Muslim Countries call for E. Jerusalem as Palestine Capital, reject US as Honest Broker

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, a regular meeting of the foreign ministers of 57 Muslim-majority countries, held an extraordinary session in Istanbul on Wednesday, in which they rejected US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a communique they called Trump’s decision “unilateral,” “illegal,” and “irresponsible” and said it was “null and void.”

The Muslim powers said that they now officially recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, and they urged other countries to so recognize it.

They said that Trump had deliberately sabotaged all the efforts expended over the years to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace and that he had benefited extremism and terrorism, and had threatened international peace and security. They observed that Trump’s decision had the practical effect of withdrawing the US from any role as a mediator in achieving peace.

The Muslim leaders condemned Trump for encouraging the Netanyahu government in Israel to continue its policies of colonial settlement and of Apartheid, as well as of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

The communique said that if the Security Council does not mobilize to intervene on Jerusalem, that they would take the issue to the UN General Assembly.

For his part, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas opined that there will be neither peace nor stability until East Jerusalem is definitively recognized as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Abbas also said that from now on he and his organization can never again consider the United States as honest broker in the peace process.

Dude, the US was never an honest broker. The US government has from the time of Harry Truman been dedicated to screwing over the Palestinians.

The Trump administration line on Mahmoud Abbas is now that he “walked away from the peace process.” This is like saying that Salma Hayek walked away from reconciliation with Harvey Weinstein.


Related video:

CGTN: “OIC hold emergency meeting in wake of Trump’s Jerusalem decision”

What’s the Difference between Roy Moore and a Muslim extreme Fundamentalist? A Cowboy Hat

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Both Christianity and Islam as religions comprise large numbers of people and contain a spectrum of believers from the secular to the moderate to the extreme. At the far right fringes of the Muslim extremists you get al-Qaeda. At the far right fringes of Christian extremists you get the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa.

Just short of the violent extremists however, you have the inflexible far right fundamentalists. Judge Roy Moore of Alabama, who lost Tuesday’s senate contest, has a great deal in common with the extreme Muslim fundamentalists.

Since Trump and his evil puppeteer and white supremacist Steve “Breitbart” Bannon both backed Moore to the hilt, this means that the Trump wing of the Republican Party is now committed to a form of politics indistinguishable from Muslim fundamentalism.

For instance, Moore thought it is all right to date 14 year old girls as a 32 year old man. He even said he got their mothers’ permission.

The minimum legal marriage age for girls in fundamentalist Iran is 13, and with the permission of the court and their fathers they can marry at even a younger age.

So what is the difference between Moore and Iran’s ayatollahs?

Moore was removed twice from the bench at Alabama’s supreme court for insisting that biblical law trumps the laws of the United States and of the state of Alabama.

Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran (d. 1989) said that if the Iranian electorate voted one way, and the 12 vicars (Imams) of the prophet Muhammad voted the opposite way, the Imams would be right and the Iranian people would be wrong. In other words, Khomeini denied the Enlightenment principle of popular sovereignty, that the people’s will as indicated at the ballot box is the law of the land.

Roy Moore denies popular sovereignty, saying that his interpretation of the Bible is more important.

So what is the difference between Moore and Ayatollah Khomeini?

Moore holds that Muslims may not serve in the US Congress (that will come as a surprise to Keith Ellison [D-MN]) because they cannot take an oath on the Bible. But the constitution does not require an oath on the Bible, and Ellison swore on Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Qur’an. Jake Tapper had to point this out to Moore’s spokesman:

CNN: “Jake Tapper fact checks Roy Moore spokesman”


Muslim fundamentalists in Indonesia objected to a Christian being governor of Jakarta, and managed to get him removed on trumped up charges of blasphemy.

Roy Moore “probably” still thinks homosexuality should be illegal, in contrast to the US Supreme Court.

Although a majority of American Muslims believe that homosexuality should be accepted, fundamentalist preachers elsewhere want to see it banned.

Moore believes that 9/11 struck the US because its public fell away from God.

Saudi cleric Bin Baz also held that calamities are punishment for not obeying God’s laws.

So Trump and Bannon are not trying to install ordinary conservative Christians in power. They are backing the Christian Taliban.

Luckily for the nation, sane Alabamans defeated Moore on Tuesday.


Related video:

Doug Jones Triumphs Over Roy Moore In Alabama Senate Election | The Last Word | MSNBC

The Fempire Strikes Back: #MeToo and the Man-Monsters

By Ann Jones. | (

First, for the record, let me tell you my story about another of those perversely creepy Hollywood predators, a sort of cut-rate Harvey Weinstein: the screenwriter and film director James Toback. As I read now of women he preyed upon year after year, I feel the rage that’s bubbled in the back of my brain for decades reaching the boiling point. I should be elated that Toback has been exposed again as the loathsome predator he’s been for half a century. But I’m stuck on the fact of elapsed time, all these decades that male predators roamed at large, efficiently sidelining and silencing women.

Toback could have been picked up by New York’s Finest when he hit on me in or around 1972.  But I didn’t call the cops, knowing it would come to nothing.  Nor did I tell our mutual employer, the City College of the City University of New York. I had no doubt about which one of us our male bosses would believe. I had already been labeled an agitator for campaigning to add a program in women’s studies to the curriculum. Besides, to any normal person, the story of what happened would sound too inconsequential to seem anything but ridiculous: not a crime but a farce.

I didn’t know Toback. I must have seen him at infrequent faculty meetings, but we taught in different writing programs. There was no reason for our paths to cross. Ever. So I have no memory of him until the day I flung open the door of my Chinatown loft in response to a knock, expecting to greet my downstairs neighbor, and in walked Toback. My antennae went up.  How had he managed to get past the locked street door? I remember talking fast, trying to get him out of my place without provoking a confrontation. He agreed to leave with me — to go out for tea or lunch or some little excursion I proposed — but first he insisted on using my bathroom, from which he soon emerged naked. I remember the way he listed the many things he had in mind for me to do for him. Among them, one demand persists in memory, perhaps because it was at once so specific and so bizarre: that I suck and pinch his nipples.

I beat him to the door, furious at being driven from my own loft. I think I threatened to come back with the cops. Something scared him anyway.  From a shop on the street, I watched as he left my building on the run, waddling away at top speed.

Reader, if you think that nothing really happened, then you are mistaken. This incident took place almost 50 years ago and though I hadn’t thought of it in ages — not until his name popped up in the media — the memory remains remarkably raw. I still want to see him marched naked through the streets of Manhattan and Los Angeles to the jeers and uproarious laughter of women. 

At the time, Toback was no more than 25 years old, while I was nearly 10 years older, a thoroughgoing feminist, and luckily faster on my feet than him. But recent reports say that, in the 1980s and later, Toback routinely focused his attacks on very young women, some of them teenagers, using promises of film stardom (sound familiar?) to lure them into encounters that left them sodden with shame. He is now in his seventies and, although women have reported his predation several times in major magazines, he was still on the prowl last month and had never before been called to account for his actions.

What could be more despicable than this: that for more than four decades, while he and his kind were allowed to practice undeterred, he only got better at his game of assaulting women.

A Catalogue of Violations

Not long after my run-in with Toback, a university professor from whom I was taking a writing course came calling to discuss my “extraordinary work” and emerged from that same Chinatown bathroom in a similar state of nakedness. (Do they follow some instruction manual I’ve never seen?) By then I was writing and photographing as a freelancer for the travel section of the New York Times, an unpaid task that entitled me to receive midnight phone calls from the drunken travel editor detailing the things I might do for him to insure a “real job” with the Times.  That’s when I became a freelancer elsewhere, always ready to cut and run. I’ve been a loner ever since. 

I could tell you stories of other professors, editors, journalists, and TV hosts. But they would be much the same as those we read almost every day now as women go public with their own stories of sexual harassment and worse at the hands of powerful men in the film industry, major media outlets, Silicon Valley, and Congress, among other places. In response, almost every day come new denials, excuses, or half-baked apologies. 

Some commentators are now reconsidering Bill Clinton’s record in the sharper light of the present moment.  Others ask if the current “witch hunt” for sexual predators has gone too far.  Expecting inevitable backlash, some recommend that women exercise restraint — as all of us have been taught to do for so many eons — lest some unsubstantiated accusation discredit the stories of thousands of women reporting #MeToo.  I don’t share such tender concern for the reputations of men, especially not that of the president, the self-congratulatory pussy-grabber-in-chief whose followers seem to mistake his behavior for the norm, if not an aspirational ideal.

Discussion of these matters quickly becomes political, eliciting erratic, gender-bending partisan judgments.  Some prominent Republican men called for former judge Roy Moore of Alabama, accused of harassing and assaulting teenaged girls when he was a 30-something assistant district attorney, to end his campaign for the Senate, while many Republican women in that state, including many who are presumably the mothers of daughters, continue to stand behind him.

At the same time, Democrats parse which of Bill Clinton’s accusers to believe and which not. And who hasn’t thought again about Clarence Thomas?  He was elevated to the Supreme Court by an all-white male Congressional committee despite the thoroughly credible testimony of harassed law professor Anita Hill and the accounts of many other women, similarly violated and ready to testify against Thomas, but never called. Given his long misogynistic history on the court, isn’t it time to look at his testimony again? Did he commit perjury to gain his seat? And if so, what’s to be done about his consistent judicial record inimical to the common interests of women?

It’s Not Just Sex 

Little or none of male harassment and predation is truly about sex, except insofar as men weaponize their sad libidos to pin women to the floor. Monstrous men commit what’s called sexual harassment and sexual assault not because women are irresistible but because they can’t resist the rush of power that rises from using, dominating, degrading, humiliating, shaming, and in some cases even murdering another (lesser) human being. (Sexist, not sexual, may be a more accurate adjective.)

Often — especially when the woman is better looking and more talented or qualified than her assailant — he gets an additional powerful kick from having “taught the bitch a lesson.”  A smug sense of power (“When you’re a star… you can do anything”) colors the phony apologies of accused predators. (“It was never my intention to leave the impression I was making an inappropriate advance on anyone.”)  Though a man may be truly sorry to be found out, it’s next to impossible for him, after that blast of solid-gold supremacy, to pretend to even a particle of remorse.

The times call for accusations to be scrupulously accurate. Yet it’s misleading to think of sexual harassment and sexual assault as separate and isolated indignities when in real life one so often segues into the other. Such terms arose in the course of intensive work by feminists of the so-called second wave, which is to say feminists like me who began work in the 1960s and 1970s.  One of our tasks was to expose and document the extent of violence against women in the United States. At that time, misogyny emanated from the pores of patriarchal men, poisoning the very air we breathed. We found overwhelming the violence such men committed against women and girls of all colors who did not conform to their notions of decorative and deferential “femininity.”   

The fact that male violence methodically constricts female lives is so appalling that most women simply couldn’t acknowledge it. Psychiatrist Judith Lewis Herman, in her landmark study Trauma and Recovery (1992), described things as they were at the time: “Most women do not… recognize the degree of male hostility toward them, preferring to view the relations of the sexes as more benign than they are in fact. Similarly, women like to believe that they have greater freedom and higher status than they do in reality.”  Beneath the revelations of sexual harassment and assault today lie the same hard-rock foundations of male hostility that Herman described a quarter century ago.

To document male violence and depict how it works in daily life, second-wave feminists tried to break it down into its component parts: discrimination and domination — psychological, sexual, and physical — in the home, the schools, the workplace, the church, the courts, the prisons, and public life. We wrote the history of male violence against women, while exploring its effects at that time and its future prospects.  Our generation produced groundbreaking books on patriarchy (Kate Millet, Sexual Politics, 1970), rape (Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will, 1975), sexual harassment (Catherine McKinnon, Sexual Harassment of Working Women, 1979), pornography (Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, 1981), the battered women’s movement (Susan Schechter, Women and Male Violence, 1982), men murdering women (Diana Russell, Femicide, 1992), and feminist consciousness (Gloria Steinem, Revolution from Within, 1993).  I wrote a history of American women who did not conform: Women Who Kill (1980). For countless women of my generation, this documentation and the movement for change became our life’s work. 

The next generation of women thought differently. Many younger women, even some who call themselves feminists today, were persuaded by the hostile counterattack against the women’s movement (meticulously deconstructed by Susan Faludi in Backlash, 1991) that we uptight “man-haters” had wildly exaggerated the violence women face.  They, on the other hand, proudly proclaimed their youth, intelligence, ambition, and control of their own lives. They would not be victims or feminists either. We knew how they felt, for we had felt that way, too, when we were young. Then they went out to work and met the monsters.

To understand what actually happens to women, you only have to listen to or read any of the accounts pouring forth right now to denounce “sexual harassment.”  The stories are laced with fear about immediate physical threats and, more pointedly, with anger and despair about the potential demolition of their jobs, future careers, and life as they had envisioned it for themselves.

From the stories of individual women, it’s clear that predators violate the neat categories of feminist scholarship, shifting seamlessly from harassment to coercion to physical assault, rape, and worse. The “sexual” strategies exposed by these repetitive accounts are similar to those described in police reports on battered women, seasoned prostitutes, and women subjected to incest, trafficking, rape, and femicide. These are stories of the lives and deaths of millions of women and girls in America.

Behind all of them is the deafening sound of a silence that has persisted throughout my long life. But these past weeks have been startlingly different. By now, we — both women and men — should have heard enough to never again ask: “Why didn’t she come forward?” Let this be our own “open secret.” We all know now that a man who assaults a woman does so because he can, while a woman who comes forward, even with our support, is likely to be violated and shamed again — as were the women who came forward to accuse presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.

Now What?

None of this is new, though we tend to act as if it were.  Just last week, for instance, I heard three young women radio reporters explain that women back in the 1970s or 1980s accepted “unwanted male attention” in the office and in life “because that’s just the way things were.” (Harvey Weinstein offered the same excuse: “All the rules about workplaces and behavior were different. That was the culture then.”)

Please, can we get this straight?  Back in those ancient times — the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s — we did not accept violence against women in the workplace or any place else.  It’s true we hesitated to report it to employers or the police, because when we did, we had to watch them laugh it off or send us packing. But we did call it out. We named it. We described it. We wrote books about all forms of violence against women — all those “man-hating” books that these days, if anyone cares to look, may not seem quite so obsolete.

We worked for change. And now only 40 or so years later, here it seems to be. Los Angeles Times reporter Glenn Whipp broke the story of James Toback’s predation based on the complaints of 38 women. Within days that number had grown to 200. By the time I emailed him my story, the number reporting Toback assaults had hit 310.  In a follow-up article, Whipp mentioned that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit wanted to hear from women Toback had attacked in their jurisdiction. I called and left a message, making good my threat to bring in the law after only about 45 years.

For the first time, someone other than my best friends might listen. Somebody might even call me back. But today, as I write, New York Times reporters Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, Susan Dominus and their colleagues describe in hair-raising detail “Harvey Weinstein’s Complicity Machine,” a catalogue of “enablers, silencers, and spies, warning others who discovered [Weinstein’s] secret to say nothing.”  With their collaboration, Weinstein, like Toback, has preyed upon women since the 1970s. 

The Times reports that among Weinstein’s closest media pals is David J. Pecker, the chief executive of American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, a gossip rag whose reporters Weinstein could use to dig up dirt on his accusers. Reportedly, Weinstein was “known in the tabloid industry as an untouchable ‘F.O.P.,’ or ‘friend of Pecker.’”  It’s no surprise to learn that another predator who shares that untouchable F.O.P. status in the tabloids is Donald “grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump.

The question is unavoidable: If serial sexual predation disqualifies a man from being a film producer, screen writer, movie star, network newsman, talk show host, journalist, venture capitalist, comedian, actor, network news director, magazine editor, publisher, photographer, CEO, congressman, or senator, why shouldn’t it disqualify a man from being president of the United States? Shouldn’t sexist serial sexual assault constitute an impeachable high crime or misdemeanor? 

We may find out. Time magazine passed over the president as its “person of the year” to name instead the “Silence Breakers” — the brave, outspoken women who inspired the #MeToo campaign. Pictured on the cover along with actress Ashley Judd and pop star Taylor Swift is a Mexican strawberry picker, using a pseudonym for her safety. Her presence and the arm of an unidentified hospital worker seated just out of the frame signal that we might yet learn how this cultural awakening is playing out in ordinary America for women working in the far less glamorous worlds of fast-food chains, nursing homes, hospitals, factories, restaurants, bars, hotels, truck stops, and yes, strawberry fields.

So where do we go from here?  This train has left the station and rolls on. In some photos of those smart young relentless women journalists at the Times, I’ve noticed that their footwear tends not to stilettos, but to boots, which as every woman knows, are good for marching and for kicking ass. That’s promising.

But since I’ve traveled this route before, you’ll have to excuse me for thinking that when this big train passes, it could leave behind a system — predators, enablers, silencers, spies, and thoroughly entrenched sex discrimination — not so very different from that of the 1970s. And if that happens, no doubt those lying dead on the tracks will prove, upon official examination, to be female.

Ann Jones, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of several pioneering feminist books, including the classic Women Who Kill, Everyday Death, Next Time She’ll Be Dead, and with Susan Schechter a handbook for women who made the mistake of marrying predatory and violent men: When Love Goes Wrong. She is also the author of the Dispatch Book They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — the Untold Story.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Ann Jones


Exodus of Climate Scientists to France only the Beginning if GOP Guts Grad Education

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

French President Emmanuel Macron has a program he calls MAPA – “Making the Planet Great Again.” His government is offering funding to climate scientists who are facing obstacles in their home countries, to come and work in France. He just managed to lure away 18 high-powered scientists, one of whom shared a Nobel Prize and 12 of whom are Americans.

France is after all a very pleasant place to live and work, with state of the art labs and equipment for scientists. Macron’s is the first French government to take the challenge of climate change seriously and to pursue renewable energy (French energy policy was earlier tied to nuclear reactors, but these have been an environmental disaster).

France has a Ministry of Ecology, nowadays headed by environmental activist Nicolas Hulot. France has received permission from the European Union to install 17 gigawatts of renewable energy.

Trump’s anti-environment secretary of the Environment, Scott Pruitt, has muzzled climate scientists and the Trump regime has taken down huge numbers of government web sites and data bases on climate change.

What Macron is pointing out is that high-powered scientists with a Ph.D. don’t have to go through life being humiliated by lying non-entities such as Pruitt, a creature of the Oklahoma oil and gas industry. People willing to harm their grandchildren for a quick buck today aren’t even human, just empty, demonic shells walking around as simulacra.

Not satisfied to destroy America’s lead on solar and wind energy technology, the Republican Party now has a plot, inspired by Wall Street Journal purveyor of untruths Stephen Moore, to cripple graduate education by slapping a tax on tuition forgiveness.

The result will be a vast exodus of bright, inventive, entrepreneurial Americans to Europe and Asia, where they will give those economies the extra boost of innovation. The United States in the meantime will sink into poverty, a stagnant economy, and crime.

The US has all along had a streak of anti-intellectualism and suspicion of high powered science. Now the worst elements in the GOP plan to put it all into law and drag the country down to their level.


Related video:

Newsy: “France awards grants to US climate scientists”

The Difference between Israeli Policy and Turkish: Calling Each other Terrorist State

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

First, Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas on Dec. 10, in which he said,

“Israel is a state of occupation and a terror state . . . [Turkey] will not leave Jerusalem to the consciousness of a child-killer state . . . Jerusalem is the light of our eyes. We won’t leave it to the conscience of a state that only values occupation and looting. We will continue our struggle decisively within the law and democracy.”

Erdogan continued, “Palestine is oppressed and a victim. Israel is absolutely a state of occupation. Israel has never recognized any decision adopted concerning it, especially United Nations decisions, and it will never do so . . .”

He projected maps demonstrating that Israel has steadily expanded its territory at the expense of the Palestinians. He said, “Look at this scene, do you see this treachery?”

He then projected a photo of a Palestinian boy blindfolded and encompassed by Israeli soldiers.

“Look at how these terrorists are dragging a 14-year-old blindfolded child.”

He concluded,

“We will continue to stand with the oppressed. We will use every opportunity we have for our first qibla, Jerusalem. We’ve been carrying out intense phone diplomacy since the dire decision of the U.S. I’ve held phone calls with the heads of many governments and states, including the Pope. We’ve told them that this issue is not one that only concerns Muslims; it is also the seizure of the rights of Christians. But I must say clearly that this step of the U.S. is completely an [Evangelical] understanding,”


Despite Erdogan’s vehemence, Israel and Turkey have extensive economic and security relations.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Paris meeting French president Emmanuel Macron, who pressured him to take a less harsh line toward the poor militarily Occupied Palestinians, from whom Israel is daily stealing rights and territory.

Netanyahu embarrassed Macron by using their joint press conference as an opportunity to shoot back at Erdogan.

“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people . . . That is not the man who is going to lecture us.”

So who has the better case? Both Israel and Turkey are major abusers of human rights. Israel has reduced 4 million Palestinians to colonial subjects virtually without human or property rights, denying them citizenship in a state and all the legal standing that comes from such citizenship.

Given what Netanyahu did to Gaza, he has a lot of nerve complaining about the bombing of villages.

Erdogan’s Turkey has fired 150,000 people from their jobs and jailed tens of thousands, including journalists and professors, on charges of being sympathetic to the failed July 15, 2016 attempted coup, while others are being tried for being sympathetic to Kurdish human rights. Since 2015 Erdogan has been waging a concerted battle against the Kurdistan Workers Party, which in the past has had secessionist and far left tendencies, and which launched a series of attacks on Turkish police and army.

Turkey is on firmer legal ground on the Kurdistan issue than Israel is on the Palestine issue, however.

Turkey as a member state of the United Nations is within its rights to resist violent attempts at secession. Most Turkish Kurds in any case don’t want to secede, according to decades of opinion polling, and Kurds are by now spread all around the country as laborers. They all have been schooled in Turkish and enjoy Turkish citizenship. Erdogan’s repression of dissident Kurdish villages has been barbarous and has violated the basic rights of these Turkish citizens, but Ankara wants them as citizens and they can vote in elections and be represented in the republic. The minority that wants a different citizenship is unhappy, but they are not stateless.

As for press freedom, Israel has far more of it than Turkey. But even the relatively conservative Freedom House has slammed Netanyahu for eroding press freedoms in the country. Israel practices military censorship of reporters and bloggers and has gone after Palestinians for Facebook posts. Netanyahu has allowed his billionaire backer, allegedly corrupt casino owner Sheldon Adelson, to engage in what economists call dumping– putting out a free newspaper aimed at undermining the other, paid-for newspapers in the country.

But the biggest difference in the human rights is the Israeli Apartheid system in the West Bank and its ongoing siege of little Gaza. Israel destroyed Gaza’s airport and harbor and radically interferes in its commerce, even limiting the importation of building materials, and for some years mean-spiritedly proclaimed that its children would have no chocolate and that Palestinians there would get no more calories than were necessary to keep them from malnutrition. They overshot the mark, since substantial numbers of Palestinian children in Gaza do suffer forms of malnutrition. Unemployment is massive. People are denied exit permits for advanced medical care and die as a result. All that isn’t just a human rights violation, it is Dr. Strangelove-level CREEPY.

As for the Occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers patrol it in hobnail boots. The government steals land and gives it away to Israeli colonists. Water is diverted to those colonists. Palestinians are made to carry passes, just as Black South Africans had to carry passes in the days of White supremacist rule. A set of checkpoints and highways have carved up the West Bank and isolated Palestinian towns from one another. Palestinians have no rights of citizenship, just as White Afrikaners took away citizenship from Black South Africans and assigned them to fictive Bantustans.

Apartheid is a serious crime against humanity according to the Rome Statute of 2002.

Israel treats fully 1/3 of the people living under its rule in this way.

The international law on occupied territories does not permit Israel to flood hundreds of thousands of its citizens into the West Bank. It prohibits the annexation of the substantial territories around Jerusalem. It forbids making alterations in the lifeways of the occupied. I would argue that the law envisages a relatively short occupation during active warfare and that this is no longer such an occupation. It is just old-fashioned settler colonialism of a sort forbidden by the UN Charter.

So for all the very serious human rights abuses in which Erdogan’s government is engaged, if we look at the problem proportionally there isn’t any doubt that Israel’s abuses are far more systemic and grave. After all, in 2014 Erdogan wasn’t even involved in a struggle with the PKK, with which he had a dialogue. And, Turkey does not keep 1/3 of its population as stateless.

Few states allow secession, and successful secessions have always resulted from negotiations. I personally doubt that most Turkish Kurds would even vote to secede if given the opportunity. Most of their economic prospects lie in the west of Turkey. Turkey is not in principle more guilty of oppressing the Kurds than Spain is of oppressing the Basque and Catalan. It is guilty of sending in the army and behaving much more brutally than Spain.

In contrast, Israel is unique worldwide in keeping millions of people as chattel, refusing them the rights of citizenship. That is legally a very different matter than insisting they have the citizenship they’ve already been given.

So on this one, Netanyahu loses. That is not to say that Erdogan has many redeeming features, or that he isn’t responsible for ruining Turkey’s fledgling democracy and withdrawing many basic rights from his citizens.

Both of them are actually engaging in this grandstanding to take attention of the serious corruption cases being pursued against them.


Related video:

WION: “Israel and Turkey’s Jerusalem standoff”

Toward a Federal United States of Israel & Palestine?

By David Gerald Fincham

They say that the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is dead. Good. Partition was never the right way out of the conflict. The two peoples need to be reconciled: keeping them apart, each limited to only a part of the land they consider to be their homeland, would increase hostility, not reduce it.

Israel-Palestine is a small place, with limited natural resources. During the Mandatory period it was developed as a single state with an integrated infrastructure of roads, railways, water supplies, power, etc. Management of this infrastructure jointly by two sovereign governments, with a history of conflict, and with a sovereign border between them, would present many practical difficulties and inefficiencies.

Israel-Palestine is also the Holy Land of the three monotheistic faiths, of importance to millions of the worlds citizens. It would be a tragedy to permanently divide it, and especially to divide Jerusalem.

What ‘they’ sometimes forget, or ignore, is the fact that the two States of Israel and Palestine already exist. The State of Palestine was created in 1988 by the same process of declaration, and recognition by other states, that created Israel in 1948. It is also recognized as a state by the UN. True, the government of Palestine controls only a part of its territory, but that is not its fault. Palestine has as much right to live in peace and security as does Israel.

It is inconceivable that either State would go to the United Nations and declare itself out of existence. The only possible route to a one-state solution is for the two existing states to agree to unite to form a single sovereign state: let us call it the United State of Israel and Palestine.
This does not mean that Israel and Palestine would disappear. They could continue to exist as largely self-governing nations within the United State. This idea is inspired by the example of England and Scotland within the United Kingdom: two formerly independent nations, with a history of conflict, united into a single sovereign state, but retaining their national legal systems, educational systems, cultural institutions, and established churches; in short, their national lives and identities.

Following are some ideas as to how this could work in practice.
The United State would have a parliament elected by all citizens. The State parliament and government would be responsible for such matters as external affairs and defense, control of the currency and economic policy, citizenship and immigration, infrastructure and resource management; and would have taxation powers to support these activities. Jerusalem would be the State capital territory housing the State parliament and government offices.

The territory of the State would be divided into two national areas, Israel and Palestine, with a defined but open border between them: the line of the border to be determined by a Boundary Commission under independent chairmanship.

The two nations of Israel and Palestine would have a large degree of autonomy, with residents of each electing their own parliament, and with a government responsible for matters such as education, health, welfare, housing, local economic development; and with taxation powers to support these activities. The character of each nation would automatically reflect the character of its majority population, but all residents would be treated as equals without any discrimination.

The State parliament, being sovereign, would act as an upper revising chamber to the two national parliaments, in particular to ensure that the national parliaments or governments do not discriminate against their minority communities.

All Jews and Palestinians living outside the United State would have a right to migrate into Israel and Palestine respectively, and establish citizenship and residence, subject only to a proviso that the rate of immigration may be limited to that which can be economically absorbed, with stateless refugees having priority.

All citizens would have a right to change residence from one nation to the other, subject to two provisos: first, that this applies to single families, not to organized nationalistic groups; and second, that each nation would be able to petition the State parliament to allow it to limit inward migration if it felt this was necessary to preserve its national character.

The root of the Israel-Palestine conflict is the fact that both nations have claims to the same territory: all of former Palestine. The governance scheme described above is the only proposed ‘solution’ to the conflict that gives sovereignty over all of former Palestine to both Jewish and Arab nations, on a shared basis, and is therefore the most likely to lead to a just and lasting peace. More details about the proposal can be found by an internet search for “The One-State-Two-Nations Proposal”.

Authors Bio:
Dr. David Gerald Fincham is a British retired academic scientist, now researching and writing about the relationships between religion, science and the achievement of peace. He is a contributing writer to His website is


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Al Jazeera English: “Palestinian Christians: ‘Jerusalem is for the three religions'”

Why Aren’t Americans Celebrating fall of ISIL State? It is a bogeyman

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Other people are celebrating the defeat of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) on the battlefield and its destruction as a territorial state.

Russia issued an announcement last week that ISIL has been wiped out in Syria.

Iraqi prime minister Haydar al-Abadi said Saturday that Iraq had been completely liberated from the terrorists.

In the US, there has been no victory parade, no official statement, nothing.

Given how much hysteria there was about ISIL in 2014, it is puzzling that its defeat has not been bigger news in the United States. I had all along held that ISIL as a state is a flash in the pan. (Any small handful of people nowadays can get hold of C4 and blow things up, so ISIL isn’t likely dead as a terrorist group. But it doesn’t hold territory.)

The reason the US public doesn’t commemorate this victory is that Daesh, and Muslim extremism more generally, have become a bogeyman, driving American nightmares, fears and foreign policy. This is not to say that ISIL isn’t a real threat. Those people are meaner than rattlesnakes. Nor that the US cannot suffer from a terrorism attack. It can. But the discourse of Daesh or ISIL is not rational. Their state can collapse and it isn’t a big deal here because there will be a new ISIL, since it is key to US policy making now.

In many ways, ISIL has replaced the hysteria about Communism in the Cold War era. Dick Nixon first won a congressional seat by making people in his district afraid that the Communists were going to take over. There weren’t more than 100,000 Communists in the United States, and after Khrushchev’s speech revealing Stalin’s crimes, the number fell to 50,000. They weren’t going to take over California’s 12th district, from which Nixon ran. They weren’t trying to overthrow the US government, as the FBI falsely charged. They were law abiding citizens who exercised their first amendment rights to join a political party. There was nothing illegal or threatening about them except that they didn’t think corporations should own human beings. As for Khrushchev, the US press maintained that he threatened “we will bury you.” What he actually said was that Soviet Communism would still be here when capitalism had gone to its grave.

Inside the United States, Communism functioned as a bogeyman, with right wing politicians using it to scare people and to try to convince them to give up their constitutional rights. This bogeyman was so successful that decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, right wing politicians in the South were still calling Barack Obama a socialist in hopes of smearing him as a pinko.

In this century, Muslim extremism has replaced Communism as the bogeyman. More people in America die from falling off a ladder than from terrorism tied to the Middle East, and the biggest purveyor of terrorism is the nativist hard right.

The “war on terror,” like the “war on poverty” or the “war on drugs,” has become a plot device for politics, not a rational policy. The US public is not interested in the details. A Bogeyman is bad no matter the details.

The US public has almost no interest in Afghanistan, and very little in Iraq. The passing of Daesh/ISIL from the scene means nothing to them, because it is the eternal, ideal type of the Muslim extremist that now validates power. It doesn’t matter that *Muslims* mobilized to defeat the phony “caliphate.” Trump claimed credit for the victory all by himself.

So Daesh is defeated. It doesn’t register. Bogeymen are forever. Trump is using this one to keep out brown skinned foreigners of all descriptions.

If we celebrated our win, we might have to start acting like rational human beings.



Related video:

CBC News: “ISIS defeated in Iraq, officials say”

Posted in Featured,Iraq | 17 Responses | Print |

Massive worldwide Rallies Condemn US, Courtesy Trump Jerusalem Call

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Ayat Ahmad reports for Elbalad (Beirut, liberal) that Friday saw huge, angry demonstrations against the United States in the Palestinian West Bank, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere in protest of Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

AFP starts in Beirut but goes on to give us great footage of protests in places like Mogadishu and Tehran.

This AFP slide show is also revealing. The demonstrations against the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, of course, could threaten US troops stationed in those countries:

In the West Bank, a general strike was called, including in schools, and Palestinian politicians called for wide participation in marches.

In the little town of Palestinian Bethlehem, Israeli troops forcibly cleared the streets, as AFP reported:

The biggest crowds came out in Gaza, raising the credibility of Hamas. CBC reports on the Palestinian protests:

CBC The National: “Trump’s decision on Jerusalem prompts airstrikes and protests”

In beleagured Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, Iran’s Press TV reports the population came out in force despite Saudi bombing.

Virtually every major Turkish city–Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, etc.– saw huge rallies against the United States. Turkey is a NATO ally.

This is not to mention the demonstrations in Berlin, London and elsewhere in Europe.

The US had already fallen dramatically in popularity around the world as soon as Trump was elected, and he’s done nothing to reverse the free fall.


The US needs allies to bolster its security in the world. It is not clear it will have any left by 2020.

Trump-Mideast: Much More than a ‘Kiss of Death’ to Palestinians

By Baher Kamal | (Inter Press Ervice) | – –

ROME, (IPS) – US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not represent only a ‘kiss of death’ to the two-State solution, but also a strong blow in the face of 57 Muslim countries, let alone igniting fire in this easily inflammable region, providing more false arguments to criminal terrorist groups to escalate their brutal attacks, in addition to taking a step further in Washington’s new conflict with Iran and the ‘restructuring’ of the Middle East.

Southern aerial view of the Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa in the Old City of Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. Credit: Godot13. Attribution: Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

These are the main conclusions both Middle East analysts and international policy experts reached as soon as Trump announced on 6 December 2017 his decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognising as capital of Israel this Holy City, home to essential shrines of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The ‘Old City’ of Jerusalem has been steadily considered by Palestinians to become the capital of their future State, should all international agreements –including the United Nations General Assembly—implement their commitment for the two-State solution, one Israeli and one Palestinian.

Israeli captured Arab East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and since then has gradually annexed against all international protests and non-recognition. The ‘Old City’ in Jerusalem hosts Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

Palestinian leaders have already warned that Trump’s move could have dangerous consequences, calling for massive popular mobilisations that are feared to lead to new bloodshed in the occupied West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“This is much more than a kiss of death to the longstanding international consensus to establish two-States as the sole feasible solution,” a former Egyptian high-ranking military official told IPS under condition of anonymity.

“[Trump’s] decision will add more dangerous fuel to the current rekindled flame over hegemony dispute between Shias lead by Iran and Sunnis lead by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, which fire President Trump has now contributed to strongly blow on.”

Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

According to the retired high military official who participated in secret regional negotiations over the Middle East conflict, “The US has visibly shown its strategy to support the Sunni States in the Arab Gulf… Just see president Trump’s new weapons sale deal –worth 100 billion dollars—with the Saudi regime, and its tacit support –and even physical involvement—in the ongoing genocidal war against Yemen.”

Gulf Sunni Arab countries are home to a high percentage of Shias who have been systematically ruled by Sunni regimes. In some of them, like Bahrain, it is estimated that the Shias represent up to 60 per cent of the total population in spite of which they are considered minorities.

Oil, that “Black Gold”

The Egyptian analyst would not exclude a new armed conflict between the Gulf Arab Sunni states and Shia Iran. Such an armed conflict would break the already fragile stability in the region, leading to a strong rise in oil prices.

“This eventually would clearly benefit the US fossil energy sector, would weaken the oil-dependent European economies, let alone striking a strong blow to the also foreign oil-dependent China.”

Hatred, Terrorism

Another immediate, dangerous consequence of President Trump’s decision is a feared new wave of terrorist attacks against US, Israel and Western interests worldwide.

In fact, the Palestinian radical movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, has already urged Arabs and Muslims worldwide to “undermine U.S. interests in the region” and to “shun Israel.”

On this, Lebanese Muslim Shia cleric A. Khalil, expressed to IPS his “deep fear that the [Trump’s] decision will help criminal terrorist groups, falsely acting in the name of Islam, to exploit the furious anger of lay people against the US-led aggression against Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen… to commit more and more brutal, inhumane attacks.”

This will tragically and dangerously unleash a new wave of hatred and Islamophobia that will only add fuel to popular anger, to the benefit of terrorist groups, added the cleric.

For his part, Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar – which is considered the world’s highest institution of Sunni Islamic learning– announced on 5 December 2017 that Al-Azhar rejects Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The US president’s decision denies the rights of Palestinians and Arabs to their holy city; it ignores the feelings of one-and-a-half-billion Muslims as well as millions of Arab Christians who have a connection to Jerusalem’s churches and monasteries,” he said in a statement issued following Trump’s announcement.

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar issued statements warning of the “serious potential consequences” of Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the US embassy there.

“Politically Correct” Words

Meanwhile, politicians have reacted to president Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel. Here some examples:

Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestinian Authority, alerted of its “dangerous consequences,” while Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas chief, talked about “igniting the sparks of rage.”

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed his country’s firm stance on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions, stressing the need to ensure that the situation in the region is not complicated by measures that undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia expressed “grave and deep concern,” while King Abdullah II of Jordan warned of “dangerous repercussions.”

Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi prime minister expressed “utmost concern,” and Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, which groups all 22 Arab countries, characterised Trump’s decision as a “dangerous measure.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Jerusalem is a “red line for Muslims,” threatening cutting relations with Israel.

And Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, opposed Trump’s “unilateral action,” while Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy representative, called for resolving Jerusalem’s status through negotiations.

Will words and “politically correct” statements reverse this new situation? Most likely they will not, at least if you judge by what’s happened over the last 98 years, i.e. since the then British Empire released its 1919 Balfour Declaration granting Israel a national home in Palestine.

Licensed from Inter Press Service

Trump’s Gift to Hizbullah weakens Saudi Hand in Beirut

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Hassan Nasrullah, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hizbullah, called for a new Palestinian uprising or intifada in the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He said Trump had thereby issued “A second Balfour Declaration.” (The first was in 1917 when the British cabinet gave away Palestine to the Zionists in a fit of imperial diktat.)

He said in a televised address that supporting the Palestinian resistance was the best way to respond to Trump’s announcement. Nasrullah warned that Trump’s decision created dangers to Palestinians and would encourage Israeli colonists on Palestinian land and create new dangers to the Muslima nd Christian holy places in Jerusalem, above all the Aqsa Mosque.

He called for protests in every possible way, including physically but also via social media on the internet.

He also urged the revival of the Arab League boycott of Israel.

He said, “We are facing an administration that does not respect international treaties.

Nasrullah is calling for large rallies in Lebanon itself early next week. For him, Trump’s announcement is a God send, since Nasrullah had been under the gun from the Saudis and they had required Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri to resign.

Hariri has reinstated himself. But the pressure on Hizbullah from the Saudis is still there. The Jerusalem issue allows Nasrullah to fight back against the Saudi attempt to rein it in in Yemen and Syria.

Since the Saudis have been relatively openly playing footsie with Israel, Nasrullah has the street cred to appeal to the Arab masses.


Related video

WION: “Jerusalem Move: US must reverse decision, says Hezbollah”