Month: December 2016

“Rhetoric of Fascism” is Rising in U.S. and Europe, Says U.N. Rights Chief

pro-europle-imrs-1

Pro-Europe protester and artist Kaya Mar shows his painting depicting President-elect Donald Trump and European leaders in stylized Nazi uniforms, as he demonstrates outside the Supreme Court in London on Monday. (photo: Andy Rain / European Pressphoto Agency)

By Ishaan Tharoor / The Washington Post
December 9, 2016


“We don’t have to stand by when the haters drive wedges of hostility between communities. We can build bridges. We can raise our voices. We can stand up for the values of decent, compassionate societies.”


The values and politics that underpin inclusive, peaceful societies “risk being swept away,” warned Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights chief, in a statement ahead of the annual global commemoration of Human Rights Day this Saturday.

“2016 has been a disastrous year for human rights across the globe,” Zeid said in Geneva. He pointed to a world buffeted by complex crises, from the rise of violent extremism to “yawning economic disparities” to climate change and refugee crises. The inability of national governments to adequately address these challenges, Zeid said, has created space for “siren voices exploiting fears, sowing disinformation and division, and making alluring promises they cannot fulfill.”

Zeid, an outspoken Jordanian royal who has been in the post since 2014, was directing his critique in part at an array of Western far-right, ultranationalist politicians who channeled anti-immigrant sentiment and resentment of multiculturalism to score political gains in 2016. (more…)

Gaza Music School Overcomes Effects of War

a10-e1481832533201

(photo: Mohammed Asad)

By Ahmad Kabariti / Mondoweiss
December 16, 2016


“To play music means to spread happiness among others. I think that even the ones who used to make people suffer and were involved in killing and destruction, would not mind to have moments of joy and happiness.”


Just outside a building in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City a group of young people gather under a window to listen to the beautiful classical music coming out of the window a few meters above.

The window belongs to a small apartment used as a modest music school, which runs without proper lighting due to long hours of power cuts in Gaza. The music they’re listening to is played by Raslan Ashour, 16, who is practicing Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate” on a trumpet.

As he started to play another melody, Natasha Radawn, his tutor watches closely and smiles. “His performance has improved a lot, despite some tiny mistakes,” she says.

Ashour’s passion to learn oriental and western classical music was not very welcomed by his mother who believed her son should learn “something more useful” such as management, in order to be like his father who works in the fashion business.

“My father is the one who bought me the trumpet in the first place. I have a dream of being a maestro waving a baton in front of an orchestra. Why not? I would love to be that person,” Ashour told Mondoweiss. (more…)

Ralph Nader: An Open Letter To President Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama participates in his last news conference of the year at the White House in Washington

(photo: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Decision time for Israeli-Palestinian peace

By Ralph Nader / The Huffington Post
December 19, 2016


“[Recognizing Palestine]  is the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people [and] that could destroy Israeli democracy and will result in intensifying international condemnation of Israel.
— Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter


Dear President Obama:

On November 28, 2016, Jimmy Carter, the President who negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, wrote an op ed for the New York Times titled, “America Must Recognize Palestine.” His urgent plea was directed to you to take “the vital step . . . to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership,” before you leave office on January 20, 2017.

Mr. Carter referenced your reaffirmation in 2009 of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and United Nations Resolution 242 when you called “for a complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.” He noted that in 2011 you made clear that, in your words, “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” and that “negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.”

Former President Carter sees that the “combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership [for Palestine] and a UN Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy.” (more…)

Relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is Illegal

us-embassy-site-jerusalem-20161208_104156-965x543

The Jerusalem site formerly known as the Allenby Barracks, a possible location of the US Embassy. (photo: Raphael Ahren / Times of Israel)

The proposed move is a reckless provocation.

By Palestinian Square
December 14, 2016


“With all that Jerusalem connotes, it is, to say the least, unbecoming for the United States’ future embassy in that city to be built on land that is stolen property.”


Kellyanne Conway, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has stated that relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “a big priority” for the incoming administration. She added, “It is something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish-Americans have expressed their preference for.”

Meanwhile, in a passage that has since been removed from the online article, the Times of Israel has reported that the Trump transition team “has begun exploring the logistics of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, and checking into sites for its intended new location,” adding that the site being considered was formerly the location of the Allenby Barracks, the site of the British army’s Jerusalem garrison during the Mandate.

However, as is revealed by Walid Khalidi’s SPECIAL REPORT on the subject, originally published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, the site being considered is Palestinian private property stolen from its owners, including the waqf [an endowment made to a religious, educational, or charitable cause] property of several families. (more…)

What Could Happen if Trump Moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?

us-embassy-plot-jerusalem-20161224_map003_0

Proposed site of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Getty Images via Economist)

By Rebecca Shabad / CBS News
December 20, 2016


“Even though the peace process is, I think, comatose and is unlikely to advance in the near term, why overload the circuits and potentially take a step that could permanently undermine the prospects of a two-state solution? You’re simply going to feed Iranian propaganda, you’re going to feed Sunni-jihadi propaganda and most likely, you’re going to trigger a fair amount of violence and even terror.”
— Aaron David Miller, The Woodrow Wilson Center


Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may have been one of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises, but experts and Palestinian officials are warning of serious consequences if he follows through.

“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem — and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the powerful Jewish lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March.

Last week, in an indication of Mr. Trump’s seriousness, he announced that he would nominate bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to serve as ambassador to Israel. Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, made clear in a statement that he looks forward to doing the job from “the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush, called Friedman’s nomination a “serious mistake” in an op-ed in The New York Times over the weekend.

“The consequences of acting upon Mr. Friedman’s public suggestions are clearly dangerous. Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem — not a pressing issue for most Israelis — will inspire riots across the Islamic world,” Kurtzer wrote. (more…)

Trump’s Pick for Envoy to Israel Expects Embassy in Jerusalem

A general view of Jerusalem's old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount

A view of Jerusalem’s old city showing the Dome of the Rock. (photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters)

By Yara Bayoumy / Reuters
December 16, 2016


In an interview with Israeli left-leaning newspaper Haaretz, in June, Friedman was asked whether Trump would support the creation of an independent Palestinian state — a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy which supports a two-state solution. “The answer is: not without the approval of the Israelis. . . . He does not think it is an American imperative for it to be an independent Palestinian state.”


President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday he will nominate bankruptcy attorney David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Friedman said he looked forward to taking up his post in Jerusalem, implying a move from Tel Aviv that would mark a break in longstanding U.S. foreign policy and anger the Muslim world.

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump pledged to switch the embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been located for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel’s capital regardless of international objections.

“[Friedman] has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East,” Trump said in a statement issued by his team on Thursday.

The Republican made clear during his campaign that he would support Israel in a number of critical areas, said he would not put pressure on Israel to engage in talks with the Palestinians.

The United States and other powers do not regard Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Other nations embassies are located in Tel Aviv — and do not recognize Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following its capture in the 1967 Middle East war. (more…)

Friedman Isn’t a Hawk or a Dove — He’s an Ostrich

2562088553

David M. Friedman, left, with Donald J. Trump and his daughter Ivanka in 2010. (photo: Bradley C. Bower / Bloomberg)

By appointing a leader of the Israeli settlement project to be his ambassador to Israel, Trump signals a retreat from America’s role as “honest broker” in the region. It’s not hard to see who stands to benefit.

By Jay Michaelson / The Daily Beast
December 18, 2016


Ironically, the appointment of one of the leaders of the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank (ruled illegal by the International Criminal Court and opposed by every American administration since Nixon), and an extreme Jewish nationalist may, in the end, be a catastrophe for Israel.


David Friedman, Donald Trump’s close confidante and ambassador-designate to Israel, is not a right-winger. To be on the right wing implies that one is on a continuum from liberal to conservative. But Friedman — together with around 15% of the Israeli Jewish population — inhabits a different world entirely. His appointment would represent a total realignment of American policy in the Middle East, with the biggest winner being (surprise) Vladimir Putin.

The normal continuum runs as follows. The consensus of the international community, the Israeli government, and every American government for a generation is that that there must be a state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. Of course, within that consensus, there are hawks and doves, right-wingers and left. Some are willing to take more risks for peace, some are more mistrustful of the people they call “the Arabs” and want any peace process to be slow and gradual. But all agree that it’s not feasible to create an apartheid regime in which 7 million Jews rule over 10 million non-Jews.

But in the world of Friedman, the Zionist Organization of America, the settler wing of the Israeli Right, and some parts of the American Jewish community, the path forward is one state — Israel — led by Jews, favoring Jews legally, and running from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It is an apartheid state, meaning a state wherein one population has civil rights that another does not; where one has freedom of movement and another does not; where one has the entire apparatus of the state in its control, and the other either cannot vote or is guaranteed a permanent minority. (more…)

The Grotesque anti-Semitic Turn of David Friedman

3958951307

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. (photo: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

You don’t even have to be a J Street fan to consider calling them “Kapos,” as David Friedman has done, as disqualifying for such a symbolic post for the U.S. Jewish community.

By David Schraub / Haaretz
December 18, 2016


One does not have to be a J Street member or even a fan to think that comparing them to “Kapos” is grotesque and marginalizing, and should be (what’s the word I’m looking for? Help me out, ADL) disqualifying for any administration post — much less one deeply symbolic for America’s Jewish population.


Early in the Trump transition phase, it looked as if Mike Huckabee would be appointed ambassador to Israel. Huckabee had recently accused Jews of plotting false flag hate crime hoaxes to frame Donald Trump supporters; he also has a bit of a history of tossing out casual Holocaust comparisons and then getting really angry when Jews cry foul.

But Huckabee will not be our ambassador. Instead, Trump has tapped close adviser David Friedman for the role. Friedman has called Barack Obama an “anti-Semite” and contended that J Streeters are “far worse than Kapos.” He also asserted, in the course of advocating “allegiance” standards for Israel’s Muslim citizens, that “In the United States, advocating to overthrow the government by force or violence can get you life in prison” (No, it can’t). And of course, he’s an opponent of the two-state solution.

It’s a little unnerving that the thing Trump looks for in an Israel ambassador is a propensity to frivolously toss out Nazi comparisons. It’s almost like he won’t actually be a real friend in the White House. Imagine that. (more…)

Jewish Storm Builds Over Friedman’s Appointment as Ambassador

david-friedman-trump

David Friedman with Donald Trump in Manhattan. (photo: Jerusalem Post)

By Nathan Guttman / Forward
December 16, 2016


“Everything an ambassador says and does has an impact on policy. The president hasn’t been sworn in yet, the Secretary of State hasn’t spoken about this, and he’s already talking about the policy he is going to change. This is unheard of.”
—Daniel Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel


President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel is brewing into a Jewish battle royale for supporters and detractors of the two-state solution.

For the Jewish left, Friedman appointment has quickly emerged as a banner for rallying troops already concerned with the impact the Trump presidency will have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the right, Trump’s choice of a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer as chief envoy to Israel is seen as ushering in a new era of settlement expansion and changing the fundamentals of American policy toward the conflict. (more…)

Trump’s Daily Bankrupcy and the Ambassador to Israel

remnick-trumpsdailybankruptcy-1200

David Friedman, named by Donald Trump as his Ambassador to Israel, is ideologically to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo: Bradley C. Bower / Bloomberg)

By David Remnick / The New Yorker
December 16, 2016


When one read this morning in the paper that Friedman “has no experience in diplomacy,” one could only mutter, “No kidding.” But having no experience in a given field seems to be, in the Trumpian universe, the greatest of virtues. The contempt for experience (as a marker of “élitism”) is parallel to the contempt for science, for fact, for restraint, for consideration, for decency, for a sense of the past.


Every morning since November 9th, you wake up and read the news and think, This has got to be an issue of The Onion. Because, while so much of the media, in ways subtle and broad, attempts to normalize the Trump ascendancy, while we are told that patriotism demands that we accept Trump and “give him a chance,” the President-elect acts in ways that leave even dystopian satire behind. His behavior has little to do with conservatism or libertarianism or populism; his mode is recklessness, a self-admiring belief that unpredictability is the path to national salvation.

And so every day brings at least one fresh outrage: the appointment of a national-security adviser whose temperament resembles those of the unhinged generals in “Dr. Strangelove”; a keeper of the environment who denies the science of climate change; a chief strategist and senior counselor who ran a Web site laced with racist poison and bogus “news”; an Attorney General who regards the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive” and once referred to a subordinate as “boy.”

It seems almost sadistic to go on. It’s the holiday season, after all. Suffice it to say that the appointments, contrary to Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp,” comprise a reinvention of the swamp, a new, improved version of the swamp, in which the super-wealthy and the oil and gas industries are vested with singular authority. All of this is set against a background of brewing scandals, myriad conflicts of interest, the gleeful humiliation of longstanding foes, and a President-elect who refuses to show even a measure of curiosity about the possibility that Russian intelligence agencies meddled in a national election. (more…)