Progressives Take Note: Trump Is No Henry Wallace

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Bill Boyarsky.

Some progressives want to glorify Donald Trump as a peacemaker trying to end a new Cold War. When I see this, I think of how badly the president compares with a little-remembered opponent of the past Cold War: Henry Wallace, who resolutely fought for liberal causes as vice president of the United States from 1941 to 1945 and as a Progressive Party presidential candidate in 1948.

Why recall Wallace now? Because he was everything Trump isn’t. What Wallace advocated should be a benchmark for progressives judging Trump today. It’s important, at this moment in time, to go back in history and consider the Progressive Party candidate of 70 years ago.

This column isn’t addressed to the majority who carry the progressive banner. I am thinking of the minority who are being seduced by Trump.

Old-time progressives still recall crowding into Wallace’s 1948 Los Angeles rally at Gilmore Field, a major event of post-World War II politics. A few years ago, I met Bert Will, a main organizer of the event, and he reminisced with pride about what the Wallace movement meant.

Wallace got less than 3 percent of the popular vote but, as Occidental College professor Peter Dreier wrote in HuffPost, he “framed the debate between progressives and conservatives.”

“Wallace was ahead of his time on most issues,” Dreier wrote. “He opposed the Cold War, the arms race with the Soviet Union and racial segregation. He was a strong advocate of labor unions, national health insurance, public works jobs and women’s equality. … He would have been, without question, the most radical president in American history.”

Influenced by Democratic conservatives, Southern segregationists and big-city bosses, Franklin D. Roosevelt dumped Wallace from the 1944 ticket in favor of Harry Truman.

Wallace was prescient. Dreier wrote, “In April, 1944, Wallace penned an article in [T]he New York Times, ‘The Danger of American Fascism,’ that warned about the growing right-wing movement in the United States—words that resonate today with the emergence of extremists like the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party and the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party. Wallace wrote: ‘The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. … Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.'”

This accurately describes the Trump administration.

But first, let’s be fair and consider Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Is it better to talk, even if the results are vague, than for Trump and Kim to be hurling nuclear threats at each other? Wasn’t the meeting such a great accomplishment that it overwhelms the harm Trump is doing to the country?

Not if the praise of Trump ignores the increasingly brutal treatment of thousands of undocumented immigrants—adults and children—seeking refuge from their dangerous home countries. Many of the children, as has been well documented, are being taken from parents, in some cases from mothers’ arms. These children are then locked up, many with inadequate care. Targeted at Latinos, the operation brushes aside immigrants’ few rights.

This operation smacks of the racism that characterizes the Trump administration. Such racism is as vile as that suffered by Latino youths during the Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots during World War II and Japanese-Americans imprisoned at the beginning of that conflict.

That’s not all. We progressives shouldn’t forget health care as a basic human right, a progressive goal since before Wallace. Trump is working through the courts and Congress to wipe out the Affordable Care Act. This would deprive millions, including those with pre-existing conditions, of medical care.

Rather than mention these unpleasant facts, Trump’s liberal defenders are giving us a rosy picture of the Singapore meeting. Here is a sampling:

Lindsay Koshgarian, who directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, wrote in a piece published on OtherWords: “Trump’s foreign policy instincts have had me white-knuckled for the past year and a half. But against a backdrop of possible nuclear war, it would be overly cynical not to recognize the meeting’s potential for good.

“At best, the meeting set the stage for North Korea’s denuclearization—and possibly even an end to the nearly 70-year-old, stalemated Korean War. If you’re against war, this is a good development.”

Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer wrote: “President Trump gave peace a chance like few presidents before him, and if his critics cannot respect that fact, shame on them. … That’s the real news here, a profound example of risking peace instead of war, and it should be celebrated in a nonpartisan spirit as a victory for sanity in world politics, whatever one’s prejudice against President Trump.”

Tim Shorrock’s report in The Nation was headlined, “Trump Meets Kim, Averting Threat of Nuclear War—and US Pundits Are Furious.”

Here’s how he described the event: “The mood was electric, and the reporters from Japan, Vietnam, Germany, Russia, France, and many other countries seemed genuinely excited about the prospects of peace in Korea. The feeling of camaraderie in covering a historic event was palpable; frequently during my two days there, reporters from one country could be seen interviewing crews from another.

“At the nearby White House press center at the Marriott, the atmosphere was far more subdued.”

In an interview in The Nation with radio talk show host Jon Weiner, historian and University of Chicago lecturer Bruce Cumings said, “There’s a silver lining in having Trump as president: He is untethered to anybody, especially the Washington establishment, and in a curious way he may be able to make a lot of progress when all those other folks would raise all kinds of problems and insist on a laundry list of all the things North Korea has to do to please us. We seem to be in a different realm now. I don’t think much was accomplished at the summit, but Trump is a person who likes to get to know people, and he seemed to cotton up to Kim Jong Un. I’m fairly optimistic at this point.”

In the face of all this support, should we give the guy some credit? Should we forget about the plight of the immigrants for the moment? Is it churlish to criticize what may one day be known as “The Miracle in Singapore”?

I think it’s our duty to bring up the treatment of immigrants at the border. And it’s not wrong to keep reminding everyone of Trump’s efforts to kill health care guarantees. And there’s more. Before Trump signed the skeleton Singapore agreement, he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, designed to control and reduce the nuclear threat from Iran, a nation with a more dangerous war-making potential than North Korea.

Professor Juan Cole, a noted Middle East expert, wrote, “It is likely that Trump’s violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, was intended to set the stage for a push to contain Iran.”

That—or Iranian regime change—is the goal of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. By breaking the Iran deal, Trump was currying favor with him and his American Jewish right-wing Republican supporters. In taking their side, he is backing a cause opposed by most progressives and increasing the possibility of Middle Eastern combat that would probably draw us in.

Oh, well. Make a deal with Kim, make a deal with Netanyahu, make a deal with Putin. It’s all the same to Trump.

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U.S. Leaving U.N.’s Human Rights Council, Cites Anti-Israel Bias

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by MATTHEW LEE and JOSH LEDERMAN / The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON  — The United States is leaving the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, which Ambassador Nikki Haley called “an organization that is not worthy of its name.” It’s the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.

Haley said Tuesday the U.S. had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes. She lambasted the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and Congo.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” Haley said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a “noble vision.”

But today we need to be honest,” Pompeo said. “The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”

The announcement came just a day after the U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents. But Haley cited longstanding U.S. complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. She had been threatening the pull-out since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the U.S.

“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley said.

Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.” She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the U.S. would continue to defend human rights at the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called the U.S. decision “courageous,” calling it “an unequivocal statement that enough is enough.”

The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy. Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that “America First does not mean America Alone,” the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.

Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the U.N. educational and cultural organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift. A group of 12 organizations including Save the Children, Freedom House and the United Nations Association-USA said there were “legitimate concerns” about the council’s shortcomings but that none of them warranted a U.S. exit.

“This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: “All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”

On Twitter, al-Hussein, the U.N. human rights chief, said it was “Disappointing, if not really surprising, news. Given the state of #HumanRights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back.”

And the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council “notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world’s most oppressive countries.” Brett Schaefer, a senior fellow, pointed out that Trump could have withdrawn immediately after taking office but instead gave the council 18 months to make changes.

Haley has been the driving force behind withdrawing from the human rights body, unprecedented in the 12-year history of the council. No country has ever dropped out voluntarily. Libya was kicked out seven years ago.

The move could reinforce the perception that the Trump administration is seeking to advance Israel’s agenda on the world stage, just as it prepares to unveil its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan despite Palestinian outrage over the embassy relocation. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is visiting the Middle East this week as the White House works to lay the groundwork for unveiling the plan.

Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session, under “Item 7” on the agenda. Item 7 on “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” has been part of the council’s regular business almost as long as it has existed.

The United States’ current term on the council ends next year. Although the U.S. could have remained a non-voting observer on the council, a U.S. official said it was a “complete withdrawal” and that the United States was resigning its seat “effective immediately.” The official wasn’t authorized to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity.

That means the council will be left without one of its traditional defenders of human rights. In recent months, the United States has participated in attempts to pinpoint rights violations in places like South Sudan, Congo and Cambodia.

The U.S. pullout was bound to have ripple effects for at least two countries at the council: China and Israel. The U.S., as at other U.N. organizations, is Israel’s biggest defender. At the rights council, the United States has recently been the most unabashed critic of rights abuses in China — whose growing economic and diplomatic clout has chastened some other would-be critics, rights advocates say.

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the U.N.’s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe. Members serve for three-year terms and can serve only two terms in a row.

The United States has opted to stay out of the Human Rights Council before: The George W. Bush administration opted against seeking membership when the council was created in 2006. The U.S. joined the body only in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

___

Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

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How Iran Outmaneuvered the Trump-Saudi-Israeli Axis

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Juan Cole / Informed Comment.

Trump allegedly complained to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that after the 2015 nuclear deal, the Iranians “think they can do anything they want.” Presumably Trump was referring to Iran’s geopolitical reach in the Middle East, where it had gathered up allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

It is likely that Trump’s violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, was intended to set the stage for a push to contain Iran.

The push against Iran would involve again subjecting it to severe economic sanctions, in hopes of bankrupting it and depriving it of the means with which to continue to play a role in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Boycotts on oil states are not usually effective, since they can usually find a way to sell their oil lucratively nevertheless, and to use the proceeds to cushion the country’s elect.

One corner of the attempt at rollback involves Iraq. When a reconstruction conference took place last February in Kuwait, the Trump administration refused to make any contribution at all to rebuilding the country that the US destroyed. At the same time, the US encouraged Iraq to take aid from Saudi Arabia as a quid pro quo for moving away from Iran.

The continued tone deafness in Washington about Middle East politics, after all these years of being deeply immersed in it, is baffling. The Shiite majority in Iraq isn’t necessarily opposed to better relations with Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. People are more pragmatic than the “clash of civilizations” or “Sunni-Shiite conflict” theses might lead one to expect.

But that the Shiite-majority government of Iraq would turn its back on Iran in favor of an alignment with Saudi Arabia (which does not like Shiites very much) is a daft proposition.

Another sign of Iran Derangement Syndrome in Washington was the unrealistic hopes expressed by right wing pundits that the Iraqi parliamentary election would signal a turn of Iraq away from Iran. The biggest vote-getters were followers of the hard line Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had quixotically allied with the small Communist movement.

Al-Sadr is known for resenting Iranian domination of Iraqi Shiism. His father, an Iraqi Arab, had been a contender for the position of chief Iraqi Shiite authority or clerical Exemplar in Najaf before he was assassinated by the Saddam Hussein regime in 1998. His father’s rival, who rose to the top, is Ali Sistani, from a town near Mashhad in eastern Iran, who came to Iraq in 1952. Not only is Sistani the leading religious authority for Iraqi Shiites but Iran’s clerical Leader, Ali Khamenei, also has influence.

Al-Sadr, however, has just announced that he will form a post-election coalition with Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of a heavily pro-Iranian political list, Fatah, that comprises party-militias backed by Iran, who played a major role in defeated the hard line Sunni ISIL terrorist group that took over northern and western Iraq 2014-2017.

Al-Ameri is head of the Badr Corps, a Shiite militia that began as an offshoot of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Trump’s bete noire.

Moreover, the idea that al-Sadr is anti-Iran is overblown. He once dedicated his militia, then known as the Mahdi Army, to defending Iran from anyone who might attack it. When Gen. David Petraeus forced al-Sadr out of Iraq in 2007, Muqatada took refuge in Qom in Iran, where he pursued seminary studies before eventually returning to his country. And after the parliamentary elections of 2010 returned four major blocs, al-Sadr allowed his arm to be twisted by Iran such that he allied with pro-Iranian factions to form a government, locking the Sunnis out of power.

Baghdad looks to have close and warm relations with Iran under the government now being formed. It is being joined by Massoud Barzani’s Kurds, who also have traditionally good relations with Tehran, despite tensions over Iranian Kurdistan (Iran has some 4 million mostly Sunni Kurds, who are sometimes restive).

In fact, the prominence of al-Ameri in the proposed new government raises questions about how welcome the some 6000 US troops in Baghdad will remain now that ISIL is largely defeated.

The May elections in Lebanon also returned a government thick with Christian and Shiite allies of Iran, and in which the position of the pro-Iranian Shiite party-militia, Hizbullah, improved over that of the last election in 2009.

In Syria, president Bashar al-Assad is openly speaking of offering Iran hardened bases in his country. Trump is talking about pulling out US troops from Syria by October, and if that happens (a big ‘if’), there would be nothing to stop plans for formal Iranian bases from moving forward.

So far, the new alliance of Trump, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel against Iran formed in spring of 2017 has had no successes at all. If anything, in the last year Iran’s hand has been strengthened in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. While the Houthi rebels in Yemen may ultimately be defeated by the Saudi-UAE Axis, which is now attacking the Red Sea port of Hodeida, Iran is only marginally involved in Yemen– contrary to what Saudi propaganda would have us believe.

On the other side of the Arabian Peninsula, Iranian relations with Qatar have warmed up substantially, after Iran helped thwart a Saudi-UAE plot to overthrow Qatar’s government and subject it to themselves. In fact, the Saudi-UAE push on Qatar has destroyed the Gulf Cooperation Council, which used to group Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, and which was formed in 1981 to combat Iranian hegemony in the Gulf. The collapse of the GCC inevitably strengthens Iran’s hand. Oman and Kuwait have stood by Qatar, and both have fair relations with Tehran.

Some 18 months into the Trump administration, Trump hasn’t laid a finger on Tehran, which is still in the catbird seat in the eastern stretches of the Middle East.

 

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Two Important International Votes Against Israeli Occupation

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Juan Cole / Informed Comment.

In a blow to the Trump administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted, by 120 votes in favor, a resolution introduced by Algeria and Turkey condemning Israel for deploying excessive force against Palestinians at rallies near the border of Gaza.

After a thorough investigation, Human Rights Watch concluded that there are credible grounds for charging Israeli officials with war crimes at the International Criminal Court over the tactic of sniping at unarmed civilians who posed no immediate danger to Israeli troops (while over 100 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured by live ammunition since March, no Israeli troops appear to have been so much as injured).

The resolution was backed by 12 European states, including France, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Portugal, and Greece. 16 European countries abstained, but none voted against the resolution.

 

Although the US and Israeli ambassadors to the UN attempted to deride the vote as mere anti-Semitism, in fact world leaders have been deeply disturbed by the naked Israeli violation of basic international legal norms in Tel Aviv’s response to the Gaza protests. For an Occupying power systematically to shoot down unarmed civilians in an occupied territory for mounting protests that posed no immediate danger to anyone is clearly a war crime under the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Indeed, repeated war crimes may amount to a crime against humanity.

The resolution instructed UN Secretary General António Guterres to institute some sort of protection for Palestinians from this use against them by Israel of indiscriminate and disproportionate force.

The resolution also condemned the firing from Gaza of rockets toward Israel.

The Israeli ambassador castigated the vote as tantamount to terrorism. “Instigation” has become right wing Israeli code for any condemnation of oppression of Palestinians, and is increasingly a thought crime in Israeli itself punishable by prison. Poets and bloggers are in jail for the same “crime” of which the UN General Assembly stands accused.

A similar resolution was supported by the UN Security Council, but the US cast the sole veto.

A US resolution condemning Hamas failed to receive the necessary 2/3s majority to be voted on.

American pro-Israeli propaganda, prominent in the editorial pages of the New York Times, attempts to blame the Palestinian party-militia Hamas for the deaths and injuries of Palestinians at the border rallies. However, Hamas did not set the rules of engagement of the Israeli army or force snipers to shoot unarmed medics, journalists, children, and ordinary protesters. The US press almost never mentions that 70 percent of the families in Gaza are refugees deliberately chased out of their homes in what is now southern Israel, and kept cooped up in the world’s largest outdoor prison.

In another important international vote, the 4 million strong Indian Student Federation has voted to boycott Hewlett Packard computers and other equipment on the grounds that the company is involved in the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli occupiers. This step seems to me among the more significant victories for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement promoted by Palestinian civil society. BDS is not practiced by the State of Palestine itself.

The Indian student vote points to the significance of the UN General Assembly resolution, inasmuch as it will encourage more such civil society boycotts of Israel, which if they grow large enough could inflict substantial pain on the far right wing Likud government.

 

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U.N. Assembly Blames Israel for Gaza Violence

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by The Associated Press.

UNITED NATIONS—The latest on the U.N. General Assembly’s vote on a proposed resolution that would blame Israel for recent deadly violence on its border with Gaza (all times local):

5:55 p.m.

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a Palestinian-backed resolution blaming Israel for violence in Gaza after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add an amendment condemning attacks on Israel by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The votes reflected wide concern in the 193-member world body that the resolution sponsored by Arab and Islamic nations was one-sided and failed to even mention Hamas, which has fired over 100 rockets at Israel.

The U.S. amendment to condemn Hamas, which was voted on first, was approved by a vote of 62-58 with 42 abstentions. General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak declared that under U.N. rules a two-thirds vote was needed so the amendment failed.

The assembly then voted on the original Palestinian-backed resolution which was approved by a vote of 120-8 with 45 abstentions.

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4 p.m.

The Palestinians’ U.N. ambassador is urging the General Assembly to adopt a resolution to address escalating violence in Gaza and “the crisis” of protecting civilians following the killing of more than 120 Palestinians by Israeli military fire.

Riyad Mansour urged an emergency meeting of the 193-member world body Wednesday to do everything to protect civilians and to avert further destabilization so as encourage the possibility of peace “for which we have not yet lost all hope.”

Mansour stressed: “We need action. We need protection for our civilian population. … Is that a crime to ask for?”

The draft resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make recommendations on ensuring protection of Palestinian civilians, within 60 days, including on “an international protection mechanism.”

___

1:20 p.m.

The Palestinians and their supporters are asking an emergency meeting of the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a resolution blaming Israel for recent violence in Gaza — and the U.S. is demanding that Gaza’s Hamas rulers be condemned as well.

The draft resolution being considered Wednesday was proposed by Arab and Islamic countries. The text deplores “any excessive use of force” by Israeli forces, particularly in Gaza, and demands that Israel “refrain from such actions.” It also seeks recommendations to protect Palestinian civilians.

The U.S. says Israel is unfairly singled out in the draft and has proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, “thereby putting civilians at risk.”

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NYT Carries IDF Attack on Murdered Gaza Medic–Reveals It’s a Smear in 20th Paragraph

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Adam Johnson / FAIR.

NYT: Israeli Video Portrays Medic Killed in Gaza as Tool of Hamas

Journalism how-not-to: New York Times (6/7/18) puts the attack in the headline, reveals it’s a smear in paragraph 20.

A reporter at the most influential paper in English-language media appears to not know the difference between a government “tightly editing” and selectively editing video. New York Times reporter Herbert Buchsbaum (6/7/18) wrote up a propaganda video posted by the Israeli Defense Force, showing Rouzan al-Najjar–a 21-year-old medic the Israeli Defense Force shot and killed earlier this month—apparently throwing a tear-gas canister, along with a brief clip of her purportedly saying, “I am here on the front line and I act as a human shield.”

The video seems to suggest that throwing a device spewing caustic gas away from people into an empty field is a sort of violence. (“This medic was incited by Hamas,” the video reads as she grabs the canister.) But the primary problem with the IDF video is that it deceptively edits her comments to distort what she said—a fact not noted by the Buchsbaum until paragraph 20, when he threw in this crucial piece of information:

In the longer video, the comment that the military translated as “I act as a human shield” was part of a sentence in which Ms. Najjar said, “I’m acting as a human rescue shield to protect the injured inside the armistice line.”

“Acting as a human shield to protect the injured inside the armistice line” has a radically different meaning than the commonly understood canard about Palestinians using “human shields” to protect “terrorists.” This hugely consequential fact should have led the story; instead, it’s casually tossed out in the third-to-last paragraph. The story here is that the IDF—as it has been doing for decades—casually lies and distorts facts to suit its narrative. Like all militaries, the Israeli military is not presenting a “dueling narrative” in good faith, as a New York Times tweet suggested; it’s manipulating video, hoping credulous journalists help them muddy the waters, as Buchsbaum did.

Indeed, the bizarre IDF press release write-up serves no other purpose than to reframe the gunning down of the unarmed medic from a clear crime committed by Israel to a Fog of War “dueling narratives between Israel and Hamas” tale of “both sidesism.” Buchsbaum vaguely alludes to—but strangely omits—the deceptive editing in the opening with his risible turn of phrase in paragraph two:

The tightly edited video shows a woman identified as the medic, Rouzan al-Najjar, throwing what appears to be a tear-gas canister.

“Tightly edited”? What does this mean, exactly? “Tight” editing is generally considered a compliment in the film and TV world, and says nothing about deliberate omissions for the purposes of misleading the viewer. When videographer Tate B. James confronted Buchsbaum about this fact, Buchsbaum appeared to think he had covered his bases:

 

Either Buchsbaum doesn’t know he’s being misleading, and is thus severely unqualified to be writing for a major paper, or he knows he’s spinning in Israel’s favor, but was hoping no one would really notice. Either way, the New York Times is once again (FAIR.org, 7/14/175/17/185/15/18) using its pages to confuse readers to the benefit of the Israeli military.

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Rights Group: Israeli Lethal Force in Gaza May Be War Crime

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by ILAN BEN ZION / The Associated Press.

JERUSALEM — Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks may constitute war crimes.

The statement was issued Wednesday ahead of an emergency U.N. General Assembly meeting to vote on a resolution condemning Israel’s “excessive use of force.” A similar Security Council resolution was vetoed earlier this month by the United States for being “fundamentally imbalanced” and “grossly one-sided,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said.

Palestinians have held near-weekly protests since March 30, calling for a “right of return” to ancestral homes now in Israel. At least 120 Palestinians have been killed and more than 3,800 wounded by Israeli fire in protests along the border. The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials.

The Israeli military has said its soldiers adhere to the rules of engagement to defend Israeli civilians and security infrastructure from attacks cloaked by the protests.

Human Rights Watch contended in its statement that the mostly unarmed protesters didn’t pose an imminent threat to Israeli troops or civilians, and therefore the use of live fire suggests a violation of international law. The organization said eyewitnesses recounted Palestinians were shot from a great distance from the fence, and others who “had not thrown stones or otherwise tried to harm Israeli soldiers” were shot from a closer range.

Israel has been accused of committing war crimes in its three wars in the Gaza Strip in the last decade. Last month the Palestinians urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation into Israeli policies and actions in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, accusing Israel of systemic crimes.

Israel has called the Palestinian move “legally invalid.” Israel is not a member of the ICC and argues the court does not have jurisdiction.

The ICC has conducted a preliminary investigation since 2015 into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories, including West Bank settlement construction and war crimes by Israel and Hamas in the 2014 war in Gaza.

Human Rights Watch’s Mideast director called on the international community to “impose real costs for such blatant disregard for Palestinian lives.”

“The U.N. Human Rights Council inquiry should identify and call for sanctions against officials implicated in ongoing serious human rights violations,” Sarah Leah Whitson said.

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Scapegoating Iran

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Chris Hedges.

NEW YORK—Seventeen years of war in the Middle East and what do we have to show for it? Iraq after our 2003 invasion and occupation is no longer a unified country. Its once modern infrastructure is largely destroyed, and the nation has fractured into warring enclaves. We have lost the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban is resurgent and has a presence in over 70 percent of the country. Libya is a failed state. Yemen after three years of relentless airstrikes and a blockade is enduring one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The 500 “moderate” rebels we funded and armed in Syria at a cost of $500 million are in retreat after instigating a lawless reign of terror. The military adventurism has cost a staggering $5.6 trillion as our infrastructure crumbles, austerity guts basic services and half the population of the United States lives at or near poverty levels. The endless wars in the Middle East are the biggest strategic blunder in American history and herald the death of the empire.

Someone has to be blamed for debacles that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead, including at least 200,000 civilians, and millions driven from their homes. Someone has to be blamed for the proliferation of radical jihadist groups throughout the Middle East, the continued worldwide terrorist attacks, the wholesale destruction of cities and towns under relentless airstrikes and the abject failure of U.S. and U.S.-backed forces to stanch the insurgencies. You can be sure it won’t be the generals, the politicians such as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the rabid neocons such as Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton who sold us the wars, the Central Intelligence Agency, the arms contractors who profit from perpetual war or the celebrity pundits on the airwaves and in newspapers who serve as cheerleaders for the mayhem.

“The failed policies, or lack of policies, of the United States, which violate international law, have left the Middle East in total chaos,” the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, told me when we met in New York City. “The United States, to cover up these aggressive, reckless and costly policies, blames Iran. Iran is blamed for their failures in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon.”

The Trump administration “is very naive about the Middle East and Iran,” the ambassador said. “It can only speak in the language of threats—pressure, sanctions, intervention. These policies have failed in the region. They are very risky and costly. Let the Americans deal with the problems of the countries they have already invaded and attacked. America lacks constructive power in the Middle East. It is unable to govern even a village in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen or Syria. All it can do is use force and destructive power. This U.S. administration wants the Middle East and the whole world to bow to it. This is not a policy conducive to sound relationships with sovereign states, especially those countries that have resisted American influence.”

“The plan to arm ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria was a cover to topple [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” the ambassador went on. “The Americans knew there were no ‘moderate’ rebels. They knew these weapons would get into the hands of terrorist groups like Daesh [Islamic State], Al-Nusra and their affiliates. Once again, the American policy failed. The Americans succeeded in destroying a country. They succeeded in creating bloodbaths. They succeeded in displacing millions of people. But they gained nothing. The sovereignty of Syria is expanding by the day. It is hard to imagine what President Trump is offering as a strategy in Syria. One day, he says, ‘I will move out of Syria very soon, very quickly.’ The next day he says, ‘If Iran is there, we should stay.’ I wonder if the American taxpayers know how much of their money has been wasted in Iraq, Syria and Yemen?”

Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, although Iran was in compliance with the agreement, was the first salvo in this effort to divert attention from these failures to Iran. Bolton, the new national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, advocate the overthrow of the Iranian government, with Giuliani saying last month that Trump is “as committed to regime change as we [an inner circle of presidential advisers] are.”

“The Iran nuclear deal was possible following several letters by Ppresident Barack Obama assuring the Iranian leadership that America had no intention of violating Iranian sovereignty,” Ambassador Khoshroo said. “America said it wanted to engage in a serious dialogue on equal footing and mutual interests and concerns. These assurances led to the negotiations that concluded with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. From the beginning, however, America was not forthcoming in its dealings with us on the JCPOA. President Obama wanted the agreement to be implemented, but he did not want it implemented in its full capacity. Congress, on the day JCPOA was implemented, passed a law warning Europeans that were doing business with Iran. The staffs of companies had to apply for a visa to the United States if they had traveled to Iran for business purposes. This began on the first day. The Americans were not always very forthcoming. OFAC [Office of Foreign Funds Control] gave ambiguous answers to many of the questions that companies had about sanctions, but at least in words the Obama administration supported the JCPOA and saw the agreement as the basis for our interactions.”

“President Trump, however, even as a candidate, called the agreement ‘the worst deal America ever made,’ ” the ambassador said. “He called this deal a source of embarrassment for America. Indeed, it was not the deal but America’s unilateral decision to walk away from an agreement that was supported by the United Nations Security Council, and in fact co-sponsored and drafted by the United States, that is the source of embarrassment for America. To walk away from an international agreement and then threaten a sovereign country is the real source of embarrassment since Iran was in full compliance while the U.S. never was.”

“In 2008, the Israelis told the world that Iran was only some days away from acquiring an atomic bomb,” he said. “The Israelis said there had to be a military strike to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. What has happened since? During the last two years, there have been 11 reports by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] clearly confirming and demonstrating Iran’s full compliance with the JCPOA. All of the accusations [about] Iran using nuclear facilities for military purposes were refuted by the IAEA as well as by Europe, Russia, China, along with many other countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa. America is concerned about Iranian influence in the region and seeks to contain Iran because the U.S. administration realizes that America’s policies in the Middle East have failed. Their own statements about Iran repeatedly contradict each other. One day they say, ‘Iran is so weak it will collapse,’ and the next day they say, ‘Iran is governing several Arab capitals in the Middle East.’ ”

Iran announced recently that it has tentative plans to produce the feedstock for centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, if the nuclear deal is not salvaged by European members of the JCPOA. European countries, dismayed by Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, are attempting to renegotiate the deal, which imposes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Why go to war with a country that abides by an agreement it has signed with the United States? Why attack a government that is the mortal enemy of the Taliban, along with other jihadist groups, including al-Qaida and Islamic State, that now threaten us after we created and armed them? Why shatter the de facto alliance we have with Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why further destabilize a region already dangerously volatile?

The architects of these wars are in trouble. They have watched helplessly as the instability and political vacuum they caused, especially in Iraq, left Iran as the dominant power in the region. Washington, in essence, elevated its nemesis. It has no idea how to reverse its mistake, beyond attacking Iran. Those both in the U.S. and abroad who began or promoted these wars see a conflict with Iran as a solution to their foreign and increasingly domestic dilemmas.

For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mired in corruption scandals, hopes that by fostering a conflict with Iran he can divert attention away from investigations into his abuse of power and the massacres Israel carries out against Palestinians, along with Israel’s accelerated seizure of Palestinian land.

“The most brutal regime is now in power in Israel,” the Iranian ambassador said. “It has no regard for international law or humanitarian law. It violates Security Council resolutions regarding settlements, its capital and occupation. Look at what Israel has done in Gaza in the last 30 days. On the same day America was unlawfully transferring its embassy to Jerusalem, 60 unarmed Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli snipers. [Israelis] were dancing in Jerusalem while the blood of unarmed Palestinians was running in Gaza. The Trump administration gives total support and impunity to Israel. This angers many people in the Middle East, including many in Saudi Arabia. It is a Zionist project to portray Iran as the main threat to peace in the Middle East. Israel introducing Iran as a threat is an attempt to divert attention from the crimes this regime is committing, but these too are failed policies that will backfire. They are policies designed to cover weakness.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, facing internal unrest, launched the war in Yemen as a vanity project to bolster his credentials as a military leader. Now he desperately needs to deflect attention from the quagmire and humanitarian disaster he created.

“Saudi Arabia, as part of [the civil war in Yemen], has a tactical and strategic cooperation with Israel against Iran,” the ambassador said. “But the Saudi regime is defying the sentiments of its own people. How long will this be possible? For three years now, Saudi Arabia, assisted by the United States, has bombed the Yemeni people and imposed a total blockade that includes food and medicine. Nothing has been resolved. Once again, Iran is blamed for this failure by Saudi Arabia and the United States in Yemen. Even if Iran wanted to help the Yemenis, it is not possible due to the total blockade. The Yemeni people asked for peace negotiations from the first day of the war. But Saudi military adventurism and its desire to test its military resolve made any peaceful solution impossible. The U.S. and the U.K. provide military and logistical support, including cluster bombs to be used by the Saudis in Yemen. The Emiratis are bombing Yemen. All such actions are doomed to failure since there is no military solution in Yemen. There is only a political solution. Look at the targets of Saudi airstrikes in Yemen: funerals. Wedding ceremonies. Agricultural fields. Houses. Civilians. How do the Saudis expect the Yemeni people to greet those who bomb them? With hugs? The war has cost a lot of money, and Trump responds by saying [to Saudi Arabia,], ‘Oh you have money. [Paraphrasing here.] Please buy our ‘beautiful weapons.’ They are killing beautiful children with these ‘beautiful’ weapons. It is a disaster. It is tragic.”

And then there is President Donald Trump, desperate for a global crusade he can use to mask his ineptitude, the rampant corruption of his administration and his status as an international pariah when he runs for re-election in 2020.

“Of course, blaming and threatening Iran is not new,” the ambassador said. “This has been going on for 40 years. The Iranian people and the Iranian government are accustomed to this nonsense. United States intervention in the internal affairs of Iran goes back a long time, including the [Iranian] war with Iraq, when the United States supported Saddam Hussein. Then America invaded Iraq in 2003 in their so-called ‘intervention for democracy and elimination of WMDs.’ Iran has always resisted and will always resist U.S. threats.”

“America was in Iran 40 years ago,” the ambassador said. “About 100,000 U.S. advisers were in Iran during the rule of the shah, who was among the closest allies of America. America was unable to keep this regime in power because the Iranian people revolted against such dependency and suppression. Since the fall of the shah in 1979, for 40 years, America continued to violate international law, especially the Algeria agreements it signed with Iran in 1981.”

The Algeria Declaration was a set of agreements between the United States and Iran that resolved the Iranian hostage crisis. It was brokered by the Algerian government. The U.S. committed itself in the Algeria Declaration to refrain from interference in Iranian internal affairs and to lift trade sanctions on Iran and a freeze on Iranian assets.

The warmongers have no more of a plan for “regime change” in Iran than they had in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria. European allies, whom Trump alienated when he walked away from the Iranian nuclear agreement, are in no mood to cooperate with Washington. The Pentagon, even if it wanted to, does not have the hundreds of thousands of troops it would need to attack and occupy Iran. And the idea—pushed by lunatic fringe figures like Bolton and Giuliani—that the marginal and discredited Iranian resistance group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which fought alongside Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran and is viewed by most Iranians as composed of traitors, is a viable counterforce to the Iranian government is ludicrous. In all these equations the 80 million people in Iran are ignored just as the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were ignored. Perhaps they would not welcome a war with the United States. Perhaps if attacked they would resist. Perhaps they don’t want to be occupied. Perhaps a war with Iran would be interpreted throughout the region as a war against Shiism. But these are calculations that the ideologues, who know little about the instrument of war and even less about the cultures or peoples they seek to dominate, are unable to fathom.

“The Middle East has many problems: insecurity, instability, problems with natural resources such as water, etc.,” Khoshroo said. “All of these problems have been made worse by foreign intervention as well as Israel’s lawlessness. The issue of Palestine is at the heart of turmoil in the Middle East for Muslims. Any delay in finding solutions to these wounds in the Middle East exposes this region to more dangerous threats. Americans say they want the Middle East to be free from violent extremism, but this will only happen when the Middle East is free from occupation and foreign intervention. The Americans are selling their weapons throughout the Middle East. They calculate how much money they can earn from destruction. They don’t care about human beings. They don’t care about security or democratic process or political process. This is worrisome.”

“What are the results of American policies in the Middle East?” he asked. “All of the American allies in the region are in turmoil. Only Iran is secure and stable. Why is this the case? Why, during the last 40 years, has Iran been stable? Is it because Iran has no relationship with America? Why is there hostility between Iran and America? Can’t the Americans see that Iran’s stability is important for the region? We are surrounded by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen. What good would come from destabilizing Iran? What would America get out of that?”

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Anthony Bourdain: The Only Mensch on Gaza

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Juan Cole / Informed Comment.

Anthony Bourdain was the only major American celebrity who succeeded in depicting publicly the Palestinians as rational, caring human beings rather than as irrationally angry inciters to violence. He was the anti-Bernard Lewis. Lewis smeared the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims with the charge of “Islamic rage” (as though large swathes of humankind are angry for no reason).

Bourdain said, “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinians, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity.”

The Israel propaganda machine has even attempted to smear Razan al-Najjar, the 21-year-old nurse in Gaza who was shot dead by an Israeli-American sniper as she tended, unarmed and clearly wearing medic’s clothing, to injured Palestinians being shot with live ammunition by Israeli troops on the Gaza side of the border. Shooting Razan was a war crime. Razan was engaged in an act of unselfish bravery. We should all be so “complex.” That attempt to dehumanize one Palestinian is typical of the American and Israeli media in general. I can’t tell you how many “panels” on Palestine I’ve seen on CNN that included no Palestinian; often it was three middle-aged males, and sometimes they lacked even religious diversity among them.

In the face of this dehumanization, Bourdain stood as an all too rare exception. Half the people in Gaza are children, and Bourdain loved them:

When the Israeli army, notorious for its use of indiscriminate fire, hit Palestinian children on a beach in Gaza, Bourdain wrote:

And this is how he responded to being honored by a Muslim-American organization for his segment on cooking in Gaza, in which he was forthright about how the world has mistreated the Palestinians (70 percent of the families in Gaza are refugees, created by a campaign of deliberate ethnic cleansing on the part of Jewish immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, in which the Palestinians were chased from their homes in what was turned into southern Israel and then imprisoned in the Gaza Strip to this day):

Anthony Bourdain: MPAC Media Awards

And this is the segment on Gaza for which Bourdain was honored:

CNN: “Israel: Anthony Bourdain has traditional Palestinian meal (Parts Unknown, Jerusalem)”

Bourdain got away with his humane sentiments toward Palestinians and his calling of bullshit on Israeli propaganda presumably because he had a cooking show rather than doing hard news. Or perhaps he stood where he stood because of the sheer force of his personality and his refusal to compromise with principle.

He will be sorely missed.

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Rapture-Ready: How U.S. Policy Meshes With Armageddon

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Sandy Tolan.

Brothers and sisters! Let us speak now of the return of Jesus to the Holy Land in a blaze of glory. For it is this fervent promise, I kid you not, that now drives the Middle East policy of the most powerful nation on earth.

For years conservative evangelicals, from their pulpits and pews across the American heartland, have toiled in relative obscurity. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the more vocal part of the Israel lobby, is far better known for advancing Israeli interests in Washington. But in recent years, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the evangelical lobbying group spearheaded by Texas preacher John Hagee, has surpassed AIPAC as the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S. And so Christian Zionists—those who believe that only a strong Jewish state will bring the son of the Christian god back to the holy city, to mete out justice—have moved to the center of U.S. Middle East policy.

Their coming-out party was May 14, at the dedication of the newly relocated U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. “Let the name of the Lord be glorified today,” the Rev. Hagee proclaimed in his benediction, facing the assembled strange bedfellows of right-wing rabbis, U.S. senators and congressmen, settlement bankroller Sheldon Adelson, Israeli Likudniks and fellow Christian Zionists. “For the defender of Israel today, tomorrow and forever, is here. Can we all shout hallelujah?”

“Hallelujah!”the throng responded. “Amen,” Hagee concluded.

The core beliefs of these evangelical preachers and their tens of millions of followers in the U.S. deserve a much closer look now that they’re riding shotgun alongside President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, America’s settler-ambassador to Israel.

Christian Zionists embrace a chilling, apocalyptic vision of vengeance upon the many and salvation for the few. Their angry Jesus looks nothing like the loving, turn-the-other-cheek savior of my Catholic upbringing.

The basic tenet of Christian Zionism? Global Armageddon will soon be at hand. “They’re counting down the hours now, eagerly expecting the implementation of the remaining items on their biblical prophecy agenda, anticipating the thrilling climax of the cosmic story,” writes Victoria Clark, author of “Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism.” Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, would then “be destroyed, and replaced with a new Jewish temple. The completion of that temple … will herald the appearance of an Antichrist who might be a European diplomat or the head of the United Nations.” Eventually, writes Clark, this “will trigger the battle of Armageddon … all non-born-again Christians—including two-thirds of all Jews—who refuse to accept Jesus as their personal savior … will be slain in the conflagration.”

True Christians need not worry about their own destruction, however. For they will be saved by the rapture. “Jesus will come in the air, catch up the Church from the earth, and then return to heaven with the Church,” states raptureready.info, which cites as proof the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thess, 4:16-18): “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel. … Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. …”

The Rev. Hagee, from the pulpit, fills in the details:

<blockquote>Neighbors are going to be standing in the streets, and they’re going to be having conversations like this: “I was standing here talking to Mr. Jones and suddenly he started rising into the air, over the house past the tree tops, gone, gone, GONE! He’s vanished in the clouds right before my eyes.” Headlines will be screaming, “Millions Are Missing Without a Trace!” Cars are going to be parked out here beside Loop 1604 and every highway in the world, the motors are still running, with the drivers and the occupants of the car sailing for mansions on high. I’m saying to you, pray up, pack up, LOOK up, we’re going up! In Jesus’ name, hallelujah to the Lamb of God.</blockquote>

For Hagee and other evangelicals, God has been bringing about the end of days, one step at a time. Even the Holocaust, Hagee once claimed, was part of God’s plan to drive surviving Jews out of Europe toward Palestine. (The remarks led Arizona Sen. John McCain to reject Hagee’s 2008 presidential endorsement.) Yet Hagee’s Holocaust remarks were part of a larger Christian Zionist worldview that sees modern Israel as part of divine destiny. In this belief, God’s will made Israel, and Christians now must protect that covenant and keep Jerusalem “united” under Israel’s control, in order for Jesus to return to earth. In his book “Jerusalem Countdown,” which sold more than 700,000 copies, Hagee also pushed for a confrontation with Iran to hasten global conflagration and Christ’s return. “From this moment forward, for the rest of our lives, until Christ comes, Jerusalem is the center of the universe,” Hagee declared from the pulpit.

Preachers like Hagee have been firing up their flocks for decades. Now, they believe, the time is nigh. Across Israel and the occupied West Bank, which settlers and their Christian supporters prefer to call “Judea and Samaria,” hundreds of rapturous tours led by American preachers underscore the biblical prophecy.

“The final act of the Book of Revelations is going to take place right here,” said the Rev. Irvin Baxter, founder of Texas-based Endtime Ministries. He stood on a hill in the Israeli town of Megiddo, overlooking a vast stretch of the Holy Land. Irvin, whose tour was captured by Vice News, told several dozen rapture-ready Americans: “The word ‘Armageddon’ is actually two words: Har Megiddo, or hill of Megiddo. You are standing on the hill of Megiddo right now. And when Israel’s about to be defeated, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ himself will intervene. He is going to defeat the Antichrist; he is going to defeat the false prophet. Both of them will be cast alive into the lake of fire. At that time Satan is going to be bound for the next 1,000 years. And we are going to crown Jesus Christ as king of kings, and lord or lords.”

Before this can happen, Christian Zionists believe, Israel must be in full control of the Holy Land—including the occupation and military rule of Palestinians in the West Bank. Hagee has built a political powerhouse on this belief. CUFI, which Hagee calls the “Christian AIPAC,” now boasts more than 4 million members. CUFI’s annual conference features the luminaries of the American political right, and even the occasional progressive, including rising Democratic star and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. The group has staged more than 2,500 pro-Israel events in the U.S., built a presence on more than 300 U.S. college campuses and led hundreds of U.S. pastors and right-wing congressional delegations on trips to Israel.

Many of Hagee’s delegations come to Ariel, one of Israel’s biggest and most problematic settlements. With a population of 20,000, Ariel sits strategically on a hilltop in the heart of the West Bank, dividing Palestinian families and villages, which are subject to random military inspections and intimidation by Israeli soldiers. Hagee and CUFI have poured millions of dollars into the settlement. A recreation center there bears his name.

This support underscores the evangelical conviction that a strong Israel, fully in control of “Judea and Samaria,” is essential for the apocalyptic prophecies to come to pass. Which brings us back to the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: It is all part of the end-of-days plan.

“We see the embassy as crucial to God’s timing to bring about the revelation of the messiah,” the Rev. David Swaggerty, founder of Ohio-based CharismaLife Ministries, told Religion News on the eve of the ceremony, after a joint Christian-Jewish Bible study session at the Israeli Knesset.

Added Tommy Waller, founder of the Missouri-based Christian Zionist group Hayovel: “Israel was established, exactly where God said it would be established. I see the hand of God in this, and [in] the relocation of the embassy.” A video on Hayovel’s website declares, “The days are coming.”

And so, my brothers and sisters! Your tax dollars no longer fund a U.S. policy that at least gives lip service to a fair solution of an age-old conflict and a Palestinian state of its own. One, by the way, that would immeasurably ease tensions in the most volatile corner of the planet, help keep American soldiers out of harm’s way and reduce terror attacks on innocent citizens. Instead, we are privileging the foot soldiers in a new Holy War—a war in which those of us who aren’t among the believers will end up in a lake of fire.

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