city:washington

  • Americans Are Increasingly Critical of Israel – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/11/americans-are-increasingly-critical-of-israel

    The firing of Professor Marc Lamont Hill as a CNN contributor after his speech at a United Nations event commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People has generated considerable debate about free speech that goes beyond the case itself—what is legitimate criticism of Israel, and what constitutes anti-Semitism. A recent University of Maryland public-opinion poll indicates that many aspects of Hill’s views are widely shared among the American public—and that these views are not reflective of anti-Semitic attitudes, or even of hostility toward Israel as such. On these issues, there is a gap between the mainstream media and U.S. politicians on the one hand, and the American public on the other.

    While many issues were raised about Hill, the part of his speech that received the most criticism was his call for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” which was seen by some as calling for the end of Israel. Hill himself clarified almost immediately that “my reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza.” In an op-ed he penned later, he acknowledged that the language he chose may have contributed to the misperception that he was advocating violence against Jewish people—and apologized for that.

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    But, perceptions aside, are Professor Hill’s views exceptional?

    The first issue to consider is advocacy for a one-state solution, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, with equal citizenship for all, which would in effect threaten Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority state, as Arabs might soon outnumber Jews on that territory. In fact, this solution has considerable support among the American public, as revealed in a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll, fielded by Nielson Scarborough, which was conducted in September and October among a nationally representative sample of 2,352 Americans, with a 2 percent margin of error. When asked what outcome they want U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to seek in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Americans are split between one state with equal citizenship and two states coexisting side by side: 35 percent say they want a one-state solution outright, while 36 percent advocate a two-state solution, 11 percent support maintaining the occupation, and 8 percent back annexation without equal citizenship. Among those between 18 and 34 years old, support for one state climbs to 42 percent.

    Furthermore, most of those who advocate a two-state solution tend to choose one state with equal citizenship if the two-state solution were no longer possible; the last time the survey asked this question, in November 2017, 55 percent of two-state solution backers said they would switch to one state in such circumstances. Bolstering this result is Americans’ views on the Jewishness and democracy of Israel: If the two-state solution were no longer possible, 64 percent of Americans would choose the democracy of Israel, even if it meant that Israel would cease to be a politically Jewish state, over the Jewishness of Israel, if the latter meant that Palestinians would not be fully equal.

    When one considers that many Israelis and Palestinians, as well as many Middle East experts, already believe that a two-state solution is no longer possible, especially given the large expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it’s not hard to see why more people would be drawn to a one-state solution—or see the advocacy for two states as legitimizing the unjust status quo through the promise of something unattainable.

    Second, while most Americans have probably never heard of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that Hill backs, our poll shows that a large number of Americans support imposing sanctions or more serious measures if Israeli settlements in the West Bank continue to expand: 40 percent of Americans support such measures, including a majority of Democrats (56 percent). This comes as senators, including Democrats, are proposing, despite continued ACLU opposition, to delegitimize and criminalize voluntary boycotts of Israel or settlements through the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, while not differentiating between Israeli settlements in the West Bank from those in Israel proper.

    Third, there is a growing sense that the Israeli government has “too much influence” on U.S. politics and policies: 38 percent of all Americans (including 55 percent of Democrats, and 44 percent of those under 35 years old), say the Israeli government has too much influence on the U.S. government, compared with 9 percent who say it has “too little influence” and 48 percent who say it has “about the right level of influence.” While the number of Jewish participants in the sample (115) is too small to generalize with confidence, it is notable that their views fall along the same lines of the national trend: 37 percent say Israel has too much influence, 54 percent say it has the right level, and 7 percent say it has too little influence.

    These results indicate neither a rise in anti-Semitism nor even a rise in hostility toward Israel as such. As analysis of previous polls has shown, many who espouse these opinions base them on a principled worldview that emphasizes human rights and international law.

    Keep in mind that, in a polarized America with deep political antagonism, it’s hardly surprising that Americans would have sharply divided views on Israelis and Palestinians. What many read as a rising anti-Israeli sentiment among Democrats is mischaracterized; it reflects anger toward Israeli policies—and increasingly, with the values projected by the current Israeli government.

    On the question of whether Americans want the Trump administration to lean toward Israel, toward the Palestinians, or toward neither side, there is a vast difference between Republicans and Democrats in the new poll: While a majority of Republicans want Washington to lean toward Israel outright (57 percent), a substantial majority of Democrats (82 percent) want it to lean toward neither side, with 8 percent wanting it to lean toward the Palestinians and 7 percent toward Israel. Still, it’s inaccurate to label the Democrats’ even-handedness as “anti-Israel.”


  • Is Saudi Arabia repaying Trump for Khashoggi by attacking Linda Sarsour?

    A Saudi-owned website considered close to the royal family claimed that Sarsour, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are agents of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood who declared a ’jihad’ on Trump

    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Dec 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-how-saudi-arabia-is-repaying-trump-for-his-support-on-khashoggi-1.

    There is nothing earth-shattering about seeing Women’s March leader and Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour criticized as a dangerous Islamist by the conservative right and pro-Israel advocates in the United States. But the latest attack on the activist comes from a new and somewhat surprising source: Saudi Arabia.
    Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned, pan-Arab news channel closely linked to the country’s royal family and widely viewed as reflecting Saudi foreign policy, published an article Sunday strongly suggesting that Sarsour and two incoming Muslim congresswomen are puppets planted by the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar to undermine the Trump administration.
    The feature, which profiles Sarsour, seems to cast her as the latest proxy figure in the kingdom’s bitter dispute with Qatar, and its bid to strengthen ties and curry favor with the White House.
    It also focused on two Democratic politicians whom Sarsour actively campaigned for in the 2018 midterms: Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, who are set to be the first-ever Muslim congresswomen when the House reconvenes in January.

    The Al Arabiya story on Linda Sarsour’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood, December 9, 2018.Screengrab
    Headlined “Details of calls to attack Trump by US ‘Muslim Sisters’ allied to Brotherhood,” the article is light on actual details but heavy on insinuation.
    Activists like Sarsour, and politicians like Tlaib and Omar, the Saudi publication wrote, are “mujahideen” (a term used to describe those involved in jihad) – fighting against “tyrants and opponents of Trump’s foreign policies.”

    The story says the policies they are fighting include “the siege of Iran, the fight against political Islam groups, and [Trump’s] choice of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a strategic ally.”
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    Tlaib and Omar, Al Arabiya asserts, are agents designed to “restore” control of political Islamist movements on the U.S. government by attacking Trump. The article says this effort is being directed by Sarsour – who, it writes, is purportedly funded and controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood - a claim it fails to provide any clear basis for.
    Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, Washington, says it should come as little surprise to those familiar with the region that “a state-owned Arabic news outlet would publish conspiracy theories about people whose views don’t accord with those of the government that funds it.”
    Al Arabiya, based in Dubai, but Saudi-owned, was founded in 2002 as a counter to Qatar’s popular Al Jazeera TV station – which frequently runs material sharply critical of the Saudis – as well as other Arabic media outlets critical of Saudi influence and supportive of political Islam.
    The article comes as rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has heated up in recent times, with Qatar’s emir skipping this weekend’s Gulf Cooperation Council summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, which has led a diplomatic war on its neighbor for the past 18 months.
    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June 2017, charging that the country supports terrorism. Qatar denies the charges and says the Saudi boycott aims to curtail its sovereignty. Last week, the Gulf nation announced it was withdrawing from the OPEC oil cartel.
    Islamists vs Islamists
    “Democrats’ battle against the Republican control of the U.S. Congress led to an alliance with political Islamist movements in order to restore their control on government, pushing Muslim candidates and women activists of immigrant minorities onto the electoral scene,” the report states.
    The “common ground” between Omar and Tlaib, the article adds, is to battle Trump’s foreign policy “starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of political Islam. Those sponsoring and supporting the two Muslim women to reach the U.S. Congress adopted a tactic to infiltrate through their immigrant and black minority communities in general, and women’s groups in particular.
    The article ties Sarsour to Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood through multiple associations with the Arab American Association of New York, which “was created by Palestinian Ahmed Jaber, a member of the Qatar International Foundation responsible for funding the association,” and also her attendance at an annual meeting of the International Network of Muslim Brotherhood in North America and Canada in 2016.
    The article compares Sarsour’s rhetoric to that “used by Muslim Brotherhood teachings and in the views of Sayyid Qutb, a scholar and co-founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, as well as from Abul A’la Maududi’s books ‘Islam and Ignorance’ and ‘Fundamentals of Islam.’
    “From all that is mentioned, we can touch the influence of Muslim Brotherhood in shaping the thoughts of American activist Linda Sarsour and consequently her declaring her ‘jihad’ against U.S. President Donald Trump, in addition to her call for the application of ‘Sharia,’ the rule of Islam in the United States of America,” the piece asserts.
    No one knows for sure whether Al Arabiya received direct orders from the Saudi government to attack Sarsour, Tlaib, Omar and other politically active Muslim women on the American left.
    Those familiar with Middle East media say conspiracy-minded attacks against figures in American politics aren’t particularly unusual in Arabic,
    but what is unique about this article is the fact it appeared in English on the network’s website.
    It seems to be a highly creative attempt to somehow repay the Trump White House as it deals with the fallout from the Jamal Khashoggi assassination. As Trump continues to take heat for staying close to the Saudis, they, in turn, are demonstrating their loyalty with their willingness to vilify people who were President Barack Obama’s supporters and are now Trump’s political enemies – even if they wear a hijab.

    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Haaretz Correspondent


  • “Israel needs him.” Netanyahu presses Trump to save Mohammed bin Salman - International News
    http://www.tellerreport.com/news/--%22israel-needs-him-%22-netanyahu-presses-trump-to-save-mohammed-bin
    http://www.aljazeera.net/file/GetImageCustom/8fdd25a0-2599-494b-b477-f18a4ce4e5f8/1200/630

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump in a telephone conversation not to touch Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Israeli expert on Arab affairs, Jackie Khoji, said.

    “The Israeli request from Washington means that Riyadh for Tel Aviv is a strategic treasure, and that Netanyahu volunteered to save Mohammed bin Salman means that Israel needs him,” Khuji said in an article published on Saturday in Maariv newspaper. “To the Secretary General of the UAE, As well as to the Bahrainis and other leaders.”

    http://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2018/12/9/%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%81-%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%87

    #israël #mbs


  • Chicago Tribune - We are currently unavailable in your region
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1997-01-05/news/9701050123_1_artifacts-looted-cambodian

    In 1924, French writer Andre Malraux was arrested and imprisoned when he removed nearly a ton of stone carvings and ornaments from a temple in the remote Cambodian jungle and trundled them away in

    Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.

    #Malraux #pillage #internet_restreint #TOR_is_love

    • LOOTED CAMBODIAN TREASURES COME HOME
      New York Times News ServiceCHICAGO TRIBUNE

      January 5, 1997 Phnom Penh

      In 1924, French writer Andre Malraux was arrested and imprisoned when he removed nearly a ton of stone carvings and ornaments from a temple in the remote Cambodian jungle and trundled them away in oxcarts.

      In 1980, starving refugees fleeing the terrors of the Khmer Rouge arrived at the border with Thailand lugging stone heads lopped from temple statues and ornate silverwork looted from museums.

      Today the looting continues, from hundreds of temples and archaeological sites scattered through the jungles of this often-lawless country, sometimes organized by smuggling syndicates and abetted by antique dealers in Thailand and elsewhere.

      Entire temple walls covered with bas-relief are hacked into chunks and trucked away by thieves. Villagers sell ancient pottery for pennies. Armed bands have attacked monks at remote temples to loot their treasures and have twice raided the conservation office at the temple complex of Angkor.

      But the tide is slowly beginning to turn. With the Cambodian government beginning a campaign to seek the return of the country’s treasures, and with cooperation from curators and customs agents abroad, 1996 was a significant year for the recovery of artifacts.

      Fifteen objects have come home, in three separate shipments from three continents, raising hopes that some of the more significant artifacts may be returned.

      In July, the U.S. returned a small head of the god Shiva that had been seized by Customs in San Francisco. Cambodia is a largely Buddhist nation, but over the centuries its history and its art have seen successive overlays of Buddhist and Hindu influences. At some temples, statues of Buddha mingle with those of the Hindu deities, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

      In September, the Thai government returned 13 large stone carvings, some up to 800 years old, that had been confiscated by Thai police from an antique shop in Bangkok in 1990. Thai officials said the return was a gesture of good will meant to combat that country’s image as a center of antique trafficking.

      And in December, a British couple returned a stone Brahma head that they had bought at auction. Its Cambodian origin was confirmed by a list, published by UNESCO, of 100 artifacts that had disappeared from an inventory compiled in the 1960s.

      In addition, Sebastien Cavalier, a UNESCO representative here, said he was expecting the return as early as next month of a 10th Century Angkorean head of Shiva that is now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

      Six bronze pieces sent to the Guimet Museum in Paris for cleaning and safekeeping in the 1970s could also be returned in the coming months, he said.

      Now with the launching in January of a major traveling exhibition of Khmer artifacts—to Paris, Washington, Tokyo and Osaka— accompanied by an updated catalog of some of Cambodia’s missing treasures, Cavalier said he hopes the returns will accelerate.

      The exhibit will be on display in Paris from Jan. 31 to May 26, at the National Gallery in Washington from June 30 to Sept. 28, and in Japan from Oct. 28 to March 22, 1998.

      But the pillage of artifacts continues at a far greater pace than the returns.

      Government control remains tenuous in much of Cambodia and the Ministry of Culture has little money for the protection of antiquities. There is little check on armed groups and corrupt officials throughout the countryside, where hundreds of temples remain unused and unguarded or overgrown with jungle.

      Truckloads of treasures regularly pass through military checkpoints into Thailand, art experts say. Heavy stone artifacts are towed in fishing nets to cargo ships off the southern coast. In Thailand, skilled artisans repair or copy damaged objects and certificates of authenticity are forged.

      Most of Cambodia’s artistic patrimony remains uncatalogued, and Cavalier said there was no way to know the full extent of what had already been stolen over the last decades, or what remained scattered around the country.


  • How Europe Could Blunt U.S. Iran Sanctions Without Washington Lifting A Finger – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/03/how-europe-can-blunt-u-s-iran-sanctions-without-washington-raising-a-

    It has been nearly seven months since the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. As sanctions begin to bite, Iranian companies are laying off employees, and Iranian households are facing renewed hardships. Iran has exercised remarkable patience while it waits for Europe to devise its #special_purpose_vehicle (#SPV), a new entity intended to help Iran blunt the impact of U.S. secondary sanctions by making it possible for companies to trade with Iran, despite the fact that most international banks refuse to process payments to and from the country.

    The SPV will do so by offering a “#compensation” service. By overseeing a ledger of payments related to exports and imports between Europe and Iran, the SPV will be able to coordinate payments so that a European exporter of goods to Iran can get paid by a European importer of goods from Iran, eliminating the need for cross-border transactions. The SPV simply coordinates payments so that exporters can be paid from funds outside of Iran while importers can be paid by funds within Iran.

    Compensation is a solution that companies have been using informally for years—the proposed mechanism is feasible. But time is running out to get the SPV up and running. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, recently warned that “the period of patience for our people is getting more limited.

    Europe’s SPV could be launched in the nick of time. France and Germany will likely formally establish the entity in January. But many critics believe the SPV will have a negligible impact on Iran’s economy, not least because it is unlikely that the mechanism will be used to facilitate European purchases of Iranian oil.


  • Rashida Tlaib Plans to Lead Delegation to Palestine
    Alex Kane, Lee Fang | December 3 2018
    https://theintercept.com/2018/12/03/rashida-tlaib-palestine-israel-aipac-congress-trip

    Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic representative-elect from Michigan, belongs to a cohort of incoming members of Congress who’ve vowed to upend the status quo — even on third-rail issues in Washington like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To that end, Tlaib is planning to lead a congressional delegation to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, she told The Intercept. Her planned trip is a swift rebuke of a decades-old tradition for newly elected members: a junket to Israel sponsored by the education arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group.

    The AIPAC trips are among the lesser-known traditions for freshman members of Congress. They’re typically scheduled during the first August recess in every legislative session and feature a weeklong tour of Israel and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government, and the military. Both critics and proponents of the AIPAC freshmen trip say the endeavor is incredibly influential, providing House members with a distinctly pro-Israel viewpoint on complex controversies in the region. In recent years, the Democratic tour has been led by incoming Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Incoming Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., traditionally leads the Republican trip. (...)

    #Rashida_Tlaib

    • Et affiche son soutien au mouvement BDS :

      Tlaib’s challenge to AIPAC isn’t limited to leading a separate trip to the region. In her interview with The Intercept, she for the first time came out in support of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, the movement known as BDS that seeks to punish Israel over its human rights abuses.

      “I personally support the BDS movement,” said Tlaib. She added that economic boycotts are a way to bring attention to “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.”


  • CIA Intercepts Underpin Assessment Saudi Crown Prince Targeted Khashoggi - WSJ
    Conclusion that Mohammad ‘probably ordered’ killing relies in part on 11 messages he sent to adviser who oversaw hit squad around time it killed journalist

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/cia-intercepts-underpin-assessment-saudi-crown-prince-targeted-khashoggi-154364

    WASHINGTON—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment.

    The Saudi leader also in August 2017 had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” according to the assessment, a communication that it states “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi.”

    Mr. Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership who lived in Virginia and wrote columns for the Washington Post, was killed by Saudi operatives on Oct. 2 shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he sought papers needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

    Excerpts of the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment, which cites electronic intercepts and other clandestine information, were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    The CIA last month concluded that Prince Mohammed had likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, and President Trump and leaders in Congress were briefed on intelligence gathered by the spy agency. Mr. Trump afterward questioned the CIA’s conclusion about the prince, saying “maybe he did; and maybe he didn’t.”

    The previously unreported excerpts reviewed by the Journal state that the CIA has “medium-to-high confidence” that Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.” It added: “To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.”

    The electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani, according to the CIA. Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul, the assessment says. The content of the messages between Prince Mohammed and Mr. Qahtani isn’t known, the document says. It doesn’t say in what form the messages were sent.

    It is unclear from the excerpts whether the 2017 comments regarding luring Mr. Khashoggi to a third country cited in the assessment are from Prince Mohammed directly, or from someone else describing his remarks.

    Saudi Arabia has acknowledged Mr. Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate. But it has denied Prince Mohammed had any role and blamed the operation on rogue operatives. The Saudi Public Prosecutor’s office last month announced charges against 11 Saudis in connection with Mr. Khashoggi’s death, saying it would seek the death penalty in five cases. The office didn’t release their names.

    The U.S. Treasury Department in mid-November slapped sanctions on 17 Saudis whom it linked to the killing. But Mr. Trump, in a statement days later, said he intended to maintain strong relations with the crown prince because of Saudi Arabia’s opposition to Iran, its investments in the U.S. and its role in the oil market.

    The Trump administration’s posture has angered many in Congress, and the intercepts and intelligence gathered by the CIA may complicate Mr. Trump’s efforts to maintain relations with Prince Mohammed, the de facto leader one of the world’s biggest oil producers. The two are among the world’s leaders meeting this weekend in Buenos Aires for a summit of Group of 20 nations.

    Earlier this week, the Senate voted to begin consideration of a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for a Saudi-led military coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen, with senators venting their frustration over Mr. Trump’s reluctance to hold Prince Mohammed responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.


  • New Bill Would Make Cash-Free Businesses Illegal
    http://www.grubstreet.com/2018/11/new-bill-would-make-cash-free-businesses-restaurants-illegal.html

    Tomorrow, New York city councilmember Ritchie J. Torres will formally introduce legislation that could ban so-called cashless businesses from operating in New York City. Like lawmakers in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, Torres, who represents the 15th Council District in the central Bronx, believes that cash-free establishments are discriminatory by design. If his bill is passed, any business that refuses to accept #cash will face fines — a move that would impact the many cash-free restaurants, coffee shops, and cafés that have recently emerged across New York City. On the eve of announcing his bill, Grub Street talked to him about the racism and classism that he believes are at the heart of the so called “cashless revolution.”

    #guerre_aux_pauvres


  • Pour Julian Assange, par Serge Halimi (décembre 2018)
    https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2018/12/HALIMI/59366

    Fier comme Artaban, souriant, entouré d’une cinquantaine de photographes et de cadreurs, Jim Acosta a opéré, le 16 novembre dernier, son retour en fanfare à la Maison Blanche. Quelques jours plus tôt, il avait perdu son accréditation de correspondant de Cable News Network (CNN), mais la justice américaine a obligé le président Donald Trump à annuler la sanction. « C’était un test, et nous l’avons passé avec succès, a fanfaronné Acosta. Les journalistes doivent savoir que, dans ce pays, la liberté de la presse est sacrée, et qu’ils sont protégés par la Constitution [pour] enquêter sur ce que font nos gouvernants et nos dirigeants. » Fondu enchaîné, musique, happy end…

    Réfugié depuis six ans à l’ambassade d’Équateur à Londres, M. Julian Assange n’a sans doute pas pu suivre en direct sur CNN un dénouement aussi émouvant. Car son existence à lui ressemble à celle d’un prisonnier. Interdiction de sortir, sous peine d’être arrêté par les autorités britanniques, puis, sans doute, extradé vers les États-Unis ; communications réduites et brimades de toutes sortes depuis que, pour complaire à Washington, le président équatorien Lenín Moreno a résolu de durcir les conditions de séjour de son « hôte ».


  • Pour Julian Assange
    https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2018/12/HALIMI/59366

    Fier comme Artaban, souriant, entouré d’une cinquantaine de photographes et de cadreurs, Jim Acosta a opéré, le 16 novembre dernier, son retour en fanfare à la Maison Blanche. Quelques jours plus tôt, il avait perdu son accréditation de correspondant de Cable News Network (CNN), mais la justice américaine a obligé le président Donald Trump à annuler la sanction. « C’était un test, et nous l’avons passé avec succès, a fanfaronné Acosta. Les journalistes doivent savoir que, dans ce pays, la liberté de la presse est sacrée, et qu’ils sont protégés par la Constitution [pour] enquêter sur ce que font nos gouvernants et nos dirigeants. » Fondu enchaîné, musique, happy end…


    Réfugié depuis six ans à l’ambassade d’Équateur à Londres, M. Julian Assange n’a sans doute pas pu suivre en direct sur CNN un dénouement aussi émouvant. Car son existence à lui ressemble à celle d’un prisonnier. Interdiction de sortir, sous peine d’être arrêté par les autorités britanniques, puis, sans doute, extradé vers les États-Unis ; communications réduites et brimades de toutes sortes depuis que, pour complaire à Washington, le président équatorien Lenín Moreno a résolu de durcir les conditions de séjour de son « hôte » (lire « En Équateur, le néolibéralisme par surprise »).

    La détention de M. Assange ainsi que la menace de quelques dizaines d’années de prison dans un pénitencier américain (en 2010, M. Trump avait souhaité qu’il soit exécuté) doivent tout au site d’information qu’il a fondé. WikiLeaks est à l’origine des principales révélations qui ont indisposé les puissants de ce monde depuis une dizaine d’années : images des crimes de guerre américains en Afghanistan et en Irak, espionnage industriel des États-Unis, comptes secrets aux îles Caïmans. La dictature du président tunisien Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali fut ébranlée par la divulgation d’une communication secrète du département d’État américain qualifiant cette kleptocratie amie de Washington de « régime sclérosé » et de « quasi-mafia ». C’est également WikiLeaks qui révéla que deux dirigeants socialistes français, MM. François Hollande et Pierre Moscovici, s’étaient rendus, le 8 juin 2006, à l’ambassade des États-Unis à Paris pour y regretter la vigueur de l’opposition du président Jacques Chirac à l’invasion de l’Irak.

    Mais ce que la « gauche » pardonne moins que tout à M. Assange, c’est la publication par son site des courriels piratés de la campagne de Mme Hillary Clinton. Estimant que cette affaire a favorisé les desseins russes et l’élection de M. Trump, elle oublie que WikiLeaks a alors dévoilé les manœuvres de la candidate démocrate pour saboter la campagne de M. Bernie Sanders durant les primaires de leur parti. À l’époque, les médias du monde entier ne s’étaient pas privés de reprendre ces informations, comme ils l’avaient fait pour les précédentes, sans pour autant que leurs directeurs de publication soient assimilés à des espions étrangers et menacés de prison.

    L’acharnement des autorités américaines contre M. Assange est encouragé par la lâcheté des journalistes qui l’abandonnent à son sort, voire se délectent de son infortune. Ainsi, sur la chaîne MSNBC, l’animateur-vedette Christopher Matthews, ancien cacique du Parti démocrate, n’a pas hésité à suggérer que les services secrets américains devraient « agir à l’israélienne et enlever Assange »…

    Serge Halimi

    #Julian_Assange


  • « Le #Communisme expliqué aux enfants » : le livre de Bini Adamczak qui scandalise l’alt-right
    https://www.lautrequotidien.fr/articles/2018/11/15/le-communisme-expliqu-aux-enfants-all-les-dputs-lrm

    La parution du livre aux États-Unis a provoqué une véritable levée de boucliers de la part de toute la mouvance conservatrice, de l’alt-right, et a par conséquent largement contribué à faire de ce livre l’un des grands emblèmes de l’opposition à Trump. « Au grand dam des parents, les éditions MIT Press ont récemment publié un petit livre portant le titre de Communism for Kids. Il apprendrait aux enfants à diriger un goulag, à imiter certains dictateurs génocidaires, à adorer Satan, et globalement à contribuer à la destruction de la civilisation occidentale ‒ le tout pour la modique somme de 12,95 dollars […] L’auteur de ce texte répandrait subrepticement certaines valeurs “anti-américaines”, féministes, queers, etc. C’est en tout cas ce que peuvent raconter pléthore de figures ou médias conservateurs comme Breitbart, National Review, American Conservative, The Daily Beast, The Daily Signal, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Crowder, The Blaze, Pamela Geller, The Christian Truther, The Washington Free Beacon et Fox News. » — Jacob Blumenfeld, The New York Times

    #livres #édition


  • Égypte. Obama, ce « laquais » des Frères musulmans – Salimsellami’s Blog
    https://salimsellami.wordpress.com/2018/11/20/egypte-obama-ce-laquais-des-freres-musulmans

    L’administration de Barack Obama s’est divisée face aux bouleversements qui, de manière inattendue, ont menacé l’ordre régional ancien à partir de l’hiver 2011-2012. La secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton souhaitait soutenir jusqu’au bout le président Hosni Moubarak, alors qu’Obama, très isolé au sein de son gouvernement, pensait le contraire. Mais, au-delà de ces différences, la défense des intérêts américains était le point qui les rassemblait, et la démocratie n’était pas une préoccupation prioritaire. Comme l’explique à l’auteur un haut fonctionnaire du département d’État, « on a penché en faveur d’une transition dirigée par Moubarak. Quand ça n’a pas marché, on s’est prononcé pour Omar Suleiman1, et quand cette idée a été abandonnée, on s’est dit, “d’accord, travaillons avec le Conseil supérieur des forces armées2 ”. » L’objectif étant de garder le contact avec les autorités et surtout avec l’armée égyptienne, garante de la paix avec Israël.

    Que pensait le gouvernement américain des Frères musulmans ? Au printemps 2011, le département d’État ne connaissait personne dans ce qui allait devenir le bloc politique égyptien le plus influent ! Comme le raconte un membre du Conseil de sécurité nationale à l’auteur : « Nous ne savions rien ! Les conseillers de Mme Clinton au département d’État et le personnel du bureau égyptien au Conseil de sécurité nationale ont rédigé un câble demandant officiellement à l’ambassade du Caire d’entrer en contact avec les Frères musulmans. »Mais il fallut encore un mois pour que les diplomates obtempèrent.

    UN DOUBLE PARI DE WASHINGTON
    Ces premiers contacts ne furent pas très fructueux, et nombre de responsables politiques, militaires ou du renseignement américains craignaient l’élection de Mohamed Morsi. Le deuxième tour de l’élection en juin 2012 donna lieu à de virulentes discussions internes, d’autant que le très influent réseau saoudien et émirati à Washington était favorable à son adversaire Ahmed Chafik. « De nombreux membres de l’armée et des services de renseignement américains craignaient la perspective d’un président islamiste en Égypte, relate Kirkpatrick. Mais étant donné la piètre performance des généraux [depuis février 2011], une victoire truquée de Chafik ne semblait garantir qu’un chaos continu. » Il cite Ben Rhodes, un proche conseiller d’Obama qui assistait à une réunion du Conseil de sécurité nationale : « On pouvait voir que beaucoup de gens dans la salle penchaient pour Chafik. Mais même ces gens ne pouvaient pas accepter que nous agissions contre l’autre gars (Morsi) qui avait gagné une élection libre. »

    Le double pari de Washington — en tout cas celui de la Maison Blanche — était que les Frères musulmans, le plus puissant parti et le mieux organisé d’Égypte, pourraient engager les réformes économiques nécessaires et rétablir la stabilité ; le second était que le soutien de facto de Morsi aux accords de paix israélo-égyptiens renforcerait l’influence américaine. Si le second pari a été gagné, le premier a échoué.                                                                

    Un test grandeur nature vint après l’offensive d’Israël contre Gaza et le Hamas en novembre 2012. Obama entra directement en contact avec Morsi et ce dernier lui promit d’amener le Hamas à la table des négociations. Ben Rhodes se souvient : « Les pourparlers de cessez-le-feu étaient dans l’impasse avant que Morsi n’intervienne […] Et il a tenu ses engagements […] Il a respecté sa part du marché […] Il a surpris même les sceptiques. »

    « C’était un test décisif pour Morsi, et il l’a passé avec brio, se souvient Steven Simon du Conseil de sécurité nationale. […] Il était indispensable. » La récompense ne tarda pas, Hillary Clinton en personne se rendit au Caire le 21 novembre pour annoncer le cessez-le-feu et remercier Morsi « pour avoir assumé le leadership qui a longtemps fait de ce pays une pierre angulaire de la stabilité et de la paix dans la région ». Et quand le conseiller de politique étrangère de Morsi, Essam Al-Haddad se rendit à Washington quelques semaines plus tard, il fut surpris d’obtenir une audience impromptue avec le président Obama lui-même. Ces événements eurent une double conséquence : alimenter en Égypte une campagne sur le soi-disant soutien d’Obama aux Frères musulmans ; convaincre Morsi qu’il disposait du soutien de l’administration américaine qui empêcherait toute intervention de l’armée contre lui : la suite allait lui montrer son erreur.

    Car le pouvoir de Morsi, au-delà de sa propre incompétence, de ses erreurs et de son sectarisme, faisait face à une campagne régionale bien organisée, relayée par des cercles influents au sein de l’administration américaine. « En avril 2013, note Kirkpatrick, le réseau satellitaire basé aux Émirats — Sky News Arabia, Al Arabiya en Arabie saoudite et d’autres médias égyptiens liés aux Émirats dénonçaient un prétendu complot américain pour amener les Frères au pouvoir, avec l’ambassadrice Patterson comme chef de file […] [Ils] étaient pleins d’accusations selon lesquelles elle était un “laquais” des Frères, une “vieille sorcière” ou un “ogre”[…] Ils affirmaient que l’ambassadrice avait fait pression sur le gouvernement égyptien pour truquer l’élection présidentielle. » Le tout étant le résultat d’un « grand complot », au profit… d’Israël ! Comme le rappelle Rhodes à l’auteur, « les alliés des États-Unis ont financé une campagne de dénigrement contre l’ambassadrice des États-Unis dans un pays qui est l’un des plus grands bénéficiaires de l’aide des États-Unis pour renverser le gouvernement démocratiquement élu de ce pays ».

    PAS DE DIFFÉRENCE ENTRE AL-QAIDA ET LES FRÈRES MUSULMANS
    Mais cette campagne n’aurait pas eu un tel impact si elle n’avait pas disposé de relais influents à Washington, si elle n’avait pas été alimentée par les activités des ambassades saoudienne et émiratie. Au Pentagone, nombre de responsables ne cachaient pas leur haine de tout ce qui est musulman. Le général James Mattis, chef du Central Command, responsable de toutes les opérations au Proche-Orient, en Asie centrale et du Sud-Est (il deviendra secrétaire d’État à la défense du président Donald Trump) pensait que les Frères musulmans et Al-Qaida représentaient plus ou moins le même courant. Et Michael Flynn, directeur de l’agence du renseignement de la défense (DIA), qualifiait l’islam de « cancer » et avait développé des relations étroites avec celui qui n’était encore que le ministre de la défense, le général Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi. Flynn fut limogé par Obama en août 2014 et sera, brièvement, conseiller national à la sécurité de Trump.

    Comme le note l’auteur, « les divisions au sein du gouvernement américain devenaient évidentes pour les diplomates et les militaires de la région. Obama et une partie de la Maison-Blanche espéraient que Morsi réussirait ; beaucoup au Pentagone, comme Mattis et Flynn, étaient d’accord avec leurs homologues égyptiens et émiratis que Morsi était un danger. La schizophrénie américaine était si visible que les généraux égyptiens s’en sont plaints auprès de leurs contacts au Pentagone ». Et ils ont compris qu’ils pourraient agir contre le pouvoir élu sans représailles américaines.

    En janvier 2013, Obama nomme Chuck Hagel, un sénateur républicain, au secrétariat d’État à la défense. Celui-ci se rend en Égypte avec comme instructions de prévenir Sissi que tout coup d’État provoquerait l’arrêt de l’aide militaire américaine. Mais, à la fois du fait de ses convictions, et des pressions saoudiennes, émiraties et israéliennes, Hagel n’en fit rien, si l’on en croit Kirkpatrick.

    Dès le printemps 2013, l’ensemble des organisations de renseignement américaines informèrent Washington qu’un coup d’État était en préparation, « mais personne au Pentagone, au département d’État, à la Maison Blanche ne dit à Sissi de s’arrêter ni n’expliqua à Morsi que Sissi s’était retourné contre lui »(étonnamment, presque jusqu’au bout Morsi fit confiance à son ministre de la défense).

    ISRAËL AVEC LES PUTSCHISTES
    Le 3 juillet 2013, l’armée égyptienne franchissait le Rubicon et Morsi était mis sous les verrous. Le lendemain, Obama convoquait une réunion du Conseil national de sécurité. À la surprise de ses conseillers, le président refusa de qualifier les événements de « coup d’État », ce qui aurait entraîné ipso facto la suspension de l’aide militaire américaine. John Kerry, secrétaire d’État depuis décembre 2012, abonda dans son sens. Il expliquera plus tard à l’auteur que « Sissi s’était incliné devant la volonté populaire et agissait pour sauver l’Égypte. Les généraux affirmaient qu’ils avaient destitué Morsi pour éviter une implosion et établir la primauté du droit, et non dans le but de gouverner. Ils prétendaient qu’ils allaient adopter une feuille de route permettant le recours aux élections ».

    Israël joua un rôle non négligeable dans ces choix, comme l’explique Hagel à Kirkpatrick : « (Les Israéliens) me disaient, c’est notre sécurité et [Sissi] garantit la meilleure relation que nous ayons jamais eue avec les Égyptiens. Et ils intervenaient auprès du Congrès ». Le sénateur Rand Paul, républicain du Kentucky, avait présenté un projet de loi visant à mettre fin à l’aide militaire à l’Égypte en raison du coup d’État. L’American Israel Public Affairs Committee — plus connu sous l’acronyme AIPAC — écrivit à tous les sénateurs en faisant valoir que toute réduction de l’aide « pourrait accroître l’instabilité en Égypte, miner d’importants intérêts américains et avoir un impact négatif sur notre allié israélien ». Le Sénat vota par 86 voix contre 13 la poursuite de l’aide.

    Cet appui d’Israël et du lobby pro-israélien au régime égyptien confirmait la fragilité et la dépendance du président Siss, malgré ses rodomontades ultra nationalistes, et diminuait le poids que pouvait avoir l’Égypte pour trouver une solution au conflit israélo-palestinien. Comme le rapporte l’auteur, « le 21 février 2016, le secrétaire d’État Kerry a convoqué un sommet secret à Aqaba, en Jordanie, avec Sissi, le roi Abdallah de Jordanie et le premier ministre israélien Benjamin Nétanyahou. Une partie de l’ordre du jour était un accord régional pour que l’Égypte garantisse la sécurité d’Israël dans le cadre de la création d’un État palestinien. Nétanyahou tourna la proposition en ridicule. Qu’est-ce que Sissi pouvait offrir à Israël ? s’interrogea-t-il, selon deux Américains impliqués dans les pourparlers. Sissi dépendait d’Israël pour contrôler son propre territoire, pour sa propre survie. Sissi avait besoin de Nétanyahou ; Nétanyahou n’avait pas besoin de Sissi. » Nétanyahou savait que, loin d’apporter une solution au « terrorisme », le coup d’État du 3 juillet 2013 avait marqué le début d’une insurrection dans le Sinaï, sous la direction d’un groupe qui rallia en 2015 l’organisation de l’État islamique (OEI) ; l’armée égyptienne était incapable de la juguler et Israël dut intervenir plusieurs fois militairement pour aider les militaires égyptiens. On était loin des rodomontades ultranationalistes du Caire.

    Il fallut le massacre de près d’un millier de civils à Rabaa au mois d’août 2013 pour que les États-Unis réagissent. D’abord en reportant les manœuvres militaires conjointes américano-égyptiennes, ensuite, au mois d’octobre, en suspendant l’aide militaire de 1,3 milliard de dollars (1,58 milliards d’euros). Mais il était trop tard, d’autant que de puissantes forces se faisaient entendre à Washington contre ces orientations : le Pentagone ne désignait plus les conseillers du président que comme « les djihadistes de la Maison Blanche » ou « le caucus des Frères musulmans ». Rapidement, Obama rétablit l’aide militaire. Washington tirait un trait sur la démocratie en Égypte.

    Du livre se dégage le portrait finalement peu flatteur d’un président Obama velléitaire, incapable d’imposer ses choix à sa propre administration, et pour qui la démocratie n’est sûrement pas une composante majeure de la politique étrangère des États-Unis. Avec des conséquences graves. Comme l’explique Mohamad Soltan, un Égypto-Américain membre des Frères emprisonné par la junte avant d’être expulsé vers les États-Unis : « La seule chose qu’ont en commun tous ceux qui sont en prison — les gars de l’État islamique, les Frères musulmans, les libéraux, les gardes, les officiers — c’est qu’ils haïssent tous l’Amérique. » On se demande pourquoi…         

    ALAIN GRESH


  • Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? - The New York Times

    Jewish communities stand more divided than ever on whether to embrace or denounce Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

    By Amy Chozick and Hannah Seligson
    Nov. 17, 2018

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/style/ivanka-trump-jared-kushner.html

    On election night in Beverly Hills, Jason Blum, the hot shot horror-movie producer, was accepting an award at the Israel Film Festival. The polls in a string of midterm contests were closing, and Mr. Blum, a vocal critic of President Trump, was talking about how much was at stake.

    “The past two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country,” Mr. Blum said.

    That’s when the crowd of mostly Jewish producers and power brokers started to chant, “We like Trump!” An Israeli man stepped onto the stage to try to pull Mr. Blum away from the microphone as the crowd at the Saban Theater Steve Tisch Cinema Center cheered.

    “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse,” Mr. Blum said, as security rushed the stage to help him. “Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”
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    In the weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in one of the most horrific acts of anti-Semitism in years, debates about the president’s role in stoking extremism have roiled American Jews — and forced an uncomfortable reckoning between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his daughter and son-in-law’s Jewish faith.
    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
    Credit
    Doug Mills/The New York Times

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    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    Rabbis and Jewish leaders have raged on Twitter and in op-eds, in sermons and over shabbat dinners, over how to reconcile the paradox of Jared Kushner, the descendant of Holocaust survivors, and Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism to marry Mr. Kushner.

    To some Jews, the couple serves as a bulwark pushing the Trump administration toward pro-Israel policies, most notably the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. To many others, they are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, allowing Mr. Trump to brush aside criticism that his words have fueled the uptick in violent attacks against Jews.

    “For Jews who are deeply opposed to Donald Trump and truly believe he is an anti-Semite, it’s deeply problematic that he’s got a Jewish son-in-law and daughter. How can that be?” said Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.
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    Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump serve as senior advisers in the White House. At a time when Judaism is under assault — the F.B.I. said this week that anti-Semitic attacks have increased in each of the last three years — they are unabashedly Orthodox, observing shabbat each week, walking to an Orthodox Chabad shul near their Kalorama home in Washington, D.C., dropping their children off at Jewish day school and hanging mezuzas on the doors of their West Wing offices.

    After the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Kushner played a key role in Mr. Trump (eventually) decrying “the scourge of anti-Semitism.” And Mr. Kushner helped arrange the president’s visit to the Squirrel Hill synagogue, including inviting Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States to accompany them. There, in Pittsburgh, thousands marched to protest what one organizer described as the insult of the Mr. Trump’s visit.
    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.
    Credit
    Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

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    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.CreditOlivier Douliery/Getty Images
    The White House has referenced Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump’s religion to dismiss accusations that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened anti-Semites. “The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told reporters.

    Using the couple in this way has unnerved many Jews who oppose the president and say Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump violated the sacred, if sometimes unspoken, communal code that mandates Jews take care of each other during times of struggle. “I’m more offended by Jared than I am by President Trump,” said Eric Reimer, a lawyer in New York who was on Mr. Kushner’s trivia team at The Frisch School, a modern Orthodox yeshiva in New Jersey that they both attended.

    “We, as Jews, are forced to grapple with the fact that Jared and his wife are Jewish, but Jared is participating in acts of Chillul Hashem,” said Mr. Reimer, using the Hebrew term for when a Jew behaves immorally while in the presence of others.
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    For Mr. Reimer, who hasn’t spoken to Mr. Kushner since high school, one of those incidents was the administration’s Muslim ban, which prompted members of the Frisch community to sign an open letter to Mr. Kushner imploring him “to exercise the influence and access you have to annals of power to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate as millions of our co-religionists.”

    Leah Pisar, president of the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based group that works to counter Holocaust denial, and whose late father, Samuel Pisar, escaped Auschwitz and advised John F. Kennedy, said she found it “inconceivable that Jared could stay affiliated with the administration after Pittsburgh” and called Mr. Kushner the president’s “fig leaf.”

    Those kinds of accusations are anathema to other Jews, particularly a subset of Orthodox Jews who accused liberal Jews of politicizing the Pittsburgh attack and who say that any policies that would weaken Israel are the ultimate act of anti-Semitism.
    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

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    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    “Jared and Ivanka are one of us as traditional Jews who care deeply about Israel,” said Ronn Torossian, a New York publicist whose children attend the Ramaz School, the same Upper East Side yeshiva where Mr. Kushner’s eldest daughter Arabella was once enrolled. “I look at them as part of our extended family.”

    Even some Jews who dislike Mr. Trump’s policies and recoil at his political style may feel a reluctance to criticize the country’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish couple, grappling with the age-old question that has haunted the Jewish psyche for generations: Yes, but is it good for the Jews?
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    To that end, even as liberal New York Jews suggest the couple would be snubbed when they eventually return to the city, many in the Orthodox community would likely embrace them. “They certainly won’t be banned, but I don’t think most synagogues would give them an aliyah,” said Ethan Tucker, a rabbi and president of the Hadar yeshiva in New York, referring to the relatively limited honor of being called to make a blessing before and after the reading of the Torah. (Mr. Tucker is also the stepson of Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate to run on a major party ticket in the U.S.) “I don’t think people generally honor people they feel were accomplices to politics and policies they abhor,” Mr. Tucker said.

    Haskel Lookstein, who serves as rabbi emeritus of the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the modern Orthodox synagogue on the Upper East Side that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump attended, wrote in an open letter to Mr. Trump that he was “deeply troubled” by the president saying “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” in response to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va.

    When reached last week to comment about the president’s daughter and son-in-law days after the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Lookstein said simply, “I love them and that’s one of the reasons I don’t talk about them.”

    Talk to enough Jews about Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, and you begin to realize that the couple has become a sort of Rorschach test, with defenders and detractors seeing what they want to see as it relates to larger rifts about Jewish identity.

    “It’s not about Jared and Ivanka,” said Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “People look at them through the prism of their own worldviews.”
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    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

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    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    Those worldviews are rapidly changing. One in five American Jews now describes themselves as having no religion and identifying as Jews based only on ancestry, ethnicity or culture, according to Pew. By contrast, in the 1950s, 93 percent of American Jews identified as Jews based on religion.
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    As Jews retreat from membership to reform synagogues, historically made up of political liberals who were at the forefront of the fight for Civil Rights and other progressive issues, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Orthodox Hasidic group with which Mr. Kushner is affiliated, has become a rapidly-growing Jewish movement. The growth of Chabad correlates with fierce divisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a small but growing contingent of American Jews who prioritize Israel above any other political or social issue.

    Mr. Kushner, in particular, has become a sort of proxy for these larger schisms about faith and Israel, according to Jewish experts. “There is a great deal of anxiety around the coming of the Orthodox,” said Dr. Sarna, the Brandeis professor. “Jared in every way — his Orthodoxy, his Chabad ties, his views on Israel — symbolizes those changes.”

    Mr. Kushner is the scion of wealthy real-estate developers and his family has donated millions of dollars to the Jewish community, including through a foundation that gives to settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Kushner influenced the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy, to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and to shutter a Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

    “You’d be hard pressed to find a better supporter of Israel than Donald Trump and Jared plays a role in that,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Kushner is currently working on a Middle East peace plan expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

    Haim Saban, an entertainment magnate and pro-Israel Democrat, is optimistic about Mr. Kushner’s efforts. He said in an interview from his hotel in Israel that although he disagrees with some of Mr. Trump’s policies, “Jared and by extension the president understand the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel on multiple levels — security, intelligence, but most of all, shared values.”
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    That embrace has only exacerbated tensions with secular Jews who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and oppose Mr. Trump. According to a 2018 survey by the American Jewish Committee, 41 percent of Jews said they strongly disagree with Mr. Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations and 71 percent had an overall unfavorable opinion of Mr. Trump. (In response to questions for this story, a White House press aide referred reporters to an Ami magazine poll of 263 Orthodox Jews in the tristate area published in August. Eighty-two percent said they would vote for President Trump in 2020.)

    “To wave a flag and say ‘Oh, he’s obviously pro-Jewish because he moved the embassy’ just absolutely ignores what we know to be a deeply alarming rise of anti-Semitism and all sorts of dog-whistling and enabling of the alt-right,” said Andy Bachman, a prominent progressive rabbi in New York.
    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.
    Credit
    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

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    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    In September, Mr. Kushner and his top advisers, Jason D. Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, hosted a private dinner at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. Over a kosher meal, Mr. Kushner, aware of concerns within the Jewish community that Israel policy had become an overly partisan issue, fielded the advice of a range of Jewish leaders, including hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor Paul Singer and Mr. Saban, to craft his Middle East peace plan. “He called and said ’I’ll bring 10 Republicans and you bring 10 Democrats,’” Mr. Saban said.

    The undertaking will only bring more kvetching about Mr. Kushner. Indeed, some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent Jewish supporters have already expressed their displeasure at any deal that would require Israel to give up land.

    “I’m not happy with Jared promoting a peace deal that’s sending a message that we’re ready to ignore the horrors of the Palestinian regime,” said Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America and a friend of Republican megadonor Sheldon G. Adelson.

    “But …” Mr. Klein added, as if self-aware of how other Jews will view his position, “I am a fanatical, pro-Israel Zionist.”
    Amy Chozick is a New York-based writer-at-large and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, writing about the personalities and power struggles in business, politics and media.


  • #Fridtjof_Nansen, WWI, and the Beginning of the Modern Refugee Regime

    This week–on November 11–marked the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. In terms of refugee law, the Great War is usually eclipsed by WWII, which gave rise to the Refugee Convention (in 1951). The Convention forms the basis for our international and domestic humanitarian law up until today.

    But the First World War was also foundational to our current refugee regime, and so it’s too bad that WWI developments in refugee law get short shrift. Upwards of 10 million people were displaced by the War and the subsequent rise of the Soviet Union. Many would never return home and would permanently resettle in other countries. This mass movement of civilians led to political, cultural, and social changes, and predictably, to a backlash against refugees (as a security, economic, and health threat) that sounds all-too familiar today.

    Probably the most prominent figure in post-WWI refugee resettlement was a Norwegian wunderkind named Fridtjof Nansen. Mr. Nansen was born in 1861. He was a record-breaking skater and skier. He studied zoology in university, and went on to become a world famous artic explorer. In 1888, he led the first expedition to cross Greenland, and in 1895, he came within 4 degrees of the North Pole, the furthest north anyone had traveled to date. After his career in the Artic, he turned to science, where he made important contributions to the fields of neurology and oceanography. Mr. Nansen served as a diplomat and advocated for separation of Norway and Sweden (which had been united since 1814). Norway became independent in 1905.

    Norway was neutral during the First World War, and during those years, Mr. Nansen was involved in organizing his nation’s defense. In 1917, he was dispatched to Washington, where he negotiated a deal to help alleviate a severe food shortage in his country.

    After World War I, Mr. Nansen successfully helped advocate for Norway’s involvement in the League of Nations, and he served as a delegate to that body. He became involved in the repatriation of prisoners of war, and between 1920 and 1922, led the effort to resettle over 400,000 POWs in 30 different countries. In 1921, Mr. Nansen became the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees and helped resettle two million Russians displaced by the revolution. At the same time, he was working to relieve a massive famine in Russia, but had trouble securing international aid (due largely to suspicion of the new Marxist government). He also assisted Armenian refugees after the genocide there, and devised a controversial population exchange between Turkey and Greece, which resolved a Greek refugee crisis, but also resulted in the expulsion (with compensation) of Turks from Greece.

    Mr. Nansen created the “Nansen” passports in 1922, a document that allowed stateless people to travel legally across borders. By WWII, 52 nations recognized the passport as a legal travel document. Nansen passports were originally created to help refugees from the Russian civil war, but over 20 years, they were used by more than 450,000 individuals from various countries (including a number of well-known figures, such as Marc Chagall, Aristotle Onassis, G.I. Gurdjiieff, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and Igor Stravinsky). The passports served as a foundation for a clearly-defined legal status for refugees, and some scholars consider the creation of the Nansen passports as the beginning of international refugee law.

    In 1922, Mr. Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee cited “his work for the repatriation of the prisoners of war, his work for the Russian refugees, his work to bring succour to the millions of Russians afflicted by famine, and finally his present work for the refugees in Asia Minor and Thrace.”

    Mr. Nansen continued his involvement in the League of Nations through the 1920s, and he flirted with Norwegian politics, though he seems to have no major ambitions in that direction. In 1926, Mr. Nansen came up with a legal definition for refugees from Russia and Armenia, and his definition was adopted by several dozen nations. This marked the first time that the term “refugee” was defined in international law, and it helped set the stage for later legal developments in the area of refugee protection.

    Fridtjof Nansen died on May 3, 1930. After his death, a fellow delegate from the League of Nations eulogized, “Every good cause had his support. He was a fearless peacemaker, a friend of justice, an advocate always for the weak and suffering.”

    Even after his death, Mr. Nansen’s work continued. The League of Nations established the Nansen International Office for Refugees, which helped resettle tens of thousands of refugees during the inter-War years. The Nansen Office was also instrumental in establishing the Refugee Convention of 1933 (now, largely forgotten), the first international, multilateral treaty offering legal protection to refugees and granting them certain civic and economic rights. The 1933 Convention also established the principle of “non-refoulement,” the idea that nations cannot return individuals to countries where they face persecution. To this day, non-refoulement is a key concept of international (and U.S.) refugee law. For all this work, the Nansen Office was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938.

    Fridtjof Nansen’s legacy lives on in many ways. There are geographic features named after him in the Artic, Antarctic, and various places around the globe. In space, there is a crater on the moon named in his honor, as well as an asteroid. The oldest ski club in the United States is named for Mr. Nansen, and there is a species of fish that bears his name (Nansenia). A museum in Armenia documents his scientific and humanitarian achievements. And each year, the United Nations bestows the Nansen Refugee Award on an individual or organization that has assisted refugees, displaced or stateless people. For me, though, Mr. Nansen’s most enduring achievement is his pioneering work to help establish international refugee law, a legal regime which protects us all.


    http://www.asylumist.com/2018/11/13/fridtjof-nansen-wwi-and-the-beginning-of-the-modern-refugee-regime
    #Nansen #asile #réfugiés #histoire


  • Opinion | New York’s Amazon Deal Is a Bad Bargain - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/opinion/new-yorks-amazon-deal.html

    The city has what the company wants, talent. Why pay them $1.5 billion to come?

    Amazon wants to develop a four-million-square-foot campus by the East River because of the talent that resides in New York. Lots of it. According to the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, New York has more than 320,000 tech workers in the labor pool, the most in the nation. (Washington is second.) That talent commands high salaries, great benefits and won’t move to Pittsburgh or Austin or any other of the perfectly nice cities that tried to woo the online giant.

    Which raises the question: If New York has what Amazon wants, why is it paying the company so much to make the move? Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who offered to replace his given name with the company’s to land the deal, are doing a victory dance.

    But the plan calls for the state to dispense $1.525 billion to the company, including $1.2 billion from its Excelsior program, which will reimburse Amazon $48,000 for every job. Another state agency, Empire State Development, will offer $325 million to the Amazonians tied to real estate projects. As for the city, Amazon can apply for tax credits that could be worth north of $1 billion from programs known as ICAP and REAP that reward companies for job creation generally, and outside Manhattan specifically. (And the campus is in a federal redevelopment area that qualifies for corporate tax breaks, letting the company’s major stockholder, the world’s richest man, keep more of his wealth.)

    Oh, and Amazon wants a helipad for its chief executive, Jeff Bezos. No problem.

    The prospect of handing Long Island City over to a company recently valued at $1 trillion seems distorted to some Queens politicians. They sense gentrification by fiat — another neighborhood sacrificed to the tech elite.

    “I welcome the jobs if it means Amazon investment in L.I.C. infrastructure, without us having to pay a ransom for them to be here,” said the neighborhood’s state senator, Michael Gianaris.

    That is, rather than the state and the city paying off Amazon, Amazon should be required to invest in the subways, schools and affordable housing. It could also be required to include job guarantees for lower-income residents of Long Island City, not just flimsy promises of job training.

    #Amazon #New_York #Strategie_economique


  • How Facebook Wrestled With Scandal : 6 Key Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/technology/facebook-crisis-mark-zuckerberg-sheryl-sandberg.html

    For more than a year, Facebook has endured cascading crises — over Russian misinformation, data privacy and abusive content — that transformed the Silicon Valley icon into an embattled giant accused of corporate overreach and negligence. An investigation by The New York Times revealed how Facebook fought back against its critics : with delays, denials and a full-bore campaign in Washington. Here are six takeaways. Facebook knew about Russian interference In fall 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, (...)

    #CambridgeAnalytica #Facebook #élections #manipulation #données #BigData #lobbying


  • Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/13/iran-was-closer-to-a-nuclear-bomb-than-intelligence-agencies-thought

    ecret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

    That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

    Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

    Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.
    […]
    The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.
    […]
    Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


  • Opinion | Who’s the Real American Psycho? - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/10/opinion/sunday/dick-cheney-donald-trump-vice-movie.html

    Par #Maureen_Dowd

    Even for Washington, the capital of do-overs and the soulless swamp where horrendous mistakes never prevent you from cashing in and getting another security clearance, this is a repellent spectacle. War criminals-turned-liberal heroes are festooned with book and TV contracts, podcasts and op-ed perches.

    Those who sold us the “cakewalk” Iraq war and the outrageously unprepared Sarah Palin and torture as “enhanced interrogation,” those who left the Middle East shattered with a cascading refugee crisis and a rising ISIS, and those who midwifed the birth of the Tea Party are washing away their sins in a basin of Trump hate.

    #criminels #etats-unis


  • Exclusive: Khashoggi murder further complicates ’Arab NATO’ plan - U.S. sources | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mideast-alliance-exclusive/exclusive-khashoggi-murder-further-complicates-arab-nato-plan-u-s-sources-i

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s strategy to contain Iranian power in the Middle East by forging Arab allies into a U.S.-backed security alliance was in trouble even before the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now, three U.S. sources said, the plan faces fresh complications.

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    Khashoggi’s murder on Oct. 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has drawn international outrage against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Turkish officials and some U.S. lawmakers accusing the kingdom’s de facto ruler of ordering the killing.

    The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) aims to bind Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan in a U.S.-led security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran. 

    But feuds among Arab allies, especially a Saudi-led economic and political boycott of Qatar, have hampered the founding of the alliance since Riyadh proposed it last year.

    A summit meeting in the United States where Trump and the Arab leaders would sign a preliminary accord on the alliance was expected in January. But the three U.S. sources and a Gulf diplomat said the meeting now looks uncertain. It has already been postponed several times, they added. 

    Khashoggi’s murder raised “a whole bunch of problems” to be solved before the plan - informally referred to as the “Arab NATO” - can move forward, one U.S. source said. One issue is how the Americans could have the Saudi crown prince, who goes by the initials MbS, attend the summit without causing widespread outrage.

    “It’s not palatable,” the source said.


  • UAE. The Other Murderous Gulf - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/10/30/other-murderous-gulf-pub-77606

    Since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad in early October, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and patron of Saudi Arabia’s own crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), has resembled the cat that swallowed the canary. The disastrous regional adventurism and ruthless despotism of his protégé has averted Washington’s gaze from the UAE’s own responsibility for the carnage that is roiling the region. But the UAE should not be given a get out jail free card. If the White House refuses to hold the Emirates accountable for undermining U.S. interests, Congress should use its constitutional power to step into the leadership void.

    Richard Sokolsky

    Richard Sokolsky is a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program. His work focuses on U.S. policy toward Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
    Throughout Yemen’s three-and-a-half-year civil war, the Emiratis have been as brutal and reckless as the Saudis. While Saudi aircraft slaughter innocent civilians at wedding halls, funerals, homes, markets, schools, and ports, UAE boots on the ground have also contributed to the humanitarian disaster. The UAE-led military offensive in and around the port city of Hodeidah has been a catastrophe: over 400,000 Yemenis have been displaced since June and the fighting has considerably worsened the country’s already alarming food crisis and famine. Human rights organizations have reported on secret UAE-administered detention facilities where torture, beatings, electric shocks, and killings have occurred. The UAE royal family has paid retired U.S. Special Forces soldiers to track down and assassinate Yemeni political figures that it believes are in league with the wider Muslim Brotherhood movement. In Aden, the UAE has organized, supplied, and paid militias to foment fractious proxy violence. Yemenis who once saw the Emirati intervention as an heroic act to defend their nation’s sovereignty from a ruthless Iran-supported militia are now depicting it as an occupation, if not colonization.

    The UAE is part of the coalition of “Saudi-led” Arab countries (along with Bahrain and Egypt) that imposed a blockade against Qatar in May 2017. These nations were attempting to, among other things, end Qatar’s “terrorism,” cut its ties to Iran, get it to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and force it to pursue a less independent foreign policy. The UAE has taken an even more hardline stance against the Qataris than the Saudis, in part because it is more fanatical than Riyadh about eradicating any trace of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Qatar and the region more broadly. The boycott, which has divided America’s partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been a disaster for both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, affording both Iran and Turkey opportunities to expand their influence in Doha. Nor has it worked out well for Washington, which hoped to forge a united Gulf front to contain Iranian influence. But for the UAE, the Saudis have been a useful surrogate for outsized regional ambitions; the Emiratis’ relationship with the Kingdom has allowed them to punch well above their weight. That’s not a good thing.


  • Dernier rapport de « Inspector General for #Afghanistan Reconstruction » (SIGAR) : les #talibans, les trafiquants de drogue et les contractuels privés des #Etats-Unis ne se sont jamais aussi bien portés

    The Taliban is stronger now than at any time since Afghanistan war
    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/11/1/afghan-forces-losing-kabul-control-to-taliban-us-watchdog

    “From the period of May 1 to the most current data as of October 1, 2018, the average number of casualties the (Afghan forces) suffered is the greatest it has ever been during like periods,” it said. 

    The report also noted that “the Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001”.

    Afghanistan : le contrôle des autorités au plus bas depuis 2015, selon un rapport - L’Orient-Le Jour
    https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1141602/afghanistan-le-controle-des-autorites-au-plus-bas-depuis-2015-selon-u

    Military contractor received $1.6 billion to advise Afghans but results unknown | Ottawa Citizen
    https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/military-contractor-received-1-6-billion-to-advise-afghans-but-result

    The Afghan mission continues to be a money pit for the U.S. government and a cash cow for private military contractors. On Wednesday, the U.S. government’s Afghan mission watchdog produced a report on the Pentagon program to advise the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Afghan Ministry of the Interior (MOI).

    Afghanistan : un rapport déplore le cuisant échec de Washington dans la lutte contre l’opium — RT en français
    https://francais.rt.com/international/55077-afghanistan-rapport-denonce-retentissant-echec-washington-dans-lu

    Washington a dépensé 8,8 milliards de dollars depuis 2002 contre le trafic de drogue, selon un organisme public américain. Résultat ? La production d’opium a connu un essor rapide, permettant aux talibans de tenir tête à Kaboul.


  • Report: Netanyahu asked Trump to stick with Saudi crown prince after Khashoggi murder - Middle East News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/netanyahu-asked-trump-to-stick-with-saudi-crown-prince-after-khashoggi-murd

    WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked senior officials in the Trump White House to continue supporting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

    Citing U.S. officials, the report stated that Netanyahu described the Crown Prince as a “strategic ally” in the Middle East.

    The report said that a similar message was conveyed to the White House by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.


  • David Blight on Frederick Douglass: ’I call him beautifully human’ | Books | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/28/david-blight-on-frederick-douglass-i-call-him-beautifully-human

    Sun 28 Oct 2018 05.00 GMT

    David Blight arrives in New York pulling his carry-on luggage, en route from Washington, soon to fly onwards to San Francisco. Such is the interest in his new biography of Frederick Douglass, a book 10 years in the writing and a whole career in the making, he will be on the road till December.

    He takes off his lovingly battered Michigan State cap, picks up a coffee and sits down for another conversation.

    “I’m lucky there’s so much interest,” he says, “and I’m lucky to have a publisher that really cares to send me around. I’ve never done a book tour like this.”


  • Trade War ‘Totally Stopped’ U.S. Crude Oil Shipments To China | OilPrice.com
    https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Trade-War-Totally-Stopped-US-Crude-Oil-Shipments-To-China.html

    Meanwhile, China is looking to replace U.S. crude oil because of the trade war, and is buying crude from West Africa at the highest level in seven years, according to Bloomberg data. Chinese refiners have purchased 1.71 million bpd of crude oil from West Africa for October loadings, the highest since at least August 2011 when Bloomberg started to compile the data.

    Oil prices steady after stock markets plunge
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/25/oil-markets-market-sell-off-looming-us-sanctions-on-iran-in-focus.html

    Bowing to pressure from Washington, Chinese oil majors Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) have yet to buy any oil from Iran for November because of concerns that sanctions violations could hurt their operations.

    #pétrole #énergie #Chine #Etats-Unis


  • The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-real-reasons-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-wanted-khasho

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

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