MIKE POMPEO’S NEW LOW

 Mike Pompeo has been busy in his last few days in office. In an effort to please both Saudi Arabia and Israel, he is preparing to declare the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen a “terrorist group.” The Houthi, who control a large portion of their nation, are no threat to the US or to American citizens. Pompeo is making the declaration because, according to him, the Houthis are backed by Iran even though there is no credible evidence to support this accusation. Trump’s allies in Saudi Arabia want this declaration as part of their aggressive campaign against Iran. Pompeo’s declaration will have no impact on the Houthis themselves, but it will constitute a crime against humanity in Yemen, one that could trigger what the U.N. secretary-general calls, “the worst famine the world has seen for decades.” Such a declaration would also chill humanitarian efforts to donate food and medicine to Houthi-controlled areas in northern and western Yemen where the majority of the country’s thirty million people live.

The US government is complicit in this crime against humanity. According to the New York Times, “it has supported Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Houthis, providing intelligence and billions of dollars in weapons, over the objections of Congress, that could amount to war crimes.”

Why the “terrorist” designation?

One reason could be because the Saudi’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad wants it and so does Israel which considers Iran a regional enemy and as a purported supporter of the Houthi, is pleased by Pompeo’s declaration. Both he and the Israelis are doing everything they can to goad Iran into a conflict, and both want to leave the Biden administration with a dilemma: either reverse the designation and be smeared as “pro-terrorist” by the Israel lobby, or leave it in effect in a nation where already half of all children suffer stunted growth because of malnutrition.

In an equally outrageous effort to initiate war with Iran, Pompeo now claims that al Qaeda’s new home base is Iran, a claim Iran immediately rebuffed. Though these claims have been met with skepticism within the US intelligence community and Congress, this did not prevent Pompeo from sharing these remarks in a speech at the National Press Club.

“I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan as the key geographic hub for al Qaeda, but it’s actually worse. Unlike in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda was hiding in the mountains, al Qaeda is operating under the hard shell of the Iranian regime’s protection.”

The National Iranian American Council, which is no friend to the regime in Tehran, noted that “the American people still remember the consequences of falling for Dick Chaney’s lie that Saddam Hussein was harboring al Qaeda terrorists who were plotting against the United States.”

According to Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council “Iran and al Qaeda have a largely hostile relationship and the Sunni jihadi group sees Shiite Iran as an enemy.”

Why these lies? Pompeo, the man who, when director of the CIA, boasted, “We lie. We cheat and we steal,” wants to run for president in 2024, and he plotted his move when billionaire mega-donor Sheldon Adelson was still alive. Even after his recent death, the top of the Adelson family wish list is continued confrontation with Iran. Adelson himself famously said that the US should fire an atomic weapon at Tehran instead of negotiating.

If left unchecked, Pompeo’s statement could represent an escalation in the US’s ability to use force against Iran. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows US forces to pursue al-Qaeda anywhere in the world. Pompeo’s lie, if allowed to stand, would permit the Trump administration in the week it has left to claim it already has Congressional approval and attack on Iran.

In a more normal time in our nation, Secretary of State Pompeo’s actions would constitute reasons for impeachment, thereby eliminating any ambitions he might have about running for president in 2024. How unfortunate the US Congress is so preoccupied with impeaching Trump that they cannot take up this important consideration.

All of Cathy Sultan’s books, including The Syrian and Damascus Street which deal specifically with Iran’s involvement in the Syrian war, can be found on Amazon.

THIS IS WHAT THE NAZIS DID TO THE JEWS

In 2017 the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) issued a report that concluded “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” The US and Israel continue to deny the veracity of this report but one has only to examine the more recent citizenship inequality, nationality inequality, marriage inequality, legal inequality and residential inequality to see its accuracy. The predictable Palestinian struggle to reverse these inequalities is seen as subversive by the Israeli’s ever increasingly rightwing governments.

On 18 July 2018 the Israeli Knesset enacted a “Nation-State” Law that defines the State of Israel as the nation-state “of the Jewish people only.” In other words, only Jews can hold “nationality rights” in Israel.

According to the Jewish intellectual Hanna Arendt, “If a state decides that for racial, ethnic, religious or any other reason, only one portion of its population is worthy of first-class citizenship, it can proceed to deny to all those who do not qualify any and all rights. This is what the Nazis did to the Jews.”

Amira Hass, the Haaretz journalist and daughter of holocaust survivors, added:  

“The current reality in Israel is actually one state, which is an apartheid state. This means there are two separate laws: one for Palestinians and one for Israeli Jews. The Palestinian population is subdivided into groups and subgroups like the non-white population of former apartheid South Africa. They’re disconnected from each other. They are treated differently by Israel, while Israeli Jews live in the entire country, like one people, with full rights.”

Haas goes on to say that the apartheid nature of Israel is a developmental plan of the state. It’s main goal is “to get more land, and to manipulate the Palestinian demography… You can actually see that this is really a plan. Israeli leaders sit and they think about how to implement it, and what regulations will achieve this goal… One by one, step by step. For Israel, this is the desired reality: that Palestinians live in their enclaves, deprived of any ability to develop their economy, and that the world gives them donations so that they can sustain themselves. And that’s it. There is no desire on the part of Israel to reach a different reality.”

After seventy years, one can only conclude that Israeli apartheid will continue for years to come because most of the world’s governments allow it to happen. Can this reality change? Yes, but it will take the world body to stand up to Israeli claims of antisemitism anytime anyone criticizes its actions. Palestinians are like the Jews in any number of anti-Semitic historical circumstances, a fact that seems to have escaped modern-day Israelis.

All of Cathy Sultan’s books including Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides, are available on Amazon.

IN COVID RELIEF BILL, $3.3 BILLION GOES TO ISRAEL

On December 21, 2020, the US Congress passed the COVID-19 Relief Package as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. In this bill, Congress found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in ‘security assistance,’ and $500 million for its US-Israel missile defense cooperation. Although a meager $600 dollars to help struggling families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel at a time when American families were lined up for hours to get a bag of groceries. The mere question of how Israel uses the funds—whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, financing illegal Jewish settlements build on Palestinian lands, funding proposed annexation of Palestinian land or violating Palestinian human rights—is a major taboo. Support for Israel is considered a bipartisan priority and has, for decades, been perceived as the most stable item in the US foreign policy agenda. Why? One only needs to follow the money. Congress rewards the Israeli-linked billionaires who bought them their seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

According to data provide by the US Congressional Research Service, as of November 2020, Israel had received $146 billion dollars in US taxpayers’ dollars. Since 2008, most of the money has been allocated for military purposes, including the security of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlement enterprise.

As of February 2019, the US has withheld all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in addition to cutting aid to the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA), the last lifeline of support needed to provide basic education and health services to millions of Palestinian made refugees when Israel declared itself a state in 1948.

Israel was one of the first countries in the world to begin rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to its population, that is, anyone who holds Israeli nationality. Israel defines ‘Jewish’ as a nationality. The purpose of this is to reserve exclusive national rights to Jews only in the Nation State of the Jewish People. According to Netanyahu, Israel is a nation state of Jews alone. So, when we read recently in the national headlines that 400,000 Israelis had already been vaccinated against the coronavirus, and tens of thousands of other were on track to do the same in the coming week, this number will not include the more than five million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip under illegal Israeli occupation and have done so for the last fifty years. They will not be eligible to receive the vaccine because they are not Jewish while the half million Israelis settlers living illegally in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will be vaccinated.

Israel is obligated by international law to provide for Palestinians’ healthcare needs. As the military occupier, Israel is mandated to provide the COVID vaccine to Palestinians under occupation. Israel, instead, puts the responsibility on the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority’s inability to procure and store vaccines in its flailing healthcare system is indicative of the decade of damage the Israeli occupation has done to the Palestinian infrastructure. Palestinians have been forced to rely on outside help and have been prevented from being self-sufficient by the Israeli occupation with the complacency of the international community.

To expect Washington’s policy toward Israel to change reflects not only an indefensible naivety but willful ignorance. Just follow the money.

All of Cathy Sultan’s book, including Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides, are available on Amazon.