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 Mondoweiss.net. His website is religion-science-peace.org


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”

How Trump’s Jerusalem Move Just Helped Iran Win the Mideast

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Some sections of the crazy quilt that makes up the Trump administration want to push Iran back out of the Arab world and weaken it, in support of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Those actors have just been handed a big setback by Trump’s slurred and crazed announcement that he will move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize it as the capital.

While Washington pols fondly imagine that all politics is elite politics, it isn’t actually the case. Ask Hosni Mubarak or Zine El Abidin Ben Ali. Political leaders have to get a minimum buy-in from their publics. One trial run for the 2011 Tunisian revolution was massive demonstrations in 2009 during the Israeli assault on little Gaza, where student activists, trade unionists, attorneys and others learned to network and get out enormous crowds. Ben Ali’s and Mubarak’s toadying to Washington helped make them so hated that they were overthrown, in part because Washington stands for economic policies that punish workers and the middle classes, but in part because Washington stands for stealing Palestinians’ land and making them homeless and poverty-stricken.

Rulers like King Abdullah II of Jordan, who have a powerful alliance with the United States but whose people are pro-Palestinian (indeed 60% are of Palestinian heritage) are not sleeping well these days.

It isn’t that everyone doesn’t already know that Washington is on board with screwing over the Palestinians and humiliating the Arabs. But Trump just flaunted it in everyone’s face.

But let us consider the Saudi cold war with Iran. Given the open Saudi signals of cooperation with Israel against Tehran and given the Al Saud’s embrace of Trump, Riyadh is implicated in the Jerusalem decision whether they like it or not. In the propaganda wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran just got a big boost.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani called up Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan and the two agreed that Jerusalem is the permanent capital of Palestine. Turkey is majority Sunni, while Iran is a Shiite republic. Any attempt to block Iran’s influence would have to aim at instigating bad relations between these two, among the most populous and wealthy countries in the Middle East.

Trump managed to bring Turkey and Iran together by what they called his “wrong” and “illegal” action. In fact, Rouhani called for all 56 Muslim-majority countries to make a stand against the US. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Jerusalem will always be Arab and Islamic. The country’s Leader, Ali Khamenei, also weighed in, pledging to organize the Muslim world for a response. So now the Iranians (not Arabs) are the champions of Arab nationalism, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt are supine. So Trump is helping make Iran a leader of the Muslim world. Good job.

Or take Iraq, the government of which is run by the Shiite, pro-Iran Da’wa (Islamic Call) party. The blowhard CIA director Mike Pompeo strutted around saying he’d written a letter to Qassem Solaimani, the head of the special operations “Jerusalem Brigade” force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps,” warning him about his operations in the Middle East. The US has some 6,000 men in Baghdad.

So after Trump’s announcement, which way do you think the Iraqi government is tilting? Toward the Iranian position on Jerusalem. The Iraqi foreign minister wrote a harsh letter to Washington denouncing Trump decision.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned Arab leaders that if they abandoned Jerusalem it would be the end of them. His followers also staged demonstrations Wednesday, including in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.

Former Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki called the American announcement a “declaration of war” on the Arab peoples and an attack on “the human rights of Palestinians.”

So guess who is responsible for the security of the US troops in Iraq. Yes, that is right. The Iraqi government, its army, and its Shiite militias.

In Lebanon, the Saudis had tried and failed to break up the national unity government in which Shiite, Christian and Sunni officials serve. To the extent that Riyadh openly marked Saad Hariri, the prime minister, as a creature of the Saudis, they did him some harm with the Lebanese people. He has rescinded his forced resignation and hastily issued a stinging rebuke of Washington over Jerusalem. But it rings hollow given his identification with the Saudi-Israeli-American axis.

So if the Lebanese have to take sides on this one, it won’t be the Saudi-Israeli-American side. Therefore the Shiite leader Hassan Nasrallah is strengthened internally by this move, the opposite of what the Saudis were going for. Thank you Mssrs. Trump and Pence.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Press TV: “Iran Leader: Palestine will at last be freed”

Another way Trump will get us Killed: to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The White House says that the US is preparing to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as Israel’s capital instead of Tel Aviv. It is calling this move a “recognition of reality.” It is not, it is the creation of a deadly and dreary reality that will get Americans blown up. Trump is doing this for his evangelical base and for billionaire campaign backers like Sheldon Adelson. The latter have tunnel blindness and can’t see the world as it is– dangerous for the rest of us because of their hobbies.

In international law, Israel does not have a right to all of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not even awarded to Israel by the UN General Assembly partition plan of 1947 (a plan that itself has little legal grounding since the UN executive is instead the Security Council).

Israel conquered most of Jerusalem and its hinterlands in 1967. It then annexed these regions in a quite illegal move. Occupying powers are not allowed to annex occupied territory, by the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions (which were enacted to discourage people from acting like Nazis). The disposition of Jerusalem in the law should depend on final status negotiations between Israel and the state of Palestine.

The reason that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank has gone on for decades and become so distorted as to be illegal is that the United States wants it this way. Washington power elites treat Israel like a big aircraft carrier in the Middle East, a way to continue to dominate the region after decolonization.

This is what I wrote the last time this issue was broached, a year ago. It is all still relevant:

Jerusalem is extremely important and holy (just after Mecca and Medina) to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

One of the three major motivations for Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda to attack the United States in 2001 was the Israeli occupation of the Muslim parts of Jerusalem. (The other two were the US sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s that were thought to have killed 500,000 children, and the presence of US troops at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia).

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative demarche on the Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem in 2000 caused Bin Laden to try to move up the date of the planned attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., as ‘punishment’ for Sharon’s implicit threat.

Bin Laden composed a poem for his son’s wedding in Afghanistan in fall of 2001, “The wound of Jerusalem is making me boil. Its suffering is making me burn from within.” Bin Laden was a mass murderer and not a good Muslim, but his rage over Jerusalem is shared by many in the Muslim world.

Muslims ruled Jerusalem nearly 1200 years, much longer than did the monotheistic Jews of the Ezra tradition.

It is foreseeable that a unilateral US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and moving the US embassy there (US embassies are big buildings increasingly built like fortresses, and it will be quite visible) will provoke attacks on the United States by angry Muslims. While the US should not shy away from taking risks on matters of principle, in this case Israel and the US are in the wrong, legally and morally, so that we’re doing something unethical and also risking attacks because of it.

Israelis consider an undivided Jerusalem as their capital, and Trump wants to acquiesce in that view. Unfortunately for the Israelis, their position contradicts international law, and if brought to the International Criminal Court it would certainly result in the conviction of high Israeli officials on charges of genocide.

In the Sykes Picot agreement during WW I, Jerusalem was given to Russia. The Communists under Lenin later pulled out of this deal, and the British got Jerusalem and the Mandate of Palestine. Palestine was a Class A Mandate and the British expected it to become the independent state of Palestine around 1949. When instead massive immigration took place by European Jews fleeing Fascism, civil war broke out in 1947-48. The 500,000 Jewish immigrants expelled 60% percent of the over one million Palestinians from their homes and made these families homeless, stateless refugees ever after. The newly minted Israelis just moved into the Palestinians’ homes and farms, forever confiscating them.

In fall of 1947, the UN General Assembly proposed an extremely unfair division of Palestine, giving massive amounts of territory to the Jews, who owned only 6% of the land. This UNGA plan was only proposal and was never endorsed by the UN Security Council, the only body with authority. The Palestinians and other Arabs rejected the partition as grossly unfair. Although Zionist propagandists say that the Jewish immigrants accepted it, their leadership did no such thing. David Ben Gurion clearly wanted much more land than the UNGA had suggested, and his forces went on to grab extra land. In later years the Israelis would try to annex parts of Egypt and Lebanon, and in 1967 they militarily occupied part of Syria and all of the Palestinian West Bank.

The UN General Assembly did not suggest giving Israel all of Jerusalem, including the Palestinian East of the city, and it didn’t have the authority to make such grants of territory in any case.. Nor did that part of the city become part of Israel in 1948. But the Israelis conquered it along with the rest of the West Bank in 1967. They then annexed all of Jerusalem and part of the West Bank, adding that territory to Israel. Although military occupation of territory during war time is not illegal, annexing territory by military conquest is definitely illegal. It is strictly forbidden in the UN Charter and subsequent treaties and instruments, including the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court. Moreover, military occupiers may not radically alter the lifeways of the people they occupy (1907 Hague Agreement, 1949 Geneva Accords). Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians has become illegal because of extensive Apartheid policies.

So, Palestinian East Jerusalem belongs to Israel only in the way that the French city of Nice belonged to Mussolini during WW II (he annexed French territory to Italy by military fiat).

What is curious is that most Americans do not know that Jerusalem was one of three planks in al-Qaeda’s anti-American platform. Even more curious is that the US responded to 9/11 by invading and occupying Iraq, making Muslims even more upset. (Incoming Secretary of Defense Gen. Mike Mattis invaded and destroyed Falluja in 2004; one of the insurgent groups there had modeled itself on Hamas in Palestinian Gaza, and fought US occupation as an analogy to the fight against Israeli occupation). Mattis later frankly admitted that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank is a severe security problem for the United States.

Now Trump is planning to ratchet up tensions even further.

The national security elites in Washington and Tel Aviv have dealt with Muslim anger over the impoverishment of the Palestinians and the Israeli threat to the Muslim holy places of Jerusalem by covering up these actions, denying them, obfuscating them, and then crushing any Muslims who dare complain about them.

They call this counter-terrorism policy. And they’ve made it work for them in grabbing power, both in the world and at home, where they argue to us that the terrorism that they are helping provoke means we have to give up the Bill of Rights.



Related video:

Al Jazeera English: “Trump to call Jerusalem Israel’s capital, move embassy”

German Poll: Trump a bigger Challenge than N. Korea, Russia or Syria

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

A public opinion poll on German foreign policy carried out by the Koerber Foundation for its annual Berlin Forum has a bombshell finding:

Germans are more disturbed about Trump and see relations with him as a bigger challenge than relations with North Korea, Russia, or than the Syrian Civil War. Only immigration is seen as a slightly more difficult challenge by Germans than dealing with The Orange One. Coming just after Trump in the degree of challenge he represents to Germany is Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan.


When asked which country was most or second most important to Germany, nearly two thirds or 63% said France.

The US came trailing after with only a plurality at 43%.

Emmanuel Macron is more important to Germans than Trump, and seen in a positive light while Trump is seen as an obstacle at an obstacle course.

But even more striking, the Germans are so over the British, who are pulling out of the European Union. Germans think Russia (11%) and China (7%) are both more important to their nation than Britain (6%).

Not only is France more important than the US in the eyes of these German respondents, but 90% want *more* cooperation with France. 78% want more cooperation with *Russia*. (So the Germans are just like Trump himself?) And 69% want more cooperation with China.

Only 61% want more cooperation with the United States under Trump, and fully 34% actively want *less* cooperation with Washington.

It’s official. Trump is the skunk at the party.

52% of Germans think the relationship between the US and Germany is “somewhat bad.”

Remember I said that Erdogan comes second after Trump as a challenge for Germany? Well, some 74% want to end accession talks about Turkey joining the European Union. They want to end any special relationship with Ankara over the way Erdogan has been behaving. And remember, they find Trump more of a challenge than they do Erdogan.

Germans overwhelmingly see their security future as entangled with a joint European Union security force; only 9% see it as connected to the United States. If Trump was trying to make NATO hated in Europe, he appears to have succeeded.

Germans don’t want a big foreign policy role. But they do think they have a role to play in the Middle East.

The most important conflict where people think Germany should be actively promoting a resolution is ISIL (46%). But 21% want to help resolve the outstanding issues in the Syrian civil war, and 15% want to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.




Related video added by Juan Cole:

German police use water cannons on political protesters