Nel's New Day

April 22, 2019

Judaism v. Zionism

One of the most sensitive topics in politics these days—other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—is Zionism. Despite his anti-Semitic ideology during his campaign, DDT now loves Israel, probably because the newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is perhaps farther right that DDT is. Republicans grab at any issue that they can use to criticize Democrats. Evangelicals want Israelis to control large swaths of land so that Jesus will have a big place to land during the rapture to save fundamentalist Christians. Some Democrats support Israel’s taking over Palestinian land in violation of international law.

Carolyn Karcher, author of Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation, tries to unravel the difference between a religion and a political interest group. She points out that “ethical precepts lie at the heart of Judaism: pursue justice, love the stranger, love your neighbor and repair the world.” Zionist policy violates all these teachings. The new Basic Law, passed by Israel, calls for the nation-state of only Jewish people in the country and gives the indigenous Palestinians no rights.

Zionism’s main founder Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, created a version of a settler colonial movement in the 19th century not as a religious group, but a separatist political society that excluded all non-Jews. Zionism has developed into a nationalist organization with the same approach as white nationalism, comparable to persecuted Puritans seeking a place where they could rule. Having left England for America in the 17th century, they dispossessed and killed the indigenous peoples with no ethical concerns. In both cases, one group of people elevated themselves over another and then tried to eradicate considered a sub-group.

Younger Jews are protesting this Israeli position of domination. Members of one group, “If Not Now,” were thrown out of Israel because of their difficult questions about birthrights in the Israeli-Palestinian region. Others in Jewish Voice for Peace started the “Return the Birthright” campaign with the claim that Palestinians as indigenous people have a birthright to the land.

Karcher states that questioning birthright and Israel can lead to “revitalizing Judaism and redefining Jewish identity that does not depend on identifying with a Jewish state, and that does not depend on claiming a right to a land that you were not born in and have no real connection to.” Like the philosophy of democracy, she espouses all people having the same rights and the same access to economic and political rights.

From another writer and Jewish voice, Michelle Goldberg, comes this column, “Zionists Deserve Free Speech”:

The Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was supposed to be on a speaking tour of the United States this week, with stops at N.Y.U.’s Washington campus and at Harvard. He was going to attend his daughter’s wedding in Texas. I had plans to interview him for “The Argument,” the debate podcast that I co-host, about B.D.S., the controversial campaign to make Israel pay an economic and cultural price for its treatment of the Palestinians.

Yet when Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel, showed up for his flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport last week, he was informed that the United States was denying him entry. When I spoke to him on Sunday, he still didn’t know exactly why the country where he went to college and lived for many years wasn’t letting him in, but he assumed it was because of his political views. If that’s the case, Barghouti said, it was the first time someone has been barred from America for B.D.S. advocacy. He has proceeded with his public events, but he’s been appearing at them via Skype.

In recent years, the American right has presented itself as a champion of free expression. Conservatives are constantly bemoaning a censorious campus climate that stigmatizes their ideas; last month, Donald Trump signed an executive order on campus free speech, decrying those who would keep Americans from “challenging rigid far-left ideology.” The president said, “People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others.”

If that last line is true — and, uncharacteristically for Trump, I think it is — it says something about the insecurity of Israel’s defenders. There have indeed been illiberal attempts to silence conservative voices on college campuses, but they pale beside the assault on pro-Palestinian speech, particularly speech calling for an economic boycott of Israel. Around two dozen states have laws and regulations denouncing, and in many cases penalizing, B.D.S. activities, and the Senate recently passed a bill supporting such measures. According to the American Association of University Professors, some public universities in states with such laws require speakers and other contractors to “sign a statement pledging that they do not now, nor will they in the future, endorse B.D.S.” It’s hard to think of comparable speech restrictions on any other subject.

What are pro-Israel forces afraid of? The B.D.S. movement doesn’t engage in or promote violence. Its leaders make an effort to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism; the Palestinian B.D.S. National Committee recently demanded that a Moroccan group stop using the term “B.D.S.” in its name because it featured anti-Semitic cartoons on its Facebook page.

Barghouti couches his opposition to Zionism in the language of humanist universalism. The official position of the B.D.S. movement, he says, is that “any supremacist, exclusionary state in historic Palestine — be it a ‘Jewish state,’ an ‘Islamic state,’ or a ‘Christian state’ — would by definition conflict with international law and basic human rights principles.”

The movement is agnostic on a final dispensation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it calls for the right of Palestinian refugees — both those displaced by the creation of Israel and their descendants — to return to their familial homes, which would likely end Israel’s Jewish majority. Barghouti told me he personally believes in the creation of a single state in which Israeli Jews, as individuals, would have civil rights, but Jews as a people would not have national rights.

I’d planned to argue with him about this view, which is largely dismissive of Jewish claims on Israel, and would likely lead to oppression or worse for Israeli Jews. My guess is that many if not most Jews find such a position offensive, even frightening.

But for years now, the right has been lecturing us all about the need to listen to and debate ideas we might consider dangerous. Barghouti wants this sort of dialogue. “We’ve been dying to debate anyone on the other side,” he told me. “We would debate anyone except Israeli government officials and professional lobbyists.” A government that tries to prevent Americans from engaging with his views cannot claim a commitment to free speech.

You could argue, I suppose, that Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state should not be up for discussion. If you do, realize it’s the exact same sort of argument that certain campus leftists make when they refuse to debate people they see as racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted. Sometimes this refusal is justified, because certain ideas shouldn’t be dignified with discussion. But sometimes it just makes the people unwilling to test their ideas in public look scared.

Ultimately, Barghouti threatens Israel’s American defenders not because he’s hateful, but because he isn’t. Israel has aligned itself with the global far right. Recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to unilaterally annex the West Bank, which would create a single state where Jews rule over Arabs. That prospect makes it ever more difficult for Israel’s American defenders to make coherent arguments against the sort of one-state solution that Barghouti espouses. “Israel is winning the far right around the world,” Barghouti said at an N.Y.U. event last week, where the journalist Peter Beinart interviewed him remotely. But, he added, “it is losing its moral stature around the world.” American authorities may be able to quash this message on some college campuses, but it won’t stop being true.

The United States has freely sanctioned countries that violate human rights to pressure them for change. Boycott has long been an individual practice from people on both the right and left to express displeasure about positions. Yet Ilhan Omar, a U.S. representative, black woman, Muslim, and Somali refugee, has been pilloried, not only by Republicans but by her own party of Democrats, because she was brave enough to speak out against the Israeli control over the U.S. federal government.

Pressure from Israeli is causing even Democrats to punish corporations that use their constitutional right to use a boycott as a form of free speech. A bipartisan House bill opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or “BDS,” movement and gives states the legal right to punish companies choosing not to do business with Israel or Israeli-owned enterprises. In the 26 states already passing anti-BDS laws, courts in two of them, Kansas and Arizona, have declared the legislation unconstitutional. To take free speech from companies, Congress would have to remove their classification as “persons” or take away the right of real people to free speech. Meanwhile Republicans have another wedge device by equating Palestinian support and human rights with anti-Semitism.

September 8, 2018

More Pieces from DDT’s 85th Week

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) creates chaos to stop people from noticing reasons for his indictment, the news keeps churning.

Twitter, who tried to claim its lack of bias in not banning conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars website when other social media did, has “permanently suspended” Jones and his website for violating policies against abuse, including attacks on a reporter outside Kavanaugh’s congressional hearing.

DDT tweeted in mid-August that he was revoking the clearance for John Brennan, but Brennan hasn’t received any notice about the loss of his clearance. This lack of follow-through seems to be a pattern:

  • June: DDT said he “instructed” officials “not to endorse” an official G-7 communique negotiated by member nations diplomats. Nothing happened.
  • April: DDT tweeted that Russia should “get ready” for his military offensive in Syria. Nothing happened.
  • February: DDT asked Defense Secretary James Mattis for military options for Iran. Mattis “refused.”
  • Last summer: DDT tweeted that transgender people were banned from military service. The Joint Chiefs ignored him.

Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and editor in chief of the blog Lawfare, noted that unlike all other administrations, saying, “there is an almost total disconnect between what the president says in public and the actions of the executive branch.” Or maybe his aides really are taking papers off his desk.

With a prediction of a “blue wave,” Republicans have gone beyond their usual fraudulent efforts to win the election such as restrictive voter ID laws, gerrymandering, false statements about candidates, and maneuvers to put someone on the ballot to benefit themselves, and lying about their credentials. Now they’ve moved on to stolen materials, as in the example of Abigail Spanberger, candidate for Virginia’s 7th House district, who is running against Rep. Dave Brat, who replaced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  Brat is as unpopular as Cantor was , and the district is considered a toss-up between the two parties.

A GOP SuperPAC connected to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released all the private information from a job application completed by Spanberger, including her Social Security number. The Postal Service said that it released Spanberger’s application in error and asked that it be returned, yet the GOP PAC spun the information into lies about Spanberger.

A polling company asked voters if they would be less likely to support the Democratic candidate “if she knew that the candidate had taught at a school funded by the Saudi royal family that had ‘numerous students arrested for terrorism,’” and the GOP put this information into a “news release.” Spanberger substituted at a prep school for a wealthy school after she finished her MA with no record of any students connected to terrorism in any way. The problems cited by the GOP occurred long after Spanberger left the school. Then someone put up fake posters claiming that Spanberger promises to impeach DDT, open the U.S. borders, and abolish ICE—issues when Spanberger opposes.

In Texas, Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke is even in the polls with Sen. Ted Cruz for the general election. Now about 1,000 of O’Rourke’s supporters are receiving false texts that he is “in search of volunteers to help transport undocumented immigrants to polling booths so that they will be able to vote.” The messages came from his campaign by a first-time volunteer who signed up under a false name and were not authorized.

Racist robocalls sent from Idaho went to Florida residents where Andrew Gillum, a black man, is the Democratic candidate for governor against Trumper Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). The message starts with “I is Andrew Gillum” in a minstrel performer voice to background sounds of drums and monkeys before the voice rambles on about mud huts and unfair policing. The recording claims to be provided by the Road to Power, a website with white supremacist and anti-Semitic content.

Other GOP attacks are against veterans—ridiculing tattoos on a Maine candidate who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming that a Colorado candidate who was an Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient was responsible for VA problems, and saying that a Kentucky ex-fighter pilot deals in “execution” instead of “ideas.”

With no accomplishments or positive plans for the future, the GOP has devolved into the Party of Trump. It had hoped to run on their tax cuts, but the Pennsylvania special election proved that a failure. All they have are smear campaigns. This past week, congressional Republicans refused to negotiate on a pact banning both parties from using hacked or stolen materials in campaigning. Republicans said that Democrats had violated an agreement not to publicly talk about the negotiations.

The speeches from DDT and President Obama this past week show the serious difference between the two parties. One speaker introduced and praised candidates with personal anecdotes and plans for what they can accomplish if they are elected. The other one barely mentioned a candidate’s name, instead talking about himself and how people must vote for members of his party to keep him from being impeached. DDT tried to play down any concern about president Obama’s speech, but insiders says that it added to his paranoia.

Hurricane Florence, due to hit the East Coast by the end of next week, can bring disaster back to the United States, but not everyone has forgotten DDT’s inability to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s destruction of Puerto Rico. Last Thursday, House Democrats accused GOP members of failing to investigate DDT’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to protect DDT. Even after the report that 2,965 people died because of the hurricane, almost triple those in Hurricane Katrina, DDT said that he did a “fantastic job.” Republicans held only one hearing on Maria, compared to the nine that they had about federal response to Katrina. They also asked for no records from the White House although they obtained over 500,000 documents from George W. Bush and within five months prepared 569 pages about the government’s failures and suggestions for improvement.

DDT blames Puerto Rico for the deadliest U.S. disaster in almost 100 years despite the refusal of the United States to support its territory. He called its power plant “dead” before the hurricane although it was still functioning and said that delivering aid was difficult because Puerto Rico is an island. The death rate could be as high as 4,645 because emergency responders didn’t provide help in many areas for days. DHS failed to immediately waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico which prevented the island from getting aid and supplies from non-U.S.-flagged ships out of the U.S., and a hospital ship didn’t arrive for nine days. The assistance to Puerto Rico was minimal compared to mainland assistant, $6.2 million on the island and $141.2 million for Texas. Under pressure from U.S. officials, Puerto Rico hired a two-employee company in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown that had once employed his son to repair its electrical grid. The company overcharged for its services before it failed, and much of Puerto Rico was without power for several months. In short, DDT and the U.S. failed Puerto Rico.

Even Israeli military hardliners object to DDT’s removal of funds for Palestinian refugees’ healthcare and schooling plus $200 million in economic aid as they far greater conflict instead of peace. DDT’s new level of hostility toward Palestinian was symbolized last May when Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, walked out of a Security Council meeting to avoid hearing a speech by the Palestinian envoy, going beyond appointing David Friedman, funder of the illegal West Bank settlements, as ambassador to Israel. Christian evangelicals and donors such as Sheldon Adelson want the elimination of Palestinians, but DDT is creating a backlash from a people who have nothing to lose.

A neuroscientist suggests that DDT may be suffering from “narcissistic injury” because of his growing loss of power and control. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explains that “criticism may haunt these individuals [suffering from this disorder] and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty.” The reaction is to angrily blame others, as DDT is against Bruce Ohr, Jeff Sessions, John Brennan, etc. “Narcissistic rage” causes much higher levels of bully, threats, and erratic behavior with the sole intent of punishing others.

Just 36% say they approve of the job President Trump is doing, a 5-point drop from last month, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll. Fifty-six percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance, up from 53% the month before.  Good photo  The broader IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index plunged 11.6% to 40.4. That’s one of the biggest monthly drops since IBD started tracking this index in January 2000. Trump is also net negative among male voters for the first time in 2018, and has no advantage among voters over 65 for the first time since the election.

September 1, 2015

Don’t Follow Netanyahu into War

Thirty-three senators now support the President of the United States in agreeing to the Iran deal to keep the country from putting together nuclear weapons. To avoid an override of the proposed “resolution of disapproval” to stop the P5+1 agreement among seven countries of the world, President Obama needs one more senator to support the deal. Despite the tens of millions of dollars from anti-Iran deal groups advertising its dangers, a survey shows a majority of people in the U.S.—52 percent—want approval for the agreement. Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats support the deal that lifts some international sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country restricting its nuclear program for at least a decade. Six of 10 independents support the deal while almost 7 in 10 Republicans oppose the agreement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called a “jackass” in a public meeting last weekend, has invited another GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, to join him in opposing the Iran deal at a rally on Capitol Hill. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, considered too conservative by the ultra-conservative Fox network, will be at the September 9 event. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is continuing his possibly treasonous behavior by meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday and stating, “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel.” He tweeted a photo of himself and the Israeli prime minister, writing: “Great meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss our opposition to the #IranDeal.”

cotton

Last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) worked against U.S. foreign policy during the migrant-children crisis. Other GOP lawmakers have also promised their allegiance to Israel. Five years ago, then-Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised Netanyahu that the new GOP majority in the house would “serve as a check” on the Obama administration. In 2006, Cantor is the same member of Congress who accused then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of violating the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.” Cantor’s accusation came after Pelosi’s meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad which she coordinated with Bush administration officials and where she included State Department personnel. Dick Cheney, the past vice-president who plans to attack President Obama at the September 9 rally, said of Pelosi, “The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Nine years ago, Al Gore criticized George W. Bush’s government “abuses” against Arabs after the 9/11 attacks when he spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia. The conservative media attacked him, one claiming that Gore had committed “supreme disloyalty to his country.” Even worse to these writers was that his speech was “in front of an audience that does not vote in American elections” and “subversive … because of its location and its intended audience.” In 2007, John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, insisted, “I would simply hope that people would understand that, under the Constitution, the president conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Now Republicans not only meet with foreign leaders to undermine the U.S. policy but also brag about doing it. Instead of being criminal, Cotton’s seditious behavior seems to be almost routine.

Netanyahu, the man who leads U.S. GOP congressional members, began his rise in 1996 after his opponent’s assassination. Fired up by the Oslo Accords, a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli settlers elected Netanyahu to avoid diplomacy and stop a Palestinian state. War mongering Richard Perle, advisor to Netanyahu’s campaign, headed the committee to write the strategy calling for a stop to diplomacy with Palestine and control the neighborhood by undermining, subdividing, or destroying Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Thanks to George W. Bush, only one of these three countries can still block Israel’s destruction of Palestinians. Since Barack Obama’s first election as president, Netanyahu has fought him with political assaults, international incidents, speeches to the U.S. Congress and the UN, and stories about the president’s lack of support for Israel.

The prime minister, who depicts Iran as a military aggressor, was close to attacking Iran three separate occasions between 2010 and 2012, the last of the three in an attempt to defeat President Obama for a second term. Fortunately, even far-right cabinet ministers or the military chief of staff blocked him.

Iran has not attacked another country in a conventional war in modern history. In contrast, Israel has a history of aggression in just a half century including preemptive wars in 1956, 1967, 1982, 2009 and 2014. The 1982 Israeli attack on Lebanon led to an 18-year occupation of ten percent of Lebanon. Lebanese Shiites formed Hezbollah to resist Israeli oppression, but Iran’s support is considered by the U.S. and Israel as “support for terrorism.” U.S. and Israeli support for the Israeli illegal invasion and occupation is considered standard operating procedure.

Israel has several hundred nuclear warheads, whereas Iran has none, but Iran has been sanctioned for its civilian nuclear enrichment program for generating electricity. No one knows how many nuclear weapons are located in Israel because it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Netanyahu has consistently refused to broker peace with the Palestinians and forced out officials, such as Meir Dagan, head of the Israeli spying agency Mossad; the chief of staff; and the head of domestic intelligence. Netanyahu spread fear throughout the world by grossly exaggerating Iran’s threat, according to Dagan.

Netanyahu badly needs a GOP president because a Democratic one might not veto UN sanctions against Israel for failing to follow international law. Israel has violated many UN Security Council resolutions through its treatment of the stateless Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, etc. Iran’s economy has been badly damaged by UNSC sanctions while Israel has not received any punishment thus far because the U.S. has vetoed sanctions against Israel, regardless of the cases’ merits. If the U.S. administration no longer exercises its veto, Israel could be forced into making peace.

Israel is also afraid of the UN recognizing Palestine, which has already been granted non-member observer state status by the General Assembly. Palestine has signed the treaties and instruments necessary to joining the International Criminal Court and gaining standing to sue Israel over its creeping annexation of Palestinian territory beyond the generally recognized 1949 armistice lines. The Rome Statute of 2002 under which the International Criminal Court operates, forbids colonization of other people’s territory. Israel could lose if Palestine sues.

The vast majority of Israel’s defense and security establishment support the Iran agreement, but Netanyahu has put them under a gag order. In a recent article for The Daily Jewish Forward, J.J. Goldberg wrote, “As unanimous as the politicians are in backing the prime minister, the generals and spymasters are nearly as unanimous in questioning him. Generals publicly backing Netanyahu can be counted on—well–one finger.” The U.S. media has avoided providing information that is well-known in the Israeli press and in a U.S. Jewish paper.

Republicans are so eager to spread propaganda against the Iran deal that Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is terrifying second and third graders in Gilbert (AZ). He was supposed to talk to them about how bills became laws, but he moved into his opposition to the Iran agreement. According to parent Scott Campbell, Salmon explained the situation in Iran and then asked the children such questions as “Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?” Campbell’s daughter told her father that she didn’t know what suicide is and that she is very afraid. Salmon’s office said the congressman’s remarks weren’t any more shocking than the local news.

Israel wants the United States to attack Iran, the Republicans want to destroy the Democrats, and the people of the U.S. are the ones left to suffer the economic and human losses that result from Israel’s determination to dominate the world. People who oppose Israeli positions are accused of being anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is NOT criticizing Israelis for what they do, such as defying more UN resolutions than Iraq, spying on P5+1 negotiations and then leaking the information, committing war crimes, rejecting politicians for their loyalty to a foreign power, and trying to get the United States to go to war just to benefit Israel.

June 10, 2015

Israel’s Need for Control

West BankA month before ex-law enforcement officer was caught on video assaulting a teenage girl in McKinney (TX) for swimming while black, Israeli security forces were ordering non-Jews from a swimming pool in a West Bank town so that Jewish-Israeli settlers from nearby illegal settlements would have a Muslim-free swim. The Birkat al-Karmil natural pool and park is in the Hebron Hills, a section of the Occupied West Bank (Area A) where Israel agreed to relinquish military and civil control to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestine’s Yatta Municipality renovated the site, creating a park and restoring an ancient natural pool at its center. Yatta maintains the resort for everyone’s enjoyment, and settlers have come to swim with local Palestinians.

On April 7, hundreds of settlers arrived at the pool at about 2:00 pm accompanied by dozens of soldiers, Border Police, and representatives of the Civil Administration (CA). The security forces used guns for force Palestinians out of the pool and go to the edge of the park. Settlers swam and used the rest of the park for over two hours before the Israelis and their security force left the area.

When the mayor of Yatta protested, he was told that the visit had been coordinated with the Palestinian DCO. Representatives denied any coordination and submitted an official complaint to the Israeli DCO. An IDF spokesperson wrote, “It should be noted that there were no unusual occurrences during their visit. Palestinians were present at this event.”

According to international consensus, including the United Nations, the almost 130 West Bank settlements with 350,150 Israelis in the West Bank officially recognized by the Israeli government in 2012 are illegal under international law. Even a large number of the Israeli public oppose these Israeli settlements in the West Bank and support the 2005 settlement relocation. Settlements, however, continue to expand with new ones established. Last September Israel took almost 1,000 acres of private Palestinian land near Bethlehem, supposedly in retribution for the kidnapping and murder of three Israel teenagers but in reality to calm right-wing Israelis after the country’s ceasefire terms with Hamas. It was later revealed that Hamas had nothing do with the teenagers’ deaths. This latest land grab is only a small part of the 250,000 acres that Israelis have taken from Palestinians in only the West Bank since 1979.

Last summer, Israel used the excuse of tunnels from Gaza into Israel as the reason for attacking the vulnerable Gazans last summer, but Israel wants Gaza’s natural gas reserves. In seven weeks, over 2,100 Gazans, at least 69 percent of them civilians, were killed, and another 11,000 were wounded. An additional 500,000 people became refugees. On the Israel side, 66 soldiers, five civilians, and one Thai civilian were killed; 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were wounded.

Earlier this spring, Denis McDonough, White House Chief of Staff, said about Israeli’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territory:

“Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”

McDonough repeated White House support for a “sovereign and sustainable” Palestinian state based on the 1967 border lines and warned Israel that any further land grabs of Palestinian territory “would be both wrong and illegal” and challenged by the United States.

After Israel hid behind its “Iron Dome,” partially funded by the United States, and decimated Gaza, the United States denounced the bombing of three schools as “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.” The United States replenished the grenades and mortar rounds used for this destruction; about $1 billion of U.S. munitions is stored inside Israel and made available to Israel when the country asks for them. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, getting $3.1 billion every year–one-fourth of Israel’s military budget.

Last month, the U.S. State Department approved almost $1.9 billion in new weapons for Israel, including 14,500 kits to upgrade “dumb” bombs into precision-guided munitions, over 12,000 unguided bombs, and 50 Super Penetrator “bunker buster” bombs, designed to hit targets underground. The approval came a few weeks after the Israeli rights group Breaking the Silence collected reports of possible violations of international law during Israel’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza. U.S. law prohibits providing military assistance to countries that engage in human rights violations, including Israeli attacks on hospitals and health workers. Testimonies also alleged that tanks fired randomly with no regard for civilians and Israeli soldiers looting homes and wantonly destroying their property such as running tanks over cars.

Also being sold to Israel are over 3,000 hellfire missiles, which the U.S. briefly withheld from Israel following last summer’s attack on Gaza. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated that “the United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability.” The U.S. also plans to provide Israel with 50 F-35 stealth fighters, missile defense systems, and other unknown military materials to Israel to quell Israel’s opposition to the U.S. agreement with Iran. The deal came a month after the House Armed Services Committee approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems, like Iron Dome. These sales require congressional approval.

This summer represents the 11th anniversary of Israel’s illegal Separation Wall. Instead of following the 1967 Green Line as ordered by the International Court of Justice, the wall protects illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and turns Palestine property into non-contiguous bits and pieces while adding at least half the West Bank with crucial resources such as the Jordan River and Western Aquifer to Israel. Israel has built the world’s largest open air prison.

The military routinely closes Palestinian roads, orders Palestinians to evacuate their homes so they can conduct military exercises, demolishes whole towns and villages to claim land for new settlements, fails to prosecute Israelis for routinely murdering Palestinians, and brutalizes the Palestinian population who live in terror of nightly raids in which men, women and even children are hauled away for interminable jail sentences and torture without any criminal charges against them.

Israel’s new deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, told the international community this spring that the bible proves that all the land allocated to the Palestinians belongs to the Jewish people. She is currently the country’s top full-time diplomat. In her inaugural speech to Israeli diplomats, Hotovely said Israel has tried too hard to appease the world and must stand up for itself.

This past Monday, U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the U.S. Constitution gives the president total power to identify foreign governments after a U.S. couple sued for the right to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as their son’s birthplace on his U.S. passport. Although Israel claims that all of Jerusalem belongs to that country, the international community believes that West Jerusalem, including the Old City, belongs to the Palestinians.

In 2002, Congress passed an act allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem the option of listing their birthplaces as “Jerusalem, Israel” on passports and birth certificates. George W. Bush signed the law, but the State Department never enforced it. U.S. officials maintain that any sovereignty in that city is determined through diplomatic negotiations. In rejecting the petition for Menachem Zivotofsky’s parents, the Court affirmed that, according to the U.S. Constitution, the president “has sole authority to determine what countries to conduct relations with, which competing government is legitimate, and which territorial claims to accede to.”

The Zivotofskys used a death certificate from 2002 for Myron Friedman stating his place of death was “Jerusalem, Israel.” Three months after they submitted the document, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv sent Friedman’s daughter, Wendy Serlin, a letter correcting an administrative error regarding Friedman’s place of death and new original copies of Friedman’s death certificate leaving the space for “country” blank.

After the Supreme Court argued the case, Zivotofsky v Kerry, last fall, Nina Totenburg wrote:

“Ever since the founding of Israel, the U.S. has taken the position that no country has sovereignty over Jerusalem until its status is negotiated in a Middle East peace deal. Israel’s supporters in Congress, however, have tried to force a different policy, seeking to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and mandating that the U.S. Department of State allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, however, have refused to comply with the passport mandate, contending it infringes on the president’s foreign policy powers.”

In a 6-3 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that Congress has no constitutional role in recognizing other countries or parts of countries. The constitution gives the president that prerogative. Therefore the 2002 law ordering documents include “Israel” with “Jerusalem” is nullified as unconstitutional.

Writing his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts showed that he has no respect for the constitution when he wrote:

“The Court takes the perilous step—for the first time in our history—of allowing the President to defy an Act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs.”

On Monday, the RAND Corporation released a study asserting that if Israelis and Palestinians were to forge a two-state solution and end their decades-old conflict, their economies would enjoy a combined windfall of $173 billion over 10 years. What a waste.

March 19, 2015

Netanyahu Denies Racism That Elected Him

How far will GOP presidential wannabes go to pander to the crazies? When the crazies started talking around John McCain during his run in 2008, he shut them down. Not Rick Santorum. At Frank Gaffney’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit last week, a woman unleashed her venom against President Obama:

“Why is the Congress rolling over and letting this Communist dictator destroy my country? Y’all know what he is and I know what he is. I want him out of the White House; he’s not a citizen; he could have been removed a long time ago…

“Ted [Cruz?] told me I’ve got to wait for the next election. I don’t think the country will be around for the next election. Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago! And the three admirals, and generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He’s fired all the generals and all the admirals that said they wouldn’t fire on the American people.”

Santorum sidestepped the vitriol by saying it wasn’t his fault because he wasn’t in Congress any more. He refused to question the woman’s rants, instead saying that he can “absolutely agree” about the “complete lack of leadership” from the White House. Referring to immigration policy, Santorum said “the word ‘tyrant’ ” comes to mind to describe President Obama.

Eugene Robinson made an excellent observation in expressing gratitude that the self-identified retired school teacher is no longer in the classroom. A question, however, is where this woman got the idea that “Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago.”

David Weigel has the answer.  An “exclusive story,” published in 2013 on the conspiracy news site InfoWars, quoted “a high level source inside the military” about the transfer of nuclear warheads to the East Coast. The story, which moved across Facebook at least 25,000 times, also quoted Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) worry that a military build-up would lead to nuclear weapons moving through the port of Charleston.

Later that year the European Union Times, a “news” site that mixes accuracy with rumors, moved the false story along by citing a “Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) report circulating in the Kremlin today” to report that a nuclear weapon had been detonated off of Charleston’s harbor. The story’s proof was an October 8, 2013 earthquake that happened hundreds of miles from the coast. The website claimed that it was a botched “false flag” attack, carried out in the middle of the government shutdown.

Reddit discussion spread another rumor that the “false flag” attack caused the dismissal of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, U.S. Air Force Major General Michael Carey, Major General Charles M. Gurganus, and Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant.  Giardina was caught in a poker-rigging scheme, and Carey was removed from his job after a drunken bender in Moscow. Gurganus and Sturdevant were forced into retirement before October 2013 after an investigation into a Taliban attack in Afghanistan. None of what the woman said was true, but Santorum just accepted it.

At a Minnesota McCain town hall meeting almost seven years ago, a woman said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh—he’s an Arab. He’s not —. ”

McCain told his supporter:

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

At another town hall meeting, McCain said, “We want to fight, and I will fight, but I will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him.”

Santorum and the rest of the far-right presidential candidates remember what McCain did and how he lost the election. They also watched this week’s election in Israel when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won his election after playing his bigot cards: the day before the election, he promised that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he stayed in office. Although Netanyahu has done everything he can to bury a two-state solution since his took the formal position of supporting it six years ago, he has not come out with any declaration against it until he was in danger of losing the election.

To cement his election, Netanyahu ran an ad that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes.” He accused “left-wing NGOs [of bringing] them in buses.”  During his campaign, Netanyahu accused foreign governments of undermining his leadership with non-governmental organizations (NGO).

Thomas Friedman wrote about the Middle East:

“It is hard to know what is more depressing: that Netanyahu went for the gutter in the last few days in order to salvage his campaign—renouncing his own commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians and race-baiting Israeli Jews to get out and vote because, he said, too many Israeli Arabs were going to the polls — or the fact that this seemed to work.

“The fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.”

J Street vice-president for communications, Alan Elsner, said that the pro-Israel, pro-peace organization fears the newly-elected prime minister will have to deal with the consequences of his claims. Elsner said that “suggesting that Arab citizens who have the right to vote are somehow a threat to Israel because they exercise their democratic right is outrageous” and Netanyahu tried “to scare his own supporters to go to the polls … in a disgusting, racist way.” He added, “If he walks back from it, he’s really going to enrage his right-wing supporters, and if he doesn’t walk back from it, he’s going to enrage the international community. Either way, neither constituency is going to believe him because he’s shot his credibility.”

Today Netanyahu “shot his credibility.” In his first interview since the election, he said:

“I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.”

He denied that he had changed his position from Monday’s comments when he explicitly eliminated the possibility of a Palestinian state. “I haven’t changed my policy,” he said. “What has changed is the reality.”

Netanyahu’s latest statement came after the White House suggested that the U.S. could stop protecting Israel with the UN and other international organizations if the country failed to commit to a two-state solution. The U.S. might even recognize a Palestinian state. White House spokesman Josh Earnest warned that the foundation for its policy for supporting Israel had been “eroded,” indicating that the U.S. would “need to re-evaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward.” Earlier Earnest had again denounced Netanyahu’s “cynical, divisive election-day tactics” and condemned the prime minister’s incendiary remarks about the Israeli Arab voters.

Friedman had predicted—correctly—that “Netanyahu could reverse himself tomorrow” and quoted Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea who described the prime minister’s promises as something “written on ice on a very hot day.” As Friedman wrote, however:

“The fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.”

Friedman also addressed the problem of Iran, writing that additional sanctions on Iran, as critics of President Obama want, are useless because the Middle East only reacts to regime changes. The U.S. tried—and failed—with this tactic in Afghanistan and Iraq. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big U.S. land army into the Middle East “should have his head examined.”

The question is why the United States is fighting, for the third time in less than 15 years, a war on behalf of Iran. The U.S. destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (2002) and Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab World (2003), leaving a vacuum in Iraq and the Sunni Arab world. Now Iran’s proxies dominate Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa and Baghdad. As terrible as ISIS is, the Sunni Arab response to the U.S. defeat of Sunni Arabism is “the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq,” according to Friedman. By fighting ISIS, the U.S. is again hoping that the Shiite militias will rule better, an idea that has failed for over a decade.

Today marks two grim anniversaries: the 12th anniversary of U.S. preemptive war on Iraq and the 5th anniversary of the NATO intervention in Libya. Both overthrew Arab dictators; both left the local people in such horrific straits that many of them look back with nostalgia to the days of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi.

Now war against Iran is backed by 47 percent of the U.S. Senate and the new Israeli prime minister who appears to lead the U.S. House.

[Note: To the people who claim that anti-Netanyahu is anti-Israel, ask them if being anti-President Obama is anti-American.]

February 16, 2015

GOP Supports Netanyahu Instead of U.S. President

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) declared yesterday on the Fox network that “we have every right to do what we did,” referring to inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a speech before Congress only two weeks before Israel’s election. Congress is on recess, and tomorrow Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Kurt Schrader are appearing at a town hall on the coast of Oregon. Gilbert Schramm, has provided some background about Netanyahu for people who want to know more about the person who will be lobbying Congress to stop U.S. negotiations with Iran.

Fact checks of Netanyahu’s recent statements:

Iran: Speaking to the UN, Netanyahu claimed that Iran was only a year away from having a nuclear weapon. A top Israeli intelligence official admitted that Iran was 10 years away, and Israel doesn’t know if Iran will try to develop to develop one.

Syria: Netanyahu pushed the United States toward bombing Syria in 2013, and 200 lobbyists argued for a war that the U.S. people don’t want. Their claim that Syria would never divest itself of chemical weapons collapsed, leaving it the only major force opposing ISIL after the U.S.-created Iraqi army dissolved. Israel has not ratified the chemical weapons treaty and keeps its chemical weapons.

Missiles: Netanyahu’s story about “Syrian missiles bound for Gaza,” issued at the same time as U.S. negotiations with Iran, also blew up. The missiles were from Iran and headed to the Sudan. Iran’s peaceful nuclear program continues to be in compliance with the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that Israel refuses to sign.

Gaza: Netanyahu claims to care deeply about “every single civilian in Gaza” while leveling whole neighborhoods with what he calls “precision strikes.” He also seals the borders of Gaza to keep everyone from escaping and then bemoans the Palestinian leadership “using human shields” and “placing its own people at risk.”

Threats: Hours after Netanyahu claimed that Israel was under a terrible existential threat, he told the FAA that U.S. tourists would be perfectly safe when they flew into Tel Aviv at the same time that flights had been forced to abort landings in the presence of rocket fire.

Two-state solution: For years, Netanyahu pretended that he would accept a two-state solution. Last month he admitted that he never would. He follows Ben Gurion’s 1947 argument to Zionists that they should accept the UN partition plan detailed in UN 181 and then ignore the parallel Palestinian state. A Palestinian state doesn’t exist 68 years later because Israeli has prevented its creation.

Celebrating murderers: In Israel, people debate the “permissibility” of genocide. Referring to six Israeli Jewish extremists burning a Palestinian boy alive, Netanyahu claimed that Israel punished murderers while Palestinians “celebrated murderers.” His claimed that Israelis never named streets or buildings after murderers, but streets and buildings throughout Israel are named after Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, both leaders of Jewish terrorist groups that committed awful atrocities. Places are also named for dozens of other Zionist killers. Palestine cannot do the same because they have no state and therefore cannot officially give names to streets.

Background: Benjamin Netanyahu won the election for prime minister in 1995 after his opponent, Yitzchak Rabin, was assassinated by an Israeli terrorist. In Politicide, Israeli historian Baruch Kimmerling wrote that Netanyahu was a key figure in incitements against Rabin. Past leaders of Netanyahu’s political party, Likud, had supported Mussolini in World War II and were Zionist/Jewish terrorists responsible, among over things, for the bombing of the King David Hotel, assassinations of the British High commissioner and Count Bernadotte (the very first UN peacemaker sent to Palestine), executions of British troops, and numerous attacks on Arab civilians. Previously, the founder of Irgun, Likud’s predecessor, wrote to Adolf Hitler, promising that a Jewish state would protect Germany’s position in the Middle East. (Kati Marton, A Death in Jerusalem, p.54)

Loss of power: Once prime minister, Netanyahu immediately appointed as his defense minister Ariel Sharon, previously thrown out of the government for massacres in Lebanon including Sabra and Shatila. Sharon then defeated Netanyahu and derailed the Oslo peace accords in 2001, followed by his vigorous encouragement that the U.S. invade Iraq two years later. Although Netanyahu lost by a small margin in 2008, he united the Likud party with other even more extreme Israeli settler parties.

Palestinian state: Likud’s party charter rejects any possibility of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River; “their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.” The goal of the Likud party, led by Netanyahu, is not peace but total “victory” by whatever means necessary and achieved through violence, if they wish.

[Gilbert Schramm is a peace activist and international educator who currently lives in Oregon. He has previously lived and worked extensively in the Middle East and has studied the region for almost 35 years.]

Netanyahu’s hawkish, right-wing lies start wars, and Israel wants the might of the United States military behind them for whatever the Israelis want. In his speech to Congress, Netanyahu will urge legislators to go above President Obama’s interests of peace to support the right-wing Israeli wish list. In recent weeks, Israeli intelligence agencies have directly reported to U.S. officials that increasing sanctions on Iran would derail the current delicate negotiations. Allowing Netanyahu to follow through with his plans would also insult the president of the United States and violate existing international diplomatic precedents.

The two most effective opponents of ISIL are Iran and Hezbollah. When UN peacekeepers were surrounded by ISIL rebels on the Israeli border, Netanyahu’s troops, a few yards away, did nothing while Syrian troops used artillery fire to help the peacekeepers escape.

Democrats, some of them leaders in the Jewish caucus and others long supporters of Israel, also condemn Netanyahu’s lobbying for war. Veterans of the civil rights movement also condemn Netanyahu for his apartheid policies in Israel. From left to right, the U.S. Jewish community, including Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, is outraged that Netanyahu pretends to speak for them.

Netanyahu had hoped to use his speech before Congress as part of his re-election campaign, but Israel’s election chief Salim Joubran announced that the broadcast in Israel would have a five-minute delay, allowing editors to cut partisan statements. Several parties in Israel have condemned Netanyahu for his actions, along with Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and five former Israeli ambassadors. Even right-wing allies fear that the speech will put the prime minister’s ties to the GOP ahead of the relationship between Israel and the United States.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that he opposes “shallow” campaign tactics, adding that speaking about threats and dangers should be “in Hebrew to our citizens at home.”

A recent poll shows that people think that Boehner’s invitation was inappropriate  by 47 percent to 30 percent. All demographics show a majority of opposition to the invitation except for Republicans. In Israel, the opposition to Netanyahu speaking to Congress, 52 percent to 36 percent, is relatively the same as in the U.S.

After Netanyahu faced opposition in the United States for his planned speech, one of his officials, Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, accused Boehner of telling them that support for the speech was bipartisan. Hanegbi did not disagree with an interviewer who asked if Netanyahu had been “misled.” Nevertheless, Netanyahu plans to make the speech on March 3 because, Hanegbi said, it could help secure the two-thirds vote necessary to override a presidential veto on new sanctions in Iran.

Boehner told Fox’s Chris Wallace that he had asked Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., not to tell the White House about Congress’s meeting with Netanyahu “to make sure that there was no interference.” Boehner also complained about the “animosity” that the White House had shown Netanyahu. When Wallace asked if “the relationship between the U.S. and Israel be outside of politics,” Boehner dodged the question, saying that he looked forward to hearing what Netanyahu had to say.

Netanyahu said to Dan Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, that the Obama administration was “not to ever second-guess me again.” No other foreign leader could get away with this tone and this message. Yet United States taxpayers send over $8 million a day in U.S. aid to Israel.

The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives has secretly partnered with a foreign government to undermine the foreign policy of the United States. Boehner admitted that he put the prime minister of Israel above the President of the United States, and Boehner did this after he lied about giving the White House sufficient warning regarding the invitation to Netanyahu.

The Republicans have been salivating for an opportunity to govern in Washington, D.C. This debacle, only two months into the 114th Congress, may be only an early one that leads the GOP toward failure in the 2016 election.

July 31, 2012

Romney’s Gaffes Embarrass Republicans

“Kiss my ass!” This statement polished off what might have been the most disastrous tour for a U.S. presidential wannabe. Mitt Romney’s week through the U.K., Israel, and Poland began with one of his campaign persons, still not clearly identified, stating the President Obama doesn’t belong to the Anglo-Saxon culture. Rick Gorka finished the catastrophe with the above expletive as well as the directive “Shove it” to the press after they pressed for information. Gorka later apologized.

Romney personally made a large number of gaffes, starting out with criticizing the organization of the Olympics during an interview with Brian Williams. This insensitivity brought derisive comments from both Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the latter when he spoke to a crowd of thousands. One UK journalist said that Romney had brought the Brits together in support of the Olympics. Romney later backed down on his criticism of the current Olympics.

Then Romney called the Ed Milliband, head of the Labour Party, “Mr. Leader” indicating that he had possibly forgotten the man’s name. After Romney met the head of M16, the international arm of the British secret service, he talked about their get-together. The M16, much like the CIA, is highly secret; the chief’s scheduling is almost never revealed. Romney even referred to the “back side” of 10 Downing Street which is a term in England for the lower rear part of the human torso.

During a speech in Israel, Romney praised the country’s health care system, a government-controlled universal health care plan. Wanting to pander to the Israelis, he went back to the culture discussion, stating that the Jewish people were more economically successful than the Palestinians because of their “culture” and because the Jews have “the hand of providence.” Evidently Romney thinks that God likes the Jews more than the Palestinians. Still not taking the foot out of his mouth, he explained that Mexico lacks the same superior culture and hand of providence that the United States does.

Romney first said he didn’t say anything about Palestinian culture and later tried to defend himself by saying that his remarks were taken out of context. (Apparently, it’s okay when he takes the president’s statements out of context, but that no one should do this to him.) You can check out the “context” for yourself.

In Israel, Romney’s campaign also organized a $50,000 a plate fundraiser—on a Jewish day of fasting to mourn the Jewish tragedies. Romney’s campaign said they were aware that they had scheduled a fundraiser with food in Israel on a day of fasting, but they thought that people wouldn’t be so upset. They later dropped the price to $10,000

Today in Poland, Romney praised Poland’s economy when he said, “A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage.” This follows his criticism of Europe as a “social welfare state.” Hint to Mr. Romney: Poland is in Europe.

In addition, ABC Fact Check pointed out that the Polish government gives women $300 for each baby they have, doubling that sum for poor families; fully funds state university educations; and guarantees health care to all its 38 million citizens. Some of its economic growth comes from subsidies flowing from the European Union since Poland joined the bloc in 2004. Total government expenditure as a percentage of GDP was about 44 percent in Poland last year compared to 41 percent in the United States. And they don’t pay over half their taxes for defense. Unemployment in Poland is 12.4 percent, and wages are low, and GDP per capita last year in Poland was $20,600 compared to $49,000 in the U.S.

Romney even alienated the Polish people before he set food on their ground. Poland’s storied Solidarnosc (Solidarity) trade union, founded by former president Lech Walesa and others in 1980, issued a press release saying it is “in no way involved” in the Romney meeting with Walesa and had no “initiative” to invite the American candidate to Poland. The union has expressed dismay at Romney’s anti-union stances in the U.S.

The staunchest of U.S. conservatives are also appalled at the results of Romney’s tour which was designed to show that he is accomplished in foreign policy. Karl Rove said, “You have to shake your head.” Charles Krauthammer went much farther on a Fox panel discussion, claiming that Romney’s statements were “unbelievable, it’s beyond human understanding, it’s incomprehensible. I’m out of adjectives.”

Beyond stupidity, Romney has made dangerous statements on his tour. Romney declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and stated that he would move the U.S. embassy there. At this time, the UN has declared Jerusalem an international city, and this issue is extremely sensitive. Even the Chinese are upset about Romney’s statement. The Xinhua News Agency, the government news resource, wrote, “Romney’s remarks totally neglect historical facts and are actually irresponsible if he just meant to appeal to voters at home.”

Russia is our country’s “number one adversary,” he said on CNN last night. AT least he did say “Russia.” Two of his advisers have recently referred to the country as the “Soviet Union.”

In last Sunday’s speech to the Israelis, Romney said that he would stand with their country against any Iranian threat, pointing out a hawkish approach that could lead to World War III. “We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intensions. We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option.” Dan Senior, Romney’s senior foreign policy aide, suggested that Romney would support a unilateral military strike by Israel. Senior later said that he didn’t really mean a military strike.

As Rove shakes his head and Krauthammer runs out of adjectives, others wonder why Romney is making so many mistakes. One simplistic theory from people who see Romney as intelligent is that he is trying to show that he’s one of the people. Others connect it to his anxiety and lack of experience in interacting with people who don’t share his wealthy background and Mormon faith. The result is contempt for people not in his personal world which slips out when he isn’t careful. The British aren’t running the Olympics correctly, or young people without money for college should borrow from their parents rather than the government. His failure in communication then leads to hostility that leads to bullying.

These gaffes, however, may not cause him as much trouble as what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today. After saying that Romney couldn’t make it through a Senate confirmation process as a mere Cabinet nominee because he wouldn’t release information about his personal finances, Reid said that a Bain Capital investor told him that Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years.

Romney himself has said that he should be elected as president if he paid taxes he didn’t owe. But now there is speculation about whether he isn’t paying taxes that he does owe. Everyone in the country should question a man who pays less than 14 percent taxes in the one year in which he released his tax returns and then wants to be elected because his economic plan will lower his own personal taxes.

About Romney’s dismal performance in England, Krauthammer said that all he had to do was keep his mouth shut. Henry Porter, writing for the UK Guardian, agreed, in charming British language: “All that is required of any foreign personage is to speed along the line of greeters, murmuring: ‘Jolly good show–carry on.’”

Porter continued with this gem about Romney: “He displayed the sure touch of a Tourettes sufferer.”

In guessing at the reason behind Romney’s vast mistakes:

“It is that Romney has stripped himself of reason, personality, and sense in order to become the next president of the United States and that that is ultimately why he will fail to persuade the undecided voters to endorse him. Devilishly cunning new legislation in 19 key U.S. states, designed to place obstacles between voters and the ballot boxes most likely to affect those who vote Democrat, may eventually swing it for the Republicans. But in a straight fight with Obama on the candidates’ weight, experience, and merit of their convictions, he comes a distant second. This is as much about authenticity as politics.

“Romney is generally smooth in interview yet he leaves you counting your change. The general debate on how the rich got richer in the last 15 years may prove embarrassing for him. Bain’s chief mode of operation was to create efficiencies by outsourcing jobs to cheaper labor markets. That is not a great record if the main thrust of your campaign is to concentrate on the administration’s failure to create jobs on American soil.

“Romney has got nothing to say. He hollowed himself out to gain the nomination and is now too drained of character to win the presidency.”

And there you have it: the Republican presidential nominee of 2012.

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