Hilary Clinton poses imminent danger to Palestine

Out of all this week’s speeches of presidential candidates to AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby group, Hilary Clinton’s was in my book the most convincingly pro-Israel.

But she has had to work hard to achieve this status. The Israel lobby is becoming increasingly right wing. AIPAC is widely perceived to have now become the American wing of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. More and more, it pushes even Israel down an ever-increasingly fanatical right-wing path.

So when Clinton makes the usual liberal platitudes about “two states for two peoples”, there is a perception by many in these circles that she may deviate from the path of Israel-right-or-wrong. Kahanist fanatics like the Jewish Defence League in particular hate Hilary Clinton (in this respect, sexism and anti-black racism play a part, since Clinton is perceived to be pro-black, and Kahanist activists like former Jewish Defence League bomber Victor Vancier are extremely racist against African-Americans).

Read the rest over at MEMO.

The Trump show reaches Israel

The carnival of reaction that is the preposterously over long US presidential election period rolls on and on. The Republican candidates seem to be doing their best to outdo each other to find out who can will the most terrible people around.

Religious fanaticism and the legacy of the Tea Party movement have united to bring some very dangerous extremism to the fore. His rallies have become rabble-rousing hate-fests focused on scapegoating sections of those society already most marginalised and discriminated against. Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from the US is the most infamous example.

While there’s no doubt that fear mongering and race-baiting have played an important part in gathering Trump’s bases of support, an important long article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling StoneFebruary noted that those racist themes “comprise a very small part of his usual presentation. His speeches increasingly are strikingly populist in their content.”

Read more over at MEMO.

America’s annual festival of pandering to Israel

What a disgusting show. The annual policy conference of AIPAC, the most influential pro-Israel lobby group in the Unites States, has just been held. Most of the main candidates in this year’s US presidential election lined up to make speeches, each trying to outdo the others in their ever more fulsome praise of Israel. Watching them speak was an exercise in filtering out lie after lie, after which there was pretty much nothing left to mull over.

Perhaps predictably, Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, made most of the headlines. Trump had made previous speeches about Israel that were considered (by the supporters of Israel-right-or-wrong) to be insufficiently enthusiastic about the prospect of an increase in Israeli war crimes. With a racist “America First” attitude, Trump seems to have an isolationist streak, and had seemed to want to be neutral.

The consensus after Trump’s speech on Monday, though, seems to be that he has turned it around. “He faced a tough test of his mettle but passed it with flying colours,” gushed Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper. His column on the subject came out all conflicted between perplexed and impressed.

Read more over at MEMO.

Are you now or have you ever been an anti-Zionist?

Last month the American reporter Eli Clifton revealed a secret “Anti-Israel” enemies list maintained by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL was founded 103 years ago as a civil rights organisation to defend Jews in America from then-rampant anti-Semitism. However, long ago, it all but abandoned this mission.

Instead, its main function today is to act as one of the main lobby groups for the continuation of Israeli war crimes and apartheid in the Unites States. It even works hand in glove with both American and Israeli spy and police agencies.

Any genuine civil rights group would be aiming to hold such agencies to account, not cosying up to them.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

Victories come thick and fast, despite ‘war’ on BDS

It seems like no sooner did the British government issue its new regulations aimed at “banning” boycotts of Israel than the move backfired. “BDS,” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,protesters declared in response, “is here to stay.” There was immediate talk of defying any ban, with civil disobedience if necessary. That may not be needed: while the full facts are still being debated, according to lawyers who spoke to anti-poverty charity War on Want, “there is nothing new in the new procurement guidance aside from some overblown rhetoric clearly intended to scare campaigners.”

The “BDS ban” in fact is no real ban at all. It has essentially restated existing legislation, campaigners say. This is likely to be tested in courts, however. Although Israeli campaigns of “lawfare” (tying campaigners up using spurious litigation in courts around the world) have often proven fruitless, even disastrous in the past, it seems Israel’s supporters have not given up the strategy.

Such litigation can be costly for BDS activists, who are almost all volunteers and have little in the way of serious funding to defend against such cases. Local councils do have more serious resources to defend their democratic mandates. But with ever increasingly budget cuts, thanks to Conservative austerity, they may prove unwilling to fight back against such cases: they’d often rather avoid them altogether if the popular pressure is not enough.

Read more over at MEMO.

Mossad touts cyberwar against BDS

At a cyberwar forum in Tel Aviv in January, it came out that Israel has allocated almost $26 million in this year’s budget to fight the ever-growing movement to boycott, divest from and sanctions Israel – BDS for short.

An Associated Press report on the event quoted one high Israeli official as saying that she wanted “to create a community of fighters” against BDS in the online world.

That little snippet of cyber-sabre-rattling came from Sima Vaknin-Gil, the director general of Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs (the former chief military censor of the press in Israel). The head of this ministry is Gilad Erdan, last year crowned the “BDS minister” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read more over at MEMO.

The crackdown on Israeli dissidents

It is not sensible to have any hope that the Israeli public will ever support ending the occupation, let alone support equal rights for Arabs, or return of Palestinians refugees. All the polling data says as much.

During the 2014 Israeli war against the civilian population of Gaza more than 90 percent of Israeli Jews supported the war. That assault claimed the lives of more than 2,200 Palestinians, including over 500 children.

In 2012, one infamous poll showed that most Israelis support the systemic structural racism of the state, and in fact want it to go further.

Almost half of Israeli Jews wanted Palestinian citizens of Israel (who in reality are already not equal citizens in law and in practice) to be stripped of their citizenship. Some 58 percent supported use of the term “apartheid” applied to Israel – and not disapprovingly. More than 40 percent wanted to see separate housing and classes for Jews and Arabs.

Read more over at MEMO.

Why an Israeli newspaper wanted to ‘flatten’ a city of millions

Earlier this month Haaretz, Israel’s influential liberal daily, published a blood-curdling article. It openly argued for war crimes on a massive scale against the civilian population of a neighbouring Arab state.

“Should Israel Flatten Beirut to Destroy Hezbollah’s Missiles?” the article’s headline mused. It was written by Amitai Etzioni, a professor of international relations at George Washington University. He was also a member of the Palmach, a unit in one pre-state Zionist terrorist group, a forerunner of the Israeli military. He participated in the Nakba (or Catastrophe), Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians.

After criticism by the journalist Belén Fernández, Etzioni later got Haaretz to edit the online version of the story, so that it now has a slightly less aggressive headline (but not before copies of the original were made).

Read more over at MEMO.

Tory moves to curb Israel boycotts will fail

Last week the government made an announcement intended to intimidate supporters of Palestinian rights. It was trailed in the media as a “ban” on boycotts of Israel, which The Independent claimed would now become a “criminal” offence for public bodies. The Palestine Solidarity Campaignsaid this amounted to “a gross attack on our democratic freedoms and the independence of public bodies from government interference.”

There is no doubt that the new measure is probably the biggest attack by the Tory government yet on the movement for Palestinian human rights. In the last 11 years, a key tactic of that movement has been boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS.

But the devil was in the detail, as so often.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

A tale of two journalists

This is the story of two journalists treated unjustly by Israeli occupation authorities. Yet they are not being equally treated by the media. Indeed, they should not be equally treated, because their plights are anything but equal.

But the media has its priorities upside down.

One journalist was detained for 40 minutes merely for conducing interviews. The other is being detained without charge or trial, deprived of all basic human rights.

Journalist number one was detained briefly on Tuesday. The response on Twitter was instant. Journalists around the world blasted the Israeli Border Police (who are in fact a heavily armed and paramilitary gang) for restricting his right to report freely in Jerusalem.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

The wild beast of Israeli racism

This week the prime minister of Israel slandered Arabs in disgustingly racist terms. This was nothing new for the man who, during the last election, warned the Israeli people that “the Arabs” were turning out to vote “in droves”. But the terminology he used was a notable new low, even for him.

Touring a new border fence between part of present-day Israel and Jordan, Benjamin Netanyahu said: “In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts. At the end of the day as I see it, there will be a fence like this one surrounding Israel in its entirety. We will surround the entire state of Israel with a fence, a barrier.”

For Israel’s politicians use such dehumanising terminology about Palestinians and other Arabs is nothing new. Israeli leaders have a long history of such racism, stretching back to the pre-state Zionist settler-colonial era. It also draws on the long history of Western colonial racism.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

UK hacked drone feeds to watch as Israel bombed Gaza

The latest revelations from the documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden once again concern Israel.

Glenn Greenwald’s site The Intercept revealed last week that American and British spies have managed to hack into the visual feed of the Israeli drones and F16 fighter jets that regularly bomb the civilian population of Gaza.

The programme is based on the island of Cyprus, and its code name is “Anarchist”. It dates as far back as January 2008, at a time when Israel was bombing Gaza in an attack which killed and injured Palestinian civilians, including at least one child.

The GCHQ base on Cyprus intercepted Israeli drone feeds and sent the information back to the UK and to their allies in the NSA. Images published by The Intercept even show several video stills in which the wings of recognisable Israeli drone models are viewable, as well as radar maps of occupied Palestine.

It’s unknown if this hacking is still ongoing. But these revelations are another sign of how fraught the military and intelligence relationship is between Israel and its ostensible Western allies.

Read the rest over at MEMO.