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Trump Good for Palestine? | Back to ICC | Canada's 'Anti-Semitic' Lessons' | RIP: Capucci, John Berger | More ..


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EDITORIAL

A Blessing in Disguise?  The Trump Presidency May be Better for Palestine


By Ramzy Baroud
Israel is dizzy. January 20th has been like another Christmas Day and Donald Trump is jolly old Santa Claus bearing gifts. The writing is already on the wall as President-elect Trump has appointed an extremist, David Friedman, as the next US Ambassador to Israel who intends to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and who supports the expansion of illegal colonies that have already sliced up the envisaged Palestinian state into South Africa-like Bantustans. 
Thus, it must be odd, if not altogether provocative, to suggest that a Trump presidency could be the coup de grace that Palestinians and, in fact, the entire Middle East needs to liberate themselves from the weight of an overbearing, arrogant and futile American foreign policy that has extended for decades.  
Unmistakably, a Donald Trump presidency is clearly terrible for Palestinians in the short term. The man does not even attempt to show a degree of impartiality or an iota of balance as he approaches the Middle East's most protracted and delicate conflict.  
According to the seemingly infinite stream of his tweets, Trump is counting the days to when he can show Israeli leaders how pro-Israel his administration will be. Shortly after the United States abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 that condemned Israel's illegal settlements on December 23, the President-elect tweeted, "As to the U.N., things will be different after January 20th." 
Trump took to Twitter once more, shortly before John Kerry delivered a major policy speech on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where the Secretary of State chastised Israel for jeopardizing the two-state solution and called the current government of Benjamin Netanyahu the most rightwing in Israel's history.  
In his retort, Trump called on Israel to 'stay strong' until his inauguration on January 20th. Israeli leaders are eying the date, too, with the likes of Naftali Bennett, head of the extremist Jewish Home Party, expecting a 'reset' of Israeli-US relations once Trump is president.  
Furthermore, "we have a chance to reset the structure across the Middle East," Bennett, who is also Israel's Minister of Education told journalists last November. "We have to seize that opportunity and act on it," he said. 
One of the impending opportunities presented by the Trump presidency is that "the era of the Palestinian state is over."  
Of course, Kerry is right; the current Israeli government is the most rightwing and most extreme, a trend that will not change any time soon, since it is an accurate reflection of the political and societal mood in the country.  
"Kerry quoted me three times, anonymously, in his speech in order to demonstrate that we oppose a Palestinian state," he said, "so let me state it explicitly: Yes. If it depends on me, we will not establish another terror state in the heart of our country." 
As for Kerry's reiteration that Jerusalem should be a capital for both Israel and Palestine, Bennett responded: "Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years. That is in the Bible, open it and read." 
The stranglehold of religious zealotry on Israeli politics is irreversible, at least not in the foreseeable future. While, in the past, secular Jewish politicians used religious notions to appeal to religious Jews in exchange for their votes and to populate illegal settlements, it is the religious groups that now set the tone of mainstream Israeli politics.  
So how could this benefit Palestinians in any way? Simply put: clarity.  
Since mid-level US officials agreed to meet with a Palestine Liberation Organization delegation in Tunisia in the late 1980's, the US has chosen a most bewildering path of peace-making.  
Soon after the US hesitantly 'engaged' the PLO - once the latter had to jump through a thousand political hoops to receive the US nod of approval - the US was left alone to define what 'peace' between Israel and its Palestinian and Arab neighbors entailed.  
The White House set the parameters of the 'peace process', corralled Arabs on many occasions to have them rubber-stamp whatever peace 'vision' the US found suitable, and divided the Arabs into 'moderates' and 'radicals' camps, solely based on how a certain country would perceive US dictates of 'peace' in the region.  
Without any mandate, the US designated itself as an 'honest peace broker', yet has done everything wrong to jeopardize the accomplishment of the very parameters that it set to achieve the supposed peace. While it went as far as describing Israel's illegal settlement construction as 'obstacle to peace', Washington funded the settlements and the occupation army entrusted with protecting those illegal entities; it called for 'confidence building measures' while, at the same time, bankrolling the Israeli military and justifying Israel's wars in Gaza and its excessive violence in the Occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.  
In other words, for decades, the US has done precisely the exact opposite of what it publicly preached.  
The US political schizophrenia is on full display at the moment. While Obama dared to commit the unspeakable in December - as in abstaining from a vote on a resolution that demanded that Israel halt its illegal settlements in the West Bank - only a few weeks earlier, he handed Israel "the largest military aid deal in history."  
The US blind support of Israel throughout the years has increased the latter's expectations to the point that it now anticipates US support to continue, even when Israel is ruled by extremists who are further destabilizing an already fragile and unstable region.
According to Israeli logic, such expectations are quite rational. The US has served as an enabler to Israel's political and military belligerence, while pacifying the Palestinians and the Arabs with empty promises, with threats at times, with handouts and with mere words. 
The so-called 'moderate Palestinians', the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, were duly pacified, indeed, for they won the trappings of 'power', coupled with US political validation, while allowing Israel to conquer whatever remained of Palestine.  
But that era is, indeed, over. While the US will continue to enable Israel's intransigence, a Trump Presidency is likely to witness a complete departure from the Washingtonian doublespeak.  
Bad will no longer be good, wrong is not right, and warmongering is not peacemaking. In fact, Trump is set to expose American foreign policy for what it truly is, and has been for decades. His presidency is likely to give all parties a stark choice regarding where they stand on peace, justice and human rights.  
The Palestinians, too, will have to make a choice, face the decades-long reality with a united front, or side with those who intend to 'reset' the future of the Middle East based on a dark interpretation of biblical prophecies.  
- 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.
COMMENTARY

Going Back to the ICC: Will UNSC 2334 Strip Israel of Triumphalism?


By Iqbal Jassat
Following the hysterical tantrums of Israel's right wing regime on the outcome of UNSC Resolution 2334, much has been written and discussed by various commentators about its wider implications.
Having followed this story quite keenly, I've attempted to comprehend the arguments provided from a number of different perspectives. While the narratives may differ from the official position as enunciated by Benjamin Netanyahu whereby he lambasted the Obama administration and John Kerry in particular, a common denominator amongst analysts being that settlements are illegal and do not enjoy support of the international community.
Of particular interest is the analysis provided by Vijay Prashad in an article published by The Hindu. He explains why he believes Israel's reaction has been over the top and attributes it to fear. Fear? Sounds absurd that a regime regarded as the 4th most powerful militarily and a nuke power nogal, would be afraid of this resolution?
According to Prashad, "The UN resolution - important as it is in itself - is not what Israel fears. What troubles Tel Aviv are the steps that would come after this resolution, particularly from the International Criminal Court (ICC)."
He reminds us that in January 2015, the ICC's Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation into Israel's actions during the 2014 bombing of Gaza and into the illegal settlements. Ms. Bensouda has since made it clear that she would not move forward to a full criminal investigation without substantial political clarity from the UN Security Council.
"Resolution 2334 produces the political will for such a move by the ICC. With Palestine as a recognized state in the UN as of 2012, and as a member of the ICC since 2014, and with this resolution now in force, the ICC could move in the next few months to a rigorous investigation of Israeli criminality. This would threaten the settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but it would also pressure Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in any future criminal bombardment of Gaza. Whether the Palestinian leadership has the courage to insist on this remains to be seen" explains Prashad.
In 1967, Israel seized the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip - parts of Palestine that had been outside its control. The UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions (242, 252, 298) within the next decade, asking Israel to withdraw from this land and - in resolution 446 (1979) - to desist from building settlements on the occupied territory. The U.S., which had already become the shield for Israel, abstained from the major resolutions.
Prashad further explains it was on this occupied territory that it was then assumed - against Israeli opinion - that a Palestinian state would be built. The two-state solution, the international consensus for the Israel-Palestine conflict, is premised on Israeli withdrawal from this land occupied in 1967. No wonder that the UN has periodically returned to censure Israel for its ongoing occupation and - in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention - the construction of settlements on occupied land.
The fiery rebuke by Netanyahu is an indication that as in the past, Israel will dig its heels and continue expanding settlements without regard for global opinions. However, this public act of defiance and contempt for international conventions, hides the deep seated fear of criminal prosecution. In dealing with this element of criminality, Prashad retraces the period when myth making was the order of the day.
"The Oslo Accords (1994) put in place the possibility of a Palestinian state, although it did not have an explicit statement to end settlement activity. Israel continues to eat into the potential Palestinian state. Neither does Israel want a two-state solution nor a one-state solution. This negative approach to the 'peace process' means that Israel is committed to a permanent occupation of the Palestinians. It continues to harbour dreams of a Greater Israel (Eretz Israel)."
Prashad points out that four years after Oslo, the international community passed the Rome Statute for the establishment of the ICC.
"It was this new development - the ICC - rather than the Oslo Accords that increased the vetoes exercised by the U.S. in the UN Security Council to protect Israel. The Israeli establishment worried that the ICC would legitimately turn its gaze on issues such as population transfer and war crimes. The ICC - under pressure to investigate crimes outside the African continent - could find that Israeli actions provide a legitimate site of inquiry. The vetoes from Washington prevented any legal foundation for ICC action against Israel."
Israel is acutely aware about Prosecutor Bensouda's investigators visit to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in October 2016. Though the ICC said that this was not part of its preliminary investigation, it is hard to imagine that this is true. The new UN Security Council resolution harkens back to more radical postures from it in 1979 and 1980 as well as to the International Court of Justice's 2014 finding that the 'apartheid' wall that entraps the West Bank is illegal. Pressure will mount on her to take her investigation forward.
- Iqbal Jassat is an acclaimed writer, analyst and commentator and one of the founder members of MRN. His analysis is featured regularly in mainstream and alternate media outlets around the world.

COMMENTARY

Do 'Anti-Semitism Lessons' in Canada Promote Jewish, White Supremacy?


By Yves Engler
Is a school lesson plan widely used across Canada aimed at fighting racism like its promoters say or is it also a clever cover for defending Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East?
A recent 12-page Canadian Jewish News insert about Elizabeth and Tony Comper raises the issue.
According to the supplement, in 2005 the Bank of Montreal head and his wife Elizabeth started Fighting Anti-Semitism Together (FAST), a coalition of non-Jewish business leaders and prominent individuals. FAST sponsored a lesson plan for Grades 6 to 8 called "Choose Your Voice: Antisemitism in Canada".
Over 2.4 million students in 19,000 schools have been through the FAST program. A year ago FAST added Voices into Action, an anti-racism lesson for Canadian high schoolers that devotes a third of its plan to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.
Unfortunately, FAST does not appear to be an example of business leaders struggling for social justice. Rather, it's part of what Norman Finkelstein dubbed the "Holocaust Industry", which exploits historical Jewish suffering to deflect criticism of Israeli expansionism. 
In its "What We Stand For" FAST calls on Canadians "to speak out against all forms of bigotry, racism and hatred", yet the Compers' were honoured guests at a 2009 Jewish National Fund fundraiser in Toronto. Owner of 13 per cent of Israel's land, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian-Arab citizens who make up a fifth of Israel's population. (What would we think of anti-racist activists who attend KKK meetings?)
In a 2006 article titled "BMO head slams one-sided Israel critics" the Canadian Jewish News reported on FAST's Quebec launch: "Singling out Israel for blame in the Middle East conflict, even by those of good faith, is fanning anti-Semitism, Bank of Montreal president Tony Comper says.
It may not be the intent, but the effect of condemning Israel alone is providing justification for hatred of Jews in Canada and internationally, Comper warned more than 400 business executives. ... In underscoring the serious threat of anti-Semitism worldwide, Comper suggested that 'a second Holocaust' is possible if Iran acquires nuclear arms and attacks Israel." In his speech Comper cited CUPE Ontario and the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada's support for boycotting Israel as spurring anti-Semitism.
FAST supporters include a who's who of the corporate elite: President TD Bank, Ed Clark; CEO of CN, Hunter Harrison; CEO of Manulife Financial, Dominic D'Allessandro; CEO of Bombardier, Laurent Beaudoin; president of Power Corporation, AndrĂ© Desmarais; President RBC Financial, Gordon M. Nixon and many others.
According to the Canadian Jewish News supplement, the Toronto couple also sponsored the Elizabeth and Tony Comper Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa in Israel. The Center operates an online Ambassadors Program, which reports the paper, "gives students intellectual material and technical skills to combat online the global boycott, divestment and sanctions anti-Israel movement."
The supplement was partly sponsored by Larry and Judy Tanenbaum. Larry was one of a half-dozen rich right-wing donors that scrapped the hundred-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress in 2011 and replaced it with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. As the name change suggests, this move represented a shift towards ever greater lobbying in favour of Israeli nationalism.
The Compers provided over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Established in 2008, Larry and Ken Tanenbaum gave the U of T five million dollars and helped raise more than ten million more for the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies.
Andrea and Charles Bronfman gave over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre, which has close ties with the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. In 1997 the Bronfman family provided $1.5 million to create an Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies at the U of T. "Fifty years after its rebirth, the miracle of modern Israel is of broad interest," said Charles Bronfman at the launch.
The long-standing Zionist family put up $1 million to establish a Jewish Studies program at Concordia two years later. An orchestrator of opposition to Palestinian solidarity activism at the Montreal university through the 2000s, Concordia Jewish studies professor Norma Joseph was also "instrumental" in setting up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. In 2011 multi billionaire David Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to establish the first minor in Israel Studies at a Canadian university. After attending an Association for Israel Studies' conference organized by the Azrieli Institute, prominent anti-Palestinian activist Gerald Steinberg described the Institute as part of a "counterattack" against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.
The Israeli nationalist tilt of McGill's Jewish studies is actually inscribed in a major funding agreement. In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill's Jewish Studies department partly for an "education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel." But, Hillel refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who "delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel."
The individuals driving Jewish studies and anti-Semitism lessons in Canada overwhelmingly back Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East and encourage the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism.
Unfortunately, support for anti-Palestinian racism, along with colonialism and western imperialism, makes one question their "anti-racism" credentials.
- 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.
REPORT

Exposing Real Friends and Enemies of Israel in the Arab World


By Hanna Kawas
The Israeli Institute for National Security Studies has just issued its 275 page report entitled "Strategic Survey for Israel 2016-2017". This Israeli research institute and think tank is headed by former IDF Military Intelligence Chief, General (ret.) Amos Yadlin. Its analysis offers a valuable insight into the how the Israeli intelligence and security community view and prioritize developments regionally and globally, and in the process, also exposes who are the real friends and enemies of Israel in the Arab world.
Following are a small sampling of the findings and the recommendations (labelled "challenges and responses") contained in the report's summarized conclusion:
* "Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have withstood the tumult in the Arab world. The Cairo and Amman embassies in Tel Aviv are an expression of a stable element in the regional system, and constitute an important part of Israel's strategic position." Page 252
* "The change in Saudi policy has expanded Riyadh's base of shared interests with Israel, thereby facilitating closer ties between the two countries and possibly encouraging Saudi Arabia to make those ties public." Page 252
* "From Israel's standpoint, the non-state actors in the region are deeply involved in fighting for their existence, making them less able to concentrate on the struggle against Israel mandated by their ideology. The Islamic State branch that controls territory bordering Israel in the Golan Heights is for the most part inactive against Israel." Page 249
* "Although Hezbollah continues its military buildup and poses a significant strategic threat to Israel, and despite the substantial resources invested by Hamas in rebuilding its military force, Israel's overall strategic position gives it unprecedented freedom of action to initiate military operations aimed at preserving its security interests and restricting the increase in quality of its enemies' military buildup." page 250
* "The complete standstill in the political process and the deterioration of security in the Palestinian arena continued in 2016, and Israel continues to pay a price in lives, and in its economy, international standing, and internal political arena." Page 253
* "Israel's image in Western countries continues to decline, a trend that enhances the ability of hostile groups to engage in actions aimed at depriving Israel of moral and political legitimacy and launch boycotts in various areas. Indeed, the international campaign to delegitimize Israel continues, as reflected in the BDS movement. Israel's current right wing government has contributed to this deterioration." page 254
* "... the worst scenario is a conflict with Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon. Conflicts in the Gaza Strip will probably be limited, and Israel is well equipped to deal with them." Page 255
The Recommendations:
- "Even if there does not appear to be a partner on the Palestinian side for reaching or implementing an agreement, Israel has an important interest in halting the gradual drift toward an irreversible one-state situation, and instead, progressing toward a two-state situation that ends Israel's rule over Palestinians, while carefully maintaining and even improving Israel's security." Page 257
- "Israel must prepare measures against Lebanon's national infrastructure without distinguishing it from Hezbollah, and develop capabilities for a ground campaign..." Page 259
- "Against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, military preparation should aim to shorten the duration of the next campaign and anticipate the tactical and systemic surprises that will be encountered." Page 259
- "Both arenas, against Hamas and Hezbollah, should be discussed with the Trump administration, with understandings reached about Israel's red lines, and about what will be considered a legitimate policy on the use of force against these groups in the event of another military conflict." Page 259
- "The dialogue between Israel and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states indicates that an effective process with the Palestinians, even if it does not include negotiations for a permanent settlement ending in a full agreement, will make a breakthrough in relations with the Gulf states possible, including making these relations public." page 260
- "Israel can expect conflicts in both the military sphere and in soft power areas - economics, diplomacy, communications, the social networks, and the courts (lawfare)...It is therefore necessary for Israel to devise organizational frameworks, strategies, and multidimensional, coordinated methods to handle the challenges facing it." Page 260
- Hanna Kawas is Chairperson of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: http://www.cpavancouver.org.
SELECTED ARTICLES
United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, Dec 23, 2016. (Photo: Anadolu Agency, via MEMO)

Going Back to the ICC: Will UNSC 2334 Strip Israel of Triumphalism?

By Iqbal Jassat Following the hysterical tantrums of Israel's right wing regime on the outcome of UNSC Resolution 2334, much has been written and discussed...
Jan 4 2017 / Read More » /
The soldier was immediately identified by media outlets not bound by Israel's gag orders as French-Israeli citizen Elor Azarya. (Photo: Facebook)

Your Killing is 'Inevitable': Activist who Filmed Hebron Shooting Fears for His Life after Israeli Soldier Convicted

Emad Abu Shamsiyya, a Palestinian activist who filmed the point-blank shooting of Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif by an Israeli soldier in Hebron last March said he...
Jan 4 2017 / Read More » /
Ghassan Kanafani. (Photo: File)

John Berger Reads Ghassan Kanafani's Letter from Gaza (2008)

English art critic and long-time supporter of Palestine, John Berger died Monday, at the age of 90 at his home in Paris.  In an address to...
Jan 3 2017 / Read More » /
Israeli Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett. (Photo: File)

Israeli Government Outlines Plan to Annex West Bank Settlement after Trump Takes Office (VIDEO)

Plans to annex a large settlement on the West Bank are to be proposed after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, an Israeli minister said.  "It...
Jan 3 2017 / Read More » /
Mahmoud Sarsak was locked up without trial or charge for three years. (Photo: Free the Hares boys campaign, file)

Campaigners Call on FIFA to Ban Football Clubs in Illegal Israeli Settlements from Joining League

Campaigners are demanding that football clubs in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank to be banned from playing in Israeli leagues. FIFA's Council will...
Jan 3 2017 / Read More » /
Hilarion Capucci, Archbishop of Jerusalem. (Photo: Video grab, YouTube)

'Jesus Christ was the First Fedayeen': Priest of Palestinian Resistance, Hilarion Capucci, Dies (VIDEO)

Hilarion Capucci, the celebrated former archbishop of Jerusalem, died in Rome on January 1, 2017 at the age of 94, as announced by the Vatican...
Jan 2 2017 / Read More » /
(Photo: Newspaper cutting, Independenta Australia, file)

Former Australian PM Calls for Moving Embassy to Jerusalem, Cutting Aid to Palestinians

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott called on his country to cut millions of dollars of annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, accusing Ramallah of...
Jan 2 2017 / Read More » /
Palestinian woman beaten by Israeli Jews in Jerusalem. (Photo: File)

Do 'Anti-Semitism Lessons' in Canada Promote Jewish, White Supremacy?

By Yves Engler Is a school lesson plan widely used across Canada aimed at fighting racism like its promoters say or is it also a...
Jan 2 2017 / Read More » /

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