An Afghan officer turns away from the heat as about 98 tonnes of drugs seized by counter-narcotics police and security forces, including opium and heroin, are burned on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan
On November 28, 2016, Jimmy Carter, the President who negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, wrote an op ed for the New York Times titled, "America Must Recognize Palestine." His urgent plea was directed to you to take "the vital step...to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership," before you leave office on January 20, 2017.
Mr. Carter referenced your reaffirmation in 2009 of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and United Nations Resolution 242 when you called "for a complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law." He noted that in 2011 you made clear that, in your words, "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines" and that "negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine."
Former President Carter sees that the "combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership [for Palestine] and a UN Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy."
With Israeli lawmakers moving to annex more Palestinian land (the 22 percent left of old Palestine), prompting a public plea by outgoing UN chief Ban Ki-moon to reconsider, and the forthcoming carte blanche for Israeli repression of the Palestinians from the Trump Administration, Mr. Carter sees these measures as "the best-now, perhaps, the only-means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people" and "that could destroy the Israeli democracy."
He adds that "recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America's support for a two-state solution."
In the remaining post-election weeks of your final term, you are freer than you've ever been to make these decisions for peace and justice in that troubled area-moves rooted in your pronouncements early in your first term.
More than any other president, you have approved the greatest transfer of the latest military weapons, research and intelligence to the Israeli government. More than any president, you have agreed to an unprecedented 10 year deal for the multi-billion dollar annual military assistance program. No other country has ever come close to receiving that gift from the American Taxpayers.
More than any other president, you have been forbearing to the extreme when the Israeli prime minister, in an impetuous move, widely criticized in Israel, circumvented the White House in 2015 so as to undermine your delicate, multi-lateral negotiations with Iran by his addressing a joint session of Congress.
In return for all this largess and astonishing self-restraint, you have been the subject of a non-stop revilement in Israel with ugly racist epithets and absurd accusations of anti-Semitism against Jews. This campaign of calumny has brought down your approval polls there often to single digits and diminished the Israeli peace movement.
Is it not time for action on behalf of regional peace? You'll have the support of the active peacemakers on both sides-including numerous former heads of the Israeli domestic and foreign intelligence agencies (see The Gatekeeper and the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace), former cabinet ministers, mayors and public intellectuals, not to mention stalwart Israeli human rights organizations, such as B'Tselem.
As if any further urgency to act is needed, you must be appalled by the declarations of Donald Trump and his selection of his bankruptcy lawyer, who is privy to Trump's innermost business dealings, David Friedman, to be the next Ambassador to Israel.
Friedman, who has accused you of "blatant anti-Semitism ," is a hard-liner on Israeli colonial expansionism and annexations in the West Bank. His bigotry against Palestinian Arabs is deep and long standing, making him an anti-Semite against these Arabs whose Semitic ancestors have lived there since time immemorial (See James Zogby's "The Other Anti-Semitism"). If Friedman reflects Mr. Trump's policies, the uncontrollable eruption of this long-simmering conflict is seen as a near certainty by expanding Jewish-American groups such as J Street and Jewish Voices for Peace.
What more foreboding do you need?
Many commentators who know you have described your last year in office as rounding out your historical legacy as President. I have suggested a number of initiatives that help define your presidency (see Return to Sender).
But Jimmy Carter is experienced, right and prescient-he's earned that encomium-in believing that joining the community of nations by recognizing Palestine, allowing the UN security Council resolution to be passed and supporting UN membership for Palestine could be your most consequential contribution to Middle East security, and our domestic priorities, with other likely collateral benefits for world peace.
The American people, for the most part, including Jewish and Arab Americans, judging by the polls over time, would applaud such statesman-like actions.
- Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! Visit: Nader.Org.
It is a rather dangerous move which will most likely lead to an expanding chasm between British civil society and Britain's political elite.
Israeli and pro-Israeli groups in the West have always been keen on conflating genuine racism and genuine criticism of the State of Israel, which stands accused of violating scores of United Nations resolutions and of war crimes in the occupied territories, especially in the Gaza Strip.
Adopting the new definition comes on the heels of a manufactured crisis in British politics, in which the Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was falsely accused of being "soft" on anti-Semitism among its members. This "crisis" was engineered by pro-Israeli groups to detract from genuine campaigning among Labour supporters, in order to bind Israel to its international obligations, and end the siege and occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Last October, a cross-party group issued a report that contributed to the confusion of ideas, condemning the use of the word "Zionist" as pejorative, and claiming that such a use "has no place in civil society".
While efforts to protect Israel from freedom of speech in Britain are still gathering steam, the debate in the United States has been stifled long ago. There is little room for any criticism of Israel in mainstream American media or "polite" society. Effectively, this means that US policy in the Middle East remains beholden only to Israeli interests, the diktats of its powerful pressure and lobby groups.
Following suit, the UK is now adopting that same self-defeating position, an issue which is hardly new. In fact, Friday of last week was an anniversary of great relevance to this very issue.
On 16 December 1991, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 46/86, a single, reticent statement: "The General Assembly decides to revoke the determination contained in its resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975."
This was a reversal of an earlier resolution that equated Israel's political ideology, Zionism and racism.
The longer text of the initial resolution, 3379 of 1975, was based on a clear set of principles, including UN resolution 2106 of 1965 that defined racial discrimination as "any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin."
The reversal of that resolution was the outcome of vigorous US lobbying and pressures that lasted for years. In 1991, Israel insisted that it would not join the US-sponsored Madrid peace talks without the disavowal of 3379 first. With the UN being one of the Madrid Talks' sponsors, the US pressure paid its dividends at last, and UN members were obliged to overturn their early verdicts.
However, equating Zionism with racism is not the only comparison that is often conjured by Israel's critics.
Recently, Ecuadorian envoy to the United Nations, Horacio Sevilla was adamant in his comments before a UN session, marking 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
After he repudiated "with all our strength the persecution and genocide" unleashed by "Nazism against the Hebrew people," he added, "but I cannot remember anything more similar in our contemporary history than the eviction, persecution and genocide that today imperialism and Zionism do against the Palestinian people."
The tirade of condemnations that followed was expected, as Israeli officials seized yet another opportunity to hurl anti-Semitic accusations against the United Nations for persistently targeting Israel, while, supposedly, excluding others from censure.
As far as Israel is concerned, any criticism of the state and its political ideology is anti-Semitic as are any demands for accountability from Israel regarding its military conducts during war.
But why is Israel so concerned with definitions?
At the heart of Israel's very existence lurks a sense of vulnerability which all the nuclear warheads and firepower cannot redeem.
Outlawing the use of the term Zionism is ludicrous and impractical, if not altogether impossible.
For Israelis who embrace the term, Zionism is many things, while for Palestinians, who learned to loathe it, it is, ultimately a single ideology.
In an article published in 2012, Israeli author Uri Avnery acknowledged the many shades of Zionism - early socialist Zionism (obsessed with the colour red, and mobilising around Jewish-only unions and Kibbutzim); religious Zionism which sees itself as the "forerunner of the Messiah"; right-wing Zionism which demands a "Jewish state in all of historical Palestine", and secular, liberal Zionism as envisioned by its founder, Theodor Herzl.
For a Palestinian whose land was illegally confiscated, home demolished and life endangered by these very "Zionist" forces, Avnery's itemisation is insignificant. For them the term "Zionist" is essentially pejorative, and is anyone who advocates, participates in or justifies Israeli aggressive actions based on his/her support and sympathy for political Zionism.
In his article, "Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims", the late Palestinian Professor Edward Said elaborates: "It is not unreasonable to find that the entire Palestinian-Arab experience seems unanimous about the view that Zionism visited upon the Arabs a singular injustice, and that even before the British handed Palestine over to Zionist settlers upon which to establish a state formally in 1948, Palestinians universally opposed and variously tried to resist Zionist colonialism."
Many countries share the Palestinian perception of Zionism as a form of colonialism, and that prevailing perception is a historical fact, not a product of collective anti-Semitic illusion.
The reason why the question and debate of Zionism must not waver to any intimidation is that the essence of Zionism never matured, evolved or changed from its early, colonial version.
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe agrees. "The Zionist ideology and strategy has not changed from its very beginning," he wrote. "The idea was 'We want to create a Jewish state in Palestine but also a Jewish democracy'. So the Zionists needed to have a Jewish majority all the time ... Therefore, ethnic cleansing was the only real solution from the Zionist perspective."
This remains the main driving force behind Israeli policy towards Palestinians and Israel's refusal to break away from a 19th century colonial enterprise into a modern, democratic state for all its citizens.
To do so, would be to sacrifice the core of its Zionist ideology, constructed on an amalgam of ethno-religious identities, and to embrace a universal form of democracy in a state where Jews and Arabs are treated as equals.
- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include "Searching Jenin", "The Second Palestinian Intifada" and his latest "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story". His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.
Putting Palestine into Canada's NDP Leadership Race
To the sound of crickets chirping from opposition benches Justin Trudeau's government has once again isolated Canada on Palestinian rights. But, recent developments suggest this shameful chapter in Canadian diplomacy is past its political best before date.
On November 30 Canada joined the US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau in opposing a UN General Assembly resolution calling for "peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine" supported by 153 countries. Ten days earlier Canada joined the same countries in opposing a UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee resolution in support of "the right of Palestinian people to self-determination" backed by 170 countries.
While the Trudeau government disgraced this country at the UN, prominent figures including Yann Martel, Naomi Klein, Bruce Cockburn, Richard Parry (Arcade Fire), Gabor Mate and Rawi Hage worked to redeem Canada from its extreme pro-Israel position. At the end of November over 50 authors, musicians, labour leaders, environmentalists, academics and filmmakers appealed to Green Party of Canada members to support "concrete international action" for Palestinian rights and applauded the party's August vote to support "the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (BDS) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel's economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation" of Palestinian land.
The former head of CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Labour, Sid Ryan, signed the appeal. "Sid Ryan for NDP Leader", a recently launched website to enlist him to run for the head of the social democratic party, notes: "Sid Ryan's advocacy for the Palestinian people, starting in his days in CUPE where he endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, shows that an NDP leader could muster broad support for a process where Canada is non-aligned, expresses solidarity with Palestinians and other oppressed nations in the Global South, and champions a foreign policy based on peace, democracy, social justice and human rights."
No matter who wins the campaign to become NDP leader in October it's hard to imagine they will be as hostile to Palestinians as outgoing leader Tom Mulcair - who once said "I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances".
Putting pressure on NDP leadership candidates, two weeks ago the Green Party reconfirmed its support for "government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment" to support the Palestinians. Backed by 85% of those at a special general meeting in Calgary, the motion encompasses the Palestinian-civil-society-led BDS campaign's three demands: equal rights for the Arab minority in Israel, the right of refugees to return and an end to "Israel's illegal occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and the Golan Heights, and Israel's siege of Gaza."
The new resolution also details Canadian complicity in dispossessing "the indigenous people", calling on Ottawa to renegotiate the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, end "all military and surveillance trade" with Israel and "to divest from any companies which are directly benefiting from activity within Israel's illegal settlements." Finally, it calls on Ottawa "to ask the International Criminal Court to prioritize its investigation into charges of potential war crimes by members of the Israeli forces."
Green leader Elizabeth May backed the new policy, which makes her publically stated position on Palestinian rights the strongest of anyone with a seat in the House of Commons.
As the NDP leadership campaign heats up, expect Palestine to be a major point of debate. Hopefully before long a new NDP leader will begin to pressure the government to end Canada's shameful international opposition to Palestinian rights.
- Yves Engler's latest book is A Propaganda System: How Canada's Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
Israeli Philosopher in NY Times: On 'Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump'
In his article, "Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump", Israeli professor of philosophy, Omri Boehm confronts the sinister nature of Zionism which has no qualms labeling Israel's critics, anti-Semitic, while embracing pro-Israeli anti-Semites.
"The idea that Israel is the Jews' own ethnic state implies that Jews living outside of it - say, in America or in Europe - enjoy a merely diasporic existence. That is another way of saying that they inhabit a country that is not genuinely their own. Given this logic, it is natural for Zionist and anti-Semitic politicians to find common ideas and interests. Every American who has been on a Birthright Israel tour should know that left-leaning Israelis can agree with America's alt-right that, ideally, "Jews should live in their own country."
"Since this continuity is so natural, it has a long and significant history. Last April, Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, was embraced in Israel by top members of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition. Strache's party now celebrates mostly anti-Islam and anti-immigration policies, but it was originally founded by former Austrian Nazis. Jörg Haider, a previous leader of the party, was infamous for showing sympathy for some of Hitler's policies. Another case in point is Geert Wilders, the xenophobic far-right Dutch politician. This month, it was revealed that Wilders's visits to Israel and his meetings with Israeli personnel have been so frequent that the Dutch intelligence community investigated his "ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty."
"This phenomenon has been somewhat familiar also in the United States given the close ties between fundamentalist evangelical Christians - whose views on the Jews' part in a larger messianic scheme is flatly anti-Semitic - and the state of Israel. But with Trump, this type of collaboration is introduced to the heart of American politics.
"Nothing demonstrates this alliance better than the appointment of David Friedman to be the United States ambassador to Israel. Friedman, an ardent supporter of Israel's occupation project, has argued that J Street's liberal Zionist supporters, who are critical of the occupation, are "worse than Kapos" - the Jews who collaborated with their Nazi concentration camp guards. In fact, however, it is Friedman's own politics - and the politics of the government that he supports - that's continuous with anti-Semitic principles and collaborates with anti-Semitic politics.
"The "original sin" of such alliances may be traced back to 1941, in a letter to high Nazi officials, drafted in 1941 by Avraham Stern, known as Yair, a leading early Zionist fighter and member in the 1930s of the paramilitary group Irgun, and later, the founder of another such group, Lehi. In the letter, Stern proposes to collaborate with "Herr Hitler" on "solving the Jewish question" by achieving a "Jewish free Europe." The solution can be achieved, Stern continues, only through the "settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish people, Palestine." To that end, he suggests to collaborate with the German's "war efforts," and establish a Jewish state on a "national and totalitarian basis," which will be "bound by treaty with the German Reich."
"It has been convenient to ignore the existence of this letter, just as it has been convenient to mitigate the conceptual conditions making it possible. But such tendencies must be rejected. They reinforce the same logic by which the letter itself was written: the sanctification of Zionism to the point of tolerating anti-Semitism. That's the logic that liberal American Jews currently have to fight, but it will prove difficult to uproot. Stern is memorialized in street names in every major Israeli town, and it is not unreasonable to assume that Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister's son, whose father celebrated Stern as a mythical model of Zionist struggle, is called by Stern's nom de guerre."