapse.

It further stated that “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.” This possible sectarian war was perceived as a potential “factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran.”

Another Clinton email released by WikiLeaks stated,

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,”


Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

The email also notes:

A successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States” and states that “arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

Read the full Wikileaks release here.

Stated plainly, the U.S.’ decision to spend over $1 billion until 2015 to arm Syria’s terrorist-linked “rebels” — and to invoke the assistance of Wahhabi terrorism exporters like Saudi Arabia and Qatar in funneling weapons and funds to these same groups — was spurred by Israel, which not only drafted the original blueprint for the Syrian conflict but guided U.S. involvement by exerting its powerful influence over the foreign policy of that country.

Aiding the Rebels

Israel did more, however, than covertly instigate and guide the funding of opposition “rebels” — having secretly funded and aided opposition groups, including ones with overt terrorist affiliations, over the course of the six-year-long conflict.

Israeli involvement in direct funding and aiding the Syrian “rebels” was suspected for years before being officially made public by the Wall Street Journal in June of this year. The report revealed that Israel, since the beginning of the conflict, had been “supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel, and medical supplies for years, a secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces.” Israel has also frequently brought wounded “rebels” into Israel for medical treatment, a policy it often touts as a “humanitarian effort.”

These “friendly” forces were armed groups that formed part of or were allied with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, known for committing atrocities against thousands of Syrian civilians and slaughtering religious and ethnic minorities. Since 2013, al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups have dominated the “eight-square-kilometer separation zone on the Golan.” Israel has stated officially that these fighters are part of the U.S. coalition-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). However, it has long been known that the vast majority of the groups comprising FSA have pledged allegiance to the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, and that those who still fight under the FSA banner meet with al-Nusra on a daily basis.

Israel’s support for terrorist groups went far beyond medical treatment, food supplies and cash. The Israeli army was also found to have been in regular communication with these terrorist groups and even helped “pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons.” In addition, when the positions of the “rebel” groups it funded, armed and paid were in danger of being overtaken by Syrian government forces, Israel stepped in to directly bomb Syrian targets. For instance, in June, Israel attacked several Syrian military positions after claiming a stray mortar had landed within the boundaries of the Golan Heights, part of Syria that has long been occupied by Israel. However, the attack tellingly coincided with Syrian army advancements against the “rebel” groups that Israel has long cultivated as part of the so-called “buffer zone.”

Furthermore, Israel has launched attacks inside Syria “dozens and dozens of times,” according to a recent admission by Netanyahu. Earlier this year, Israel also threatened to “destroy” Syrian air defenses after the Syrian army fired missiles at Israeli warplanes striking targets within Syria.

Also very telling has been Israel’s position on Daesh (ISIS). In June of last year, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevi, openly stated that Israel does not want to see Daesh defeated in Syria — expressing concern about the offensives against Daesh territory and lamenting their “most difficult” situation. Prior to Halevi’s comments, Israeli officials had regularly noted that Daesh conquering the whole of Syria would be preferable to the survival of the Assad government. These comments have been echoed by Israeli and NATO-affiliated think tanks, one of which called Daesh “a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia — despite Daesh’s barbaric tactics, war crimes, enslavement of women and ethnic cleansing efforts.

Israel’s larger geopolitical agenda

Though Israel’s support of Wahhabi terrorists like Daesh (ISIS) and al-Nusra may seem counter-intuitive, Israel’s overarching purpose in expelling Assad from power is based on strategic geopolitical and economic goals that Israel is determined to meet at any cost. While Israel frequently mentions Iran as the pretext for its involvement in Syria, the strongest motivators for Israel’s participation in the destruction of its northern neighbor are oil and territorial expansion.

One of Israel’s clearest reasons for being interested in the destabilization of Syria is its ability to assert further control of the Golan Heights, an area of Syria that Israel has illegally occupied since 1967 and annexed in 1981. Despite filling the area with illegal settlements and military assets, Israel has been unable to convince the international community, and even its close allies such as the U.S., to recognize its sovereignty over the territory. However, the conflict in Syria has proven beneficial to this end, allowing Israel to send even more settlers into the Golan, an estimated 100,000 over five years.

Israel is largely interested in gaining control over the Golan for economic reasons, owing to the occupied territory’s oil reserves, which are estimated to contain “billions of barrels.” Under the cover of the Syrian conflict, the Israeli branch of an American oil company — whose investors include Dick Cheney, Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — has been drilling exploratory wells throughout the region, as the Heights’ uncertain territorial status prevents Israel from financially exploiting the resource.

Despite the prohibitions of international law, Israel is eager to tap into those reserves, as they have the potential to “make Israel energy self-sufficient.” Israel has even offered, per the Galant plan, to “rebuild” Syria with billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars in exchange for the Golan Heights — though the plan received a tepid reception from all involved parties other than Israel itself.

As its stands, Assad’s removal and replacement with a government friendly to Israeli and Western interests is Israel’s only real means of claiming the Golan Height’s energy resources for itself.

Pawns blocking Israel’s endgame

Aside from the oil and the territory it seeks to gain in the Golan Heights, Israel is also seeking to expand well beyond that territory in order to more widely exert its influence and become the region’s “superpower.” This ambition is described in the Yinon Plan, a strategy intended to ensure Israel’s regional superiority in the Middle East that chiefly involves reconfiguring the entire Arab world into smaller and weaker sectarian states. This has manifested in Israel’s support for the partition of Iraq as well as Syria, abetted by its support for the establishment of a separatist Kurdish state within these two nations.

This goal, in particular, largely explains Israel’s obsession with curbing Iranian influence in the Middle East, whether in Syria or elsewhere. Iran – more than any other nation in the region – is the most likely to threaten the “superpower” status that Israel seeks to gain for itself, as well as Israel’s loss of monopoly as the region’s only nuclear power.

Given Israel’s compound interests in seeing the removal of Assad and the partition of Syria, it is hardly surprising that Israeli political rhetoric has reached new heights of saber-rattling as Tel Aviv becomes increasingly concerned that the conflict it masterminded could backfire. Prior to the explosive comments regarding Israeli threats to bomb Assad’s residence, an anonymous Israeli government minister blamed the U.S. for backing out of Syria, a move he argued sacrificed Israeli interests:

The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now that the United States ignores the fact that Iran is obtaining territorial continuity to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s northern border [through Syria].”

Not only that but Israel has recently vowed to “nullify” the ceasefire deal brokered between Russia and the U.S. with Syrian and Iranian support if it fails to comply with Israel’s needs — an ultimatum based on rather subjective terms given that “Israel’s needs” are hardly static. Israel’s response again shows the perception among officials in Tel Aviv that the Syrian conflict is of primary importance to Israeli geopolitical interests.

Furthermore, given that the response suggested so far by Israeli officials – on more than one occasion – has been to assassinate Syria’s democratically-elected President – the contemplated means of Israel “nullifying” the ceasefire deal will likely have explosive implications. Israel — apparently refusing to accept that the conflict it orchestrated is not going, and may not end, as planned — is now willing to escalate the situation militarily, with or without allies, resorting to dangerous brinkmanship with global implications.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Loving the World's Children to Death

The president’s strange way of showing his ‘love’ of children: Trump Dumps DACA as Well as Child-Maiming Cluster Weapons

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

September 7, 2017

When Donald Trump says he “loves children” as he did in trying to make the case that his termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was not a case of child abuse, it’s important to remember that Trump has also amped up US support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen, and has specifically continued to supply the Saudi air force with US-made cluster bombs, the primary victims of which are children.

A UN Convention on Cluster Munitions that prohibits the “use, transfer and stockpiling” of cluster bombs and shells was adopted in Dublin, Ireland in 2008, went into force on August 1, 2010 after being signed by 30 nations, and today has 116n countries that have ratified it.

Among the holdouts are the US, Russia, China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Brazil — all countries that both produce and stockpile such weapons.

In the US, the last company manufacturing these horrific Weapons of Child Destruction Textron, Inc., announced last September that it would no longer make them, most likely because of massive global and domestic objections to their use. Last year too, the Obama administration, which had been supplying these weapons to Saudi Arabia for it’s war on Yemen (and which had been using them in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and probably Syria, too), cancelled shipments to Saudi Arabia, allegedly because of concerns that the Saudi’s were indiscriminately bombing hospitals and other civilian targets with them.  

Here is what President and Commander in Chief Trump really thinks of kids.

Trump's war on children in Yemen: Child victims of Saudi-dropped cluster bombs, and images of unexploded US-made cluster weapons

A report by the Intercept [1] in December says that the US continues to supply cluster weapons to its client state Saudi Arabia, and to allow it to use the stockpile of these bombs that were already shipped there from Pentagon stockpiles.

Clearly if this president “loved” children, he would order an immediate halt to their use by US client states and by US forces. According to research by the group Cluster Munitions Monitor [2], 97 percent of the victims of cluster munitions are civilians — the majority of them children.

And the “gift” of cluster murder is one that keeps on giving long after wars in which the weapons are used have ended. Ask the long-suffering people of Laos, where the US dropped colossal numbers of them on peasant fields to disrupt support for the Pathet Lao, and where farmers and young children still inadvertently trigger them when working or playing in the fields. (It's a safe bet that Trump chief of staff Gen. John F. Kelly, isn't letting Cluster Munitions Monitor reports reach the Oval Office!)

I visited Laos in the mid 1990s, a full two decades after the US air war on that impoverished Southeast Asian nation had ended, and was struck by the number of young children, clearly born after the war, that I saw I saw on the street. It was explained to me that they were the victims of the “bombis” — small ball-shaped bomblets that had been released over 20 years earlier from US cluster bomb casings, to become buried, unexploded, in the soft earth. It is known that some 30 percent or more of such cluster bomb bomblets don’t not explode on impact, leaving them lying around to be found by curious children years later.

It’s worth remembering President Trump’s support for this horrific weapon to put his politically calculating termination of DACA in context.

In the case of DACA, some 800,000 young people who were brought to the US without documentation by their parents as babies or young children, opted to register themselves with the government, trusting promises that they would be allowed to stay on without fear of deportation. They provided information about their address, where they worked or attended school, and about their families.

Now, with DACA being terminated, there is the distinct risk, if the Republican-led Congress does not or cannot pass DACA-type legislation, that the very information they provided will be used to hunt them down and deport them to a country where they will be strangers, in many cases not even speaking the local language.

In some cases, they will be getting deported to places where their lives could even be in danger, such as Mexico or Honduras, where drugs and gang violence are endemic, and were the reason many of their parents fled with their young children.

The cold political calculation of this president is clearly that he can use the popular support for DACA among Democrats, and the rear of inflaming Latino voters among at least some Republican members of Congress, to win passage of his much loathed and ridiculed plan for a “beautiful wall” along the Mexican border.

He may or may not be right. But the game he is playing with almost a million young lives of people who are as American as any native-born citizen, and who entrusted their fate to the US government when they registered for DACA is nothing short of obscene.

Maybe not as obscene as his continued support for the US use of and export of WCDs — cluster munitions that primarily kill children — but obscene nonetheless.

As this recent Lao child victim of America's Indochina War-era cluster bombing of the Laotian countryside demonstrates, cluster weapons are a 'gift' that just keeps giving long after hostilities end (only one percent of the cluster bombs dropped by the US on Laos have been recovered to date, nearly half a century after they were dropped)


What Do Foreign Minister Freeland's Denied Ties to Plutarch Soros Book Deal Mean?

Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland Hid Light Under Bushel Until Toronto Globe & Mail Exposé

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

September 4, 2017


A Toronto newspaper has revealed that Canada’s leading Russia hater, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, had a deal with George Soros (left) to write his biography after losing her journalist jobs at the Financial Times and Reuters, and before starting her run for election to the Canadian parliament.

On August 16 Toronto's Globe and Mail reported Soros is a “close friend” of Freeland, and that with her he has “very great hopes for Canada”.

Before she decided to run for parliament, the newspaper says Freeland had a “deal” for “a sort of authorized biography of George Soros”. Soros’s spokesman in New York, Laura Silber, refused to answer repeated questions last week for clarification of the terms of this deal or the compensation Soros agreed with Freeland.

Freeland’s first filing to the Canadian parliament’s ethics watchdog was registered on May 1, 2014. There is no mention of Soros, but there is “income received under a book collaboration agreement with an individual”. Freeland refused last week to identify that individual by name.

Freeland’s parliamentary website ran this picture of Soros (l),
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (c) and Freeland (r)
at a World Economic Forum meeting she arranged in
Davos in January 2016 

In her parliamentary filing on income and assets Freeland also mentions “speaking fees and honoraria” she received for “10th Annual Yalta Meeting, Yalta, Ukraine”. That’s a roundabout way of reporting that Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk’s eponymous foundation paid Freeland for her participation in the annual conference of his Yalta European Strategy (YES), an expensive lobbying effort to drive Ukrainian membership of the European Union and combat the Russian alternatives.

At the conference for which Pinchuk paid Freeland, others on the tab included Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair. For more detail on Pinchuk’s funding of an anti-Russian lobby effort in the US, and for the source of his funds in a Russian insurance company fraud, read this and this.

Freeland and Pinchuk at YES.

Freeland refuses to say how much money she has received from organizations associated with Pinchuk.

She also won’t explain why in her list of assets, which she is required to file each year with the Canadian parliament’s Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, she has omitted to identify the asset she has publicly admitted to owning with her sister, an apartment in Kiev overlooking Maidan Square. This is Freeeland’s disclosure file and here is Freeland’s admission in February 2014 to Maclean’s magazine that she owns an apartment on the Maidan.

In March 2016, according to her parliamentary income and assets reports, Freeland filed what the Ethics Office calls a “confidential report”. The brief mention omits to say what has been kept a state secret, or why, except to conclude that “all initial reporting and compliance measures have been taken to comply with the Conflict of Interest Act.” Freeland was required to sell her company share portfolio.

Freeland’s concealment of the personal interests she and backers like Soros and Pinchuk share in their pursuit of policy towards Ukraine and Russia has not been investigated by the Canadian press or the parliament’s conflict of interest commissioner. The Financial Times management in London proved to be more inquisitive of Freeland’s closeness to the subjects of her reporting.

According to the Globe and Mail, she “clashed with editor-in-chief Lionel Barber”, and was ousted from her post in Europe, removed to New York in what was reported as “not a promotion”. Last week Freeland was asked to clarify whether the Financial Times investigation related to possible conflict of interest, and what the outcome was. She won’t say.

In Canada the Globe and Mail and other newspapers and media networks defend Freeland from the evidence that she has concealed her long family collaboration with the German Army occupation of the Galician region of Poland and Ukraine during World War II, and the family’s active support of the Galician programme for the liquidation of Poles, Jews and Russians. For more on that story, read this.

The promotion of ethnic cleansing for the installation of a Greater Galicia, centered in Lviv (Lemberg in German, Lvov in Russian) had a bloody history before Michael Chomiak, Freeland’s maternal grandfather, slipped out of Soviet Ukraine in 1939 and volunteered for training and service to the German occupation authorities in Cracow, Poland.

Newly read documents of Chomiak’s, including several discovered in Warsaw this year, establish that Chomiak and his family were rewarded by the Germans with apartment, car, and other assets all taken from Jews who were shipped to death camps. So high-ranking in the German programme for Galicia was Chomiak that he was evacuated by the German Army back to Germany in 1945. The Polish intelligence services were still hunting for Chomiak until the 1980s – without knowing he had fled for refuge to an Alberta farm in Canada; that continues to be one of Freeland’s real estate assets today.

The latest Globe & Mail report dismissed this history and Freeland’s refusal to address it, by calling it a Moscow operation to “to discredit Ms Freeland by making hay of unpleasant family history about her grandfather serving as editor of a Nazi-controlled newspaper.” The Globe and Mail reporter, Adam Radwanski, also comes from the family of a Pole, Piotr Radwanski, a eugenics specialist, who ended up in Baden-Baden, Germany, after the war ended, and then migrated to Montreal.

Freeland’s promotion of her grandfather’s programme for the military takeover of Ukraine as German, now Canadian policy, is one of several Galician operations in Ottawa. The family of Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, appointed commander of the Canadian Army in July 2016, is from Stryi, 40 kilometres south of Lviv; his family’s record is “truly inspirational”, according to the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress.

The head of the Canadian Army’s force in Ukraine, Operation UNIFIER, is Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki, whose family also comes from the Galician region, and who was named to his Galician post in March of this year. The operational headquarters is at Starychi, 40 kilometres northwest of Lviv in an area notorious for its Ukrainian and German killing grounds of Jews and Poles.

Lubiniecki’s unit had been restricted to Galicia at the start of its deployment in 2015, but in March of this year Freeland and Wynnyk decided to extend their operational area eastwards.

“While Canadian troops are still required to stay away from the border with Russia and the fighting in eastern Ukraine,” Lubiniecki told a Toronto reporter, “the rest of the country is now fair game.” 

Left photo: Wynnyk (r) with Ukrainian Lieut-Gen. Serhii Popko (l), 
Ukraine -- November 14, 2016.
Right photo: Lubiniecki (r) with Ukrainian Lieut-General Pavlo Tkachuk (l), 
Lviv – August 17, 2017. 

On a visit to the Galician front in July, Wynnyk told the Ukrainian state news agency: “[W]e are also learning from our Ukrainian counterparts based on their recent experiences.”

Lubiniecki told the Ukrainian media:

“That’s what allies do for one another. They share lessons learned… That’s certainly what occurs between Ukrainians and Canadians.”

Another Galician is Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk. His family comes from Ivano-Frankivsk and Buchach. Waschuk was posted to the Canadian embassy in Kiev in 1994-98, and then appointed ambassador in October 2014. As a youngster in Canada, Waschuk trained as a member of the Galician Plast youth organization.

In mid-August a report on the new evidence on Freeland was commissioned from me by a Canadian politician and former member of the Green Party, Dimitri Lascaris. He doubles as a reporter, interviewer and member of the board of directors of The Real News Network (TRNN), a provincial internet broadcaster in Baltimore, in the US. Lascaris (pictured below left) is supervised by Paul Jay (right), a former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist and now editor in chief of TRNN.

Lascaris recorded a 30-minute interview with me on August 21. At first he delayed its broadcast, claiming he was “fact-checking”. Lascaris then claimed that Soros had issued a “definitive rejection” of the reported deal with Freeland, and cancelled the broadcast. He and his TRNN colleagues refuse to reveal the email exchange with Soros.

Lascaris added last week that he hasn’t had the time to check with Freeland on her side of the Soros deal, or her Ukrainian sources of income and real estate. His reason, he said, is that “both of my kids are leaving home to go to university and I am moving them into their new accommodations far from our home. I am not going to drop everything and neglect my family’s needs to respond immediately to your email.”

Update: Dimitri Lascaris answers...


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi's Disturbing Record on Rohingya

Suu Kyi defends military crackdown on Burma's Rohingya Muslims

by John Roberts - WSWS

2 December 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of government in Burma, has dismissed mounting allegations of killings by the country’s military of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, bordering Bangladesh. State Counsellor Suu Kyi’s office issued a statement on November 19 declaring:

“Regarding those incidents, after asking the Tatmadaw [the military] and border guard troops in those regions, it is known the information is absolutely not true.”

At every point, Suu Kyi and her government, in which the military hold the key ministries of defence, home affairs and border affairs, have attempted to downplay the size of the military’s current operation and its impact on the local population.

The military initiated a crackdown in northern Rakhine state after attacks on three border posts killed nine police and soldiers on October 9. The army command blamed Rohingya militants connected to the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, a loose grouping widely thought to have been defunct since at least 2001.

Aid groups and the media have been largely excluded from the “operational area” declared by the military around the town of Maungdaw, where it says “clearance operations” are being conducted. A brief tour of Maungdaw on November 2 by foreign diplomats and a UN official was described by Time as “highly chaperoned.”

The editor of the English-language Myanmar Times, Fiona MacGregor, was sacked after she wrote an October 27 article on allegations of widespread rape of Rohingya women. She said the management claimed her article breached company policy by damaging “national reconciliation.”

An article “A Genocide in the Making” published yesterday by the Foreign Policy web site stated:

“A recent escalation in the latest violence has raised the official death toll since the October crackdown to 134, although Rohingya advocacy groups put it at more than 420. Despite Bangladesh’s refusal to take refugees, several hundred are believed to have fled to camps there. A number who crossed the Naf River separating the two countries in the middle of November were gunned down mid-river. While a number of security personnel have been killed in skirmishes, the overwhelming majority of deaths have been Rohingya.”

The UN has reported that some 30,000 people have been displaced in Rakhine state since October, adding to the more than 100,000 already living in squalid, heavily-guarded internment camps for those displaced in the anti-Rohingya pogroms that began in 2012.

For decades, the military and Buddhist nationalist groups have terrorised and denied the Rohingya the most basic democratic rights—many are deemed second-class citizens or denied citizenship altogether. All are officially regarded as “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh despite many having lived in Burma for generations.

Like the rest of the political establishment, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is mired in anti-Rohingya chauvinism and opposed to the granting of citizenship and other basic democratic rights. In May 2016, Suu Kyi asked the US ambassador to Burma to refrain from using the word “Rohingya” as it implied recognition of an ethnic and religious group.

Despite media restrictions, there is growing evidence of military atrocities in the north of Rakhine state. The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued two reports based on satellite surveillance images that indicate the extent of the army’s “clearance” operations. On November 21, its second report found that a total of 1,250 buildings had been destroyed in five villages by arson.

The HRW evidence has been reinforced by other reports.

Time on November 14 said the army had responded with helicopter gunships when it claimed it was confronted by 500 Rohingya in the village of Gwason armed with “small guns, knives and spears.” The BBC reported at least 25 suspects were killed there on November 13.

A Rohingya man named Salaman told Agence France Presse that he helped bury the bodies of a man and a woman who were shot by soldiers in the village of Doetan.

“Soldiers came in to Doetan village in the evening of [November 19] about 5pm. Most of the men from the village ran away because they are afraid of being arrested and tortured. Then they [the soldiers] started shooting and two were killed.”

Presidential spokesman Zaw Htay downplayed the satellite imagery and flatly rejected reports of the two deaths in Doetan. He provided no evidence, insisting only that the government and military have “strongly prohibited any human rights violations, especially against women and children.”

Chris Lewa, an activist with the Arakan Project, told the Voice of America the military operation was creating great hardships.

“It’s very brutal and the issue [in] that area is access to displaced people and even non-displaced. And it’s not only the poor, it’s everyone because they can’t access markets and they cannot harvest—this is going to lead to a humanitarian disaster.”

The brutal treatment of the Rohingya has provoked protests in neighbouring countries. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that 400 people gathered last Friday outside the Burmese Embassy in Jakarta, and on Saturday several thousand marched through the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka demanding an end to the killing of Rohingya.

Suu Kyi was denounced as a “butcher” according to the report. There were also demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The Malaysian government called in the Burmese ambassador to issue a warning and express its “concern” over the situation in Rakhine.

At a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on November 17, US Ambassador Samantha Power expressed concern over the situation in the Rakhine and called for international observers to be allowed into the area. No credibility should be given to such statements as Washington routinely uses “human rights” as a means for pursuing its interests around the world through diplomatic and military interventions.

For decades, the US and its allies have promoted the pro-Western Suu Kyi as Burma’s “democracy icon” and backed her installation in power in April in a de facto coalition with the military. In reality, the military still controls the reins of power, with Suu Kyi acting as its promoter as the regime seeks investment and aid internationally.

By keeping the spotlight on the atrocities in Rakhine, Washington no doubt is seeking to marginalise the Burmese military, consolidate the position of Suu Kyu and the NLD, and further draw Burma into its network of alliances and strategic partnerships in Asia aimed against China.

The fate of the Rohingya people, and the fact that Suu Kyi backs the military’s repression, is of no concern to Washington.

Britain's Libel Laws in Action: Silencing Dissent, Quashing Freedom of Thought

Save Craig Murray

by Craig Murray

6 Sep, 2017 

I am being sued for libel in the High Court in England by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of the Daily Mail Online. Mr Wallis Simons is demanding £40,000 in damages and the High Court has approved over £100,000 in costs for Mark Lewis, Mr Wallis Simons’ lawyer. I may become liable for all of this should I lose the case, and furthermore I have no money to pay for my defence. I am currently a defendant in person. This case has the potential to bankrupt me and blight the lives of my wife and children. I have specifically been threatened by Mr Lewis with bankruptcy.

Mr Wallis Simons boasts on his website:

In 2015, I published a series of articles exposing Jeremy Corbyn’s links with anti-Semitic figures, and this led to what is now known as the “Labour anti-Semitism scandal.”

It was my Sky TV appearance on this subject which led to this libel action against me.

It is my view that English libel law remains an international disgrace, a device by which the wealthy and those with wealthy backers, and only they, can stifle freedom of speech. Contempt of Court laws – with a penalty of two years imprisonment – even prevent poor defendants like me from putting their case openly before the public in order to appeal for a public defence fund. I am extremely limited in what I can tell you.

How can it cost just one party six times the average annual national wage to litigate a five minute TV broadcast? The libel system, with its in-built advantage to the wealthy and those backed by the wealthy, is a complete disgrace. Andy Wightman, the brilliant Scottish land reform campaigner, has been going through the same Hell.

I find I am obliged to beg you for funds to help me defend the case. I need to ask every single person who reads this blog to find it in their heart to make at least some contribution, as much as you can afford. The scale of this thing is such that I need to ask those of you who are comfortably off to make a far larger donation than you might normally consider. In practice we are going to need to include some four figure donations to make the ludicrous amounts required. But every single penny mounts up and please do give something.

If you have ever enjoyed this blog – join the fight. If you dislike this blog but support freedom of speech – join the fight. If you support the right to defend Palestine without being labelled ant-Semitic – join the fight. If you despised the anti-Corbyn media campaign – join the fight. If the Daily Mail sickens you – join the fight.

Every donation, no matter how small, will be gratefully received. The case will be heard in the High Court on 7 November. In the event of victory, after costs are met (even a costs award does not cover all actual costs) excess donations will be returned pro-rata unless you specify they should be applied to the future of maintaining the blog.

This is a question not only of the continued existence of this blog, but of the future well-being of my young family. It is unfair on you for me to place all of that in your hands, but that is the situation into which I am forced.

UPDATE: In just 8 hours we have received £21,790 in donations to the fighting fund. This is a fantastic start. 836 individuals have donated, making the average donation £26. The largest donation received is £1,000 and the smallest are £3. I am incredibly humbled and grateful that we are starting to have a chance. There have been so many kind messages, of which “you cast a lot of bread upon the waters helping others, Craig” made me greet for a bit. I have particularly enjoyed those from people who declare they agree with almost nothing I say but support free speech! About 60% of donations are from Scotland, but so far we have 22 different countries.

I really cannot express my gratitude enough.

On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to pay by card without logging in. For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address. A surprising number of people have asked for a Bitcoin option and we are working on it.

I found this interview by the lawyer who is suing me to be particularly interesting. I may say no more than that without danger of contempt of court.

Have You No Shame, Sirs? B’nai B’rith’s Attack on Niki Ashton

B’nai B’rith’s Shameful Attack on Niki Ashton

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

September 6th, 2017

B’nai B’rith are a cynical bunch, claiming to speak for Jews in general, but in reality defending Israel no matter what that country does.

The group’s recent attack against NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton was a brazen attempt to use the decimation of European Jewry to protect Israel from criticism and follows a formula used so often most now see its hypocrisy.

Last May the self-declared ‘human rights’ organization slammed the NDP leadership contender for “Standing in ‘Solidarity’ with Terrorists” because Ashton attended a rally for Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike where someone had a photo of an individual B’nai B’rith calls a terrorist.

But, that attack failed when Ashton refused to back down and actually became more forceful in her support of the Palestinian cause.

Since then Ashton has sent out emails to join the party to elect “a leader that will stand up for Palestinian human rights” and demanded an end to the “occupation of Palestinian lands”, blockade of Gaza and “abuse of Palestinians’ human rights.” She called for an outright ban on goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and expressed some support for the broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Ashton told Jacobin that “many inspiring activists across the country are doing great work on this front, decrying human rights abuses, decrying injustices, and putting forward a plan for change, including through the BDS movement. The NDP needs to be a strong voice in support of the work that so many activists are doing.”

In response to an Independent Jewish Voices/Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East questionnaire to the four NDP leadership candidates she said: “I support the important work of civil society in pursuing justice through non-violent means, including calls for boycotts and divestment. Similar tactics were used effectively against apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, and BDS today can play a constructive role by encouraging a just resolution. It is the role of governments to respond to pressure from civil society and to be a force for positive change. In 1986, Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney responded to social movements by implementing sanctions against South Africa, and we face a similar ethical and moral responsibility to listen to those who are struggling for peace and justice.”

“Like any other country, sanctions against Israel should be considered when it consistently fails to meet international law and obligations, particularly in relation to the occupation which has denied rights to the Palestinian people for half a century. I support looking into targeted sanctions to put strategic pressure on the Israeli government.”

Ashton’s increasingly strident statements in support of the Palestinian cause obviously angered B’nai B’rith. But, they kept quiet for three months hoping they could find something worse than “terrorism” to connect her to. Having failed to deter Ashton from expressing support for the Palestinian cause by associating her with “terrorists”, B’nai B’rith brought Hitler into the race.

At the end of last month they put out a press release headlined: “NDP Leadership Candidate Endorsed by Holocaust-Denying Community Leader”. Ashton’s supposed transgression was having her picture taken with Nazih Khatatba at a campaign event in Toronto. B’nai B’rith accuses Khatatba of defending armed Palestinian resistance and “engaging in Holocaust denial”.

The evidence presented of Khatatba’s Holocaust denial is a 15-second interview he gave at an event commemorating the Nakba (Palestinian catastrophe) last year. (In response to B’nai B’rith’s press release, Khatatba posted on Facebook, “I recognize the genocide of more than six million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust. What I did say in the interview was that there were Jewish groups who experienced massacres in Europe and then went to the Middle East and perpetrated massacres there.”)

Presuming B’nai B’rith’s translation is accurate and that relevant context wasn’t omitted from the video they produced of the interview, Khatatba’s comments were definitely historically inaccurate. The ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947/48, displacement of another 300,000 in 1967, the half-century illegal occupation of the West Bank, repeated assaults on Gaza, etc. are an immense injustice. Still, they don’t equal what the Nazis did to European Jewry.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for social justice activists to make hyperbolic/historically inaccurate claims in their zeal to advance a cause. But, they are rarely accused of sinister intentions for doing so.

As I detail here, B’nai Brith has accepted or promoted more significant distortions of Jewish suffering when it served Israel’s aims. The group aggressively backed the pro–Israel Stephen Harper regime despite government officials repeatedly minimizing the Nazi Holocaust. In 2009 Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said “Israel Apartheid Days on university campuses like York sometimes begin to resemble pogroms,” and told a European audience that pro-Palestinian activism spurred anti-Jewish activities “even more dangerous than the old European anti-Semitism.”

Similarly, in May 2008 Canwest reported:

Some of the criticism brewing in Canada against the state of Israel, including from some members of Parliament, is similar to the attitude of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned.”

In a backdoor way B’nai B’rith’s reaction to Khatatba’s historically inaccurate comments explain them. When Zionists repeatedly use 70-year old Jewish suffering in Europe to justify their ongoing oppression of Palestinians is it any wonder some Palestinians seek to minimize Nazi crimes against Jews?

The attack on Niki Ashton is a stark example of the “Holocaust Industry” Norman Finkelstein outlined 15 years ago. B’nai B’rith should be ashamed.

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.

Off-Balance Israel Reassessing Regional Situation

Israel’s Geopolitical Gut Check

by Sharmine Narwani - The American Conservative

September 6, 2017 

A once favorable balance of power has shifted, clipping Tel Aviv's wings

Tel Aviv has had a bad few weeks. A once favorable regional balance of power has suddenly shifted in a direction that clips Israel’s wings—all while adversaries on its borders are making swift strategic gains. At the core of the issue is Israel’s obsession with Iranian ascendancy in the region. The 2015 nuclear deal that ended the Islamic Republic’s isolation was a real setback for the Israeli establishment, but what really hit home this summer was a steady succession of political and military victories for the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

So Israel’s power players headed to the United States and Russia to try to claw back some lost leverage on the ground.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/yakub88

They returned from Washington empty-handed, unable to wrest guarantees on keeping Iranian and allied troops out of southern Syria, where the U.S. and Russia in July established a de-escalation zone near Israel’s border.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s consultations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi went nowhere too. Russian accounts of those talks describe a highly “agitated” and “emotional” Netanyahu who was told in no uncertain terms by a calm Putin: “Iran is Russia’s strategic ally in the Middle East.” To Netanyahu, Putin offered what must have comparatively felt like crumbs: “Israel is also an important partner of Russia in the region.”

The Israeli prime minister and other senior officials went on the offensive after that meeting, promising to “defend ourselves by all means” from Iran’s ambitions in Syria, and threatening military attacks on Assad’s “palace in Damascus.”

But the Russians clearly hadn’t forgotten that shortly after Netanyahu’s last encounter with Putin in March, Israel launched strikes against Russia’s Syrian ally, one of which came dangerously near Russian troops.

This time around, it seems Putin was set on drawing new red lines with Israel. In the aftermath of the Netanyahu meeting, the Russians announced the establishment of a unified air defense system with Syria, “capable of destroying targets within a range of up to 400 kilometers at an altitude of up to 35 kilometers.”

Yet the Israeli threats haven’t ceased. So, what explains the panic in Israel right now? And why has it escalated so suddenly?

Lebanon: Last week, Hezbollah, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) closed a chapter on the years-long occupation of eastern Lebanon by ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra terrorist groups. The three forces launched a stunning military offensive that took out al-Nusra in a mere six days and ISIS in nine—including time spent in negotiations.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah dubbed the successful anti-terrorism operation “the Second Liberation”—the first being Lebanon’s liberation from Israeli occupation forces in 2000.

In the years leading up to this battle, Hezbollah and the LAF have been coordinating anti-terrorism efforts in Lebanon, an unprecedented collaboration that has outraged both Israelis and Americans. The U.S. provides training and weaponry for the LAF but considers the Lebanese resistance group a terrorist organization, even though Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s cabinet and parliament.

The liberation of the strategic Lebanese-Syrian border area has not only freed up Hezbollah forces for deployment on other frontlines—including its southern border with Israel—but importantly, now represents the first full Syrian border reclaimed by the SAA from terrorists since the start of the Syrian crisis.

“The enemy [Israel],” announced Nasrallah after the fight, “is crying over its orphans and is acknowledging the defeat of its project and friends in Syria.”

Syria: The Hezbollah leader may have a point. Outside of ISIS’s stronghold in eastern Syria where it has lost thousands of square kilometers to the SAA and its allies, the terror group occupies one small remaining territory near the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. That area in southwestern Syria is also home to several other militant groups, most prominently al-Nusra, whose injured fighters have been tended to by Israeli medics for much of the conflict.

The Israelis, who have reportedly launched dozens of strikes against Syrian allied forces during this conflict, have rarely attacked al-Nusra or ISIS. Israel’s Defense Minister in 2016, Moshe Yaalon, made headlines when he said:

“In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State.” 

Some in the Israeli policy community have supported this line—one recent report from an Israeli think tank entitled “The Destruction of Islamic State is a Strategic Mistake” advocates for keeping ISIS around to “hamper Iran’s quest for regional hegemony.” Given Israel’s fixation with keeping Iran’s influence contained, it’s perhaps no surprise that Syria’s recent spate of victories against ISIS have set off alarm bells in Tel Aviv.

To compound Israel’s setbacks, the U.S.-Russian southern de-escalation agreement has now halted the militants’ ability to fight Syrian allied forces around Quneitra (Syrian Golan), Daraa, and As-Suwayda—areas now policed by Syria’s Russian allies.

Jordan: In Amman, a joint de-escalation monitoring center for this southern zone has just been launched, which will likely force the Jordanians to secure and normalize their northern border with Syria. Earlier this summer, the Jordanians had been on board a Saudi-led (and Israeli-supported) alliance of mostly Sunni Muslim states that sought to squash Iran’s regional influence. At the time, Jordan had loudly insisted on the removal of Iranian-backed fighters from its border with Syria. But today, that “Arab NATO” alliance has collapsed amidst a heated inter-GCC dispute, and Jordanians appear to be recalibrating their regional stance to accept the “de-escalation zone” vision launched by Russia, Turkey, and of course, Iran.

The terms of the southern de-escalation agreement reached between the U.S. and Russia are secret, but the word is that there is no specific language that diminishes the role of Iran, Hezbollah and their allied militias in Syria.

This means Israel can no longer count on Islamist militants obstructing Syrian government control over the south. It also means that Jordan, which just last week re-opened its Trebil border crossing with Iraq, is now moving incrementally toward re-opening its Nasib border crossing with Syria. The commercial dividends of these two actions could contribute between $1-2 billion to Jordan’s depleted coffers—a healthy incentive for the Jordanians to play nice with Syria.

Turkey: Jordan’s political and security “diversification” comes directly on the back of a visit to Amman by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, once the most vocal regional critic of Bashar al-Assad, and a major supplier of weapons and Islamist fighters in the Syrian military theater.

Erdoğan is back in play with the Russians and Iranians after briefly toying with the Saudi “Arab NATO” project directed against Iran. Jordanian media reports even claim the Turkish president offered to coordinate mediation with Iran to smooth over Jordan’s lingering doubts about the de-escalation zone.

But what accounts for his transformation?

While Erdoğan has not explicitly embraced an Assad-ruled Syria or an active Iranian role south of his border, two urgent regional developments have softened his position and drawn him back into the Iranian-Russian orbit.

The first is the major political crisis engulfing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, pitting Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain against Qatar. Like its Turkish ally, Qatar has been a leading supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and is pursuing a diversified foreign-policy agenda, which includes political and economic relations with Iran.

The GCC spat created a further divide within the region, which until recently consisted mainly of pro-Iran and pro-Saudi camps. Now, Turkey and Qatar form a third camp, and have sought to mitigate Saudi-UAE pressures by re-engaging with Iran and its allies.

The second impetus comes from Washington’s unrelenting support for the mostly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters in the north of Syria. Erdoğan has beseeched the Americans to abandon their support for these Kurds, who are primarily Syrian affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, a group considered a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Washington.

The Americans have ignored Erdoğan’s requests, even though the SDF has shown intent to occupy and federalize the entire north of Syria—from Iraq to the Mediterranean—an area spanning the length of the Turkish border.

On this issue, Ankara now shares common cause with Tehran, Baghdad, and Damascus—all are vehemently opposed to Kurdish national aspirations. This realignment takes place against the backdrop of a Kurdish referendum for independence in Iraq slated for late September, which all four capitals oppose. Israel, which has close ties to the Kurdish government in Erbil, is the only country to date that supports the referendum. Kurdistan is a matter of strategic interest for Tel Aviv. The establishment of Kurdish federal entities in Syria and Iraq, after all, would mean the partitioning and weakening of those Arab states. And importantly, Kurdish statelets in these areas can act as geographic buffers that impede Iran’s easy access to Israel’s borders.

So Turkey’s re-engagement with Iran and Russia not only contributes to the stability of the Syrian state, but also puts a spanner in the works of Israel’s goal of Kurdish independence.

Hamas: The “Resistance Axis” was once a club of four: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. But conflicting objectives in Syria drew Hamas out of the group—until now. New Hamas leadership has prioritized neutral relationships with all regional states, and has sought to reinstate relations and funding from the Islamic Republic.

Last week, Hamas’ politburo chief in Gaza, Yahya Senwar, announced:

“Iran is the largest supporter of the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades [Hamas’ military wing] in terms of financial support and support with weapons,” and expressed optimism that “the Syrian crisis shall end, which will open the horizons for restoring the relations with [Syria].”

For Israel, that means the rift between the Hamas-led Gaza Strip and Iran has ended, and weapons and aid will flow back to the Palestinian resistance group unimpeded.

Events on Israel’s western, northern and eastern borders have suddenly—in a few short weeks—scuttled the geopolitical balance that once favored Tel Aviv. Just a few years ago, Syria was disintegrating, Iraq was fragmenting, Lebanon was over-extended, and Gaza struggled alone.

Today, the likelihood of Iran enjoying a contiguous land corridor between its borders and the occupied Golan territory is greater than ever before. The Resistance Axis has gained tremendous military experience in the past six years in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—and most importantly, has done so by coordinating troops, intelligence and battle plans from a single command center, for the first time in its history as an alliance. Furthermore, this axis now enjoys international political cover from two permanent UN Security Council members, Russia and China. The Russians now have significant military experience alongside three members of this axis, and the Chinese are eager to expand their economic vision into those West Asian states, with Iran as a key hub for oil and gas pipelines.

As these countries move forward to extinguish regional terrorism and reconstruct their infrastructure and societies, the Israelis will be left out in the cold. But while Israel’s options dwindle, its military plans seem to keep getting more attention. It’s the one option—the stick—that the Israelis gravitate to most easily, and a war of aggression against Lebanon and Gaza, or strikes against Syria, are not out of the question.

Hezbollah continues to demand the return of the remaining Israeli-occupied Lebanese territories, the Shebaa Farms and Kfarshuba hills, and Syria, once back on its feet, will do the same with the Golan. Both will do so from a strengthened position in this new Middle East.

Yet the question remains: Does Israel recognize its new environment?

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics, based in Beirut.