News Releases

What “Conflating Advocacy for Palestinian Rights with Hatred of Jewish People” Spawned

JOSH RUEBNER, josh at progressupconsulting.com, @joshruebner
Ruebner is author of the books Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? and Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
President Trump commented Tuesday: “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel? I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Ruebner tweeted: “Trump is a vile white supremacist. But every organization, politician (including Dems), and talking head who decided it was a good idea to weaponize anti-semitism by conflating advocacy for Palestinian rights with hatred of Jewish people owns a tiny little piece of his comments.”

Ruebner wrote the piece “Republicans push BDS bill to paint Dems as anti-Semites, and party leadership falls for the trap,” for Mondoweiss in May. He wrote: “A spokesperson for [Democratic Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer confirmed to Mondoweiss that the legislation he referred to is H.Res.246, introduced by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) in March and supported currently by 256 other Representatives. In addition to formally putting Congress on the record as being opposed to boycotts for Palestinian rights, the resolution also opposes ‘all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel,’ a phrase often utilized to equate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism.”

See also his followup piece last month “U.S. House of Representatives condemns boycotts for Palestinian rights” for the Electronic Intifada.

Rep. Findely, Key Author of War Powers Resolution, and Congressional Critic of Israel, Dies

Rep. Paul Findley died last week and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The New York Times this week ran an obituary: “Paul Findley, Congressman Behind War Powers Act, Dies at 98.” The Times wrote: “The main author of the resolution that limited a president’s ability to wage war, he also made overtures to the Arab world and earned the opposition of the pro-Israel lobby. …

“He supported civil rights and … named the first black person in the 20th century — 15-year-old Frank Mitchell of Springfield [Illinois] — to the position of page in the House of Representatives.” The Washington Post reports: “Mr. Findley was the publisher of a small-town weekly newspaper when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960 from a district once represented by Abraham Lincoln. He often invoked Lincoln in his campaign rallies and could quote his speeches from memory.” The federal building in Springfield, Illinois is named for Findley.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steny Hoyer just came back from Israel with 40 other pro-Israeli congressional Democrats. Israel is prohibiting Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering Israel — or the Palestinian territories it occupies, where Tlaib has family — because of their alleged support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle’s books include Destroying World Order. He was a longtime associate of Findley, including appearing on several accuracy.org news releases together on the War Powers Resolution. He was also an early advocate of using the boycott, divestment and sanctions tactics employed successfully against apartheid South Africa against Israel.

He said today: “Findley was a Republican, but the pro-Israeli lobby effectively destroyed his political career, as they would for Republican Illinois Sen. Charles Percy during the same period. You thus have both the Democrats and Republicans dominated by pro-Israeli individuals, like Hoyer or now Sen. Dick Durbin, who defeated Findley in 1982.

“Similarly, we’ve seen an escalation of exactly what Findley tried to stop with the War Powers Resolution: President after president attacking other countries illegally, in violation of the Constitution, the War Powers Resolution and international law. The issues he tried to tackle were central to trying to preserve the rule of law and ensuring that the U.S. not use force illegally. He wanted the U.S. to be the ‘Land of the Free and Home of the Brave,’ not relentlessly pursuing murderous wars that ultimately make our own citizens less safe.”

Sanders, Bezos and the Washington Post

JEFF COHEN, jcohen at ithaca.edu, @Roots_Action
Cohen is founder of the media watch group FAIR, author of Cable News Confidential and co-founder of RootsAction.org.

He cited the new piece by his RootsAction colleague Norman Solomon, “Why Bernie Sanders Is Absolutely Correct About the Washington Post — and Corporate Media Overall,” which states: “Bernie Sanders set off the latest round of outraged denial from elite media this week when he talked to a crowd in New Hampshire about the tax avoidance of Amazon (which did not pay any federal income tax last year). Sanders went on to say: ‘I wonder why the Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection.’ …

“For his latest transgression, Sanders earned purportedly authoritative pushback from the likes of the Post‘s top editor, its media columnist and others with high media visibility. ‘Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor,’ Post executive editor Martin Baron declared, ‘Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.'”

Cohen said today: “The Washington Post‘s bias against Sanders has been unrelenting over the years — perhaps most acute in March 2016 when FAIR’s Adam Johnson famously wrote: ‘Washington Post Ran 16 Negative Stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 Hours.’ Among the Post‘s headlines: ‘Five Reasons Bernie Sanders Lost Last Night’s Democratic Debate,’ followed an hour later by ‘Bernies Sanders’s Two Big Lies About the Global Economy,’ followed a few hours later by ‘Even Bernie Sanders Can Beat Donald Trump.’

“Imagine how quickly heads would roll at the Post in the fantastical event that it somehow produced even three negative stories about Post owner Jeff Bezos in a few hours. (And, of course, there’s much to investigate regarding one of the world’s richest men and Amazon’s tax evasionlabor exploitationCIA contractstaxpayer subsidies, etc).”

Also see the piece from FAIR: “Reposting Amazon Press Releases at Bezos-Owned Washington Post.”

Solomon is also executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

* Honduras * Hong Kong * Kashmir

ADRIENNE PINE, pine at american.edu, @adriennepine
Pine, a professor of anthropology at American University, who was attacked by police recently, was just featured in The Real News segment: “Protests In Honduras Intensify as President Is Implicated in Drug Trafficking.”

REESE ERLICH, reeseerlich at yahoo.com, @ReeseErlich
Erlich’s syndicated column “Foreign Correspondent” appears every two weeks in 48 Hills. His recent pieces include “What’s really going on in Hong Kong” and “China trade war not going well for Trump.”

JUNAID AHMAD, junaidsahmad at gmail.com
Director of the Center for Global Dialogue and professor of Middle Eastern politics at the University of Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmed was just featured in “Will India’s Occupation of Kashmir Become Colonization?” on The Real News: “Ahmad says India’s revocation of Kashmir’s autonomous status not only increases tensions between India and Pakistan, but is designed to lead into a situation where India encourages colonial settlement in the region and eventual annexation, along the lines of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”

Epstein: Blackmail?

Roy Cohn Jeffrey Epstein Rosen feature photo

On Friday, just following the release of key documents, Vanity Fair reported: “Unsealed Epstein Documents Reveal Powerful Men and Disturbing New Details.” The magazine noted: “Glenn Dubin, Bill Richardson, George Mitchell, and others are mentioned. ‘A lot of important people are going to have a really bad weekend,’ said a source.”

The New York Times is reporting: “Soon after Mr. Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in a federal jail on Saturday, Geoffrey S. Berman, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said his office’s investigation would continue, and pointedly mentioned that the government’s indictment against Mr. Epstein included a conspiracy charge.”

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post tweeted Saturday: “People close to Epstein fear he was murdered … as Epstein told authorities someone tried to kill him in a previous incident weeks earlier. He was described as being in good spirits in recent days.”

Bruce Barket, the lawyer for Nicholas Tartaglione, Epstein’s former cell mate, said that several weeks ago, Epstein “tried to hang himself, and our client was able to alert the authorities and prevent it.” Tartaglione was then removed from the cell and not immediately replaced, one of several apparent breaches of protocol that seem to have made Epstein’s alleged suicide possible.

See accuracy.org news release of a month ago on some of Epstein’s connections to clandestine agencies, via Donald Barr, Attorney General William Barr’s father, who was in the OSS; and the younger Barr (who was with the CIA, the successor of the OSS), who helped cover up the Iran Contra scandal.

WHITNEY WEBB, wwebb at mintpressnews.com, @_whitneywebb
Webb is a reporter for MintPress News based in Chile. She also co-hosts the MintCast podcast with Alan MacLeod.

While Trump and other Republicans have put out theories that the Clintons were involved in the death of Epstein and some Democrats are alleging that Trump was behind it, Webb stresses the need to look at the deeper forces, known facts and histories around Epstein’s network. She has written a series of pieces including “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case,” which states that “Alex Acosta — who arranged Epstein’s ‘sweetheart’ deal in 2008 and who recently resigned as Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary following Epstein’s arrest — claimed that the mysterious billionaire had worked for ‘intelligence.’

“Other investigations have made it increasingly clear that Epstein was running a blackmail operation, as he had bugged the venues — whether at his New York mansion or Caribbean island getaway — with microphones and cameras to record the salacious interactions that transpired between his guests and the underage girls that Epstein exploited. Epstein appeared to have stored much of that blackmail in a safe on his private island.”

In “Government by Blackmail: Jeffrey Epstein, Trump’s Mentor and the Dark Secrets of the Reagan Era,” Webb describes a “young William Barr” helping in “stonewalling the congressional Pike Committee and Church Committee, which investigated the CIA beginning in 1975. Among the things that they were tasked with investigating were the CIA’s ‘love traps,’ or sexual blackmail operations used to lure foreign diplomats to bugged apartments, complete with recording equipment and two-way mirrors.”

In “Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal,” Webb examines the role of Epstein’s main financial patron for decades, billionaire Leslie Wexner. She also writes: “The Maxwell family has become a source of renewed media interest following Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest, as Ghislaine Maxwell, long described in the media as a British ‘socialite,’ was publicly cited as Epstein’s long-time ‘on and off’ girlfriend, and Epstein’s victims, as well as former wives of Epstein’s friends, have claimed that she … procured underage girls for his sexual blackmail operation. Ghislaine Maxwell is also alleged to have engaged in the rape of the girls she procured for Epstein and to have used them to produce child pornography.”

Webb writes that Maxwell’s father, Robert, worked with the Mossad “according to several books including Seymour Hersh’s The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy.” She adds: “In exchange for his services, the Mossad helped Maxwell satisfy his sexual appetite during his visits to Israel, providing him with prostitutes, [whom] ‘the service maintained for blackmail purposes.'” [Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas] [This news release was updated to more accurately reflect that Robert Maxwell worked with the Mossad, but was not an agent per se.]

More FBI Powers: Won’t Be White Supremacists Bearing Brunt

Newsweek reports: “FBI Ranks ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Bigger Threat Than Al Qaeda, White Supremacists: Leaked Documents.”

CHIP GIBBONS, chip at RightsAndDissent.org, @rightsdissent
Gibbons is policy and legislative counsel for Defending Rights & Dissent. He just wrote the piece: “Expanding the Powers of the FBI Is Not the Solution to White Supremacist Violence.”

He said today: “Many well-meaning people are looking for a way to counter the very real danger of white supremacist violence by touting one particular ‘solution’: to create a new law countering ‘domestic terrorism.’

“The argument is simple: Due to a lack of a domestic terrorism statute, the FBI is somehow powerless to stop these acts of violence. Such a law would grant the FBI more surveillance powers. A new domestic terrorism statute would allow the agency to investigate and prosecute far-right violence.

“But this approach is misguided — and dangerous. First of all, the FBI is not an ally in the fight against racism. It has, in fact, often thwarted racial justice advocates and continues to be defined by deep-seated institutional racism. With many activists rejecting the carceral state or counter-terrorism framework, and embracing police and prison abolition, whether a law enforcement agency can ever counter white supremacy is a subject of debate.

“What is extremely clear is that the FBI has extraordinary tools at its disposal. It operates under the loosest guidelines at any point since the post-Hoover era reforms. These current guidelines allow the FBI to investigate an individual without any factual predicate that the person has committed a crime or poses a threat to national security. The FBI is allowed to attend public meetings without disclosing its participation. The FBI has conducted counter-terrorism investigations into nonviolent groups on the left, including civil rights organizations. In other words, the FBI is hardly powerless to investigate and surveil activities it labels ‘domestic terrorism.’ The FBI’s history of abuse, in fact, raises a troubling likelihood: A domestic terrorism law would almost certainly be used to silence dissent from the left.”

No First Use: “It Makes the World Safer”

Today marks 74 years since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki; the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was August 6.

JEFF CARTER, jcarter at psr.org

Jeff Carter is Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

In a statement released today, he said: “During the second 2020 presidential debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren reiterated her support for a ‘No First Use’ policy on nuclear weapons, stating, ‘It makes the world safer. The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world.’ Warren is the original sponsor of No First Use legislation in the Senate (S. 272). Physicians for Social Responsibility welcomes discussion of a nuclear ‘No First Use’during a presidential debate. This is a matter of public health and safety, and it’s also a matter of the United States’ moral and political position on the global stage. This is not a partisan issue, and it affects all of us. . . .

“Establishing an official U.S. policy of No First Use of nuclear weapons would provide critical stability and serve as an essential step to preventing potential nuclear conflict. Right now, the United States has withdrawn from almost every multilateral nuclear arms treaty that effectively provided critical verification of arms reduction and helped prevent a new nuclear arms race. Meanwhile, the risk of nuclear war is greater than it’s been since the height of the Cold War. Nuclear weapons make us less safe, not more. Establishing a policy of No First Use puts us back on track and pulls us back from the brink of nuclear war.

“Most Americans don’t want our nation to start a nuclear war; in fact, most Americans think we already have an official policy that we will never start a nuclear war. It’s time to make No First Use a reality. Doing so will signal the seriousness of our commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, and our seriousness of our intent to prevent a nuclear war from ever occurring. It will send a strong signal to other nuclear-armed countries and to those with the potential to develop nuclear arsenals.  When the United States adopts a No First Use policy, this may motivate other nuclear-armed nations to follow suit. People in other nations justify their nuclear buildups by pointing to U.S. policies to ‘keep all options on the table.’ A U.S. declared No First Use policy would remove that justification.”

Emmy-Winning Actor Takes Pro-BDS Stand in Hollywood

Actor David Clennon smiles while wearing a blue shirtDAVID CLENNON, djjc123 at earthlink.net

Clennon has been an actor in the U.S. film and television industry for more than 40 years. Recently he was invited to audition for a television series. He declined and wrote an op-ed for Truthout explaining his decision: “I Said No to a Netflix Series Audition Because I Support Palestinian Rights.”

He writes: “I decided to do a little research in the Hollywood trade papers, and discovered that ‘Sycamore’ had to be the new working title of a series announced in 2018 as ‘Hit and Run.’ It was further revealed that ‘Sycamore/Hit and Run’ will be a co-production of U.S. and Israeli companies. Two of the creative executive producers of the new series, Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, are also the creator-producers of the Israeli Netflix series ‘Fauda,’ an action-adventure drama set in Israel and the Occupied Territories. I was aware that the show had been criticized for its portrayal of Palestinians and for its tendency to justify Israel’s human rights abuses.

“Mitchell Abidor reviewed the series in Jewish Currents.  He wrote, ‘Fauda, in its second season, is clearly not, as its creators have pretended, a humanizing portrayal of Palestinians, but rather is quite clearly aimed at solidifying an Israeli image of them as cowardly beasts who must be dealt with by any means necessary.’ …

“‘Sycamore/Hit and Run’ may or may not be as offensive as ‘Fauda,’ but there is an equally important issue here: Israeli production companies like those of Issacharoff and Raz stand to benefit enormously from their alliances with their American partners and Netflix. In addition to substantial revenue for the companies and the Israeli economy, the Israeli government will benefit from the prestige of creative partnerships with Hollywood. These show business relationships matter, politically. The Israeli Foreign Ministry runs the ‘Brand Israel’ campaign to use culture, entertainment and technology to counter Israel’s negative image in the world as a racist state that systematically violates human rights. …

“I have supported the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel since the 2014 Israeli War on Gaza. (That astonishing display of high- and low-tech cruelty, I believe, opened the eyes of many Americans.) The Academic and Cultural Boycott is part of a larger movement on behalf of the human rights and self-determination of the Palestinian people. The overall campaign is known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and originated within Palestinian civil society.

“I’ve come to think of Israel as a European settler-colonial state, which practices apartheid in order to control the indigenous population it has conquered militarily.  In this respect, Israel is similar to the previously apartheid state of South Africa, where white European colonists had conquered the indigenous Black African population and occupied their land.

“In the same way that human rights activists boycotted the South African regime to abolish apartheid, many now are boycotting Israel to pressure its government to  end its own practice of apartheid and its other constant, daily, gross violations of the human rights of the people of Palestine. …

“I decided on a small act of resistance. I take some comfort in knowing that I’m not alone. And I’m optimistic that others in our industry will seriously consider withholding their talent and their moral support from a regime that abuses the dispossessed, impoverished — but still resistant — people under its control.”

“If Guns Made People Safer U.S. Would be Safest Country”

The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group that counts mass shootings, lists the Dayton shooting as the 251st mass shooting of 2019.”

REBECCA PETERS, rebecca.peters101 at gmail.com
Peters is the former director of the International Action Network on Small Arms. She helped lead the campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws in the 1990s.

She said today: “The world is once again grieving with Americans over mass shootings, and once again wondering when U.S. legislators will take the obvious steps toward preventing such tragedies from occurring.

“Racist extremism and thwarted masculinity are not particular to the U.S. – their noxious miasma simmers within societies around the world, and increasingly, as in New Zealand this year, erupts into violent attacks.

“All other countries that recognize the danger are responding logically with measures to limit the damage that racist extremists can do – by strengthening their gun laws. Semi-automatic weapons are a product manufactured specifically for killing large numbers of people. Yet the U.S. is the only nation whose policymakers insist on making this product easily available, even when it is used again and again to do just that: slaughter human beings because of cultural differences or personal slights.

“The evidence is clear. If guns made a country safer, the U.S. would be the safest country in the industrialized world. But the opposite is true. Per capita, you are six times more likely to be murdered in the U.S. than in Australia, and 25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun.

“What changes to make? For a start, ban assault weapons and require universal background checks – although the current U.S. system of background checks is far from adequate. It relies on an instant check of the patchy computerized criminal record system, which means anyone who hasn’t already been convicted of a serious crime can have guns. This is an astonishingly low standard which mass shooters (and domestic violence killers) generally have no trouble meeting, because they don’t have serious criminal convictions. It’s only after they commit their first offense – murder – that they become ineligible for gun ownership. Cold comfort for the victims and their communities.

“We may never be able to solve the problem of disaffected haters. But we can certainly prevent them from translating their disaffection so easily into mass murder at shopping malls, festivals, nightclubs, cinemas, churches and schools. One glimmer of hope: the wheels appear to be falling off the National Rifle Association, due to internal conflicts, financial irregularities and legal problems. Perhaps legislators will find the courage to wriggle out of the NRA’s grip and decide to facilitate peace and safety instead of murder and suicide. If not, they are effectively helping to arm the next round of mass killers.”

Peters’ past pieces include “When will the U.S. learn from Australia? Stricter gun control laws save lives” published in 2013 by the British Guardian.

Anti-Nuclear Activists Facing 25 Years in Prison Urge Dismissal of Charges

KBP_group_2_signs_horizSeven Catholic peace activists facing 25 years in prison for entering the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia to protest U.S. nuclear weapons policy will make their oral arguments in federal district court in Georgia next week.
The activists, known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, sought to “nonviolently and symbolically disarm the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay” on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES, gradyflores08 at gmail.com

Grady Flores is on the media support team of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7.

She said today: “The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 are facing a federal trial and a 25-year prison term for having confronted a system in which nuclear weapons that can destroy all creation are accepted as a normal, even inevitable, part of life. On August 7 they will go before U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Wood. As many as 100 supporters are expected to travel from throughout the country to Georgia to attend the hearing, which could last more than one day.

“A number of the activists’ supporters are planning to fast from August 6 through 9, the 74th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. They have planned vigils and other events in Brunswick and at the gate of Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia in support of the seven activists and their plea for the abolition of nuclear weapons. More information on the activities throughout the week will be available at www.kingsbayplowshares7.org.

“This hearing will mark the first time the seven will be together in court since last November. The primary focus of their oral argument will be to explicate their objections to the 80-page report released in April from Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro. He had recommended the denial of defense motions to dismiss the charges based on the evidence presented concerning the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A Kings Bay Plowshares 7 global petition calling for the dismissal of charges is being circulated and has been signed by thousands along with over 100 world-renowned leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Beatrice Fihn, Mairead McGuire, and other Nobel laureates, Martin Sheen, Angela Davis, Phyllis Bennis, Rev. Dr. William Barber, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, and Huwaida Arraf. The list of prominent signers is available at: https://www.kingsbayplowshares7.org/global-petition.

For a copy of the decision and copies of the defendants’ statements to the court and their legal motions see: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/about/rfra-evidentiary-hearing/

Four of the Plowshares activists will make a rare public appearance together in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, August 11 at 5 p.m. at Busboys and Poets Cafe, 14th & V Streets. The event will be broadcast live on the Kings Bay Plowshares’ Facebook page. CODE PINK, Busboys & Poets Cafe, and Pax Christi – Pentagon Area are co-sponsors of the event.

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