Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Schumer’

Progressive Democrats Turn Back on AIPAC as Trump Endorses Israel’s Seizure of Golan Heights

March 24, 2019

This is a piece put up by Rebel HQ on YouTube. Rebel HQ are, I think, a Progressive Democrat news organisation, unlike Rebel Media, who are a bunch of highly reactionary racists and White Supremacists led by Canadian lawyer, Ezra Levant. In this video, presenter Emma Vigeland reports on the decision by a stream of Democrat politicos to stay away from the big AIPAC conference this weekend. AIPAC are the big Jewish fundraising and lobbying organisation in America for Israel.

But she begins with Trump’s noxious decision to recognise Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights. This is Syrian territory that was illegally seized by Israel during the 1967 war, which has been condemned by the United Nations, as she shows with a quote from the New York Times. This was described by CNN as ‘disputed territory’, when under international law it is anything but. Vigeland makes the point that if America had a president, who was actually concerned with international law, knew anything about history and wasn’t biased towards the very right-wing government of Israel while pretending to want peace, this wouldn’t have happened. Instead he handed a great victory to Benjamin Netanyahu, or ‘That Bastard’ Netanyahu as I’ve heard one British Jewish professor describe him. This is comes just as the Israeli premier is under pressure from corruption charges just ahead of the Israeli elections on April 9th. She says that Trump is glad to help out anyone, who says nice things about him, and hey, Netanyahu slept in Jared Kushner’s bedroom as a child.

Vigeland points to Netanyahu’s gleeful praise of Trump for his decision, declaring that the Orange Generalissimo had made history. As Trump handed Netanyahu this victory, the UN Human Rights Council was condemning Israel for its ‘unlawful, lethal and excessive force’ against civilians in Gaza. This is one of the reasons why the Democrat hopefuls for the 2020 elections did not attend AIPAC this weekend. This is a significant achievement for progressive activists, who have been trying to get the Democrats to do it for years. So far, those refusing to attend include Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, and Julian Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary. This is significant, as O’Rourke and Castro have supported AIPAC in the past.

She then shows Trump predictably attacking the Democrats as ‘the anti-Semitic party’, following the weaponisation of the accusation of anti-Semitism against the critics of the Israel lobby, who, she says, are largely weapons contractors and evangelical Christians, who support Israel in the hope that it’ll hasten Armageddon. This is followed by a clip of Trump declaring that the Democrats have once again shown themselves to be anti-Israel, commenting that it’s a disgrace. He states that he doesn’t know what happened to them, but they’re anti-Israel, and he thinks they’re anti-Jewish. Vigeland remarks with heavy irony that yes, Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, is definitely anti-Jewish. She goes in the same way to thank Nancy Pelosi and other for giving this talking point life by smearing Ilhan Omar as anti-Semitic for saying the very thing that these candidates are now saying. Omar is, you’ll recall, the Muslim congresswoman, who said that American politics had been bought by Netanyahu and the Israel lobby, for which she was pilloried as, you guessed it, an anti-Semite. And Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are also speaking at AIPAC.

She states that the point is that America’s support for Israel has now become the hot-button issue that it should all along. She states that America pretends to be neutral arbiters of peace in the region, but it consistently sides with and gives money to the country that breaks international law, emboldening them as they commit war crimes. The conversation is changing and its becoming more and more clear what the right side is to the American people.

I have no doubt that this development has shaken the Israel lobby, which in America, as in this country, demands absolute, unconditional support for Israel. Those, who don’t toe the line are smeared as anti-Semites and every care taken to destroy their political careers. They did this a little while ago to one of Sanders’ aides. Like him, she was Jewish, and very involved with her community. But nevertheless, she was critical of Israel, and so was smeared as an anti-Semite and removed from her position with Sanders’ staff.

I have the greatest respect for those Democrat politicos not attending AIPAC, and particularly Bernie Sanders. As I’ve said many times before, I’d love it if we had him in the White House and Corbyn in No. 10. And I wish our politicians would stand their ground against the fake accusations of anti-Semitism by the Conservative establishment, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbi, neither of whom speak for the whole of British Jewry, as numerous left-wing Jewish organisations and bloggers have made very clear. Instead of politicians standing against Israel’s brutality being smeared and destroyed, it should be the Israel lobby itself that should face stern questioning and rebuke for its repeated interference in British politics, its legitimisation of an increasingly Fascistic Israeli regime, and the lies and smears against genuinely decent, anti-racist men and women.

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The Real News on AIPAC’s Suppression of Al-Jazeera Documentary on Israel Lobby

September 18, 2018

This is another video about the Israel lobby in the US from the Boston-based The Real News Network, posted on YouTube in March 2018. In it, presented Aaron Mate talks to Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada about Al-Jazeera’s documentary about America’s Israel lobby, and AIPAC’s efforts to suppress it.

AIPAC is one of the main pro-Israel lobbying organisations in the US. I’ve already put up a video by Dena Takruri of AJ+, YouTube’s companion channel to Al-Jazeera, of what she saw when she attended AIPAC’s annual conference way back in 2016. The conference was attended by all the presidential candidates, including Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, all pledging their total support for Israel. The only one, who didn’t attend, was Bernie Sanders.

The video opens with a clip of Democrat congressman Chuck Schumer making an incredibly ignorant speech at AIPAC, in which he claims that the reason why there isn’t peace between Israel and the Palestinians is because the Palestinians don’t have the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. They don’t want a Jewish state at all, and that’s because they don’t have the Torah, which supports it.

Mate states that this also reveals another reason why there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians: liberal politicians in the US hold extremist position on Israel.

He then move on to talk about Al-Jazeera’s suppressed documentary about the US Israel lobby. After their documentary, The Lobby, which exposed officials at the Israel embassy in Britain conspiring with members of the British civil service to take down politicians that were insufficiently supportive of Israel, Al-Jazeera decided to make a similar documentary about the Israel lobby in the US. They sent undercover reporters into AIPAC and other organisations. Although the documentary they produced has not been released, the identities of the reporters themselves has become known. They were reported by the newspaper Haaretz in Israel, and some Jewish newspapers in the US.

Amongst other things, they found that the Neocon organization, the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies collaborates with the Israeli embassy and acts as a front for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The documentary’s revelations are apparently so damaging to the Israel lobby, that they have sent a succession of their officials to Qatar. They haven’t said that they are trying to put pressure on the Qatari government to suppress the documentary, but it seems that this is what they’re doing.

The Foundation for the Defence of Democracies also spies on anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups and compiles lists of their members. Al-Jazeera also recorded its chief, Jonathan Schanzer, openly admitting that they smear critics of Israel and pro-Palestinian activists as anti-Semites as a weapon to defend Israel. However, he also says later in the video that this strategy is no longer as effective as it once was. Winstanley states that this is also damaging to the Israel lobby, as it wants to appear powerful and hegemonic.

Since the documentary was filmed, AIPAC and the other organisations have been trying to get the government to register Al-Jazeera as a foreign agent, in the same way that they forced, or tried to force, RT as an agent of Putin and the Russian government. But the FDD should also be forced to register because of its very strong links to the Israeli government. But there has been absolutely no moves to do so.

It’s clear that if the whole documentary was aired, it would be extremely damaging to the American Israel lobby and considerably embarrassing for the Israelis. It would seriously discredit their attacks on pro-Palestinian activists.

It’s particularly a pity that the clip of Jonathan Schanzer brazenly stating that they smear their opponents as anti-Semites hasn’t been shown. This should be posted up everywhere and go viral, as it would do immense damage not just to the American smear campaign, but also to its British counterpart against pro-Palestinian activists over here, and to Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party.

American Imperialism Aiding the Saudi and Israeli Ethnic Cleansing of Indigenous Middle Eastern Christians

December 9, 2017

There’s been some coverage here in the west of the underground Christian church in China. China’s a Communist state, and although religion has been allowed to re-emerge after its ferocious persecution under Mao, it is heavily regulated. There’s an official church, which has to agree to and abide by the various conditions set down by the Communist authorities. Alongside this is a growing underground church, that meets in secret and is heavily persecuted because it is outside the control of the Communist party.

Fewer people, however, are aware that there’s also a growing underground church in Iran. The Anglican church in Tehran, which is recognised and tolerated, is remarkable for a Christian church in a Middle Eastern, Islamic country, in that most of its members are indigenous Iranians. About three per cent of the Iranian population is composed of Armenian Christians, who have their own churches. But outside these official, tolerated churches, there is a secret church of indigenous Iranians, who are turning from Islam to Christ. Apostasy is banned under Islamic, sharia law. The penalty has traditionally been death, although some law schools were of the opinion that the death penalty could only be imposed if the apostate then blasphemed against Islam. Other legal scholars stated that the apostate from Islam should be imprisoned for three days so that they could reconsider their decision to abandon Islam. If they repented during this time, they would be spared. This means that those Iranians converting to Christianity do so at the risk of their own lives. They are savagely persecuted and imprisoned. At the same time, the Iranian authorities surround the Armenian churches with armed police to make sure that only Armenians go there to worship. The Armenians have adopted a series of tactics to help their Iranian co-religionists avoid the police. One of these is teaching them a few words or phrases of Armenian, so that they can pass themselves off as Armenian Christians, and so avoid arrest, imprisonment and torture.

This isn’t widely known in the West, and I don’t think this is an accident. America is a profoundly religious country, but I think the support of religious freedom by the American military-industrial complex is, and has always been, cynically utilitarian. There was a massive campaign of Christian evangelism and preaching in America itself during the Cold War. You think of all the extreme right-wing Christian movements that emerged in the 50s, like Moral Re-Armament, and so on, that were dedicated not just to spreading Christianity, but also combatting Communism. Or, for that matter, just about any other left-wing, progressive movement. Even if it was led by other Christians. Communism is an aggressively materialistic political system. Marx actually wrote little about religion, beyond his famous words that it was ‘the opium of the people’, but he certainly believed his system was an extension of the materialist doctrines of the ancient world and the Enlightenment philosophes. He took over their critique of religion and that of Ludwig Feuerbach, which viewed religion as a projection of humanity’s own alienated essence, and extended it. Lenin himself was bitterly anti-religious, and the persecution of religious believers – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, the followers of indigenous shamanic religions and so on – was state policy in many Communist countries.

Hence the promotion of Christianity and the defence of religious freedom against a persecuting, literally Satanic, evil empire was a useful ideological tool for the capitalist leaders of society during the Cold War. Thus much of the religious literature published during the Cold War stressed the anti-Christian nature of Communism to the point where this overshadowed the other atrocities and crimes against human rights committed by these regimes. Such as the artificial famines Stalin created during the collectivisation of agriculture, the deportation of ethnic minorities to Siberia and the persecution of dissenting socialist and Communist intellectuals.

But very little is said about the persecution of the underground Iranian church. And I don’t think this is an accident. I think it’s because it doesn’t serve American geopolitical interests, and those of its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. China’s a Communist country, and so atheism is the official state dogma, even if it is not as rigorously enforced as it has been. But Iran and the other Middle Eastern countries are religious states to a greater or lesser degree. And American foreign policy in the Middle East has consisted of supporting theocratic and Islamic fundamentalist regimes and movements against secular Arab nationalism or socialism, as these are seen as too close to Communism. Hence the hostility to Gamal Nasser’s Egypt, which was socialist, but not Communist. In the case of Saudi Arabia, America and the West forged an alliance that goes back to the 1920s. In return for the right to exploit the country’s oil, America and the West pledged themselves to support the country and its rulers. Saudi Arabia is an extremely intolerant state, where the only permitted religion is Wahhabi Islam. No other religions are tolerated. There are indigenous Shi’a Muslims, but they are also savagely persecuted. Their villages do not have running water or electricity, and their religious literature and holy books will be confiscated if they are discovered by the authorities. A few years ago the Grand Mufti, the religious head of Saudi Arabia, declared that the Shi’a were heretics ‘worthy of death’, a chilling endorsement of religious genocide. And the Shi’a aren’t the only non-Wahhabi community to be subjected to his prayers for pious violence. The other year he also led prayers calling on Allah to destroy Jews and Christians.

Saudi Arabia is one of the main sponsors of Islamist terrorism. It is not Iran, nor Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. 17 out of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and the trail from them goes all the way to the top of Saudi society. They were active sponsors of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, which became the Taliban. The current Saudi king and his head of intelligence were also responsible for funding and aiding al-Qaeda and ISIS in their attacks on the other Islamic nations of the region. In continuing to support Saudi Arabia, America, Britain and the other western countries are supporting a viciously intolerant state that persecutes other religions, including Christians.

The other pillar of western interests and foreign policy in the Middle East is Israel. Israel is a White, European/American settler state, and it looks towards Europe and America rather than the Middle East. And it’s also religiously intolerant. The official state religion is Orthodox Judaism. Israel defines itself as the Jewish state, and the Law of Return stipulates that only Jews may become citizens. The Israeli government has also repeatedly refused calls to allow the Palestinians, who fled the country in 1948 fearing massacre by the Israelis to return, as this would upset the ethnic composition of the country. At the same time the Israeli state has pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing, expelling and massacring the indigenous Palestinian population. And this includes Christians.

Before the foundation of Israel in 1948, 25 per cent of the population of Palestine was Christian. Now it’s only one per cent. The literature on the dwindling Christian community states that this is because of pressure from both Israel and Islam. The Christian community has suffered persecution from Muslims, as they are seen as traitors, even though many Palestinian Christians are as bitterly opposed to the Israeli occupation as their compatriots. However, other historians have also pointed out that traditionally, Muslims and Christians coexisted peacefully in Palestine. In one of the papers on Israel and Palestine in Albert Hourani’s book, The Modern Middle East, it is stated that Muslim Palestinians traditionally regarded Christian churches as mawsin, an Arabic term which means holy, sacrosanct, and were thus treated with respect. Palestinian Christians, however, have complained about their treatment by the Israeli authorities. Special permits are required before new churches may be built, and the authorities are not keen to give them.

And like Muslims, Christians have also been attacked by Israeli racist extremists. A little while ago a Christian monastery in Israel was the subject of a price-tag attack by Israeli extremists. The price-tag attacks are acts of destruction in retaliation for Palestinian attacks on Jews or Jewish property. They’re called ‘price-tag’ because the attackers leave a mock price-tag behind giving some cost for the damage done. The Israeli authorities were keen to distance their country from the attack, and tried to present it as somehow unique. But I got the distinct impression that this is far from the case. About ten or so years ago Channel 4 screened a programme by a Black presenter, in which he went to Israel and covered the maltreatment of Christians there. This included an attempt by a group of Orthodox Jews to terrorise the members of a church of Messianic Jews. In fact, the Messianic Jews were saved by the Muslim doorman, who effectively blocked the Orthodox posse from coming in. And the programme gave the impression that this was actually quite common, and that it was frequently Muslims, who saved Christians from violence at the hands of Jewish settlers.

This is all kept very hidden from the American Christian public. The tours of Israel arranged by right-wing Christian Zionist groups in America and the Israeli authorities will not allow American or western Christians to meet their Palestinian co-religionists. And while there’s a considerable amount of information on the web about Israeli intolerance and persecution of Christians, in the mainstream western media it is always presented as the fault of Muslims. And the right-wing press, such as the Times and Telegraph, have published any number of articles presenting Israel as the protector of the region’s Christians, often with quotes from a Christian Arab to that effect. Thus the Christian Zionist right in America are supporting a state, which has expelled the majority of its indigenous Christians from its borders and continues to limit their freedom of worship. Just as it does Muslims.

Some of the motivation behind this Christian Zionism is based in apocalyptic theology. Christian Zionism started in the 19th century, when some Christians decided that they wanted to refound the ancient state of Israel in order to bring about Christ’s Second Coming. This now includes a final battle between good and evil. This used to be between the forces of capitalism and Communism, but has now morphed into the forces of the Christian West and Israel versus Islam. At the same time, the American Conservatives started supporting Israel in compensation for the defeats America had suffered in the Vietnam War, so that American Christian leaders declared that the Israelis shared their values.

I also think there’s an element of religious imperialism here as well. In the 19th century British explorers to other parts of the Christian world, including Greece when it was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, and Abyssinia, declared that these nations’ traditional churches were backwards and obstacles to their peoples’ advancement. They therefore recommended that they should be destroyed, and the Greeks, Ethiopians or whoever should embrace one of the western forms of Christianity instead. it wouldn’t surprise me if the same attitude permeated American Zionist Christian attitudes towards Middle Eastern Christians. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the same kind of Christian fundamentalist pastors, who rant about how ‘Satanic’ Roman Catholicism is, also don’t believe that the ancient churches of the Middle East – the Syriac and Coptic Churches – are also not really Christian.

Thus American imperialism, and the Christian Zionists in the case of Israel, are supporting states dedicated to removing the indigenous Christian communities from their parts of the Middle East.

And American Christians are more fervent in their Zionism than American Jews. Norman Finkelstein has repeatedly stated and demonstrated how American Jews were traditionally uninterested in Israel. And Tony Greenstein, a Jewish British critic of Zionism, has also shown that the majority of Jews around the world wished to remain in the Diaspora, but live as equal, respected citizens of the countries in which they were born. There are a growing number of Jewish Americans, who despise Israel because of the way it persecutes its indigenous Arab population. This includes Jews, who have suffered genuine anti-Semitism abuse and violence.

Within Israel itself, there is opposition to the official religious policy of the state. There is a sizable minority that would like a total separation between synagogue and state. Other Israelis don’t go this far, but do want Israel to become more secular. And there is tension between Reform Jews, and the Orthodox, who do not regard their theologically more liberal co-religionists to be proper Jews, and may even regard them as anti-Jewish.

But American Conservatives are unable or unwilling to understand Middle Eastern Christians, or why they would not want to support Israel. A few years ago Ted Cruz addressed a meeting of Middle Eastern Christians in America. This went well, until he started urging them to support Israel, at which point he was surprised to find that he was being booed. Part of his speech urged them to support the Israelis, because of the terrible persecution of Jews in the past. But the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected this argument, pointing out that they are being persecuted by the Israelis because of the way Europeans persecuted Jews. Cruz walked off, making comments about anti-Semitism, if I recall correctly. He failed to understand that to his audience, the Israelis were those doing the persecuting.

And this ignorance and the views and political situation of indigenous Middle Eastern Christians seems to be common to elite America. It’s shown by Trump’s decision to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem, which has been supported by the leader of the Democrats in Congress, Chuck Schumer, and Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton. All of whom will stress their identity as Christians when it suits them.

It isn’t just rising Islamism and Muslim intolerance in the Middle East that is a threat to the indigenous Christian communities there. It is also American imperialism, and the country’s alliance with the ethnic and religiously intolerant regimes of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Thus, the media only covers Christian persecution when they can blamed it on Islam, But when it’s awkward for the American, and western military-industrial complex, the media is silent about it.