Sanders Set to Push Clinton Leftward

by James M. Wallbn-pj887_0814cl_p_20160813223720

With two weeks to go before Election Day, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is vigorously campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is also making plans to lead his fellow Senate liberals in opposition to any of President Clinton’s efforts to back away from the current Democratic Party platform.

Thanks to the aggressiveness of Sanders’ platform committee delegates, the platform includes strong domestic progressive planks.

Unfortunately, thanks to pressure from Clinton delegates, the platform failed to take any position on the decades-long, illegal, U.S.-funded Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. 

In an interview this week with John Wagner, of the Washington Post, Sanders said he and other senators “have started plotting legislation that would achieve many of the proposals that fueled his insurgent run for president, including a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public college, an end to ‘mass incarceration’ and aggressive steps to fight climate change.” 

Sanders said he and his Senate allies plan to push for the breakup of “too big to fail” banks and to pressure Clinton to appoint liberals to key Cabinet positions, including treasury secretary.

Sanders told Wagner he would not stay silent “if Clinton nominated the ‘same old, same old Wall Street guys’ to regulatory positions that are important in enacting and overseeing the financial policies he supports. ‘I will be vigorously in opposition, and I will make that very clear,’ Sanders said.”

Senators currently working “informally” with Sanders include Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

This “progressive caucus” will need a Democratic controlled Senate to have the impact the Sanders’ progressives seek. In its analysis of crucial senate races, Politico found that for the Senate to return to Democratic control, it will need at least four victories in tight races in six states:

The traditional swing states of Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and the newly competitive states of North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana, which historically lean Republican. (Bold face added).

The Democrats need to pick up at least four seats to win the Senate majority if Donald Trump loses [five if he wins]. 

In two mid-west races, Democratic candidates in Wisconsin (Russ Feingold) and Illinois (Tammy Duckworth) are leading their races against Republican incumbents.

Duckworth has been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, a conservative newspaper, over incumbent Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).

In its endorsement of Duckworth, the Chicago Tribune wrote that a stroke suffered by incumbent Republican Mark Kirk, had reduced his ability to serve in the Senate. Kirk’s staff rejects this conclusion, but has thus far refused to provide medical records to refute the Tribune’s conclusion.

In Wisconsin, former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold has held a consistent lead over incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the man who unseated him six years ago.

Real Clear Politics reports the latest polling through October 18, showing Feingold holding a five-point lead over Johnson.

In North Carolina, one of Politco’s “newly competitive states”, the Charlotte Observer editorial board has endorsed former state representative Democrat Deborah Ross, over Richard Burr, the Republican incumbent. The endorsement began:

Fifty Republican foreign policy experts have said Donald Trump would be “the most reckless president in American history,” given his lack of experience and rash temperament.

Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, surely knows how dangerous the impulsive, thin-skinned political novice would be in the Oval Office. Burr, perhaps more than any Republican senator, should have taken a principled stand against Trump.

And yet, Burr has not. He has embraced Trump, putting his party and his own political expediency ahead of national security. . . .

Burr insists [his opponent is] too liberal for North Carolina. There aren’t many former ACLU lawyers who wouldn’t qualify for that label.

While the Charlotte Observer endorsement will have the greater impact on North Carolina voters, Wednesday’s endorsement of Ross by The New York Times will add to her growing national recognition. 

Meanwhile, with only two weeks to go, the chances of Clinton returning to the White House as the first female President in the nation’s history, remains virtually certain.

As a result, Paul Ryan, Republican speaker of the House, has shifted his campaign attention to electing down-ballot Republican U.S. Representatives. With the increasingly strong possibility of a Democratic majority Senate, the House is almost certain to remain Republican, under Ryan’s leadership.

Politico reports that President Obama, who is campaigning for Clinton, is also investing his time, energy and growing popularity, to Democrats running for state senate and assembly. After a careful vetting, the White House says Obama expects to endorse as many as 150 candidates across 20 states.

The endorsements — which will come along with a variety of robocalls, social media posts, mailers, photos of Obama with the candidates taken as he’s been traveling to campaign in recent weeks, and even a few radio ads — are Obama’s biggest investment in state races ever by far, and come as he gears up to make redistricting reform at the state level the political priority of his post-presidency.

After January 20, President Obama will continue to live in Washington as long as he has a daughter in school there.  He will be well-positioned to work to wrest away the power Republican state legislatures have held over redistricting once every ten years.

He has the motive and he has the time.  He will, after all, be only 55 when he enters his post-presidency. It is well to recall that Jimmy Carter was 66 when he began a post-presidency of many significant achievements.

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

The Atlantic’s 3rd Endorsement in 156 Years

by James M. Wallreutersbrian-snyder

The Atlantic, a magazine in print since 1857, does not hand out a presidential endorsement except when it feels one of the two choices is a serious danger to the nation.

It has made a U.S. presidential endorsement only three times in its history.

The first was in 1860, when James Russell Lowell, the founding editor of The Atlantic, argued that the Republican Party, and Abraham Lincoln, the Republican nominee, “represented the only reasonable pathway out of the existential crisis then facing the country”.

That crisis was one of the animating causes of The Atlantic’s formation in 1857, the abolition of slavery.

The Atlantic’s second presidential endorsement came 104 years later, when in 1964 the publication endorsed incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, over his Republican challenger, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.

Edward Weeks, writing on behalf of the magazine, cited Lowell’s words from 1860, before making his case for the election of President Johnson, who would, The Atlantic believed, “bring to the vexed problem of civil rights a power of conciliation which will prevent us from stumbling down the road taken by South Africa.”

The Atlantic’s third endorsement arrived this month, 52 years after its Lyndon B. Johnson endorsement.

The Atlantic’s 2016 choice is Hillary Clinton.

In its Clinton endorsement, the magazine’s current editors refer back to language from the 1964 decision to select Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater, using words that resonate in this current 2016 campaign:

 We think it unfortunate that Barry Goldwater takes criticism as a personal affront; we think it poisonous when his anger betrays him into denouncing what he calls the “radical” press by bracketing the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Izvestia.

There speaks not the reason of the Southwest but the voice of Joseph McCarthy. We do not impugn Senator Goldwater’s honesty. We sincerely distrust his factionalism and his capacity for judgment.

In 2016, The Atlantic acknowledges that “our position is similar to the one” in which its editors found themselves in 1964.

We are impressed by many of the qualities of the [2016] Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.

By calling its Clinton endorsement Against Donald Trump, the magazine makes clear that its major rationale in supporting Clinton is to warn voters of the dangers of a Trump victory on November 8.

This should reassure those Republicans who will, once Trump suffers his almost certain defeat, have a new assignment of rebuilding the GOP after the damage inflicted by Trump.

The Atlantic’s harsh words about Trump should also caution those voters tempted to vote for third-party candidates. Their vote will, ipso facto, be a Trump vote. 

Trump supporters waited anxiously for his performance in the third and final debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Cathleen Decker, writing for the Los Angeles Times, reports that Trump began the debate in a calmer tone than the angry tone he employs on the campaign trail.

It was not long, however, before the troublesome Trump emerged. Decker begins:

Donald Trump needed a compelling victory in Wednesday’s debate to alter the course of a campaign that has increasingly moved toward Hillary Clinton both nationally and in key states.

He did not get it.

The final debate was notable for delving into policy matters more than in two prior meetings, and for a more measured performance by Trump, in what was undeniably his best debate.

But whatever good he might have done for himself was flattened in two moments in which he appeared unable to take responsibility for his actions and unwilling to put aside personal disappointment for the nation’s good.

The Forward site points to Trump’s most damaging statements which are almost certain to harm him with undecided voters: 

When moderator Chris Wallace asked him — twice — whether he would accept the results of the vote on November 8, Trump — twice — refused to say he would. “I will look at it at the time,” he said smugly, as if he alone were the arbiter of what is right and fair about the electoral process. “I will keep you in suspense,” he said, as if this were yet another episode of the TV reality show that is his life.

In 1860The Atlantic founding editor James Russell Lowell, warned about “the perishability of the great American democratic experiment if citizens (at the time, white, male citizens) were to cease taking seriously their franchise”:

In a society like ours, where every man [or woman] may transmute his [or her] private thought into history and destiny by dropping it into the ballot-box, a peculiar responsibility rests upon the individual … For, though during its term of office the government be practically as independent of the popular will as that of Russia, yet every fourth year the people are called upon to pronounce upon the conduct of their affairs.

In less than three weeks, our “every fourth year” event will have its final moment of decision-making, in an election that most certainly is not “rigged”, though Donald Trump wants his die-hard loyalists to believe it is.

Trump has already signaled that he will not accept the election results. It appears almost certain now that he is laying plans for what would be a cult he will build around himself. His son is already talking about developing an independent Trump television network. 

Hillary Clinton’s victory will not be a mandate; it will be a rejection of Trumpism.  

To paraphrase a line from Mission Impossible: “Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to demand that your new President choose the right path toward justice and peace at home and abroad”.

The Hillary Clinton photo above, is by Brian Snyder for Reuters.

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

Reflections on Lincoln, Clinton and Trump

by James M. Walllincoln-cover

Hillary Clinton is our final protective barrier against a massive Trump forest fire now raging across our land.

She is the firewall standing between a fire which should have been stopped when it began June 15, 2015, as an anti-Obama racist birther flame.

On November 8, voters will have to choose: Support Hillary Rodham Clinton; make a naive gesture for a third party candidate; vote for a retired general or Aunt Maud; or vote for Donald J. Trump.

I chaired George McGovern’s Illinois convention delegation in 1972 when one young McGovern delegate told me she would cast her vice presidential nominating vote for her mother.

That irresponsible act was an early warning to me of misguided idealism in politics. It revealed an immaturity on the Miami convention floor in 1972. In 2016, it flames the fires of tyranny.

New York Times columnist Andrew Rosenthal addresses what is at stake:

Melania Trump said the man in the 2005 video is not the man she knows. But he is the man the rest of us know. To vote for him, you have to pretend you don’t know who he really is — or choose not to care.

The Republican Party could have found a way to halt the Trump phenomenon when the Donald emerged as the possible nominee. Rosenthal believes he knows why the GOP did not unite against Trump:

I’ve never believed that the Republican leadership really disagreed with Trump’s fringe views. They just didn’t like the way he expressed them, because it exposed some powerful and disturbing currents in their party.

South Korea’s Samsunheadquarters knew what to do when its phones started exploding; it canceled production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

It is too late for the GOP to cancel anything. Ballots are printed and early voting has begun.

In a report under the heading, “Trump declares himself free from ‘shackles’ — and threatens to burn the GOP to the ground.” Raw Story’s Brad Reed sees Trump at war with the GOP he conned into letting him be their nominee.

If Donald Trump is going down, he’s going to try to bring down everyone else with him. In a furious tweet storm on Tuesday, Trump ripped House Speaker Paul Ryan for his “weak and ineffective” leadership and accused him of being disloyal for saying on Monday that he was finished defending Trump’s candidacy.

Trump declared that Ryan’s betrayal had freed him from his “shackles” — and he could now campaign for the presidency without any kind of filter at all.

Few media voices have arisen to question Trump’s psychological make-up, which makes him unfit for the high office he now seeks. Such reluctance is understandable. Medical experts are unwilling to attribute mental conditions of individuals they have not personally examined.

David Brooks bravely puts forth his personality assessment of Trump in his New York Times column, entitled, Donald Trump’s Sad, Lonely Life.

Brooks’ lay diagnosis is simple: “Trump continues to display the symptoms of narcissistic alexithymia,” a psychological category which may be studied on the internet, through such sources as this essay in Huffington Post.

Brooks writes:

Politics is an effort to make human connection, but Trump seems incapable of that. He is essentially adviser-less, friendless. His campaign team is made up of cold mercenaries at best and Roger Ailes at worst. His party treats him as a stench it can’t yet remove. . . .

Trump breaks his own world record for being appalling on a weekly basis, but as the campaign sinks to new low after new low, I find myself experiencing feelings of deep sadness and pity.

Imagine if you had to go through a single day without sharing kind little moments with strangers and friends. Imagine if you had to endure a single week in a hate-filled world, crowded with enemies of your own making, the object of disgust and derision.

You would be a twisted, tortured shrivel, too, and maybe you’d lash out and try to take cruel revenge on the universe. For Trump this is his whole life.

Trump continues to display the symptoms of narcissistic alexithymia, [which is] the inability to understand or describe the emotions in the self. Unable to know themselves, sufferers are unable to understand, relate or attach to others.

To prove their own existence, they hunger for endless attention from outside. Lacking internal measures of their own worth, they rely on external but insecure criteria like wealth, beauty, fame and others’ submission.

Trump’s supporters are likely to ignore such a description, but it is nevertheless, one way of understanding how this raging forest fire has been sweeping through our political life.

Trump has been a professional entertainer and a builder of massive structures. He had not been previously examined in the court of public opinion as a political leader or as the President of the United States.

Hillary Clinton, like candidates before her, is flawed. Her husband has been a burden to a wife with a single-minded vision. That same husband, however served two successful terms in the White House, even as his own careless personal behavior embarrassed the nation.

Hillary Clinton is smart, determined and wise to the ways of politics. She demonstrated this in her leaked private meetings with donors. 

In one private donor meeting, she spoke of two levels of political thought, the public and the private. She was referring to Steven Spielberg’s film, Lincoln, with a subtle perspective any perceptive viewer could share. 

In his 2012 film review of Lincoln, the Chicago Sun Times critic Roger Ebert wrote:

Lincoln lacked social polish but he had great intelligence and knowledge of human nature. The hallmark of the man, performed so powerfully by Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, is calm self-confidence, patience and a willingness to play politics in a realistic way.

The film focuses on the final months of Lincoln’s life, including the passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, the surrender of the Confederacy and his assassination. Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics.

Lincoln believed slavery was immoral, but he also considered the 13th Amendment a masterstroke in cutting away the financial foundations of the Confederacy.

In the film, the passage of the amendment is guided by William Seward (David Strathairn), his secretary of state, and by Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), the most powerful abolitionist in the House. 

In his script for Lincoln, Tony Kushner delivers a Lincoln who maneuvers through a divided Congress by sharing his private convictions with a limited few, while persuading his opponents that they should agree to his public position that both sides benefited from Lincoln’s political agenda.

In Sunday’s second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was attacked for having said to a private donor group that a good politician has a personal and a public perspective on political issues. 

When pressed at the debate, Clinton said she was referring to the Spielberg movie, Lincoln. The media had missed the possible connection of her personal/public opinion to how effectively a politician like Lincoln operates on those two levels.  

Trump attacked Clinton for dragging Lincoln into her campaign. He demonstrated no depth of awareness of either the film or the the historical Lincoln.

Movies that rise above entertainment are both “about” that which is obvious on the surface, and “are” something deeper in the dynamics of a film. Hillary Clinton knows the difference.  She referenced that difference in her private remarks. 

If she is elected, she will have many opportunities to choose between the surface military option or following the deeper diplomatic option in both foreign and domestic battles.

She will see this even more clearly once she is in the White House. It is reassuring that she understands the two-level decision-making of master politician Abraham Lincoln.

Posted in -Movies and politics, Archives, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 10 Comments

I Have Seen The Future And It Belongs To Israel

by James M. Wallemil-salman-haaretz

On January 20, 2017, Barack Obama will give up his presidency, leaving him fifteen weeks to fuss and fume over his inability to dislodge the Israeli elephant which sits on his back.

For evidence of that elephant’s heavy and humiliating presence, start with Bibi Netanyahu’s latest in-your-face insult to the departing Obama.

Ha’aretz announced the news Wednesday under the headline: “U.S. Blasts Israel’s Plan for New West Bank Settlement, Says Netanyahu Broke His Word”.

The subhead continues: “In unusually harsh statement, State Department ties timing of construction plans to signing of aid deal. U.S. official says White House was livid over timing of approval of plans, which seek to resettle residents of Amona”.

How is Obama expected to respond? He is a lame duck. Bibi revels in that fact. So, for the moment, Obama issues responses.

His options are small in number. The Congress belongs to Israel. It is, as Pat Buchanan once said, “bought and paid for”. Mainstream TV and print media, likewise. Cable television, ditto.

American Christian churches? Also bought and paid for in guilt chits and free trips. What Obama gets from the churches are resolutions issued periodically.

Luke 4:18 does not say issue resolutions. It says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

With no national will behind him, Obama keeps White House and State computers set for “mild to harsh to outraged” responses.

The latest response to Bibi’s latest insult is a “harsh” one:

The U.S. administration published an unusually harsh statement on Wednesday against a plan to build an alternative settlement for residents of the illegal outpost of Amona.

The statement, signed by Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for the State Department, drew an unusual linkage between the signing of the defense aid agreement with Israel and criticism of settlement building.

Toner stressed that the U.S. views advancement of the plan as a violation of a commitment by Netanyahu’s government not to establish any new settlements in the West Bank.

The State Department response to Israel’s Civil Administration Planning Commission’s decision “to approve a plan for the construction of 98 housing units in the new settlement to be established next to the Shvut Rachel settlement. According to the plan, it will be possible to build up to 300 housing units and an industrial zone”.

The claim, of course, is that this is not a new settlement but “only a neighborhood” of the existing settlement of Shvut Rachel meant to provide housing for soon-to-be evicted residents of the illegal outposts of Amona, (below right) an unauthorized Israeli outpost in the West Bank, east of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.amona-ap

Shvut Rachel is an illegal Israeli settlement founded in November, 1991. It is in the Palestinian West Bank, 30 miles north of Jerusalem, surrounded by other illegal settlements, including Shilo, Giv’at Har’el, Esh Kodesh, Keeda, and Adei Ad.

The land on which Shvut Rachel illegally sits is owned by Fawzi Haj Ibrahim Mohammad. Part of the charade which Israel has successfully played was to declare Mohammad’s property Israeli “state land”.

Neither Obama, nor any president before him, could halt this constant expansion, a half-century long crime, committed in full view of the world.

This latest U.S. response to Israel’s illegal expansion takes note of the timing of the announcement. Timing is an Israeli specialty. 

A senior U.S. official said that the White House boiled with anger at the advancement of the plan and even more at the timing of the decision – just a week after the signing of the military aid agreement by which the U.S. will give Israel $38 billion for a decade, and the day of the death of former president Shimon Peres, whose funeral was attended by President Barack Obama.

Obama had not given Netanyahu all he demanded in that $38 billion decade-long deal, angering the Israeli leader. As Obama must have expected, Bibi’s retribution was swift.

Obama met with Netanyahu at Peres’ funeral (see picture above). Did Bibi assume it was inappropriate to discuss government business in a time of mourning? Don’t count on it.

The headline above, “I have met the future”, is, of course, not original with me. It belongs to Lincoln Joseph Steffens.

Steffens, born in 1866, began his career as a journalist at the New York Evening Post. He later became an editor of McClure’s magazine, After returning from a trip to Russia, he promoted his view of the Soviet Revolution.

In the course of campaigning for U.S. food aid for Russia, Steffens made his famous remark about the new Soviet society: “I have seen the future, and it works”, a phrase he often repeated with many variations. (adapted from Wikipedia).

It is impossible to peer very far into the future, but Israel’s political and emotional grip on the U.S. is so strong, it will survive unchecked for at least four or eight more years, under Clinton or Trump.  

Of course, before he is replaced, Barack Obama has the next fifteen weeks to take action to support Palestine at the United Nations. Such a step would make excellent going-away gifts to Palestine, Israel, and the world.

The picture at top is by Emil Salman, from Ha’aretz. The picture of Amona is by Oded Balilty for AP.

Posted in Archives, Israel, Middle East, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestinians | 13 Comments

Would A Surgeon Trust Trump With A Knife?

by James M. Wallshutterstock-com

The moment on the debate stage which was most revealing was not one of Donald Trump’s nervous deep breaths.

The most revealing moment came immediately after the debate ended. Hillary Clinton moved quickly down the steps to greet supporters who were rushing to shake her hand.

Donald Trump waited until his family and two aides joined him on the stage. He stood there briefly for photos. Then, the most uninformed and politically inexperienced nominee in the nation’s history, left the stage.

On November 8, Donald Trump could receive full control of this nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Dare we trust him with such awesome power? Dare we trust a man about whom we know virtually nothing other than what we have seen on television reality shows, or promoting beauty contests?

Who are his friends? Who whispers into his ear? Or, as they say in Chicago politics, “who sent you”?

Donald J. Trump claims to be a highly successful business corporate executive who builds buildings and makes huge sums of money. 

How is he viewed among his fellow corporate executives?  A study of campaign contributors by the Wall Street Journal discovered a revealing fact about Trump.

No chief executive at the nation’s 100 largest companies had donated to Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign through August, a sharp reversal from 2012, when nearly a third of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies supported GOP nominee Mitt Romney. 

This news will delight Trump’s fervent anti-corporate fan base. But what does it say about Trump’s standing in the business community?

In Monday’s debate at Hofstra University, Trump demonstrated his personal “bluff and bluster” style when he reiterated his primary campaign’s repeated display of ignorance of foreign policy issues.

Japan Times staff writer Ayako Mie reported an example. Of special concern to Ayako Mie is that Trump so flippantly disregarded decades of diplomatic understanding of a defense issue of deep interest to the Japanese. Mia wrote:

Trump reiterated his position that U.S. allies — including Japan — must dole out more cash if they wish to continue being protected by the U.S. military, a stance the real estate mogul has maintained since his campaign’s start and one that has deeply troubled America’s partners.

“They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune,” Trump said. “We can’t defend Japan … they may have to defend themselves or they may have to help us out.” . .

The Council of Foreign Affairs website explains “The Status of Forces Agreement” which Trump falsely perceives as a one-sided business transaction where “we’re losing a fortune”.

You don’t have to love our ever-expansive empirical reach (which I do not) to realize that this is not a business deal gone sour. It is a diplomatic agreement worked out between sovereign nations to benefit both Japan and the U.S.

Trump’s business myopia has no awareness that “The Status of Forces Agreement” is intended to benefit Japan’s security and the U.S. desire for “peace and security in the Far East”.

Regarding Facilities and Areas and the Status of United States Armed Forces in Japan (hereinafter referred to as “the Status of Forces Agreement”), both signed at Washington on January 19, 1960 (hereinafter referred to as “the United States armed forces”), contribute to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East.

During the primaries, the Japan Times explained how the cost of the Agreement is shared.

Trump has argued Japan should pay all the costs of stationing U.S. forces in the country, saying he would otherwise consider withdrawing the U.S. military and allowing Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons. . . .

How much of the cost of U.S. forces in Japan is borne by the U.S., and how much is spent by Japan?

According to the 2017 Operation and Maintenance Overview by the Office of the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense, the direct cost of stationing U.S. forces in Japan is estimated at $5.47 billion (¥595 billion “yen”) for fiscal 2016, which includes personnel, operations, maintenance, construction and family housing.

In addition, according to the Defense Ministry, Japan is set to pay ¥192 billion to support U.S. forces in fiscal 2016, including most of the utility charges at U.S. bases and facilities in Japan, as well as the wages of Japanese employees.

As a former Secretary of State, Clinton is well aware of these details. She screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-05-53-pmalso knows how little Trump knows, or cares to learn, about those details.

She responded to Trump’s embarrassing display of ignorance by quickly demonstrating how a president should sound when discussing an international agreement.

“I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them.” 

“It is essential that America’s word be good,” she added. 

The mainline media pretends a “balance” in coverage which has led to a downplaying of Trump’s repeated fabrications, distortions and displays of ignorance.

The debates present the candidates without media filter. For those who may have missed the debate, here is the video:

Trump had one major stumble over international agreements, and by any reasonable standard, he has had many others throughout his campaign.

Compare his stumble to President Gerald Ford’s costly gaffe in the second General Election debate with the Democratic challenger, Jimmy Carter.

Time magazine summarized:

During a 1976 presidential debate against a then-obscure Georgia Governor named Jimmy Carter, Ford famously uttered: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” [One panelist], Max Frankel of the New York Times, responded incredulously, “I’m sorry, what? … did I understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence in occupying most of the countries there and making sure with their troops that it’s a communist zone?”

Ford refused to back down from his original statement, insisting that Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia are free from Soviet interference. newspaper-2nd-carter-ford-debate-10-7-76

In response, Carter said he’d like to see Ford “convince the Polish-Americans and the Czech-Americans and the Hungarian-Americans in this country, that those countries don’t live under the domination and supervision of the Soviet Union behind the Iron Curtain.”

News reports about the debate were dominated by Ford’s statement and its potential effect on the race. Most observers felt the debate proved to be a turning point and the key to Carter’s narrow electoral victory.

Unlike the 1976 Ford-Carter debate, when foreign policy was treated seriously, the first 2016 Clinton-Trump debate was covered as a prize fight with media judges scoring Trump losing on style.

Two rematches are slated, October 9, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and October 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Which leads, finally, to this puzzlement: How could anyone who knows the decision-making demands on a President, possibly cast a vote for Trump (or a third party contender, same thing)? 

Would you want your surgeon to invite Donald J. Trump into the operating room to perform your gall bladder surgery? Surely not. You would not want to hear, as you went under the anesthesia, “Where’s the gall bladder”?

The picture of Trump is from Shutterstock. The picture of Clinton is a screen shot. The front page is from This Was Television

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

Inside The U.S. $38 Billion 10-Year Gift to Israel

by James M. Wallobama-at-un

It is no surprise that the guaranteed $38 billion gift from U.S. taxpayers to Israel over the next ten years was not discussed Wednesday when President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met at New York’s Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

The $38 billion gift was not discussed in the meeting because it was already a done deal, which Netanyahu hated.

Because the U.S. mainline media does such an ineffective job of covering anything to do with what Israel likes or dislikes, the $38 billion ten-year deal was made to look like Obama had caved in to Netanyahu.

That was not the case. Nehemiah Shtrasler wrote in an opinion piece in Ha’aretz that far from being an Israeli triumph, the $38 billion agreement was not that big a deal. It was, instead, filled with caveats Netanyahu fought against.

Shtrasler explains that both leaders were smiling through their pro forma meeting, “but Obama will be enjoying the last laugh. He has waited a long time for this moment, and now he’s ready to serve his revenge to Netanyahu, cold as ice.”

[Obama] can’t — and doesn’t want to — forget Netanyahu’s insults, from failing to fulfill his promises to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, to continuing to build in the territories in order to torpedo any possibility of a two-state solution, to that boorish speech in Congress last year against Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Now Netanyahu is paying for all of that, big time.

To an American public fed a steady pro-Israel diet, this sounds, well, impossible.

Anticipating this incredulous response, Shtrasler writes:

Let’s start with the numbers. In the last 10 years, Israel has received $3.1 billion a year from the United States, plus the cost of developing anti-ballistic missiles. Altogether, the aid has come to $3.5 billion a year. The new amount, $3.8 billion a year, is significantly lower in real terms.

It’s not worth more than $3.2 billion a year, according to a capitalization rate of 20 percent over 10 years. Therefore, in real terms American aid to Israel has diminished, not increased — in contrast to what Netanyahu says.

Israel was not getting the massive payout the U.S. media claimed, with stories that sent conservatives into ecstasy and progressives into apoplexy. Netanyahu was demanding a much larger annual gift, which his rich Daddy would not give him.

Then there was an even heavier blow. Netanyahu and his negotiating team delayed accepting the U.S. ten-year offer because of a more obviously distressing clause that affected Israel’s arms industry, a major money-maker for Israel’s economy.

The bigger blow lies in the exclusion of Israel’s defense industries. Until now, Israel could convert 26 percent of the aid into shekels (which worked out to about $800 million a year) and use the money to order equipment from Israeli military companies. The new agreement phases out that agreement, which is a rough deal for the big defense companies, and a deathblow for dozens of smaller companies and the subcontractors of the big companies.

The third clause that angered Netanyahu is the one that Shtrasler describes as the one “designed to be personally anti-Netanyahu: the humiliation.”

This is the article forbidding Israel to ask Congress for any more aid, of any type, for two years. If Congress does decide to add some, Israel will have to repay the money posthaste.

A clear Israel supporter, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) asked Netanyahu how he could agree to an agreement that “neuters” Congress. Netanyahu didn’t answer. He knew he not only had to neutralize all his friends in Congress: he had to shear the locks of the AIPAC lobby and ambassador Ron Dermer. Look how far Obama’s vengeance has reached.

Wait, there is even more, a final humiliating blow demanded by Obama.

Yet all of this pales compared with the strategic damage inherent in the agreement. It has no accords on cooperating against Iran, which will have the capacity to manufacture nuclear bombs in 10 years’ time. It does not expand the collaboration on science, technology and intelligence.

It does not provide Israel with advanced fighting systems to preserve its qualitative advantage in the region. That is why it’s a bad deal. Clearly, a better one could have been achieved if Netanyahu hadn’t bitten the hand that feeds us [Israel], time and again.

The ten-year agreement is new. Previously, a three-year agreement has been renewed automatically by a subservient Congress. This new ten-year agreement was negotiated for ten months and signed well before Obama arrived in New York to address the UN.

UPDATE: This week a group of U.S. Senators announced they had introduced new legislation to remove the tight controls which President Obama included in the agreement. Reuters reports:

Senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and Ted Cruz {all Republican senators] told a news conference they had filed a measure to give Israel an additional $1.5 billion in military aid, while renewing U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Republican Senators Mark Kirk, Marco Rubio and Roy Blunt also co-sponsored the bill introduced on Tuesday.

The Obama speech demands an exegesis. Ha’aretz provides one in an analysis of the speech by Chemi Shalev:

Barack Obama’s farewell address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday was starkly anti-Israeli, or at least the antithesis of the current Israeli zeitgeist. Not because of his praise for the Iran nuclear deal or his token words of condemnation of settlements and occupation, but in the deeper layers of his speech; in his shameless promotion of universal values, in the presentation of his vision as the presumptive leader of the free world, with emphasis on the word “free.”

It was an optimistic and hopeful speech that dwelled on the cup half-full, which Israeli politicians prefer to portray as 90 per cent empty.

Cheri Shalev concluded his analysis of Obama’s UN speech on an upbeat note:

Obama said that deep religious convictions should not sanctify discrimination against women or prevent children from learning mathematics and science, (as they do throughout Israel’s independent ultra-Orthodox school system.) When he spoke about authoritarian leaders who foster division and understand only force, our analysts told us, without batting an eyelid, that he meant Vladimir Putin.

And when Obama coined the sentence for which the speech will be remembered, “A nation ringed by walls will only imprison itself”, the commentators said, without a hint of self-irony, that he was talking about Donald Trump.

Was he speaking of Trump’s wall or, far more likely in a speech to the United Nations, was he referring to Israel’s “security” wall?bbc-news-co

Barack Obama will have seven weeks and three days left in office between November 8 and January 20, 2017. What will he do with that time?

Barak Ravid, suggests in Ha’aretz, that Netanyahu fears that President Obama has one final speech he will give to the United Nations.

It is the speech in which Obama will try to leave a lasting legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue by laying down principles for resolving all the core issues: borders, refugees, security and, above all, Jerusalem.

Netanyahu’s fear is that once such a speech is given, the road to turning it into a UN Security Council resolution will be short.

That is why the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has worked hard over the past few weeks, apparently at the urging of Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, to recruit senators from both parties to sign a letter to Obama on this issue.

Of the 100 senators, 88 ultimately signed the letter, which was sent to Obama on Monday. To achieve this impressive number of signatories, it was necessary to make the letter’s wording sufficiently vague.

No letter will deter this outgoing President who has demanded that Bibi Netanyahu accept U.S. conditions to continue to receive essentially the same annual gift the tax-payers have been sending him.

In a final UN speech Obama will find a receptive audience of nations eager to end a senseless occupation that has stirred so much anger, suffering and hatred in the Middle East.

Knowing this, Barack Obama is acting like a President who “will not go gentle into this dark night”.

The picture above is President Obama speaking Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly. It is from Ha’aretz, taken by Kevin Lamarque of Reuters. The wall picture in Palestine is from

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestinians, United Nations | 15 Comments

Syrian Truce Holds During Islamic Eid al-Adha

by James M. Wall


Syria’s cease-fire, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, began Monday night on Eid al-Adha, the Islamic festival which commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

The agreement, reached last Friday, began under a cloud of opposition within the U.S. and Israeli governments. The plan would lead to American and Russian forces jointly targeting terrorist groups. 

The New York Times reported that the cease-fire exposed “an increasingly public divide between Secretary Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter”.

Secretary Carter “was among the administration officials who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Secretary Kerry, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated”.

In the end, Secretary Kerry prevailed. After hours of debate, on Friday President Obama approved the cease-fire, even as Pentagon officials “remained unconvinced”.

The Australian Broadcasting Company reported that under the truce agreement, the United States and Russia would reduce violence over seven consecutive days before moving to the next stage of “coordinating military strikes against Nusra Front and Islamic State militants, which are not party to the truce”.

Secretary Carter and Israel’s right-wing government are united in their opposition to this “coordination”. 

In an appearance on The Real News Network, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Bush Administration, said:

A lot of what’s going on in Syria, indirectly or directly, has impact on Israel.  I think what the Israeli leadership is thinking right now is that the longer this war goes on, the safer Israel is, because it can do as [Prime Minister] Netanyahu has said, for example, in regard to the Golan Heights: they’re ours forever; we’re never going to give them up.

Wilkerson added that, in his opinion, anything else Israel can grab away from Syria “while this turmoil is going on is [Israel’s]” increasing the distance an enemy would have to come to invade Israel”.

From Wilkerson’s perspective, Netanyahu opposes the current cease-fire because “all these powers are occupied killing one another, as it were, and so they can’t take on Israel”. 

Wilkerson “begs to differ” with Netanyahu, insisting: 

I think strategically this [fighting in Syria] is dynamite for Israel. We are looking at the potential for things to start falling apart for Israel quickly and dynamically and dramatically. .  .  .

The United States [has] some really serious choices to make about this. . . That is another element we don’t like to talk about much in the United States, but it is intrinsic to this situation, and certainly to an ultimate solution to it.

A retired army officer now teaching at Georgetown University, Wilkerson is that rare U.S. public figure willing to point to Israel’s influence over U.S. policy.

In spite of this U.S.-Israeli military opposition to the cease-fire, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Syria’s cease-fire appeared to take firmer hold on its first full day Tuesday, with the main opposition monitoring group reporting calm in major provinces. .  .  .  the battlefields were noticeably quieter, according to residents and activists on the ground.”

Through Thursday morning, the cease-fire was holding. Diplomacy is working.

In the AFP picture above, young men and children celebrated Eid al-Adha Tuesday on a street in Hamouria.

Posted in Israel, John Kerry, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama | 2 Comments

Veterans Forum Staged With Show Biz In Mind

by James M. Wall150629163249-donald-trump-apprentice-780x439

The Commander-in-Chief Forum, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, was televised Wednesday night. The Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans organization based in New York City, joined NBC and MSNBC in hosting the event.

Billed as a precursor to three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, starting September 26, the Forum was described by The New York Times as “a high-stakes political moment, far from the chummier confines of the Today show and, for Matt Lauer, NBC’s stalwart of the morning, a chance to prove his broadcasting mettle on the presidential stage.”

The Times adds, “The consensus afterward was not kind.” Among the harsher criticism of Lauer came from New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait’s evisceration of Lauer’s performance entitled, “Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign”.

Chait explained what scared him about the Forum:

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. . . . . Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer.

Jonathan Chait is right to be scared. We should all be scared at the prospect that Donald J. Trump might actually be elected president of the United States.

But don’t blame Lauer for not digging deeper into this danger.

Complaints about Matt Lauer miss the point. The Forum was not a news event. It was a staged television performance put on by NBC, utilizing an audience of veterans on a set built at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier Intrepid.

Lauer has co-hosted NBC’s morning Today Show since June, 1997, a span of 19 years entertaining America with feature stories, interviews with star entertainers and news stories.

NBC has an impressive team of news anchors and reporters who might have served as moderator of the Forum on the deck of the Intrepid Wednesday night. But Lauer has a morning audience and he is an NBC star.

What he did with Clinton and Trump was to interview them as the stars they have become, catching them off guard when possible.  

Lauer has his share of news coverage experience but he was hardly the best interviewer to probe the candidates on ISIS, the Middle East, veterans’ health care, and the rising tensions around the world, all issues that affect the military and veterans.

The Forum was billed on the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America web site as a program where the candidates would answer questions from veterans in the audience.

Lauer did not even get into foreign affairs for the first 12 minutes of his opening 30 minutes with Clinton. Instead, no doubt with the blessing of his bosses, he rehashed the email “controversy” which NBC thought would interest its viewers.

He also allowed Trump time to repeat his campaign lies against Clinton. Questions from military veterans were sparse in each half of the NBC Forum. It was not until Rachel Maddow took over the Intrepid stage for her MSNBC show following the Forum, that veterans asked their questions.

This presidential quadrennial event is supposed to allow American voters to evaluate opposing candidates and select the one person best equipped to serve as U.S. President. It has worked fairly well since the first selection of George Washington.

The election of 2016, however, has degenerated into a reality show designed to attract advertising sponsors, viewers, listeners and readers. The unexpected rise of Donald Trump entertained America in 2015 and 2016 with the encouragement of the media which profited from the reality show that is Donald Trump.

The Republican Party was so weakened by the presence of a virus called the Tea Party, that it could not coalesce around one, two or three sensible candidates for President until the day the nomination was seized by a messenger of hatred and fear.

They laughed when he first emerged. A few wise souls feared the worse, souls like Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison who appeared on ABC’s This Week, with George Stephanopoulos,  July 26, 2015.

The presidential campaign was discussed. Ellison ventured his concern over the possibility that Donald Trump, with his campaign of hatred and fear, aimed especially at Muslims and Mexicans, might be elected president.

Stephanopoulos thought such an assertion was ridiculous. Another guest on the show laughed in protest.

After more than a year in a campaign for President of the United States, Donald J. Tump has displayed one talent: The ability to touch a strain of the American spirit which has fallen to a level of nativist distrust, hatred and fear of “others” of different races and colors.

Our national media joined in the laughter in July, 2015.

But true to its collective nature, that same national media could not resist allowing a man of such limited abilities to conduct a campaign of such deep fear and hate. The media knew a ratings winner when it smelled one.

Pretending to be dismayed, the media gave Trump his stage to race to the White House. His lies were outrageous, but they were rarely sufficiently challenged. 

Ronald Reagan was a movie performer for many years before he became governor of California. Donald Trump, who is now close to being the second media performer to be president, does not have Reagan’s film and television stature.

His career led him to one level of pop culture, as star of the television “reality” program, The Celebrity Apprentice, for 14 seasons. during which he “claims” to have received  precisely $213,606,575.

Trump was still under contract to NBC when he announced on June 16, 2015, that he would run for the Republican nomination for president.

News of his termination by NBC appeared on August 13, 2015 in a CBS story, under the headline, “Donald Trump officially fired from ‘The Celebrity Apprentice'”.

NBC’s entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, announced Thursday while at the Television Critics Association Press Tour that the show would not be back next season, but will return in the future with a new host.

NBC cut ties with Trump in June after Trump made comments about Mexican immigrants and NBC canceled its airing of the Miss USA pageant.

“Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump,” NBC said in a statement, adding, “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.”

One election away from the presidency, Donald Trump is asking America, “What have you got to lose”? The answer to that question should empower us all between now and November 8. 

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

Israel Remains The Untouchable Election Issue

by James M. Wallspotlight

In recent weeks, I have studied Spotlight, a film that should explain why our current presidential election is about none of the critical issues facing our nation.

This Clinton-Trump campaign, is, most certainly, not about the critical foreign policy issue of Israel’s expansive and repressive grip on Palestinian freedom. 

Spotlight is the 2015 Academy Award winning real-life examination of a team of journalists working to uncover, and identify, those at fault in a massive church cover-up.

The title comes from The Boston Globe‘s investigative team of reporters, which spent eight months examining the role of the Boston archdiocese hierarchy in covering up sexual abuse of children by priests.

Early in the film, two men, Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law (Len Cariou) and Martin Baron (Liev Schreiber), the editor of The Globe, are in a quiet conversation.

The Cardinal says to the editor, “The city flourishes when its great institutions work together.” The editor politely dissents, arguing that the paper should stand alone.

Their conversation, New York Times critic A.O. Scott, wrote, “sets up the film’s central conflict”. He continues:

The image of two prominent men talking quietly behind closed doors, haunts this somber, thrilling movie and crystallizes its major concern, which is the way power operates in the absence of accountability.

Directed by Tom McCarthy from a script he co-wrote, Spotlight is in the rich tradition of an earlier investigative newspaper story, All the President’s Men, which exposed White House involvement in the Watergate Scandal. Globe-movie_FotorSpotlight won the Academy Award for best picture. McCarthy won the Academy Award for best original script, which he co-wrote with Josh Singer. McCarthy is currently one of our finest film-makers.  See his The Visitor for his creative take on immigration.

Spotlight will remind you that our media, at its best, does not cower before the institutions that shape our nation.

What the mainstream media does at its worst, however, which it is demonstrating during the present campaign, is to “work together with its institutions” to satisfy the demands of those institutions.

Little on the political front, for example, approaches the evil conduct of Israel in its repression of Palestinians, a repression that could not continue without American financial and political institutional support.

A presidential campaign should explore how to confront such conduct. This one does not. 

Fortunately, there are a few journalists, like Glenn Greenwald, who understand how the institution of mainstream media serves as one of Israel’s major enablers in Israel’s addiction to American power and money.

Greenwald appeared recently on the web site, Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman. At one point in the interview, Goodman asked Greenwald about Trump. His answer began:

[Donald Trump], the person the Republican Party has nominated, on a personal level, is extraordinarily unstable and vindictive and dangerous and narcissistic, in a way that you really wouldn’t trust him to occupy any minor political office, let alone command the military of the United States and the entire executive branch.

Goodman also asked Greenwald about his recent essay, “As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More.”  His response:

One of the things that happens during the election campaign is that all the focus of the media, and therefore the American public, goes to the personalities of the two candidates, and the U.S. government does incredibly important things, consequential things, that get ignored.

The United States already is by far the biggest benefactor of the Israeli government. We already give $3 billion a year in taxpayer money, in military aid, all sorts of other forms of aid, including diplomatic cover as they bomb Gaza, as they occupy the Palestinians, as they violate international law.

It’s because the U.S. government enables this. And we transfer all this money to Israel, even though, in many ways, Israel is more prosperous and thriving and its citizens enjoy more benefits than American citizens do, including universal healthcare and free college, which Israelis enjoy but the U.S. doesn’t, as we transfer billions of dollars to them.

One of the things that President Obama is doing, with almost no attention, is he has negotiated a deal with Israel to significantly increase the amount of money that Israel gets for 10 years, so no government, no future Congress can even reverse it, to give them many, many billions more than we’re already giving them.

The idea is to keep Israel militarily superior to its neighbors to ensure that they can continue to dominate the region without challenge, and also domestic political reasons, for the Democratic Party to show voters who care about Israel, namely evangelical and Jewish voters, that they are doing even more for Israel. And it’s incredibly consequential. 

Gideon Levy, the Israeli Ha’aretz columnist, continues to inform the world and remind his own government, that “what Israel does to the Palestinians, is incredibly immoral”.  

In a recent column, Levy cited population numbers that should shame Israel and its American enablers.

A state where half the subjects are denied rights can’t be democratic. In a state that doesn’t intend to change its borders or the nature of its rule, this discussion is merely part of the delusion of perpetually parading around naked but feeling fully clothed.

Two peoples equal in size live under Israeli rule: about 6.3 million Jews and 6.3 million Arabs. Half and half. That’s the outcome of 50 years of life in a binational state, not Jewish and not democratic. To the 1.8 million Arab citizens, you have to add the 2.7 million Palestinians living under direct Israeli rule in the West Bank, and about 1.8 million living under indirect Israeli rule in Gaza.

The fate of all these subjects, from registration at birth to the currency they use and most of their rights, is set in Israel. They are subject to its rule; they are part of the state.

Presidential candidate debates will soon begin. One question that should come up, but will not, is this:

Should the U.S. government continue a guaranteed increase of its current three billion dollars a year to the prosperous nation of Israel, even as Israel continues to oppress half of the population under its control?

The picture of Boston Globe staff members is from the film, Spotlight.

Posted in Movies, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

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 | 5 Comments