Israhell is inspiring US family separation policy

Many Republicans and Democrats see Israel not as a liability to real democracy, but as a shining example to be followed.

Last month, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the government’s “zero tolerance” policy at US border crossings. It was a matter of weeks before the new policy began yielding tragic outcomes.

Those attempting to unlawfully cross into the US were subject to federal criminal prosecution, while their children were taken away by federal authorities, which placed them in cage-like facilities.

Expectedly, the policy caused outrage and was eventually reversed. However, many of those who have chastised the administration of President Donald Trump seem willfully ignorant of the fact that Israel has been carrying out far worse practices against Palestinians.

In fact, many within the American ruling classes, whether Republican or Democrat, have been captivated with the Israeli model for decades. For years, US pundits have praised not just Israel’s supposed democracy but also its security apparatus as an example to be emulated.

“Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. ”

A new chapter in the ongoing cooperation was penned soon after Trump declared his plan to build a wall at the US-Mexico border. Even before Israeli companies jumped at the chance of building Trump’s wall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted approvingly of Trump’s “great idea,” claiming that Israel’s own wall has been a “great success” for it “has stopped all illegal immigration.”

Israel spins the concept of democracy in whichever direction that would allow it to ensure the dominance of one community at the expense of Palestinians.

Ramzy Baroud

In the case of Israel, the word “democracy” is hardly fitting. At best, Israel’s democracy can be described as unique. Former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak has written: “There are many democracies around the world. Only Israel is not just a democratic state but a Jewish one as well.”

At a Tel Aviv conference earlier this year, Israel’s divisive Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked offered her own version of Barak’s assertion. “Israel is a Jewish state,” she said. “It isn’t a state of all its nations.

That is, equal rights to all citizens but not equal national rights.” In order for Israel to preserve its version of “democracy,” it must, in the words of Shaked, “maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights.”

Israel spins the concept of democracy in whichever direction that would allow it to ensure the dominance of one community at the expense of Palestinians, the native inhabitants of the land whose rising numbers are often seen as a “demographic threat,” a “bomb” even.

Israel, to this day, has no formal constitution. It is governed by what is known as “Basic Law.” Having no moral code or legal foundation according to which the state’s behavior can be judged, the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) is, therefore, free to draft and impose laws targeting Palestinian rights without having to wrangle with such notions as these laws being “unconstitutional.”

One of the reasons that the US administration’s family separation law at the border failed is that, despite flaws in its democratic system, the US has a constitution and a relatively strong civil society that can utilize the country’s moral and legal codes to challenge atrocious state conduct. In Israel, however, this is not the case.

The government invests much energy and funds to establish physical links between illegal settlements (built on Palestinian land in defiance of international law) and Israel itself. At the same time, it invests equal resources to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their own land, while keeping their communities separated and fragmented.

The sad truth is that what Americans have witnessed at their southern border in recent weeks is what Palestinians have experienced as a daily reality at the hands of Israel for the last 70 years.

The kind of separation and segregation that Palestinian communities endure goes even beyond the typical outcomes of war, siege and military occupation. It is something that is enshrined in Israeli law, crafted mainly to weaken and even break down the cohesiveness of Palestinian society.

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For example, in 2003, the Knesset voted in favor of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which placed severe restrictions on Palestinians who were applying for family unification. When rights groups challenged the law, their efforts failed as the Israeli Supreme Court ruled, early in 2012, in favor of the government.

In 2007, that same law was amended to include spouses from “enemy states” — namely Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq. Unsurprisingly, citizens of some of these countries were included in the Trump administration’s ban on citizens of mostly Muslim nations from entering the US.

Even the idea of caging children is an Israeli one — a practice that was exposed by the rights group the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. The policy, which has allegedly been discontinued, allowed for the placing of Palestinian detainees, including children, in outdoor cages, even during severe winter storms.

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The “caging” of Palestinians, however, is an old practice. Today, the Israeli apartheid wall separates Palestinians from their land. As for Gaza, the entire strip, which is home to 2 million people, mostly refugees, has been turned into a massive “open-air prison” of walls and trenches.

While many Americans are relieved by Trump’s decision to end the practice of family separation at the border, US politicians and the media are oblivious to the fate of Palestinians, who have endured horrific forms of separation for many years. Even more troubling is the fact that many Republicans and Democrats see Israel not as a liability to real democracy, but as a shining example to be followed.

Four Presidents Conspired To Give $100 Billion to Israel Illegally

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Helen Thomas asked if Obama knew “of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons.” Obama dodged answering the question before finally replying that he didn’t “want to speculate.”

“A non-NPT member is trafficking in nuclear weapons technology and testing nuclear weapons, are supposed to publicly notify Congress and cut off US foreign aid to said country.”

June 25, 2018

The New Yorker staff writer Adam Entous revealed on June 18 that four sitting U.S. presidents beginning with Bill Clinton signed secret letters agreeing never to publicly discuss Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal. According to Entous, President Trump’s aides felt “blindsided” by Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer’s urgent demand to sign a fourth letter.

Only a small number of “senior American officials” in the previous three administrations even knew about the existence of such letters. Though said not to specifically mention Israel’s arsenal, Israeli leaders interpret the letters as binding American pledges not to publicly mention Israel’s nuclear weapons or press Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The letters add to growing evidence of a longstanding multifaceted executive and federal agency conspiracy to violate the US Arms Export Control Act on Israel’s behalf.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who has FBI-documented personal connections to Israel’s nuclear weapons program smuggling operations – was particularly concerned about newly-elected president Barack Obama. On February 9, 2009, veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas asked if Obama knew “of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons.” Obama dodged answering the question before finally replying that he didn’t “want to speculate.” Speaking in Prague in April, 2009 Obama called for strengthening the NPT.

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However, by May 2009, Obama yielded to Israeli pressure and signed an updated version of the secret Israeli gag letter, according to Entous. On September 6, 2012 Obama’s Department of Energy, in consultation with the Department of State, issued a secret directive called “Guidance on Release of Information Relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability,” or WNP-136 making it a crime for any US government employee or contractor to publicly communicate any information – even from the public domain – about Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

The Israelis, empowered by their $6.3 billion per year US affinity network, are ever eager to curtail informed public discussion and policymaking about Israel’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Entous notes that Israel already had three nuclear devices by 1967 but does not examine how a country with no infrastructure to produce highly-enriched uranium managed to assemble such weapons.

US Foreign Assistance to Israel Since the Clinton Administration (US Billion)

According to CIA and FBI files, Israel colluded with Pennsylvania nuclear processing plant administrators, two connected to Israeli intelligence and three with strong connections to the Zionist Organization of America, to divert enough US government-owned highly-enriched uranium to build several devices in the 1960s. The pillage of NUMEC, a privately-held thinly capitalized Atomic Energy Agency contractor, left behind a toxic mess and hundreds of poisoned, uncompensated victims.

More important than avoiding public knowledge about how Israel built its nuclear program, Israel and its lobby wish to preempt overdue enforcement of the 1976 Symington and Glenn Amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act now embedded in the US Arms Export Control Act. US presidents, upon learning that a non-NPT member is trafficking in nuclear weapons technology and testing nuclear weapons, are supposed to publicly notify Congress and cut off US foreign aid to said country.

Israel has not signed the NPT and also continually smuggles nuclear weapons-making technology from the US. The President can comply with the AECA by publicly justifying to Congress why continuing foreign aid to non-NPT signatory proliferators serves the US national interest, as was done in the case of waivers for Pakistan. No president has ever complied with any of provisions of the AECA regarding Israel, including waivers. (PDF)

In May of 2018, the US District Court of Appeals of DC upheld a lower court’s ruling that US citizens have no standing to sue the president and executive agencies complicit in failing to enforce the AECA over harm the many administrations inflict by improperly withholding information sought through the Freedom of Information Act about Israel’s nuclear weapons program and US policy.

In a brief, the US Department of Justice argued that the President has sole authority whether or not to recognize Israel’s nuclear weapons program as fact, stating “The legislative history of the [AECA] statute, moreover, makes clear that Congress intended that ‘the determinations under this section. . . be made by the President…the president’s decision whether or not to make a determination…is the epitome of a discretionary judgment…’” (PDF, page 5 and 6).

Most Americans believe Israel has nuclear weapons and that Congress should factor Israel’s nuclear arsenal into congressional discussions about US foreign aid given to Israel to allegedly maintain its “qualitative military edge.” In polls, Americans consistently say the US gives too much aid to Israel.

Excluding clandestine US aid funneled through black budgets, US presidents and Congress have given an inflation-adjusted sum of $222.8 billion to Israel since the Symington & Glenn Amendments became law in 1976. Since Bill Clinton became the first known US president to sign a secret letter to Israel, inflation-adjusted aid to Israel has grown to $99.9 billion.

Mueller probes whether Trump sought election help from Israeli firm

UNESCO says Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem is “null and void”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.)was established in 1946 to “contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations”.

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Golan Heights Syria, South Lebanon and the whole of Palestine, hostile Israeli illegally occupies and is at war with all it’s neighbors since it’s establishment, and claims they are surrounded by terrorists.

President Trump’s decision to begin moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem — and disclosure that first-son-in-law Jared Kushner failed to disclose his role in a foundation funding Israeli settlements and lobbied against a United Nations’ resolution critical of those settlements during the transition — are reminders that the foreign government with truly broad influence over U.S. politics is Israel.

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You see now we are the chosen ones.

(JTA) — U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller has sent investigators to Israel to probe the activities of an Israeli-run social media firm that may have led a social media manipulation effort to help Donald Trump get elected.

The co-founder of the firm, identified as Joel Zamel, who was born in Australia, met in New York three months before the 2016 election with Donald Trump Jr., as well as with Lebanese-American businessman George Nader representing the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who he said wanted to help get his father elected, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The Aug. 3, 2016, meeting was arranged by Erik Prince, the founder and former head of private military contractor Blackwater, who also attended the meeting.

It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections. The Israel Police and Zamel are cooperating with the investigation, according to the Times.

After Trump was elected, Nader reportedly paid Zamel a large sum of money, reportedly up to $2 million, because among other reasons given, a company linked to Zamel provided Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Trump’s victory.

Zamel told the Times that his client never carried out any campaign on Trump’s behalf. “Neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the U.S. election campaign,” the lawyer, Marc L. Mukasey, said. “There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” he also said.

A company connected to Zamel, Psy-Group, had been working on a proposal for a covert multimillion-dollar online manipulation campaign to help elect Trump, The Times reported citing three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort. The plan involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Trump’s candidacy.

The company, whose motto is “shape reality,” consulted an American law firm, and was told that it would be illegal if any non-Americans were involved in the campaign, according to the report.

Companies connected to Zamel also have ties to Russia, according to the Times.

After Trump’s inauguration, Zamel and Nader visited the White House, where they met with White House advisor Jared Kushner and then-chief of staff Steve Bannon.

President Trump’s decision to begin moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem — and disclosure that first-son-in-law Jared Kushner failed to disclose his role in a foundation funding Israeli settlements and lobbied against a United Nations’ resolution critical of those settlements during the transition — are reminders that the foreign government with truly broad influence over U.S. politics is Israel.

Trump’s Jerusalem announcement also threatened to touch off more disorder in the Middle East, which Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, says reflected the Trump administration’s determination to demand a full capitulation by the Palestinians. I spoke with Abunimah on Dec. 5.

One of Islam’s holiest sites the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, seen through barbed wire.

Dennis Bernstein: We turn our attention back to occupied Palestine.  We have now seen the kind of policy we are going to get from the Trump administration.  Jared Kushner has described bringing peace to the region as his dream.  We are going to talk about that in the context of his investment in settlements there. I suppose the central issue in Palestine this week is whether the embassy is going to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and what will the timing be, as in, will it happen some time soon?

Ali Abunimah: Actually, it will not be moved any time soon.  Trump will announce tomorrow [Dec. 6] that the US is recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but he will also sign a waiver delaying the move for another six months and the whole process will likely take years.

Dennis Bernstein: How bad is the situation now?  We know that settlements are being built apace, that the repression continues in the Gaza Strip, where life is barely livable.

Ali Abunimah: It is interesting that no one is actually talking about what is happening on the ground in Jerusalem, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians there are facing systematic ethnic cleansing by Israel.  This includes home demolitions, revocation of residency rights, land confiscations.

In the words of B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, since the occupation of East Jerusalem began in 1967, Israel has treated Palestinians in the city as “unwanted immigrants” and worked systematically to drive them out of the area.  Whatever Trump announces tomorrow will not change the situation.  The so-called international community is doing nothing about it and is letting Israel get away with it.

Dennis Bernstein: Jared Kushner is a broker for illegal settlements.

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Israel’s constant harassment and humiliation the indigenous of Jerusalem and all of Palestine.

Ali Abunimah: He is a donor to illegal settlements, a philanthropist for illegal settlements.  How many headlines have been devoted to Kushner failing to disclose important information in his government ethics filings?  The latest is that he failed to disclose the fact that he was a director of his family’s foundation, which has donated to building settlements in the occupied West Bank, particularly the settlement of Beit El, the same settlement that receives philanthropic donations from David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Kushner, who is supposedly charged with coming up with a peace plan, is actually busy funding settlements. Kushner’s family are close friends of Benjamin Netanyahu.  It is just farcical to pretend that anyone like Jared Kushner could ever be an honest broker.

Dennis Bernstein: Is all of this legal?

Ali Abunimah: That’s questionable.  Actually, in the past year there were lawsuits filed challenging this massive multi-billion dollar flow of tax-deductible, so-called charitable funds for illegal purposes, including the construction of settlements and massive donations to groups like Friends of the IDF.

Another issue is this whole business of what Jared Kushner was doing during the transition, when he was trying to undermine the policy of the sitting Obama administration and stop the UN Security Council resolution passed last December condemning Israeli settlements.  This all came out in the context of the Mueller investigation and Michael Flynn’s guilty plea, which revealed not so much a collusion with Russia as a very close collusion between the Trump transition and Israel.

Dennis Bernstein: You would think then that MSNBC, which makes a living on pumping up Russiagate, would want to jump into this case of collusion.

Ali Abunimah: The Michael Flynn revelation did not show collusion with Russia and certainly did not show any interference in the US election.  What Flynn pled guilty to was lying about two meetings.  Flynn is a serial liar, he lied about his work for the Turkish government.

The facts that were filed in the documents with his plea show that a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team, who has since been identified as Jared Kushner, had ordered Flynn to contact every member of the UN Security Council to try to defeat this resolution criticizing Israel.  It was also reported in The New York Times that Kushner had acted at the urging of Netanyahu.

None of this has anything to do with Russian interference in the elections.  What it does show is clear collusion at the highest level with a foreign government [Israel] to undermine and sabotage the policy of the sitting administration.

President Donald Trump places a prayer in-between the stone blocks of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017

Dennis Bernstein: It doesn’t appear that Arab outrage is going to have much influence over what happens with this plan to move the capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Ali Abunimah: On the contrary, I think that it has actually been facilitated by the fact that Saudi Arabia, which markets itself as the guardian of Islam, has been engaging in this major rapprochement with Israel, pressuring the Palestinians to accept what amounts to surrender, in order to get them out of the way so that Saudi Arabia and Israel can embrace each other and go to war together against Iran.

The New York Times reported details of the so-called Trump peace plan that Jared Kushner has been putting together, which basically creates a Palestinian state in name only.  The Palestinians would have very limited autonomy in very small non-contiguous areas of the West Bank.  They would have no control, no sovereignty, no capital in East Jerusalem, no right of return for refugees, and so on.  But they would be free to call this a Palestinian state if they want to.

All of this sounds familiar to people who have followed this issue because this is a rehashing of the kind of schemes that have been put forward since the 1990’s.  What is different this time is that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, was called to Riyadh last month and told by Mohammad bin Salman that he was going to accept this or else.  The thinking behind it is that the Palestinian issue is a thorn in the side of the Saudi/Israeli alliance that wants to escalate the catastrophic confrontation with Iran.

Dennis Bernstein: How does the crisis with the prime minister in Lebanon play into all of this?

Ali Abunimah: The Saudis have been behind so many of the regional disasters, including escalating the situation in Syria by funding a proxy war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.  For two years they have been bombing the poorest Arab country, Yemen, with millions suffering famine and tens of thousands killed and injured.  Saudi Arabia has been unable to defeat the people resisting them in Yemen.  They were trying to destabilize Lebanon and that failed because [Prime Minister] Hariri went home and rescinded his forced resignation under pressure from the Saudis.

Dennis Bernstein: I guess maybe the one silver lining in all of this is the boycott/divestment movement.  There is not much else going on in terms of global resistance to the brutality in occupied Palestine.

Ali Abunimah: I suppose it is possible to look at all of this and just feel immobilized and hopeless.  But I think it is important to feel hope as well.  Even in Jerusalem, Palestinians have been standing up to Israel and winning victories, as they did this summer when they forced Israel to back down from its efforts to impose stricter control on entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque compound.  That was a real victory for people power in Jerusalem against one of the strongest armies in the world.

Despite a twenty-fold increase in lobbying, Israel has not been able to stop the “impressive growth” of the Palestine solidarity movement, particularly the boycott/divestment/sanctions movement.  So it’s not time to be hopeless, it’s time to get on with the work, because there is lots to do and people power is still winning victories.

Dennis Bernstein: I guess you could say that proof of those victories is the amount of repression and clamp-down of Palestinian students and their supporters all over the country.

Ali Abunimah: And it is across the board now, including the effort of the big Silicon Valley companies who are helping the establishment to censor and limit the reach of independent media like us.  They know that people are listening and we are powerful, even though we may sometimes feel small in the face of the forces that are trying to reshape the world.