Category Archives: Israel

Foundations promoting ‘brand Israel’ also funding Islamophobia

Hatem Bazian writes: What do Canary Mission, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer‘s and Pamela Geller‘s American Freedom Defense Initiative or Stop Islamization of America, the U.S. Tea Party and David Yerushalmi‘s American Freedom Law Center all have in common? They are all funded by various chapters of mainstream Jewish federations across the U.S. and the SF Diller Foundation.

In the past I wrote an article for the American Studies Journal and I estimated that 70 percent of the funding for Islamophobia propaganda comes from pro-Israel or Zionist sources; now the evidence of this is slowly emerging. To date, the single-largest expenditure to push Islamophobia in the U.S. came in the form of the Clarion Fund paying upward of $17 million to produce and distribute 28 million copies of the documentary “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West” in the run-up to the 2008 elections. This Clarion Fund expenditure was followed by another for the more Islamophobically horrific documentary, “The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America,” framing the American Muslim community civic engagement programs as a threat to the country that collectively could not be trusted. The recent reports on the San Francisco Jewish Federation and the Diller Foundation funding for the granddaddies of the Islamophobia Industry make the initial estimates very conservative.

An Oct. 3, 2018 article by Josh Nathan-Kazis titled “REVEALED: Canary Mission Blacklist Is Secretly Bankrolled by Major Jewish Federation” published in the The Forward, a politically progressive publication read by American Jews, uncovered evidence that all the above major Islamophobic figures and groups received funding from San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation and the Diller Foundation. Examining the tax returns from the 2014-2016 period, Josh Nathan-Kazis, pointed out that: “The federation’s support of Canary Mission connects the American Jewish establishment itself to a website that is facing increasing criticism from young Jews.” Canary Mission is a McCarthyite blacklisting operation that targets pro-Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) activists on college campuses to protect Israel’s brand in the U.S.

Critically, the outfits mentioned above all engage in the most despicable forms of Islamophobia and seek to demonize the American Muslim community. Funding for Geert Wilders, who pushes the most extreme anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies in the Dutch Parliament, is very disturbing and raises profound ethical and moral questions to the American Jewish community. In 2013, four members of Wilders’s Freedom Party “wore badges in Dutch Parliament … featuring a well-known neo-Nazi insignia that has links to the country’s infamous National Socialist Movement of the 1930s.” Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Wilders for an official visit to Israel but for the Diller Foundation to provide funding for a known neo-Nazi sympathizer and his party is an unforgivable act considering the current rise of white nationalist groups domestically and across the globe.

Pamela Geller‘s American Freedom Defense Initiative, or Stop the Islamization of America, was responsible for framing the community center in New York City as the “ground zero mosque” and led the 2010 campaign against it. More importantly, Geller’s bus ads in the past few years across the country generated the most insidious forms of Islamophobia in a supposed effort to protect Israel’s standing. Furthermore, Geller’s outlandish forms of Islamophobia included hosting a “draw the prophet of Islam” cartoon competition, but it seems none of this disqualified her from receiving funding from the Diller Foundation.

In U.S. political landscape, David Yerushalmi‘s American Freedom Law Center has played a very insidious role in demonizing Muslims through the sponsorship of countless anti-Sharia legislation. For the Diller Foundation and Jewish federations across the country to fund such an outfit that targets Muslims is yet another stab at the Muslim community, which took place while interfaith efforts were underway across the country. What is the purpose of promoting interfaith relations if major funding agencies for the American Jewish community are engaged in the wholesale funding of Islamophobic groups and individuals? Interfaith dialogue is meaningless and insulting if funding Islamophobic groups is undertaken within the same mainstream organizational infrastructure.

I have reviewed detailed tax returns from multiple Jewish federations across the country and was shocked by what I found. Yes, the Jewish Federation and Diller Foundation handed out many grants and funded projects undertaken by community groups, organizations and universities, which are all worthwhile and inspiring considering the commitment and commendable high levels of generosity regularly demonstrated. However, the funding directed at Islamophobic groups, Geert Wilders‘s neo-Nazi Freedom Party, the U.S. Tea Party and others, stains and undermines the good that is done.

The issue at hand is the split personality of the organized American Jewish community which can be seen on one hand as generosity, building hospitals, funding schools, liberal political positions and offering support in defense of civil rights for all. However, on the other hand, the same community groups acting on behalf of Zionism and seeking to protect Israel’s interests can exhibit the most reactionary and racist discourse when it comes to Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and their allies.

The issue of Palestine causes the American Jewish community to pursue strategies and policies that undermine and cross the ethical and moral boundaries of the community. Resorting to funding Islamophobia is a sign of failure and an admission that Israel as a brand is no longer defensible on merits alone. Demonizing BDS activists, targeting Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organizers and defaming faculties on college campuses is behind all the efforts at rescuing Israel’s image and brand. Funding Wilders will not rescue the brand but will mar it further and lead most young Jewish Americans to seek a different and more meaningful future.

Jewish journalist and activists who exposed these contradictions are acting to uphold and express the highest ethical and moral ideals of the Jewish community and often are doing so in partnership with Palestinians and Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. Appealing and funding Islamophobia in the hope of saving Israel’s apartheid is a failed and failing policy, and no amount of grants or resources can rescue dying settler colonialism. The future belongs to Jews, Muslims and justice-loving people from all walks of life that are already crafting and envisioning a different tomorrow, one that is not wedded to securing a demographically engineered apartheid state.

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A serial liar and cheat, Israel now pays a catastrophic strategic price for its arrogance

 

Data captured by Russia’s S-400 system at Hmeimim proves Israeli jets were responsible for the downing of the Russian plane and the killing of 15 personnel, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s latest announcement today. Significantly, the data showed that the Syrian missile changed its course shortly before hitting the Il-20. Despite Israel’s frantic fabrications, it is clear then that the Syria missile had been fired at the Israeli F-16s, and that Israeli pilots ducked into the shadow of the Russian Il-20 at the last minute.

Putin may have initially softened the harsh tone of Russian Defence Ministry Staff over the shoot down, but the eventual official response was devastating. The S-300 had been promised to the Assad régime to update its air defence capabilities but, on his multiple trips to Moscow, Netanhayu had secured a promise from Putin that it would not be delivered. This decision is now reversed, and the S-300 will be handed over within two weeks. It will be accompanied by advance automated air defence management systems. Finally, electromagnetic jamming systems are to be installed in the area around the Russian military bases in Tartus and Hmeimim to suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory from the Mediterranean.

This is a spectacular victory for Iran, as its puppet Syrian régime is now enabled with an effective air defence capability. This will cow the Israeli air force, which has so far been able to campaign with relative impunity over Syrian airspace. Even with the old S-200 system, Syrian forces were able to shoot down an Israeli F-16. It is important, however, to take into account that these events are taking place as Hezbollah in Lebanon, through its leader Hassan Nasrallah, makes a point of announcing its possession of advanced ballistic missile systems targeting Israel.

It is expected that either Hezbollah or the Lebanese authorities themselves will announce within weeks that violations of Lebanese airspace by Israel will be met with an immediate missile defense response. This will be the culmination of a standoff between the two countries over oil and gas rights at sea. What is abundantly clear is that Israel’s relentless aggression against its neighbours, rather than cowing them, has produced a military response on a number of levels that it never would have expected. US politicians recognise that with this decision by Russia, Israel’s dominance over Middle Eastern skies draws to a close.

Liberals shrug. Their humanitarianism is a sham

Mehdi Hasan writes: “If the concept of intervention is driven by universal human rights, why is it — from the people who identify themselves as liberal interventionists — why do we never hear a peep, a word, about intervening to protect the Palestinians?”

That was the question I put to the French philosopher, author, and champion of liberal (or humanitarian) interventionism, Bernard-Henri Lévy, on my Al Jazeera English interview show “Head to Head” in 2013.

The usually silver-tongued Levy struggled to answer the question. The situation in Palestine is “not the same” as in Syria and “you have not all the good on one side and all the bad on the other side,” said Levy, who once remarked in reference to the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, that he had “never seen such a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions.”

I couldn’t help but be reminded of my exchange with the man known as “BHL” this past weekend, as I watched horrific images of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border being shot in the back by the “democratic army” of Israel. How many “moral questions” did those Israeli snipers ask themselves, I wondered, before they gunned down Gazan refugees for daring to demand a return to their homes inside the Green Line?

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