Posts Tagged ‘US Treasury’

Refuting Anti-Semitism Smears with the Reasonableness Test: Part 3

May 25, 2018

It is also possible to find parallels in the careers of individuals, which, when carefully selected, may refer to a completely different person. As an extreme example, consider the eulogy made by some of the French at the Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany. They began praising a great national leader, responsible for aggressively including those parts of his nation, that had been separated from the main, parent homeland for centuries. Sounds like Hitler after the annexation of the Sudetenland, doesn’t it? This same national figure was also responsible for persecuting and expelling a religious minority, working against his country and its faith. Which also sounds like Hitler and the Jews.

It wasn’t.

The figure they were talking about was Louis XIV. The Sun King had begun a series of wars to annex French-speaking communities in other nations, like the Kingdom of Burgundy, which had previously been part of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also responsible for the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the renewal of persecution and final expulsion of the Huguenots, French Protestants. Many of these fled to England, where they brought new skills in weaving and clock-making, for example, and contributed to Britain’s industrial revolution taking off earlier than its counterpart in France. People hearing the speech were intended to believe it was about Hitler until the real identity of this national leader was revealed.

Through carefully selecting parallels and facts, you can make almost anyone appear as something they are not. Which is something the Israel lobby and the people making those smears know very well, as they twist and deny facts, and take words and comments out of context, or simply make them up.

But to return to the subject of racial insults and the subjective evidence of how they may appear to other people, this reminds me of two notorious cases in America where people were falsely accused of racially insulting Blacks.

One of these concerned a Black staffer working in the US Treasury department during Clinton’s presidency. He was responsible for setting or estimating the funding levels. A Black colleague tackled him on his figures, criticising them for being too low. The staffer rejected this, and said, ‘No, I’m not being niggardly’. His interlocutor then sued him for his use of racist language. Presumably this was because ‘niggardly’ sounds like ‘n888er’. In fact, the two words are etymologically distinct. The modern English term ‘niggard’, comes from the Middle English word ‘nig’, meaning a miser or worthless person. It has absolutely nothing to do with later racist terms for people of colour. But it’s similarity to that term was enough to anger his opponent, who doubtless sincerely felt that it was a derogatory term, and that he had been insulted.

The case was much discussed in the press, because of its similarity to a novel that had recently come out by one of America’s great literary giants, The Human Stain. This is about a man in a well-paid, responsible job, who is also brought low and sued for racism, when he uses an ambiguous term, which his accusers believe is racist, but which really isn’t.

And then there’s the case of the Jewish student at one of the American colleges, who was sued by a group of Black sorority girls. The poor fellow had been revising for an exam he had the next day. Unfortunately, right outside his window and below him there were a group of young Black women very loudly celebrating some sorority even. At last, driven to exasperation by his inability to concentrate due to the noise they were making, he threw open his window and shouted out, ‘Shut up, you water buffalo!’ The girls decided they’d been insulted, and so took him to the college authorities. And the court proceeding there seem almost farcical. One member of staff turned up to give evidence that water buffalo were African animals. They aren’t. They’re East Asian. The accused student himself defended himself by saying that he was using ‘water buffalo’ to translate the Hebrew word ‘behema’, which has no racial connotations. In fact, as I understand it, the word ‘behema’ simply means ‘beast’, of any kind.

Both of these are stupid, wrongful accusations, that should never have come to court, although I’ve no doubt the people making the accusations sincerely believed they’d been terribly insulted because of their race.

And they clearly show the terrible dangers and miscarriages of justice which occur when subjective impressions are taken as the yardstick for assessing whether a comment or statement is racist or not.

And subjective impressions, and the rule that something may be racist, if another person thinks it is, regardless of whether it really is, or was intended to be, must not be allowed to become the standard for upholding the anti-Semitism smears against Labour party members. Or anyone else for that matter.

As this article has shown, it privileges emotion, ignorance and pernicious urban myths against truth and fact. It is also of a piece with the ‘paranoid style’ animating the Fascist right, and which has resulted in the creation of real, terribly evil conspiracy theories, which are a danger to Blacks, Jews, left-wingers and members of new religious movements, like practising occultists, who were accused of Satanic ritual abuse in real witch hunts back in the 1990s. Quite apart from ordinary people, who also found themselves accused of Satanism because of false memories and the coaching of those utterly convinced that a Satanic conspiracy exists.

Subjective impressions don’t lead to truth. They lead to witch hunts, false convictions and massive injustice. Which is why the Israel lobby and is collaborators in the Labour party are determined to use it. It has to be stopped, and the real yardsticks – impartial fact – used instead.

RT Forced to Register as Foreign Agent, But AIPAC and John Podesta Go Free

November 21, 2017

This is another very interesting piece from RT America’s Lee Camp. Camp is a comedian and the presenter of Redacted Tonight, a satirical show that uses comedy to take a deep, critical look at American politics and current affairs. In this piece, Camp shows the double standards behind the recent decision to force RT America to register as a foreign agent under FARA, while the real foreign lobbying groups of the type the Act was set up to regulate, AIPAC and John Podesta’s lobbying organisation, are allowed to get away free.

FARA was set up in the 1930s to force lobbyists working for Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and imperial Japan to register with the American treasury, so they could have their government sponsors identified, and would have to reveal their sources of incomes.

Camp then states that AIPAC is Israel’s foreign lobby arm in the US. This shouldn’t be controversial: it’s exactly how AIPAC describes itself, as Camp shows with the masthead from their webpage. It says ‘America’s Pro-Israel lobby’. He then produces a quote about how AIPAC is the most powerful lobbying organisation in America, or at least, more powerful than other very well-organised and funded groups like the gun lobby.

He also plays a piece from former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, describing how, before she had even taken up her seat in Congress, AIPAC sent her a document they wanted her to sign pledging her support. She replied that before she would, she’d have to read about the issues first. She then states that she learned that the operatives for the Israel lobby control women’s organisations, environmental organisations, peace organisations. Every aspect of the political process is controlled by people associated with the Israel lobby.

Camp then goes on to describe how $705 million was given to Israel by America in the latest military budget. And AIPAC has solidly been behind, and indeed urging America on in its wars in the Middle East. AIPAC pushed for the Iraq invasion. They pushed for the war in Syria. They also met with a Democrat party thinktank, the Centre for American Progress, to suppress rumours by their own journalists that AIPAC is pushing for war with Iran.

AIPAC also flexes its clout at the UN. Here there’s a clip of US ambassador Nicky Haley, speaking at an AIPAC gathering, talking about how they got the UN to withdraw a report that made the ‘outrageous’ – but entirely correct claim – that Israel is an apartheid state. And then the UN Secretary General resigned. She also shows how she’s absolutely fine with people wanting to impose sanctions on North Korea and Syria, but really doesn’t see why they should be imposed on Israel.

Camp then points out that AIPAC are actively trying to make it illegal to promote the boycott of Israel, a move that is supported by around 50 senators.

He then goes on to describe the origins of AIPAC. It was set up by a former member of the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, who then worked for the American Zionist Council. In 1962 the AZC was ordered by Robert Kennedy to register under FARA and open up their financial records. In December the AZC’s president, Rabbi Irving Miller, asked for a delay. In January the following year, 1963, AIPAC was founded. Then in March the AZC’s lawyers claimed that the Council should not have to register. They then continued to delay and stonewall sending in the required paperwork. The efforts to force AIPAC to register seem to have ended with the deaths of JFK and Robert Kennedy. Basically, AIPAC never got round to registering. In 1967 AIPAC applied for federal tax exemption. This was granted and backdated to 1953. In 1986 the lobbyist then began creating political action groups, in direct contravention of its tax-exempt status.

Camp explains that AIPAC’s purpose is pro-Israeli propaganda, termed ‘hasbara’, a word which literally means ‘explanation’. This is to get America to ignore Israel’s war crimes. Which, as Camp points out, doesn’t mean that all Israelis are terrible people. America commits war crimes, and he likes some Americans. AIPAC is responsible for trying smear those who criticise and protest against Israel as anti-Semites. But despite their best efforts, a growing number of young and older people around the world are standing up for the Palestinians. For the first time a bill for Palestinian human rights has been introduced into Congress. It was introduced by Representative Betty McCollum, and seeks to prevent the US from funding the detention and prosecution of children in Israel’s military courts. And of course, AIPAC are trying to crush it.

Camp makes the obvious point that if FARA was set up to control and regulate foreign lobbyists, then AIPAC is precisely the type of foreign lobbyist it is set up to regulate.

He then moves on to talk about John Podesta and the lobbying organisation he set up with his brother, Tony. John Podesta was one of Hillary Clinton’s aides. It should have registered with FARA, but didn’t, when it was lobbying on behalf of the Russian-owned company, Uranium One, from whom it collected $180,000 in fees in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

Camp then goes on to point out that this all shows that the decision to force RT to register as a foreign agent is entirely political. It’s a way to further suppress and marginalise dissenting voices like Chris Hedges and Jesse Ventura, and reinforce the stories about Russian interference. This is a story concocted by the Democratic National Convention so that it doesn’t have to look at its own corruption. The oligarchy running the country know that they don’t have the solutions to working peoples’ problems, and so are forced to resort to trying to push dissent further to the margins, and force people into an even smaller space of acceptable opinion.

Camp then points out that RT has not broadcast Russian propaganda. It has covered the Dakota pipeline, police brutality and Camp himself covered electoral fraud last year. It has even won an Emmy award for its coverage of the Occupy movement. He ends by stating that it looks like propaganda only if you buy into the corporate bullsh*t coming from CNN.

I’m not sure, but I wonder if Cynthia McKinnon was the Black, Green party politico, who lost her seat because she wouldn’t kowtow to AIPAC. When she refused to follow their line, they smeared her as an anti-Semite, and poured their funding into her political rivals, so that she would lose the election.

AIPAC are a nasty, bullying organisation that is utterly ruthless in trying to shut down any criticism or dissent about Israel. But it certainly does not speak for the majority of Jewish Americans. According to polls, American Jews tend to be politically liberal, and traditionally have been utterly indifferent to Israel. They were always far more keen to build lives for themselves as equal and respected citizens of the US. Just as they have been in Britain and very many other countries. Hence the determination of Zionist groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to give the false impression that hatred of Jews in Europe is at the same level as Germany just before the Nazi seizure of power. And that all Muslims, or nearly all Muslims, are also bitter anti-Semites and a threat to western democracy.

However, as Camp points out, an increasing number of people are becoming more critical of Israel, including young Jewish Americans. Many of them have become even more hostile to the country after going there on the ‘heritage’ tours that the country sponsors amongst American Jews to gain their allegiance and goodwill. The Jews, who have been so alienated from Israel, include those, who have been victims of anti-Semitism. Clearly the experience of being a victim of prejudice and abuse is not leading Jewish American young people to wish to support the abusive Israeli state.

Private Eye on the Spooks Covering Up Scandals at HSBC

February 15, 2015

This past week we’ve had the revelation that HSBC were helping their customers avoid tax, and that the corruption included a number of influential MPs. One was Labour; six were Tories, including the Tory donor, Lord Fink. This isn’t the first time the bank was mired in scandal over corruption. A few years ago it was being investigated for money laundering, and murky dealings with the Iranians.

The Americans wanted to prosecute, but according to Private Eye, the Foreign Office and the Treasury stepped in to block the declassification of certain pieces of evidence under the Freedom of Information Act. in their issue for 4th – 17th October 2013 the ran the story HSBC and the Spooks. This went

Official efforts to protect Britain’s rampantly money-laundering banks from the wrath of US regulators and prosecutors extended as far as the security services, the Eye has learnt in a series of Freedom of Information Requests.

Back in May campaigners in the US obtained emails from the US Treasury showing that chancellor George Osborne had written to his counterpart Tim Geithner on behalf of Standard Chartered. But at far greater risk of losing its licence was HSBC, with money laundering at the core of US operations that were, for example, taking drugs cash from Mexico without checking its provenance and doctoring paperwork to hide Iranian business (all under the leadership of former HSBC boss and soon to retire trade minister the Reverend Lord (Stephen) Green).

So how did HSBC keep its US licence and escape a potentially terminal criminal prosecution there? With help from friends in high places, it seems.

The Eye asked the Treasury and the Foreign Office for their correspondence with the US authorities. After long delays both admitted they did have such material but refused to disclose it, citing harm to international relations, damage to the economy and threats to commercial interests.

On planet Treasury, where the last five years haven’t happened, disclosure might, er, “damage banks (sic) business reputation and possibly the confidence of their customers”. The Foreign Office meanwhile feared that any information “might prejudice the commercial interests of HSBC” – the public interest favouring those commercial interests over the public’s right to know anything about wholesale corruption in banks to which taxpayers have recently provided financial support.

More mysteriously, the Treasury tacked on to the end of its responses a reference to section 23 of the freedom of information act, an exemption for “information supplied by, or relating to , bodies dealing with security matters”. This shadowy provision allows officials not to confirm or deny they do hold such information but, since no other FoI requests mention it, it’s safe to assume there is such information. From the chancellor to the spooks, if a bank faces embarrassment or worse, the full might of Whitehall has to be secretly mobilised behind it.

Corruption and Conservative Complicity

Now that it’s been revealed that MPs, most of whom were members of the ruling party, were benefiting from the bank’s advice about tax avoidance, you’re also left wondering how many Tories and others were also involved with the HSBC’s other shady dealings. How many knew about the money laundering and the breaking of trade sanctions to Iran? In fact, how many were actively involved in these activities?

And these ain’t victimless crimes, by any stretch of the imagination. Quite apart from the misery caused by drug addiction in Britain, America and Europe, the Mexican and South American drug cartels are brutal and ruthless. In Guatemala or one of the Central American states, they shot up an ordinary bus full of people just to make a point about their ruthlessness to the government.

In Mexico, the war on drugs has become a true civil war between the authorities and powerful drug gangs. And they are vile. Feminist and Human Rights organisations have talked about the ‘feminicide’ in the poorer communities in Mexico, where the gangs kidnap, rape, torture and murder young women, simply for the fun of it. It’s sickening to even think that someone’s making money from dealing with these butchers.

HSBC: Britain’s Iran-Contra?

The fact that the British government also tried to shut down US investigations into the bank’s dealing with the South American drugs trade and Iran also raises the spectre of another scandal that hit the CIA in the 1980s. This was the Iran-Contra affair, where Ollie North’s friends did deals to allow South American drug lords to import cocaine into the US, in return for their backing in the war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. At the same time the Company was selling arms to Iran in return for their help in negotiating the release of American prisoners in Lebanon.

When that scandal hit, the effect on the poor black population of the Land of the Free was potentially explosive. One of the areas where the drugs were being dumped was downtown LA. Drugs are a major blight of Black America, to the point where some Black radicals believe that they’re being used as part of a deliberate, planned genocide by the American state against its Black citizens. When the news broke that America’s spooks really were importing drugs in America, the same drugs that were ravaging Black communities, there was a mass meeting by Black Angelenos that nearly flared into a riot.

Although the story has never been refuted, the guy who broke it has effectively had his career ruined through pressure from the authorities and the news corporations.

Now it looks like Britain and our spooks were doing exactly the same. Remember, Maggie set up secret companies to deal with Iraq, while Major’s government was deeply implicated in the affair of the Iraqi ‘supergun’. It really wouldn’t surprise me if we had also followed suit in also supplying arms to the Iranians in order to gain some kind of political leverage in the Middle East. And the Libertarians in Thatcher’s party, like Norris McWhirter, also had absolutely no qualms about dining with South American dictators and death squad leaders.

This piece from two years ago now adds an extra, very suspicious dimension to a very murky business.