Thursday, 21 February 2019

French ruling elite attacks “yellow vests” while claiming to fight anti-Semitism

By Alex Lantier 

21 February 2019

On Tuesday night, the big-business Socialist Party (PS) called rallies in several cities after an altercation Saturday between right-wing ex-Maoist commentator Alain Finkielkraut and a protester wearing a yellow vest. The man, known to French intelligence for his Islamist ties, called Finkielkraut a “dirty Zionist.” Since then, the media have mounted a furious campaign to denounce the “anti-Semitic left” and demand that the “yellow vests” support the PS demonstration.
Anti-Semitism is a reactionary and repugnant ideology, indissolubly tied to fascism and the worst genocide of world history: the massacre of the Jews in fascist Europe. The mass murder of six million Jews, including nearly all the over 76,000 Jews deported from France to Nazi death camps, with the active assistance of the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime, is a horrific crime that cannot and will not ever be forgotten. The struggle against any trace of anti-Semitic influence is part of the essential work of any socialist organization of the working class.
But the PS is in no position to lecture anyone about anti-Semitism. Examining the reactionary record of the PS and of President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the March (LRM) party exposes their pretenses to oppose anti-Semitism as a political fraud. While they mount a campaign to tar the entire “yellow vest” movement against social inequality as genocidal and racist, and to discredit rising opposition in the working class across Europe, they are themselves appealing to racism and strengthening neo-fascistic tendencies.
The PS invited virtually the entire French political establishment to join its protest. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 23 other LRM ministers participated, together with former Presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. The Stalinist French Communist Party (PCF), the Greens, the Democratic Movement of François Bayrou, the leader of the right-wing Republicans (LR) party Laurent Wauquiez and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of the Arise France (DLF) party, allied to neo-fascist leader Marine Le Pen, all attended.
The PS leader, Olivier Faure, invited Marine Le Pen, saying she would be “welcome.” He refused to invite her National Rally (RN) party, stating that “its entire history is precisely bound up with the question of anti-Semitism and racism.” Faure wanted to get the support of Vichy’s political descendants against the “yellow vests,” but without unmasking his own fraudulent maneuver by letting figures like Marine’s father Jean-Marie, who has been convicted of making anti-Semitic statements, attend a rally supposedly called against anti-Semitism.
Le Pen ultimately did not attend the rally. The RN published a communiqué refusing to march “alongside organizations and politicians who either have done nothing against the spread of Islamist networks in popular neighborhoods, or encouraged them, or even discuss them in a criminal and irresponsible doublespeak.”
While the “yellow vest” protesters have mobilized with the support of most of the French population against Macron, the PS is mobilizing the government with the support of the political establishment against the “yellow vests,” while making its deals with anti-Semitic forces. It received broad support in official circles. Alongside the Freemasonry, the unions sent top officials to the PS protest, after having called off strikes in order to isolate the “yellow vest” protests.
At the rally, General Confederation of Labor (CGT) chief Philippe Martinez again denounced the “yellow vests,” whom he had slandered as neo-fascists before their first protest on November 17 in order to justify the unions’ decision to shut down strikes in solidarity with their actions. He called for CGT members to join the PS protest, however. There, he asserted that the “yellow vests” racism “has shocked me from the beginning of the protests, and a small part of the yellow vest movement is poisoning the rest.”
The only sections of the political establishment that were not welcome were those who did not fall in line with the media campaign slandering the “yellow vests.” Unsubmissive France’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon complained he had not been invited. He was the target of a media campaign for having criticized “the political exploitation of the struggle against racism and anti-Semitism” by the PS. But Mélenchon, a former PS minister, finally decided to join in this act of political exploitation and participate in the PS rally in Marseille.
PS-LRM propaganda against anti-Semitism is hypocritical and corrupt to the bone. The recent rise of anti-Semitic crimes across Europe is an extremely serious phenomenon; they have increased 60 percent over the last year in Germany and 69 percent in France. But it is impossible to fight against the rise of anti-Semitism without fighting the entire ruling class and the capitalist system.
In Germany, official statistics highlight the role of the far right, which is responsible for a large majority of such crimes. But the far right is prospering with the tacit support of Germany’s Grand Coalition government, whose Interior Minister Horst Seehofer infamously hailed neo-Nazi riots in Chemnitz during which a Jewish restaurant was attacked.
In France, the PS and Macron’s LRM government that emerged from it in 2017 have played the central role in legitimizing the heritage of French political anti-Semitism.
Hollande twice invited Marine Le Pen to the Elysée presidential palace. These were the first times a neo-fascist politician had been invited to the Elysée. At the same time, he sought to inscribe in the constitution deprivation of nationality, the legal mechanism that Vichy used to deport the Jews to the death camps and justify repressing the Resistance. Finally, last November Macron hailed Philippe Pétain, the head of the Vichy regime that approved these deportations.
The target of all these policies that reinforce anti-Semitism is growing opposition in the working class. Alongside the “yellow vest” protests in France, strikes in Portugal, Belgium and Germany are unfolding. The ruling class is terrified, and it is seeking to foment by all means necessary the political conditions to more broadly carry out repression.
Thus PS Prime Minister Manuel Valls attended a rally in Madrid of the Spanish right-wing parties including the new fascist party, Vox. This demonstration aimed to install a right-wing coalition government that would include Vox—a party that defends the record of fascist dictator Francisco Franco’s army during the civil war, that is, the use of mass murder against left-wing workers.
The “yellow vest” movement expresses the rejection by workers and significant layers of the middle classes of policies that have been imposed in Europe over decades. It is critical now to draw political lessons. After three decades of growing imperialist war since the Stalinist dissolution of the USSR in 1991, and a decade of deep austerity since the 2008 crash, capitalism is in a mortal crisis. The growth of anti-Semitism is again indissolubly bound up with this crisis of capitalism.
The struggle against it requires a conscious break with all these political tendencies that legitimize anti-Semitism while claiming to fight it, and a struggle to build a Trotskyist vanguard in the working class. Faure sought to present the PS as the historic opponent of anti-Semitism by mentioning the participation of PS founder François Mitterrand in a protest against the defacing of a cemetery in Carpentras in 1990. In fact, this example refutes his arguments.
Mitterrand, an ex-Vichy official, cynically participated as a scandal erupted about his continuing ties to René Bousquet, the Vichy chief of police who organized the Vél d’Hiv mass round-up of Jews for deportation in 1942. This scandal illustrated that the alliance formed between the PCF, petty bourgeois Pabloite forces like today’s New Anticapitalist Party, and the PS after the May 1968 general strike was a reactionary trap for the workers’ movement. It handed over the working class bound hand-and-foot to the PS, a bourgeois party pursuing austerity and militarist policies.
Thirty years later, the descendants of these parties are tacitly promoting anti-Semitism to poison the political atmosphere, all the while cynically claiming to combat it.
The Parti de l’égalité socialiste (PES) bases its policy on the growing international upsurge of the class struggle, of which the “yellow vest” movement is one expression in France. It fights anti-Semitism by seeking to arm the working class with a Marxist and internationalist, that is to say Trotskyist program to fight for political power, against Stalinist and Pabloite tendencies that have capitulated to capitalism, which is rotting on its feet.

What If They Started a War and No One Showed Up?

What If They Started a War and No One Showed Up?

The humiliation of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Warsaw last week was a good thing. The ancient Greeks, exercising their demonstrated ability to synthesize defining characteristics, had a word for it: hubris. Hubris is when one develops an extreme and unreasonable feeling of confidence in a certain course of action that inevitably leads to one’s downfall when that conceit proves to be based on false principles.
Pompeo was in Warsaw for a “summit” arranged by the US State Department in partnership with the Polish government to discuss with representatives of sixty nations what to do about the fractious situation in the Middle East. In advance, he promised that the meeting would "deliver really good outcomes." The gathering was initially conceived as a “war against Iran” precursor, intended to pull together a coalition against the Persians, but when it became clear that many of the potential participants would balk at such a designation, it assumed a broader agenda concerning “Peace and Security in the Middle East.”
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria were not, not surprisingly, invited as some of them were the expected targets of whatever remedial action the conference might recommend. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was, of course, present, tweeting in advance of the gathering that it would be all about “war against Iran.” He also characteristically delivered a warning that Iran was planning a “second holocaust” for his country.
Many countries, including regional power Turkey, and global powers Russia and China refused to participate at all. The European Union, the French and the Germans all sent career diplomats to the meeting rather than their Foreign Ministers while Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt only agreed to attend at the last minute after he was granted his wish to head a discussion session on Yemen.
The meeting was overshadowed by the context in which it took place, something that Pompeo was apparently too tone deaf to appreciate. The Europeans, to include close allies Britain, France and Germany have all been openly opposed to the White House’s completely irrational decision last year to exit from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which placed limits verified by intrusive inspections on Iran’s nuclear program.  America’s closest allies made clear that they object to being told how and with whom they are permitted to do business, and they were finally doing something about it. Even US intelligence confirms that Iran has been fully compliant with the nuclear agreement, but the dunces in the White House are too blinded by hubris to change course.
The week before the conference opened the British, French and Germans also, perhaps deliberately, declared their intention to launch a “special purpose vehicle” barter system that would enable purchases of Iranian oil after the May 5th deadline which the United States had unilaterally declared for the initiation of sanctions prohibiting such activity. Washington has declared that any countries disregarding its sanctions against Iran would be themselves subject to secondary sanctions implemented through the US Treasury’s ability to both control and restrict access to the dollar denominated financial markets. Nevertheless, the action by the Europeans served as confirmation that much of the world wants to do business with Iran even if the White House says “no.”
Present with the US delegation in Warsaw were Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Special Adviser Jared Kushner, and President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach also appeared in an unofficial capacity. All of the Administration officials took the stage at one point or another to denounce Iran as the “world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism,” which appeared to resonate with Netanyahu but hardly anyone else. There was also considerable spontaneous theater provided by the American cast of characters in the lead-up to the conference itself.
In an interview with CBS News before the meetings, Pompeo indicated his pleasure over the impact of the existing sanctions on Iran. When asked if there had been any sign “…that this pressure is pushing Iran to negotiate with the US?” he responded that "Things are much worse for the Iranian people, and we're convinced that will lead the Iranian people to rise up and change the behavior of the regime." The suggestion that Washington believes in starving the very people it is claiming to want to help to bring about a violent uprising clearly did not disturb Pompeo in the least. And he exhibited no appreciation of the fact that pressuring Iran’s government is actually the best way to strengthen it as the Iranian people have been rallying against the economic warfare being waged by the United States.
Not to be upstaged by Pompeo, John Bolton, in a video released on the Monday before the conference opened on Wednesday, celebrated in his own unique fashion the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, which the people of Iran have recently been commemorating. Bolton called Iran "the central banker of international terrorism" and declared it guilty of "tyrannizing its own people and terrorizing the world." The video concluded with a direct threat to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: "I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy." 
Also during the lead-up to the conference, Rudy Giuliani was featured at a pep rally in downtown Warsaw for the "cult-like" terrorist group Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization for which he has served as a paid lobbyist. He told a crowd of MEK supporters that "If we don't have a peaceful, democratic Iran then no matter what we do we'll have turmoil, difficulties, problems in the Middle East. Everyone agrees that Iran is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world. That has to tell you something: Iran is a country you can't rely on, do business with, can't trust.” He added that their government consists of "assassins, they are murderers and they should be out of power." Afterwards, Rudy would not disclose how much he had been paid to make the speech.
But it was Vice President Pence who took the prize for unmitigated gall in his address to the conferees in which he accused the Europeans of something close to treason: “They call this scheme a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle.’ We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.’’ He insisted that “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the peace, security and freedom they deserve.” Pence might just as well have said “my way or the highway” or quoted George W. Bush’s line, “you’re either with us or against us.” The audience, including a large number of Washington-sycophants, responded with silence, unimpressed by Pence’s fulminations and his demands.
The Warsaw Summit did not produce the results envisioned by the White House, which were to pull together a group willing to escalate pressure on Iran before attacking it, while simultaneously generating support for Jared Kushner’s much discussed Israel/Palestine peace plan, due to be unveiled in April. The American plan will basically give Netanyahu everything he wants while relegating the Palestinians to the status of a non-people. As a result of the lukewarm reception in Warsaw, even from Arab states that truly hate Iran, Washington is now weaker in the Middle East than ever before. That is a good thing as the policies being embraced by Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, Giuliani and Kushner are not only an embarrassment, they are a potential disaster for everyone in the region as well as for the United States.
Photo: Twitter
Tags: Middle East  Terrorism

The Terrifying Reason Trump is Pu

On Monday, President Donald Trump met with the Venezuelan community in Miami, Florida. His speech represented more than just disdain for the country’s president Nicolas Maduro; it was a sign of what may really be behind his increasing rhetoric against Venezuela: Reelection. 2020.
Florida will be a key swing state in next year’s elections. Trump’s overtures to both the Venezuelan and Cuban-American communities were clear.
“The days of socialism and communism are numbered, not only in Venezuela but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well,” Trump told the crowd.
But Trump’s push on Venezuela is not just about winning over key votes in Florida. It’s about sidelining progressives, distracting from domestic policies, and driving the U.S. into a war that could easily lift him into a second term.
Venezuela has been front and center over the last month. The U.S. has backed the National Assembly head Juan Guaido in his grab for the presidency, enacted devastating sanctions, pushed humanitarian aid, and, according to Cuba, is sending special forces to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands with the goal of toppling President Nicolas Maduro.
This is not the first time the White House has been engaged in trying to undermine the Venezuelan government. It’s been at it since the early 2000s. Washington backed the coup against President Hugo Chavez in 2002. The National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development have paid millions to opposition groups in the name of democracy.
But never have the sanctions been so crippling. Never has the threat of military intervention loomed so large. Such a move would play right into Trump’s 2020 campaign. A war in America’s backyard. A trojan horse to lock in the president’s second term. Democrats in Congress have been either complacent or complicit.
A war with Venezuela would not be swift, even if carried out through proxy militaries like Colombia and Brazil. Venezuela is polarized and politicized. The country has almost two million soldiers ready to serve, including reservists. Violent action would likely throw Venezuela into a bloody civil war—a war that would last well through the 2020 presidential elections.
Sound familiar?
George W. Bush launched his invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, the year prior to the 2004 electoral campaign. He was reelected. No WMDs were found. Nor was Osama bin Laden, though the United States did generate enough animosity that it planted the seeds for the birth of the Islamic State.
Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Grenada in October 1983 helped to lift his failing approval rating the year before his reelection.
Of course, the situation in Venezuela is dire. President Nicolas Maduro shoulders plenty of the blame. Inflation is through the roof. His fiscal policy has been ineffective. Over two million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years. But the economic warfare and the U.S. sanctions, imposed in 2017 and deepened in recent weeks, have cost the country billions of dollars and blocked access to critical medicine for Venezuelan citizens.
In his discourse on Venezuela, President Donald Trump talks about democracy and the humanitarian crisis. But he overlooks these issues for the countries he considers allies. A great example is Honduras.
If the president was actually concerned with resolving humanitarian crises in the region, he should look not to Venezuela, but to Central America, to fix the structural problems that have led to the migrant crisis—the whole reason Trump says he needs a border wall—and which the United States helped to cause.
Millions have fled Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in recent years. They flee violence, drug gangs, repressive regimes. The murder rates in El Salvador and Honduras hover above the rate in Venezuela, according to the World Bank.
In Honduras, the Juan Orlando Hernandez regime retained power in 2017 through fraudulent elections, after he strong-armed Congress and the Supreme Court to approve changes to the Constitution to allow him to run for reelection—the very reason that Congress ousted president Manuel Zelaya in 2009.
In Venezuela, by contrast, despite the opposition’s boycott of last year’s election—after it pulled out of the two-year-long talks with the government at the last minute—Maduro still won the presidency with a greater percentage of the overall Venezuela voting population than Trump won in the United States in 2016.
In Honduras, the assault on community, environmental and indigenous leaders is widespread. Berta Caceres’ assassination is only the most prominent example. Security forces have killed protesters with live rounds to the head. Impunity is rampant.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Honduras has “the most unequal distribution of income in Latin America,” an inequity that has accelerated over the last decade.
This all has spurred hundreds of thousands to flee each year in an attempt to reach asylum in the United States. Trump’s response has been to send the military to the border and to build a wall.
Ironically, the Central American crisis is one the United States helped to create, by backing brutal regimes and illegally funneling weapons into the region—a strategy it seems it may be trying to duplicate in Venezuela. The very man in charge of those weapons was Ronald Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Elliot Abrams, who was recently tapped by Trump to bring so-called democracy to Venezuela.
If he succeeds in toppling Venezuela, the future is bleak. Central America today is perhaps an image of what we can expect for the future: a crime rate through the roof, poverty, widespread inequality.
The White House has an interest in keeping the focus on Venezuela, and not on the controversies and domestic issues that have dogged Trump and his presidency. Venezuela is a way for the president to distract U.S. citizens. A way to tarnish a resurgence in the debate about socialism, which he highlighted in his State of the Union address.
With his bellicose rhetoric and point people trained in subversion and violence, Trump is willing to put peace on the line, not in the interest of the Venezuelan people, but for the United States, for U.S. corporations and conservatives.
Donald Trump’s push on Venezuela is about grabbing at the largest oil reserves in the world, making an example to any other would-be leftist leaders, and above all else, reelecting Trump in 2020.
The Democrats appear to be willing to give it to him.

Michael Fox is a freelance journalist and the former editor of the NACLA Report on the Americas. He is the coauthor of the books Venezuela Speaks and Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions. He tweets at @mfox_us.

100 years after the Nakba: What if Wales had been offered to the Jews as a homeland?

One hundred years ago, the Balfour Declaration backed Palestine as a Jewish homeland. Imagining if history had taken another turn offers a fresh perspective

On 2 November 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild, a prominent Zionist, which became known as the Balfour Declaration.
In it, the British government promised Palestine to the Zionists - and did so without consulting Palestinians, British Jews, or the wider British population. While Palestinian Arabs at the time made up 90 per cent of the territory's 700,000 population, they were bizarrely only referred to as "existing non-Jewish communities". The letter also said "that nothing should be done to prejudice" their "civil and religious rights".

The declaration had a catastrophic impact on the Palestinians. It eventually led to the creation of Israel in 1948, during which Palestinians were driven from their homes, mostly through Jewish acts of terror.
The least the Palestinians might expect on the 100th anniversary from the British would be some remorse and an apology. But Theresa May's government has not only refused to apologise on behalf of the UK, it is also planning to "mark it with pride" as she told the pro-Israel lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel in December 2016.
This week she will be joined in London by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they mark the centenary alongside pro-Israel groups.
Britain had no right to offer Palestine to the Zionists. The claim that Jews have a perpetual right to live there is rejected by Palestinians. Do all Muslims have a right to "return" to Saudi Arabia? And what about a Christian "right of return" to Palestine? Israel is seen as a democracy by its supporters - but many others see it as a colonialist settler state.

What if Balfour offered Wales to the Zionists?

If we assume that London wanted in 1917 to help a persecuted people find sanctuary, then surely it could have offered the Zionists a homeland in a territory that it controlled at the time?
They say that charity begins at home. David Lloyd George, a proud Welshman, was British prime minister at the time of the declaration. What if the Balfour Declaration had read: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Wales of a national home for the Jewish people"?
Present day Wales covers 20,779 sq km. Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip covers 20,770 sq km.
The population of Wales in 1917 would have been around 2.5 million while that of Palestine was around 1 million (Jews made up less than 10 percent of that number).

Had Balfour offered Wales to the Zionists, it is safe to say that the Welsh would have rejected the declaration. Jews, though disappointed at failing to obtain Palestine, would soon have started arriving to settle the land.
There would likely have been tensions between the two groups. London would have tried to keep the peace but would likely have failed, especially given the ongoing fight in Ireland - which the British also controlled - for independence.
Does anyone believe the Welsh would have agreed to give up any inch of their homeland to the Zionists? Or would they have resisted, including through armed struggle?
The Zionists would have set up armed militias to fight the Welsh. More and more Jews would have arrived in Wales during the early 1940s. The United Nations would then intervene in Wales, as it did in Palestine, and offer a partition plan that gave Jews 56 percent of the land, leaving the indigenous Welsh with only 44 percent.
Does anyone believe the Welsh would have agreed to give up an inch of their homeland to the Zionists? Or would they have resisted, including through armed struggle?
In 1948, the Zionists would declare their independence and establish Israel as a state. They would also start the process of expanding their hold on Wales. Welsh villages would be destroyed. Some two million Welsh refugees would flee to England, Scotland and Ireland. Some would even make it to France and Spain. 

When the guns fell silent, Israel would extend the area of the former Wales that it occupies to 78 percent, well beyond that of the partition plan. The UN would issue a resolution calling on Israel to allow refugees to return - but Israel would refuse.
The world would call for a two-state solution in which Israel and Wales would live side by side, with Cardiff as a shared capital. In 1967, Israel would attack the Irish and the Scots, who would try to help the Welsh resistance regain their occupied land. Eventually Israel would capture the whole of Wales and declare Cardiff as its eternal, united capital. More Welsh would be expelled to neighbouring countries such as Ireland.
For "security’ reasons" Israel would begin to build settlements for Jews in occupied Wales, near population centres such as Swansea. It would make it increasingly difficult for a two-state solution to be realised. Abandoned by the international community and seeing their land eroded further, the Welsh would start a gwrthryfel Cymreig (the Welsh uprising, or intifada) in 1987, which would be suppressed by Israel by 1991.
In 1993, secret talks in Finland between the Welsh and the Israelis would result in the Helsinki Accords. The Welsh Liberation Organisation (WLO) would recognise Israel - but Israel would only recognises the (WLO) as the "sole representative of the Welsh people".

Resistance from the Gwent Strip

There would be no genuine move towards peace, planned to lead to a viable Welsh state by 1998. Instead Israel would increase its settlement enterprise and divide the occupied Welsh territories – including much of the former county of Dyfed - into areas A, B and C.
The Gwent Strip is particularly problematic and becomes a hub of resistance
Israel would link the settlements in the occupied Welsh territories to each other and to Israel. It would apply military law to the Welsh but civil Israeli law to the illegal Jewish settlers.
The Welsh would see no end to their occupation. A second gwrthryfel would erupt in 2000. This time it would be more violent. The Welsh would be accused of being terrorists.
Israel would build a wall deep inside occupied Welsh areas, including Gwent, and increase the number of checkpoints to limit the movement of people, animals and goods. It would also capture most of the water resources and sell them to the Welsh at inflated prices.

The Gwent Strip would be particularly problematic and become a hub of resistance. Israel would decide to remove its settlers and then lay siege to the territory, a siege which would last to this day.
In Israel itself, Welsh citizens would be treated as second-class, subject to 60 discriminatory laws. They would be able participate in Israel's democracy - but it would really be a democracy for Jews only.
In Cardiff, Israel would manipulate the population demographics to ensure that there was always a Jewish majority. The Welsh would be frustrated by a planning system which would not allow them to build houses in occupied Cardiff.
Eventually some would build homes without permission, only for the Israeli authorities to demolish their homes. The state would revoke their "residency" permits if they judge Cardiff not to be their "centre of life".
The Welsh would not be allowed access to an airport or a seaport. To travel abroad they would have to use the border crossing into England and then fly from Bristol or Birmingham.

The Welsh catastrophe

And in the Middle East? Despite earlier Zionist wishes, Palestine was never promised as a Jewish homeland. Instead an independent Palestinian Arab state was established when the British mandate ended there in 1947.
Its capital is Jerusalem, where Muslims, Jews and Christians live happily to this day. The city has its own Welsh Solidarity Campaign, which works to support the legitimate rights of the Welsh people. 
On 2 November 2017, in this alternative future, London will celebrate the centenary of the Welsh Balfour Declaration "with pride".
But the British prime minister will refuse to apologise to the Welsh for London's role in their dispossession and subsequent trychineb (the Welsh word for "catastrophe").
Will the Welsh in the occupied territories likewise be celebrating?
- Kamel Hawwash is a British-Palestinian engineering professor based at the University of Birmingham and a longstanding campaigner for justice, especially for the Palestinian people. He is vice chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council (BPPC) and a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).  He appears regularly in the media as commentator on Middle East issues. He runs a blog at and tweets at @kamelhawwash. He writes here in a personal capacity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

The Israel lobby is built on the biggest guilt trip in the world

 Philip Weiss
Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of
I’ve been reading Amos Oz’s books since his death, and one of the feelings he leaves me with is: Self-contempt. Many of Oz’s characters look on American Jews with disdain. “To be without power is, in my eyes, both a sin and a catastrophe. It’s the sin of exile, and Diaspora,” says one. Another says that Diaspora Jews “shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of… life.”
The message is clear. Jews in the west are half-made because they never had to fight. They haven’t served in the Israeli army, at the front line of reborn Jewish sovereignty. But those exiled Jews derive pride and strength from the armed Jewish nation; Israel has given them international prestige. Because once Jews went like sheep to slaughter, we formed lines to get on the cattle cars. Now we are a proud nation.
But those exiled Jews have no skin in the game. They are living comfortable idle existences. Getting up like me this morning and going to my desk.
This is the core truth of the Israel lobby. The American Jews feel guilty that they are not on the front lines. They are lesser; the Hebrew language even describes Jews who leave Israel as such: yordim, lower. So they must do everything they can for the higher, fighting Jews of Israel. Raise money for Israel, buy off politicians, make sure that the U.S. government sticks by Israel through thick and thin and every massacre too.
It’s no wonder the first thing anyone tells you about the Israel lobby group J Street is that its executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami’s late father fought with the Irgun, the militia that committed terrorist acts to end British control of Palestine. Jeremy Ben-Ami is Zionist royalty.
And Tzipi Livni a supposed Israeli liberal got the main stage at J Street to lie about Israeli soldiers’ accountability for war crimes, and all the older Americans murmur to one another with reverence, Her parents were in the Irgun. Tzipi Livni is Zionist royalty.
It’s been this way for a long time. American Jews may be peaceniks here but they can’t criticize Israel beyond the mild demurral.
Back in 1967, Lyndon Johnson said that rabbis who were lobbying him to move the Sixth Fleet to the Gulf of Aqaba for Israel wouldn’t give him a screwdriver to send to Vietnam. The poet Robert Lowell saw his New York intellectual friends making the same somersault: “We had a great wave of New York Jewish nationalism, all the doves turning into hawks.”
Ten years later Jimmy Carter made the mistake of thinking that because American Jews were liberals they would side with him against Israel’s new rightwing prime minister Menachem Begin when Carter was challenging Begin over settlements.
 Carter was wrong. The religious ethnic national tie was stronger.
Israel had made American Jews proud, they were in for a dime or a million dollars. “We Are One!” wrote the historian Melvin Urofsky.
Philip Roth heard it from his father. “’Now they’ll think twice before they pull our beards!’ Militant, triumphant Israel was to his aging circle of Jewish friends their avenger for the centuries and centuries of humiliating oppression.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Tom Brady in Israel
Then Americans elected a rightwing nationalist president with fascist tendencies and some liberals thought the big American Jewish organizations would work against Donald Trump. No. They stuck with Trump so he would stick with Israel.
It’s my “Jewish duty” to be friendly with the Trump administration, explained David Harris of the American Jewish Committee— so that we keep Trump’s ear when we push Israel.
AIPAC says the same thing: There must never be daylight between the White House and the Israeli government. So that means holding both sides in a tight embrace.
The American guilt trip never ends. At Any and Every Israel lobby event someone is sure to cut off criticism by leaning into a microphone and saying, We don’t live over there. Our sons and daughters don’t go into the army, it’s a tough neighborhood, and we can’t really judge the decisions that Israel makes about her security.
Even liberal Zionists honor that code. progressive NY synagogue gives neoconservatives the stage to tell American liberals to STFU. “Look, it’s easy to sit here on West 86th street.” It’s “cavalier” to “second-guess” Israel. “I believe that as Americans what we can do… is above all stand with Israel against existential threats, terror threats.”
And if the liberals forget to STFU, an Israeli politician is sure to remind them. We live soft lives in the U.S.
Asked in an English-language television interview about criticism of Israeli policies by some U.S. Jews, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely questioned whether “people that never send their children to fight for their country” could understand the “complexity” of the Middle east.
The heroes in the Amos Oz books are the brawny tanned Israeli warriors, who don’t think twice about blowing up “enemy” villages. They go on courageous “reprisal raids” against faceless enemies at night. Arthur Koestler said 80 years ago that European Jews were a “sick race”: because they don’t know how to wield arms and till the soil.
The Jews of the Israel lobby believe this. They think that Israel has figured out the right relationship to the Arab world and we are never to question it. We might suggest some minor changes in the p.r. campaign, but we’re going to hold the bag for you forever.
Massacre all the Palestinians you think it’s necessary to massacre and when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it’s a massacre, even liberal Zionists will go after her and say she’s not being nuanced enough.
But when Tzipi Livni goes to J Street and says that Any Israeli soldier who did anything ethically wrong on the Gaza border will be prosecuted, she is a hero.
And as for the famous Jewish love of argument—STFU. The Jews who are against Israel must be squashed. They are non Jews or self-hating Jews. You’ll never see an anti-Zionist Jew at J Street except by mistake; and AIPAC doesn’t let anti-Zionist Jews in even to cover their hootenanny.
Because if American Jews divide over Israel it is a signal to American politicians that they can divide over Israel, too. We’re the gatekeepers. Everyone takes their cue from us. “The perception that AIPAC represents a consensus among American Jews has always been a key to its political influence, which explains the group’s sometimes seemingly outsized opposition to Jewish dissent from its line,” writes Doug Rossinow, whose piece on the dark roots of AIPAC in the Washington Post is one of the rare slams of the Israel lobby ever to appear in our papers.
Barney Frank’s sister worked for AIPAC and he shut up about settlements even when he saw them ending the beloved two-state solution. Bari Weiss’s father is an AIPAC hero, and she says all American Jews welcomed Israeli officials to Pittsburgh after the massacre because “we are all one, Am Yisrael.” The people of Israel, the old Zionist slogan!
Now the old hocus-pocus isn’t working. Jews are dividing. There is a new bloc of Jews who will not accept the Book of Nietzsche arguments about Israel’s use of force. They don’t have Philip Roth’s memories of the Holocaust, they don’t think that Jews need to show military prowess to be impressive Jews.
They don’t mind being called effete pencil-neck desk Jews, and they are taking on the Jewish establishment. Look at the numbers in the new Independent Jewish Voices poll from Canada: secular and progressive Jews have overwhelmingly negative feelings about the Israeli government.
Those Jews are giving Ilhan Omar permission. The Jewish divide is the reason there is a debate. People defer to Jews on this issue, because they’ve been indoctrinated to think Jewish survival depends on Israel’s existence, and we are all Zionists, just as Bari Weiss said. Now we are giving them permission to wonder. Peter Feld is on MSNBC saying some Jews welcome Ilhan Omar.
It’s like a lot of other family secrets that go on two or three generations then the young people blow it up. But we need help. We need outside scrutiny to take on the Vatican. We need you, Ilhan Omar. The biggest guilt trip in the world is coming to an end.
H/t Todd Pierce. I changed the definition of yordim in the 4th paragraph to reflect corrections passed to me by Ira Glunts and Jonathan Ofir.

Anti-Zionism equals Anti-Semitism? Macron fuels debate on how to define anti-Jewish hate

Anti-Zionism equals Anti-Semitism? Macron fuels debate on how to define anti-Jewish hate
Addressing a rise in hate crimes against the Jewish diaspora in France, President Emanuel Macron has supported the expansion of the definition of anti-Semitism to outlaw anti-Zionism as well, fueling public debate over the terms.
“Anti-Semitism is hiding itself behind anti-Zionism,” Macron said Wednesday, speaking at the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Crif) and announcing that France seeks to define “anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism.”
The rise of hate crime incidents in France, including the verbal abuse of philosopher Alain Finkielkraut at a Yellow Vest rally last weekend and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg, has prompted the French government to seek new means to fight growing animosity towards their Jewish population, the largest in Europe.
While Macron believes the new definition falls in line with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) interpretation, the organization's own terminology does not contain any reference to Zionism at all.
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews...[and which] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity,” the IHRA said, making clear that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”
ALSO ON RT.COMJewish graves vandalized in France as government vows tough response to rising anti-Semitism
Just a day earlier the French leader had said he opposes criminalizing criticism of the state of Israel, after French lawmakers proposed a bill on Monday that would make anti-Zionism a punishable offense. Yet it seems Macron somewhat changed his mind a day after thousands of demonstrators gathered across France to condemn the rise of anti-Semitic attacks, a 74 percent increase last year, with 541 reported cases.

While the Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to endorse the new proposed definition, it fueled the long raging debate challenging the assertion that being anti-Zionist automatically equates to being an anti-Semite.
ALSO ON RT.COM‘Anti-Semitism spreading like poison’: France stained by weekend of vandalism & year of hate crimes
Historically, different forms of anti-Semitism have existed across the world for centuries. Anti-Zionism, however, is a relatively new phenomenon which was born in the late 19th century to oppose the Zionist political movement that was founded by Theodore Herzl and advocated the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, at that time ruled by the British.
“It is crucial to say that what is forbidden is to deny the existence of Israel. That has to be made a criminal offense,” Sylvain Maillard, an MP with Macron’s political party The Republic on the Move (LREM), told RFI. “However, you obviously have the right to say you do not agree with the policy of the Israeli government. That is normal in a democracy.”
ALSO ON RT.COM'There will soon be no Jews in France' as antisemitism escalates
“If we consider opposition to Theodore Herzl's theory as anti-Semitic, then we’re saying that the millions of Jews who do not wish to live in Palestine and the occupied territories are anti-Semites,”French journalist Dominique Vidal, told FRANCE 24. “It's historical illiteracy, or worse, stupidity.”
The concepts of Zionism and anti-Zionism completely changed since the founding of Israel in 1948. Now anti-Zionism is largely associated with public anger towards the policies of the state of Israel, and not necessarily against Jewish ethnicity. It is most clearly defined in the worldwide Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) which the French president vowed to tackle on Wednesday, and criminalizing anti-Zionism could in theory allow him to do just that.