Israel Defends Its False Narrative Against BDS

by James M. WallMinister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. (Yonatan Sindel:Flash90)

On one of my earliest reporting trips to Israel/Palestine in the early 1980s, I was assaulted by an Israeli government official wielding a wicked instrument called hasbara, Hebrew for propaganda.

I had latched on to a group of tourists who were being lectured to by an Israeli government official. I asked the official a question about the West Bank.

He whirled around to face me, his face contorted in a condescending smile.

“I know nothing about any West Bank”, he answered. “We have a Bank Leumi branch near here, but no West Bank”.

We both knew he was lying when he threw that verbal bomb at me, a weapon that Israel uses constantly to preserve a false narrative.

To sustain its invading colonial project, Israel constructed its own narrative history, utilizing a steady outpouring of hasbara (propaganda).

Hasbara tolerates no attack on Israel’s false narrative. My encounter in the 1980s was with an official who did not want “West Bank” to enter the minds of the tourists he was busy brain-washing.

This official was a soldier in the hasbara army. My question revealed that I was an enemy combatant who must be silenced.

This narrative has infected the world, most especially in the United States, where all centers of power adhere to the false narrative. Those who fail to embrace the narrative are  branded with that ultimate mark of shame, “anti-Semitism”.

BDS was created to combat the occupation the false narrative sustains. BDS is a non-violent tactic of boycotts, divestments and sanctions against corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation.

It was created by secular and religious groups who knew in time it could work to end the occupation just as a similar campaign brought down South Africa’s apartheid system.

BDS was not intended to eliminate Israel (a favorite Israeli false claim) but to call the world’s attention to the oppressiveness of the occupation.

Is BDS working? To use a Sarah Palin assertion, “you betcha”.

To measure its effectiveness, we need only take note that Israel has launched a massive effort to squelch BDS.

The latest Israeli government response came in July when Israel formally turned to other nations to shore up their war against BDS.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (pictured above) warned a group of foreign diplomats, according to a report in The Times of Israel, that BDS “is a danger not only to Israel but to the entire free world”, a not-so-subtle linkage to terrorism.

“BDS should not be seen as a threat only to Israel — it is a threat to the international community, to your own countries, and to all who value human rights and freedom.”

Minister Erdan is a member of Israel’s high-level security cabinet. He is also minister for strategic affairs and public diplomacy (hasbara) and is responsible for the government’s efforts to fight the BDS movement.

Speaking to the diplomats, Erdan accused BDS proponents of taking “advantage of the freedom of expression to intimidate opponents and silence debate”.

That method of attack is designed to enlist other nations onto Israel’s “side” because if BDS works to “eliminate Israel” (a false claim), “similar methods will soon be used against other targets as well.”

“What starts with Israel will not end with Israel. Just as tactics perfected by Palestinian terrorists, such as airplane hijackings — and I don’t need to say more today — quickly spread to terror organizations around the world, BDS tactics will quickly spread to other groups.”

If that sounds familiar, it is because Minister Erdan is a master con man using classic con man tactics. He is the Middle East personification of Professor Harold Hill, from Meredith Wilson’s Music Man, conning the River City, Iowa, locals into believing danger lies ahead. 

MV5BNjA4NjUxNDk4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjc1Mjk3OA@@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_Harold Hill: Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it’s too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang?

Ladies and gentlemen, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community!

Minister Erdan would have the world believe there is a looming danger they are not seeing. BDS is described as a giant pool table in our communities, determined to destroy all that we hold dear. 

Nations that yield again and again to Israel’s false narrative have stood by since 1947, looking the other way as Israel marches across Palestinian land, eliminating or constraining an entire indigenous population.

Turning the spotlight on Israel and away from River City, Iowa, we must see that Israel’s hasbara is a classic con man tactic, deceiving the world by disguising their Palestinian occupation as essential to “security” for Israel, the occupiers.

In its creation of a false narrative, Israel follows the example of its sponsor and empirical mentor, the United States. In a performance in Australia, Pete Seeger, below, sings Tom Paxton’s children’s song, “What Did You Learn In School Today”. Click arrow to play.

 

Posted in Folk Music, Israel, Middle East Politics, Movies, Palestinians | 4 Comments

In The Beginning Was Trump’s False Birther Tweet

by James M. WallSworn in 09 Wikipedia

In the beginning was Donald J. Trump’s false birther tweet, posted four years ago.

The Los Angeles TimesMatt Pearce remembers: “On Aug. 6, 2012, the Twitter account @realDonaldTrump posted an important public announcement: “An ‘extremely credible source’ called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud’.”

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign began with that false statement from an “extremely credible source”.

The birther allegation was so obviously false that it should have fallen into the trash heap of absurdity. Instead, an alarming number of Republican voters took the birther nonsense seriously enough to launch Trump’s campaign for president, a campaign one final election away from placing “birther” Trump in the White House.

Trump’s style of short falsehoods embellished with insulting adjectives (“crooked Hillary”), is tailor-made for Twitter. The Times‘ Mike Pearce points to August 6, four years ago, and asks:

Who was the source? (Why was “extremely credible source” in quotation marks?) Donald Trump didn’t say. Nor did he offer evidence to back up his claim. But out it went to his millions of Twitter followers.

Trump’s style has not changed. His tweets and public speeches continue with the same misleading bellicosity with the hashtag ‏@realDonaldTrump. Here is one recent 2016 tweet:

The failing @nytimes has become a newspaper of fiction. Their stories about me always quote non-existent unnamed sources. Very dishonest!

The polls, state by state, show that Trump is headed for a blowout defeat. In a normal campaign this would be a call for shift in strategy. Trump, however, is not running a normal campaign.  Why won’t he change?

Peter Danou, former advisor to both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, writes in his Blue Nation Review:

Donald Trump is not running a campaign to win the American presidency. Rather, he is using his presidential run as a vehicle to achieve a larger personal ambition: To be seen as the leader of a “white [nationalist] awakening” — the term David Duke used to describe his campaign.

Accustomed to political campaigns run to be won, Danou’s proposition appears far-fetched. But is it? Danou again:

By accident or design, Trump is now seeking what he sees as a greater glory than the mere presidency. His strategy could be described as “lose at all costs.” That’s not to say he wants to lose. Far from it. He’d happily advance his agenda from the Oval Office.

That makes more sense. Trump wants to win. He is gambling that his twitter style campaigning could put him in the White House. If he loses?

Peter Danou suggests that Trump. . . 

. . . is willing to pay the price of defeat, denunciation and even disgrace to become a (darkly) transformational figure in American history, organizing and empowering the extreme right, mainstreaming their views with the help of a timid national media, and fully awakening the forces of bigotry and intolerance that lurk in the shadows of American society.

We’ve seen this movie before. The modern state of Israel was founded on the certainty that only Jews should control their state. Ethnic/racial nationalism is another form of white nationalism.

Since 1947, succeeding Israeli governments have marched behind their ethnic nationalism, playing on western guilt to emerge as the last remaining white colonial empire. Non-Jews, the indigenous Palestinians, were to be systematically removed.

The most recent obscene removal action was reported Sunday by Ha’aretz: Efrat would expand

Israel is conducting a land survey between the settlement of Efrat, (right) and the area to its east with an eye toward declaring state land there, according to a document submitted by the state to the High Court of Justice last week. According to the document, the survey has been undertaken “in a manner that will create contiguity of state lands.” 

Meanwhile, in the U.S. political campaign which ignores Israel’s oppressive occupation, the latest (August 14) count on Electoral Vote finds Hillary Clinton leading 368 to 164, with six states too close to call.

This movement to Clinton virtually guarantees the election of one of Israel’s favorite politicians. Old war hawks likes neoconservative John Negroponte see in Clinton a kindred spirit:

In the 1980s, [Negroponte] served as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. In addition to (at best) covering for that country’s murderous autocrats, he also served the Reagan Administration by helping to turn Honduras into a staging area for American-trained death squads in places like El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Republican establishment, aware of the danger to its own brand and vulnerable down-ballot candidates, moved to soften Trump’s tweeter style. Matt Pearce found a more conventional tone in some of Trump’s tweets.

Trump has gotten in trouble several times for retweeting images linked to white supremacists. But Trump’s addition of veteran communications advisor Jason Miller to his campaign in June has corresponded with a somewhat calmer-seeming social media presence. This has led outsiders to scour Trump’s tweets to figure out which are sent by his staff and which are fired off by Trump himself.

One of those outsiders was data scientist David Robinson of New York, who was curious about the professionalization of some of Trump’s recent Twitter feeds. 

“A lot of Americans are fascinated with the raw Donald Trump, not the image the campaign puts forward,” said Robinson.

Compiling data from Trump’s tweets, Robinson published a deep analysis this week that showed Trump tweets originating from different devices — both iPhone and Android — and which showed that Android Trump is quite a bit more belligerent than iPhone Trump. . .”When Trump wishes the Olympic team good luck, he’s tweeting from his iPhone. When he’s insulting a rival, he’s usually tweeting from an Android,” Robinson wrote.

The “raw Donald Trump” uses an Android phone to send out his “dog whistle” political language tweets. His staff uses an iPhone. Trump’s Android coded tweets convey “white nationalism”.  His political adherents hear his meaning the way a dog hears a whistle humans cannot hear.

The congratulation and thank-you tweets are conventional messages that mean what they say. 

 From his earliest campaign speeches and tweets, Trump’s warning of Mexican immigrants “flooding across our borders” sends his racist message to those who long for just such a message.

Trump is also preparing his followers with rationale for losing by using a phrase like “rigged election” or a word like “cheating”, a term he employed this weekend in Pennsylvania. 

To conclude this journey into the dark side of a possible Trump victory, one spontaneous incident offers hope.

In his Sunday column, which is concerned that Trump is making the U.S. a “meaner nation”, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof reported one example of America at its best.  

In Georgia, an India-born Muslim named Malik Waliyani bought a gas station and convenience store a few months ago and was horrified when it was recently burglarized and damaged. He struggled to keep it going. But then the nearby Smoke Rise Baptist Church heard what had happened.

“Let’s shower our neighbor with love,” Chris George, the pastor, told his congregation at the end of his sermon, and more than 200 members drove over to assist, mostly by making purchases. One man drove his car around until the gas tank was empty, so he could buy more gas.

Our hope at this moment is that those Smoke Rise Baptists, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, represent more southern voters than those Trump can rouse with his racist “dog whistles”.

The picture at top of Barack Obama being sworn in for his first term in January, 2009, is from Wikipedia. The picture from the illegal Efrat settlement is from Ha’aretz.

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

Trump Goes Off Script In Worst Possible Way

by James M. Wallla-1470263827-snap-photo

How long, O Lord, must we suffer outbursts of dangerous rhetoric from Donald J. Trump? The latest example, this time in Wilmington, North Carolina, is reported in the New York Times:

The Republican nominee, reports the Times, “appeared to raise the possibility that gun rights supporters could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges who favor stricter gun control measures to the bench.”

The candidate then “warned that it would be ‘a horrible day’ if Mrs. Clinton were elected and got to appoint a tie-breaking Supreme Court justice.”

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know

Kayleigh McEnany, a surrogate for Trump, spoke with CNN with her “spin”, saying her candidate was referencing the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Here is her “spin” and the clip of Trump’s threat:

During the reign of England’s King Henry II, in December 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered.  

A United Kingdom Learning site records that history this way:

When Becket asked the pope to excommunicate the Archbishop of York who had taken sides with the king [Henry II], it was a very serious request and a very serious punishment for someone who could claim that he was only being loyal to the king.

Henry was furious when he found out what Becket had done. He is said to have shouted out “will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

Four knights heard what Henry had shouted and took it to mean that the king wanted Becket dead. They rode to Canterbury to carry out the deed.

The knights were Reginald FitzUrse, William de Tracey, Hugh de Morville and Richard le Breton. On December 29th 1170, they killed Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. After killing him, one of the knights said “Let us away. He will rise no more.”

History never repeats itself in precise ways. But history sends echoes through the centuries to remind us of consequences that flow from men of power speaking irresponsibly, carelessly and foolishly.

History records that King Henry II walked on his bare feet to Canterbury to repent of his role in the murder of Thomas Becket. The death of Becket, and its consequences, are captured in the movie, Becket. 

Donald Trump shows no sign of repenting of his statement, that some commentators have said was a thinly-veiled call for assassination.

That is probably not the case. It was most likely not intended as an actual threat. but merely the exaggerations of a bully who thinks he is being subtle in front of his gang. 

Trump is not walking in bare feet anywhere, unless he is relaxing in a spa in one of his hotels. Instead Trump left it to his campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, to provide the campaign explanation to this latest outburst.

Miller tried to “spin” Trump’s outrageous language by saying the candidate was referring to the “power of unification”.

Miller claimed Trump was speaking of “Second Amendment people”, who “have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

The response to Trump’s outburst has been overwhelmingly negative. The Times looked for some of them.

The implied threat against Clinton prompted a reaction from a Secret Service spokesman, who refused to identify himself, who said the agency was “aware of the comments”. He did not elaborate.

The Times also reported:

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump “makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign events have grown increasingly vitriolic, with angry chants and jeers directed at Mrs. Clinton. People at his rallies have, with greater frequency, loudly called for violence against Mrs. Clinton — catcalls that Mr. Trump has generally let pass.

We have to assume that Trump will go off-script on many occasions, leaving surrogates to clean up behind him.

His staff has tried to clean up his act. But performers like Trump don’t change under command. He operates the way a comedian riffs when performing before a rowdy nightclub audience, responding to the emotional and value level of his audience.

Good judgment is not in his makeup. A crying baby serves him as a foil like a character in a silent movie. He tolerates the crying, saying he loves babies. Within minutes he orders his minions to boot the baby out of the hall.

This is a man who craves adulation and affection and whose communication skills are sadly limited to that of a schoolyard bully.

Trump will continue to belittle his betters with whatever language he dregs up from decades of business battles, many of which he lost.

Each time he dips into his pool of irrational thoughts and blurts them out to others, exposes him as untrained, uninformed and utterly incapable of holding any government position where he has any power over human lives. 

Some Republican officials have been reported in search of a way to usher Trump out of the nomination. They nominated him; they now desperately need a way to de-nominate him.

Polling shows him headed downward in states he needs to win in November. But do these polls accurately reflect the passions of his angry followers?

If the polls are wrong, and Trump actually wins in November, then we are headed for the sort of national calamities Ghostbuster Bill Murray described as those of “biblical proportions”. 

Trump has promoted his name brand in business and on reality television. He rode his brand through the Republican primaries. Now, facing the actual task of running the nation, he may be preparing to leave the stage.

Why else would he be talking of the general election being “rigged” against him. Could this be his strategy for a brand-saving exit?

On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan won his Republican primary race to retain his Wisconsin congressional seat. Ryan had earlier “reluctantly” agreed to be House Speaker.

Is it possible Ryan will now “reluctantly” step in to save his party and save the nation from the embarrassment of more Trumpian outbursts?

The clock is running.

 

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 5 Comments

Republicans Panic While Neo-Cons Rush to Clinton

by James M. WallMartin Niemöller

As the November 8 election looms larger with each passing day, Republican party leaders are now in a “panic mode”.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Donald Trump’s relations with the Republican Party – and his political fortunes – worsened dramatically  as party leaders fretted openly about the inability of his campaign staff to control him and even began to discuss what to do if their unpredictable nominee suddenly quit the race.”

Donald Trump bulldozed his way to the Republican nomination for president in a campaign in which the “unfit” charge was raised and ignored by an alarming majority of Republican voters.

So it comes down to the final bout between Trump and Clinton.

Pause, for a moment if you must, and ask the question about the third-party option. I repeat my answer that a third-party vote is a wasted vote. Movements don’t win elections until they enter the ring for the final bout.

Progressives came close to entering this year’s final bout behind Bernie Sanders. They lost, which means they must turn their zeal and energy toward building a successful progressive political party that will keep alive the ideals espoused by Sanders in his unsuccessful race against Hillary Clinton.

The Progressive option now is to look ahead to 2020 and mount another progressive campaign for the nomination.la-1470263827-snap-photo

Meanwhile, there is the vote on November 8 between a militaristic Hillary Clinton and her opponent Trump, who is not just filled with unclear and uncertain policy ideas, but has been described by no less an authority than President Obama as “unfit” to serve in the office.

Which candidate poses the greatest danger with his or her fingers on buttons of mass destruction? If you vote for Trump, or a third party, then you are exercising your freedom to select someone who is not only unfit for the office, but dangerous.

The case against Clinton as a neoconservative militarist is massive. It is just not massive enough to give the White House to a man Joe Scarborough reported on MSNBC who asked a foreign policy expert, three times, “Why can’t we use nuclear arms?”

Paul Jay on Real News Network said, during an interview with Lawrence Wilkinson, that Clinton or Trump offers a horrible choice.

Wilkerson is a retired United States Army officer and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is now an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary where he teaches courses on US national security.

In his interview with Jay, he said, “I would say in her first term she will get us into a war”.

In These Times was out this week with a piece on neocons for Hillary, identifying an all-star team of neocon heavyweights this way:

Concerned that Trump would “destroy American foreign policy and the international system,” author Max Boot told Vox that Clinton would be “vastly preferable.”

Historian Robert Kagan has also come out in favor of Clinton, saying he feels “comfortable with her on foreign policy.” Eliot Cohen, a former Bush administration official who has been called “the most influential neocon in academe,” declared Clinton “the lesser evil, by a large margin.”

She may be the lesser evil to many. She is also the first woman to come this close to the presidency in U.S. history. Her preference, as shown in many instances, for the military option over diplomacy, remains disturbing.

Her devotion to Israel and her willingness to explain away the many sins of the current right-wing Israeli government is in line with heavy majorities in Congress, though not in the US public.

It is not a good choice, but it is our only remaining choice. Clinton may surprise us with wise decisions on foreign policy. Certainly her appointive powers over the judicial branch would be a huge gift to this democracy. 

She remains the best available option for the presidency. Looking back, it would be wrong to link Trump to the rise of Adolph Hitler. Such historical parallels are always imprecise.

But the actions of any dictatorial-minded president may be seen as akin to what happened to the German people.

Remembering that era is to be reminded of what may happen to a nation when it votes for a leader because of ignorance, hatred and fear.

On November 25, 2015, the Washington Post ran a story about a TV ad from presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich, which paraphrased a warning from German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller (picture at top).

Kasich was one of the opponents vanquished by Trump as he won the Republican nomination with a campaign built on fear and hate.

Niemöller’s original warning came in a sermon he delivered on January 6, 1946, to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Kasich ad features a paraphrase of Niemöller’s famous statement which reminded his German audience of what led them into World War II horrors.

Niemöller said in Frankfurt, in 1946, a few months after the war ended::

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

In the video ad for John Kascih, Colonel Tom Moe, United States Air Force, and a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, paraphrased Niemöller:

You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s OK to rough up black protesters, because you’re not one. And you might not care that Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one.

But think about this. If he keeps going and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope that there’s someone left to help you.

The picture of Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller at top, is from https://ghufrang.wordpress.com/tag/pastor-martin-niemoller/

The picture of Donald Trump is cropped from an AP photo by Evan Vucci,

Posted in Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Israel, Politics and Elections | 11 Comments

“Boundless Confidence In America’s Promise”

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 5.20.08 AM

UPDATE: Initially, I wrote in this posting that “presumably the ‘very little guy’ in Trump’s diatribe is Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia, Clinton’s choice as her vice-president.”

Two days later, Trump tweeted that he was referring to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a speaker at the convention.

News of that tweet arrived from Forward, a Jewish publication and the New York Daily News.

Is this the first of many moments in the Trump so-far “non” campaign, when the Republican nominee builds a case that he is not really serious about winning the election? 

by James M. Wall

On August 18, 1920, the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. 

On Thursday night, July 28, 2016, just short of 96 years later, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic National Convention to become the next president of the United States. 

Almost a century after women gained the right to vote, a woman is now one election away from becoming president.

As the Raw Story website explained, her nomination delivered a “competing — and compelling — vision to the dark, dystopian fantasy served up last week by [the Republican nominee] Donald Trump”.

Clinton accepted her party’s nomination “with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise,” adding, “tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union.”

It was her convention, a four-day televised production, that, as Raw Story wrote, wove  “traditionally conservative themes, such as patriotism, military service, small-town values and the virtues of hard work, into an inclusive and socially liberal narrative lauding shared sacrifice and civic virtue”.

The election campaign, which includes races for the presidency and for congress, will be a significant chapter in American history, which History.com puts in context:

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote—a right known as woman suffrage. At the time the U.S. was founded, its female citizens did not share all of the same rights as men, including the right to vote.

It was not until 1848 that the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Lucretia Mott (1793-1880).

Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and other activists, formed organizations that raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. After a 70-year battle, these groups finally emerged victorious with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Clinton’s major opponent for the nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, graciously conceded and called for a unanimous affirmation of her nomination. Some of his delegates were not so gracious, threatening to cast their votes on November 8 for someone other than Clinton.

That reluctance to get behind the party nominee is not a new phenomenon in American politics. It is the story of democracy.

But with Donald Trump as the only major option available to voters, it is time for the Sanders’ supporters, many young and new to politics, to view the consequences of their refusal to support their party’s nominee.

In the official count for the 1968 presidential election between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace, Nixon won over Humphrey by less than one percent of the popular vote. 

Five years later, after winning a second term, Nixon was forced to resign over the Watergate scandal.

In that 1968 election independent candidate and segregationist hero, George Wallace, won 46 electoral votes with 13.53% of the total popular vote.  

Reflect on these returns from 1968 and ponder what happens when a third party throws a proverbial “monkey wrench” into a presidential race:

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 1.32.02 PM

Almost ten million votes were cast for racial segregation adherents in a presidential race forty-eight years ago.

Would a Hubert Humphrey presidency have been superior to the Richard Nixon presidency? That is a “what if” question for history to ponder. What is pertinent to this year’s presidential election is that in 1968, a vote for a third party might have been a statement, but how did it affect the final result?

Votes for third parties in November could give Donald Trump the White House. And what would that mean?

ABC News described one reaction from Donald Trump to the Democratic convention:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday afternoon he wanted to “hit” some of the Democratic National Convention speakers “so hard” while watching them last night, including a “little guy. . .so hard his head would spin”. 

“You know what I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” Trump said. “I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor.”

Trump didn’t immediately clarify what he meant, but he said he was made particularly upset by an unspecified person he called a “little guy.”

Presumably, the “very little guy” in Trump’s diatribe is Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia, Clinton’s choice as her vice-president.

In the campaigning 100 days before November 8, we should expect more of these bombastic bar room outbursts from Trump. Is this man a potential Commander in Chief? Does he fit the mold of an American president?

The answer is obviously, no.

The picture of Hillary Clinton and the 1968 election results, are Screen Shots.

 

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

Big Brother or Hillary: A Final Muddled Choice

Carolyn Kasteer:AP Daily Beast

By James M. Wall

George Orwell’s 1984 is now dangerously close to reality. In the picture above, Donald J. Trump looms on the large screen behind the nominee, bringing an ominous reminder of Orwell’s “Big Brother”.

The acceptance speech Trump gave on the closing night of the Republican National Convention was filled with emotional shouts designed to engender fear. 

Donald John Trump’s speech echoed a tone across the years, a reminder of four of Orwell’s oft-quoted slogans from his 1949 dystopian novel, 1984: “War is peace; Freedom is slavery; Ignorance is strength; Big Brother is Watching You.”

The Democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton this week. On Friday, she announced Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her vice-presidential choice, a decision which could stir a negative convention response from Bernie Sanders’ delegates.  

It is, however, an establishment choice her delegates and donor base will embrace. 

Vote for Jill Stein’s Green Party or Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party if you like. But remember, a third-party vote is a feel-good protest. Save it to vote for next year’s Homecoming Queen and King.

The harsh reality is that we have reached a moment of serious choice where we have the power to give the White House to Orwell’s “Big Brother” or to the Establishment’s Chosen One.george-orwell-6

Choices of this magnitude are never easy. Not to choose, however, is to hide in fear in a fox hole on our national political battlefield.

Donald Trump’s acceptance speech gave us more than enough reason to stay with the Establishment, as distasteful as four more years of neoliberal militarism will be.

Molly Ball, in The Atlantic, offered her analysis of the convention that pushed this nation to its penultimate decision for president. She began:

And so it came to pass, in the year 2016, on a sunny day in America’s heartland, in a hall smelling of sweat and popcorn and filled with a seething, roaring crowd, that Donald Trump—builder, shocker, demagogue, smasher of certainties, destroyer of the Republican Party, winner—accepted his party’s nomination, with a vow to restore order.

“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities,” Trump proclaimed, his hand slicing the air, his pompadour gleaming with the reflection of hundreds of lights. “I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon—and I mean very soon—come to an end,” he added. . . .

Trump exploits the senseless deaths of police officers, to create fear in his listeners. It was a simplistic, bombastic Trump “toe in the water” dip into a complex domestic crisis. He promises to “restore order” to the nation “very soon”.

Does he not know? Has he not been told? Cities and states are responsible for law enforcement, not the federal government.

Trump moved deeply into his fear and hatred diatribe with many facts that were wrong. Juan Cole identified one of many distortions (he has others):

AP’s Fact Check found that as usual Donald Trump’s statistics in his GOP acceptance speech are way beyond the ‘damned lies’ level. So here are some illustrative graphs to suggest the level of his duplicity: “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.” (Statistica)

Actually violent crime including murder has fallen precipitously in the US since 1990. The murder rate is historically low, which means that year to year statistical fluctuations can easily be exaggerated. . . .

Trump not only gave voters a display of how tyranny is born, but in so doing, he has damaged the Republican Party as the preserver of conservative values. For some, “the party died” in the Cleveland convention.

That death is painfully described in this interview with Nicole Wallace, a veteran Republican party professional:

The picture at top is by Carolyn Kasteer. It is an AP photo that appeared in the Daily Beast.

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments

Our Long Trump Nightmare Grows In intensity

by James M. WallThe_Scream

The posting below originally ran in this space, March 2, 2016. Since the Trump nightmare has only grown in intensity, I am reproducing the earlier posting for the benefit of new readers, and as a reminder for all of us, that elections have consequences.—Jim Wall

Super Tuesday [March 1] performed as predicted. Hillary Clinton won six southern states with considerable African-American backing. She narrowly won Massachusetts. Sanders won Vermont, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado.

The major message from this particular Super Tuesday is that Donald Trump has emerged as an even more threatening nightmare to both political parties. It is a nightmare which will only grow in intensity.

Trump’s success is rooted in the political toxins of fear and hate, symbiotic emotions generated by a political process whose dominant generating force is the manic desire to gain power and control wealth.

That force is so prevalent that a disturbingly large and expanding number of voters do not respond to the current political culture with the agonizing “scream” displayed above in the iconic composition by the Expressionist Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

Instead of screaming in horror, those voters thrive on fear and hate, toxic forces that landed with the pious Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.

After the Pilgrims and their successors conquered and slaughtered the indigenous people of a not-so-new land, a new republic grew into an empire, but at what a cost. “We reap what we sow” is the harsh reminder of how we got to this moment that demands a “scream”.

In our current political incarnation, Republicans are directly responsible for Trumpism, while Democrats assisted in creating the cultural soil in which Trumpism was born and raised.

The Democratic Party developed a softer brand of fear and hate through its militant neoliberalism. That softer brand is now embodied in the campaign of Hillary Clinton, carrying forward the Clinton brand her husband shaped and polished in his two terms in the White House.

Nicholas Kristof describes the current Trump phenomenon in polite New York Times language when he writes:

The most likely Republican nominee for president is a man who mocks women, insults Latinos, endorses war crimes like torture, denounces party icons and favors barring people from the United States based on their religion.

He’s less a true-believer conservative than an opportunist, though, for he has supported single-payer health insurance, abortion rights and tighter gun measures. Lindsey Graham says he’s “crazy,” Jeb Bush says he would be worse than President Obama, and the conservative National Review warned that he is a “menace to American conservatism.”

alternetDonald Trump is “smarter than critics believe — he understood the political mood better than we pundits did — but I can’t think of any national politician I’ve met over the decades who was so ill informed on the issues, or so evasive, or who so elegantly and dangerously melded bombast and vapidity”.

Kristof asks the question we will hear increasingly over the next nine months, “how did we get to this stage where the leading Republican candidate is loathed by the Republican establishment?”

His answer is direct: “Republican leaders brought this on themselves. Over the decades they pried open a Pandora’s box, a toxic politics of fear and resentment, sometimes brewed with a tinge of racial animus, and they could never satisfy the unrealistic expectations that they nurtured among supporters”.

Peter Wehner is a self-described evangelical Christian and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He served in the last three Republican administrations. He speaks from the GOP side of the political spectrum and the conservative side of the religious spectrum.

The question that troubles him is why is Donald Trump “the candidate of choice of many evangelical Christians?” He probes for an answer in a recent New York Times column he wrote before Trump’s Super Tuesday victories:

Mr. Trump won a plurality of evangelical votes in each of the last three Republican contests, in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. He won the glowing endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, who has called him ‘one of the greatest visionaries of our time.’ Last week, Pat Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, told Mr. Trump during an interview, ‘You inspire us all.’

Wehner adds that “Trump’s evangelical supporters don’t care about his agenda; they are utterly captivated by his persona. They view him as the strongest, most dominant, most assertive political figure they have ever seen. In an odd bow to Nietzschean ethics, they respect and applaud his Will to Power. And so the man who openly admires tyrants like Vladimir V. Putin and praised the Chinese crackdown in Tiananmen Square because it showed ‘strength’ has become the repository of their hopes”.

Set aside the fact that Mr. Trump is a compulsive and unrepentant liar. Set aside, too, that he has demonstrated no ability for statecraft or the actual administration of government and has demonstrated much incompetence at business to boot. Bracket for now the fact that Mr. Trump has been more erratic, unprincipled and proudly ignorant when it comes to public policy than perhaps any major presidential candidate in American history.

What “stuns” Wehner is how “his fellow evangelicals can rally behind a man whose words and actions are so at odds with the central teachings of our faith. They overlook, rationalize and even delight in Mr. Trump’s obsessive name-calling and Twitter attacks, his threats and acts of intimidation, his vindictiveness and casual cruelty (including mocking the disabled and P.O.W.s), all of which masquerade as strength and toughness.”

This Republican evangelical Christian points to a conclusion that has obviously disturbed him: “For some evangelicals, Christianity is no longer shaping their politics; with Mr. Trump in view, their faith lies subordinate”.

Yet it goes beyond that. Trumpism is not a political philosophy; it is a purposeful effort, led by a demagogue, to incite ugly passions, stoke resentments and divisions, and create fear of those who are not like ‘us’ — Mexicans, Muslims and Syrian refugees. But it will not end there. There will always be fresh targets.

Author and analyst Mike Lofgren identifies the source of the fear and hate that generated Trumpism, the “war on terror”:

The ‘war on terror’ is the longest continuous war in US history. Taxpayers have ponied up over $4 trillion to wage it. Yet the consensus of our intelligence community is that we are more in danger than ever. Did we spend more than $4 trillion to make ourselves less safe? Let us unpack the contradictions.

Terrorism in the United States is statistically a negligible cause of mortality: One is about as likely to die from being crushed by a flat-screen TV, and more likely to die falling in the bathtub than from terrorism. Imagine if we had spent $4 trillion to cure cancer or heart disease. Nevertheless, nearly every word US government officials have uttered about the matter during the last 15 years has been designed to instill dread of terrorism in the population. And it has worked.

Lofgren cites a study of the South Carolina Republican primary which found that voters “declared terrorism to be their foremost concern, eclipsing a stagnant, low-wage economy; deteriorating living standards leading to an actual increase in the death rate of GOP voters’ core demographic; and the most expensive and least available health care in the ‘developed’ world.”

It is not just the voters of South Carolina who see “terrorism” as our nation’s “foremost concern”. We are a people described in this statement by a foremost authority on shaping national concerns:

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

—Hermann Goring, in an interview by Gustave Gilbert, April 18, 1946.

The reproduction of The Scream is from Wikipedia. The photo of Donald Trump is from AlterNet.

Posted in Donald Trump, US govermemt | 4 Comments

Will “Greatness” Elude Yet Another President?

by James M. Wallimages-1

Will McAlvoy (Jeff Daniels), (right), played a newscaster working for a fictional cable news network on The Newsroom, a program which ran on HBO (2012-2014).

The writer of The Newsroom series is Aaron Sorkin, creator and lead author of the earlier television political series, The West Wing.

The Newsroom is The West Wing on steroids, same rapid-fire dialogue, same personal interaction carried out by a cast which talks and walks rapidly in their search for greatness.

Sorkin has honed this style in a career that began with A Few Good Men (Jack Nicholson, “You can’t handle the truth”) and includes Michael Douglas as The American President.

In 2011, at the time The Newsroom was unveiling its first season, the Republican party was attempting to absorb know-nothing political candidates from the Tea Party, a rebellious crowd which has now morphed into a “brand movement” called Donald Trump.

In episode one of The Newsroom’s first season. a college student asks panel members, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”

Two panelists offer the usual platitudes, “diversity and opportunity”, and “freedom and freedom, and let’s keep it that way.”

Will McAvoy fumes a moment, and then responds: “It’s NOT the greatest country in the world. That’s my answer.”

His expanded answer has become a television classic. Click here for a clip from that episode:

It is increasingly apparent that in this era of racial discord at home and perpetual wars abroad, we are not “the greatest country in the world”. In this summer of our discontent, from Mosul to Dallas, we struggle with conflicts as we gather to nominate two presidential candidates.

A battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is generally believed to be a contest between the least popular presidential candidates in modern times (or, more accurately, in the time of polling.)

Two vice-presidential candidates will soon be selected as running mates, first, the Republican, who Donald Trump has promised will be an experienced office-holder, an obvious attempt to add to his complete lack of experience in electoral office.

The Washington Post reports three names which appear to be in contention, all elected leaders: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.).

On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders delivered his long-delayed Clinton endorsement in New Hampshire. It may be presumed Sanders got as much as he could from Clinton in the party platform on matters related to his domestic views on college tuition and minimum wage.

Clinton, however, held on tightly to her woefully outdated stubborn obeisance to the Jewish Lobby on both Israeli occupation and settlements.

Which raises the question: How can a nation, no matter how advanced and strong, even possibly consider itself “great” when its foreign policy is run by a lobby for a foreign power?

Clinton’s eventual vice-presidential selection will almost certainly be someone who is not offensive to Sanders. If not, a vice-presidential vote during the Democratic convention could be just the contentious affair the Clinton operation wants to avoid.

In his script for the 1964 film, The Best Man, adapted from his 1960 play, Gore Vidal demonstrates just how large a role personal character plays in the selection of presidential nominees. The two leading candidates in Vidal’s script for the (unnamed) party’s nomination are Secretary of State William Russell (Henry Fonda), and Senator Joe Cantrell (Cliff Robertson).

Their fictional struggle sets up a conservative anti-communist candidate (Cantrell), against a liberal Luther-quoting intellectual (Russell). Each candidate has “mud from the past” to throw against the other. What they choose to do with the “mud” reveals much about their character.

Both candidates are eager to gain the endorsement of the outgoing popular President, Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy), a self-styled “political hick” who thrives on infighting. Tracy received a 1964 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for this performance.

In the film, President Hockstader is prescient when (in 1964) he suggests to a banquet audience, with a smile of disbelief, that some day the American people could even elect an African American (he says “Negro”) or a woman president.

Vidal’s 1960 play has been revived on regional stages. Vidal says he has not seen any reason to revise the political machinations of The Best Man..

The short clip below, made to promote the (still available) DVD, includes dialogue which continues to feel fresh in 2016.

If any of the nights during the two upcoming conventions become tiresome, The Best Man offers some fast-paced and tense moments from the 1960s.

Of course, one thing that has changed since then, is that “the best man” is an outmoded title, a reality Hillary Clinton will most certainly exploit during the coming months.

Posted in -Movies and politics, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | 5 Comments

“Cunning of Reason” Will End Israel’s Occupation

by James M. Wallv1.bjs1MTg2NDA7ajsxNzAxNjsxMjAwOzE0NDA7MTA4MA

A search for hope began with a viewing of the 2014 film, Interstellar, the mind-stretching movie directed by Christopher Nolan, and written by Christopher and his brother Jonathan Nolan. Interstellar is one of those motion pictures that lifts the spirits because it brings hope to human experience.

After viewing the nearly three-hour Interstellar, I came across Louis Menand, a writer who cuts through the miasma of contemporary politics by carefully observing the past.  For contemplation during this nation’s Independence Day week, The New Yorker chose to publish a collection of Menand’s essays, starting with his story of the dramatic and long-delayed passage of what became the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. 

It was a bill that passed with an unplanned addition. Menand writes:

Most Americans who made it past the fourth grade have a pretty good idea who Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr., were. Not many Americans have even heard of Alice Paul, Howard W. Smith, and Martha Griffiths.

This trio played significant roles in the history of women’s rights. They opened the way to equal economic opportunity. Nearly all the gains women have made in that area since the passage of that 1964 bill may be attributed to them.  What was peculiar about the achievement of Paul, Smith and Griffith, Menand explains, is that equality for gender became law only after it was slipped into a Civil Rights Bill drafted primarily to achieve equal rights for African American men and women.

The addition of “gender” to that Bill, “was accomplished in the face of the unequivocal opposition of the liberal establishment.” (The Menand essay should be read in full to appreciate the political machinations that led to the bill’s final passage.) In his essay, Louis Menand focuses on the equality for American women in the workplace. I choose to go a step further and focus on the gross inequality of citizenship between Israelis and Palestinians.

If that sound familiar, it should, because it is that same liberal establishment that has aided and abetted the state of Israel in its murderous military occupation of the people of Palestine since 1947.

This reluctance extends to punishment of any entity which stands in the way of the military dominance of the American empire. Ask New York Governor Cuomo (below) why he signed an anti-BDS executive order in New York City, June 5, with Ido Aharoni, the Israeli consul general, standing behind him.andrew_cuomo-1

Speaking to state and local legislators and Israel lobby activists at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, Cuomo said, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you. If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you. Period.”

Menand examines the 1964 Civil Rights victory and points to it as a classic case of what the philosopher Frederich Hegel called “the cunning of reason, the way apparently random or anomalous events later turn out to be pieces in a larger historical design”.

Be forewarned Governor Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there is a “larger historical design” at play and you are each building a personal case of political cowardice which will judge you and your fellow establishment leaders when that “design” emerges in full view.

As a philosopher, Hegel stayed within the boundaries of secular language. For those in the Christian tradition, there is a parallel testimony to Hegel’s “cunning of reason” in William Cowper’s 19th century hymn:

God moves in a mysterious way; His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

Cowper’s words are his own, though they are often mistakenly attributed to the New Testament.

The “cunning of reason” is echoed in a biblical source, Romans 11:33:

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (KJV).

In this week of fireworks and celebrations of American independence, there is most certainly “a larger historical design” even now pointing to the yet-unseen, but inevitable collapse of Israel’s illegal, occupation.

b58b1240-4691-0132-417f-0ebc4eccb42fFrom film Director Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar perspective, Commander Cooper (Matthew McConaugheyleft) successfully took his space craft through a black hole into the fifth dimension where he learned what lay ahead for the planet he had left behind.

Cooper returned to his past to confirm that future to the 10-year-old daughter, Murph, he had left on earth.

When he makes another journey, Murph is now an elderly woman surrounded by her own family. As a child, she had deeply resented her father for leaving her, but she never stopped working for the future she had been promised by her father.

The childhood Murph and the elderly Murph both believe, without articulating it, that they are part of a “larger historical design”. They do not know what lies ahead, but they knew they had a role to play in contributing to those random events revealed in Hagel’s “design”.

American presidential aspirants come and go. Israeli rulers intimidate, dominate and fail. Governors take cheap shots. National church bodies sing kumbaya, (the Presbyterians a significant exception), and in so doing, endorse the occupation.

Around them all, known fully only from a higher dimension, the “historical design” continues to move forward in “apparently random or anomalous events”.

Photos from the film Interstellar are from Paramount Pictures. The picture of Governor Cuomo is by Kevin P. Coughlin of the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Religious Faith | 6 Comments

Was the Brexit Vote “Good for the Jews”?

by James M. Wall

A Jewish mother hears her family cheering. She cries out, “what happened?” One of the men gathered around the radio, shouts back, “Mel Ott just hit a home run!”

She responds, “Is it good for the Jews”?

That is the version of the story I first heard in my sports writing days. Ott was not Jewish, but he played for, and managed, the New York Giants, which had a large Jewish fan base.

Stanley Fish explained the importance of the question of what is good for Jews, when he wrote in the New York Times, March 4, 2007:

When I was growing up in the ’40s and ’50s, a single question was asked in my neighborhood of every piece of news, large or small, local or national: “Is it good for the Jews?” We have now learned to identify this question in all of its versions – Is it good for the Catholics? Is it good for the Latinos?

Is it good for the gays? and on and on – as the paradigmatic question of identity politics, the politics that is derived not from some general, even universal, assertion of what is good, but from a particularized concern with insular interests. Is it good for us, for those of our kind, for our tribe?

It is no surprise that on both sides of the Atlantic, tribal media from all persuasions responded to the surprising Brexit vote with the Jewish mother’s question, “is it good for us?”

In the picture above, from Jerusalem’s Ha’aretz, Mark Regev, Israel’s new ambassador to England, meets Queen Elizabeth for a private audience at Buckingham Palace, London, June 24, the day after the Brexit vote.

It is to be assumed the rejection of the European Union by the majority of the Queen’s subjects, was a major topic of their conversation.

In a story from Britain’s Independent, Regev is described as a staunch defender of Israel’s “security”. He is the former official spokesman for Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu:

The new ambassador will be one of the most high-profile members of the London diplomatic circuit, especially following the media exposure he received in his previous job [as media spokesman]. 

He will also bring with him a reputation for great tenacity in putting forward his country’s case during times of crisis, and infuriating critics while doing so. 

From the U.S. progressive left, Robert Parry writes in Consortium, that the June 23 Brexit vote to exit the EU by the margin of 52% to 48%, could be good news for the powerless.

In the quotation below, Parry concludes with a nice turn inspired by Reinhold Niebuhr:

The United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote may cause short-term economic pain and present long-term geopolitical risks, but it is a splash of ice water in the face of the West’s Establishment, which has grown more and more insular, elitist and unaccountable over recent decades.

The West’s powers-that-be, in both the United States and the European Union, too often display contempt for real democracy, maintaining only the façade of respecting the popular will, manipulating voters at election time with red-meat politics and empty promises – before getting back to the business of comforting the comfortable and letting the comfortable afflict the afflicted.

From Nazareth, British-born Jonathan Cook, wrote in his blog (reposted by Mondoweiss) on the Leave victory. He issues dire warnings to Israel and the established order:

The conventional wisdom, following Britain’s referendum result announced on Friday [June 24], holds that the narrow vote in favor of leaving the European Union – so-called Brexit – is evidence of a troubling resurgence of nationalism and isolationism across much of Europe.

That wisdom is wrong, or at least far too simplistic.

The outcome, which surprised many observers, attested to the deeply flawed nature of the referendum campaign. That, in turn, reflects a key failing of modern politics, not only in Britain but in most of the developed world: the re-emergence of an unaccountable political class.

The most distinctive feature of the campaign was the lack of an identifiable ideological battlefield. This was not about a clash of worldviews, values or even arguments. Rather, it was a contest in who could fearmonger most effectively.

Later in his posting, Cook focused specifically on Israel’s shaky world status:

The trends underpinning the Brexit vote should disturb Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just as they already are troubling the political class in Europe and the US.

Like the EU, Israel too, is a pillar of the old global order. A ‘Jewish homeland. emerged under British protection while Britain still ran an empire and saw the Middle East as its playground.

After the European colonial powers went into abeyance following the Second World War, the role of patron shifted to the new global hegemon in Washington. The US has endlessly indulged Israel, guarded its back at the United Nations, and heavily subsidised Israel’s powerful military industries.

Whereas the US has propped up Israel diplomatically and militarily, the EU has underwritten Israel’s economic success. It has violated its own constitution to give Israel special trading status and thereby turned Europe into Israel’s largest export market.

It has taken decades for Europe to even acknowledge – let alone remedy – the problem that it is also trading with illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

If the EU starts to unravel, and US neoliberal hegemony weakens, Israel will be in trouble. It will be in desperate need of a new guarantor, one prepared to support a country that polls repeatedly show is mistrusted around the world.

Forward writer Mik Moore connects the Brexit vote to both Israel and the U.S.:

“Is it good for the Jews?” is as much a punchline as a question. And yet, whether the question is asked explicitly or not, there remains a corner of our community that brings a “good for the Jews” mentality to every concern. , , ,

In the immediate shadow of the Holocaust or pogroms, Jews were understandably guided by a sense of their own precariousness. That’s what should happen when governments are committed to your annihilation.

But 60 years later, particularly in the United States, it is wrong to pretend that Jews, as a community, are similarly vulnerable. Jews are the wealthiest religious group in the United States, and with the exception of Hindus, the most educated.  .  .  .

Distrust of the political class is growing by the day, and Israel is an issue on which US politicians are supremely vulnerable. It is increasingly hard to defend Congress’ historic rock-solid support for Israel as truly in American interests.

In his blog, written from Canada, Philip Lee, a native of Great Britain, expands the impact of the vote to the increasing right wing movement in Europe, under the headline: “Europe is coming apart at the seams”.:

A catastrophe looms post-Brexit and the United Kingdom has chosen to lose its voice.

European politics are in turmoil. In Austria, Norbert Hofer has narrowly failed to become Austria’s first far-right head of state. In France, Marine Le Pen has a good chance of winning next year’s presidential election. And in Poland, conservative president Andrzej Duda is intent on seizing control of the country’s media, judicial system, and constitutional tribunal (Poland’s highest court).

Government actions in Hungary were recently described by the president of the European Parliament as having the “characteristics of a coup”, and in Bulgaria the government has allocated $19 million to erect more razor-wire fences to prevent migrants from entering and has called out the army to secure its borders.

There are aggressive nationalist parties in Germany, Macedonia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Finland, Belgium, and on the “sceptred isle” itself, where extremist Britain First is trying to provoke what it calls a revolution in the streets through “militant direct action”, invading mosques, and targeting Muslim officials such as the new Mayor of London.

Philip Lee points further to Natalie Nougayrède’s article in the British Guardian which describes the vote as a wake-up call “to save Europe”.

Nougayrède writes that the vote has put “the cohesion and strength of western liberal democracies at stake in a global environment plagued with uncertainties. Now populist, far-right and anti-western forces will push forward in the belief that a precedent has been set for other ‘exits’.”

To quote Bob Dylan, the “times they are changing”, but unexpected events have a way of producing change in dramatic form. This could be one of those times.

The picture at top of Queen Elizabeth and Ambassador Regev is by Dominic Lipinsk,  for Reuters.

The picture of ballot counting is from a voting place in England. It was taken by Neil Hall for Reuters. 

Posted in Israel, Jewish faith and tradition, Judiasm, Palestinians, Politics and Elections | 7 Comments