U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel

(Talk about “collusion”)

from The Intercept

The criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the west. In France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing t-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors compete with one another over who can implement the most extreme regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it as “the Palestine Exception” to free speech.

But now, a group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: anyone guilty of violating its prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000, and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The proposed measure, called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), was introduced by Cardin on March 23. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the bill “was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC].” Indeed, AIPAC, in its 2017 Lobbying Agenda, identified passage of this bill as one of its top lobbying priorities for the year:

The bill’s co-sponsors include the senior Democrat in Washington, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, his New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, and several of the Senate’s more liberal members, such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Illustrating the bipartisanship that AIPAC typically summons, it also includes several of the most right-wing Senators such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

A similar measure was introduced in the House on the same date by two Republicans and one Democrat. It already has amassed 234 co-sponsors: 63 Democrats and 174 Republicans. As in the Senate, AIPAC has assembled an impressive ideological diversity among supporters, predictably including many of the most right-wing House members –  Jason Chaffetz, Liz Cheney, Peter King – along with the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer.

Among the co-sponsors of the bill are several of the politicians who have become political celebrities by positioning themselves as media leaders of the anti-Trump #Resistance, including three California House members who have become heroes to Democrats and staples of the cable news circuit: Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. These politicians, who have built a wide public following by posturing as opponents of authoritarianism, are sponsoring one of the most oppressive and authoritarian bills that has pended before Congress in quite some time

This pernicious bill highlights many vital yet typically ignored dynamics in Washington. First, journalists love to lament the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, yet the very mention of the word “Israel” causes most members of both parties to quickly snap into line in a show of unanimity that would make the regime of North Korea blush with envy. Even when virtually the entire world condemns Israeli aggression, or declares settlements illegal, the U.S. Congress – across party and ideological lines – finds virtually complete harmony in uniting against the world consensus and in defense of the Israeli government

AIPAC continues to be one of the most powerful, and pernicious, lobbying forces in the country. In what conceivable sense is it of benefit of Americans to turn them into felons for the crime of engaging in political activism in protest of a foreign nation’s government?..

[read more here]

Extrapolated Hearsay – Amnesty Report Claims Mass Executions, Provides No Proof

from Moon of Alabama

A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title “Human Slaughterhouse” down to the last paragraph.

But the Amnesty report is still not propagandish enough for the anti-Syrian media. Inevitably only the highest number in the range Amnesty claims is quoted. For some even that is not yet enough. The Associate Press agency, copied by many outlets, headlines: Report: At least 13,000 hanged in Syrian prison since 2011:

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as “the slaughterhouse,” Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.

How does “at least 13,000” conforms to an already questionable report which claims “13,000” as the top number of a very wide range?

Here is a link to the report.

Before we look into some details this from the “Executive Summary”:

From December 2015 to December 2016, Amnesty International researched the patterns, sequence and scale of violations carried out at Saydnaya Military Prison (Saydnaya). In the course of this investigation, the organization interviewed 31 men who were detained at Saydnaya, four prison officials or guards who previously worked at Saydnaya, three former Syrian judges, three doctors who worked at Tishreen Military Hospital, four Syrian lawyers, 17 international and national experts on detention in Syria and 22 family members of people who were or still are detained at Saydnaya.

On the basis of evidence from people who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya and witness testimony from detainees, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.

There are several difficulties with this report…

[read more here]

Dear America: Stop Supporting Terrorists in Syria, and Around the World

by Steven Sahiounie, from 21st Century Wire

To the Government of the United States of America:

I am asking my American government to stop supporting terrorists in Syria. The US government, and media, keep calling them ‘moderate rebels’, but they are not.  They were never moderate, and many are not rebels. By definition, a ‘rebel’ is rebelling against their own government.  However, many of the US backed ‘rebels’ are not Syrian, and have no family ties to Syria, and have never been a citizen of Syria. For example, how could a Chinese citizen fight in a rebellion against the American government?  By what right does a Chinese citizen have to kill and maim in order to change the US government?  It is wrong and makes no sense.

I would never advocate, or support any armed attack, or rebellion against the American government. There are laws against murdering, raping, kidnapping and maiming people in USA.  The same such laws exist in Syria. How could a democracy and a world leader like USA advocate murdering, raping, kidnapping and maiming innocent Syrian people?..

[read more here]

Meet NPR’ Poster-boy for the “Fake News” Crisis, Jestin Coler – an Obama Administration Cognitive Infiltration Asset

by Scott Creighton

“The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right.” Sunstein disinfo asset Jestin Coler

Weeks ago someone tried to get me to write about this story about an FBI agent supposedly linked to the Hillary email leaks killing his wife and taking his own life. The story was completely bogus. I figured it came out to distract people from the Seth Rich story or discredit it by association. The fake FBI agent story didn’t get a lot of attention, though it was shared quite a bit via influence peddlers on social media. Aside from that, folks seemed to sniff it out pretty quickly as bull-dung.

Everyone is talking about “fake news” websites these days. It’s one of the trendy reasons of choice explaining why real liberals chose not to vote for the republican war-monger Hillary Clinton in the presidential election this year. BernieBots, junkie “progressives” and James Comey are other popular excuses but “fake news” is ranking up there at the top of the list.

Opportunist and “media expert” Melissa Zimdars made herself into an instant online celebrity when she cobbled together a list of “fake news” websites which included some quality websites like Activist Post, Raw Story, NoMoreFakeNews and 21st Century Wire. Unfortunately for Melissa, her list also included some proven government disinformation outlets like Zero Hedge, Prison Planet and Veterans  Today and the publishing of her list dramatically increased page views for a number of real alternative news sites. People were curious and wanted to see what they were about.

So she called out disinfo sites as disinfo and sent thousands of folks to read real news at real news websites. Not really a “win” when you think about it. Consequently, her “big list” now has no websites listed.

Now NPR has unwittingly done the same thing. Meet Cass Sunstein disinfo asset Jestin Coler.

Continue reading

WHITE HELMETS: NATO’s Finest Terrorist-Linked ‘First Responders’ are Shamelessly Promoted by Georgetown University

by J Michael Springmann, from 21st Century Wire (called a “fake news” site by some corporate ladder-climber)

poster

Image by Cory Morningstar of Wrong Kind of Green

On November 14, 2016, Georgetown’s Foreign Service School, its Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), and its Middle East-North Africa (MENA) Forum showed the Netflix propaganda film “The White Helmets”.  Following the film (which the Helmets had shot), there was an extremely biased  panel discussion about current Syrian events.

The motion picture, well-received by the audience, offered a carefully-edited account of the White Helmets, an alleged civil defense and rescue group. No member had any kind of background involving rescue work.  Indeed, they all seemed to be either butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers.  One alleged he had been a terrorist but had reformed and now wanted to help his fellow countrymen.  The film depicted the White Helmets rescuing infants at great risk while under fire from the Syrian government and Russia.  The only training they received was in Turkey, coming from classes and drills which the Anatolian government provided.

After the picture, the CCAS Director, Osama Abi-Mershed, praising the White Helmets’ work…

[read more here]

Israel, Working with Facebook, is Arresting Palestinian Children for Posts Deemed “Incitement”

from TeleSUR

Israel has been interrogating and imprisoning dozens of Palestinian minors for months without any legal representation or a parent’s presence.

As Facebook gives the Israeli government more access to posts deemed as “incitement,” occupation forces have been raiding the homes of Palestinians children and detaining them for months over posts on the social media site, a report by the Defense for Children International-Palestine said Monday.

The group spoke with several Palestinian minors who were arrested for their Facebook posts, interrogated for hours and then kept in prison for months without charges under the Israeli policy of “administrative detention.”

“Israeli authorities must immediately stop using administrative detention against Palestinian minors,” Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at DCIP, said in the organization’s report.

[read more here]

Jewish man arrested at Kansas City library speech after asking “provocative” questions (another arrested for sticking up for him)

(The first question is the one that really did him in.)

from Boing Boing

Take care when asking provocative questions at Kansas City’s library events: you might end up in jail.

The executive director of Kansas City Libraries says he’s outraged by the charges against Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, a Jewish man grabbed by private security after asking the event’s speaker, former diplomat Dennis Ross, uninvited follow-up questions. Off-duty cops moved in to arrest Rothe-Kushel when he objected to the hands-on treatment—as well as a library staffer who had moved to intervene.

The Associated Press reports Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves as saying officers “acted properly in helping private security stop an audience member from asking follow-up questions.”

Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans like Rothe-Kushel should be concerned about actions by the U.S. and Israel that amount to “state-sponsored terrorism.”

When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?” Rothe-Kushel asked.

When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, “Get your hands off of me right now!”

Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers.

[read more here]