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The Three Stooges and the Ultimate Deal TM

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: usa, deal of the century, David Friedman, Hamas, Gaza Strip, Gaza siege, occupied Palestine, peace process, end U.S. aid to Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, americans, congress, media, lies, u.s., ethics, propaganda )

- 81 days ago -
In shocking news, US efforts to secure the Ultimate Deal TM have ended, at least for now, without success.


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fly bird (26)
Wednesday July 25, 2018, 9:14 am
In shocking news, US efforts to secure the Ultimate Deal™ have ended, at least for now, without success.

Plan B has also been tried and reportedly discarded and we are now in a diplomatic vacuum. Who would have thought?

The Ultimate Deal™ was hotly anticipated last month, not least because of the crack team behind it: Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, Jason Greenblatt, special US representative for international negotiations and a former settlement guard, and David “From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel.

This triumphant triumvirate, as we have reported previously on these pages, is uniquely suited to the task at hand.

That this trio of high-minded, even-handed and well-seasoned diplomats – a trio we like to call the DC Trinity around these parts (but which one is Wonder Woman?) – could not crack the Palestinian-Israeli nut, shows just how tough it is.

Some Palestinians, it seems, really are insistent on some kind of solution that includes a modicum of freedom, justice and self-determination in line with internationally enshrined rights as the solution to their “issue.” Rights of refugees? The right to resist military occupation? Jerusalem? Surely some mistake.

Kushner et al – or the Avengers: Prime (but which one is Thor?) – therefore concluded that the obstinate Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, so doggedly clinging to security cooperation with Israel, was the primary obstacle to peace.

After all, why would the Palestinian people, on whose pulse this talented troika so clearly have their fingers, care about abstract nouns when they could have “modern infrastructure, job training and economic stimulus.”

Plan B

The grand plan is thus yet to be unveiled (much to the disappointment of the Palestinian people). This despite the magnanimity of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, who has been bending over backwards to meet Palestinian demands by enacting a law that outlaws any but Jewish claims to the land.

He even generously offered that Palestinians could call what they get once they’ve acceded to all Israeli demands “what you want.”

Enter Plan B. Like all great statesmen, our intrepid threesome – affectionately monikered the Galaxy Trio (but which one is Vapor Man?) – had been working all along on a back-up plan.

This plan would see economic deliverance for Palestinians in Gaza if only they would abandon their “morally bankrupt” attempts to redress 70 years of injustice that have left some 70 percent of them as impoverished refugees, denied recourse to normal international law that stipulates their return and compensation.

But rather than embrace Plan B – or Rebuilding Gaza Inc. – what did Hamas in Gaza do? Unleash a wave of terror on Israel (which only wants peace and the rule of law, which is precisely why it has restricted Palestinians’ ability to access its courts): Terror rockets, terror mortars, terror unarmed protests, terror kites, terror tunnels, terror children playing terror football on the terror beach, terror medics, terror artists.

Just like Abbas’ dogged insistence on the peace process and security coordination in the West Bank is holding the Palestinian people back from reaping the benefits of peace, so the Hamas leadership’s rejection of the peace process and security coordination with Israel (and Egypt) is holding the Palestinian people back from reaping the benefits of peace.

A diplomatic vacuum

The conclusion is inescapable: Whatever is going wrong, it is the fault of the Palestinian leadership, in Gaza and in the West Bank. Having demonstrated this beyond reasonable doubt, what now for Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, AKA the Powerpuff Girls? Have they exhausted their diplomatic superpowers?

They’ve certainly gone the extra mile, even stooping to contribute to the “Amazon Washington Post” and “fake news” CNN (there’s Wonder Woman!) in their heroic efforts to secure Peace in the Middle East ©.

Some might suggest that this talented triptych have no clue what they are doing.

To counter such unkind comments, perhaps Huey, Dewey and Louie could do worse then heed the words of Uncle Donald: WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH.

Or maybe some other words.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday July 25, 2018, 9:15 am
From the Freedom Flotilla, Former Israeli Air Force Pilot Calls for a Boycott of Israel.
July 17, 2018

Yonatan Shapira says Israel’s ‘democracy’ is in fact an apartheid state led by fascist Jewish supremacists.
Story Transcript

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dimitri Lascaris, reporting for The Real News Network from the port of Naples, Italy. We are seated in front of the ships of the Gaza flotilla, the Freedom Flotilla, which have been docked here for a couple of days, and I’m pleased to be joined today by Yonatan Shapira. Yonatan is a former rescue pilot in the Israeli Air Force. He’s also a founding member and prominent activist of the Israeli movement Boycott From Within.

And I’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Yonatan.

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Thank you. Thank you for coming.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: So I’d like to start by talking about your experiences within the Israeli Air Force, and your decision ultimately to become a dissenter from military service. Could you tell us about that?

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Well, there is a long story to tell here, but I’ll just try to say in a few words that in 2003, after more than 10 years of service in the Israeli Air Force, I was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot doing rescues and flying soldiers, and doing everything that I was asked. I realized together with other friends in the air force that we are fighting for the wrong side, and we are part of an organization that commits a crime against innocent Palestinians, and we do not want to be part of it anymore. So together with a group of about 27 pilots from all different squadrons of the Israeli air force, attack pilots, rescue pilots like me and others, veterans and active, we send this letter to our commander and the whole society in Israel telling them that we are no longer willing to obey the orders and be part of this illegal and criminal, immoral, occupation. That’s what started my life as an activist fifteen years ago, on the eve of the Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: And subsequently you became a prominent member, as I mentioned, at the outset of this movement, Boycott From Within. Can you tell us, what is it like being an Israeli citizen advocating for the imposition of a boycott given the attitude of the Israeli government towards the whole boycott movement?

YONATAN SHAPIRA: As a human being, I’m very proud of it. I feel super confident about what we, we are many activists. We are still a minority of a minority. But there are activists in Israel who are calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions because we believe it’s for the benefit of all people; Palestinian people, and Jewish people, and everyone living there and everyone in the world. Of course, the Zionist society in Israel doesn’t like it. So you pay the [little] price of being a dissenter in an apartheid. So you get some benefit, some of your privilege away. But overall I’m still able to be there when I’m there, and lead a relatively comfortable life.

And slowly, slowly, the apartheid system is trying to make it harder and harder and more difficult on us. But again, when I look and compare my life to the life of a Palestinian or a refugee in Israel, or even a non-white Ashkenazi Israeli man in Israel, I’m still able to live quite comfortable. As we speak there are many trying in Parliament to make the apartheid in Israel more official. So different laws that are trying to constitute, that will make it even harder for us to still be free to still act.

And it’s just important to remember that Israel claims to be a democracy. It is not. It’s, it’s an apartheid. It’s led by a group of fascist Jewish supremacy people, and prime minister, and ministers. But if you’re a Zionist Jew, you can feel great democracy. If you are not a Zionist, and if you’re not a Jew, you’re living in apartheid.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Now, you’ve participated in prior missions of the Freedom Flotilla. Could you tell me why, and also how you were received by your former colleagues within the Israeli military when the vessels were intercepted on those occasions?

YONATAN SHAPIRA: The first time I tried to break the blockade with a group of activists was 2010. About three months after what happened on the Mavi Marmara, where Israeli, the Israeli army shot and killed about 10 activists from Turkey, most of them. The helicopter that landed, the soldiers that killed and massacred people on the Mavi Marmara, were helicopters from the squadron I used to fly in, this Blackhawk squadron in the Israeli air force. And therefore I decided that I must participate in the second boat that will try to break the blockade. It happened in September 2010. We were very small, and we were intercepted by many warships, small and big. And if we were Palestinians or Turks I guess they would shoot us and kill us, maybe, but I got the better treatment of a Taser gun in my heart. So maybe they thought that they will resuscitate my Zionist behavior. My Zionist heart will start beating again.

But instead it just made me more clear about my decision, and confident about the need to struggle against apartheid and against this illegal crime of ghettoization and that concentration of two million people. The second attempt was 2011, a year, about a year later. I was on a crew of The Audacity of Hope. It was a big American boat, and we were part of the second flotilla trying to leave from the port of Piraeus in Greece. Unfortunately, the Greek government was coopted by Israel and the U.S., and with different pressure, I guess, they obeyed Bibi Netanyahu. And we had a big sign saying, who’s your commander, Netanyahu or Poseidon? Who is the god of the sea. Is it Israel, or the Greek Poseidon?

Unfortunately, it was Netanyahu and on a gun show on a gunpoint. We were stopped by the Greek coast guard just a few minutes after leaving the port of Priaeus, and we had to go back, and were detained by the, by the Greeks. And the third attempt was 2012, with the Ship to Gaza, the Swedish group that was with many international organizations, and the Finnish flagged boat. We had other Israelis on board. And we were also stopped about 40 miles from, from shore, from Gaza. This time it was a big operation. I guess they used it as a maneuver for training their forces, because they know that we are not posing any threat, like military threat, on them. So they were hundreds, maybe thousands of soldiers participating. About 15 warships, big and small. And also one Blackhawk helicopter that came in circled above us. And when I looked at it on the tail I could see that the number on the tail is 852, which is the same helicopter, tthe same piece of metal that I used to fly some years before. They again arrested us, tasered us, and took us to the Navy base of Ashdod, and we spent a few days arrested.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: I’d like, I’d like to talk to you about the future, to conclude. And you know, those of us in the West watching with trepidation what’s happening seem, it seems to be that every day the predicament of the Palestinian people is worse, and that the Israeli government’s sense of impunity is on the increase, if anything. Do you, are you feeling hopeful, based upon what you see, for the cause of Palestinian justice, justice for the Palestinian people? Do you see signs that this is a battle that is being won, ultimately, and that this is something that may actually be won within your lifetime?

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Well gives me hope is nothing about the governments and the system that controls us in your country, in my country. I see a lot of hypocrisy all over Europe and elsewhere, and also Canada. What gives me hope is to see the popular struggle of Palestinians that are showing incredible bravery. That reminds me what I grew up on, you know, the struggle in the ghettos, in the Warsaw Ghetto, in other ghettos. With the, with all the courage to walk into the fence, towards the fence of this biggest prison in the world, without bearing any arms. Walking and trying to protest this siege. It gives me a lot of hope, because I think that’s where the mighty power of the Israeli military collapses, when we have thousands and thousands of Palestinians that are uniting, holding hands and standing in front of the Israeli snipers.

That gives me hope. That means that it’s not going to be able to last forever. And things like that gives me hope to be together with the Spanish, Italians, Americans, Canadians, Norwegians, Swedish, everyone. It means that somewhere on a deep nerve of many people around the world, it’s quite clear that this symbolic struggle of the Palestinians for freedom will be won at some point. And our job is to not be deterred, and not be, not lose our hope when we see the hypocritical governments in one hand saying something against Israel’s crimes, and on the other hand still doing arms trade with them and giving them all the impunity and all the actual support to continue with this massacre and this illegality.

But it’s important to to say to everyone who listens to us that we need you. We need the person that now maybe sits in Canada, or in the U.S., or in elsewhere in Europe, or somewhere else. We need you to join this struggle. And this struggle is not just about freedom for Palestinians. It’s about the struggle against what Europe and the U.S. and other countries are doing to refugees that are trying to escape the horrors in Africa. It’s the same struggle. It’s the struggle of the people who have less to be recognized and to get their basic human right. So if you want to be part of the struggle, wherever you are, you don’t have to come all the way and join us in this flotilla. You can be active on your, in your local community, for justice for, for everyone. And then you are part of the struggle for justice for Palestine.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: I’d like to thank you very much for speaking with The Real News today, Yonatan. It’s been a pleasure.

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Thank you for coming here. And good luck with your health.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Thank you very much. And this is Dimitri Lascaris, reporting for The Real News from Naples, Italy.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday July 25, 2018, 9:27 am
Mahmoud al-Moqayad and “The Cry of Jerusalem” in his studio on the rooftop of his home. (Mohamed Shurrab)

How can an artist capture the anger of a people when the most powerful politician in the world tries to discard their rights?

Mahmoud al-Moqayad may have succeeded in doing just that. After Donald Trump delivered a grave insult to Palestinians by announcing that the US was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Mahmoud responded with a remarkable painting.

Titled “The Cry of Jerusalem,” it appears to depict a storm hitting the city. Despite the air of both magic and menace, the Dome of the Rock stands tall; its gold contrasts with the dominant shades of blue, red and black.

The Dome of the Rock and the neighboring al-Aqsa mosque – one of Islam’s holiest sites – have come to symbolize resistance and resilience.

“I followed the news about Trump’s decision and I thought that everyone must stand against it,” said Mahmoud. “I always believed in the strength of art and I decided to make a painting that expresses how Palestinians reject Trump’s declaration. I chose those sharp colors to indicate that we will keep fighting until we gain back Jerusalem and our occupied lands.”

The first major solo exhibition of Mahmoud’s paintings was held in Gaza City earlier this year.

Inspired and proud

It featured a collection of work inspired by Palestinian history and culture and by the struggle for freedom. His subjects range from traditional weddings to memories of the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Aged 25, Mahmoud was born in Gaza. Married and with a child of his own, he still lives with his parents in Jabaliya refugee camp, where he grew up.

At the age of 1, Mahmoud was diagnosed with severe hearing loss.

“When we first learned that Mahmoud was deaf, we were very sad,” said Mahmoud’s mother, Subhiya, 45. “We did not know anything about this disability, and we were afraid that Mahmoud would have to stay at home with no opportunity of a decent life.”

But his parents adapted. They learned of a kindergarten for children with special needs – part of the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children – and at the age of 5 Mahmoud was enrolled.

It was at this age that his family and teachers began to notice his drawing ability. Mahmoud preferred color pencils, paper and his own imagination to playing with the other children, his mother recalled.

The school encouraged him and worked on developing his skills.

In grade three, Mahmoud won first prize in a drawing competition for school students held by the Islamic University of Gaza. It is something he still remembers with pride and it gave him the confidence to carry on, he told The Electronic Intifada in sign language.

But nothing was to come easy to Mahmoud. During one Ramadan when he was 8, he was playing with the kids in the neighborhood when a firework that he was unable to hear misfired and hit him.

He lost his sight in one eye and much of the sight in the other.

Mahmoud has refused to allow himself be defined by his disabilities.

“I will continue,” he told The Electronic Intifada, “despite my disabilities and our poor conditions, to pursue my dream.”

In 2008, he got his first break, taking third place in the Palestine International Award for Excellence and Creativity.

In 2010, he featured in a competition organized by Gaza’s al-Quds TV channel. And since then, he has enjoyed steady progress.

In 2013, he participated in an exhibition in Turkey sponsored by the Trabzon municipality. In 2015, the cultural organization Rawasi of Palestine for Culture and Arts included his work in an exhibition of different Gaza artists.

“Great dedication”

Mahmoud uses both oil and water-soluble paints, though the former is his preference.

This year’s solo exhibition came after he impressed officials during a project to paint murals around the Gaza Strip. Atef Asqoul, the culture ministry’s general director, said Mahmoud proved to be among the best of 25 artists involved in the project and wound up responsible for most of the murals in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Mahmoud is a talented artist with great dedication to his art,” said Asqoul. “He has proved to the whole community that having a disability is not a stigma.”

“I have a God-given gift,” Mahmoud told The Electronic Intifada. “I do not take ideas from anywhere else, I just pick up my brush and start painting what I feel inside.”

Like everyone else in Gaza, Mahmoud has been affected deeply by Israel’s siege and occupation.

There are few resources in Gaza or from the ministry of culture to support and promote local talent, said Asqoul. Gaza’s inhabitants have to prioritize survival rather than expression.

Two colorful landscape paintings hang above door frames in a sparely furnished room. Mahmoud al-Moqayed’s paintings hang on a wall in his home. (Mohamed Shurrab)

As a result, the official said, most artists rely on foreign funding or recognition to have any hope of making a life from their art.

But travel is not a given for Palestinians in Gaza. While Mahmoud made it to Turkey in 2013, he was unable to go to Moscow earlier this year for an art exhibition because of the closure of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

“I will pursue my dreams. I want my work to be famous worldwide. And I will keep highlighting Palestinian suffering, aspirations and resistance in my work,” Mahmoud said.

“We deserve a better life where we can achieve our dreams without the obstacles imposed by the occupation.”

Fidaa Shurrab is a writer and freelance translator based in the Gaza Strip.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday July 25, 2018, 9:47 am
VIDEO: Ilan Pappe on the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. (3:44)

Published on Jan 30, 2011

Ilan Pappe speaks about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and currently.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday July 25, 2018, 9:31 pm
In New Crime of Excessive Use of Lethal Force against Peaceful Demonstrators in Gaza Strip, Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Civilian and Wound 78 Others, including 18 Children, 2 Women and 2 Journalists

July 20, 2018
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