In terms of influencing American politics, no foreign nation does so as much as Israel, and it has for years. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Well, this is going to make the weekend’s political conversations a little more awkward around America.
As the mainstream media (and even the leftist politicians) begin to back quietly away from the “collusion” narrative, they remain increasingly focused on Russia’s “evil” efforts at “meddling” in the US election and “interfering with our democracy,” or some such hysterical phrase.
And that is what makes the comments by mainstay of world-renowned political dissident and liberal-thinking hero Noam Chomsky’s comments in the following interview with Democracy Now so ‘awkward’ for the Trump-hating members of society.
…so, take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke.
First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support.
Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done…
I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015….
Did Putin come to give an address to the joint sessions of Congress trying to – calling on them to reverse U.S. policy, without even informing the president? And that’s just a tiny bit of this overwhelming influence.
So if you happen to be interested in influence of – foreign influence on elections, there are places to look. But even that is a joke.
I mean, one of the most elementary principles of a functioning democracy is that elected representatives should be responsive to those who elected them. There’s nothing more elementary than that. But we know very well that that is simply not the case in the United States.
Did Israel evacuate White Helmets from southern Syria because if captured by the Syrian government, they might divulge some secrets Israel and the US would rather not have known? From The Oriental Review at orientalreview.org:
The countries of the West used Israel to evacuate members of the White Helmets from southern Syria. They couldn’t be allowed to fall into the hands of the Syrian government — at least, not while they are still alive.
Essential human-rights defenders
Damascus is almost finished liberating southwestern Syria. The military’s Operation Basalt was extremely successful, allowing them to regain control of the occupied provinces of Quneitra and Daraa(at present the Syrian army has only a small chunk of land left to liberate from the jihadists). Many of the local gangs simply surrendered. Those militants who wanted to remain underwent a procedure of reconciliation with the authorities, while the others were put onto green buses and sent to Idlib.
However, those militants included some very valuable specimens — members of the “Syrian civil defense”, or, as they are more simply known, “the White Helmets.” If they were taken prisoner, that would be a serious problem for the US and its allies, since the members of that organization might have a lot to say once they were in front of the cameras. And the damage caused by their statements would be far worse than the fallout over the admissions made by Hassan Diab — the boy the “helmets” named as a victim of a chemical attack in Douma, who admitted that the attack had been staged for the photographers. And it would be so much worse, simply because the White Helmets — or at least their leaders — knew so much more.
The White Helmets have been the West’s most important weapon on the propaganda front of the Syrian war. They have acted as the local human-rights activists who have been snapping photos and shooting videos about the “chemical attacks” that that “bloody tyrant” has carried out against his own people. And based on precisely these facts, the US and its partners imposed sanctions against Damascus and have carried out acts of revenge in the form of attacks that would have been nothing less than carpet bombing, had Moscow not been careful to issue stern warnings about the consequences of these attacks.
A review of US policies and wars in the Middle East, and it’s not very pretty. From Rebecca Gordon at tomdispatch.com:
My father and I always had a tacit agreement: “We will never speak of That Part of the World.” He’d grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Norfolk, Virginia. His own father, a refugee from early-twentieth-century pogroms in what is now Ukraine, had been the president of his local Zionist organization. A liberal in most things (including his ardent opposition to both of the U.S. wars against Iraq), my father remained a Zionist to his dying day. We both knew that if we were ever to have a real conversation about Israel/Palestine, unforgivable things would be said.
As a child in the 1950s, I absorbed the ambient belief that the state of Israel had been created after World War II as an apology gift from the rest of the world to European Jews who had survived the Holocaust. I was raised to think that if the worst were to happen and Jews were once again to become targets of genocidal rage, my family could always emigrate to Israel, where we would be safe. As a young woman, I developed a different (and, in retrospect, silly) line on That Part of the World: there’s entirely too much sun there, and it’s made them all crazy.
It wasn’t until I’d reached my thirties that I began to pay serious attention to the region that is variously known as the Middle East, the Arab world, or the Greater Middle East and North Africa. And when I did, I discovered how deep my ignorance (like that of so many fellow Americans) really was and how much history, geography, and politics there is to try to understand. What follows is my attempt to get a handle on how the Trump presidency has affected U.S. policy and actions in That Part of the World.
The United States has a long-standing and deep alliance with Israel. During the Cold War, Washington viewed that country as its bulwark in the oil-rich region against both a rising pan-Arab nationalism and real or imagined Soviet encroachments. In fact, according to the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.”
Are the stars moving into alignment for foreign powers to move out of Syria? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
As Presidents Trump and Putin are set to meet Monday in Helsinki, efforts toward winding down the proxy war in Syria will no doubt be high on the agenda.
We explained previously that the diplomatic cards for ending the war seem to have fallen into place as just days before the historic summit Netanyahu said in a stunning turnaround for Israeli policy fresh off his own visit with Putin in Moscow that “Israel does not object to President Bashar al-Assad’s regaining control over all of Syria”so long as Iranian forces are pushed back from the Israeli border, according to the New York Times.
And now according to a new bombshell report, US military commanders have conveyed to Syrian President Assad via Russian mediation that “we will pull out of al-Tanf and the North if Iran withdraws from Syria.”
Below is his dispatch on the back-channel “military to military” exchange that recently took place between US, Russian, and Syrian forces, including Assad’s response to the American offer of a potential deal.
* * *
A top decision maker in Syria has said “the US has sent a message to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad that expresses the US establishment’s wishes. Under these wishes there is an Israeli goal compatible with Donald Trump’s objective to pull out its own forces from Syria with as little damage as possible. Trump would like to avoid the same fate that hit the US forces during Georges Bush’s era where thousands of US soldiers were killed in action”.
According to the source involved in overseeing the entire military operation for the last years of war in Syria, “President Assad was very clear in his answer to the US establishment. Syria – said Assad – is determined to liberate the entire Syrian territory regardless of the consequences. There is of course a price to be paid to obtain the liberation of north Syria which is occupied by both the US and Turkey, neither of whom were invited by the Syrian government: this price is worth it”.
Trump is probably not going to solve the Israel-Palestinian situation. From Sheldon Richman at antiwar.com:
The Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” for the Palestine-Israel has, predictably, gone over like a lead balloon. So it’s shifting gears. The Washington Post reports, “With President Trump’s promised Middle East peace plan stalled, administration officials are focusing on improving conditions in the impoverished Gaza Strip – a move that could put political pressure on Palestinian leaders to come to the negotiating table.”
Don’t hold your breath.
The “Deal of the Century” was dead on arrival because it was based on the idea that Saudi Arabia and Egypt would “deliver the Palestinians” on the cheap in return for a more formal Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli-US alliance against Iran. The Palestinians were expected to be satisfied with economic-development aid while their aspirations for their own state were essentially tabled, that is, confined to the rubbish bin.
Unsurprisingly, as elements of the deal got around, the demoralized Palestinians were underwhelmed. They already had lost confidence in President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, which under the Oslo Accords had become Israel’s subcontractor for suppressing the occupation resistance. Nor had the Palestinians forgotten how Abbas and his negotiators tried, unsuccessfully, to compromise to an extent that would have destroyed any prospect of a viable independent Palestinian state. This was revealed by the leak of the Palestine Papers, more than 1,600 secret documents, memos, transcripts, and maps from private Palestine-Israel-US talks held over a decade (1999-2010). The release by Al Jazeera TV and the Guardianin 2011 demonstrated the Palestinian officials’ willingness to give Israelis stunning concessions on virtually every major issue while asking little in return, including accepting illegal West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements (with minor land swaps), ceding sovereignty over a vast swath of East Jerusalem, forgoing control of the Muslim holy site Haram al-Sharif to a multiparty committee, and relinquishing the right of return for all but a token few of the millions of refugees created by Israel’s officially unacknowledged ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 and 1967. The Palestinian delegation also said the refugees would not be allowed to vote on the eventual settlement proposal, and it made no objection to Israelis description of their country as the Jewish State, despite the fact that 20 percent of the population is Arab Muslim and Christian.
By now it’s an open secret that many within the Ukrainian government and its supporters are Neo-Nazis. Ironic then, that Israel’s government is providing those elements with arms. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
An investigative report in Haaretz, Israel’s longest running and arguably most influential newspaper, details a broad campaign underway by over 40 human rights leaders to pressure Israel’s High Court of Justice to order the cessation of Israeli arms exports to Ukraine, as they argue militant neo-Nazi groups are among the recipients of those weapons.
They argue that these weapons serve forces that openly espouse a neo-Nazi ideology and cite evidence that the right-wing Azov militia, whose members are part of Ukraine’s armed forces, and are supported by the country’s ministry of internal affairs, is using these weapons.
An earlier appeal to the Defense Ministry was met with no response.
The ministry’s considerations in granting export licenses for armaments are not disclosed to the public, but it appears that the appearance of Israeli weapons in the hands of avowed neo-Nazis should be a consideration used in opposing the granting of such a license.
We’ve covered the infamous Azov Battalion many times before, and though it took the mainstream media years to catch up to this story, the group is so openly and unrepentantly pro-Nazi that even US Congress was forced to take notice while ironically at the same time directly propping up their political patrons in the pro-EU/US Kiev government that Washington helped install in 2014.
In terms of the extent of covert Israeli support to such groups as the neo-Nazi Azov Battallion, Haaretz lists as examples high level meetings between Ukrainian military officials and Israeli defense companies, especially involving contracts related to communications systems, warplanes, and helicopters; as well as Tel Aviv’s approval for the Ukrainian company Fort to produce Tavor, Negev, and Galil rifles under Israeli contract; and further IDF officers and instructors overseeing military training schools that include Azov militiamen; and perhaps most shocking a Ukrainian media interview which featured a former Israeli army officer who admitted to participating in battles in eastern Ukraine while also training militiamen.
There’s also of course the fact that Azov Battalion itself has never been shy about showing of its Israeli military hardware in social media photographs and videos.
Israel and the Jewish lobby have an outsized impact on American policy. How outsized can only be guessed. From Grant Smith at antiwar.com:
Secret White House Letters Buttress Ongoing US Arms Export Control Act Violations
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.
US Foreign Assistance to Israel Since the Clinton Administration (US Billion)
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, 2009Obama called for strengthening the NPT. 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.
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